These next few lectures are about PlayDip a bit more than Diplomacy. Today I will start by pointing out a few features of the game interface.
1) PlayDip has a house rule that there cannot be draws in the first four years of a game. However, recently the site has begun a trial allowing draws at any time. In any event, as it is now Spring 1905, the “Status” tab would always have a “Propose Draw” button.
Games at PlayDip have two possible draw proposal settings – “Choose countries in draw”, also known as “non-DIAS”, is the default, while “All survivors in draw”, or DIAS, is an option. (DIAS stands for “Draws Include All Survivors”.) In addition there are two draw voting settings: open and secret ballots.
The rulebook, interpreted strictly, calls for DIAS, but a lot of players are willing to concede a game and vote themselves out of a draw (just to end the game) so non-DIAS can be convenient. Regardless of settings, all draw votes must be unanimous to pass, so a power can never be voted out of a draw without agreeing to it.
Secret ballots is a great feature for either DIAS setting, but it is particularly useful in a non-DIAS game. With open ballots, anti-competitive, strategic draw proposals can be used to force games to end early and stop solo attempts. Secret ballots and the fact that the proposer of a draw in a secret ballot game does not have to vote for the draw he proposes, makes anti-competitive draw proposals ineffective. You might not care in a casual, friendly game, but if you are going to play a competitive match, secret ballots always make for a better (and potentially nerve-wracking!) end-game.
Our game is using using non-DIAS and secret ballots. If you want to offer a draw, simply put a check next to each power you are willing to include in the draw and then click “propose draw.” Every power, including the proposer, must then vote for the draw for it too pass. If any power rejects the draw, the proposal will disappear for all players. If any power doesn’t vote before the deadline, the draw fails. Be careful when you vote: you can’t change it!
Some players get real passionate about DIAS settings – both for and against them. I have to say, I personally think it is much ado about little and I happily play both types of games. Of the all the draw settings, playing with secret ballots is the most important for competitive game play.
(There is also one last draw setting: “no draws allowed”. I don’t recommend playing in such a game. If you don’t want a draw, don’t vote for it, but you should always retain the option because you might change your mind.)
2) Just below the lower right hand corner of the map is a link to “Your game notes.” This is nothing more than a private scratch pad for your convenience. I use the notepad for a number of purposes:
* I like to keep a game “diary” of what I was thinking at various points during a game to refer back to it later when I am evaluating a game after it is over.
* If I am writing a long mail to a player, I might draft it in the notepad first so that I can save it and come back to it later.
* If I am working out stalemate positions that I might want to form in the future, I often write them down in the notepad to refer back to so I don’t have to keep figuring them out.