Playing Dip Adequately - 2. Know Yourself, Know Your Enemy

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Playing Dip Adequately - 2. Know Yourself, Know Your Enemy

Postby rick.leeds » 26 Mar 2011, 18:25

Know Yourself
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. "

Sun-Tzu’s words are often great for Diplomacy. These are the ones I’m going to focus on here. To do well in Dip you need to know your strengths, and your enemies’ strengths. Not the easiest thing in the world. Knowing your enemies’ strengths is bad enough, but with a bit of research you can get a feel for them. Knowing your own strengths is, perhaps, harder. That requires absolute honesty. I thoughts I was decent at the tactical side, but Gunboat teaches me that this isn’t the necessarily the case. I can defend adequately, but my offensive tactics are lesser. I can discuss them offensive tactics, and in doing so I tend to be able to work them out. In Gunboat, however, I do pretty poorly. So my strengths in Dip are on the strategic side. I’m a negotiator and a defender. It takes something to break me down. My instincts are usually good: I tend to get the feeling for when an opponent is about to stab me. What I need to do more often is trust those instincts more. Again, not always the case.
I was looking at different types of players, and came up – in that well-contrived way – with seven types, some based upon what other people have written: the Good Ally, the Pup, the Survivalist, the Master, the Aggressor, the Romantic and the Tactician. They all have opposites.

The Good Ally
This isn’t necessarily as good as it sounds. The Good Ally is an honest player. He is the one who will tell you what he is going to do, and do it, without fail. Sounds great. But it isn’t. This player will tell you if he is going to attack you, although it may not be an outright “Sorry, bud, but I’m coming your way.” More likely is the “I’m actually allied with France so I’m sorry England but I won’t support you into Belgium” or “Sorry but I have other plans for my fleet in AEG so I won’t support you into Greece, Italy.” Now, there is nothing wrong with honesty and, in fact, honesty is better than deceit when you are playing a game, but the Good Ally in also the Good Enemy. This ally will tell the player you’ve agreed to stab together that he can’t support her; not necessarily what you would like your common enemy to know.
The flipside is the Deceiver. This is the player who NEVER tells you the whole truth. There is always something held back, at least. Occasionally everything he says is false. “Yorkshire has absolutely no intention of going to Norway” and, oops, there he goes; “I will not take Munich as I have nothing to gain from it” and then you find the Austrian army grinning malevolently at you over his lager. At least, with the Deceiver, you know what to expect.

The Pup
Short for “Puppet”. This is the player who is happy to have your hand all the way up. She tells others what you want her to tell them, she does what you want her to do. What’s in it for her? She stays in the game and hopefully isn’t attacked by you. Nice if you can find one of these, whilst she is on your side. The problem is that a Pup is just as easily someone else’s Pup.
The opposite is, of course, the Playmaker. This is the player who likes to dominate everyone else, the one who likes to sit back and direct the players. She’ll mix things up, feed you information – truths and deceits – and likes to watch the board jump to her whim. The alliance with the Playmaker will last as long as the Playmaker wants it to, which is to say as long as you do what she wants. Not too bad as an ally, actually, even if you decide you aren’t going to play along, as when you know you are going to do something which breaks the “hold” she has, you can make sure you can manoeuvre to cover yourself.

The Survivalist
The Survivalist isn’t very common on PlayDip. The Survivalist will not accept the draw. To him the draw is anathema. It equals a loss by another name. He would rather finish a close second than agree to a draw. Why would anyone play like this? To him, as I said, the draw counts for nothing; but also because he is acquisitive. Not necessarily an Opportunist but an aggregator of SCs. There is more honour, to a Survivalist’s point of view, in gaining SCs and aiming for the solo. Yes, there’ll be draws still, but expect this player to accept the draw unless there is nothing else. The most important thing, though, is that this player will not agree to a long-term alliance with any zeal; at the first chance he will stab.
The other side to the Survivalist is the Drawer. This player will quite happily go into a game with the idea that drawing isn’t a poor result. He will be cautious but will be happy to ally long-term. If things work out, he will attempt the solo, but would be happy to come out of Fall 1905 with the chance of a draw. He’ll be happy with a a proposal of a three-way early on. Whereas a Survivalist would be better as an ally when you’re doing well, a Drawer is better as an ally when you don’t have the chance of a solo.

The Master
This is the player who sends shivers down your spine. An experienced player, one who has good knowledge of tactics and strategy, one who will stick with you as an ally as long as it benefits her. But you know, when it comes down to it, that this person is likely to know exactly when to break the alliance. In the early and mid-game, great to have on your side. Not necessarily a Playmaker, as she doesn’t want to control everything and everyone, she just wants to control her own destiny. When that comes under threat she will act accordingly. You also know you’ll have reliable play from her and there will be no risks taken that aren’t worthwhile.
The Novice is the counter-weight, of course. Inexperienced and, perhaps, not necessarily good, a true novice is a risky ally. The likelihood is that the Novice will take the game at its word: deceit. She will try moves that shouldn’t be tried, although they may well come off. She may also try illegal moves. The Novice can be hard work, as she may not be aware of the more complex rules, and that unit dislodged from Galicia may well be able to retreat to Vienna. The more wolf-like amongst us would string the novice along and use the unknown as tools to get what we want; the more mentor-like would helpfully try and give useful advice in negotiations if only to prevent silly errors that will break the line... but this takes more time.

The Aggressor
Not necessarily a nice player to play against, this person will bully rather than cajole, will be acquisitive in SCs rather than cautious. He is demanding of moves and alliances and will not be best pleased should you disagree. But he will take that same ferociousness to others, too and if you can agree to a strategy then he will carry it out to the full. Watch out when the alliance enters times of crisis, though.
The Pacifist is the opposite. He will seem to agree with everything. He will be polite and calm and you’ll enjoy the experience. He will also, however, be cautious to a fault. Those extra units that could be used more effectively elsewhere will likely stay at home, guarding borders from units that just won’t be attacking. This can be as dangerous as the sometimes opportunistic grabbing of the Aggressor. Whereas the Aggressor is easy to provoke the Pacifist may well need a kick up the backside.

The Romantic
Not quite the Aggressor, the Romantic has one aim: grab those SCs. Ultra-acquisitive, the opportunist is great to direct against an enemy. If you can persuade her that there are centres to take, progress to make and empires to build, and you can point her in the opposite direction, she will do your work for you. But, if the direction she senses more Centres will come from is your direction, this is where she will head. The biggest danger with the Romantic is that she will more than likely stab you, whether the stab makes good tactical or strategic sense or not.
The alternative is the Classicalist. Ultra-cautious, she will not stab you, unless there is plenty of reason to do so. This player is more interested in holding what she has, rather than expanding. At least you know, as long as you don’t leave the door open wide, no stab will come. However, she will not do anything risky; everything is solid. Not a lot of imaginative play here.

The Tactician
This is a player who relies on his units more than anything else. A player who seeks to win by making the correct moves and making others fall into traps. A great ally to have when it comes to knowing about stalemate lines, about both attack and defence.
The Tactician’s possible weakness is the Negotiator’s strength. Whereas the Tactician will concentrate on moves, the Negotiator’s strength is in persuading. He’ll baffle you with words, if he can. Both will, in their own ways, take some risks: the Tactician will take a risky play every once in a while, the Negotiator will bank on his ability to persuade you to back away from him.

I’m sure we can all see bits of ourselves in some – maybe all – of these. They are extremes (although I have come across some of them) and perhaps the best place to be is somewhere in between them all. If you can recognise yourself, and recognise others, then you could not only be able to see ways to prevent others beating you, but see ways in which you and others could work together.
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 2. Know Yourself, Know Your Ene

Postby wfudd77 » 26 Mar 2011, 18:45

i find myself "The Good Ally" more often than not
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 2. Know Yourself, Know Your Ene

Postby slippydippy » 26 Mar 2011, 19:17

I'd like to be the ally of that HUNK posted the lesson.
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 2. Know Yourself, Know Your Ene

Postby rick.leeds » 26 Mar 2011, 19:41

You DO know I don't really look like that... I have no hair ;)
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 2. Know Yourself, Know Your Ene

Postby sock » 26 Mar 2011, 21:30

Actually, I'm wondering how Rick managed to get an image of me...

BTW, brilliantly written, Rick. You should find an online zine where you can post this...
Last edited by sock on 27 Mar 2011, 01:02, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 2. Know Yourself, Know Your Ene

Postby WarSmith » 27 Mar 2011, 00:04

Good set of descriptions. The truly great players are able to navigate through these personas, often in the same game. Pigeon-holeing someone based on their past behavoir could be very wrong, a lot of people play different games in different ways. not me of course - I'm always 100% honest and want to draw - with you!
"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth even has a chance to put its pants on”
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 2. Know Yourself, Know Your Ene

Postby presser84 » 27 Mar 2011, 00:08

Rick, Very interesting and very well said. The beauty of this game, I think, is that anyone of those player types/strategies can "win" (assuming you count a draw as a win). I think The Master could also be known as The Chameleon. They are usually already a tactician but are also experts at reading the other players and a given situation. The can then blend elements of each style of play to more closely fit the style of the other players. At times they will fit into one category but what makes them so good is that they can play them all and change quickly.
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 2. Know Yourself, Know Your Ene

Postby Caladin » 02 Apr 2011, 10:12

Hell, I think I am all of them; of them all, however, the playmaker would be my favorite; in one game I had Italy jumping at my every whim; I was England, and first I had him heading for Germany; it was the oddest thing to see, with him stretched across Europe, and then I managed to convince him to turn around and attack France.
Overall, however, that was not all that good for me; it did slow my 'allies' progress down somewhat, but it gave Austria a brilliant chance to grow.

Very nice set of articles Rick; well done.
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 2. Know Yourself, Know Your Ene

Postby bitwise » 06 Apr 2011, 09:40

Nice read, Rick.

One comment: I don't see Tactician and Negotiator as being opposites. Instead I'd say that the opposite of the Tactician would be a Primitive type, who will never consider his units positions 2 turns ahead. And the opposite of the Negotiator/Communicator would be the Mute who will never spend the time needed to talk to everybody, formulate plans, persuade etc., but rather stick to online messages and text speak.
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 2. Know Yourself, Know Your Ene

Postby gsmx » 14 Feb 2013, 00:44

Great read!
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