Playing more than one game together

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Playing more than one game together

Postby marsman57 » 22 Apr 2012, 05:31

(b) Where appropriate, players should not allow relationships with other players affect the way they play the game.


I have been putting a lot of thought into this rule lately as I recently had a player (who I will leave unnamed lest I tarnish his name in the forum game playing sphere) tell me that he would not ever consider an alliance with me again after I stabbed him in both of the games we have played together.

I would never go so far, but the more games I play with the same people, the more I have gotten a feeling about who strategizes similarly to me, who is generally trustworthy, and who is likely to be misleading me to his own ends. It is really hard to separate that out sometimes from the discrete game you are playing. So much so that if I find myself allied with a person in two separate forum games, I am a little more tentative to stab them than I normally would just in case, even if they don't mean for it to be, that it just slightly pushes them to want to stab me back in the other game.

I don't know, I don't think the site has some big huge endemic problem with this, but I just think that it is such a good theoretical rule, but it's hard to exercise practically since you cannot (easily) play forum games anonymously.
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Re: Fair Play - Rules for participating in Forum Games

Postby asudevil » 22 Apr 2012, 06:14

Im with you completely on this marsman. There are only so many forum game players (probably active like 50-60?), and always 10 games going on, there is going to be over lap. I just had a player (who I will also leave nameless), tell me he will never trust/ally with me again.

I also find myself playing/allying with similar people. They are also people who I will always allow into games I GM (or I asked to join my Forum Team for the championship), because I know they are top-flight players who are consistent.

I do have to think about whether a stab is a good stab a little harder when Im allied with them in another game as well, but I have found most people understand the timing of a good stab (they just dont like stabs that are poor ones). Most players know its a game and take it as such, and while they may be more likely to stab in the other game, I usually apologize and explain the stab and let them know I still want to work with them in the other game. Usually then I have to make double sure that they can trust me by being extra blunt with them in the other game, and almost warn them of an impending stab, so they will some day trust me in future games.

Its a fine line, but I think the biggest deal is to make sure players are not entering a game, me seeing Pedros is in it, and PM'ing him before it even starts, saying lets join, get close countries and 2man draw this.
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Re: Fair Play - Rules for participating in Forum Games

Postby Pedros » 23 Apr 2012, 17:34

Of all the players I've met through this site but have now left, the one I miss most is kininvie. We only played two or three games together, but one message from him changed my whole attitude to alliances and stabbing.

It was a straight main site game; he was Turkey to my Austria, and we allied from the start. After two or three years the alliance was going well and we were discussing the future. He wrote something like "We must press on like this. Sooner or later one of us will stab the other, but for now we push forward together." To receive that message - absolutely upfront, not a threat but an acknowledgement that both of us were in it for the solo if we could get it, but it was in both our interests to stick together for the time being, overcame a huge block in my thinking. I don't think I've ever looked back from it. (Not just a recognition of what the game was about, but also an indication that, until the time was right, we didn't have to spend half our time looking over our shoulders at each other.)

Leaving on one side for the moment those players who are "stick to the alliance no matter what" (missing 75% of the enjoyment of Diplomacy), we're all in this position. To complain because somebody stabs you in a game of Diplomacy is ludicrous.

To the players who say they'll never play you again (and I suspect I know who you mean!), well, good riddance - I'd rather play with serious players. If a player tells me he'll never ally with me again (I don't think in fact I've met that one!) then, Thanks. Assuming I can trust you (!) then I know where I stand with at least one other player in the game - one up to me!

But "I do have to think about whether a stab is a good stab a little harder when Im allied with them in another game as well" - why? Do you think they are going to metagame and cheat because you stabbed them? And isn't that thought on your own part on the verge of metagaming? If a stab is a good one, then stab. If not, don't (or at least wait until it gets better!)

And in that game, kininvie stabbed me. I told him at the time he'd gone too soon, and so it turned out. Massed defence leading to a large-scale draw.

And that's what I find most frustrating about Forum Game players - not their reaction to stabs, but the fact that so few seem able to stand back from what has happened in the game to date and team up to stop an obvious solo threat. Reading the AARs of games I GM I'm appalled by the tales of what went on behind the scenes and why an anti-solo alliance couldn't be brought off. Now that is appalling play.
"Sooner or later, one of us will stab the other. But for now we're both better off as allies" (kininvie)
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Re: Fair Play - Rules for participating in Forum Games

Postby marsman57 » 23 Apr 2012, 18:30

Pedros wrote:But "I do have to think about whether a stab is a good stab a little harder when Im allied with them in another game as well" - why? Do you think they are going to metagame and cheat because you stabbed them? And isn't that thought on your own part on the verge of metagaming? If a stab is a good one, then stab. If not, don't (or at least wait until it gets better!)


I don't disagree with that statement. That is what makes this discussion interesting. I don't think that it is likely if you are in firm alliances in two games and you stab in one that the person is going to forsake you in the other as a result of that. The more interesting proposition is if you are allies in one game, but just starting to trust one another in the other and you slam the knife into their back particularly hard in the first game. Maybe you have now hurt their trust of you as a player though in the second game your intentions were genuine.

It all goes back to your legacy as a player throughout the site and the psychological affect that will have on people who choose to ally with or against you.

As an aside, this is the same reason I get nervous about posting in topics on "Strategy". :)
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Re: Playing more than one game together

Postby asudevil » 23 Apr 2012, 18:41

I agree its a perceived behavior thing, whether on forum games or regular games, some people develop a reputation as being "true to their word draw guys", or "stab you as soon as possible guys", so somewhere in between. I am finding out that apparently Im developing a bit of a negative reputation on the forum side. So I know people may be hesitant to ally with me, but that perception is there whether I stab them in one of our games, or not.

Its up to the players to be able to separate
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Re: Playing more than one game together

Postby rick.leeds » 23 Apr 2012, 23:52

It isn't just a Forum Games thing, of course, but I do understand that there is a smaller player-base in Forum Games. There are probably a number of aspects to this.

First, the reputation side. The worst thing you could do as a player is act in a game based on somebody's reputation. In games I go out of my way to build myself up as a reliable player who will be with you all the way, my ally. And I will... while it is worthwhile. If it becomes more worthwhile to attack you, I will. In Forum Games this is probably more important as a factor because the player base is smaller. You're more likely to come across the same players again: those who have the time and inclination to play an FG, those who like playing similar FGs as you, etc. So that means in, say, a seven player forum game, the other six are going to see you stab an ally. Those six will remember it. This player WILL stab. To a great extent it's right to say that players will differentiate between a well-timed, effective stab and a badly-times, opportunistic stab. If they don't remember, they're doing themselves a dis-favour. But a player who stabs in some games ISN'T going to stab in other games. Playing a player's reputation is a poor way to play.

Second, the concurrent game scenario. It IS difficult to get around. You get stabbed in one game and the same player is currently allied with you in another. Uh-oh, you know what's coming, right? Better stab him first! Again, though, poor play. To play any game based on Dip well, you have to play THAT game at THAT time. Linking games this way isn't just meta-gaming, it's appallingly bad play. The one may not be provable; the other is ridiculous. Unfortunately, I'm sure it happens.

Third, the human reaction. It doesn't matter how much we can remove our emotions from a game, we put time, energy and effort into doing as well as we can in it. When you've built a good alliance, you have also built your hopes into the outcome of the game. Then, stab! Suddenly that time, effort, energy and those hopes can be burst. The immediate reaction, fairly naturally, is anger. The better players manage that; the worst players don't. That's why, occasionally, you get people who complain about stabbing in the Forum, even those who are abusive about it; it's also why you get players who will "never stab" (I'm not sure how they ACTUALLY manage this... at some point you have given someone the impression they can trust you, even if for just one turn!). Human reaction may well result in a "counter"-stab in another game. This is something that is a reality. The extent of it is something we should try and manage.

Last but certainly not least poor play. Someone sends me a message on the lines of "I'll never trust you again" I'd send them back a message along the lines of "You're playing the wrong game then!" Unfortunately, though, the more I read about this kind of thing the more I realise how badly some people play the game... whether straight Dip or variants of it. Being very un-diplomatic, idiots send that kind of message... or people who just want to play with your head. If the latter, they have maybe scored points; fair enough. FG might be different, as I'd expect better players to be playing here; but you see it a lot. Kingmaking is widespread; revenge seems to drive people. A lot of it probably mirrors the third point: they're bad players, players that fail in being able to manage their emotions. And yes, I've had a lot of practice in that, being a teacher you have to; but if you can't learn to do it, this IS the wrong game for you.

So how can it be managed? I think that is the real crux of this and it certainly isn't easy. In FGs the messages sent from one player to another are by PM and PMs can be edited before being "quoted". That means there has to be a good degree of self-moderating. If you get that kind of message, don't play with that player again. If a player sends you a PM like that, then joins a game you've signed-up for, warn the GM. It isn't "grassing" (that's probably a UK term, sorry... it isn't tittle-tattle or telling on them) it's warning the GM what kind of player that is. Send them a reply that they had better not play against you again then. Yes it might well pee them off, but tough; they're not the kind of player who should be playing these games. Avoid playing in games with them if you can... and depending upon what the GM says, maybe that will mean removing yourself from a game before it starts. Players like that need to be shown for what they are.

Yes, I'm taking a hard line on this, and yes I don't often get the time to think about playing FGs. But players who can't make the effort to play the game within the spirit of the game shouldn't be playing it at all. Each game DOES stand alone, and that should be especially so in FGs. You gain nothing from playing them except the enjoyment of the challenge. Face that challenge, play the game (not the games), or pack it in. Seriously, if you don't enjoy it, don't play it.
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Re: Playing more than one game together

Postby marsman57 » 25 Apr 2012, 03:33

Well said.

I am glad I have not yet played Kingmaker in a forum game, though I came a little close in Seismic when I started giving my Seismic order to the leader when the anti-leader alliance utterly failed to get off the ground because people could not bury the hatchet and stop being opportunistic. :) (Who cares if you have 10 SCs or 8 if someone else has 18?)
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Re: Playing more than one game together

Postby rick.leeds » 25 Apr 2012, 13:04

marsman57 wrote:I am glad I have not yet played Kingmaker in a forum game, though I came a little close in Seismic when I started giving my Seismic order to the leader when the anti-leader alliance utterly failed to get off the ground because people could not bury the hatchet and stop being opportunistic. :) (Who cares if you have 10 SCs or 8 if someone else has 18?)

Ah, to me that is a different aspect. If people WON'T organise themselves, and are too busy with petty squabbles, then I think threatening the Kingmaker role is probably fair enough. It will either make them sit up and listen, or it won't, and if the latter then more fool them. I know it can be difficult to suddenly trust another player who has stabbed you and could carry that attack on, and I know that if you are the player who has stabbed and there is an opportunity to carry that attack on it's difficult to abandon it. The aim of the game of Dip, though, is to get a solo or to draw. A good second place means nothing (outside of a tournament, perhaps); second to a solo is a loss. Players who will choose a high scoring-SC loss over a possible draw are missing the point of the game.
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