A Note on Etiquette

Anything about the Diplomacy game in general.

A Note on Etiquette

Postby rick.leeds » 21 Jul 2011, 21:37

I come across questions about etiquette in Dip a lot. My usual answer is that there is no etiquette in Diplomacy. You play the game how you feel; you lie if you need to; you can be as hard with your attitude as you like. I also get asked occasionally about the etiquette of joining games, especially games which have suffered a surrender: Do I or don’t I? Well, yes you do: if the description says it’s a friend’s game, then you need to be aware of that – they’re going to find trusting each other easier than trusting an outsider; taking over the position is better than letting the game flounder along unbalanced. Should I attack a player coming into an open situation? That is up to you; read it as the game situation tells you to.

All that is fair enough, but I have recently thought about this a little more and I would say that there IS some etiquette; or, at least, some etiquette with playing on site. It isn’t about how you play the game – all’s fair, etc – but it is about your approach to the game. This, then, is my take on that etiquette.

Play fair
This, obviously, is from the point of view of the cheater-hunting I’ve done. There is no argument: multi-accounting – playing with more than one account in a game – is cheating. What I’m really thinking of here is meta-gaming – playing as a team, linking alliances across games, going into a game with a preset alliance. I sometimes receive the come-back, after telling players via email that action has been taken over meta-gaming, something along the lines of “Why can’t I play with friends?” Well, of course you can, this is a games site and most people will say that playing against a friend makes a game spicier. What should not be happening is that this friend is given preferential treatment. There are seven players in a game... that means six opponents. It doesn’t mean five opponents and an ally. If you go into a game, everyone has the right to expect they have an equivalent chance. Meta-gaming prevents that. Play fair or go away.

It’s a contract
When you enter a game you are entering into a contract with the other players. You contract to play the game with them. That means you play it; you don’t quit because things are going wrong, or because you get fed up. Yes there are times when leaving a game can’t be avoided due to real life situations and that is bad for the game you’re playing, but that can’t be helped. That is THE ONLY reason you should be leaving a game. Similarly with NMRing: the players in the game should be committed to getting their orders in on time. Again, mistakes happen; sometimes a player will deliberately “NMR” (maybe issue all HOLD orders). But doing this regularly is wrong. Groups like the Classicists SHOULDN’T be needed. I’m not talking about those players who come to the site and find they don’t like the game: unfortunately that is always going to happen. I’m talking to those of us who do it regularly and stay on site. Would it surprise you, as it did me, to find that the biggest offenders, in pure numbers of surrenders and NMRs (as opposed to number of people who surrender or NMR), are Premium?

Be a diplomat
I’ve said above, your attitude can be as hard as you want it to be. The attitude you display, the way you send messages, is up to you. I know some players vary the way they play, taking on a role. That’s all fine. What you shouldn’t be doing is being abusive. IT’S A GAME! You may be angry at someone, but manage your language and manage your response. It isn’t about being a prude: I can use foul language along with the best of them, but if you tell me to “F*** off” in a game, that’s what I’ll do, and do my best to make sure you’re out of the game as quickly as possible. Similarly, if you’re abusive towards me, I will feel free to be the same with you but I’ll only do that to wind you up further... and again, if I can do it, you’ll be gone. And don’t go off in a sulk. This one goes back to what was said above. I was actually in a game recently where one player – a very good player – got into such a sulk over an issue that he left the game. But in this section, what I would say is wrong is telling people you’re going to do it if you don’t get your way. Remember the name of the game.

Don’t hassle people
This is linked to the above, again, but is a different issue. There are times in a game where one of the resorts you have as a player might legitimately be to try and upset another player's game by being provocative (bearing in mind what I've said above, of course). That is occasionally part of the game. What I'm concentrating on here though is consistently hassling someone over something that isn't really needed. I have in mind here the issues that arise over finalising orders; although this isn't the only possible issue, it is one that grates with a lot of people. Everyone can now finalise, and unsurprisingly in games I’ve investigated I’ve seen a corresponding increase in players hassling others in Public Press about not finalising. We’ve been through this a lot, but I’m going to say it again: you join a game with certain deadlines; those are the deadlines you play to. If someone doesn’t finalise, they don’t finalise: suck it up. The other side of this, of course, is that if you have chosen to join a game that does use the finalise option you have implied that you will when you can. If you are ready to finalise, and there is no reason not to, you ought to do so. What it comes down to is that the game should be enjoyable for everyone and if you are deliberately preventing that (short of taking all of a player's SCs) then there is likely to be some comeback from the player you are making uncomfortable.

Keep rankings in their right place
Site rankings are fine. There’s nothing wrong with moving up them. Sometimes, though, it can be a fine line between getting the best that you can from a game, points-wise, and playing a game with your site ranking in mind. Players are quite right to be proud of a high ranking and the rankings add that something extra to the site. What I would say, though, is that if you’re good enough, you’ll rise to the top end anyway. Once you start playing only to maintain your ranking, though, you have stopped treating each game as an individual event. The rankings aren’t a huge tournament: they don’t have a set finish time when you can claim you are the best. They are on-going. Each game should stand alone.

Some of this you may disagree with; fair enough: as I said, it’s my take on etiquette. There is a good reason for all of them, though, and the reasons aren’t hard to work out. Probably the best piece of etiquette, maybe the ONLY piece of etiquette, is to enjoy the game and the games. We’re here for fun, aren’t we?
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Re: A Note on Etiquette

Postby ravenkhan » 21 Jul 2011, 23:10

Thanks Rick for that take on Etiquette.

I agree with everything you said but I am especially glad that you mentioned NOT finalising. I have found several games I have been in where people have to beat the bushes about finalising. I sometimes chime in "I'm in! for the hell of it even if I am not. I have found that not always finalising can allow me certain advantages(in the game and real life). In the game it can allow me to exploit weakness that current partners have. What I mean is since they have down time and are checking back often for the finalisation I will pick at them with little notes about their partners, mention odd moves and the like to get them to break the alliance! It has happened on more than one occasion so far. Also not finalising allows me to play in 12 hour games without fear of screwing up. I have NMR'd once in a game. I joined a 12 gunboat game, put in orders and finalised. I came back 13 hours later and checked (bone headed move I know) and saw I had missed a turn. I was crippled and conveniently painted an "INVADE ME PLEASE!" sign on my country for my neighbors to kick me around. I have learned from my mistakes and now if I know there is a chance I will not make it back from work (or sleep, God forbid) in time after I have entered orders I will not finalise. BUT! as soon as I am back I will finalise to make the game progress and you know what? Sometimes the turns still go to time limit and I am fine with that now knowing why the finalise option is there. If players are ready to move on then the game will, if not the game will move on with/without them when the agreed upon time comes. My 2 cents.
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Re: A Note on Etiquette

Postby rick.leeds » 21 Jul 2011, 23:25

Ah when I skimmed through this article earlier I meant to alter that paragraph slightly so I'm going to do that now. At the time, the in-game pressures being placed on people to finalise was certainly getting to some - and rightly so; it's an option. But I wanted to stress more - this is most of what I forgot to write - that NOT finalising for the sake of not finalising CAN be as bad. I admit I've done that, although usually only when I know someone is getting wound up about people not finalising. Anyway, I will alter the paragraph, not taking away from the point that players shouldn't be hassling others to finalise but that it is a two-way street.
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Re: A Note on Etiquette

Postby Strails » 27 Jul 2011, 22:33

[I'm posting this here because it probably doesn't deserve its own thread.]

As a very new player, I found this useful, especially the bit about finalizing (which other FAQs hadn't addressed), but I have a question about the contract. If I'm in a game where I've clearly lost, I know I should keep the game as enjoyable as possible for the winners, but I'm not sure how exactly to do that. Should I be playing passive moves, like having forces support themselves and make token attacks as though they could win, or should I still be gambling?

That's probably a little unclear, so I'll give an example. Playing as France, I'm at war with Turkey, Germany, and England. I have a fleet in the Mid-Atlantic and control Spain, but even if I support it to hold with all of my forces, it's going to fall. I have the option of using the fleet to support Spain -- if Spain is only attacked by a fraction of my enemies, it might hold for a turn -- or I can send the fleet into the North Atlantic. England would be guaranteed to dislodge the fleet after a turn, but it'd be an annoyance and draw away forces.

I'm not sure whether a move like that would be taken as rude or not. Ultimately, it won't accomplish anything, and it's questionable whether it even bought me any time, but I enjoyed making that move more than if I'd just passively supported England. Are out-of-the-box, what-the-heck-why-not moves like that reasonable once the game reaches that point, or should I be more passive and let the other countries play?
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Re: A Note on Etiquette

Postby Magmaniac » 27 Jul 2011, 23:44

Do whatever you can to stay alive and try to stay in it. It's not unheard of for a power who thought they were on the edge of extinction at one point to hang into the game for several turns and eventually make a comeback, even getting into a split victory.
It bothers me when people stop playing too early. You have not lost the game until the game is over or you are eliminated. The game is called Diplomacy, and even if you only have one center left you still have the weapon of diplomacy. Until the bitter end I will always try to forge alliances and convince people to attack my enemies.

And I never finalize. Too many times have I decided last second to change orders for the better, and too many times have I finalized and then missed the next turn. I think having each turn played out to its length and not finalized rewards the diplomacy-heavy player, which it should.
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