Playing Dip Adequately - 3. Using Diplomacy

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Playing Dip Adequately - 3. Using Diplomacy

Postby rick.leeds » 29 Mar 2011, 22:29

Using Diplomacy

A diplomat who says “Yes” means maybe, a diplomat who says “Maybe” means no, and a diplomat who says “No” is no diplomat. – Charles M de Talleyrand

In the article “The Early Game” I referred mainly to understanding your opposition and negotiating with everyone. This, then, is a follow up to be considered for later stages of the game. Partially it deals with using messages and Public Press effectively, partially it deals with how to use these to turn a game around. In other words, you find yourself in a difficult position and you need to try and get your way back into the game: what do you do?

So the key to any diplomacy is to remember you are a diplomat... surprising, huh? What did you think you were: a general? A diplomat talks, constantly: “Jaw-jaw not war-war.” You need to have something to say and you need to say it, though, rather than just contacting to say something inconsequential. This is not the early stages: this is the business end, so do business.

In private messages, country-to-country, you need to be polite and cool-headed. The first is easy enough, believe it or not; the latter isn’t and that means the former sometimes isn’t followed either. If someone has just stabbed you or messed their orders up or – heaven forbid – NMRed at a key stage, you aren’t going to be in the best mood, granted. But you need to not let them know that by NOT being polite. Don’t be abusive, don’t use foul language. If you do, that is what will be remembered, not the message. Of course, if you are responding to a message that has been abusive in one way or another, then you are freed from the polite constraints, should you want to go down that route. If someone abuses you, then you have gained the upper hand, psychologically and diplomatically. The latter is seldom remembered: if someone is abusive to you then you are in control diplomatically; you can choose whether to respond or not (you have the ideal excuse not to), you can respond in the same way (just to be provocative), you can respond being ultra-polite (just to be provocative), you can respond as if nothing has happened. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have kept a cool head and know what you want the repsonse of the opponent to be.

In Public Press you have a different role to perform, although again you need to remember the polite rule. Even when you are posting to be provocative you need to keep in mind that Public Press is moderated – personal abuse and foul language could be reported and may lead to action. In Public Press though you are acting. Whatever you say here is deniable to an ally. You were only saying that to mislead. And you can post anonymously. For some reason doing just that winds some people up (I’m not sure why). But anonymously you can let opponents know your “ally’s” plans, you can mislead as to your intentions (accusing yourself of something), you can generally mix things up.

In general, diplomacy should be objective-led. If you want to do something on the board, it is your diplomacy that sells it to others and makes it happen. You aren’t going to stab anyone if your diplomacy doesn’t make them think you are still 110% on their side. Politeness will keep you on the possible “reply to” list of even the opponent you just stabbed. Detail will persuade your ally that you are still on her side. And, in tight situations, it is you only way out. First, never plead. No matter how bad the situation, never beg. The old cliche is “Always negotiate from a position of strength” and this is true in these situations. You may have very little you can do with your units, but find something to say that shows you are not going away. Of course, going away is the worst thing you could do. Whatever else happens, make the situation difficult for the guy who is going to defeat you.

So what are your diplomatic options? To some extent there are limited things you can do and these are all related to your position. One of the things you are going to have to do is decide upon whether you are going to be a Kingmaker or continue with a standard game.

Kingmaking – throwing the game the way of one player in the hope of giving her a solo – can be too easily followed. I have been in a couple of games where one person has indicated that he was going to be a kingmaker very early. Wrong. That doesn’t leave a good impression. Kingmaking is the final sanction, the ultimatum. It is telling your opposition that you are so desperate that you can see no way you are going to get anything from the game so you are going to surrender your SCs to someone else. Remember, if you promise it, you need to carry it through, or at least commence it. You also need to know that, should the players you are acting against change their minds if you do begin the act, then are you going to change tack and stop?

If you decide that you are going to continue the game there is a different option to normal diplomacy open to you. This I’ve seen called “Chainsaw Diplomacy”. It’s characterised by burning your bridges in a very public way, either via messages or Public Press. This strategy is best done when you feel that opponents aren’t really taking your negotiations seriously. It might be, for instance, that Austria keeps saying that he’ll stop attacking you to focus elsewhere but doesn’t; that France keeps telling you he is going to attack Germany in time but that time never seems to be coming. It is aimed at causing a tornado to whip through the ambassadors’ lounges.

The best way to do this is to reveal the secret methods of another power. For instance, if you know Russia has been playing powers against each other then reveal it and how she’s been doing it. In this case detail is the key. But, if you are going to reveal these as facts, they had better be: there’s nothing worse than telling Germany that Russia’s promises to attack England in Scandinavia are empty if Russia HASN’T promised that to Germany. So be precise in your language. In this case, you should be saying something like: “Russia told me that she has been stringing you along nicely over attacking England... will she ever attack Norway?”

If you have nothing factual to say, they use Public Press and manipulate things you do know. Speculate. Make it sound convincing and make it slightly mocking. You need to mask the fact that there is nothing of substance in your messages with enough intrigue and off-balancedness to make the opposition not notice it is an eclair with no cream.

However you progress with your Chainsaw diplomacy remember: it is specifically aimed at breaking a possible alliance with one power and at convincing other powers that you are working for them. It is deliberately provocative and the power you are dumping on will NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, want to talk to you in an alliantific way again. You are gambling on others falling in line and beginning to take you more seriously as an ally and someone to keep around. It isn’t something you should view as a long-term strategy, but an almost last ditch strategy.

I said at the beginning of this article that you are a diplomat, not a general. Always keep that in mind. It is your diplomacy that will set you apart from the other players. It marks you out as being different. You always need to keep in mind that it is a tool, however, and it needs to be aimed at achieving the military aims of the game. Diplomacy is what the game is all about. It is the only thing that really sets you apart as different from others. Make sure you use it effectively.
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 3. Using Diplomacy

Postby Jlet » 29 Mar 2011, 23:12

Great article Rick. This made me lol "you can respond in the same way (just to be provocative), you can respond being ultra-polite (just to be provocative)," :D
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 3. Using Diplomacy

Postby rick.leeds » 30 Mar 2011, 08:40

It works too :) Being ultra-polite, almost courtly, when responding to an abusive message seems to really wind some people up. And I do sometimes respond in kind to abusive messages, too. Both could well be seen as immature attitudes to take, but it's just part of the game. And I only respond in kind when I don't think the player is intelligent to get wound up by an ultra-polite message ;)
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 3. Using Diplomacy

Postby presser84 » 30 Mar 2011, 08:52

rick.leeds wrote:It works too :) Being ultra-polite, almost courtly, when responding to an abusive message seems to really wind some people up. And I do sometimes respond in kind to abusive messages, too. Both could well be seen as immature attitudes to take, but it's just part of the game. And I only respond in kind when I don't think the player is intelligent to get wound up by an ultra-polite message ;)


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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 3. Using Diplomacy

Postby nevertolive » 04 Sep 2011, 05:34

"Germany told me that you were going to attack me."
"Germany told me that you were going to attack me."
"Wait a second...."
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