Anatomy of a Top Ranked Player

What are your winning tactics? Kill them all? Discuss strategy for the classic and variant games using the classic map, or visit the sub-forums for the variant maps.
Forum rules
Strategy
In addition to the general Forum Guidelines (see here: http://www.playdiplomacy.com/forum/view ... 30&t=15441), there are additional rules for posting in this forum.
1. When discussing strategy, reference should not be made to any active game. This section of the Forum is for general strategy discussion, not specific situations within games.
2. It follows that links, images, game name and/or number should not be added to a post if the game is active.
Posts which refer to a specific situation in an active game, or which link directly to an active game, are subject to editing or removal.

Anatomy of a Top Ranked Player

Postby gsmx » 16 Nov 2012, 19:54

On the heels of a great post by savindwarf on The 10 Types of Diplomacy Player (viewtopic.php?f=16&t=30988) and coming out of a very exciting high level game "Top Thirteen Games" I've decided I'd like to highlight some of my observations of some attributes that make the successful so successful. Please note that there's not really one specials sauce to this and as savindwarf pointed out there are many different types of players, most types with their own formula to success.

1) Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
As has been outlined so many times in the forum, communication is a given if you want to be successful in this game. You're not going to win very many classic games using a gunboat mentality. You need to be in constant communication building alliances, negotiating treaties, gathering information, influencing people to do what you want them to do, and when necessary spreading propaganda. There's a relationship building aspect to the game and the better players understand this. Sometimes you win the game because the players who have no shot at winning decide to throw their support behind you because they like you best.

2) All About the Moves
This is the chess aspect of the game. You need to know the board very well and have a sense for what your opponents are planning to do. You also need to have the sense to look a move or two ahead. Smart players realize that it's not about where you are in the spring its about where you are in the fall. Best way I've found to sharpen this skill is two-player or gunboat games where you can remove the diplomacy aspect of the game and focus only on perfecting moves. Jokke was a master when it came to manouvers and knew how to be unpredictable. I find it helps to try to first figure out what moves you would do if you were in your enemy and then basing your moves around those.

3) "Spidey Senses"
Good players can sense when a stab is coming. They know because of a shift in mood, a change in communications, suspicious actions, or sometimes just as simple as seeing they would stab too if they were in their opponents shoes. Many players can feel the stab coming, but for some reason many players don't act on this suspicion. They decide to wait until after the stab comes to react, although by that point it's usually nothing more then name calling because the damage is done. If you feel a stab coming then call the person out, prepare for it, or beat them to the punch. I'd much rather be called paranoid then a sucker. Awfulthings would often say his first sign of an impending stab is a sudden drop off in communications. If they stop talking, prepare for the worst.

4) Protect Your Interests
As ties in to #3', good players take precautions always. You can be extremely trusting to your allies in the beginning but don't leave your throat exposed too long and never ever in the end game. Constantly keep allies and neighboring treaties in check and call them out on any concerns. Diplomatically set an expectation of your allies to always ask permission if they are going to cut too close to any of your centers and always try to have a good understanding of what their plans are so you're never caught off guard. Playing with CS and Awfulthings as allies i found our alliance was in a perpetual state of negotiations and renegotiations, it was just baked into our daily discussions.

5) Appreciate the Value of Trust
Most games will require some degree of lying sooner or later, however trust is currency in this game so don't give it away haphazardly. Once a bridge is burned its often gone for the remainder of the game so be very sparing with lies that will catch up with you or blatant betrayals that leave a bruise of resentment. I've seen way too often players playing too hard too fast only to have painted themselves into a corner by mid-game when nobody is willing to work with them. Likewise, same applies for your competitors - any opportunity to discredit them is extremely useful. CS had mastered the commodity of trustworthiness which gets him extremely far in his games almost every time. People know he very very rarely lies which makes everybody want to align with him and often feel very guilty about ever wanting to betray him (I was an exception). Dontejones on the other hand was highly skilled at spreading mistrust and dissension amongst players through whispers and trickery.

6) Adapt and Evolve
The best players are the ones who know how to adapt as the game goes on. Follow the opportunity. Regardless of how ugly a stab is, you may still have use for that person later on so try not to slam the door shut on that person. Your bitter enemy today might be a mutually ideal ally later in the game. Would be a shame to let hard feelings stand in he way of a terrific opportunity. In our Top Thirteen game alliances shifted continually and it was the ability of former enemies to come together when needed that made the possibility of one person winning a solo so very difficult.

7) A Happy Wife is a Happy Life
Best alliances are when both sides are equally satisfied. Nobody is growing faster then the other, nobody is trying to steer an advantage in their favour, nobody is more vulnerable then the other, nobody is assuming more risk. This is a bit idealistic, but you get the idea. Occasionally offering to take a bigger bite of risk or suggesting for your ally to take a center is an investment in a strong alliance, and a strong alliance can get you incredible far. Be conscious of potential causes of frustration for an ally (like getting boxed in or taking the majority of the heat) could save you from a stab. If it makes strategic sense for your team, don't be afraid to gift over a center. CS was completely selfless, which also helps him build extremely strong alliances in most games he plays.

8) Other Ways to Skin a Cat
Not every gain needs to come through brute force, it's called "diplomacy" for a reason. Many people don't even consider this aspect of the game. Sometimes rather then spending 3 years trying to force your way into the one space that is going to open up a tonne of growth opportunity for you maybe a "trade" with your neighbour is the better and quicker way to resolve thing, or support against an enemy that's been threatening him, or any number of other incentives you can offer. I see games lost as players fight over hard to get "small potato" claims while they're enemies run around grabbing all the "low hanging fruit". Keep the big picture in mind and consider all options of how to get there.

Again, there are many different philosophies to how to succeed in this game and different things work for different people. Some succeed well with "shock and awe" (Lucifers_Hammer was great at this), some confuse and play wild card (i experienced this with my first encounter with Citizen Joe), and some are very good at laying low but knowing when to strike at the critical point (fatmo almost got me with this).

Don't worry, this doesn't really scratch the surface of all my trade secrets but hopefully enough to get a dialogue going. Love to hear some debate on this from all you Top 100 players out there.
The first quality that is needed is audacity.
User avatar
gsmx
 
Posts: 1494
Joined: 22 Aug 2011, 14:50
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (2088)
All-game rating: (2424)
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Anatomy of a Top Ranked Player

Postby amano » 16 Nov 2012, 21:11

Nice post.

Unfortunately, I am not qualified to comment further ;)
"The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made." - Jean Giraudoux 1882-1944 (French diplomat)
amano
 
Posts: 149
Joined: 14 Jun 2012, 15:20
Class: Diplomat
All-game rating: (1000)
Timezone: GMT

Re: Anatomy of a Top Ranked Player

Postby Mortiferus Rosa » 16 Nov 2012, 21:49

Regarding the "spidey senses" of stabs there is a fine line to follow. Yes, it is better to be parinoid than a sucker BUT it is possible to be so parinoid you would be labled as indecisive because you can never leave you centers unprotected.

Also, if you get stabbed, dont fret. Doesnt mean you are always going down the hole and done. Make yourself USEFUL. Be the annoying asshole who refuses to die. Tenacity goes far in the game and you may even be rewarded with a part in a draw if you hold out long enough or at least cause your newest enemy so much trouble that he is delayed past the point where it is possible to solo.

Thirdly, if you get stabbed, dont be afraid to reconsile with your former enemy. This goes both ways but is typically harder for the one who was stabbed. Sometimes people take a gamble and you do such a good job holding them off they are not able to finish you off as fast as the expected. Now all a sudden they are stuck in a war with you and another country is at 13-15 centers and needs to be stopped NOW. You did you job and held them off, yes BUT realize that cerumstances dictate that you work together again. It is important to be able to get past your feelings and look at the bigger picture. They dont want to lose anymore than you do. They WILL work with you to stop someone from soloing. (Just remember to not put yourself in a position where they can eliminate you and still stop the solo :oops: ).
R/,

Mortiferus Rosa
Gold Classicist
User avatar
Mortiferus Rosa
 
Posts: 566
Joined: 27 May 2011, 22:04
Location: It Varies...
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1115)
All-game rating: (1118)
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Anatomy of a Top Ranked Player

Postby Euryon » 17 Nov 2012, 03:35

I'd add something along the lines of "Know Your Enemy" or "The Psychologist"

Through use of extensive early communications and research (opponents game history, who they have played with, what openings they favor, etc.) and by judging their tone and personality from current in-game communications, you can try and get a feel for the psyche of your opponents. Testing the water to see how malleable or rigid they are (will they follow your lead, or do they want to share power, or lead themselves?), how open they are with intelligence (find someone you trust, have them plant false intel to an opponent you are gauging, and see what filters back, and when), how fair they are willing to be in spoils (too much, too little, just right?).

There are so many factors to consider in judging your opponents, but you can use very legitimate methods to make a solid case-file on them (what I use the 'my notes' section for) and formulate plans accordingly. Being good at this (which I don't profess to be) would surely be a hallmark of a top tier player.

Something else I'd say is necessary, at least for some player-styles is attention to details. I've had players forward me messages from my current allies, as though my ally was intending to stab me. Making spelling mistakes consistent with your own messages in some-one elses apparent message is not a good idea, or getting the formatting wrong in a FWD'd message is a stupid faux-pas that will get you bitten twice as hard.
"Military intelligence, two words combined that can't make sense."
- Dave Mustaine

"This is a British flag, and these colours don't f*cking run!"
- Bruce Dickinson
User avatar
Euryon
 
Posts: 43
Joined: 18 Apr 2012, 22:38
Class: Diplomat
All-game rating: (1000)
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Anatomy of a Top Ranked Player

Postby jimbobicus » 17 Nov 2012, 12:29

Nice post, although...
I think you've missed out one very important factor, which is especially important in higher quality games where everyone has the basics of being able to communicate.

The bigger picture
Plan strategically. Always look at the long term as well as the short term. Look at what other people are doing and how the board is likely to look in a few years time. For example suppose you are France allied to England and have destroyed Germany. Now you've got a choice between attacking Italy with Austria or Turkey, or attacking England with Russia. Look at what will happen under both:

Option 1. Stay allied to England and attack Italy. Often this is most convenient as already got good relations with England. In the short term, you and England both make good progress. England gets Scandinavia and StP, while you take Italy. You could have 9 or 10 SCs with England on 7 or 8 SCs. So going pretty well, eh? No, this is not good for you. England may have about 4 fleets up north after defeating Russia. These fleets have no purpose except attacking you. While all your fleets are down south. If you go for a 2 way E/F draw, England will have far better chance to stab you than you will to stab him for the solo. And this is the good case for you. If the other player left, (prob Austria or Turkey) are competent they will see an obvious E/F alliance and try to break it up. When they do so, given the board, it will be far easier for them to persuade Eng to attack you than you to stab Eng.

9 times out of 10, far better is option 2:

Option 2. Keep DMZs with Italy and ally with Russia against England. Have an equal alliance with Russia up north, then 2 good options:
a) Stay allied with Russia and together divide the south between you in much the same way as you've divided the north. Head toward 2 way draw with you and Russ having roughly equal chance of solo.
b) Ally with an eastern power vs Russia and capture the whole of the north round to StPet yourself. Then look to get toward a 2 way draw with solo chance together with one of Italy, Austria or Turkey.

A good player should make such considerations, and a really good player will also look at the likely long term strategy of other players to guess their future actions too. Your actions might change what is best long term policy for another player on the other side of the board. If that player seems switched on enough to consider the long term, you may want to take such things into account.

If you forget about the bigger picture, you could win all your little battles and lose the war (the war for Europe as a whole). While if you do proper long term planning, you can afford one or two mishaps inthe short term battles and still win the war (by that I mean solo)
"A friend to all is a friend to none" - Aristotle
jimbobicus
 
Posts: 575
Joined: 03 Apr 2009, 19:30
Location: Coventry, UK
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1742)
All-game rating: (1662)
Timezone: GMT

Re: Anatomy of a Top Ranked Player

Postby diplomat42 » 17 Nov 2012, 16:22

I have the tactics, and the "big picture."
I have an overactive Spidey-sense, and communicate decently.
Glorious Nation of the Himalaya et.al in CYOC.
Classicist, Whippersnapper.

Generation 32 (The first time you see this, copy it into your sig on any forum and add 1 to the generation. Social experiment.)

JOIN CITY-STATES AND ZOMBIES!
IT WILL BE OFF THE CHAIN
diplomat42
 
Posts: 10504
Joined: 21 Nov 2010, 19:32
Location: Swagland
Class: Diplomat
Standard rating: (1140)
All-game rating: (1289)
Timezone: GMT-6

Re: Anatomy of a Top Ranked Player

Postby gsmx » 18 Nov 2012, 07:59

jimbobicus wrote:Nice post, although...
I think you've missed out one very important factor, which is especially important in higher quality games where everyone has the basics of being able to communicate.

The bigger picture

Very awesome point, so many players forget all about this and only see one round ahead.
The first quality that is needed is audacity.
User avatar
gsmx
 
Posts: 1494
Joined: 22 Aug 2011, 14:50
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (2088)
All-game rating: (2424)
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Anatomy of a Top Ranked Player

Postby blazebbc » 18 Nov 2012, 08:56

I would add that "communicate" should involve every player on the board, every turn. Yes, Austria should be talking to France and England. This establishes base line relationships, allows for the exchange of information and, as trust is built, the effective passing of false information. It also helps to forge long-term plans early and allows you to affect the alliance structures elsewhere. For instance... If I am playing Turkey and am confident that I have an alliance with Russia and that Italy is moving west, I might encourage an alliance between Engalnd and Germany - knowing that this would give Russia difficulties in the north, allowing me to take the lion's share of the Austrian spoils and, likely, reaching Italy before England...
Ally Extraordinaire
Intermational Medal of Honor Recipient
blazebbc
 
Posts: 201
Joined: 13 Jul 2012, 07:09
Location: Seattle, WA
Class: Diplomat
Standard rating: (1122)
All-game rating: (1132)
Timezone: GMT-8

Re: Anatomy of a Top Ranked Player

Postby Radical Pumpkin » 19 Nov 2012, 06:10

blazebbc wrote:I would add that "communicate" should involve every player on the board, every turn. Yes, Austria should be talking to France and England. This establishes base line relationships, allows for the exchange of information and, as trust is built, the effective passing of false information. It also helps to forge long-term plans early and allows you to affect the alliance structures elsewhere. For instance... If I am playing Turkey and am confident that I have an alliance with Russia and that Italy is moving west, I might encourage an alliance between Engalnd and Germany - knowing that this would give Russia difficulties in the north, allowing me to take the lion's share of the Austrian spoils and, likely, reaching Italy before England...


I'd add that IMO, talking to players across the board is also an excellent way to hone your long-term strategy skills. When you're Austria talking to England in the early game, it pushes you to consider what you actually want to see happen in the west. Given the personalities around the board, do you want England, France or Germany to be the odd one out in the west? And what can you do to push things in that direction? Even if you don't achieve any of those cross-board objectives, I believe starting to think about them is an important step toward deeper strategic thinking.
Radical Pumpkin
 
Posts: 835
Joined: 31 Oct 2010, 15:58
Class: Star Ambassador
Standard rating: (1599)
All-game rating: (1620)
Timezone: GMT-5

Re: Anatomy of a Top Ranked Player

Postby townfool » 19 Nov 2012, 20:17

Radical Pumpkin wrote:
I'd add that IMO, talking to players across the board is also an excellent way to hone your long-term strategy skills. When you're Austria talking to England in the early game, it pushes you to consider what you actually want to see happen in the west. Given the personalities around the board, do you want England, France or Germany to be the odd one out in the west? And what can you do to push things in that direction? Even if you don't achieve any of those cross-board objectives, I believe starting to think about them is an important step toward deeper strategic thinking.


I really like this approach. I like taking the attitude of finding the weakest player on the board no matter where he is and doing all i can to help him succeed through offering strategy guidance so that at the end game he's the one left to easily beat.
townfool
 
Posts: 83
Joined: 21 Aug 2011, 23:19

Next

Return to Diplomacy Strategy

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest