How often do games draw?

New players can go here for helpful advice and to sign up for our mentor program, or if you're a veteran help answer questions.
Forum rules
This is an area for new members or members looking for help with the site or Diplomacy. Off topic threads and replies will be moved to the appropriate category.
Message
Author
RoganJosh
Silver Donator
Silver Donator
Posts: 550
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:02 am
Location: Stockholm
Karma: 454
Contact:

Re: How often do games draw?

#61 Post by RoganJosh » Mon Jan 04, 2021 2:08 am

It's interesting to compare this discussion whit what Calhamer wrote.

http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/resour ... ctives.htm
Calhamer wrote: The assumption behind the 18 centre victory criterion is that, given 18 units to a disunited combination of only 16 units, the leader can in general eventually conquer the whole board. Thus, no country survives except his own. Critics have claimed that there are positions in which certain countries could survive by stalemate, or by regaining a combination of 17 or more units; consequently, the notion that a country gaining 18 units could sweep the board is not invariably correct. It is my opinion that this point is of negligible importance, because almost all of the games will not come out that way, and because the victory criterion must have some hard and fast definition, and because it takes a long time to acquire 18 units as it is. Indeed, I would prefer some standard such as 16 or 12 units, or the biggest power after the elapse of a predetermined amount of time (real or game); except for the fact that such low victory criteria are unusually subject to upset by threats to "throw" the game to one country or another.
Calhamer wrote: The notion that all players sharing in the draw share equally reflects in part the considerable and logical difference between survival and elimination; anyone who has survived into the draw might conceivably win if the game went on, but no one eliminated can do so.

Some people have objected that a player having 10 units is entitled to more credit than one having only one unit when a draw is agreed upon. One answer to this notion is that draws are agreed upon; consequently any player who objects to equal credit for the smaller powers can refuse to agree, for a few moves, while he proceeds to knock out the smaller powers, and more than one larger power can agree to so proceed before voting the draw. Now, if it is still impossible to get rid of those tiny powers, they must have something going for them within the game which is operating to ensure their survival: possibly a position in which it is very difficult to knock them out, or a friendly power holding them up, or a situation in which the would-be attackers cannot agree on which of them should get the territory; whatever the reason is, the tiny power has achieved survival within the game.

Giving equal credit to all those sharing in the draw also encourages the smallest power to fight for the draw, instead of giving up without a fight. If they give up without a fight, the larger powers may not get a draw either, since the leader may benefit from their collapse and win.

One of the bad features about scoring the draw equally for all participants is that some three or four players in a game might lose sight of the primary objective altogether, and play only to knock out the other players, after which they would probably have a draw, since none of them had maneuvered to weaken the others. In this way, players might achieve above average results, at least until other players got onto them. However, they would not be likely to achieve high results, such as the highest places in a tournament, or for that matter, even a single victory. Thus, if the value of the draw were increased, there might be incentive to play for the draw from the start, which is anti-competitive; whereas if the value of the draw were reduced, there might be less incentive to unite to stop the leader, which would also be an anti-competitive result.
I always found it somewhat strange he seemingly didn't realize the importance of stalemate lines. He's definitely pro DSS, but there's still a focus on the solo as the only real win. I like the way he considers 'incentive to play for the draw from the start' to be equally bad as 'less incentive to unite to stop the leader'. Those are literally the biggest con and pro of DSS.

One approach to the whole issue is of course the 'a draw is a loss'-approach. The classical 1/0 scoring system - 1 point for solo and 0 for everything else. Doesn't work for a ranking, but works for tournaments with no time limits.

Personally, I think we should heckle whittlers more. You know, why fight so hard to improve what is not a win to something which is not a win? Celebrating that you got a 3WD instead of a 4WD, it's like celebrating that you got a survival instead of an elimination.
5

Yonni
Silver Donator
Silver Donator
Posts: 322
Joined: Thu Oct 19, 2017 6:55 pm
Karma: 252

Re: How often do games draw?

#62 Post by Yonni » Mon Jan 04, 2021 2:25 am

Thanks for sharing that quote - it's quite a good description from the man himself.

I disagree somewhat with your characterization of draw whittling. I generally wouldn't bother doing it but there's always a game within the game. If someone has been a dick or your adversary all game, I think it would be disingenuous to ignore the satisfaction (and therefore value) of removing them from the draw. It is saying, without room for argument, that you beat them that game. I think that's commendable competitiveness in some cases.
1

anlari
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:05 am
Karma: 24

Re: How often do games draw?

#63 Post by anlari » Tue Jan 05, 2021 9:51 pm

jasnah wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 4:42 am
RoganJosh wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 2:17 am
jasnah wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 8:28 am
I’m very happy for every person who’s actually able to survive the draw in just Iberia and for the opponents who didn’t whittle them, but that’s strictly due to an honourable player culture and persists despite, not because of, DSS.
Are we talking gunboat or full press? With or without a time limits?

The most common situation in DSS is a 4WD that could be whittled down to a 3WD. Now, every whittle comes with a risk of a successfully thrown solo. And the math is pretty simple: if Mrs. solo contender only needs to get one 50/50 guess right to win, then the smaller powers should not try the whittle. If she needs to get two guesses right, then it's break even. Makes more sense to not whittle in that case. But if she needs three guesses or more, then the minor powers should whittle.

If it's a full press game, then the minor powers can usually coordinate and give conditions to the solo contender, to secure the whittle. If it's a gunboat game, then they can't. And it usually comes down to one or two guesses. Hence my motto: Never whittle in gunboat.
Or, you know, she does this https://webdiplomacy.net/board.php?gameID=328454 with barely any cost or risk to herself so that there's no chance of her ever making those guesses. This is the most ridiculous I've ever seen it, look at how far the Turkish units receded. I understand that this is the way for the Turkish player to points maximize but I found it totally distasteful.

I don't whittle anymore not because I'm under any delusion that it's not possible, when there is the desire it's almost always tactically possible, but because I don't want to.
I am catching up a bit late to the debate, but wanted to come back to this since Jasnah brought it up, and I happen to be Turkey in that game. Leaving the question of whittling aside, the other players had the option to attack me and take some of my SCs, effectively "resetting the game".

For me, a 5-way draw was not worth the effort and time I put in the game, and while I would have been happiest with the other 5 whittling, I would have also been OK with "resetting" the game as described above. That's why I tried to incentivize it by withdrawing my units further and further.

Was there some risk involved for other players? Yes, I could try to break for a solo and succeed if they fail to coordinate (low probability in my view), or that they get stabbed by another player and do not make it to the end. But these are risks we encounter in every game.

Which takes me to my next point.. we discussed the ethics of whittling at length, but in my view, forcing a draw when there is no stalemate is a far greater offense. That's why I was not willing to vote draw until moderators intervened and forced me to - which I found quite surprising to be honest - given that the other players had the option to attack me and just chose not to move. If we took this approach to its logical conclusion, then why not have 7-way draws if 6 players decide to stay still?

Anyways, that's my take.

RoganJosh
Silver Donator
Silver Donator
Posts: 550
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:02 am
Location: Stockholm
Karma: 454
Contact:

Re: How often do games draw?

#64 Post by RoganJosh » Tue Jan 05, 2021 10:35 pm

What do you mean, there was no stalemate line? You were stopped at the stalemate line in 1909.

anlari
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:05 am
Karma: 24

Re: How often do games draw?

#65 Post by anlari » Tue Jan 05, 2021 10:43 pm

Yes, and at the end my units were far from that line.

RoganJosh
Silver Donator
Silver Donator
Posts: 550
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:02 am
Location: Stockholm
Karma: 454
Contact:

Re: How often do games draw?

#66 Post by RoganJosh » Tue Jan 05, 2021 10:59 pm

That game is kinda extreme. But even with you units that far back, the other powers has no chance of soloing themselves. So, for them, it's a question of whether whittling will give you a second shot at the solo or not.

We know jasnah drew that game for principal reasons. But in a WTA and no time-limit setting, in general, you should not continue a game which you cannot solo yourself, if you risk losing to a solo.

anlari
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:05 am
Karma: 24

Re: How often do games draw?

#67 Post by anlari » Tue Jan 05, 2021 11:50 pm

I disagree on two points. Depending on how many SCs they take from me, and the composition, solo would be possible - it was in my interest to "reset" the game rather than give back a few SCs and try to take back immediately.

Even if you can't solo, a smaller draw could be a worthy objective. In the case of a "reset", this can be achieved without whittling (although the survival chances of smaller powers is lower).

VillageIdiot
Posts: 416
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:55 am
Karma: 575

Re: How often do games draw?

#68 Post by VillageIdiot » Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:17 am

There's a pretty universal attitude that Diplomacy games 'ought' be played for the goal of seeking out a solo. Under the assumption of "a draw is a draw is a draw" with no differentiation between a 2wd and a 7wd or even the mentality of anything that's not a solo is a loss, then you end up killing the momentum of a game the moment a number of players have reached the point in the game where a win is (at best) unlikely. It's really not that hard to unify and stalemate a board leader if that's what everybody has decided they'd like to do.

I have a different view on 'draw whittling' then the typical player here simply because of my online Diplomacy origins. I had started my online play at PlayDip where in the rating system solo's are heavily rewarded, followed by size of draw , and to further incentivize you would be penalized for drawing beneath your statistical potential. It was intense, but the benefit of these sorts of motivators is that it encouraged players to gamble for a better placement which helped the game make it beyond the mid-game without premature races for stalemate lines. Players would risk trying to get from a 4WD down to a 3WD to reap the rewards, but the gamble was that this sort of cutthroat play is very conducive to skilled players being able to leverage the high emotions and unstable board to improve solo odds. For a solo minded player like me, draw whittling mentality and incentives to keep a game continuing is great. I personally find end-games the most exciting parts of the game and like to squeeze for competition right up to the conclusion.

I personally don't really understand the point of playing in a game that doesn't end with at least a 3WD. Given the start of the game is usually two sets of 2-3 players knocking out the one who wasn't able to make any friends, what have you really accomplished making it to the 4-5 way draw level? I want to at LEAST be able to conclusively say i'm better then 50% of the players in the game.
4

RoganJosh
Silver Donator
Silver Donator
Posts: 550
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2017 1:02 am
Location: Stockholm
Karma: 454
Contact:

Re: How often do games draw?

#69 Post by RoganJosh » Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:21 am

A smaller draw can definitely be a worthy objective. But in my mind, the order of priority is

1. Solo
2. Prevent others from solo'ing
3. Whatever the scoring system says about draws.

I think this explains why DSS is so popular online, it's the superior scoring system when it comes to point number 2. (FTF or VFTF or any other situation where you have time limits is different, because 1 and 2 are moot.)

I don't know. If I were to speak freely, and not only abut whittling, then I think that there are a lot of players who want the rewards of a solo, but without the risk of losing.

For example, a lot has been said about how keeping the rest of the board divided between small powers increase the chance of a solo. And if you can keep your opponents hostile to each other, then that's true. (In gunboat, it can be true simply because of the coordination issues.) But what is also true is that if you are the only big power, then you have no risk. And that 5 power solo-stopping alliance, that's basically the best bet for the other powers. And if they force a 6WD, maybe that's what you deserve for playing without risk. You know, small risk small reward.

As for it being easy to form solo stopping alliances in DSS, I think you could also frame that as a tactical mistake by the solo contender. Once you've secured your position as the board top, then the game should be over. If you do it too early, then you won't be able to solo.

I realize that there is a tautology here somewhere.

As for 'restarting' the game by backing off... is that not the worst example of playing without risk? As Turkey, even? Can you imagine playing a game where you 'restart' as a 12 center Turkey? Except for a 13 center France, I can't see any other player that would wanna partake in such a game.

anlari
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:05 am
Karma: 24

Re: How often do games draw?

#70 Post by anlari » Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:47 am

Fair points, although you don't always have control over whether you face smaller or larger powers.

Also, there would be no way for me to guarantee "restarting" the game as a 12 center Turkey. Once the 5-way alliance gets me to 12 SCs, they would have enough momentum to push forward further, including to my complete destruction. The restart only begins when they feel secure enough to start stabbing each other, and that is out of my control. If I try to attack before that happens, chances are they will have an easy time re-establishing the old stalemate line.

anlari
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Jan 30, 2020 5:05 am
Karma: 24

Re: How often do games draw?

#71 Post by anlari » Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:48 am

Hellenic Riot wrote:
Thu Dec 31, 2020 12:22 am
This is why the true strategy when you fail on a solo attempt is not to just pull back slightly so that whittling can be attempted; but to pull back so far that you give up some of your own home SC's, thereby essentially restarting the game all over again, and allowing you to put into place a multi-decade strategy to solo sometime around 1930
I think the above describes my argument well :)
2

jasnah
Posts: 506
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2020 8:13 pm
Karma: 305

Re: How often do games draw?

#72 Post by jasnah » Wed Jan 06, 2021 7:47 am

VillageIdiot wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 12:17 am
I personally don't really understand the point of playing in a game that doesn't end with at least a 3WD. Given the start of the game is usually two sets of 2-3 players knocking out the one who wasn't able to make any friends, what have you really accomplished making it to the 4-5 way draw level? I want to at LEAST be able to conclusively say i'm better then 50% of the players in the game.
Leaving aside the matter that I don't think surviving to a draw or even soloing makes me better than the players who lost any given game, this was strange for me to read, because I'd rate the 5wd game posted earlier as my #1 Diplomacy accomplishment.

Now maybe the correct response to this is that I'm an amateurish and unaccomplished player, which would be true, but at the same time I don't nominate this game out of lack of solos or board tops, of which I have enough to choose from. I genuinely think surviving into this draw, regardless of how many other people were left alive and regardless of whether it happened because of luck, skill, the kindness of my fellow players' hearts or a combination of all three, was a cool thing to have done.

Applying the meritocratic standards that seem to be so popular when we talk about Diplomacy and people "deserving" or "working hard" to end in a draw paints also a more charitable picture than your comment implies. This game didn't 5wd because there were two sets of 2-3 players knocking out one who wasn't able to make any friends; it 5wd because Turkey through a combination of impeccable ability and being useful as a solo threat to other players was allowed to balloon to 16 with little resistance, and at the end of it there were 4 players who'd managed to fight their way to something resembling a position on the other side of the line.

Which of these people should have been ganked so the others could have felt superior to them? Don't answer Germany – I would have been needed to take him out and wasn't willing to do it, so it would be more sensible to credit Germany with a miraculous feat of diplomacy in persuading his neighbours to spare him. I'm well aware that the same player would have offed me without a second thought if the positions were reversed, but they weren't. And I'm not an expert, trained to play for as many points as I can and never give up – I'm just a naive pacifist who believes too much in an ethical Diplomacy. :-)
2

Hellenic Riot
Gold Donator
Gold Donator
Posts: 2359
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:28 pm
Location: Brighton, UK
Karma: 840

Re: How often do games draw?

#73 Post by Hellenic Riot » Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:28 pm

RoganJosh wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:21 am
A smaller draw can definitely be a worthy objective. But in my mind, the order of priority is

1. Solo
2. Prevent others from solo'ing
3. Whatever the scoring system says about draws.

I think this explains why DSS is so popular online, it's the superior scoring system when it comes to point number 2. (FTF or VFTF or any other situation where you have time limits is different, because 1 and 2 are moot.)

I don't know. If I were to speak freely, and not only abut whittling, then I think that there are a lot of players who want the rewards of a solo, but without the risk of losing.

For example, a lot has been said about how keeping the rest of the board divided between small powers increase the chance of a solo. And if you can keep your opponents hostile to each other, then that's true. (In gunboat, it can be true simply because of the coordination issues.) But what is also true is that if you are the only big power, then you have no risk. And that 5 power solo-stopping alliance, that's basically the best bet for the other powers. And if they force a 6WD, maybe that's what you deserve for playing without risk. You know, small risk small reward.

As for it being easy to form solo stopping alliances in DSS, I think you could also frame that as a tactical mistake by the solo contender. Once you've secured your position as the board top, then the game should be over. If you do it too early, then you won't be able to solo.

I realize that there is a tautology here somewhere.

As for 'restarting' the game by backing off... is that not the worst example of playing without risk? As Turkey, even? Can you imagine playing a game where you 'restart' as a 12 center Turkey? Except for a 13 center France, I can't see any other player that would wanna partake in such a game.
anlari wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:48 am
Hellenic Riot wrote:
Thu Dec 31, 2020 12:22 am
This is why the true strategy when you fail on a solo attempt is not to just pull back slightly so that whittling can be attempted; but to pull back so far that you give up some of your own home SC's, thereby essentially restarting the game all over again, and allowing you to put into place a multi-decade strategy to solo sometime around 1930
I think the above describes my argument well :)
In fairness I was being slightly tongue-in-cheek: I only recall actually doing this once, and in the game you're talking about it obviously failed because the other players weren't willing to start taking your SC's, so I wouldn't complain or refuse to draw at that point :razz:

VillageIdiot
Posts: 416
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:55 am
Karma: 575

Re: How often do games draw?

#74 Post by VillageIdiot » Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:49 pm

@jasnah

My comments are more aimed at press games, but yes even then i would concede there are exceptions to situations where a higher participant draw may very well come from a rewarding game. I'm generalizing for the sake of the baseline debate. But there is a skill needed to making yourself invulnerable to holding off a solo from happening and building a house of cards where knocking you out is too risky or leveraging your diplomatic relationships to making people not want to knock you out, these are all legitimate elements of the game. My point is you want to have the incentivizes there so the motivation is at least needed to be weighed against this. Without this then sure, charity comes cheap so why not just shrug your shoulders and have a 7 way stalemate.

Truth be told, there are many different ways to frame a Diplomacy game based on how you want to score it and there are systems where solos are rare and board tops are the more typical measuring stick. In my very limited exposure to FTF this seems to be more the norm, and it's all perfectly fine. Having just played at Nexus a season where they used Tribute scoring it's actually preferable if you are going to draw to have a larger draw size so long as you're the board top which also is a perfectly fine system. I just personally prefer an environment where the rewards energize the game towards having more aggressive risk-taking style play. Enjoyment and satisfaction is subjective.

VillageIdiot
Posts: 416
Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:55 am
Karma: 575

Re: How often do games draw?

#75 Post by VillageIdiot » Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:52 pm

jasnah wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 7:47 am
I'm just a naive pacifist who believes too much in an ethical Diplomacy. :-)
So much to unpack here.
1

Peregrine Falcon
Site Contributor
Site Contributor
Posts: 208
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:44 pm
Karma: 250
Contact:

Re: How often do games draw?

#76 Post by Peregrine Falcon » Wed Jan 06, 2021 6:36 pm

jasnah wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 7:47 am
I'm just a naive pacifist who believes too much in an ethical Diplomacy.
I believe there's an ongoing game of the infamous pacifist variant that has had a number of CDs. Perhaps they'd let you fill one?

teccles
Posts: 213
Joined: Mon Mar 25, 2019 8:10 pm
Karma: 242

Re: How often do games draw?

#77 Post by teccles » Wed Jan 06, 2021 6:42 pm

The distinction between press and gunboat is important here. In press, the risk to whittling is much higher; because the potential whittlee can demand that the whittlers only commit an absolute minimum force to hold the stalemate line in the least threatening possible way. In gunboat, it is often hard to draw the line, and doing so may involve taking risks of solos.
jasnah wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 7:47 am
Which of these people should have been ganked so the others could have felt superior to them? Don't answer Germany – I would have been needed to take him out and wasn't willing to do it, so it would be more sensible to credit Germany with a miraculous feat of diplomacy in persuading his neighbours to spare him. I'm well aware that the same player would have offed me without a second thought if the positions were reversed, but they weren't. And I'm not an expert, trained to play for as many points as I can and never give up – I'm just a naive pacifist who believes too much in an ethical Diplomacy. :-)
Thank you for crediting me with a miraculous feat of diplomacy :-)

FWIW, I actually wouldn't have whittled you if the roles were reversed; not because I don't whittle, but because I think taking MOS and WAR ran a risk of Germany throwing the game (as Germany, I can tell you that I was pretty certain I was being whittled, and I think a good number of players who made that judgement would have thrown rather than hoped). So while the endgame position is an example of a 'safe whittle', I don't think the game overall is. And I only take really safe whittles - probably even less than points would recommend. I agree with RoganJosh that really safe whittles are fairly rare, though they definitely do exist.

I also wouldn't have backed off as Turkey (outside a tournament or something) - I can't quite be bothered with that play, despite knowing it's right for points - but I respect the decision to do so in order to reduce the draw size.
2

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest