Playing Dip Adequately - 8. Bringing it Home

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Playing Dip Adequately - 8. Bringing it Home

Postby rick.leeds » 19 Apr 2011, 21:13

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” Lewis Carroll

It’s there at last: the End Game. The time when you are left with the real contenders, battle lines are drawn, the powers know what they have to do. The leader is looking for how to reach the solo; the opposition are looking at how to prevent that and escape with a draw... perhaps. Maybe there is no out right leader? In that case, the alliances will be looking to get ahead of the other and individual players will be looking at how to get the best from the game – is the solo a possibility? How can I reach it?

Perhaps, before going on to discuss the End Game we need to define what these chess-based references mean for Dip:
Mid-game: this may start at different times on different parts of the board. I suggest that it starts when your sphere has resolved itself. That means that the power you and your ally have targeted is beaten; maybe not destroyed completely, but in a position from whence there is no return. It is when you can start acting on your plans to carry your war further afield, whether that is removing your one-time ally or carrying the fight further abroad. Of course, the other sphere(s) may not be resolved (hopefully not) so the Early Game is still being played there, which is why I say the Mid-Game can come about at different times on the board.
End Game: similarly, this may come about at different times. It is when you are acting directly on how the game will end, whether that is by moving towards a solo or settling for a draw. One player, or one alliance, may see this action before the others, but if they are keeping aware of the whole board (as they should be) they will see it happening. This should also bring them into the End Game, possibly to stop it ending unfavourably to them: they will probably look to put aside their differences.

Those are the definitions I am using. Of course, these aren’t separate divisions of the game and using them is a fairly arbitrary thing. The End Game starts when the Early Game is underway. What you do at the beginning will affect how the end will be played out. Not only does the King point that out to Alice, but so does an African proverb: “If you want to know the end, look at the beginning.” This brings a significant side-lesson: although a good game of Dip has many twists and turns along the way, how you play at the beginning of the game will be important for how the game ends.

So, you are at the end game. A number of possibilities should raise themselves:
The Solo
If you think you can solo, you MUST go for it. If you don’t, then it is a betrayal of the game itself. You went into the game to try to reach 18SCs. If that chance is there, you have to take it. How are you going to do it? What SCs do you need that you can reach? How are you going to get them? Will you maintain the alliance that has got you here so far, or will that hold you back? Of course, these aren’t questions you should be beginning to ask yourself now – they should have been forming for a while. But you can begin to firm up your answers. In other words, the path should be becoming clearer.

The Draw
This is a compromise. When the game enters the End Game, you need to be thinking of the draw only if the solo isn’t available. The draw is there to prevent someone else solo. So how are you going to achieve it? Who needs to be brought under control or onside? Is there a player who COULD solo? How are you – and the others – going to stop it? If achieving the draw means stopping a potential solo, then you may well need to persuade everyone else of the danger, if they haven’t seen it themselves. This could be difficult if one of them has a long-standing alliance with the potential solo-maker. But keep plugging away and get others to join in.

Survival
In a one off game (which is what I’m really thinking of) rather than a tournament game, survival alone is nothing. Here I’m talking about in a non-DIAS situation. Just being there, but excluded from the draw, means nothing. Except perhaps it does – you can take pride from being at the end of the game, especially if you go into the End Game in a poor position. But that is all: just your pride. In DIAS games, of course, where all survivors take part in the draw, survival is necessary. So you need to watch out that you aren’t going to be doing something that is going to give someone the chance to eliminate you: don’t throw your forces into a headlong defence if another power can grab your precious Centre(s).

Be a Kingmaker?
This is the role that is the other option. In this situation, a player decides that he is going to do what he can to help another reach a solo. Why would anyone do that? It could be a combination of thinking about the above (hopefully) and deciding that the behaviour of others has warranted it. It could be that the potential Kingmaker has decided that the potential soloist has played well enough to warrant taking the solo. It could be that, whilst he can see the solo coming, he just isn’t inclined to oppose it, maybe because the alliance has come this far and he won’t break it. Whatever reason, kingmaking happens. It isn’t a popular position to take (for obvious reasons) and it isn’t something I would do (unless I had considered the above positions and I was playing against someone who had annoyed me particularly by their attitude to the game that I wouldn’t want to see them come out of it with anything). For me, this is the very last position I would take and I wouldn’t take it lightly.

Giving in
Simply: don’t. Whether this is a form of kingmaking taken too early (I’ve seen it done mid-game; I’ve seen it done just because a player doesn’t care) or whether this is getting to the End Game and believing the position is so bad that there is nothing there, DON’T. Nobody likes a quitter in Dip. Sometimes you can paint yourself into a corner: threaten to do it as a last resort to get players onside. That, though, is something different: that’s trying something desperate (unless it’s a bluff, of course, and if it is you need to be ready for the consequences). Quitting is when you either stop playing or you stop trying. Remember there are other players in the game; just because it hasn’t gone well for you doesn’t mean you should wreck it.

Whatever the position you’re in, remember that the End Game is the result of what has gone before. If you start the game with bad play – especially on the diplomatic side – you’ll not be in the position for the solo. However you try to end the game, that needs to have been thought out before you get to the End Game. And the cardinal rule for how to finish a game of Diplomacy is summed up by Abraham Lincoln: “I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep on doing so until the end.”
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 8. Bringing it Home

Postby Cryhavoc » 20 Apr 2011, 22:05

Rick
I totally get and agree with your chess analogies and all of your points. One thing however, I think you've missed; to discuss the end-game, there must be some mention of the stalemate lines. And about planning your way across them at some point in the early-mid game. Without that, the end-game is destined to end in draw.

That said - with your tournaments, leagues and treatises on the game, do you actually get any time to play Diplomacy? ;)
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 8. Bringing it Home

Postby rick.leeds » 21 Apr 2011, 17:53

Play it? Knew there was something I was forgetting to do :shock:

I deliberately left stalemate lines out of this, as that will be article 9, the last of the PlayDip Adequately articles. I was going to make it Article 8 or include it in this one but decided to not do that. Including it would have made the article even longer; placing it before "Bringing it Home" I decided against because, arguably, that is the most complex issue I was going to write about.
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 8. Bringing it Home

Postby Kian » 21 Apr 2011, 18:15

<hangs head in shame> :oops:

I had an opportunity to solo quite recently and threw it away for a 3 way.

Weird game though.

First game I was ever accused of cheating in.

For once it seemed the right thing to do.

I do not think I feel I betrayed the game though. :D

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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 8. Bringing it Home

Postby rick.leeds » 21 Apr 2011, 21:22

Pfft you would NEVER have soloed in that game ;)
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 8. Bringing it Home

Postby gsmx » 14 Feb 2013, 01:15

rick.leeds wrote:
Be a Kingmaker?
This is the role that is the other option. In this situation, a player decides that he is going to do what he can to help another reach a solo. Why would anyone do that? It could be a combination of thinking about the above (hopefully) and deciding that the behaviour of others has warranted it. It could be that the potential Kingmaker has decided that the potential soloist has played well enough to warrant taking the solo. It could be that, whilst he can see the solo coming, he just isn’t inclined to oppose it, maybe because the alliance has come this far and he won’t break it. Whatever reason, kingmaking happens. It isn’t a popular position to take (for obvious reasons) and it isn’t something I would do (unless I had considered the above positions and I was playing against someone who had annoyed me particularly by their attitude to the game that I wouldn’t want to see them come out of it with anything). For me, this is the very last position I would take and I wouldn’t take it lightly.


This one sucks, but sometimes is very necessary. I find I'm left to resort to this in circumstances where I'm getting pounded on two fronts and to try to fight them both off would only make me die faster so often i'll choose to defend against the smaller of the two and let the bigger one (bigger solo threat) start getting easy gains on my other side in hopes that the smaller player will panic and reconsider me as an ally out of need to survival. Actually fails more often then it works, but sometimes it's the only card in the deck left to play.
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 8. Bringing it Home

Postby Petunia » 14 Feb 2013, 22:17

I've had better success with KM by phrasing it more as 'if I don't get these concessions from you, I CANNOT stop the potentially-soloing Power' rather than 'help me or else I WILL NOT stop the potentially-soloing Power.' Everyone understands that no one should be expected to facilitate a draw that they themselves are not a part of; the more difficult part is explaining how they should help YOU become part of an (n+1)-player draw rather than simply go for the n-player draw themselves. Re-framing the choices as the (n+1)-player draw or losing to a solo is the heart of the KM strategy.
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Re: Playing Dip Adequately - 8. Bringing it Home

Postby townfool » 15 Feb 2013, 20:22

Petunia wrote:I've had better success with KM by phrasing it more as 'if I don't get these concessions from you, I CANNOT stop the potentially-soloing Power' rather than 'help me or else I WILL NOT stop the potentially-soloing Power.' Everyone understands that no one should be expected to facilitate a draw that they themselves are not a part of; the more difficult part is explaining how they should help YOU become part of an (n+1)-player draw rather than simply go for the n-player draw themselves. Re-framing the choices as the (n+1)-player draw or losing to a solo is the heart of the KM strategy.

True, but sometimes the other country isn't in the solo zone yet and you need sacrifice a center or two in order to help nudge them into so the other countries will stop attacking you and focus on the big dog. Kingmaking isn't about encouraging going after somebody with a big target it's about engineering a big target.
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