Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

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RoganJosh
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#201 Post by RoganJosh » Sun Jul 28, 2019 5:34 am

@wusti

Several of the top ranked 1v1 player on this site regularly uses random number generators. These are the players with the strongest tactical skills, and they most definitely spend more time on their calculations than the avarage player. Still, sometimes they end upp randomizing.

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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#202 Post by Wusti » Sun Jul 28, 2019 8:07 am

RoganJosh wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 5:34 am
@wusti

Several of the top ranked 1v1 player on this site regularly uses random number generators. These are the players with the strongest tactical skills, and they most definitely spend more time on their calculations than the avarage player. Still, sometimes they end upp randomizing.
Only in 1v1 or more widely?

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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#203 Post by RoganJosh » Sun Jul 28, 2019 8:19 am

Here is a bunch of rhetorical questions for y'all.

1. Is it possible that a full press game can end up close to a stalemate line (i.e., alliances being set in concrete), with only a few guesses left that will determine whether the game ends in a draw or in a solo?

2. Is it possible that a full press game between tactically strong players can end up in such a position? "Tactically strong" means that the player understands that there is only a few guesses left.

3. Is it possible that a full press game between tactically and mentally strong players can end up in such a position? "Mentally strong" means that faced with such a tactical position, the player can put their own biases and preferences aside.

If you agree that the answer to each question is "Yes," then you do agree (whether you like it or not) that it is possible to have a situation in a full press game where at least one player cannot do better than using a random number generator.

---

That the answer to question 1 is "yes" has been shown in examples.

If you switch "full press" to "1v1," then the answer to each question is "yes." In particular, there are players on this site who are both tactically and mentally strong, in the above meaning of these words.

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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#204 Post by RoganJosh » Sun Jul 28, 2019 8:31 am

@wusti

I guess it was a tactical mistake of me to give you the rhetorical option of ignoring both of my points.
Wusti wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:52 pm
Theoretical arguments in this regard ignore the actual practices of the players of games
There are players who use random number generators. That is, you are the one ignoring (was unaware of?) the actual practices of players.
Wusti wrote:
Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:52 pm
I simply challenge all of you so tiredly cling to excuses, that regular players don't conduct complex calculations before making their moves.
I am claiming that it is the players who spend the most time conducting complex calculations that would use random number generators from time to time.

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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#205 Post by Octavious » Sun Jul 28, 2019 9:17 am

swordsman3003 wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:34 pm
Octavious wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:29 pm
Wusti wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 2:57 pm
The stubborn insistence on claiming luck is a real and present factor is hilariously ridiculous, and I for one don't blame swordsman at all for getting frustrated with your willing self-delusion.
Nevertheless my opinion remains the same. There are a great number of factors over which you have no or minimal control. [. . . ]If you claim that the positive or negative impact of these factors somehow don't count as luck under your definition then you are free to do so, but I'd argue that whatever definition you are using is so limited as to be useless.
1. According to your definition, “Luck Plays A Part In Go” — do you agree, or disagree? E.g, your opponent could have a heart attack (so you win by default), or have missed a night’s rest due to family issues (so they play like crap), therefore “Luck Plays A Part In Go.” I believe you must agree, because you listed factors that are not particular to Diplomacy; your “luck” factors apply to all human experience in general. But I keep getting accused of “mischaracterizing” others’ statements, so please clarify for me what games, if any, you do not think involve luck.

2. I argue that the definition you are using is so expansive as to be devoid of content, and therefore misleading when applied to a specific board game:
Your argument lacks the weight you intended it to carry because of one crucial point. I have never played Go, nor have I ever even seen a Go board (if indeed it has one). I have no understanding of its game mechanics, or even the number of players, be it 4, 2, or even 1. You could be forgiven for assuming I'd have a basic knowledge of the game, as I gather it's quite popular in some parts of the world, but I do not. You have been, I would say, unlucky in your choice of content for your message ;) .

You say that many of my examples of luck exist in the general human experience, and this is largely true. But Diplomacy, more so than the vast majority of other games, has the human experience at its heart. The mechanics of the game are intentionally basic. The map is simple, as is the objective. All of the majestic complexity, all of the challenge, comes from the other other six people and the message box that provides means of communication. Yes, the sources of luck in diplomacy are often linked to the human experience because Diplomacy is all about the human experience.
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#206 Post by e.m.c^42 » Sun Jul 28, 2019 3:57 pm

Squigs44 wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 4:34 am
e.m.c^42 wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 4:17 am
jmo1121109 wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 1:13 am


I still need to catch up on this thread but I spotted this, and did want to give you the chance to back out of this claim. The last time this type of thing was bet against me, Ava had to post a picture of him biting a shoe. I suppose eating a hat is less gross though.
*proceeds to go dig up relevant threads*

http://webdiplomacy.net/forum.php?threadID=1009427
http://webdiplomacy.net/forum.php?threadID=1009823
How long did it take you to find this 2013 old forum thread?
Not long at all lol, 6 minutes? It's just two/three searches iirc.

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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#207 Post by swordsman3003 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am

This is probably my most thoughtful post in this thread. Please read if you are interested in my elaboration of my blog posts.
Octavious wrote:Yes, the sources of luck in diplomacy are often linked to the human experience because Diplomacy is all about the human experience.
Socratic questions:

1. The Definition of Luck

1A. Would you agree that the board game “Snakes and Ladders” (please look up this game if you are unfamiliar; it is extremely simple) is a game of pure luck? If so, why do you agree?

1B: If “Snakes and Ladders” were modified to that the players had any choices to make at all, would you agree that the role of luck in that game would be reduced? (Relative to the traditional rules)

1C: If Diplomacy were modified to require players to fully randomize their moves (that is to say, the players now make no choices at all and simply do what the randomizer tells them without exception, like "Snakes and Ladders"), would you agree that the role of luck in Diplomacy would be increased? (Relative to standard rules)

1D: I anticipate that you will agree with my 1C proposition that changing Diplomacy’s rules to resemble "Snakes and Ladders" would increase the role of luck. (Indeed, I have been unable to fathom any other honest, reasonable, good-faith answer.) I will proceed assuming that this is so, and sorry for wasting time if I have assumed incorrectly.

Imagine a version of Diplomacy similar to the "Snakes and Ladders" variant I describe, except that one player, and only one player, gets to modify the randomizer applied to their own moves by 10 percentage points each turn. That is to say, if there are 5 possible moves for a player, that players' randomizer would choose between each of them 20% of the time. But one player, and one alone, can alter one of the choices to 30% (at the expense of another move or combination of moves that are reduced by 10% total).

All other powers' moves are decided at random with no agency or choice from them whatsoever. The players are still able to communicate with each other as usual (I am aware that the role of the 6 players who can't decide their moves would almost certainly be making appeals to the 1 player who can; this agency is minimal, but bald appeals and "advice" play a part in press Diplomacy).

Would you agree that this variant has more luck than standard Diplomacy, but less luck than the hypothetical 1C "Snakes and Ladders" variant?

1E. If you agree with my proposition in 1D, would you further agree that the proposition holds true for all players (that is, the game itself), and not just for the one player with a decision-making power?

If you say that the role of luck for the 6 non-deciding players is identical in both the 1C (pure random) and 1D (one decider with limited influence) versions of Diplomacy (that is to say, 100% luck in both versions), please explain why. Please be aware that if you say that both versions are 100% luck, I will pounce on this position (e.g., I will point out that the logical implication of your position is that a contest with judges or voters choosing the best art/performance/etc. is 100% luck, which is a nonsensical conclusion).

1F. I'm pretty confident that, in addition to agreeing with me on 1C, you will agree with me on 1D and 1E. (Again, if I'm wrong, sorry for wasting time.)

I understand that you argued to me that Diplomacy’s resemblance to (or entanglement with) the general human experience is the source of the game’s luck.

If I believe your statement that luck comes from the human element of Diplomacy:
How can it be that completely removing the agency of the players (thus making the game an inhuman, mechanical exercise in simply following instructions) increase the role luck? (1C)
How can it be that increasing the agency of a player reduces the role of luck? (1D)

----------------------------------

I anticipate that you will try to resolve this contradiction by saying that you (or you and I) are using luck in two senses of the word.

Based on my understanding of your previous posts, I think you want to say something like “within the rules of a game, luck is that which a human cannot control."

I want to say something like “within the rules of a game, luck is that which a human cannot influence."

(You are going to have to give me some leeway here, because I did not find your provision of a formal definition of luck anywhere; I'm very sorry if I overlooked it.)

Please bear this in mind: I did not define luck anywhere in my questioning; I have asked you to supply your own answers using whatever definition of luck you prefer to use.

Something I want to illustrate with my line of questioning is that you, Octavious, cannot intelligibly communicate about the role of luck without employing my definition of luck at least some of the time. I am hoping that my questions (which are not rhetorical questions, but rather Socratic questions) will demonstrate to you that your personal understanding of "luck" is unhelpful, misleading, and/or confusing if you use it to answer my questions in good faith.

If your definition of luck is "within the rules of a game, that which a human cannot control" (or something like that), you will find yourself unable to consistently use that definition (or at least, not without substantial interference with your ability to communicate).

The ultimate point of my questions is to illustrate (to you) your (necessary) habit of switching between the two definitions of the word without clarifying which you are using, and probably without even consciously appreciating what you are doing. In my view, this equivocation between the two senses of the word (your understanding of luck, and the one I employ) allows you, and many other players, to situationally and arbitrarily choose between the two definitions in order to rationalize your pre-ordained conclusion.

I believe that the word itself, "luck," is a loaded word, that is to say, equal parts emotional and semantic content. That is why everyone comes into this conversation with a strong urge to declare what is or isn't "luck" (myself included, of course).

Thus, in my view, what you choose to describe as "luck" comes from factors subjective to you as an individual (as opposed to, say, from your application of a formal definition). That is why, in my second essay, I say that we are not so much talking about what "is" Diplomacy but how we feel about Diplomacy.

Hence this syllogism: Within the rules of a game, luck is that which you cannot influence. Can you influence everything in Diplomacy? No, you can't influence which power you are assigned. But you can influence everything (or damn near everything) else. Therefore, Diplomacy has no luck.

In other words, I believe that because you can theoretically influence everything and anything in Diplomacy, the game has no luck and should be reacted to (emotionally!) in such terms. I don't care if individuals, in practice, fail to influence things that they might have influenced.

There are probably additional definitions of luck floating around here, maybe a total of three or four. I think that the multiplicity of these definitions allows a sloppy thinker to decide that things "are" or "are not" luck first, and then come up with a definition of luck that supports their desired conclusion -- even when this leads to inconsistent statements or even inconsistent beliefs.

Let me reveal that, sitting here today, I don't value (or am even repulsed by?) the idea that because it is hypothetically possible for something to occur outside your influence (e.g., a hypothetical player who insists on using a randomizer and is simply assumed [big red flag for me] to be beyond any possibility of persuasion), we have to reach a general conclusion that the game "involves" luck or that "luck plays some role."

I cannot prove what I believe is going on with this, but I'll lay it out for you anyways:
This has the smell of rationalization all over it. Right now, I think that the people taking this position have not dealt with or observed this "phenomenon" even once. I think this hypothetical situation was manufactured in their imaginations in order to "prove" the pre-existing belief that Diplomacy involves luck.

Thank you for reading, if you made it this far.

-------------------------------------
Questions 2 through 4 are not Socratic questions, but genuine questions:

2. The Avalon Hill quote: "Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy"

2A. Do you believe the Avalon Hill statement communicates anything, and if so what does the statement communicate? Regardless of what is literally stated, what do you think Avalon Hill intended to communicate? Why do you think they would put such a statement on the box?

2B. Is the Avalon Hill statement a true statement? Yes, no, unanswerable, etc. — and why?

2C. Are you willing to list, or concede that you cannot list, examples of games that you would personally describe as games where luck plays no part?

3. Do you believe that you have any unconscious motives? Do you think that another person, under any circumstances, could understand something about you better than you understand it yourself?

4. Do you agree with me that there is such a thing as “loaded words” i.e. words charged with emotional or other implications that go beyond their literal definition? (Example: prejudiced slurs that correspond to a group of people with perfect clarity, but imply hatred, bigotry, or antagonism on the part of the user)
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#208 Post by ssorenn » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:23 am

This is a funny debate.
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#209 Post by Mercy » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:53 am

Swordsman, let me answer these questions for you.

1A. Yes
1B. Yes
1C. Yes
1D. Yes
1E. Yes
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
I understand that you argued to me that Diplomacy’s resemblance to (or entanglement with) the general human experience is the source of the game’s luck.

If I believe your statement that luck comes from the human element of Diplomacy:
How can it be that completely removing the agency of the players (thus making the game an inhuman, mechanical exercise in simply following instructions) increase the role luck? (1C)
How can it be that increasing the agency of a player reduces the role of luck? (1D)
That is really simple. Random number generators and dice have elements of luck. Human interactions have also elements of luck, but less so.
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
I anticipate that you will try to resolve this contradiction by saying that you (or you and I) are using luck in two senses of the word.
That is not how I would resolve the contradiction, but I find your definition quite interesting:
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
Hence this syllogism: Within the rules of a game, luck is that which you cannot influence. Can you influence everything in Diplomacy? No, you can't influence which power you are assigned. But you can influence everything (or damn near everything) else. Therefore, Diplomacy has no luck.

In other words, I believe that because you can theoretically influence everything and anything in Diplomacy, the game has no luck and should be reacted to (emotionally!) in such terms. I don't care if individuals, in practice, fail to influence things that they might have influenced.
Question for you... Suppose we play a 'meta'game. The game goes as follows. We each play 10 games of chess against each other. After all the chess games have completed, we get allocated a number of dice equal to the number of times we have won a game of chess. The one who rolls the highest number wins the 'meta'game. I ask you, does this 'meta'game involve chance? According to your definition, it seems to me that the answer is no. After all, you can influence how many dice you get. If you won 3 games and your opponent won 5 (the rest being draws) yet you beat your opponent in dice rolls, then you outperformed your opponent. Your opponent just had to win more games! Well, it is true that your opponent would have won the 'meta'game if he had won more chess games, but I wouldn't say there was no element of luck involved here. You certainly did not win due to skill.
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
Thank you for reading, if you made it this far.
You're welcome.
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
Questions 2 through 4 are not Socratic questions, but genuine questions:

2. The Avalon Hill quote: "Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy"

2A. Do you believe the Avalon Hill statement communicates anything, and if so what does the statement communicate? Regardless of what is literally stated, what do you think Avalon Hill intended to communicate? Why do you think they would put such a statement on the box?

2B. Is the Avalon Hill statement a true statement? Yes, no, unanswerable, etc. — and why?

2C. Are you willing to list, or concede that you cannot list, examples of games that you would personally describe as games where luck plays no part?

3. Do you believe that you have any unconscious motives? Do you think that another person, under any circumstances, could understand something about you better than you understand it yourself?

4. Do you agree with me that there is such a thing as “loaded words” i.e. words charged with emotional or other implications that go beyond their literal definition? (Example: prejudiced slurs that correspond to a group of people with perfect clarity, but imply hatred, bigotry, or antagonism on the part of the user)
2A. It communicates that the game does not contain random elements that are usually associated with board games, such as dice rolls. I think this is the intended message. I guess it is on the box partly to be informative to and partly to grab the attention of potential buyers of the game, as 'luck plays no role' is an unusual statement for a board game.

2B. It is not really true because it is not nuanced enough. 'Luck plays no higher role in a game of diplomacy than it does in real life' would have been a better statement, but it isn't much of an attention grabber.

2C. I cannot list any games where luck playes literally no part, though I can list different games where luck plays a part to different degrees - in fact, I have already done so earlier in this thread. Luck is less of a factor in Chess than it is in Diplomacy, but luck plays more of a role in Risk than it does in Diplomacy.

3. Yes, that is why I will use an RNG next time I play against xorxes in a 1v1 game (or will I?).

4. Yes.
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#210 Post by Octavious » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:01 pm

swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
1A. Would you agree that the board game “Snakes and Ladders” (please look up this game if you are unfamiliar; it is extremely simple) is a game of pure luck? If so, why do you agree?
Assuming the game is played as designed, absolutely. The game offers no avenue for a player to influence the result. Of course a true diplomacy player may venture into disputing unfavourable dice rolls by invoking "it fell off the table so doesn't count" style rules, or indeed plying his opponent with drink so that he is more inclined to make such errors... but for the sake of this argument let's avoid such complications.
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
1B: If “Snakes and Ladders” were modified to that the players had any choices to make at all, would you agree that the role of luck in that game would be reduced? (Relative to the traditional rules)
Indeed so. Open up avenues to influence the game and you allow the skilled influencer to tilt the odds in their favour.
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
1C: If Diplomacy were modified to require players to fully randomize their moves (that is to say, the players now make no choices at all and simply do what the randomizer tells them without exception, like "Snakes and Ladders"), would you agree that the role of luck in Diplomacy would be increased? (Relative to standard rules)
This example would almost certainly result in a seven way draw every time, so arguably by doing so there is no longer any luck to speak of. I'm going to skip the next example bit because I think it does more to confuse matters than clarify. When one player has influence and the others don't he wins pretty much 100% of the time except for when boredom takes hold first. For the other six players the result is either a draw or defeat. This result is determined by three primary factors. The first is the boredom threshold of the player with influence (a factor out of their control and 100% down to luck), the second is their own ability to influence the player with power (which involves some skill. It's hard to make a boring game even more boring via actions, but doable), and the third is the other player's ability to influence the player with power (a combination of luck, in the sense that they may or may not be naturally talented, and skill, in the sense that you can influence them to some degree to act as if they had talent).

But I feel we have drifted somewhat from your intended point.

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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#211 Post by Octavious » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:01 pm

swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
1A. Would you agree that the board game “Snakes and Ladders” (please look up this game if you are unfamiliar; it is extremely simple) is a game of pure luck? If so, why do you agree?
Assuming the game is played as designed, absolutely. The game offers no avenue for a player to influence the result. Of course a true diplomacy player may venture into disputing unfavourable dice rolls by invoking "it fell off the table so doesn't count" style rules, or indeed plying his opponent with drink so that he is more inclined to make such errors... but for the sake of this argument let's avoid such complications.
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
1B: If “Snakes and Ladders” were modified to that the players had any choices to make at all, would you agree that the role of luck in that game would be reduced? (Relative to the traditional rules)
Indeed so. Open up avenues to influence the game and you allow the skilled influencer to tilt the odds in their favour.
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
1C: If Diplomacy were modified to require players to fully randomize their moves (that is to say, the players now make no choices at all and simply do what the randomizer tells them without exception, like "Snakes and Ladders"), would you agree that the role of luck in Diplomacy would be increased? (Relative to standard rules)
This example would almost certainly result in a seven way draw every time, so arguably by doing so there is no longer any luck to speak of. I'm going to skip the next example bit because I think it does more to confuse matters than clarify. When one player has influence and the others don't he wins pretty much 100% of the time except for when boredom takes hold first. For the other six players the result is either a draw or defeat. This result is determined by three primary factors. The first is the boredom threshold of the player with influence (a factor out of their control and 100% down to luck), the second is their own ability to influence the player with power (which involves some skill. It's hard to make a boring game even more boring via actions, but doable), and the third is the other player's ability to influence the player with power (a combination of luck, in the sense that they may or may not be naturally talented, and skill, in the sense that you can influence them to some degree to act as if they had talent).

But I feel we have drifted somewhat from your intended point.

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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#212 Post by swordsman3003 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:15 pm

I am responding to this question separately and quickly because I think it is important and easy to explain what I mean.

This is an excellent question, and I welcome your testing of my thinking through good-faith questioning. I am pleased that you are challenging my ideas after attentively reflecting on them.
Mercy wrote:
swordsman3003 wrote: In other words, I believe that because you can theoretically influence everything and anything in Diplomacy, the game has no luck and should be reacted to (emotionally!) in such terms. I don't care if individuals, in practice, fail to influence things that they might have influenced.
Question for you... Suppose we play a 'meta'game. The game goes as follows. We each play 10 games of chess against each other. After all the chess games have completed, we get allocated a number of dice equal to the number of times we have won a game of chess. The one who rolls the highest number wins the 'meta'game. I ask you, does this 'meta'game involve chance? According to your definition, it seems to me that the answer is no. After all, you can influence how many dice you get. If you won 3 games and your opponent won 5 (the rest being draws) yet you beat your opponent in dice rolls, then you outperformed your opponent. Your opponent just had to win more games! Well, it is true that your opponent would have won the 'meta'game if he had won more chess games, but I wouldn't say there was no element of luck involved here. You certainly did not win due to skill.

------------------------------------------------------------


"Within the rules of a game, luck is that which a player cannot influence."

By the definition of fair rules on dice rolling, a player cannot influence which number will turn out to be face-up on a given fairly-rolled die. On this, I am certain we agree.

I think we further agree on the following (I am just trying to demonstrate my understanding of the thought-experiment): Each Chess match determines whether the corresponding die roll counts for or against a player. In different words, each Chess match is a struggle for control of who will own a given die in the upcoming dice-rolling metagame. And if a player wins all 10 Chess matches, then all 10 dice count only for that player -- which means the physical act of rolling the dice would be a mere formality.

So what a player can influence in this hypothetical game is the meaning of the number that turns out to be face-up on a given fairly-rolled die. The player cannot influence the roll of any of the dice. I think we will agree on this. From here, you can probably foresee the rest of my argument.

I consider this distinction meaningful: the players can only influence the meaning of the results shown on the dice, and not the actual dice themselves. I do not consider "there is a contest over who will own the dice" to be congruent with or equivalent to "the players influenced the dice." In my view, to say that someone "influenced" the roll of a die would be tantamount to a cheating accusation.

So if the same player won all 10 chess matches, and thus no dice were rolled (or else, a particular player was guaranteed to win regardless of the outcome of the dice, if you still went through the formality), I would say that the match involved no luck because not one consequential thing occurred that was beyond the influence of the players.

If all 10 matches are not won by the same player, then the winner of the metagame will be decided by a roll of the dice. The outcomes of the rolls of the dice are, by definition, beyond the influence of any player. "Within the rules of a game, luck is that which a player cannot influence." Therefore, in this scenario, I deem the ultimate result of the metagame to be determined by luck.


-----------------------------------------------------------


I anticipate that you, Mercy, intend to show an analogy between the 10-round Chess-Dice metagame and Diplomacy. The analogy will be something like this:

The 10 rounds of Chess, devoid of luck, are equivalent to the struggle that precedes a Diplomacy endgame situation. Sometimes, a player will get a solo win without strictly needing to "guess" much of anything, and marches into a solo win by manufacturing a winning tactical situation (winning all 10 preceding Chess games). However, a Diplomacy endgame situation commonly involves an aggressor who is recognized by the defenders as attempting a solo win, and that aggressor needs to make a certain number of correct guesses before the defenders set up a stalemate line. The number of endgame guesses possessed by the aggressor is determined by ("influenced by") the preceding match (the number of Chess games that player won, out of 10). Ultimately, the aggressor player has only created a certain number of opportunities or "chances" to solo win that will determine the outcome (victory or draw). These endgame opportunities are equivalent to the dice roll opportunities earned in the rounds of Chess.

If I'm right about that, let me save you some time and explain why I do not think the analogy will refute my position:

In the 10-round Chess-Dice metagame, dice rolling is incorporated into the rules of the game. Once we have entered the dice-rolling phase of the game, players lose all agency; they may not legally take further action, other than to literally roll the dice.

In Diplomacy, all manner of gameplay is still taking place during endgame. (This is something that Jmo has tackled in great detail; I will presume you are familiar with his posts and request that you catch up on them if not.) The endgame guessing match is not, by operation of the rules, randomly determined.

One of my core beliefs (those beliefs that I think are put to the test in a deep game like Diplomacy) is my rejection of the analogy between tossing literal dice and the decision-making of a human being. My blog posts plumb the depths of my mind to bring forth my feelings and thoughts on this matter as clearly, openly, and honestly as I can.

-------------------------------------------


So if I understand our two positions correctly, then I think we will find ourselves circling back to the ontological question: If, once-in-a-while, Diplomacy players decide on their own (and not by operation of the rules) to randomize their decision-making, does that make luck "part" of Diplomacy?

I don't think, in everyday life, that people define things has "having" traits that they "might" have. I don't think people would say "luck plays a role in car shopping" because
- "some people flip a coin to decide which color of car to choose."
- "given a choice between two equally-valuable colors of car, you might as well just flip a coin."
- "it is theoretically possible to flip a coin to decide which color of car you pick."

I've heard of people flipping coins (or whatever) to make difficult, arbitrary decisions (there's an episode of Futurama about this). I'm not saying it's unheard of or impossible. But generally speaking, people don't talk about what "is," or what traits something "has," or what is "part" of something by reference to what is possible; these terms refer to what is necessary or inherent to the concept.

In response to some other posts a while back: whether Diplomacy "incentivizes" players to randomize their decision-making is neither here nor there, because Diplomacy also dis-incentivizes players from doing that (as Jmo has explained). And in any event, the players are not commanded to do this by the rules; they introduce an element of randomness because of a personal, subjective belief that this is to their advantage, not because of the game itself.

I don't think you are arguing like this Mercy, but for the sake of the overall conversation, I want to point out that I am unimpressed and even a little disturbed by the argument commonly advanced in this conversation that includes all sorts of unreasonable assumptions (e.g., "assuming the opposing sides refuse to communicate," "assuming the players have made up their minds about everything they're trying to do," "assuming the players have 100% perfect tactical analysis," "assuming the defending players agree on everything and cooperate with each other as if they are a hive mind," "assuming the players all assume about each other that they are familiar with Nash equilibria and are able and willing to apply the concept correctly" -- I could go on and on with assumptions). These assumptions are assuming away the pragmatic question -- does this situation exist? -- in order to prove a hypothetical point. (In my own mind, I consider this to be strong evidence of rationalizing.)

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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#213 Post by Mercy » Mon Jul 29, 2019 5:26 pm

I indeed intended to to show an analogy between the 10-round Chess-Dice metagame and Diplomacy, but the analogy wasn't the literal analogy you came up with.

No, a while back players in this thread argued that some chance elements in the game included:
- How your neighbors play the metagame. Are you Germany and has France been stabbed by Germany in another game? It may be more difficult to ally with France.
- Is your ally busy? Does he have to perform overwork and has no time to discuss moves with you?
- Your ally may have been hit by a bus.
- Etc.
- I have also argued before that chance also plays a role in outguessing. (How do you outguess your opponents in 1901 in an anonymous gunboat match? You can increase your chances of guessing well if you know the meta, but you cannot make this chance too high, as you have too little information).
You get the point, there are many factors that influence a game of Diplomacy that you have no influence over. Hence, when these factors help you, you may say that you are 'lucky', and when these factors work against you, you may say that you are 'unlucky'.
A counterargument I've read goes like this: "No matter these factors you have no control over, if you are a good enough player you can overcome them, so there is no luck involved in the game." But that is analogous to the '10 chess matches' example I gave you. You agreed that that game involves luck*. You defined luck as something you have no control over. Just as you have no control over dice rolls, you have no control over buses hitting you allies, etc. So by the same logic, there is luck in Diplomacy.

*Allright, technically you said that the game involves luck so long as no player plays perfectly. Since I know no Diplomacy player who is perfect, I then think it is safe to say that, by analogy, every match of Diplomacy involves luck. I leave aside here the question whether it is even possible to play a Diplomacy game perfectly.
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#214 Post by swordsman3003 » Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:25 pm

Very good effort Mercy, very good. I really appreciate it, a concept that is difficult to communicate sincerely in a written discussion.

I took your earlier Socratic question to be an effort to persuade me that there is a contradiction or weakness within my position. More specifically, I believe you intended for your question to help me appreciate that my definition should lead to the silly conclusion that the 10-Match Dice-Chess has "no luck," and thus would reconsider what I am saying. That didn't happen though.

It's too bad I did not correctly anticipate where you were going with your analogy. I'm disappointed in myself that I anticipated your thinking incorrectly. However, I am also disappointed that your intention was to circle back to and re-state arguments that I dealt with on my blog posts before this thread existed.

I'm all for discussing those points in greater depth, but I really need you to criticize my views in a more detailed way, or else I'm just going to repeat myself. Your examples are almost identical to the examples I used as the starting point for my essays.

If you read my essays and feel unmoved by my appeals, yet are unable to think of something more to say in opposition, then we have probably reached rhetorical bedrock.

I believe that your list of examples is consistent with the nihilistic attitude that I condemn.
Mercy wrote: - I have also argued before that chance also plays a role in outguessing. (How do you outguess your opponents in 1901 in an anonymous gunboat match? You can increase your chances of guessing well if you know the meta, but you cannot make this chance too high, as you have too little information).
To me, this is by far the most interesting challenge to my view. However, I don't think that this evidences (let alone proves) an overall conclusion that luck plays a part in Diplomacy. If I were to completely concede this point, I would change my view to "Luck plays no role in Diplomacy [after the powers are assigned]" to "Luck plays no role in Diplomacy [after the powers are assigned, except in the Gunboat variant where the luck continues until the end of the first turn]."

I do not concede the point (I am still considering it), but I don't think that it proves something overall about the game regardless.
Mercy wrote: You get the point, there are many factors that influence a game of Diplomacy that you have no influence over. Hence, when these factors help you, you may say that you are 'lucky', and when these factors work against you, you may say that you are 'unlucky'.
I am aware that people say crap like this, and I think think this is a bad attitude for various reasons I have explained before.
Mercy wrote: You defined luck as something you have no control over.
No, I didn't. I provided my definition of luck in opposition to this definition. I'm not sure if you misread, don't remember, made a mistake in writing, etc. so I'll just leave it alone for now. You are incorrect, so you should probably clarify what you are trying to say here
Mercy wrote: Just as you have no control over dice rolls, you have no control over buses hitting you allies, etc. So by the same logic, there is luck in Diplomacy.
In my mind, I already criticized this line of thinking in my most-recent post, and in a fairly thorough way. So, I'm a little frustrated that you are announcing your conclusion without challenging my reasoning. But maybe I wasn't clear.

The dice rolls, in your hypothetical, are in the rules of the game. Players getting hit by buses are not in the rules of Diplomacy. I don't agree, and to be frank I don't think you believe as a general matter (because it should would be hard to talk to other people if you really did), that hypothetical or possible things "are" or "are a part of" a larger concept.

I think that there's a better case to be made that luck plays a part in Diplomacy on the grounds that some players, once in a while, deliberately introduce luck into it by randomizing their moves (the point I expected you to make), than to say that luck plays a part in Diplomacy because players can be hit by buses.
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#215 Post by ben9990 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:12 am

Any game that involves tactical situations in which a player may break a stalemate line and win the game if they correctly choose one of three seemingly equally-meritorious moves involves luck. Diplomacy can involve these situations and accordingly is a game with luck.

This is especially true since typically, two very skilled players sitting on opposite sides of the line will both be fully cognizant of all possible combinations but still have no way of choosing a move that is probabilistically more likely to win the match than choosing at random.

It would be better for you to argue that diplomacy is a game of limited luck, and of risks that can usually if not always be managed. But this idea that there is no luck is incorrect and seems more than a bit pontifical.
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#216 Post by Mercy » Tue Jul 30, 2019 4:48 am

swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:25 pm
It's too bad I did not correctly anticipate where you were going with your analogy. I'm disappointed in myself that I anticipated your thinking incorrectly. However, I am also disappointed that your intention was to circle back to and re-state arguments that I dealt with on my blog posts before this thread existed.

I'm all for discussing those points in greater depth, but I really need you to criticize my views in a more detailed way, or else I'm just going to repeat myself. Your examples are almost identical to the examples I used as the starting point for my essays.

If you read my essays and feel unmoved by my appeals, yet are unable to think of something more to say in opposition, then we have probably reached rhetorical bedrock.
These examples I listed were not the main focus of my post; my main focus was arguing that these examples from earlier are actually good examples of chance playing a role.
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:25 pm
Mercy wrote: - I have also argued before that chance also plays a role in outguessing. (How do you outguess your opponents in 1901 in an anonymous gunboat match? You can increase your chances of guessing well if you know the meta, but you cannot make this chance too high, as you have too little information).
To me, this is by far the most interesting challenge to my view. However, I don't think that this evidences (let alone proves) an overall conclusion that luck plays a part in Diplomacy. If I were to completely concede this point, I would change my view to "Luck plays no role in Diplomacy [after the powers are assigned]" to "Luck plays no role in Diplomacy [after the powers are assigned, except in the Gunboat variant where the luck continues until the end of the first turn]."

I do not concede the point (I am still considering it), but I don't think that it proves something overall about the game regardless.
But if you were to concede to the point, then you would say that luck suddenly stops playing any role whatsoever after the first turn? That makes no sense. Consider my earlier example:
Mercy wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 4:01 am
Imagine that you are playing a gunboat game as Austria and Italy opens Rome to Venice, Venice to Tyrolia, and Naples to Ionian Sea. How would you guess the Italian moves in the fall of 1901? There is so little game history that there are plenty of examples of an Italy opening this way and doing one thing and of an Italy opening this way and doing another thing. You can certainly improve your odds of guessing right if you are knowledgeable of things that Italy often does in this case [added: and if you know how most Italy's react to the opening moves of other players], but you cannot eliminate chance completely.
Bottom line, in the spring of 1901 you have little information, so there is luck involved. In the autumn of 1901, you have more information, because every player has moved, but you still lack some information. In the spring of 1902 you still have more information, etc., but I would argue that you never obtain complete information.

For a while now I get the impression that you are thinking about chance in a very black-and-white way. Questions like these
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:07 am
2C. Are you willing to list, or concede that you cannot list, examples of games that you would personally describe as games where luck plays no part?
I frankly find a bit silly, as to me, it is not about if chance plays a role, but how big of a role chance plays, so you can have a perfectly useful definition of chance that still implies that chance plays 'a' role in everything. Instead of arguing about how much chance is involved in Diplomacy, you want to argue that Diplomacy involves no chance at all, and seemingly straw-man people you disagree with by implying that they consider chance as the only main factor in the game, like in this quote:
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:25 pm
I believe that your list of examples is consistent with the nihilistic attitude that I condemn.
I am no nihilist, I am a statistician. You saying that my list of examples is consistent with nihilism is like an anarchist saying that having a government is consistent with communism. It is technically true, but that's about it.
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:25 pm
Mercy wrote: You defined luck as something you have no control over.
No, I didn't. I provided my definition of luck in opposition to this definition. I'm not sure if you misread, don't remember, made a mistake in writing, etc. so I'll just leave it alone for now. You are incorrect, so you should probably clarify what you are trying to say here
Mercy wrote: Just as you have no control over dice rolls, you have no control over buses hitting you allies, etc. So by the same logic, there is luck in Diplomacy.
In my mind, I already criticized this line of thinking in my most-recent post, and in a fairly thorough way. So, I'm a little frustrated that you are announcing your conclusion without challenging my reasoning. But maybe I wasn't clear.
It is sloppy language from my part. I meant to say 'influence' instead of 'control', in which case it matches your definition:
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:15 pm
"Within the rules of a game, luck is that which a player cannot influence."
Though I now get what you meant with the "Within the rules of a game" part, to which my example may have not applied:
swordsman3003 wrote:
Mon Jul 29, 2019 4:15 pm
The dice rolls, in your hypothetical, are in the rules of the game. Players getting hit by buses are not in the rules of Diplomacy. I don't agree, and to be frank I don't think you believe as a general matter (because it should would be hard to talk to other people if you really did), that hypothetical or possible things "are" or "are a part of" a larger concept.
I am not sure what you mean by "hypothetical or possible things "being" or "being a part of" a larger concept". It sounds vague to me. But it is quite possible that I actually believe it, whatever it means. I never said that the elements of luck in Diplomacy come from elements that are directly in the rules themselves. The rules are just such that outside influences, which involve luck, play a role in how the game develops.
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#217 Post by Wusti » Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:07 am

ben9990 wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:12 am
Any game that involves tactical situations in which a player may break a stalemate line and win the game if they correctly choose one of three seemingly equally-meritorious moves involves luck. Diplomacy can involve these situations and accordingly is a game with luck.

This is especially true since typically, two very skilled players sitting on opposite sides of the line will both be fully cognizant of all possible combinations but still have no way of choosing a move that is probabilistically more likely to win the match than choosing at random.
This right here is your problem - the fact that there are choices required does not constitute "luck" or a chance based outcome. You have a plethora of inputs beside the known 3 choices which are available to you to correctly influence the eventual outcome. Your analysis is simplistic.
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#218 Post by Squigs44 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:28 am

I wrote up a whole response about an analogy between riddles and outguessing your opponent in Diplomacy, and then realized I really don't care about this argument anymore and deleted it.

I did find this wikipedia article relevant to the discussion, and interesting, especially the Laboratory Experiments section and what human tendencies are. I wonder if those things hold true in Diplomacy.
There was also a more academic article linked in the references about penalty kicks that I skimmed and thought was interesting. It also relates to the Riddler Express from about two weeks ago, which found differing results. Just thought I would share some interesting reading rather than spout my own thoughts over and over again.
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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#219 Post by David E. Cohen » Tue Jul 30, 2019 11:10 am

The proposition that luck plays no part in Diplomacy is demonstrably true. In fact, I have a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition which this forum is too narrow to contain. :wink:

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Re: Luck Plays No Part in Diplomacy

#220 Post by ben9990 » Tue Jul 30, 2019 12:47 pm

Wusti wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:07 am
ben9990 wrote:
Tue Jul 30, 2019 2:12 am
Any game that involves tactical situations in which a player may break a stalemate line and win the game if they correctly choose one of three seemingly equally-meritorious moves involves luck. Diplomacy can involve these situations and accordingly is a game with luck.

This is especially true since typically, two very skilled players sitting on opposite sides of the line will both be fully cognizant of all possible combinations but still have no way of choosing a move that is probabilistically more likely to win the match than choosing at random.
This right here is your problem - the fact that there are choices required does not constitute "luck" or a chance based outcome. You have a plethora of inputs beside the known 3 choices which are available to you to correctly influence the eventual outcome. Your analysis is simplistic.
Not going on for paragraph after paragraph is a feature of my comment, nit a bug.

The key part is "no way of choosing a move that is likely to be better than choosing at random." These situations do exist.

Anyone who says they do not must think he is psychic (I can see this line of thinking - "oh because France moved ABC to XYZ in PQ pattern six turns ago, he will do KLM this time and thus I should to do EFG to win! Yes!").

While plenty of players fall into the mindset above, it is laughable, does not work, is no better than choosing at random and is therefore a situation up to "luck."

Even if situations are not perfectly random, the presence of unmanageable variance, whatever the probability weights (neutral or favorable to one side) prove there is luck. (Luck does not mean "fair" or disappear just because there is a statistically likely outcome that a skilled player should choose. There is luck in every toss of even a weighted coin).

The would-be psychics in the thread ought to have much higher win rates if their lines of thinking were actually correct.
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