Playing Dip Adequately - 5. Keep your Focus

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Playing Dip Adequately - 5. Keep your Focus

Postby rick.leeds » 06 Apr 2011, 18:07

So here we are: the early game is coming to a close. Let’s review how you’ve done. You’ve managed, with your ally, to defeat the third power in your immediate sphere of influence. You’ve kept communications with other powers going and have been closely communicating with your ally. In the other sphere of the board, because you and your ally have worked quickly to resolve your common sphere, the other sphere isn’t quite resolved, but there is an emerging alliance coming through strongly. It is time to move on.

Let’s reach out. Your erstwhile ally is now your competitor; you need to get in contact with the best placed opponent from the other sphere. Together, you will be able to take your “ally” down. You’ll start by having your new ally begin to hassle him and then you can stab. In the meantime you need to disrupt the other alliance. You start providing information that causes friction. You pick a third ally and between this alternative pairing you target the other odd power. At the same time you will keep the distrust going between your two new allies. You are going to work to destroy the opposition and establish such a feeling of mistrust between the powers you have sided with that you will be able to build on this so that you will have the chance to stab one at the right time. The solo is yours.

It’s brilliant. It’s what you have been aiming to do since 1901, when you realised the alliance you needed to survive. Onwards....

Except the other side of the board decide that they AREN’T going to break their alliance. The three of them are working quite well, thank you. You and your ally from your side of the board have also worked pretty well. You getting in touch and telling each one about the others has made them wary: why now? They see the chance to break you and your ally up, and the power you originally contacted happily informs your erstwhile ally of your communication with her. Your old ally begins to be more awkward in negotiations; the opposition are moving together still. You keep up the mis-information but no-one of that alliance seems to be taking notice...

So, what went wrong? Perhaps you would have been better to maintain the successful alliance you had. Certainly that can be the case: don’t try and break something if it is working well. However, your idea was sound as the opposition alliance did need breaking up and dis-information isn’t enough to do that. Offering the chance of SCs from your ally is usually a good way forward. Perhaps you were looking too far ahead? Not really. Providing you were being flexible enough with the choice of new allies, you had laid out the links in the chain and you were planning on seizing each one. It was a progressive plan.

The fact is, though, that it doesn’t matter what plan you had for emerging from the early game, nor how flexible you were prepared to be. The plan could have been much simpler. The problem was in something you DIDN’T do in the early game, not something you did or didn’t do in the mid-game. Here it is, from the first paragraph: “You’ve kept communications with other powers going and have been closely communicating with your ally.”

Let me provide some background justification. In the first of these articles – “The Early Game” – I mentioned how it is important to maintain communication with more distant allies. You did that, didn’t you? Well, after a fashion. You did “maintain” communication but it never really developed much beyond that. In number 4 in this series – “Essential Targets” – the first target is to survive. When had you reached that? The end of 1901/beginning of 1902, when you knew that your alliance in your sphere was going to work out. It was here that you lost your focus.

The next target is to make sure you are in the draw at the end of the game, at least. To do that, your communication needed to become more developed. You needed to start the rumour spreading, the dis-information, then. It was then that you should have been laying the groundwork and using your more developed communication to evaluate what would be the best way forward during the mid-game. You could have made an assessment as to which of the opposing alliance candidates would be likely to come along with you and which weren’t; you might have been able to sense that their alliance wouldn’t likely break; you might have been able to persuade your ally in your sphere that he didn’t have to worry about that power you secretly want to attack him in the mid-game. You may even have been able to totally re-frame your plans to NOT break the successful alliance as early as you intended to.

It is easy to lose focus. Making sure your sphere was resolved quickly is always a good ploy, but not when that takes all your attention. Remember: you don’t have one opponent, you have six. It is all too easy to focus on the enemy you are currently actively fighting against. After all, you need to make sure she doesn’t get out of the trap, doesn’t persuade your ally to turn against you and doesn’t elicit help from elsewhere. It is also easy to get focused upon preventing your current ally from stabbing you, or to simply focus on the stab if it does happen. Again, there are other players on the board. Don’t, therefore, allow yourself to be caught up with the regional war. Keep an eye on what is happening elsewhere. If the stab comes, don’t get caught up ONLY in looking to get revenge or minimise the effectiveness of it. There are other areas from whence help could come.

The simplistic point here is: communication with all powers isn’t JUST important at the beginning of the game. It is important throughout. Forget to keep effective communication going with them all, and they will be looking at what is going on in your sphere and see a successful opposing alliance.

How to use this negotiation? One way is to cause emotions to affect others (in the same way you’re avoiding their effect upon you). Make them fear other powers. Point out the possibilities of an alliance forming – even in a more remote area of the board – that will, perhaps eventually, threaten them and their alliance. Nobody wants to see a successful Juggernaut, Entente Cordiale or Axis alliance. (This needs a caveat: don’t be a player who shouts JUGGERNAUT at the first signs. That is usually going to get you nowhere.) Scare them.

It is sometimes possible to provoke a desirable reaction. Imagine your ally has a key strategy that is in danger of failing because your opponent is attacking him. Instead of imploring that the opponent desists, demand that he continues. Maybe move units to threaten your opponent’s SCs if he doesn’t (or to make it appear that you are going to take advantage of this continued attack on your ally). The aim here is to make your opponent so focused upon NOT doing what you are telling him to do, he moves to attack you; in the meantime, your ally is able to achieve her breakthrough. A more pertinent example to this stage of the game might be to INSIST that the power you are talking to doesn't break his alliance: he's going to wonder why you're insisting on that, isn't he?

Keeping focussed on the long-term is the key: don’t lose sight of what your long-term targets are by only focussing on the immediate. Make sure you are aware of what is going on in other areas of the board. Keep your emotions under check and work on breaking the focus of others. Maintain effective communication. These are going to reap rewards. It takes time and it takes effort, but it is worthwhile. And why would you want Dip to be easy?
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 5. Keep your Focus

Postby Minneapolitan » 06 Apr 2011, 19:16

Did you write this? Well done! And well written.

8-)
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 5. Keep your Focus

Postby rick.leeds » 06 Apr 2011, 20:55

yes I wrote it... but on notes I made from reading articles a couple of years ago, and some of it is pretty much taken from my notes. if it wasn't just for the site, I'd traipse back to the sites I used and track the articles down... am just too lazy ;)
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 5. Keep your Focus

Postby bitwise » 07 Apr 2011, 09:00

You need to change the title of your series, Rick. This is exactly where adequate players usually fail. :D

In a perfect scenario you would have a strong secret alliance with 2 of the powers from the other alliance, both believing that they're your long term ally. Then they will not spill their guts in a believable manner. Together with your current ally you have 3 good allys (open or covert) when entering the middle phase of the game. In theory at least. :mrgreen:
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