"Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby Sbrubbles » 03 Jul 2017, 00:25

There is plently of luck involved in Diplomacy, it's just not rolling dice luck. Often you will have two set of moves, A and B, and your enemy moves C and D, in which A>(beats)C, A<D, B<C and B>D. If you're in one such situation and the other player is as good as you at lying/figuring out whos lying, then the outcome is essentially random, given by a mixed strategies nash equilibrium.

Think of Italy playing Ven->Pie on his first move, while France has done Mar->Spa. Italy can move on Mar or hold, France can move back to Mar or hold. Italy wins big if he moves and France holds, wins small if he holds and France moves. France wins big if he moves and Italy moves, wins big if he holds and Italy holds. All results are possible, and the diplomatic methods to figure out which move the other will do are very very limited in this situation, because there is no 3rd party immediately involved. It comes down to luck.
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby Groo » 03 Jul 2017, 13:24

It's just advertising, in comparison to Risk and games like that, the correct term would imo be CHANCE (dice) doesn't play any part, which is very similar but not the same, as you stated yourself. To me Diplomacy is a perfect combination of poker, chess and risk, and that's what makes it one of the best games I've ever played.
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby Carebear » 03 Jul 2017, 16:59

Small quibble. There are times when there are situations beyond your control. However, a true Diplomat can manage the unknown variables. That is, they can evaluate and anticipate other players' moves so that it really isn't a guess. Further, they can even subtly influence other players' choices. There have been boards where I didn't feel much control. However, there have also been boards where I felt that I generally directed the flow of play. Often, those are with less experienced players on it. So, in the right circumstances, most elements of randomness can be mitigated or managed.
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby Eleusinian » 03 Jul 2017, 17:54

But the fact that a true diplomat can control variables, means that if you're a lesser-skilled diplomat, then you're being controlled. In an anonymous game, you have no control over the skills of your opponents, so how much you're being controlled has an element of chance (assuming your skill level is relatively fixed for that game). And even in a non-anonymous game, unless you get to pick your countries and there are no contentions (every player picks a different country as their top choice), there's chance in determining the skills of your close neighbors.

If we assert that the skill of each player is an important driver of the game, and if we assert that there is any luck or chance in determining who one's opponents are (and which countries they're assigned to), then the logical conclusion is that there is chance involved in the game.

I will agree that all of the chance has been decided by the start of spring '01.
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby WHSeward » 03 Jul 2017, 18:29

If skill of your opponent counts as "chance" then all games, including Chess, are games of chance on that definition. That is not a very interesting definition.
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby Eleusinian » 03 Jul 2017, 19:03

Or maybe it's a recognition that chance plays a role in all those games. I don't find that uninteresting. Ymmv, of course

Also, and this it's no small thing: note that I didn't list just the skill of the opponents as chance, but rather their selection (in anonymous games) and distribution around the board (in most, and probably virtually all games).
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby Sbrubbles » 07 Jul 2017, 13:22

Eleusinian wrote:I will agree that all of the chance has been decided by the start of spring '01.


I totally disagree with that, let me give you an example. I just had a game in which France had taken England out and was attacking Germany. By virtue of France having just split his fleets (Italy was on the move), Germany managed to get a fleet in the North Sea, with both London and Edinburg open but only a fleet in Yorkshire to defend. Germany went London, France went Edinburg. You think this scenario didn't reflect chance?

Note that this is an extreme example, but things like this happen in a smaller scale all the time.
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby GhostEcho » 07 Jul 2017, 15:42

Sbrubbles wrote:
Eleusinian wrote:I will agree that all of the chance has been decided by the start of spring '01.


I totally disagree with that, let me give you an example. I just had a game in which France had taken England out and was attacking Germany. By virtue of France having just split his fleets (Italy was on the move), Germany managed to get a fleet in the North Sea, with both London and Edinburg open but only a fleet in Yorkshire to defend. Germany went London, France went Edinburg. You think this scenario didn't reflect chance?

Note that this is an extreme example, but things like this happen in a smaller scale all the time.


I think there's a definitional difference between "chance" and "imperfect information". Most people would e.g. not call (American) football a game of chance, but on a great many plays in a game the success or failure is coming from how well one team reads the other's intentions.
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Re: "Luck plays no part in Diplomacy." - Avalon Hill

Postby FloridaMan » 17 Oct 2017, 17:14

Sbrubbles wrote:I totally disagree with that, let me give you an example. I just had a game in which France had taken England out and was attacking Germany. By virtue of France having just split his fleets (Italy was on the move), Germany managed to get a fleet in the North Sea, with both London and Edinburg open but only a fleet in Yorkshire to defend. Germany went London, France went Edinburg. You think this scenario didn't reflect chance?

Note that this is an extreme example, but things like this happen in a smaller scale all the time.


I, in turn, disagree with the description of this as reflecting chance. Germany getting into the North Sea and France splitting his fleets reflect clear strategic thinking and tactics. France wants to conquer as much as possible as fast as possible, I assume (that's the best reason to split your forces), while Germany anticipated that getting into the North Sea would give the dying power a chance at a center. Germany made the right call in that decision (as perhaps France did too). So we know that the way we got to that place wasn't chance.

Now imagine you're in the place of France or Germany... :ugeek:

If you’re Germany or France in this situation, I estimate a 100% chance that a good amount of thought went into the choice of London/Edinburgh. It’s not a simple 50/50 coin flip unless that’s how you make your decisions (which would be a little weird). If you choose to play it that way, you leave your decision to chance, but your opponent will not make their decision on the same basis.

Here, it’s entirely possible (and perhaps very likely) that France felt protecting Edinburgh was more urgent, because London is closer to the French homeland, and therefore probably easier to recover than Edinburgh, requiring a smaller time or resource commitment. If each of them had made the opposite move, I would say it was probably because Germany wanted Edinburgh because it was further away from France and would be harder to retake, and that France, trying to guess what Germany would do, fooled himself. This is discounting the possibility that they communicated and tried to subtly signal things to each other.

Diplomacy is a very psychological, emotional, and intellectual game... sometimes to a degree that we fail to properly account for. :shock:

There are lots of possible explanations for how the players read each other and anticipated each other's moves in a situation, how they weighed the respective tactical advantages of each side of a 50/50 choice, but chance isn't one of them. ;)
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