A Weekly Threat Assessment of the Diplomacy Community

DBNI Invitational

The second round of the DBNI invitational is in the books, and was a massive success. Congratulations to Markus Zijlstra, Peter McNamara, Russ Dennis, Andrei Gribakov, Matthew Crill, Farren Jane, and Nicolas Sahuguet for making the top board. The final seven was decided by an incredibly tight margin, with only four points separating 6th from 9th place.

Check out all the exciting action from the past weekend in two separate livestreams here and here. Watch the countdown show here. Be sure to tune in on February 27th at 7:00pm EST for live coverage of the final board to crown the champion of DBNI!
Diplomacy Games: #86

In their latest episode, Kamer and Amby interview Australian Defense Force chaplain John Dansie about using diplomacy in the education of professional military officers. They also talk about upcoming face to face games and their online play. Watch it here.

New Editor Position
Last year we brought on 3 editors who took over writing the copy for each issue.  They have done a great job.  We are looking to add 2 people to become content editors.  They would be in charge of helping to plan out future issues and colloborating with our copy editors.  Click here for more info. 
The Tour of Britain Tournament will begin virtually on March 6th-7th. This is an eight game tournament played over four separate weekends until November. Sign up here.
Anatomy of a Top-Ranked Player (Part #4)
Diplomacy Serial offers proven players a chance to share thoughts that are just too big for one issue. This final article (check out the first articlesecond article, and the third article) of a four part series features Village Idiot, a top 10 player on playdiplomacy and webDiplomacy and multi-time finalist in Nexus and the ODC, as he dissects the anatomy of a top ranked player.

In the previous article, Village Idiot writes that all top players value trust as a precious currency and are thick-skinned. They also tend to play smarter, not harder.

9) They Manage the Game Beyond the Game

If you want to fall under the label of ‘top player,’ then you want to get involved in leagues, tournaments, or ranking systems. Of course, a great player—perhaps by definition—wins matches.

However, if you want to reach the acme of excellence you must understand that you are playing a bigger game than just one specific match. For example, there’s your reputation. If you’re playing in a tournament or league, your reputation carries over between games—and you’ll need to get good at managing that. Skilled players are also knowledgeable about different scoring systems and differing rule sets, and are able to adjust their strategy to take advantage of the rules. The best players even keep tabs of who is in a given match and factor that into their play as well. Brumark (Online Diplomacy Championship 2020 winner / PlayDip Top 20 player) understood this extremely well, and would cleverly pull punches in the early rounds of the tournament to conservatively control his score so as to not put too large of a target onto himself. Instead of maximizing his scores each match, he invested in the success of players he felt he could work with (or possibly beat) in later rounds. He played a deeper game than most players can even imagine: he deliberately influenced the composition of players at the final table, and then defeated them all to become the champion. It’s fairly common for skilled players to keep up-to-date spreadsheets that track stats and numbers so that they can fine-tune the level of aggressiveness they need in a particular match to achieve their tournament goals.

10) They Embrace Their Differential Advantage

The last thing top Diplomacy players share in common is that they are each unique. A unique approach to Diplomacy is necessary to ascend to the rank of “top” player because the merely strong players (who a top player must defeat) have mastered the other necessary skills. Certain tactics and diplomatic ploys, although they are powerful, are too well-known at that highest level. Paradoxically, certain well-regarded methods of play are too well-known to consistently succeed against the best players. 

All the top players have an x-factor that enables them to subvert expectations of how games ‘ought’ play out, allowing them to achieve levels beyond the reach of other players. This is what drives me towards seeking opportunities to play top players, as I’m enthralled by the opportunity to peek into their idiosyncrasies like looking into a box of Cracker Jacks to discover what surprise lies within. With enough time and study, anybody can learn the tactical playbooks and sharpen their interpersonal skills to become a very proficient Diplomacy player. But to be a unicorn, you must move past the science of the game and embrace the artistry.

Some of my favorite unique talents I’ve discovered from different top players over the years:

  • EVR (Nexus Gunboat champion and Nexus Season 5 finalist) had an innate ability to see far-reaching butterfly effects of every action.

This follows the old hockey adage of “skate to where the puck is going.” He was able to see beyond just where his next build was coming from, and instead forecast where problems would arise for his opponents and opportunities for himself— often overlooking possible short-term losses. His tactics were far subtler than most, and his plans for grand success were far-sighted.

  • GoHornsGo (Nexus Season 2 Finalist, Cascadia Open 2021 Champion, Host of The Diplomats) had an ability to connect with players on a deep personal and sentimental level which allowed him access to unintuitive trust and favour. 

  • PoserTom (Nexus Season 3 and 5 Finalist) was teflon for long periods of his game when it came to getting caught with blood on his hands due to extremely subtle puppet-mastering skills. He would be friendly with everybody and convince them all that they were his only ‘real’ friend in the game. Most players would have no idea he was the root of their hardships until it was too late.

  • Charliep007 (former PlayDiplomacy Top 10 player) had a mind for upsetting traditional tactics through highly unconventional and unpredictable strategies, putting opponents off-balance and creating an unstable board which would lead to solo opportunities.  He took a lot of risks, but coupled with a strong tactical skill he was able to parlay the risks into disrupting the strategies of the players around him and recover quickly on occasions where the risks did not pay off.


You too could become a top ranked Diplomacy player. It may take years of practice, but if you make a deliberate effort to become better you will definitely improve. If you set out to master the skills I have identified here, and if you embrace your uniqueness, your fellow hobbyists may one day speak of your achievements with awe and reverence.




This issue was brought to you by Jeff Hayman. Thank you for the support!
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