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If you're playing anon games, I'm a fan of the "helpless fool". Just act confused and scared the whole time and people will often leave you alone or even help you out of pity. When the time is right, you can stab them and go for the gold.
This, of course, doesn't work too well in non-anon games.
First I'll try to draft different play styles that are good combinations of characteristics and then choose one for myself to model on.
There's the really terse guy who's all business and doesn't do a lot lying, deceit, manipulation, and his moves are pretty much straightforward. Think of him as the guy who usually plays gunboat but he's in a regular press this time.
Then there's the talkative guy who's bubbly and fun and tries to be everyone's friends, avoids lying as much as he can, and profits from strong alliances and good relations with enemies.
Then there's the guy who talks a lot and is thusly respected and such but doesn't try to add that touchy-feely vibe - he means business too. This guy is definitely a manipulator. Think Babak. He specializes in offering you deals that seem to be totally reasonable and mutually beneficial and then using it as a trap and taking you down, sometimes. A good ally, a terrifying enemy.
Then there's mysterious kind, the unpredictable one. This guy's play style is a lack of a consistent play style. He takes risky moves, but not always, he talks a lot, sometimes. He might pull a chainsaw out. He might sweet talk. You never know what he's up to. In some ways he is the master of deception - he is behind a smokescreen so thick you can't begin to guess his plans.
I reckon you are who you are (or as Ke$ha says, we R who we R). You can try to play dumb for a while, or you can try to be effusive bubbly, but eventually either you'll slip or people will see through it, or whatever. That doesn't mean you can't try to improve yourself. If you are weak at tactics, try to study other games, use a simulator, etc. If people don't like you, try being friendlier, work on developing bonds, don't call other players pathetic morons and fucktards in global, etc. I think all that only goes so far, though. Fundamentally, you are who you are as a player and I don't think it really changes that much.
Inspired by Sarg's comments in this thread: http://webdiplomacy.net/forum.php?viewthread=851524 I wrote this song for Ava! I used my friend's twelve string for instrumentation. The link works in this thread. Or it did for me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUdxAQznH9E
I am currently upset with the mods of webdiplomacy. I allowed my younger sister to make an account on webdip with the use of my personal email. Soon after i am recieving emails accusing me of multi accounting when they can clearly see that my account and my sisters share no games what so ever.