An Acceptable Draw?

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Re: An Acceptable Draw?

Postby jay65536 » 13 May 2019, 18:54

NoPunIn10Did wrote:Soloists, however, do not have such an unrealistic expectation. They fully accept that draws can occur; they just simply don’t aim specifically to achieve the draw as an endgame goal. Their goal is to get the solo for themselves, and should that become impossible, to prevent anyone else from achieving it.


This should perhaps be spun off into a separate thread--perhaps David would start it, rather than you or me--but to my knowledge, this description of Soloism does not accurately describe what Soloism is, as a philosophy.

If you understand game theory, which I know you do, Soloism can--at least as far as I understand it--be described extremely simply as adherence to the belief that Diplomacy is a non-zero-sum game where a solo has positive utility (WLOG, utility 1) and any non-solo result has utility 0.
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Re: An Acceptable Draw?

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 13 May 2019, 21:42

jay65536 wrote:
NoPunIn10Did wrote:Soloists, however, do not have such an unrealistic expectation. They fully accept that draws can occur; they just simply don’t aim specifically to achieve the draw as an endgame goal. Their goal is to get the solo for themselves, and should that become impossible, to prevent anyone else from achieving it.


This should perhaps be spun off into a separate thread--perhaps David would start it, rather than you or me--but to my knowledge, this description of Soloism does not accurately describe what Soloism is, as a philosophy.

If you understand game theory, which I know you do, Soloism can--at least as far as I understand it--be described extremely simply as adherence to the belief that Diplomacy is a non-zero-sum game where a solo has positive utility (WLOG, utility 1) and any non-solo result has utility 0.


Fair enough. That interpretation was based on my reading of the Soloist Manifesto, and I may have misunderstood what a soloist's goals were regarding whether some other person solos or not.

I do think it's reasonable to also call a person a soloist when they treat:
  • winning the solo as having positive utility,
  • losing the solo as having negative utility, and
  • a game ending in a draw as having zero utility, regardless of whether they survive.
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Re: An Acceptable Draw?

Postby jay65536 » 14 May 2019, 18:36

NoPunIn10Did wrote:That interpretation was based on my reading of the Soloist Manifesto, and I may have misunderstood what a soloist's goals were regarding whether some other person solos or not.

I do think it's reasonable to also call a person a soloist when they treat:
  • winning the solo as having positive utility,
  • losing the solo as having negative utility, and
  • a game ending in a draw as having zero utility, regardless of whether they survive.


Since you brought it up, I just dug it up and re-read it (for anyone following the thread who may never have heard of it or read it, we're talking about this: http://uk.diplom.org/pouch/Zine/S2002M/ ... festo.html ).

My interpretation of the Soloist Manifesto (SM) is more or less the opposite of yours. By my reading, the main tenet of Soloism, the way it is laid out in the SM, is that a Soloist does not consider a draw to have higher utility than a loss. There are two different points in the SM that I think support my reading; the first is the definition laid out there:

Soloism is the dogged pursuit of victory in each and every game until victory is achieved, which is success, or until victory is impossible to achieve, which is failure. At the point of failure, the outcome of the specific game being played becomes irrelevant from the perspective of Soloism. Two-way draws, three-way draws, "n-way" draws, survivals and eliminations are all failures. [Emphasis mine]


and the second is the theoretical "Soloist rating system" later in the article:

Such a rating system could perhaps be expressed as a decimal approaching 1.0, meaning that a player who had no results other than wins would have a 1.0 rating. Any other outcome for a player would be rated 0.0, so a player who had five wins in twenty games would have a rating of 0.25. Some additional fine-tuning might also be possible. Abandonments and failure to turn in orders could be assigned negative values, perhaps -1.0, and -0.01 respectively. Giving more weight to recent games, or to wins over other players who possess high ratings might also be factored in. The important distinguishing feature between this hypothetical system and all the existing systems is that there would be no incentive to accept a draw, or indeed to do anything else other than win. [Emphasis mine]


I do not consider myself a Soloist, but I think this would refute your point about the three-different-utilities outlook being compatible with Soloism, since the very fact that there are two different non-solo utilities would give a player in certain positions a secondary incentive to soloing--the very thing Soloism is about not having.
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Re: An Acceptable Draw?

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 14 May 2019, 18:49

Interesting. So strict adherence to the Soloist manifesto simply wouldn't work in a zero-sum context at all, which means it really wouldn't work well online.

I've met a couple people like that. They want every game to end in a solo, even if it's not their own. They are far less likely to work to prevent someone else's solo, as they see no difference in losing and ending in a draw. I don't personally think that's a particularly healthy outlook for the game as a whole, however. In my opinion, there should always be some incentive to prevent someone else from winning.

So my utility breakdown isn't exactly Soloist, but I do think that it comes about as close as one could get to fitting the Soloist Manifesto inside a zero-sum environment. There's no incentive to play for the draw unless it's clearly your only option to avoid losing to a solo. There would be no value to draw-whittling, as there are no points to be earned from smaller draw-sizes. The only way to earn points would be to solo.
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Re: An Acceptable Draw?

Postby David E. Cohen » 15 May 2019, 12:04

Ugh. I like to think that the Manifesto speaks for itself, albeit very preachily, but evidently it doesn't. I will respond in detail to various points later.
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Re: An Acceptable Draw?

Postby David E. Cohen » 18 May 2019, 18:37

For those who think that draws "ought" to be the outcome of a game of Dip if everyone plays well... it depends upon your style of play. If you have multiple players with a style which involves taking big risks in order to increase their chance at a solo, you will have instances where most of them fall off the tightrope leaving the one person who didn't, or at least who recovered from their fall the quickest, as the winner. Additionally, Diplomacy doesn't involve luck, but it does involve chance, and sometimes a bunch of coin flips work out just right, with sublime results.

I do not at any time say that a solo is the only "valid" game outcome. In fact, in the third paragraph of the Manifesto, I say as to results other than solos "This does not mean that a Soloist who accepts a draw, or who survives or is eliminated when someone else wins did not accomplish anything, nor does it mean that he or she did not play well." I have no problem with large draws in and of themselves. In fact, the more the merrier. If you have one player who has run away with things, and the rest of the board has banded together to stop the leader, that's just fine, and if play, due to the nature of the particular board becomes inflexible, then end things right there. Have the grace, the dignity, the decency to immediately move on to the next game and the next opportunity to solo.

When I set forth my philosophy seventeen years ago (Wow, seventeen years ago!) I said my goal in every game was the object of the game. To win. When that becomes impossible, then I have no problem with secondary objectives. Preventing a solo, survival, seeking revenge, whatever. But, with the exception of tournaments, each game stands on its own. Rating systems skew play away from the object of the game. A half dozen players on a locked up board is a draw. I do not want to take part in dragging it out another game year, or five, or ten, to whittle it down to a five player, four player, however many player draw. My Dip time is far too valuable to waste on this sort of crap. I will actively work to give someone a solo whenever I see draw whittling. I do not say that secondary goals should not be pursued, only that they should be subservient to the main goal, winning, and the "meta-goal", which is maximizing the possibility of winning in future games. But each game is complete in and of itself. Players who play to maximize their rating in a community are really playing a never ending variant in which individual games of Diplomacy are insignificant parts. I want no part of that.



P.S. A lot of people think that Soloists stab frequently. This is not necessarily the case. Strong alliance players can be Soloists. A strong alliance can bring multiple players close to a solo. Only when the solo is within reach would such a player stab, if indeed they stab at all. Every so often, you get a situation where each player in an alliance believes they can win a race to eighteen and no one stabs.
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