Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

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foodcoats
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#241 Post by foodcoats » Tue Aug 06, 2019 3:46 pm

Skill plays no part in Diplomacy because free will is an illusion. All your victories and defeats are predetermined. Fate is inexorable.
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dargorygel
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#242 Post by dargorygel » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:22 pm

foodcoats wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 3:46 pm
Skill plays no part in Diplomacy because free will is an illusion. All your victories and defeats are predetermined. Fate is inexorable.
Alfred the Great would disagree, Uhtred.
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ssorenn
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#243 Post by ssorenn » Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:24 pm

No no no.......ME

Wusti
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#244 Post by Wusti » Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:23 am

dargorygel wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:22 pm
foodcoats wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 3:46 pm
Skill plays no part in Diplomacy because free will is an illusion. All your victories and defeats are predetermined. Fate is inexorable.
Alfred the Great would disagree, Uhtred.
But if true, then it proves the case that there is neither luck nor chance in Diplomacy as well.

EVERYONE IS CORRECT!
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foodcoats
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#245 Post by foodcoats » Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:45 am

Wusti wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:23 am
dargorygel wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 4:22 pm
foodcoats wrote:
Tue Aug 06, 2019 3:46 pm
Skill plays no part in Diplomacy because free will is an illusion. All your victories and defeats are predetermined. Fate is inexorable.
Alfred the Great would disagree, Uhtred.
But if true, then it proves the case that there is neither luck nor chance in Diplomacy as well.

EVERYONE IS CORRECT!
I had wanted to say something intelligent, but I could not get past three pages of pedantry and didn't want to spout off without knowing the whole thread. It's honestly a pretty fantastic thread (at least for the first three pages), and I would truly say that everyone has presented correct and interesting viewpoints (not even trolling now). I just didn't want to read those same correct and interesting viewpoints being compared to dick sizes for 8 more pages.

That said: swordsman, I definitely agree with the "ethic" that you conclude your articles with. The nature of unknowns in Diplomacy are such that one can make very good estimates if one applies oneself. Your articles reminded me of the importance of paying critical attention and thinking deeply if you want to get the best possible outcome playing this game. It actually made me take a new look at a gunboat game I am currently losing, review the moves, and find the critical turn where I lost. Sadly for me, it's a "maxim" that I learned reading your gunboat journal that I had forgotten; but hopefully I'll never forget it again!
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#246 Post by The Belgian Bulldog » Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:49 pm

All has been said before, but, briefly, three aspects are relevant in my honest opinion, and also show that it is all about semantics : "what is 'luck'?" (this almost sounds like group therapy):

1. The fact that all moves are executed and revealed at the same time is an element of luck in my opinion. It is not the fact that your opponent's move is not 100% predictable, it is instead the fact that all moves are executed at the same time. A game that is absent of luck, is chess (apart from perhaps the minor impact of luck as to whether you get to play black or white). In chess, you can rely on your opponent's moves to contemplate and decide your next move. In diplomacy, you cannot, you can only try to outguess your opponent.

2. Sure, you can increase your chances of outguessing by various techniques and tactics. Probably all have been stated before. That does not mean that the element of luck is gone, you (may) only have decreased the 'chance' (or luck) of being confronted with a position that is to your disadvantage but nothing is excluded. Players saying they can exclude this entirely overestimate themselves. I have read swordsman's blog on the biggest game of all time and on the ODC : they are both impressive reads, but also swordsman is perhaps most of the time right, but also sometimes wrong, as we all try to be.

3. What is true, is that your skills in diplomacy obviously do matter in all of the above, but I think the differentiation between skillful vs non-skilful players becomes more clear after having played a number of games. A good player may lose from a bad player in a game due to a number of elements that are outside her/his control. You may have made some wrong guesses in a certain game, but if you know your statistics and know how to read your opponents and how to play the political game, a higher accuracy level and level of success will surely become apparent after having played more games.

Based on the above, saying that - apart from the assignment of countries in diplomacy or black / white in chess - luck plays the exact same part in both games, is in my opinion ludicrous. I agree that luck does not play a major role in diplomacy, but saying that diplomacy is absent thereof (apart from the assignment of countries), is imo incorrect.

So in the end: I fully agree with swordsman's second point of his blog and I actually also agree to a large extent with his first and third point. Particularly, I think we disagree over the meaning of the word "luck" when applied to boardgames. When you compare diplomacy with poker or blackjack, sure, luck seems to play no role in diplomacy. However, when you compare with chess, you see that there is a certain additional element of luck in diplomacy.

That being said, I think the reason why we all love this game, is exactly the very low impact of luck and the thrill of having all moves revealed at the same time, together with all ancillary techniques, tactics and politics.
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#247 Post by swordsman3003 » Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:37 am

The Belgian Bulldog, your response is interesting to me and I appreciate your taking the time to write out a thoughtful disagreement. I understand and acknowledge that you said you agree with many of my points, and I appreciate your making the effort to point that out while disagreeing with me.

From your post, I can tell that you read my first essay on the old Avalon Hill box quote. But I can't tell if you read my second essay, where the numbered points are far messier (I restart the numbering several times; maybe this was a bad idea).

Solo Win Tip #2: There’s No Such Thing as Luck

If you haven't read this, please do. I can see from my Google analytics that about 20% of my readers read only the first essay and not the second.
The Belgian Bulldog wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:49 pm
three aspects [. . .] show that it is all about semantics : "what is 'luck'?"
I fully agree. I’m not sure if we agree that a discussion of semantics is a useful conversation; most people use the word “semantics” derisively, but I consider semantics to be a worthwhile field of study (and one I think about and apply almost daily).

Semantics, in the philosophical/linguistic sense of the word, is the study of meanings. Semantics helps us understand the relationship between words and the concepts meant to be represented by the words.

“Chess is a perfect information game.” -- beyond dispute.
“Diplomacy is an imperfect information game.” -- also beyond dispute. The players choose their moves secretly and simultaneously.
“Poker is an imperfect information game.” -- beyond dispute. The cards are randomized and hidden.

Nobody disagrees about the rules of Chess, Diplomacy, or Poker, and nobody disagrees about what “imperfect information” means.

“Chess is a game involving no randomized information.” -- beyond dispute.
“Poker is a game involving randomized information.” -- beyond dispute.
“Diplomacy is a game involving no randomized information.” -- reasonably disputable. The game does not, by its rules, require the players to randomize anything (**other than country selection), but the players could, rarely, tactically introduce randomization.

Again, nobody disagrees about the rules of these games, and nobody disagrees about what “randomization” means. Evidently, there is a disagreement about the implications of players deciding, without a requirement by the rules, to use randomization for a rare tactical advantage.

If we speak in these precise technical words, there’s no confusion, barely any disagreement, and hardly anything to say or argue about.

.....

But the word luck, that is a special word. That is a magic word. That is a loaded word.

Luck is a word like Justice, Fairness, Love, or Hate. It can be immensely difficult to fully appreciate why a person comes to describe something as “unfair,” but if you pay attention, you can sort of put together a rudimentary understanding. Developing a full understanding can take immense effort, as most people do not know how they come to use loaded words and are frequently dishonest in describing their beliefs (both to other people, and to their own minds).

These are not just words; they correspond to concepts. And the concepts of justice and love are some of the most important concepts people come to understand. People will kill and die for love and justice. You could parse the universe atom by atom and never find one AMU of justice or love, but for many people these words are more important and more real than any material object.

Like Justice, Love, Fairness, and a host of other words I could come up with, “Luck” has a certain subjective meaning because Luck is -- unlike “randomized information” and “imperfect information” -- Luck is also a feeling.

So if it’s just words we’re talking about, why does my conclusion rile up so many people? Because they’re hung up on the word luck and they can’t let that go. They have to disagree with my word choice, they’re almost compelled to say something, because their feelings, and their fundamental beliefs about the world and how they relate to it are infringed on by my shocking and (to them) counter-factual statement that your inability to out-guess another player does not count as luck.

My point is very abstract, and I guess I’m reaching the upper limits of my abilities as a communicator, but this is the crux of what I’m saying: your desire to call something “luck” reflects a fundamental belief or feeling that you have, and it relates to your desire to accept (or reject) responsibility for the outcome of what happens around you. Yes, obviously, some people draw that line differently than I do. But I’m not going to mince words: I consider the over-wide understanding of “luck” (the correspondence of the word to the concept -- the concept of not feeling in control) to be a self-imposed mental handicap. I think that feeling or deciding that something is “luck” is not just a mere choice of words; it is an application of a concept (“luck”) to a particular situation.

When someone can’t define the terms they’re voluntarily using, when someone can’t articulate why their understanding is preferable, I usually think that they don’t because they can’t because they lack organized thoughts on the subject. Their opinion exists just to express a vague alignment or dis-alignment with something or other. The word is employed to rationalize a pre-existing conclusion (a conclusion that was not reached by application of a well-defined concept to a particular situation).

So, The Belgian Bulldog, we are in complete agreement that Chess is different from Diplomacy...
The Belgian Bulldog wrote:However, when you compare with chess, you see that there is a certain additional element of luck in diplomacy.
but we do not agree about whether this difference (imperfect information) constitutes "luck."

I can’t get over -- I absolutely can’t get over this -- that you, The Belgian Bulldog, utilize my personal limitations as part of your proof of the part that luck plays in Diplomacy.
The Belgian Bulldog wrote:Players saying they can exclude this entirely overestimate themselves. I have read swordsman's blog on the biggest game of all time and on the ODC : they are both impressive reads, but also swordsman is perhaps most of the time right, but also sometimes wrong, as we all try to be.
You are, in your own words, defining “luck” as that which a player fails to anticipate or control:
The Belgian Bulldog wrote:That does not mean that the element of luck is gone, you (may) only have decreased the 'chance' (or luck) of being confronted with a position that is to your disadvantage but nothing is excluded.
What is happening is that you are looking for the gap between what your abilities allow you to accomplish (or what someone else’s abilities allow them to accomplish), and calling that gap “luck.” The better you are, the less “luck” involved — but nobody is perfect, so nobody can eliminate all the luck. I get what you're saying, but I disagree. Well, like, I obviously agree that you think what you think -- I believe you are being honest with me about what "luck" means to you -- but I disagree about the desirability of this line of thinking.

I personally believe that whatever is motivating you to come forth and define or apply the word luck in such a way is holding you back. I urge you to look inside yourself, consider your feelings, and change your attitude.

In neither of the two matches that correspond to the two journals I posted to my blog did I get a solo win. But at no point -- not then, and not now -- did I attribute that result to bad luck. I didn’t win because I failed to make choices that would have resulted in my victory. I didn’t win because I failed to seize opportunities that might have changed the course of the match. I didn’t win because my strategies had inherent tactical limitations that narrowed my choices down to a very small number of opportunities. I could go on.

I struggle to see how this line of thinking leads me to “overstimate [myself].”

I’m going to quote back my second essay. I just don’t think your points grapple with what I’ve already said:
BrotherBored wrote:A belief that you are “unlucky” will make you feel better, but a belief that you controlled your destiny will make you be better.

[. . .]

Somewhere between your current capabilities and godhood lies the outer limit of what you can do, and you should strive to improve to reach that point… not blame “luck” for your inability to understand and foresee the best moves you could have made.
And, The Belgian Bulldog, you flatly contradicted one of the points in my second essay without actually challenging what I said (which is a factor in why I presume you missed the second essay):
The Belgian Bulldog wrote:3. What is true, is that your skills in diplomacy obviously do matter in all of the above, but I think the differentiation between skillful vs non-skilful players becomes more clear after having played a number of games. A good player may lose from a bad player in a game due to a number of elements that are outside her/his control. You may have made some wrong guesses in a certain game, but if you know your statistics and know how to read your opponents and how to play the political game, a higher accuracy level and level of success will surely become apparent after having played more games.
BrotherBored wrote:4. Treat Every Match as a Test of Your Skill

There are players who adhere to the attitude I am criticizing even if they don’t use the word “luck” to describe how they feel. There’s this claim floating around the community that Diplomacy is a game where it’s really hard to control your destiny, so you can only really prove how good you are through long-term, aggregate results.

What a great story to tell yourself to help you sleep at night.

I’m here to tell you today that the outcome of any given Diplomacy match strongly corresponds to the difference in the skill of the players in that match. Sure, there are “upsets” where a weaker player ekes out a rare result against stronger players. But I think that happens in Diplomacy far less often than almost any board game, or competitive activity in general. Diplomacy is a game where being even slightly better than another player will make a huge difference in your ability to defeat that player. If you are significantly better, the match is yours to lose.
(that's only about half of the content of that sub-point, but I holding back on quoting so much text)

I have a well-articulated opinion as to why it matters to you, to me, and everyone else to say what luck is and why luck does or doesn't play a part in Diplomacy. I think this semantic debate calls forth our deepest convictions, attitudes, and insecurities. I do not hold myself immune.
BrotherBored wrote:What is Luck? (Baby Don’t Hurt Me!)

An excuse.
That's my answer. What does luck mean to you?
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#248 Post by The Belgian Bulldog » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:53 pm

Thanks for your response swordsman : as always, it is well written and I appreciate how you always succeed in formulating a well-founded opinion. Some answers nonetheless:
  • swordsman3003 wrote:From your post, I can tell that you read my first essay on the old Avalon Hill box quote. But I can't tell if you read my second essay
    You are right that I hadn't. I have read it now, although I have to say that it does not change what I said earlier.
  • swordsman3003 wrote:Semantics, in the philosophical/linguistic sense of the word, is the study of meanings. Semantics helps us understand the relationship between words and the concepts meant to be represented by the words.
    I agree with what you say on semantics, and largely with several examples applied to chess, diplomacy and poker.
  • swordsman3003 wrote:So if it’s just words we’re talking about, why does my conclusion rile up so many people? Because they’re hung up on the word luck and they can’t let that go. ...

    ...But I’m not going to mince words: I consider the over-wide understanding of “luck” (the correspondence of the word to the concept -- the concept of not feeling in control) to be a self-imposed mental handicap.
    I disagree.

    Truly, what you say on luck (or even insinuating a self-imposed mental handicap on that basis) does not rile me up. I just have a different opinion, but I am not angry over yours. And I like to enter into that discussion because it is interesting, not because I am annoyed.

    The other way around, the question could be asked whether disagreement with your conclusion on the lack of 'luck' in diplomacy actually riles you up. Perhaps you are the one that gets hung up on the word 'luck'?
  • swordsman3003 wrote:... Yes, obviously, some people draw that line differently than I do.
    They do indeed and I will try to explain where I draw that line. You say that a poker game and the randomized card drawing is what constitutes luck in poker. You differentiate from what happens in Diplomacy where other players take decisions, you have to outguess them and you can influence them.

    Let's consider the example where you have to shoot at a football goal at the same time when the goal takes a position. The goal can pop up on the right, in the middle or on the left, with the following likelihood : 40%, 30% and 30%:

    A. The goal does this mechanically and at random, similarly to a deck of cards where you need to hit blackjack. You and I would say this counts at luck.

    B. It is a different human being that pushes the button (without knowing your shot) and you cannot talk. Does this still count as luck, or not any longer just because there is human involvement? I think it does.

    C. Same example as under B, but now you get to talk with the other player before. You can (try to) influence him. You have seen his (above) statistics, you have played this game before with him and you know some mindgames and tricks. You can try to influence the outcome. You can increase your chance, but you can't be sure. For me, the outcome is still luck.

    Diplomacy is still different from the example under C because it involves a variety of other aspects as well. Strategy is involved : short term and longterm. You can influence other players by showing them the strategic advantage of why to choose certain moves. At the same time you are also up again a number of players and all players are influencing in each other. It is not as binary, and there is in my opinion even less of luck involved.

    But that does not exclude that luck is still involved. You still have to deal with other players' decisions, and no matter what you do and how good you work it out, you cannot exclude (that) other player(s) taking a decision that is in your disadvantage, and even in your both disadvantage. Perhaps because you did not put in enough effort, perhaps because you did not find the right arguments, etc etc, ... or perhaps because you were just unlucky.
  • swordsman3003 wrote:I struggle to see how this line of thinking leads me to “overstimate [myself].
    I never said this, nor intended to imply this. I was not referring to you at all, and I think my post shows that I never did that.
  • swordsman3003 wrote:I personally believe that whatever is motivating you to come forth and define or apply the word luck in such a way is holding you back. I urge you to look inside yourself, consider your feelings, and change your attitude.
    See, this is probably where I disagree most. The fact that you consider that luck is involved does not mean that that this is holding you back. I will review every single move I (intend to) make for a number of times, execute that move, and review it several times after. I will put all effort in trying to make things go my way. I will consider how I can increase my chance of success on a single move, a single turn, a single game and over long-term, aggregate results. I will do that, despite the fact that I consider that luck is still involved.

    On the aspect of holding me back, it is actually a strange coincidence, but we are actually right next to each other on spots 13 and 14 in the latest https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... Ir/pubhtml. Perhaps, if I would agree with you on the lack of luck, I could jump over you? ;)
  • swordsman3003 wrote:There’s this claim floating around the community that Diplomacy is a game where it’s really hard to control your destiny, so you can only really prove how good you are through long-term, aggregate results.

    What a great story to tell yourself to help you sleep at night.

    I’m here to tell you today that the outcome of any given Diplomacy match strongly corresponds to the difference in the skill of the players in that match. Sure, there are “upsets” where a weaker player ekes out a rare result against stronger players. But I think that happens in Diplomacy far less often than almost any board game, or competitive activity in general.
    I do agree with you that the outcome of any given Diplomacy match strongly corresponds to the difference in skill, but I don't think that is the case more than any competitive activity in general. Again: try chess. But you can even try a game of tennis or several other sport games.

    But yes, I also think that long-term, aggregate results show the difference in skills even better. The one view is not opposed to the other.

    Even more so, looking at things like that does not help me to sleep at night. If anything, Diplomacy does nothelp to sleep at night...

    But perhaps you might contest the impact of diplomacy on sleep. Perhaps you will say that I need to stop blaming diplomacy for not getting to sleep at night and chance my attitute: diplomacy, my excuse of not getting to sleep at night. And still, I consider myself very 'lucky' to have discovered this wonderful game.
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#249 Post by tr1285 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:34 pm

Since this thread is still alive, I have a few comments to add.

Based on reading people's posts on this topic I would say the predominant definition of luck is "anything that happens that is not 100% predictable." It's a very broad definition that covers practically everything.

For the purpose of discussing the game of Diplomacy I think there is a useful distinction to be made between that which is based on random chance verses what is determined by someone else's decision. In Diplomacy all moves are determined by somebody's decision. Even if a player chooses to somehow randomize his moves, that is still his decision to do that.

It all really depends on if you believe that guessing another person's decisions has some component of luck involved, in other words, how broad a definition of luck you have.

This leads me to a thought I had after reading Swordman's second article. I couldn't help but think there is something lacking, and that something is another explanation (another word?) for that which can't be attributed to skill, and that which he refuses to attribute to luck. For example take this situation:

http://webdiplomacy.net/map.php?gameID= ... Type=large

It is Autumn 1901, France has moved Paris-Burgundy and Germany has moved Munich to Ruhr. In this position, France has some non-zero chance to pick up either Munich or Belgium. Suppose from his initial communications with Germany, France has a hunch that Germany is a risk-averse player who will probably just cover his home center in Munich. Perhaps he tries to send a tricky message to Germany suggesting he will try to take Munich or perhaps he doesn't bother. France orders Burgundy-Belgium. Meanwhile, Germany has a conversation about Belgium with England, in which England tells Germany he should cover Munich, and if France takes Belgium, England will support Germany into Belgium in 1902. So Germany agrees and orders Ruhr-Munich to cover Munich. France guessed Germany's move correctly, but for the wrong reason. I don't think you could attribute this to France's skill at the game since his reasoning was incorrect, and if you don't attribute it to luck, then what is it?
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#250 Post by Muscovy_Duck » Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:38 am

Luck : on the street you drop your phone, break its fall on your foot and bend down to pick it up; at that exact moment an out of control taxi mounts the pavement (sidewalk) and slams into a wall just one metre ahead of you.

Bad Luck : you don't drop your phone!

This actually happened to me!

The Diplomacy equivalent would probably be a mistaken order which produced a better result than the one you had intended. I'd say that's lucky.

But the last example re Belgium, is hardly luck; France had the intention to take Belgium and did so, and by the sounds of the diplomatic situation vis a vis Britain and Germany she won't be keeping Belgium for long!

There is though one rare possibility of luck in Diplomacy and that is a retreat into a supply base in an autumn turn. But then again, did the retreating player anticipate this retreat?

There's very little luck in Diplomacy beyond the opening draw!

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