Communicating and negotiating, the core of Diplomacy, is hard to teach or learn from a book. Some players are naturals, some make big improvement with practice, and some never seem to try or learn. Players that have certain educational and professional backgrounds may have a leg-up in Diplomacy, but interestingly, different backgrounds tend to bring very different approaches.
A few thoughts on diplomacy I would offer up for new players.
1) Be diplomatic. People can be real jerks on the internet. You see it all the time. But this is a game that requires persuasion and cooperation. Do you think it is a good idea to flame someone if you might need their help down the line? Been stabbed? It happens, don’t let it phase you. Feel insulted, cheated? Stop and think before you fire back and then stop and think again. Diplomacy is a long game. Communicate and play for the long haul. (Not to mention, caustic press makes for unpleasant games.)
2) Engage with the other players. There is an art to controlling information flow. Say too much and you may make yourself vulnerable to betrayal. Say too little or play too cute and coy, and risk being hard to work with. Finding that sweet spot takes judgment, but in a game of cooperation, you need to be able to authentically engage with the other players to find solutions that work for all sides and persuade others to follow the vision. If you don’t open up, that is impossible to do.
3) Everything is negotiable. Don’t be afraid to be creative in what you offer or ask for when negotiating. If there is one mistake that players make, is they tend to limit themselves to negotiating over orders and dividing captured SCs. You could instead be negotiating over:
exchanging SCs and positions,
giving away SCs to change the balance of power,
waiving or restricting builds,
changing and restricting unit mix,
offering to let the other power write orders for some of your units,
Whatever else you can think up to help your alliance or even your adversary along.
***** OPTIONAL READING *****
I have gathered together a number of links to articles on negotiations that I think are some of the better ones. While there are many common points between the articles, they also represent very different perspectives which will give you a taste of the diversity of approaches.
The Gamer’s Guide that I linked to in Lecture #1 has a good discussion of negotiation.
“‘Trust Me’ (And Other Tall Tales)”, by Brian Cannon
“Lawyer/Diplomat”, by Paul D. Windsor, Esq.
“Lies/Truth/Trust/Betrayal”, by Edi Birsan