How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

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David E. Cohen
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#101 Post by David E. Cohen » Fri Sep 11, 2020 2:44 pm

SimplSimon, you have a good mindset for this game.

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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#102 Post by Tom Bombadil » Fri Sep 11, 2020 3:08 pm

Ok. I have some thoughts on this, and players probably hate me for some of these thoughts, but I’m ok with that.

I’ve played many, many games of Diplomacy in my life. And the vast majority of those games have ended in draws of some degree. I would estimate that the average draw is probably 4 players. My biggest annoyance with this game is that people often play towards draws, and thus end up playing very safe games. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but I personally don’t find those games enjoyable. These people tend to be very successful on the site and in general, and I respect them – but I play Diplomacy as much for escapism as I do competition. And playing safe leads often to repetitive games that blur together. It is why we don’t see weird alliances often or personality driven games.

You might be wondering how this relates to playing for wins and/or giving up wins. I think playing for a 2 way draw can certainly be a tactic to eventually stab and win. I also think there is nothing wrong with 2 way draws in general. You can say that it breaks the spirit of the game, but the way I look at it, is that the player who convinced someone to give up a solo and include them in a 2-way draw is one hell of Diplomat.

This conversation sort of came up in my most recent game that MM won. My actions pretty directly handed MM the solo versus a draw and I came under some heat for it, with certain people accusing me of not playing to my win condition, or not playing within the spirit of the rules. I wholeheartedly disagree with that. I see nothing wrong with a player giving up a 100% chance of a 5-way draw, for an expected outcome of say 10% chance solo, 30% 2-way draw, 60% lose and someone else solos. Sure, the best chance is that you lose and someone else solo’s, but there is still upside. I don’t know if it’s the prevalence of gunboat or what, but there is a real avoidance of risk on this site, where taking a risk is sometimes viewed as unsportsmanlike or against the rules. I find it very frustrating. There is certainly a line between throwing a game maliciously and not, but I will almost always take a small chance at a positive outcome over a boring ass 5-way draw in 1906.

Also, I tend to laugh at the outrage of 2-way draws as well. If someone could have solo’s and instead gives in to a 2-way draw, what is there to be mad about? It literally does not impact you whatsoever. You were either going to lose or going to lose. You were outplayed well before that decision was made. If anything I understand the frustration of other players in my previous example who lost out on a 5 way draw. They had a (relatively) positive outcome destroyed because of my actions in pursuing a risky play. In the scenario of a player giving up a 2way draw, you still lost. To me it literally changes nothing.
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#103 Post by MadMarx » Fri Sep 11, 2020 5:53 pm

Tom Bombadil wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 3:08 pm
I see nothing wrong with a player giving up a 100% chance of a 5-way draw, for an expected outcome of say 10% chance solo, 30% 2-way draw, 60% lose and someone else solos.
FTR - France in our game would have cut you out of the 5-way draw so fast your head would have spun, in fact he would have dedicated every ounce of energy he could muster to cut you from the draw as a way to denounce your pursuit of a two-way/solo that gave no consideration to France’s long-term success in that game, so when you state 100% chance of a 5-way draw you are making a general statement that does not reflect the circumstances of our game. In our game, you were guaranteed to be able to stalemate me along with the three others, so in that sense there was a guarantee of five people being in the game when a solo was likely ruled out, but as Italy you really had no place to hide and a 4-way draw that did not include you was arguably a more likely alternative outcome than a 5-way draw that did include you. When you factor these variables into your risk assessment, certainly the pursuit of a two-way that would possibly involve the option to solo becomes an even more valid approach given the fact that France didn’t even attempt to veil his disdain for your game play that did not include him in your primary plans, which is to say that France’s game play strongly discouraged you from pursuing a 5-way with him, perhaps to the point of daring you to attempt a two-way/solo for yourself...
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#104 Post by Aristocrat » Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:42 pm

SimplSimon wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:52 pm
New Diplomacy player here. I'm sure other players have a much more stronger thoughts on this, but I just finished a game on another site where three players (a Western Triple) had clearly decided early on to play for a draw. Italy was stabbed and reduced to 1 center, so ended up supporting the invasion without gaining any territory. Near the end, England was sitting on 13 centers and could have walked into 3 of his allies center's with no possibility of opposition. His allies were entirely positioned in the south with no chance to build new units if he stabbed.

And...the game ended in a 4-way draw. Not even a 3-way draw by using and the disposing of Italy.

I feel like this was a completely pointless game. I can't possibly understand what England was thinking. What is the point of playing if you don't play to win?
I have been playing Diplomacy for a while (though relatively new to this site); I strongly agree with this post. What bothers me the most - and the most boring games on this site - are the ones where you have an ironclad three (or four!) way alliance from start to finish where countries pass over relatively failsafe solo (or draw reduction) attempts to just reach a boring conclusion after a few years. If the rest of the board doesn't identify the alliance within the first couple of turns the game is essentially settled as it is really just a numbers game. These games might as well be gunboat after Spring 1901 as well because press tends to rapidly die out as everyone realizes the game is finished. If a three countries start out the game looking for and coordinating for a draw, it is extremely likely they will get it.

I am far less bothered by players taking it safe after the board has naturally developed for a bit, although those games are still less fun than when everyone is playing completely fluidly. But at least then you have real strategy and intrigue for a while and it isn't just autopilot for points.
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#105 Post by CCR » Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:51 pm

What's the difference from moving away the front units to allow a two way draw, to moving away to allow a three or a four way draw? (rethorical question) These things only happen because the points system award smaller draws.

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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#106 Post by David E. Cohen » Sun Sep 13, 2020 4:23 pm

Oh, Cat23, I miss you so!
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#107 Post by CCR » Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:05 pm

All the young dudes: on the early nineties, category 23 on Genie was for Diplomacy. History as told in 97 can be found here - http://uk.diplom.org/pouch/Zine/F1997R/ ... Cat23.html
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#108 Post by David E. Cohen » Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:25 pm

CCR wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 2:05 pm
All the young dudes: on the early nineties, category 23 on Genie was for Diplomacy. History as told in 97 can be found here - http://uk.diplom.org/pouch/Zine/F1997R/ ... Cat23.html
One of the larger Dip communities for well over a decade; it operated throughout its existence without any scoring system whatsoever.
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#109 Post by gimix » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:50 pm

How beautiful
- No gunboat
- No anonymous
- No speed games
- Metagaming in its best meaning, ie you have a reputation, you care about it, and you know and take into account your opponents' style and karma
That's Diplomacy with capital D :)
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#110 Post by David E. Cohen » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:58 pm

There were occasional gunboat and anonymous games, but they were fairly rare. The fact that Cat23 was all human-adjudicated (unless the GM wanted to use adjudication software) meant that we tried out tons of funky variants. Since it was PBEM, you are right, the games tended to be slower paced.
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#111 Post by qrzy » Thu Sep 17, 2020 5:00 am

2 ways draw is an exam for your cold blood. :)

http://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameI ... #gamePanel

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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#112 Post by Sploack » Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:32 am

qrzy wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 5:00 am
2 ways draw is an exam for your cold blood. :)

http://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameI ... #gamePanel
So bad, Russia could have taken Serbia, Germany could have tried to sneak into Vienna. Disrespectful towards the other players.

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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#113 Post by qrzy » Thu Sep 17, 2020 11:37 am

Sploack wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:32 am
qrzy wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 5:00 am
2 ways draw is an exam for your cold blood. :)

http://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameI ... #gamePanel
So bad, Russia could have taken Serbia, Germany could have tried to sneak into Vienna. Disrespectful towards the other players.
... In your opinion. ;)

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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#114 Post by gimix » Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:28 pm

Sploack wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:32 am
Disrespectful towards the other players.
That's the part i don't understand. You only have 3 possible results: win, draw, or lose. Surviving with a couple of sc's or being defeated is basically the same.
So assuming the draw was not agreed upon from the start (which is not disrespectful, is cheating) what's the difference to other players if, say, Germany wins, or Russia and Germany draw? Everybody else loses in both cases.

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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#115 Post by Octavious » Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:34 pm

gimix wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:28 pm
Sploack wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 9:32 am
Disrespectful towards the other players.
That's the part i don't understand. You only have 3 possible results: win, draw, or lose. Surviving with a couple of sc's or being defeated is basically the same.
So assuming the draw was not agreed upon from the start (which is not disrespectful, is cheating) what's the difference to other players if, say, Germany wins, or Russia and Germany draw? Everybody else loses in both cases.
Because if Germany and Russia are trying to win there's something that a minor power can exploit to achieve a place in a draw. If Germany and Russia are playing for a two-way the minor power is essentially a spectator who is forced to turn up every day to enter utterly inconsequential orders or be punished with a hit to reliability ratings.

I am stunned that this is not immediately obvious, especially to a site mod.
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#116 Post by cdngooner » Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:37 pm

Let me put it this way. If we're playing chess and I get tired and purposely let you take my queen, is that respectful? I think all players doing their best to win is the only legitimate way to play any game or sport.
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#117 Post by Sickofpalantirs » Thu Sep 17, 2020 2:24 pm

I wonder if a lot of this comes about due to the point system. Even if a 2 or 3-way draw isn't a win, it *feels* like a win (especially to new players) because your points go up. If scoring was solo only I would guess a lot of this goes away. Not to say that's a good idea or not, just a thought about how the incentives are working.
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#118 Post by RoganJosh » Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:48 pm

Everyone should play to win, but one question is what they are trying to win. With any game that is part of a ranking, you can play to win the game or you can play to 'win' the ranking. They're as legitimate goals.

Not playing out tactical positions, which are fairly equal, at the end of the game, makes perfect sense, if you are playing a lot of games and you are trying to 'win' the ranking. Because
a) 'fairly equal' => no loss of points on average over time by accepting the draws (yes, that's my intended meaning of 'fairly equal')
b) you can gain ranking, over time, by building a reputation of being trustworthy, for you will see more endgames.
(N.B., this holds for all zero-sum systems. A ranking which is supposed to rank by 'skill' requires either a zero sum system, or bounds on how many games players are allowed to partake in.)

Of course, as a player you should try to make it so that once the endgame arrives, it is not 'fairly equal' but you have the upper hand. If you aren't even trying to accomplish that, then you're not trying to win anything. That's boring.

So it's like, two players agreeing on a 2WD early on and neither trying to tip it in their favor, that's despicable, because they're not tryin to win anything. Two players forming an early alliance, both aiming for the solo but neither managing to tip the table in their favor, then dropping the solo ambitions once they hit an (even-Steven) endgame, that's reasonable. I didn't bother to check what happened in this particular game, but sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference.
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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#119 Post by cdngooner » Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:54 pm

Rogan, your last paragraph is right on. In the game in question, the 2-way alliance was formed early on, was bragged about in press (so no question it existed early on), and both had chances to stab the other when down to 3 but refused. One had a chance to grab the 18th centre but refused. It was a miserable endgame.

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Re: How Do We Feel About Not Even Trying to Win?

#120 Post by PRINCE WILLIAM » Thu Sep 17, 2020 4:00 pm

cdngooner wrote:
Thu Sep 17, 2020 1:37 pm
Let me put it this way. If we're playing chess and I get tired and purposely let you take my queen, is that respectful? I think all players doing their best to win is the only legitimate way to play any game or sport.
If I have a rating 200 points behind you and try to stalemate you either by repetition or letting you take my pieces so I have no movement and so we draw is disrespectful? Same way in diplomacy, if I cannot win why not to play for the draw? And I know that I cannot win if I play with Octavious, or Mercy, or Durga, or Dargorygel to name but a few excellent players that I have played with. Why is bad to make an alliance and keep it to the end?
If they formed the alliance in the game and it was not preset is legal, they chose to keep it and maybe found the risk of the stab too much, isn't it a valid strategy? Even if they chose to end as equals I'd say it is again a good way to play and an honest too.

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