Press tips when weaker?

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Doom427
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Press tips when weaker?

#1 Post by Doom427 » Wed Oct 26, 2022 8:45 pm

So, all your best laid plans have failed, everyone's betrayed you, and things are looking bleak.

What exactly do you send to people at that point? I usually default to "hey, we could team up and beat on that guy" or "Hey, that other guy is super strong right now..." but those will usually fail to work unless you're playing with really experienced players who either A: Agree with your plans or B: they've already played enough games that to keep things fun they do random things like swap who they're killing. And besides, if you make the moves to work together and you don't you'll just end up dead even faster.

In a random game? you're usually not so lucky. So what press strategies do you have when you're weak to convince someone they would be better off working with you? The one tip I have is that, while a bitchy persona might be fun on a Web Forum, it isn't quite as successful when you're a >10 SC power, so as much as you want to... maybe don't tell them how you really feel.

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Re: Press tips when weaker?

#2 Post by French_boi » Wed Oct 26, 2022 9:41 pm

You just essentially have to pledge total fealty to a larger power (probably even the one on the verge of taking you out) and agree to focus 100% helping them against one of their enemies. In the long run, you have to hope that tides will shift on the board, or that you'll luck into being needed for a draw, or that the person you've pledged vassalship to will be careless and allow you to acquire enough centers to have negotiating power. Or at least that's happened to me.

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Re: Press tips when weaker?

#3 Post by Theodoric » Wed Oct 26, 2022 11:12 pm

In general, I try to figure out who, among the players who could save me, has the most to lose from taking me out. I then do what I can, in word and deed, to maximize the pain they'll experience from killing me and maximize the gain to keeping me.

Early in the game, that usually means trying to convince one of your attackers that most of the gains from taking you out will go to another attacker, and that they'll be too weak to defend themselves once you're gone. It might also mean convincing someone to attack your attacker with the same logic. You can push this along by telling your (hopeful) ally that you'll prioritize defending yourself from them, hopefully with sound logic for why this makes sense for you to do beyond spite and manipulation.

And you can emphasize the gains from keeping you around by coming up with a strategy to help your chosen ally successfully stab one of your other attackers.

One note on this: it helps to know what your opponents are trying to do. If someone wants to solo, they'll often be interested in keeping small players around to make the game more chaotic. And if someone's worried about another player soloing, you can point out all the ways that attacking you might force you to facilitate the solo.

If I'm facing a multi-front attack and it's not obvious which of my attackers is going to end up in a worse position, I'll usually approach all of my attackers with a version of this, but will try to avoid telling obvious lies (i.e., assuring both England and Germany that I'll only defend myself from them). Either they won't talk, in which case there's no harm in giving yourself two chances to survive, or they will, in which case they might both get paranoid that the other attacker will take you up on your offer.

I also try to avoid being too subservient, unless the situation is truly hopeless. Promising to do whatever your attacker wants for the rest of the game can sometimes work, but it can also lead your attacker to demand that you leave yourself permanently at risk of being eliminated, and they can lead everyone else to treat you as an appendage of your attacker and try to eliminate you. Of course, there are situations where being a part of a bigger power's forces and hoping to sneak into the draw is the only card you have left to play.

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Re: Press tips when weaker?

#4 Post by JECE » Wed Oct 26, 2022 11:30 pm

"I'm going to help you win. Listen carefully while I prepare my epic revenge." Maybe leave out the latter part.

But yes, in general I agree with the other posts. Vassalage is often the only way out. Sound logic is also key. If your strategic analysis is sound, your invader might keep you around just so that they can continue to hear your analysis of the game! Having a reputation for being principled also helps, since the eternal enemy will think that you're more predictable.
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Re: Press tips when weaker?

#5 Post by DougJoe » Wed Oct 26, 2022 11:56 pm

I always thought that this video from Chris Martin was a pretty interesting discussion on the topic: https://youtu.be/M_s02nHh1TE

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Re: Press tips when weaker?

#6 Post by Octavious » Thu Oct 27, 2022 10:36 am

There's a glorious freedom in being nearly dead, as you have very little to lose. You can experiment with all sorts of strategies that otherwise may be considered too risky.

Without wishing to state the obvious too much, your first task is to get a good read of the board. Are you in a situation that's likely to change by itself? Has the Franco German alliance that's slowly forcing you back about to get a rude kick up the arse by the juggernaut that's made far swifter work of Austria, for example? If so your best bet may well be just to hold out as long as possible whilst keeping a reputation for being a good egg and chatting pleasantly to the other players.

If being naturally saved by a foreign power is looking unlikely, then a long slow death following a hopeless defence is a pretty grim way to go (although it remains inexplicably popular). What can work is to run for the hills. He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. Sacrifice the home centres and the front lines you have no hope of holding in the long term for a mad dash to get at least one unit in a decent holdout location where you'll be a bugger to kill. Strategic cowardice (or the Helm's Deep option if you want to romanticise the name) can elevate you to the status of irritating minor power who somehow makes it to the draw.

If cowardice doesn't work then an alternative option is to destabilise the alliance attacking you. Make sure one of your enemies gains a distinct advantage over the other. Throw everything into holding the line against England whilst letting Germany march unmolested wherever he wants. A good player can often spot such destabilisation efforts and mitigate against them, so it typically makes sense to be beastly to the better enemy whilst giving all assistance possible to the undeserving arse he's allied to. Your task here is to shatter the level playing field and give as much opportunity to one of your opponents as possible. Make stopping him everyone else's priority and you can suddenly find yourself a with a bit of breathing space.

Also, tell them how you really feel. If you're feeling bitchy, be bitchy. Being diplomatic hasn't been too successful, so more of the same probably won't achieve anything different. You never know, someone may find it refreshing enough to change their mind about you, and if not it will at least make your demise far more enjoyable.
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Re: Press tips when weaker?

#7 Post by Doom427 » Thu Oct 27, 2022 1:22 pm

Octavious wrote:
Thu Oct 27, 2022 10:36 am

If you're feeling bitchy, be bitchy.
Good, the forum agrees my strategy is perfect- I'll continue as before.

Everyone's made some great posts, and I thought Octavious' was really helpful in particular.

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Re: Press tips when weaker?

#8 Post by JECE » Thu Oct 27, 2022 8:11 pm

Octavious wrote:
Thu Oct 27, 2022 10:36 am
Without wishing to state the obvious too much, your first task is to get a good read of the board. Are you in a situation that's likely to change by itself? Has the Franco German alliance that's slowly forcing you back about to get a rude kick up the arse by the juggernaut that's made far swifter work of Austria, for example? If so your best bet may well be just to hold out as long as possible whilst keeping a reputation for being a good egg and chatting pleasantly to the other players.

If being naturally saved by a foreign power is looking unlikely, then a long slow death following a hopeless defence is a pretty grim way to go (although it remains inexplicably popular). What can work is to run for the hills. He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day. Sacrifice the home centres and the front lines you have no hope of holding in the long term for a mad dash to get at least one unit in a decent holdout location where you'll be a bugger to kill. Strategic cowardice (or the Helm's Deep option if you want to romanticise the name) can elevate you to the status of irritating minor power who somehow makes it to the draw.
These are good points. See my play as Russia in the opening years of gameID=93086, followed by Germany's play in the second decade of the game. Both examples include both a stubborn defense and a simultaneous run for the hills.

I wouldn't call 'running for the hills', as Octavious puts it, 'strategic cowardice'. A reference to Helm's Deep doesn't quite hit the mark either because you can't really win a last stand in Diplomacy. What Octavious described is more like "defense in depth", a real military concept that is very hard to apply in Diplomacy because you need supply centers every Fall phase to keep up the fight. I gave my free thoughts on this and related subjects at the beginning of the year:
JECE wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:40 pm
While it is undoubtably true that controlling your home SC's is critical to the survival and expansion of all the Great Powers, I think that there is some flexibility on whether one chooses to prioritize their defense.

One thing that I try to do is use my units in other theaters while at the same time keeping an eye on how I can 'teleport' units back to the home front if I face an emergency. Convoys are very useful for this purpose, as is purposefully getting my units dislodged so that I can rebuild them back home.

In my own experience playing Russia, there is even something to be said about defense in depth. It's tricky to get right because you absolutely do need to keep supply center losses at a minimum when you are facing an invasion, (and unlike the real-world Russia, there aren't many places that Russia can retreat to in Diplomacy) but it is possible!

One particular consideration to keep in mind is the difference between Spring and Fall phases. It can often be beneficial to lose a home SC in a Spring phase if you have a better shot of occupying it in the Fall phase. If done right, you can even force disband an enemy unit in the process, which gives you valuable time as that unit is removed from the frontline.

In general, I favor a ju-jitsu sort of tactical mentality. If I know where my opponent is likely to move, I can plan countermeasures accordingly. Just because the enemy has reached my homeland, that doesn't mean that I would abandon that tactical mindset.

That said, if I intend to launch an invasion of another Great Power, I absolutely would plan a decapitation strike against my opponent's home SC's, since I can then maneuver to force disband their remaining units without worrying about them getting rebuilt. Once the enemy's home SC's (or most of them, anyway) are firmly under my control, and their unit count drops to a manageable level, I then usually try to enter negotiations with my vanquished foe.

Why? Because their remaining units are already on the frontline, whereas my home SC's are far from the frontline, and it would take years to bring my new units from my home SC's to the frontline. In fact, if possible, I would be very happy leave a home SC under foreign occupation if it lets me control a foreign unit on the other side of the board.
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Re: Press tips when weaker?

#9 Post by David E. Cohen » Fri Oct 28, 2022 3:15 am

Octavious wrote:
Thu Oct 27, 2022 10:36 am
There's a glorious freedom in being nearly dead,
The Diplo-Hagakure:

The Way of the Soloist is found in losing to a Solo. When it comes to a sure draw, or a small chance at a Solo with elimination likely, there is only the choice of taking a chance. It is not particularly difficult. Be determined and attack. To say that being eliminated when a sure draw is available is to lose a dog's loss is the frivolous way of sophisticates. When pressed with the choice of draw or elimination, neither is relevant to one's aim. We all want to avoid being eliminated and in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having fried one's utmost to win is cowardice. This is the substance of the Way of the Soloist. If by setting one's heart and mind right in every game, one is able to play as if one has already been eliminated, one gains freedom in the Way. One's play will be faultless and one will succeed at Diplomacy.
The warrior's Way is the twofold Way of pen and sword.

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Re: Press tips when weaker?

#10 Post by Octavious » Fri Oct 28, 2022 1:10 pm

Never use a big word when a diminutive alternate will suffice
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