"Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

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"Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby senorita21 » 28 Jan 2017, 11:46

"Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon HIll.

According to the board game manufacturers (is that the right term?), luck has no role in Diplomacy.

In truth, a random allotment of a likelihood, as in true games of chance: craps, poker, etc does not occur in Diplomacy but there are elements in the game that cannot be calculated, for example, the strongest player in any given game may end up playing Italy which is the least powerful player nation. Another would be any given player NMR'ing.

Are that any anomalies like the above that can be manipulated for strategic benefits?
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby Cardlinger » 28 Jan 2017, 18:06

There are game theory/chance elements in the game as it develops, where there's e.g. a 50/50 chance on taking a territory depending on where the opponent adds their moves/support, and rather than try to diplome for a resolution you flip a coin and stake your chance on that random outcome.

So yes, 'luck' plays a (small) part in the various methods you suggest (NMR on the other side of the board, 'weak draw' (although I don't think Italy is 'weakest' per se, it's just a common trope), bounce in territory A when territory B would have been taken were it known).

However, I think when Avalon Hill are positing Luck plays no part, they are assuming a) all players fully involved, b) all nations equal of strength/quality and c) top-class diplomacy communications. With those presumptions, luck would never win out over diplomacy ability and 'complete' information.

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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby springbutt46 » 28 Jan 2017, 18:29

I personally believe in addition to what Cardlinger said there is something far more fundamental to the statement "Luck plays no part". To the best of my knowledge, before the advent of role playing games etc, there were no board games that did not have dice or a spinning wheel pointer as part of the game play itself. Diplomacy was the first game with absolutely no dice, and therefore no means by luck could be involved in the act of playing the game itself.

I don't know this for sure via research, but years and years of playing all kinds of board games at home and with friends informs my opinion on this. I simply don't recall any games without dice or spinning pointer before Diplomacy!
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby WHSeward » 28 Jan 2017, 19:07

@Seniorita, I like to say while there is no "chance" in Diplomacy, there is plenty of "luck".

The removal of any random element (after power selection) from game mechanics makes Diplomacy chanceless. But luck enters in two main ways that have already been mention. Diplomacy is a game of incomplete information, so many times players have to "guess" when entering orders. Surrenders, NMR and other sub-optimal play by players does not affect all the players equally, and those that benefit more can be considered lucky.

The way "anomalies like the above that can be manipulated for strategic benefits" is easiest to see in comparison to another great game of incomplete information, Poker. Skill in Poker is primarily about making decision under conditions of uncertainty, which in Poker is dominated by probability and in Diplomacy is dominated by game theory. In addition, both Poker players and Diplomacy players will be rewarded for discerning the cards (Poker) or intentions (Diplomacy) of their opponents while concealing their own.

Better poker players, even playing optimally, will not win every hand or every session because of random chance, but they will win more often than not over time. The same is true for better Diplomacy players. If you play closer to optimally than your opponents, you will over time be rewarded. You may not win every time due to bad luck - the surrender on the other side of the board, a series of bad guesses - but you will win more often than not.

springbutt46 wrote:Diplomacy was the first game with absolutely no dice, and therefore no means by luck could be involved in the act of playing the game itself.
Off the top of my head, Chess, Checkers, and all their iterations are the obvious counter-examples. Mancala, Master Mind, and Connect Four are others. Dominos and Scrabble don't have a random number generators, and the chance element of drawing domino's/letters is mitigated because players can re-use played pieces.
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby ThomM » 28 Jan 2017, 19:39

I would add "Go" to Seward's list.

Indeed, chess, checkers and Go are more completely devoid of elements of luck and/or chance, however defined, that Diplomacy.

Another game I'm trying to remember more clearly was Stratego. There was a lot of guessing involved in that game: i.e., guessing the opponent's pieces, but I don't think there was a luck element. And I think this game predated Diplomacy. (All I know for sure is that I played it before I played Diplomacy. This, of course, if a very small sample size).

If I were trying to understand the intended message behind's Avalon Hill's advertisement, I would hypothesize that they were mostly comparing themselves to Risk, which has some similar elements but which can involve very protracted periods of dice rolling.
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby springbutt46 » 28 Jan 2017, 20:30

I completely ignored Chess and checkers... and honestly I cannot think of why. I was even president of the Chess Club briefly. I think maybe I forgot them because they were so ubiquitous in my life, like I sometimes forget my own eye color...
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby WHSeward » 28 Jan 2017, 20:41

Right, Go too. And while those games are also chanceless and are more pure games of skill, the lack of simultaneous movement means that they all fundamentally advantage the first mover. Chess is White's game to lose.
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby Calavera » 28 Jan 2017, 20:55

Non-simultaneous moves do not always mean first player holds an advantage. An example is Renju with its https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swap_opening_rule, which also predates Diplomacy
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby Eleusinian » 28 Jan 2017, 22:53

There's also luck in who you draw as opponents. If you pick a country with two neighbors who both come into negotiations wanting to be your ally, you're going to have an easier time than if they both come into negotiations wanting to ally against you. Yes, if you're good enough you can probably convince one or both of them to change their mind -- but you're in a more difficult spot than you would have been otherwise, through no action of your own; I call that luck.
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby Mr.E » 22 Feb 2017, 09:10

This last comment isn't as big a part as I think it is being made to be. Yes, some players come into a game of Dip with an idea of how they want to play. If you're England and France always looks to attack England then you have a problem!

But many players, in a regular game (as opposed to a tournament game, for instance) will enter the game aiming to find an ally. That should mean that you have as much "chance" of allying with a player as anyone else.

The "luck" aspect of opponents isn't, then, about coming up against someone who wants to attack you. It comes down to skill - are you a better negotiator than the player who is trying to turn a third player against you?
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