School of War Summer 2019

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Balki Bartokomous
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#81 Post by Balki Bartokomous » Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:26 am

goldfinger0303 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:14 am
1) Why do you think Russia disbanded Norway? How does the impending English move to StP affect Russia's neighbors and their gameplans?
Well, disbands are tough. They are almost always painful. I think I like Russia disbanding a northern unit there to wash his hands of the north and focus in the south. That makes sense given he was just stabbed by a joint attack from England and Germany. Disbanding Norway and not Baltic is an enticement to England to join him against the board leader. Russia has strong arguments he can make to England right now to try to take a brown center rather than a purple one. I wouldn't just assume an English move to St. Petersburg.
goldfinger0303 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:14 am
2) What are the benefits from Turkey's stab of Austria here over taking Rumania? Italy and Austria are/were still embroiled in a fight. Why not let them squabble and grow elsewhere?
If I were Turkey there, I would have been pretty interested in attacking Austria too, just based on the board. I would have expected Germany to help Austria against Italy on that move, not just slide through to Piedmont. So I did not expect the A/I squabble to stand still. In that event, Turkey wants to keep Austria from growing too big, and getting a build while orienting Russia towards Austria is a major win for Turkey.
goldfinger0303 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:14 am
3) How does Germany keep England on his side? France is in whole fortress France mode now, and with 5 SCs can keep a combined German/English force at bay for years - even with Germany in Piedmont and Burgundy. England surely won't have forgotten that it was Germany who put him in a bind and France who has now twice offered support.
Well, sure, France has strong arguments to make. But so does Germany. The E/G alliance is traditionally excellent for England. It is a joy to own a corner with an ally on the inside because eventually the inside ally has to turn to face the rest of the board, and then you have total control. So if I were England in this E/G, I wouldn't love the center count at the moment, but I would have some optimism about my long-term prospects if I can convince Germany to value parity. Were I Germany, I would be making a pitch about being grateful for England's help, and being eager to reward him with some centers to take a target off my back as the board leader -- a terrible place to be in 1902 (or so I would say).
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#82 Post by Balki Bartokomous » Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:34 am

pyxxy wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:30 am
Which leads me to ask, in light of everyone's moves in A02, with Germany skipping on by and heading to Piedmont, do you think Germany missed a key opportunity by not meddling in southern affairs? Or made a good decision in avoiding that mess?
Based only on the board (and not the press!), I don't like the Piedmont move. I think he should have helped Austria. I think he is going to regret it. His strategic gain in Piedmont is tiny compared to the benefit of keeping a Juggernaut at bay. Now he's stabbed Russia, and on the same turn ignored an Austria in need while a highly predictable R/T forms at Austria's back. It's hard to say what is "right" and "wrong" in Diplomacy, especially without seeing the press, but I think Germany underestimated the importance of a strong Austria.
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#83 Post by goldfinger0303 » Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:43 pm

Thank you, professor Balki, for the wonderful insights!
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#84 Post by Temasek22 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 4:05 am

Balki Bartokomous wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:34 am
pyxxy wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:30 am
Which leads me to ask, in light of everyone's moves in A02, with Germany skipping on by and heading to Piedmont, do you think Germany missed a key opportunity by not meddling in southern affairs? Or made a good decision in avoiding that mess?
Based only on the board (and not the press!), I don't like the Piedmont move. I think he should have helped Austria. I think he is going to regret it. His strategic gain in Piedmont is tiny compared to the benefit of keeping a Juggernaut at bay. Now he's stabbed Russia, and on the same turn ignored an Austria in need while a highly predictable R/T forms at Austria's back. It's hard to say what is "right" and "wrong" in Diplomacy, especially without seeing the press, but I think Germany underestimated the importance of a strong Austria.
Was the R/T highly predictable? Maybe the Germans, in hindsight, would be better off helping Austria. But just by reading the board barely anyone would expect the Juggernaut. Am I missing something?
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#85 Post by jmo1121109 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:24 am

I had intended to post this evening, knowing my next chance would be later Sunday, and ended up busting myself up biking. So my next lecture will not be till Sunday, apologies.
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#86 Post by VillageIdiot » Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:51 am

captainmeme wrote:
Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:49 pm
Apparently I can't edit the link in, so here it is:

Diplomacy Academy 4: Negotiating from a position of weakness

I highly recommend this entire series to any player who hasn't seen it yet, Chris Martin is a former World Champion in the Face to Face side of the game and his advice shows that throughout.
Terrific! Great recommendation.
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#87 Post by jmo1121109 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:37 pm

goldfinger0303 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:14 am
The skill in convincing England that they're still on their side despite the move to Ska and a double fleet Russia (seriously though, why Ska and not Baltic? Nothing Russia could've done about Baltic. Ska theoretically could've been blocked).
I think I touched on this in a previous post, but the move ska was especially nice to see because Germany at that point couldn't be sure of England's intentions, so the move to ska over baltic was an excellent safeguard that had basically 0 chance of being blocked.
goldfinger0303 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:14 am
1) Why do you think Russia disbanded Norway? How does the impending English move to StP affect Russia's neighbors and their gameplans?
The why is temptation, and in fact your 2nd question answers the why. Because unless Russia disbanded instead of moving back to StP, England and Germany would have continued moving against him and eventually won entirely. But now, there's an equally inviting option for England which is a move against Germany with a Russia in a position to help drastically. It was a grade A move and I was thrilled to see it.
goldfinger0303 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:14 am
2) What are the benefits from Turkey's stab of Austria here over taking Rumania? Italy and Austria are/were still embroiled in a fight. Why not let them squabble and grow elsewhere?
Rumania and holding Rumania, were not ensured wins for Turkey. And even if it was, getting another Russian center after that was highly unlikely, AND even if he managed too it would have weakened Russia further and everyone on the board can easily see that Germany or England would be far better positioned to capitalize on a crumbling Russia then Turkey. So the answer to why not let them squabble is simply, it wasn't a feasible option.
goldfinger0303 wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 4:14 am
3) How does Germany keep England on his side? France is in whole fortress France mode now, and with 5 SCs can keep a combined German/English force at bay for years - even with Germany in Piedmont and Burgundy. England surely won't have forgotten that it was Germany who put him in a bind and France who has now twice offered support.
The easy way is reminding England that StP is a free build and their alliance has already had rewards in the form of Norway. Sure France has gone into fortress mode, but with another build from StP and with Germany already having Bur, that's not amazingly hard to overcome. England is faced with 2 pretty equal choices right now, press will be the deciding factor.
pyxxy wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 5:30 am
Which leads me to ask, in light of everyone's moves in A02, with Germany skipping on by and heading to Piedmont, do you think Germany missed a key opportunity by not meddling in southern affairs? Or made a good decision in avoiding that mess?


I think Balki and I both have made different lectures that address why this move might not have been idea. Balki's reply to you hits the nail on the head. There's another angle to consider though, and that's my discussion earlier about multiple wars at once, and Balki's earlier post about avoiding full out all unit's engaged confrontations. Right now Germany is the board leader with 2 units above anyone else. But in all actuality, he doesn't have much more board influence or room to grow, and the reason for that is the engagement with France eating up Belgium, Bur, and Piedmont. Now on it's own, that wouldn't be awful and he would still have enough units to have options to expand. But the Russian retreat to Baltic ties up Berlin, Munich, Denmark, and Sweden. Forcing those 4 units to cover 4 at risk centers. This is why Baltic is such a strong play by Russia, it's a critical space on the board, that threatens key centers for Germany. So with 1 Russian unit, Germany suddenly loses the freedom of 4/7ths of his units. That's a critical loss when trying to win a slugging match with France while trying to convince England to keep an alliance with you.

Piedmont did not have to be tied up against France, keeping it in Tyrolia would have ensured France couldn't circle around Switzerland to threaten him while still providing the ability to help out Austria. And as I pointed out in my answer to Goldfinger, Turkey was going to move on either Austria or Italy, he didn't have a choice, and as Balki has previously pointed out, a strong Austria strongly benefits Germany. Now Russia and Turkey are in a position to wipe through the east before anyone can become well positioned to stop them in the west, all because 1 support didn't happen. This is why earlier on in my lectures I spoke about understanding the entire board instead of just your neighbors. Sometimes losing out on the chance to take a center in exchange for propping up an ally can be a game changing choice.
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#88 Post by jmo1121109 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:16 pm

Now I want to take a minute to hyper focus on a tactics course from last turns moves. The region, Greece, the outcome, predictable. Why do I say it's predictable, lets get into it.

Let's think about the previous board state from Turkey's mentality. He's been bouncing around a little bit trying to find an ally without a ton of luck, somewhat just waiting for an opening to find that next center gain. Now this turn Rumania is guarded by armies in Sev and Ukraine, removing it as a viable option. Turkey can see that Russia is at risk of losing Sweden and Norway in 1 go, and a 3rd center loss would collapse him entirely, giving Germany and England free reign to swoop in and take Warsaw and probably Moscow. That scenario is entirely undesirable, so right now I want to leave Russia alone or help him as Turkey. The professors have just pointed out how Germany in Tyrolia opens the door for both Italy and Austria to court him and try and get support against each other.

Now from a tactics standpoint it looks like Austria will be forced into using either Trieste or Serbia to defend Budapest. Failing to do so or using or using Vienna to defend will open Austria up to a strong chance of losing a center. And Austria is almost certain to make a move to regain Venice or go to Naples, but since Naples seems such a dangerous center for Italy to leave open, it seems likely Austria will not chance it and will go for Venice, knowing that Italy is likely to defend Naples (this is a bad assumption but I'll cover that later).

So where does that leave Turkey? It leaves him knowing that Trieste will probably be used against Italy, so Serbia will probably be moving to bounce in Budapest. (Did this happen, no. But does that matter? No! because it was the most likely thing to happen so you can make assumptions based off of it). And the assumption Turkey could safely make was Greece is almost an ensured take here. Now the way to take Greece, with Aegean or Bulgaria? If Serbia for whatever surprise reason taps Bulgaria then Aegean to Greece fails and spoils further attempts since Austria will be on guard. So Aegean which cannot be cut by Greece, supporting Bulg into Greece, and then moving Const to Bulg is a 100% safe move because even if Serbia supports Greece to Bulgaria, it ends in a bounce. And that moveset didn't seem likely at all for Austria to pull considering he was fighting Italy full out.

So at the end of the day, tactically from Turkey's perspective, he really had no choice but to attack Greece.

Which is why, I'd argue, that it was easily preventable by identifying it was likely on Turkeys mind as Austria, and then lying and saying Serbia was going to be used to support hold Greece or saying you were supporting Russia into Bulg as a preventative, etc. The various options of how to deal with it vary a lot on press, but what doesn't vary is that tactically it was an easy to see coming move if time was taken to analyze the board from Turkey's perspective.

Now, I want to take another minute (professors aren't good at time) to discuss the 2nd tactical situation that I view a lot of new players messing up...actually a lot of senior and skilled players mess this up too because a lot of people over-hype the influence of press to tactics. I view press as critically important, but at the end of the day, still a tool that needs to be used in conjunction with tactics. Tactic's tell you what is feasible, press helps turn feasible into reality.

Now we take out our trusty remote control and hit rewind to Spring 02 again.

*takes out highlighter and circles Naples and Budapest.

Too many people *assume* that if a home center is at risk it must be defended. Specifically, if a home center is open it must be defended above an occupied one because it appears to be a more tempting target. And what this led to was 2 tactical mistakes. 1 by Austria, and 1 by Italy.

Let's pretend that you're Austria, and you know that Germany should be inclined to prop you up because you being strong ensures he does not have to worry about his eastern front. Now you're talking to Germany about Tyrolia. He apologizes but says he cannot help you and needs the unit against France. That's unfortunate, you think he's making a mistake, but you still have options. Slip some press into Italy along the lines of "look I know we're stuck fighting right now, but when you lose Venice there's no need for us to continue fighting, I just need the 1 center and we could easily still team up after". The point of that message is NOT to convince Italy you want to team up, that's transparent and everyone knows it. It should however, make Italy think you're moving on Venice and not Naples. (now as you start playing with all high class players this type of misdirection is just standard and everyone engages in it so it's less useful, but when you're playing against less skilled players, it can be amazingly effective). Then you simply slide into Naples which is likely to remain open. Especially when you consider that Italy has to be thinking you're strongly interested in retaking what you just lost.

Now the same tactical error occurred for Italy, Italy assumed that Austria *had* to defend Budapest, so he didn't even make a move on it. Again, press hints could have been dropped here to make it sound like Italy assumed a bounce would occur and to ask if Austria would consider taking support Rum from Serbia instead of attacking Venice. The point again not being to actually offer an alliance but to make Austria confident that he could safely leave Budapest unoccupied. And then of course as Italy, you take Budapest.

The tactical point is you can "outguess" opponents all the time by considering what your opponent is most likely to do, and then drop press hints to encourage it while entering orders to best take advantage of the "best" moves your opponents can make. I have historically won a good 75%+ of my "guessing"/"coin flip" matches, because there is no such thing as a coin flip in a diplomacy game. When you stop to take the time to analyze the most likely moves of your neighbors based on the board, and then apply press to lead them to those obvious moves you can significantly increase the chances of your attacks being both successful and tactically unexpected.

Are moves like this "risky", sure, but if you handle your press well and review the board from the perspective of everyone you can get it right more often then not. Which is why top site players like village idiot describe me as "jmo is analytical and calculating but loves to think outside the box".

These are the types of situations where I get that type of reputation from, and where you can and should also benefit from. Think through all possible scenarios and drop press hints that lead your neighbors to conclusions that will create the openings you need to take home centers and critical positions that otherwise would never have been available.
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#89 Post by Balki Bartokomous » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:10 pm

* Abruptly, sirens blare, as the lecture hall is awash in bright red flashing lights like an apocalyptic science fiction scene.
* The booms and blasts of weaponry outside jolt the room in intermittent bursts.
* Muscles tense, hearts race, as panic rises like a flooding river and spills across packed seats and into the rushing aisles.
* Survival instincts take over as the masses pound on locked door after locked door, grasping for escape.
* After 90 seconds that feel like days, a front-row student slams her shoulder against the door on the wing of the stage. It opens easily and she spills onto the floor of a secret and cavernous gymnasium, the echoes of her entry resounding throughout the dark and empty room.
* In a trampling, stampeding mob, the personed mass jams the single exit, like a boulder pounding at a keyhole.
* The bodies crack and crumple at the crushing force of dread.
* After an excruciating 24 minutes, the frailest and slowest of students pile through the doorway and collapse onto the gymnasium floor, to join the panting and pulsing rabble.
* The door closes behind them with a crisp swing and click.
* A spotlight flutters on and fixes on a heretofore unseen observer, smiling from the top row of the wooden risers
: Professor Balki.


Class, our next lecture is about one of the more useful tools for getting people to do what you want. Fear.

* The students, from their bloodied, broken heaps, smile in understanding and appreciation.
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#90 Post by Balki Bartokomous » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:16 pm

Fear mongering: "the spreading of frightening and exaggerated rumors of an impending danger or the habit or tactic of purposely and needlessly arousing public fear about an issue."

Lyndon B. Johnson has much to teach us about Diplomacy. Not least of which is this famous television advertisement used during his 1964 presidential run. Innocent little girls plucking daisies. Mushroom clouds. Mass hysteria. These are the tools of capable diplomat.

Convincingly warning other players of credible threats on the board is a critical component of making the pieces move in the directions that you want them to move. In so many discussions, there should be undercurrents of "we need to work together, or else mushroom clouds."

But you can’t be transparent. And you can’t lay it on too thick. So how do you make your warnings credible?

A lot of the lectures at this school have discussed the critical idea of looking at the board from the perspective of each other player and making your decisions with that in mind. That is as true in crafting messages as it is in crafting moves. And a key part of that is figuring out what horrible thing may happen to your fellow players if they don’t attack France now, or if they decide to submit to their greed and seize Bulgaria.

The thing about Diplomacy is that so often an attack does create an unintended consequence. Weakening one power makes another power more powerful. Taking a center from a neighbor means they can’t defend against another neighbor. Understanding these ripple effects is really important. Your fear mongering will be especially credible because the monsters are real. The atom bombs are loaded and the red button uncased.

These are the threats I’d be pedaling now:

Germany

This is a classic example. I’d be referring to Germany as the “Board Leader” more often than not. Highlight his center count, his position, his allies, his track record of duping his neighbors. Underhanded compliments galore.

Almost every power other than Germany has an interest now in getting someone else to use a napkin on elevator buttons and door handles.** Use that. Say things like: “Well, perhaps we’ve all just decided that Germany is the puppet master here, and he deserves to win.”

The Juggernaut

Another classic example. I don’t know who named the Juggernaut, but it was probably someone playing Austria. The name itself says all Austria wants to say. Once the Juggernaut gets rolling, it cannot be stopped. We’ll be ground to dust.

I’ve said that I thought there was some inevitability in the Jugg forming last turn. Well, it has, and not it’s looking fearsome. For virtually everyone on the board, you want everyone else focused on the worst-case scenario of complete domination by the approaching Steamroller. And it’s not just Austria trying to get Germany and Italy to come to its aid. Think about it from France’s perspective. If everyone turns to stop the Juggernaut, you’ve moved into the best position on the board. I don’t care what JMO says about tactics. Get the pieces to move in the other direction, and you simply can’t be beat.

The Death of X

I use X as a placeholder here, because it can really be any country on the ropes. In this game, it might have meant England after 1901, or France, Italy, or Austria now. I’m sure there will be others in the X position in this topsy turvy game. But the general point is the same: If a power is overwhelmed, and destroyed, it has a huge impact on the game. Whatever powers did the conquering have gained centers and units, but even more important, all of a sudden their entire attacking force is available to be redeployed. And often, someone has gained a corner or some other strategic position, that makes defense much easier.

If it’s clear that a power is on the ropes, those who do not stand to gain from that elimination should be vocal, and often should send units to help or distract. If you’re playing England, and Turkey is overwhelmed, you have a huge interest in giving Turkey reinforcements. Whether that means attacking Russia in the north, or just urging Italy to turn on Austria, whatever it is, it is really bad for you if Turkey dies and Russia can redeploy its units towards the center of the board.

If I’m France now, I’m telling anyone who will listen about the incredible dangers that will befall them should Germany take Paris. If I’m Austria or Germany, I’m talking about the position and power of Turkey, Russia, or both, when they have complete control of the Balkans and there are no longer red units to oppose them. The elimination of a power is a significant event with reverberations across the board, kind of like a mushroom cloud. This is a real, credible threat; the kind of thing you should be warning people about.
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#91 Post by Balki Bartokomous » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:17 pm

** get it? Germophobe!
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#92 Post by Yigg » Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:49 am

Greetings students and observers. My name is Yigg, and I have been cordially asked to give a guest lecture by our esteemed professors. Before I begin, I would like to take a moment and graciously thank our professors not only for their considerable time and energy devoted to this School of War, but that they think enough of me to share what little wisdom I possess with the class. A thousand thank yous!

The topic of my lecture is the in-game use of Public Press (PP). So that we are clear, I mean to define it as the simultaneous communication with all other players in the “Global” tab. While very different from communicating privately, I consider it no less essential. It is another box of tools to accomplish your aims, and should not be ignored. Before we talk about what you can do with those tools, you need to remember a few important details. A) Everyone can read your PP, so be certain that you choose your words carefully and specifically. B) If you say something in PP that you contradict in Private Press with another player, you take the risk of demonstrating that you are lying. C) The other six players, even dead ones, can attempt to rebut, rebuke, and rebuff your press using these same tools against you.

First and foremost, PP is an excellent place to demonstrate the color of your character. Whether your press is flippant, witty, colorful, direct, etc., your tone sets the stage for everything you do. And PP is where you stand center stage and broadcast it to your audience of the other six players in the game. You want your character to shine here, and be liked! Even if you are a direct and brusque person, go out of your way to be at least a little bit personable. Do this by being friendly in the start of the game. Start a conversation about something inane and non-game related. Say something that can get a laugh at your own expense. Compliment the other person’s game. Be humble about your own. I’m no psychologist, but I’m fairly certain most of us gravitate towards interesting conversationalists. This helps to make people like you, ergo, more pliable to act in ways which benefit you. Even a villain can find someone who likes them if they are personable, relatable, and interesting. Think Dexter Morgan. Vic Mackey. Hans Gruber. Hannibal Lecter. Khan Noonien Singh (of Ricardo Montalban variety). You may find that this earned goodwill from the rest of the board may come in handy after executing a brutal stab. It’s not surefire, but it just might foster that one turn of indecisiveness before everyone works together to try and stop your solo attempt. And you’ll want that turn later, believe me. You start laying the groundwork for the endgame on turn one.

Second, outside of being a tool to express your sparkling charm (which you should never, ever stop using), PP can be a great way to expose and/or thwart plots against you. When you publicly ask another player what their intentions are regarding moves or builds, they kinda need to answer publicly. Failure to respond is a response itself, which almost always indicates hostile intent. But more than that, their response is in the public record for you, and everyone else, to judge. Do they justify the move? Do they deny hostility? Do they say they “misordered?” Do they cast blame? This can provide insight into their intentions from their response, be it genuine or misdirection. It puts them on notice, not very subtly, that you know something is up. Equally important is to see who else chimes in on the conversation. Does someone come to their defense and try to assure you that everything is okay? Who comes to you privately and shares your same concern? Does their answer contradict what they’ve told someone else? If they lie to you publicly, and their ally knows the truth, they just witnessed their ally tell a lie. Does that mean they’re capable of lying to them, too? It sparks conversation and consternation, which helps put a spotlight on budding alliances. This tool is best used in a calm yet unambiguous way. Be clear about what you are asking about and politely demand clarity in the response if they beat around the bush. Don’t issue fiery accusations at this point, however, as that might alienate other players who may feel inclined to help you (we’ll discuss that later). Remember, sparkling charm at all times! If they respond with utter nonsense, you should take the opportunity to call them out on it. Hypocrisy and obvious deception should have a spotlight shone on it. If you can do it by being clever and amusing, all the better.

Third, PP can sometimes degenerate into name calling, finger pointing, and otherwise typical internet-style arguments. For the love of all things holy, do not fall for this trap. No matter how viscous a stab, no matter how wrong someone is, no matter how someone is not listening to your well crafted logic, do NOT be the bad guy. See, in a lot of games, someone usually takes up the villainous “bad guy” mantle. You all know the type. And reasonable players who see this person will tend to gravitate away from them. It’s way easier, then, in private press to make a case to ally against someone being an asshat. If you’re able to purposefully paint someone else as a villain (and have everyone else agree; a key part of it), that’s even better. Easier targets are those who are the SC leader, just made a big stab, or just said something really stupid or inane. This is of paramount importance when someone is approaching the capability of a solo victory! Understand though, that if you get into the online equivalent of a shouting match with someone, there will probably be a savvy player watching from the sidelines trying to gather others up against you and seize that opportunity. So if you find yourself in a public argument, and most of your opponents are arguing against you, you might want to consider gracefully backing down. According to the gospel of Raylan Givens, season 4 episode 1, “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you're the asshole.”

My fourth and final point that I will make today is the exception to everything I’ve just said. And that is the Chainsaw. Chainsaw diplomacy is, to quote the esteemed Paul D. Windsor, “the press equivalent of bare knuckle fighting...deliberately designed to be upsetting and unnerving to the recipient.” It’s press that leaves the reader 100% convinced beyond a doubt that you are going to duly proceed precisely as you say you will, and that you cannot be ignored. It is meant to sound crazy, threatening, emotional, and wild. Be advised, before I go any further, I must state the caveat that this is NOT a license to be directly insulting or harassing. Site rules are very clear on this. I digress. The point of Chainsaw press is to blatantly and clearly be so animated and unhinged that you are willing to throw centers, wage war, move and do whatever it takes to accomplish X, prevent Y, and/or throw centers to Z. But this is not a tool to use when you are, in fact, animated and unhinged. Otherwise you’re just pissed and venting, which is exactly how you will sound. No. This is carefully crafted press from a cool hand. You want the reader to be absolutely certain that you’re going to move, or allow others to move, exactly as you mean to. Because if your opponent fully believes you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do, it can help predict or alter THEIR orders accordingly. Knowing what someone is going to do is the secret sauce. Making someone else order as you want is voodoo magic. Now this can backfire, as it risks taking up the villain mantle from my third point above. If it’s not fully convincing you could be ignored, or worse, have your bluff called. The mere fact that you’re reading this may cast doubt on a future Chainsaw’s sincerity. The means that you may have to indeed move as you’ve said you will, which you may or may not secretly want to do. Also know that this may alienate or influence other players in unanticipated ways. “Never fire up that chainsaw unless you're prepared to face the consequences.”

This concludes my guest lecture on some of the uses for Public Press, though it is by no means an exhaustive list. I would highly encourage our students to engage some more thoughtful use of it. Further, you may find it educational to get involved in a Public Press Only game (sometimes referred to as a Wilsonian game), where no private messages are allowed at all. They can be extremely enlightening in how alliances can be made and broken, on top of being a hell of a lot of fun. I would again like to thank our Professors for briefly allowing me to share the stage with them. Your lessons are fantastic and I deeply appreciate them. Sláinte!
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#93 Post by jmo1121109 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 2:55 am

A huge thanks to Yigg, who is without question one of the site's best public press players. Many players including many skilled players undervalue or even insist that global press should not be used. Hopefully in reading yigg's post you'll start to see how it can and should be used effectively. It has in several occasions helped me in full press games I have solo'ed in. And I highly recommend engaging in it. Sometimes it won't even impact the outcome of the game, and you might just have a fun conversation about comic books or a random topic while playing.

If you have questions on his post (students included) please pm darg directly with your question and he'll see if we can get you an answer.
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#94 Post by dargorygel » Tue Jul 16, 2019 10:38 am

Thanks, Professors for you continued lectures... and special thanks to Yigg. Great stuff. The school continues!
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#95 Post by foodcoats » Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:44 pm

Yigg, that is the most interesting and useful thing I've ever read about public press. I think those strategies will come in very handy in the future. Thank you!
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#96 Post by Balki Bartokomous » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:58 pm

foodcoats wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 5:44 pm
Yigg, that is the most interesting and useful thing I've ever read about public press. I think those strategies will come in very handy in the future. Thank you!
But no comment at all about my Germaphobe joke?
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#97 Post by dargorygel » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:26 pm

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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#98 Post by mhsmith0 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:50 pm

dargorygel wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 3:26 pm
Purple
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#99 Post by Balki Bartokomous » Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:05 pm

* The students hobble and wheel themselves into the lecture hall, attention rapt.
*Their wounds have been bandaged and their bones reset and reinforced with titanium rods or screws, but they’ve received no treatment for the fissures in their minds.
* Alongside textbooks and laptops, the students have slung across their backs flashlights, unperishable foods, and life jackets. They do not want to be caught unprepared yet again.
* At exactly 11:00 am, Professor Balki uncharacteristically enters punctually, and walks towards the center of the stage.
* Muscles clench, awaiting a trick.
* Professor Balki steps in front of the lectern and sits upstage center, his legs dangling down towards the floor.
* Not even an exhale from the crowd, which watches on, guardedly.


Let’s talk about friends.

That’s my preferred term for an ally. “I’d like you to be my friend.”

I’ve complimented you all for your side-shifting. As I’ve said, I think that higher level play is more prone to vacillating loyalties. But that doesn’t mean there is no place for forming and fostering a long-term alliance or two. In fact, that’s my preferred way to play. With a partner. A friend.

In this game, there is no visible sign of a partnership, formed at the start, that has continued through the first 2.5 game years. That doesn’t mean that none exists, especially between powers across the board from each other, but there is no sign of one yet. I’d like to take a step back from analyzing the short-term impacts and thought processes of a single turn, and expound instead on the benefits of a true partnership, and how to keep one.

The benefits are hard to ignore. If you trust someone, and they trust you, there is so much more you can do with your moves and your diplomacy. The obvious examples are leaving centers unguarded or collaborating on moves. If you have the liberty to orchestrate a move from the perspective of what is good for a partnership, rather than what is good for me individually, you have more pieces to control, and you can catch opponents unprepared for a truly collaborative attack.

The more extreme examples involve sharing information, comparing notes, corroborating stories to find out who is lying, swapping centers to optimize builds and joint defenses. You have more moves and tactics available if you trust your friend, and she trusts you. Sometimes, in a game of shifting snakes, the monogamous swans who trust each other prevail, because they have so much more available in their arsenal.

The “Why?” is easy. The “How?” is hard. I mean, there is obvious stuff that is easy to say, but hard to do: Be likeable. Be fun. These are things that you should do, which will help you, but I don’t think you will become these things by reading a School of War lecture. Let’s be honest, it all begins with reverse-grip barbell curls, kettleball presses, and incline dumbbell rows, but we don’t have the time to cover every way to earn friendships and promote trust. I understand that several of you have amputations of trampled limbs scheduled at the top of the hour, and I think it’s important that you arrive on time. So, let me just tackle one technique for alliance building that you may not have considered.

Conceivable Iteration.

You are all, of course, aware of the concepts of a prisoner’s dilemma and dominant strategy because Game Theory and Introduction to Microeconomics were both prerequisites to being here. For those of you auditing the class online, or watching the live CNN feed, who are less familiar, I’ll give you a rough outline.

Let’s say you and your esteemed friend Professor Balki are in a holding cell, suspected of stealing a truckload of Purell hand sanitizer. We are isolated from each other, and do not know how the other will respond to police questioning. If Professor Balki confesses and cuts a deal, and you stay silent, you will receive a super long prison sentence, while Balki goes free. If we both confess, we will both receive a significant prison sentence. If we both stay silent, we will both receive a slap on the wrist, because the police will only have enough to convict us of having super clean and fresh hands.

The best net result if we’re playing on a team is for us to both stay silent, and both get a slap on the wrist. But, in practice, rational actors will both end up locked in jail for a long time. The reason is that we each have what’s called a “dominant strategy” to confess. If you confess, my best outcome is achieved by confessing, as I’d go away for a long-time if you confess and I don’t. If you stay silent, my best outcome is also achieved by confessing, as I go free by selling you down the river. In fact, both of us have a dominant strategy of confessing, which means that we both confess, and we both end up with a much worse outcome than we could have achieved if we had the ability to plot together, and make a decision jointly.

One solution to the prisoner’s dilemma is the concept of iteration. If I know that you and I will make these kinds of decisions repeatedly, and that you can punish me later for selling you down the river by selling me down the river, I will be more inclined to stay silent. And so will you.

So, how does this apply to Diplomacy? Quite often, the decision to stab your ally, or not stab your ally, creates some variant of a prisoner’s dilemma. You may have a dominant strategy to stab, because: (a) if you stab and your ally stays true, you get most of your ally’s centers, (b) if you stab and your ally stabs, you’re at least going to be able to defend yourself, and so the outcome is not as bad as it would be if you stayed true. And yet, alliances continue despite these dominant strategies because iteration allows for punishing bad behavior and the ability of one ally to turn the other ally’s stab into a jointly destructive quagmire.

In-game iteration is critical for keeping alliances intact. But sometimes it’s not enough. Consider the situation where you are both approaching 17 centers, and your ally has the ability to stab for the win. Consider the situation where you are on the ropes in a game, and your ally has an opening to deal a crippling death blow. Consider the situation where a time limit or turn limit means that the game will end abruptly in a forced draw. There will be no in-game iteration to punish bad behavior.

In these situations, consider the power of Conceivable Iteration. The idea that we will meet again.

“This alliance is amazing – I’m having so much fun working with you. I’m really hoping that we both make it through to the next round, as I’d really like to play another game with you.”
“Any chance you’re headed to Weasel Moot this year? I’d love the opportunity to play with you again.”
“Yes, this is my first face-to-face tournament, but I am really hoping to join the circuit and play with you guys regularly.”

If you have a close ally, one way to keep them from considering a potentially dominant strategy of attacking you, is making them think in terms of multiple games, and reputations. Making them think that you will have opportunities to exact revenge, or at least they will have to look you in the eye one day.

* Professor Balki pauses.

As I sit here lecturing, I have been somewhat distracted by the contemplation of what example from my own history of games that I might use. I have a great example in mind, but it may be a bit controversial and ethically dubious. Honestly, I am somewhat ashamed to admit this, evidenced by the fact that I haven’t talked about this particular example, even in the After Action Report for the game itself.

I guess I’m going to talk about it.

Let me set the scene.

Playdiplomacy, the world’s #2 (edited by jmo to fix balki's typo from 1 to 2) diplomacy website, once organized a game of the top 7 ranked players on the site. It was called the “Top 7 World War.” I believe it was the first and last of its kind, though there had been “Top 15” or “Top 20” games organized in the past. I am the last player to qualify. A young, scrappy newcomer, I had only been playing Diplomacy for three months, but I manage to sneak his way up the leaderboard by soloing nearly every game I played.

I control Austria. The friendly and joyful #5-ranked player who happens to live in London, Charlie P, controls Italy. And sharks hold all the rest.

Charlie and I build the sort of alliance I’ve only been chasing ever since. Sharing all information. Plotting together completely as a team. Exchanging, perhaps, five hundred lengthy messages over the course of the game. We are absolutely crushing the game, defeating much more experienced players, and we are both genuinely having a delightfully fun time doing it.

But we both want desperately to win. And while we're working incredibly closely, we are also negotiating hard for position. As we approach the end game, I am considering my “dominant strategy” every turn, and I’m sure Charlie is too.

Italy and Austria is not an unusual alliance pairing, but it is a very unusual 17-17 two-way draw alliance pairings, as it is almost impossible to create a stable 17-17 position between those two countries. (it is much easier to create such a formation between two powers on opposite ends of the stalemate line).

So how do I keep Charlie from exercising his dominant strategy to stab me for the win? Having chiseled forearms isn’t always enough. And I really want to win. I know Charlie does too.

* Swallows hard.

Conceivable Iteration. I happen to have a vacation scheduled to Europe towards the end of the game – taking Mrs. Bartokomous to Paris. On the way back, we are flying through London. Well, I tell Charlie that my wife and I were likely to have a full one-day layover in London, and it sure would be fun to get together for a drink!

So much of my story was true. And, when I said it, I believed wholeheartedly that it would be fun to get together for a drink. But, I admit, I thought the possibility was quite unlikely, as my actual scheduled layover was only two hours.

Charlie and I talk for hours about how much fun it would be to speak face-to-face. About how we would toast to that thing we did to France. About how it might be fun to introduce our wives who had been dealing with this obsession for the past few months. About what a happy coincidence it was that we would both be in the same city in the midst of this epic game.

On the turn before we were about to get to 17-17, I stab Charlie for the solo. I let him know soon after, with great regret, that it looks like my layover was going to be shorter than expected.

Oh man, it sounds so evil when I say it out loud.

Students, I’m not sure whether what I did to win that game was the right thing to do from a holistic “How to Win at Life” perspective. Now, almost five years later, I still grapple with that game, and consider whether I did the right thing. I am as cutthroat as they come – I like to win – but I have spent some time regretting that move and wishing I had shared a two-way draw with Charlie.

But I do believe that what I did to win that game was the right thing to do from a “How to Win at Diplomacy” perspective. It doesn’t mean that you need to tell your ally in every game that you’ve suddenly been scheduled to arrive in their town for a business trip that happens to correspond to the end of the game. But it means that to defeat a prisoner’s dilemma, to avoid the peril of an ally’s dominant strategy to stab, you should think about the power of iteration. In this game, and moving forward. You want your ally focused on the fact that her reputation with you will impact how you treat her in this game, and in others down the line. So she better keep quiet about that truckload of Purell.
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Re: School of War Summer 2019

#100 Post by jmo1121109 » Wed Jul 17, 2019 10:19 pm

Hey, I fixed your typo for you professor balki
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