Solos

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Solos

Postby Olive Branch » 06 Jan 2015, 15:40

I've recently recorded a few solos, and in one I was at odds with an ally saying that I'd been gunning for a solo all along. I only ever go for a solo when the opportunity presents itself through the course of the game. How does one go about playing a game from the off, knowing that they're going to go for a solo?
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Re: Solos

Postby rick.leeds » 06 Jan 2015, 15:54

Moved to Diplomacy Lore. Solos Only is really for people to organise solo only games.

Personally, I think if you are going into a game without aiming to solo, then that isn't how the game is 'supposed' to be played... but that is opening up a huge debate that has no answer, so I'll skirt around that.

Perhaps the best way to look at it is to go into a game aiming to get the best possible result... which IS the solo victory, of course, but solos should be like gold dust. So you play the best you can and get what you can, which sounds to be what you're doing.

It also sounds to me as if the player who complained about you aiming to get a solo 'all along' simply doesn't understand what the game is about. I'd simply have told her/him to go back and read the rule book under 'Object of the Game'.
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Re: Solos

Postby Zosimus » 06 Jan 2015, 16:31

I have a lot of solos, as anyone who has reviewed my history can attest, but I never aim to solo. I never think about soloing. I don't have a list of the supply centers I need to solo.

I simply aim to gain at least one supply center per year. Doing so brings solo victories all by itself.
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Re: Solos

Postby Carebear » 07 Jan 2015, 00:13

rick.leeds wrote:Personally, I think if you are going into a game without aiming to solo, then that isn't how the game is 'supposed' to be played... but that is opening up a huge debate that has no answer, so I'll skirt around that.

Wouldn't skirting it have been better done by not mentioning it in the first place.

rick.leeds wrote:Perhaps the best way to look at it is to go into a game aiming to get the best possible result... which IS the solo victory, of course, [...]

Yet you persist. There are fully cooperative games like Pandemic. There are fully competitive games like Puerto Rico. There are mixed competitive/cooperative games like Battlestar Galactica. I think Diplomacy best falls into the third category. So, while a solo is nice and can be one's sole goal, depending on one's philosophical outlook it does not have to be the sole goal.

rick.leeds wrote:It also sounds to me as if the player who complained about you aiming to get a solo 'all along' simply doesn't understand what the game is about. I'd simply have told her/him to go back and read the rule book under 'Object of the Game'.

Finally addressing the point, which could have been done without bringing in other unnecessary topics.

There is nothing wrong with going for a solo from the start. There is nothing wrong with forming an alliance with the intent to stab them later for an attempt at a solo or even to ally with a different player for a better opportunity to solo at a later date.

Basically, all players should be prepared to be stabbed; even by apparently faithful allies. Lying about being an "ally to the end" is acceptable in this game. Players who do not realize that need to re-evaluate their understanding of the game.

That being said I play a style that eschews such tactics even though I recognize my erstwhile ally might not.

Sorry Rick, a bit grumpy today...
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Re: Solos

Postby thewysecat » 07 Jan 2015, 06:12

I was going to post again in the thread on 2-way draws (viewtopic.php?f=31&t=47628&start=20#p803100). And I was planning on citing Pandemic as a game to illustrate a particular point, but since it is mentioned here this seems a good thread to post that illustration.

I don't hold any real hope of persuading Care Bears (and thus by definition players such as yourself Carebear), but let's at least get an alternative view on record.

Carebear wrote: There are fully cooperative games like Pandemic. There are fully competitive games like Puerto Rico. There are mixed competitive/cooperative games like Battlestar Galactica. I think Diplomacy best falls into the third category.

So, by your analysis Diplomacy is not a "fully competitive game".

I am struggling to find the words for this sentence...I'll settle for...that is...completely wrong.

Diplomacy is a game that certainly has cooperation and competition in it. But you are presenting competitive and cooperative as alternative but equal concepts in Diplomacy game-play. In so doing, you completely miss the point of the game - most notably your victory conditions which are the start point for playing any game.

In truth, in some imagined Venn Diagram of Diplomacy game-play - cooperation is a subset of competition. Without cooperation, one cannot compete effectively but nonetheless one cooperates in order to more effectively compete. There's even a word for it these days - co-opetition. I think it is used by some evolutionary biologists to illustrate that examples of co-operation are still about competition for resources and natural selection, but I digress...You cannot win without cooperating; nonetheless you are only cooperating in order to try and win. In other words, they are not equal concepts in this context. One is the master of the other. And when all parties appreciate this and are playing accordingly, there is a delicious and tangible paradox sitting in the middle of any cooperative endeavour. That is the beauty of Diplomacy as a game; and it is elegantly realised through the mechanic of simultaneous order resolution and the tension that enhances/generates.

Of course, the key to this perspective is the premise that when you do not play to solo you are not playing to your victory conditions. And that when doing so in Diplomacy (or indeed any game) it is not against the rules, but not playing to your victory conditions is just being a dick. One shouldn't be a dick.

This is because it means you are breaking a contract. Not an in-game agreement, but the real world agreement you make with any group of players you agree to play any game with. All parties implicitly agree to play to their victory conditions published at sign up to the game. When you sign up and then don't do that, you are breaking an important promise in a context that really matters - the real world. You are being a dick. Don't be a dick.

Carebear wrote: So, while a solo is nice and can be one's sole goal, depending on one's philosophical outlook it does not have to be the sole goal

Certainly, people can and frequently do play Diplomacy not to solo based on their 'philosophy'. In so doing, however they are failing to see that they are being dicks in a real world sense by breaking a RL promise. It's particularly bad in Diplomacy because: (i) the game's unique features makes it especially vulnerable to such conduct; and (ii) because this game takes a great deal of time and effort to play and thus the RL impacts on other players are particularly egregious. Being a dick in this way in Diplomacy is significantly worse than if you don't play to your VCs in a game of 'Go Fish' for example.

For added spice some of these folks call themselves honourables or similar terms while failing to recognise how dishonourable their conduct actually is, but that's more an insult to injury thing rather than a central issue...

Here is a quote from the 4th edition rules:

"Object of the Game
As soon as one of the Great Powers controls 18 supply centres, it is considered to have gained control of Europe. The player representing that Great Power is the winner.

However, players can end the game by agreement before a winner is determined. In this case, all players that still have pieces on the board share equally in a draw."


Carebear wrote: There is nothing wrong with going for a solo from the start.

"Nothing wrong"? If you are not going for a solo from the start you are not playing to your victory conditions. When you sign up to play a game you are by definition agreeing to play to the VCs. If you then go on to actually do something else - you are being a...well you get the idea by now...

Let's visit a cooperative game like Pandemic. I like playing cooperative games as much as anyone and Pandemic is a good one, but let's pretend for a minute that playing a "fully cooperative game" isn't perfectly aligned with my "philosophy" or something. Let's say I decide to ignore it's VCs that clearly state the players are playing as one team against the game.

So...I agree to play a game of Pandemic with 3 other people, but I play it in my own way. I'll try to help the game win by making sub-optimal plays or suggesting and trying to persuade my fellow players to adopt what I consider sub-optimal choices.

I will play to the rules - play in turn, not show my cards to anyone, move my piece as per its specialist abilities and so on. There is nothing in the rules to stop me...though obviously I am ignoring the stated raison d'etre of the game. I am rules compliant; I am just not playing to the VCs as published but goals of my own devising. This is a RL betrayal of the other 3 players.

It's an especially good parallel I think because Pandemic is such a finally balanced and designed game that I think the hypothetical me would have a 95-100% record of helping the game-me combination 'win' against the best efforts of the other 3 players trying to follow their VCs at sign-up. Not quite as starkly but close enough the same is true in Diplomacy if a team of two (or god help us 3) truly Care Bear it. 'Balance of Power' is a key concept in the game when all 7 players are fighting like cats in a sack. It is that which balances the game; and it takes a really skilled player to 'unbalance' it enough to get a solo and win. Co-operation leads to success but that success should inherently lead to tension that can collapse the alliance cooperating since only one player can win and all parties in the alliance should be trying to win. If 5 players continue to follow their VCs while two players abandon that tension by not trying to solo then most times the pair will sweep the board.

Now here of course the Care Bears sometimes cite that they are 'right' because they are so effective. But then of course we start running into other concepts like some of these players thinking they are 'sharing in a win' when they get a 2-way draw when no such thing is happening. There is a draw and basically they have just played in a way that guarantees they cannot win (because they are not trying to) and in so doing also virtually guarantee that none of the other sign-ups can win. This renders the whole enterprise a farce pretty much from the get go. And what's worse, several of the participants will have no idea that their time is being wasted in this way until they have already invested hours in the enterprise only to find some of their fellow-players have signed up under false pretences and are not playing to the game's VCs. When this happens to me, I am as pissed off as my hypothetical 3 players would/should be if the hypothetical me played a game of Pandemic in a way contrary to my VCs.

You similarly simultaneously hit the meta-game of this particular website that rewards n-player draws with a lower value of n and thus incentivises players to draw-whittle as if that represents 'success' when it has no actual basis within the game rules or design. Indeed, the goal of a 2-way draw works best for such players when they play non-DIAS games contrary to the actual game rules quoted above that say all survivors share in any draw. And so on... I could say a lot more on each of these related topics and have elsewhere so I will leave those issues there for now.

In reality, if two Care Bears find each other in a game and in this paradigm work for a 2-way draw they are wasting my time. My RL and my gaming life are finite and too short to have my time wasted by people not playing to their VCs. They are being disrespectful in a real world sense and I wish they'd stop.

If you want to play a co-operative game - go do so. When I am in the mood for such a game, I'll join you. Diplomacy on the other hand is a fully competitive game where the goal is to solo. Every game you play, Diplomacy or otherwise, you should always play to win (barring special circumstances like playing with a small child you are trying to teach or something...)

Wyse out

P.S. And no, I don't want to play solo-only games which are a distortion. I just want to play a game of Diplomacy with 6 other players who are playing the game to their VC too. Sometimes that leads to a solo. Sometimes a draw. The challenge and fun is trying to solo in such a context because it is so hard to do...
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Re: Solos

Postby KimberStormer » 07 Jan 2015, 06:53

You cannot win without cooperating; nonetheless you are only cooperating in order to try and win. In other words, they are not equal concepts in this context. One is the master of the other. And when all parties appreciate this and are playing accordingly, there is a delicious and tangible paradox sitting in the middle of any cooperative endeavour. That is the beauty of Diplomacy as a game; and it is elegantly realised through the mechanic of simultaneous order resolution and the tension that enhances/generates.


This is what I personally love about Diplomacy (and Survivor) and makes it so fascinating to me. Can't play alone; can't win together. My personal philosophies and politics are, I'd wager, far far towards the "cooperation" side of this site's users (I stay out of the Debates board for a reason) but as a game I find that paradox of self-interest via cooperation (a sort of perversion of my own philosophy!) so endlessly interesting. Because it's a game, not real life. Similarly, I'm a pacifist but I love war stories and horror movies.

However this entire discussion is sort of off topic as regards the OP to whom I can only offer my own very limited experience and thoughts. I know some people plan out exactly which SCs they need to win, with maybe a couple of options for that 18th center, or whatever. I'm not that good at long-term planning and would feel a bit hemmed in by inflexible planning like this. But I'm also not so lucky that I can just make moves in my short-term interest and say "oh look! A solo opportunity! Don't mind if I do!" My general thing, as a soloist sort of gal, is to always keep in mind: what would prevent my solo? What can I not allow to happen if I want to win? Who is getting too strong? Who is about to be eliminated, and does it hurt my chances if they are? Who might work with me even if I stab them? And so on. Always keeping the solo in my mind. That's how I play, but I'm sure other more experienced players have much better answers for your actual question.
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Re: Solos

Postby Carebear » 07 Jan 2015, 07:18

Here I was chiding Rick for being a little off-topic (even knowingly so) and a raging bull (thewysecat) blundered into the china shop.

Viva the FITofRAGE 7-Way Alliance! *tongue firmly in cheek*
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Re: Solos

Postby rd45 » 07 Jan 2015, 18:10

Can't play alone; can't win together.


At the risk of dragging it even further off topic... this situation is very familiar to cycling fans. A road race is an individual event, with only one winner. But you have exactly zero chance without getting a massive amount of help from your team-mates. If your own team-mates aren't available for whatever reason, then an ad-hoc coalition of rivals will often do just as well.

It's discussed intelligently here: http://www.davidpapineau.co.uk/blog/mutual-aid-and-the-art-of-road-cycle-racing

The same, I might respectfully suggest, applies in Dip - most would agree that the point of playing is to win, and the only way to win is to co-operate - until you decide the time is right to sprint for the line. Based on the circumstances, that might be with 50km to go, or with 200m. There's glory in the long breakaway win, just the same as there is in a bunch sprint.

I guess a care bear is a player who wants to call the race a draw with 1km to go (for a cycling fan, that's pretty funny). I don't think there's an equivalent of pro cycling's domestique, who will turn him/herself inside out to put their team's leader into the best position, with next to no chance of ever seeing individual glory - unless that role maps to some other subset of Dip players that I haven't come across yet.
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Re: Solos

Postby Buachaille » 07 Jan 2015, 18:13

rd45 wrote:I don't think there's an equivalent of pro cycling's domestique, who will turn him/herself inside out to put their team's leader into the best position, with next to no chance of ever seeing individual glory - unless that role maps to some other subset of Dip players that I haven't come across yet.
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When you do; let me know ;)
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Re: Solos

Postby thewysecat » 09 Jan 2015, 02:06

Carebear wrote:Here I was chiding Rick for being a little off-topic (even knowingly so) and a raging bull (thewysecat) blundered into the china shop.

Viva the FITofRAGE 7-Way Alliance! *tongue firmly in cheek*

Is it allegedly being off-topic that truly bothers you? I don't think so. That said, I'll happily start a new thread if you are willing to commit to actually discussing the ideas at play in that thread. In written communication it can be hard to discern intent sometimes, but otherwise this just looks like mischaracterisation and *head firmly in sand*
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