A Workable Plan

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A Workable Plan

Postby Zosimus » 19 Feb 2018, 03:48

People who have played Diplomacy a bit have a kind of sense of which plans are workable and which are unworkable. For example, it's known that while playing Germany, an attack on England or France is workable whereas an immediate attack on Russia or Austria is tantamount to suicide. Yet Turkey can attack Russia, Austria, or Italy and all of these plans are workable. The question is: What makes a plan workable or unworkable?

Some people think that Diplomacy is about getting centers -- and they're right, to a certain extent. However, some centers are more valuable than others. Generally speaking, centers along the sides and edges are more valuable than those in the center. Why? It's because these centers usually don't need to be defended. Think of a successful England, for example. He will have London, Liverpool, and Edinburgh -- three centers that do not require defense. This will allow him to use three units to go out and conquer more.

Poor Austria, on the other hand, can usually get up to 5 centers without too much fuss. However, he will often find it necessary to occupy every center in order to defend it. He will have no spare units with which to conquer more.

While it's not possible to enumerate every workable plan, here is an example of a workable (KoD) plan for a solo victory:

Playing France, start by locking up the southwest corner of the board. This will give you Spain and Portugal as centers that don't need defending while you go off in search or greener pastures. Then, team up with Germany to invade England. That will get you into another corner. Next, help Germany against Russia while invading Italy to get Tunis. Once you are over the stalemate line, stab Germany FTW.

Why is this plan workable? Because you will get multiple centers that don't need defending. If you are successful, soon you will have Spain, Portugal, Paris, Brest, Marseilles, London, and Liverpool -- none of which will need defending.

Could this plan go wrong? Of course it could! You might end up with England and Germany allied against you. You might succeed in killing England only to find that you are facing a Central Triple Alliance that puts Italy and Germany at your throats. You may fail to get over the stalemate line when time comes to take on Italy. You may stab Germany but fail to get the win. None of these problems, however, makes the plan unworkable.

What plans do you consider workable or unworkable? Why? I'd like to know.
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Re: A Workable Plan

Postby Big Gun » 19 Feb 2018, 13:23

Is this a new series of Diplomacy for Dummies? It's at best obvious and simplistic.
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Re: A Workable Plan

Postby Zosimus » 19 Feb 2018, 15:43

I know you're still pissed off about that game in which you were England and I was Russia, but seriously -- the game ended more than a year ago. Get over it.
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Re: A Workable Plan

Postby Nanook » 19 Feb 2018, 16:09

Plan: work with the person you get along best with on the board.

Is it workable? Yes, if the other person likes you too (I suggest passing them a circle yes if you like me too note with two yes options and no no options, works every time).


This is both a glib answer and a better approach than cookie-cutter strategies.
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Re: A Workable Plan

Postby Big Gun » 19 Feb 2018, 17:10

Zosimus wrote:I know you're still pissed off about that game in which you were England and I was Russia, but seriously -- the game ended more than a year ago. Get over it.


Not at all. But I like it when you throw one of your legendary tantrums ;-)
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Re: A Workable Plan

Postby Big Gun » 19 Feb 2018, 17:14

nanooktheeskimo wrote:Plan: work with the person you get along best with on the board.

Is it workable? Yes, if the other person likes you too (I suggest passing them a circle yes if you like me too note with two yes options and no no options, works every time).


This is both a glib answer and a better approach than cookie-cutter strategies.


This is wise advice. There is little point considering tactical moves or broad strategies without knowing who you're playing with. I would argue that pretty much any plan is workable if you have a good, strong alliance with one or two of the other players.
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Re: A Workable Plan

Postby Nanook » 19 Feb 2018, 17:17

Big Gun wrote:
nanooktheeskimo wrote:Plan: work with the person you get along best with on the board.

Is it workable? Yes, if the other person likes you too (I suggest passing them a circle yes if you like me too note with two yes options and no no options, works every time).


This is both a glib answer and a better approach than cookie-cutter strategies.


This is wise advice. There is little point considering tactical moves or broad strategies without knowing who you're playing with. I would argue that pretty much any plan is workable if you have a good, strong alliance with one or two of the other players.

This is one subject we're 100% in agreement on. Play the people and keep an eye on the board, but don't play the board exclusively. A lot of really fun things can be done when two people are willing to work together and think outside the box of "Austria and Turkey must do this based on geometry, therefore we are doing this."
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Re: A Workable Plan

Postby DQ » 19 Feb 2018, 17:27

Zosimus wrote:People who have played Diplomacy a bit have a kind of sense of which plans are workable and which are unworkable. For example, it's known that while playing Germany, an attack on England or France is workable whereas an immediate attack on Russia or Austria is tantamount to suicide. Yet Turkey can attack Russia, Austria, or Italy and all of these plans are workable. The question is: What makes a plan workable or unworkable?

Some people think that Diplomacy is about getting centers -- and they're right, to a certain extent. However, some centers are more valuable than others. Generally speaking, centers along the sides and edges are more valuable than those in the center. Why? It's because these centers usually don't need to be defended. Think of a successful England, for example. He will have London, Liverpool, and Edinburgh -- three centers that do not require defense. This will allow him to use three units to go out and conquer more.

Poor Austria, on the other hand, can usually get up to 5 centers without too much fuss. However, he will often find it necessary to occupy every center in order to defend it. He will have no spare units with which to conquer more.

While it's not possible to enumerate every workable plan, here is an example of a workable (KoD) plan for a solo victory:

Playing France, start by locking up the southwest corner of the board. This will give you Spain and Portugal as centers that don't need defending while you go off in search or greener pastures. Then, team up with Germany to invade England. That will get you into another corner. Next, help Germany against Russia while invading Italy to get Tunis. Once you are over the stalemate line, stab Germany FTW.

Why is this plan workable? Because you will get multiple centers that don't need defending. If you are successful, soon you will have Spain, Portugal, Paris, Brest, Marseilles, London, and Liverpool -- none of which will need defending.

Could this plan go wrong? Of course it could! You might end up with England and Germany allied against you. You might succeed in killing England only to find that you are facing a Central Triple Alliance that puts Italy and Germany at your throats. You may fail to get over the stalemate line when time comes to take on Italy. You may stab Germany but fail to get the win. None of these problems, however, makes the plan unworkable.

What plans do you consider workable or unworkable? Why? I'd like to know.


I think discussions like this are harder for experienced players, because we have so much tribal knowledge - we don't need to explain why Austria attacking Germany in 1901 is bad, because we've seen it fail so many times. But to a new player, "Hey, I can put two armies on Munich right away, convince Russia to go along, and only worry about Italy getting to my home centers" might seem perfectly reasonable.

Balance of power affects this too - allowing Turkey to expand into Greece unopposed is so good for Turkey, that it simply isn't on the table for many experienced players - they would rather lose Trieste to Italy (and subsequently drag them down as they are killed by R/T) than defend Trieste. Having an Italian player who doesn't AGREE with this proposition makes for interesting games. Especially if you are Turkey.

All of which is to say, having Intro-to-Intermediate level discussions of what a "workable plan" is are very useful for the hobby, IMO.
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Re: A Workable Plan

Postby ColonelApricot » 19 Feb 2018, 22:32

The dependency on the relationships with other players is a given, so it seems valid to me to discuss what makes a plan workable all other things being equal.

A workable plan is any plan that is more likely to improve your position than not. Usually the plan depends on another player's cooperation and therefore they would expect the plan to be workable for them also. If both of your positions are improved and other players' positions are not, then you have both gained an advantage over the rest. :D

In the example given, the player improves his position by means of the strategy of using the boundaries of the board to defend his hinterland and improving the efficiency of his units. This strategy is not available to central powers so they must use different strategies.

Sometimes the plan depends on another player's cooperation and improves one's own position but not the other's position. :evil:
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Re: A Workable Plan

Postby The Red Sphinx » 21 Feb 2018, 08:12

Although I agree with the commentators suggesting a people first approach, rather making broad strategies based on assumed knowledge, I would actually disagree with the premise of this strategy, that is, SCs on the board’s edge are more valuable than at the centre.

Firstly the long term problems for a power at the edge taking this focus. More than likely if you are being successful at one edge, then across the board is either a central power or another edge power who has also cleaned up and is coming your way. Best case scenario you beat them across the stalemate line, but just as likely is they beat you across it, or most likely, you meet in the middle and actually stalemate. Now had you focused on getting some control of the centre SCs, in this case using the example of France, (perhaps taking Munich/Kiel, or Venice/Trieste), rather than rushing into England, you’d be across the stalemate line, or at least on it, before anyone coming the other way can do anything to halt your progress.

As you can see suddenly these central SCs are way more valuable than far flung Portugal or Liverpool.

Secondly - the idea that a central power is worse off than an outside power due to the starting SCs being valued differently is not correct. Come the mid-game, Italy, Austria and Munich can all build in the middle of the board. Say you are Germany, you have defeated France and on the way to finishing off England, when bam, the formerly feuding eastern powers are suddenly backing each other, in a stop the leader alliance that has landed on your doorstep. But courtesy of your builds, you drop armies in Munich and Berlin, at the front of your line. No need to spend a year or two pushing them from the edge of the board to the centre, because they are already there.

Compare this Turkey, who has to go Bulgaria, Rumania, Galicia, Silesia - just to get into a position to threaten Munich or Berlin. Or you might argue that to combat that problem, you progress from your corner in a careful outwards expansion, with builds adding more units into the holes as you go, so that you are occupying a slowing increasing arc from your starting position, and yes this is possible. But only idiot opponents would allow it and not act to stop you, in which case, I’d say you need to challenge yourself with new opponents.
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