How to get yourself stabbed...

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Re: How to get yourself stabbed...

Postby suvin123 » 07 Dec 2018, 03:45

jay65536 wrote:
David E. Cohen wrote:If you put the seven best players on the planet in a game, it is quite likely that ALL of them will be stabbed.


I used to agree with this. Now I'm not so sure.

I own a book called Scarne's Encyclopedia of Card Games. The last chapter talks about card tricks and cheating. Scarne asserts that when you get together a table full of great card cheats, none of them cheat. I love his quote explaining why--and I believe it is applicable to the quoted statement about Diplomacy.

"They do not, because they dare not."

I think if you got together the 7 best Diplomacy players in the world on one board, you wouldn't see that many stabs--because great players don't make bad stabs, nor do they allow good stabs. I suspect most of the game would unfold fairly straightforwardly.

To get back to the original thread topic, one thing to take away from it is the reverse perspective. It's not just about that list being things you should avoid doing. The other angle is, if you are in a game where someone else is displaying these behaviors, and you are continuing to trust them, you are very likely making a mistake by doing so. I have already, in 4 games, played with my fair share of people who have done things like this and then either expected I wouldn't notice, or else acted indignant when I told them I considered them unreliable or refused to follow through on plans with them. I suspect the prevalence of that behavior means there are many other people on here who don't consider those things red flags and allow themselves to be stabbed later by players who exhibit these behaviors as a warning sign.


Totally agreed. I think a game with 7 greatest players would be the most boring game ever. Most likely it would end up in 6 or 5 way draw to prevent someone from soloing. Diversity is the most important factor for dip to be fun - even trolls.

For the post, I was expecting to see stabbing because of 'circumstances', rather than because of 'person'. But still, I see your point especially people being silent. I don't feel sorry for stabbing silent people because they look like bots, rather than a person.
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Re: How to get yourself stabbed...

Postby jay65536 » 07 Dec 2018, 16:10

suvin123 wrote:I think a game with 7 greatest players would be the most boring game ever. Most likely it would end up in 6 or 5 way draw to prevent someone from soloing.


If you assume that all 7 players care about the draw size--which you probably shouldn't--then I don't think that's true. Anything from a solo (with someone throwing it) to a 4way draw could happen.
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Re: How to get yourself stabbed...

Postby David E. Cohen » 07 Dec 2018, 21:56

In my experience, the best players in the world (I have played in several games with world email or world FTF champions together with other very good/elite players) do not shy away from stabs. Granted, this is anecdotal, not statistical evidence, but it is the evidence I have.

In order to excel, you need to be willing to risk it all. Going to pull out Teddy Roosevelt here:

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
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Re: How to get yourself stabbed...

Postby Mr.E » 24 Feb 2019, 23:43

Sorry, I know this thread has been quiet for a fair while, but I've been absent for a longer while, and I can never turn down a good discussion.

I think one thing is coming out of the thread behind the scenes: Two different points of view on stabbing, and these might reflect approaches to the game itself. One is "I stabbed you because you left me no choice," the other is "I stabbed you because I needed to." Neither is wrong because, in a game of Diplomacy, you need to survive to have a chance to win.

I do agree that if I stab someone, whatever my reason, it is because I chose to do it. So, as has been said, if I stabbed you, you got stabbed because of me. But that may well be semantics rather than much else. The reason I stabbed you may well have been reached because of something you did rather than because it was the ideal thing to do for my game.

The post from Dipsy is about a study I read a year or so ago: Linguistic Harbingers of Betrayal: A Case Study on an Online Strategy Game. When you cut through (what is to me, at least) the techno-babble in the study, there are a number of things that, retrospectively, indicate that a stab was likely. Go read it. See it as penance.

The problem (well, one of them) with the study is it's limitations. It assumes that players only stab when they're provoked; that the best thing in the game is to maintain the alliance. It doesn't apportion blame, as such, it simply gives reasons why a stab happened. But it only looks at linguistic indicators that a stab was going to happen, and doesn't take any account of players in the game and their philosophies behind how they approach the game.

It's an interesting study, nonetheless, because it provides some food for thought on how to avoid being stabbed and how to avoid giving indicators that might foreshadow the stab. And some of those reasons are given in the OP.

blazebbc wrote:1. Silence. If you don't speak to me over a period time, especially when asked about a set of orders, I am going to presume that you have turned unfriendly. If I am making a choices as to whom I should put my trust, your silence has just done you in.
Well, quite. Silence means you're not invested in the game, allied with someone else and not smart enough to realise you need to talk, you don't know how to play the game, or you're not in the game. Whichever, I don't want to be allied to you. But is this a reason to be stabbed? Probably not so much... unless you suddenly spring your silence on me.

Having said that, this is more likely to prevent me allying with you at all. I might make the right noises but that's all they are - noises. There's no reason for me to ally with you in the first place. And, if you spring your silence on me, I'm more likely to do things to prevent you stabbing me, rather than outright stabbing you, unless there's a way for me to stab you and continue with, or postpone, my original ideas.

blazebbc wrote:6. Giving short one-liner replies to orders I suggest. If you are not making other suggestions or taking the time to read them, I know you do not have enough invested in our alliance to be trusted. A good ally reads suggestions and looks for ways to improve orders.
(I know the whole numerical order thing but these two go together like salt and pepper.) Take everything I said about silence and transfer it here, except that this is more likely to happen part way through the game (unless a player drops from the game, of course).

At the start of the game, when alliances are being formed, if this is your communication method, you don't give me any confidence in you. That isn't a stab, it's me making a strategic decision:
Mr.E wrote:[It] means you're not invested in the game, allied with someone else and not smart enough to realise you need to talk, [or] you don't know how to play the game... Whichever, I don't want to be allied to you.

This is more likely to result in a stab later in the game. A stab isn't making all the right noises and then attacking someone. It's a betrayal - it's when an alliance is broken; when you've been working with someone and then you stop. The other is me never intending to ally with you.

blazebbc wrote:7. General obnoxiousness. If you are rude, snarky or obnoxious, I won't want to keep exchanging press with you. It's unpleasant to read and I''ll be looking for a different ally.
And, again, this is a reason for me to not ally with you in the first place. Surely I can make that decision early in the game, can't I?

Now, OK, you might start off nice and polite and friendly and all, and then you change. But surely my reaction to that is why did your attitude change? Now, let's face it, we all think our approach to the game is good. Maybe not great; not perfect, certainly. (Wait... what? No, you're not.) So maybe looking at what has led to this change in approach isn't something that comes easy. But it is something that might need to be done if you're going to improve. So ask the question.

Again: a reason to stab? No - a reason to not ally with you. And if it has emerged that you're not a likeable person, well, then you're not a likeable person. I might avoid you in future games but, well, this is the game I'm playing now and if I need you as an ally, then I need you as an ally. I'll tell you you're a prick later.

blazebbc wrote:2. Refusal to actually do anything. I certainly understand a little bit of caution. However, this is not a risk-free game. If you are so scared to do anything that you don't want to join an attack, you will be the target of the attack.
This isn't a reason I will stab you... well, OK, it is eventually but not right now. Right now it's a reason for me to manage my relationship with you.

It doesn't make any sense to say "I certainly understand a bit of caution," and then say it's why I betrayed you, for me. For me, it means you're not much use to me in an offensive scenario. Defensively, damn yes - you da man (oh... no... I'll never use that again; sorry). But moving against you? Despite everything else? Idiocy. I'd rather take note of your cautious behaviour and use it, if I can.

Negotiation. That is the essence of diplomacy. And persuasion. Those are the essence of diplomacy. You don't want to do something? If it is something essential, then it is down to me to persuade you that it's essential. If I can't do that, then that's down to my limitations. It isn't you being too dumb to see what's necessary. Well, OK, it might be, but it's just as much my dumbness in being unable to find a way around your reticence. I should be asking myself why you're not willing to do something and addressing that issue. I can't do that? That's me.

blazebbc wrote:3. Not following through on promised orders. Even if you did not actually do something against me, if you do not follow through with a promised order, you will create mistrust. If you[r] lack of follow-through causes our attack to stall, you really increase the chances that I turn on you.
OK. So here we are: we're at that difference in philosophical approach to the game I mentioned way back. But first... You promised something. Then you didn't deliver. And I'm pissed about that. Dammit, you betrayed me! So I'm gonna stab you! Hah! Take that!

OK. Breathe. In through the nose, out through the mouth. And repeat. Repeat. One more time. Again? OK. There you go.

Now, why didn't she do what she promised? What is the position on the board as a result of her betrayal? How has the failure to follow through affected her position, and my position? Does it matter that much?

Alliances are built and maintained on trust, so I can emphasise with the emotion behind someone not doing what they said they would meaning you feel betrayed. You can't trust them. But step back and look at what actually happened. If it hasn't harmed you too much, then OK - go with the flow. If it has, then it's time for some reflection.

Ask yourself whether you should have seen it coming. If you should, then you need to learn from this. If you shouldn't, then ask what was in it for your ally: what did she gain from not doing what she said?

Alliances aren't for life, they're for now. They aren't game-long agreements, they're limited. Did your ally gain a superior position against you? Then you've been fooled - that's your loss and you need to swallow it and learn from it. Did your ally gain a better allied position on the board? Great... hopefully you can use that to forward your alliance and keep a note of it for the future in this game: she's good - use it. Did it produce a worse position on the board? Well, OK, point it out but balance your reaction with where you are in the game now.

If you're one of those players who believes in the sanctity of an alliance, then you need to take a look at Diplomacy again. Alliances are necessary, but they're a stepping stone. Like it or not, that's how the game was designed. (See? We're at the' philosophy of the game' bit now.) The game is about achieving a solo. It doesn't matter whether a specific alliance is short-, medium- or long-term, it isn't supposed to result in a draw, it's supposed to take you into a better position to win. Alliances are tools.

One of the skills in Diplomacy is understanding an opponent's reasoning, as far as you can.

blazebbc wrote:4. Complaining that you don't trust me. Again, I understand that you don't want to leave yourself completely exposed and that you don't want to be stabbed. But, if you keep complaining to me about how little you trust me, I am going to think that your reliability is going to wane. I'm going to look for other options. Besides, it's Diplomacy. Nobody really should trust anybody. But, shut up and play.
Ah, yes: irritating players.

This is the essence of this 'reason'. What it boils down to is finding someone irritating. It's difficult to work with irritating people. They should just "shut up", shouldn't they?

Alternatively you might ask: "Why doesn't this player trust me?" If you can't ask that, well congratulations on reaching perfection. People should trust you because they should trust you. This is Diplomacy, after all, the game where betrayal and backstabbing have absolutely no place.

Oh, wait...

'Trust' is like 'respect' - it's earned. I have worked with people who thought they should be respected because of the job they did, when actually they treated people like shit. Others believe people should be respected because of their position in life. Bull. A leader with who doesn't know how to create respect isn't worthy of respect.

If you want someone to trust you because you say they should trust you, or because you're being lovey-dovey, you don't understand Diplomacy and you don't understand caution. It's irritating when you think you should have proved yourself but still this idiot doesn't trust you. But have you bothered to ask why he doesn't?

Actually, you shouldn't expect anyone to trust you. And - I suppose - that's part of the irritation because nobody should be using a lack of trust as an excuse. But that just means you need to focus on persuasion rather than rely on trust... so why haven't you been able to persuade him that this is the right thing? Or, why hasn't he accepted your arguments?

Again, then, do you bother to think about the reasons for someone telling you they don't trust you?

blazebbc wrote:5. Incompetence and NMR's. If you can't take advantage of a good situation or fail to submit orders, you are likely more dangerous as an ally than an enemy.
This is the only real reason I would consider stabbing someone then and there. They've proven themselves poor players so they're not right for an alliance. Release the big, carnivorous creatures. There may well be a reason behind this behaviour and, in the case of incompetence, at least, a reason to keep an alliance going but it has to be a big reason.

There is also something to be said about the comments on how a theoretical game between seven elite players would work out. Stabby or not?

Here's the thing: understanding of the game is needed for someone to be elite. And the game was designed so that betrayal was a part of it. Stabs because someone has offended you in some way? Nope. Stabs because it improves your chances of winning the game? Yes.

If you think elite players would play to minimise a stab, you're right. As I said, you have to survive to get a win, but you also have to survive to get anything from a game. Elite players will understand that stabs are coming, and that you can't always prevent them - but you can take steps to minimise them.

Elite players aren't Loose Cannons: they're not players who are opportunists. They are players that will seize an opportunity but this is based on a balanced decision: if I take this opportunity, will it optimise my chances in this game? This is different to players who see an opportunity to grab an SC and jump on it, which may not actually help them.

Elite players are elite because they play to win. But they are also players who play to prevent someone else from winning. What, then, would you expect an elite player to do if she had a chance to win a game? Grab it - regardless of an alliance. This is likely to mean a stab. And if someone else was possibly building a position to win? The elite players would see that, and act on it and this may also result in a stab.

Now, if you think alliances are the be all and end all of Diplomacy, you're not going to be able to see a game of elite players being a stabby game. After all, they will maintain an alliance.

I'm pretty sure an elite player wouldn't discard an alliance that was useful to her without a game-enhancing reason to do so. But if you think alliances are there to be kept, then you're not going to see the opportunities an elite player will take.

Elite players won't make bad stabs, nor will they give room for stabs if they can help it, but that doesn't mean there won't be stabs. There probably won't be Loose Cannon stabs, but there will be preventative stabs. As soon as someone looks likely to move to the head of the pack and be able to establish a winning position, an elite player will do what is needed to prevent this. At this point, one's own chances of winning are dropping so you do what is necessary to prevent someone else from winning. You don't grab an SC for the sake of it, however. On the other hand, while an alliance is useful an elite player will utilise it. This is likely to mean that stabs aren't opportunistic: they won't be for the sake of an odd SC.

A game of elite players is likely to end in a draw. But then, most games probably ought to reach this result anyway. This is because of the priorities in the game, regardless of philosophy: not losing is better than losing; winning is best. So survival - and preventing another player from winning - is key. What we tend to see in many games is players not recognising when a winning position is achievable... or players who put there philosophy, and their reaction to another player's philosophy, before the game being played.
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Re: How to get yourself stabbed...

Postby Cinemascifi » 06 Mar 2019, 03:29

I don't think it's possible for me to agree more with #1 and #6. The game is called "diplomacy". If you completely ignore messages, or do answer them with only 1 word responses, you are not being diplomatic. You are being rude.

I have changed my intended target because a player wasn't responding. 10/10 will do again.
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Re: How to get yourself stabbed...

Postby darksaberx » 17 Apr 2019, 20:43

Stabbing is part of play but it's always a balancing act of only stabbing when necessary because even the most logical players are going to carry wariness towards you going forwards. Explaining your reasoning and why you stabbed (it's just business) can help them be willing to work with you later in the game.

As far as how to NOT get stabbed (i.e. get stabbed less), ask yourself these questions:

Have their communications changed in a major way in either direction (way too chatty or dropping off)?

Do they have a clear path for expansion?

Have they been getting the short end of the stick in all of our operations?

Where is the easiest way for them to go? Is it through me?

Is anyone whispering in their ear currently?

Have they ""misordered"" with units seemingly out of position and were immediately apologetic?

Any of these mean you are at a high chance of finding a knife in your back.
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Re: How to get yourself stabbed...

Postby Pope Pius IX » 17 May 2019, 22:36

My current (and indeed only) online game raises an interesting question, which - given this is all about stabbing - I would welcome some further opinions on.

I stabbed one player, then messages them explaining why, and suggested dialogue. I recognise this may have been an error, but I don't think it was. The player responded that they wanted that particular supply centre back. Then they continually moved their one unit to it, bouncing off my holding unit, for three turns. Each turn, I sent them a message suggesting that they stopped and that we looked at mutual targets. They again simply said they wanted their centre back. So eventually I sent an ultimatum, which they didn't respond to, and I arranged the carve-up of the rest of their country.

In the second stabbing, I invaded one country with the help of a second, and we each took a supply centre. The invaded country responded poorly in public and private press, and now does not respond despite messages both public and private.

In the third stabbing, I rounded on the player I had previously worked with. They immediately sent a message suggesting negotiations and dialogue, and we have been in communication subsequently.

So the first question, asked as you are experienced players and I am not, is - which of these behaviours am I likely to come across the most?

The second question is, is it (usually) a waste of time to open dialogue with players you have stabbed?

A third question, which I don't necessarily want answered but which I acknowledge could be asked is, is three stabs too many?

Any guidance welcome!
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Re: How to get yourself stabbed...

Postby nanooktheeskimo » 17 May 2019, 23:17

In my experience, the answers in online games are:

1. Really a mix of all three. PW games advertised on the forum, especially classicist games, tend to get you more of the third result than the first two.

2. Never a waste of time. Even if it doesn’t go anywhere, trying to talk to other players is the name of the game, so it’s never a waste to at least make an attempt imo.

3. Super context dependent. Sometimes 3 is too many, sometimes it’s not enough. If it gets you a solo, it was the right amount, if you end up in the same or worse position than before you stabbed, then it was too many ;)
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Re: How to get yourself stabbed...

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 18 May 2019, 02:24

Gotta be careful with #2 though. I can’t tell you how many times a condescending d-bag has tried to explain to me why a stab they just made was actually my fault. That kinda gaslighting BS generally puts me in the mood to throw the game to someone else.

It tends to be much more well-received if you start with something more along the lines of “I was greedy, and I took advantage of an opportunity, but here’s how we might go forward...”

Always own your stabs.
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Re: How to get yourself stabbed...

Postby nanooktheeskimo » 18 May 2019, 02:51

NoPunIn10Did wrote:Gotta be careful with #2 though. I can’t tell you how many times a condescending d-bag has tried to explain to me why a stab they just made was actually my fault. That kinda gaslighting BS generally puts me in the mood to throw the game to someone else.

It tends to be much more well-received if you start with something more along the lines of “I was greedy, and I took advantage of an opportunity, but here’s how we might go forward...”

Always own your stabs.

^this is exceedingly true, and something I should’ve added. Opening dialogue after a stab is good, being condescending or not taking responsibility for your stab is bad.
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