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A Weekly Threat Assessment of the Diplomacy Community

DBN Deadline News

The team at Diplomacy Broadcast Network are as busy as ever. David Hood brings up hobby headlines in the June edition of Deadline, and discusses one year of virtual Diplomacy. In a new Countdown episode, Bryan Pravel and Zach Moore talk current tournament standings and DBNI speculations. Finally, follow this weekend's action at Boston Massacre 2021 with the Gameday Live stream.
 
BOUNCED Gunboat Journal

Inspired by Brother Bored's famous Gunboat journal, guest writer Robert Segovia follows in BB's footsteps and records his experiences as Austria in a Gunboat game. Interestingly, this was played on the BOUNCED site.
As if that wasn't enough, Brother Bored himself is back with Solo Tip #6: Embrace the Powers' Differences AND a newly transcribed issue of Episode #1 of the Diplomacy Dojo. It's time to become a better player!
Diplomacy Serial offers proven players a chance to share thoughts that are just too big for one issue. In the first part of a three-part series, data analyst, journalist and Diplomacy player Dave Ainsworth explores the characteristics and behaviours that will help you appeal to other players and get your games off to the best start.

The Seven Personality Traits That Help You Win in Diplomacy Openings
 

When I was a new player of Diplomacy, one thing completely baffled me. How do people choose the first power they are allied with? There haven’t been any moves. What do you have to go on? What’s the secret sauce? The more I’ve played the game, the more important, and more random, the decision about openings has seemed.
 

If you can get other players to make opening moves that favour you during the first year of the game, you are halfway to victory. If you can keep that going into the second year, you’re well on your way. Generally speaking your first goal is to get somebody, anybody, working with you in some way. Sometimes that may be in the form of a strong alliance, other times it may just be a loose arrangement of convenience. For stronger, more confident players, there may be secondary goals - getting other players to make specific moves, or setting third parties in conflict with each other. But the first goal is the most important. If other players do not make moves which favour you over their other neighbours, you are going to lose, whatever your tactical ability.
 

So how to do this? Well, obviously you must make good moves, and there are plenty of strategy guides advising what moves you should make, and what tactical advantages they might bring. But Diplomacy is really a game about people, not moves. It is about getting people to do what you want. And there is perhaps more good advice on strategy than on diplomacy - how to actually persuade your fellow players to work with you, and not with other players.
 

My belief is that most Diplomacy players, whether they know it or not, have a subconscious checklist of behaviours they want other players to display. If you display those behaviours, most players will choose to work with you, rather than someone else, most of the time. This article is about displaying personality traits which make sure you are left to last. By which time, of course, it will be too late, and you will be the one doing the eating. I’ll talk in more detail about each, but the traits I’m thinking of are:

 

Open mindedness

Empathy

Communicativeness

Generosity

Friendliness 

Strength 

Reliability

 

Some of these I think you actually should display. Others I think you should only appear to display. (There are also some traits that you should have and not display, like ruthlessness, but in this piece we'll stick to the ones you should display.)


Let’s look at each of the traits I’ve mentioned, in turn.


1. Open-Mindedness
 

You’re not going to get someone to work with you if you’re not open to working with them. That means you need to go into the game willing to listen to what everyone else has to say. Other players obviously value someone who wants to work with them, and is going to take what they say on board. Most players go into a game with some idea of what they want to do, and which country they would prefer to work with. This is a good idea. As England, for example, I usually go into a game thinking I would usually prefer to ally with Germany to attack France.
 

I previously wrote a long article about the data of Diplomacy and what it shows about who you should and should not ally with. I think it’s very important stuff and should inform your preferences about what happens next, all things being equal. 


But all things are not equal. So it is important not to come in with those ideas completely fixed in your mind. The single most important factor in Diplomacy is the relationships you build with the other players - far more important than the tactical and strategic decisions. So you must make a judgement about the relationships you can build with the other players. You must also make an estimate of the skill of the other players.  Crucially, you cannot decide which country you want to ally with or which moves you want to make, before you get a grip on who is playing the other country. Some players do not make good allies. If another player seems like a loose cannon, or an extremely strong opponent who cannot be allowed time to build a power base, you may decide you need to take them out immediately. So just because you start off thinking one way, it doesn’t mean you need to carry on.
 

Open mindedness is not an unmixed blessing, however. Other players want to know that you are willing to work with them, but they also want to feel confident that you aren’t working with someone else. So at some stage, you’ll have to move to showing some commitment.

2. Empathy

Put yourself in the other player’s shoes. What do they want? What are their goals? This is a valuable tool for getting other players to like you and want to work with you. Other players prize someone who is interested in their needs. But it’s also a useful tool for understanding what moves are going to be made. It’s important, in and of itself, to know what other players want.

The simplest way to find out what others want is just to ask them. What do you want from me? What are your early objectives? I tend to start every game the same way, with a message to each of my immediate neighbours. "Congratulations on getting Germany/Russia/France/whoever. I think (your country) and (my country) can be great allies. I wondered if you had any thoughts about how we could work together." Generally speaking you find out pretty quickly this way what the other person wants. Then, if it’s reasonable, promise you’ll give it to them. Often this is all it takes. They wanted something, you promised to help them get it. Hey presto, you got yourself an ally!
 

But of course, it’s not always that easy. The next thing to do is to go about forming a model of them, based on their responses. Are they aggressive? Charming? Cold? Do they ask for a series of DMZs, or propose an alliance against a third power? Some players crave certainty and want to nail down an alliance as soon as possible. Others like to wait out the first year and see where the pieces move. Which are you dealing with? Then however you think they think, try to match that. If you think you’re dealing with the kind of player who secures an alliance and then stops sending press until the fall turn, get them locked in as soon as possible. If you think you’re dealing with a wait-and-see type, find out what they’re waiting to see, so you can do it.
 

So this trait is important for two reasons. First, people like to feel understood. But second, if you actually understand the motivations and goals of the other player, you are more likely to be able to make moves which will take advantage of that.

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This issue was brought to you by Adam Silverman. Thanks for the support!
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