It took a few years but I get it now!!

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Re: It took a few years but I get it now!!

Postby StarWatcher009 » 13 Sep 2017, 19:13

Tarsier wrote:
Yes, I get a lot of draws. Again ... if you read my messages ... I've never expressed that draws are evil. I mean, please, just read messages before you reply. I have no problem with draws when that is the natural outcome. In my last game, for instance, I fought for a solo, but the other two held me off. My issue is with players who go into games with the intent of a draw or who see the draw as the goal all through out. Please look and see if I ever wrote that draws are unacceptable. You ask if those games are failures? Yes, on some level. I failed to get a victory according to the definitions in the rule guide. But, I managed to reduce my point loss, which was better than an outright loss.


Just wondering if you still believe this way in a tournament situation. For example, in the round three game there are plenty of people who might only need a draw to qualify. If going into the game with this aim makes that outcome likelier, are they right to do so?
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Re: It took a few years but I get it now!!

Postby Tarsier » 13 Sep 2017, 19:38

StarWatcher009 wrote:
Tarsier wrote:
Yes, I get a lot of draws. Again ... if you read my messages ... I've never expressed that draws are evil. I mean, please, just read messages before you reply. I have no problem with draws when that is the natural outcome. In my last game, for instance, I fought for a solo, but the other two held me off. My issue is with players who go into games with the intent of a draw or who see the draw as the goal all through out. Please look and see if I ever wrote that draws are unacceptable. You ask if those games are failures? Yes, on some level. I failed to get a victory according to the definitions in the rule guide. But, I managed to reduce my point loss, which was better than an outright loss.


Just wondering if you still believe this way in a tournament situation. For example, in the round three game there are plenty of people who might only need a draw to qualify. If going into the game with this aim makes that outcome likelier, are they right to do so?


Great point. No, I don't. An earlier poster (maybe it was you - can't remember), remarked that a tournament structure creates a whole new context. I agree completely. Then, the goal is acquisition of points to qualify. Across the board in games and sports, different strategies are sometimes applied to tournaments. For instance, in my son's recent baseball tournament, the coaches sat their stronger players for most of a game to rest them up for the final game. It cost us a win, but they knew we had a better shot at getting to the championship by taking that one loss and coming in to our final game with a strong roster. In an isolated baseball game, sitting your strong players is a horrible strategy and totally contrary to the goal - to win. In a tournament, it helped us toward the final goal. We didn't make it, but point being ...

So, my point is that, in an isolated Diplomacy game, if each player has a solo as their goal (whether or not that goal is realized), it will be a higher quality game. More backstabbing, more communication, more drama. It will also be more in the spirit of what Calhamer envisioned as the goal.
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Re: It took a few years but I get it now!!

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 13 Sep 2017, 22:43

Tarsier wrote:I've never said otherwise. The point of the thread isn't about players who avoid losing by forcing a draw, but those who enter the game with the intent of a draw (or decide on that outcome very prematurely).


I think where folks may draw lines differently is in the definition of "very prematurely." Sometimes a group of players' best defense mechanism, knowing that they might not be as talented diplomatically, is to latch onto the notion of a draw as that game's goal and form a steadfast alliance within the first year or two. This would probably be a great deal earlier than more experienced players might reorient to a draw.

Here's the thing, though: this can be done specifically as a means of defense against much better negotiators. It's a tactic. The shark gets sniffed out by the minnows; the weaker players decide that their best chance is to shut out any attempt by that better player to make inroads diplomatically. Then they commit to an ironclad alliance and push for a draw.

It's not a very high-skill tactic, to be sure, but it can be a highly effective defense against the shark: the silver-tongued more-experienced soloist-type player.

It is probably also extremely frustrating for those soloist-type players, as they're essentially not getting to use their communication skills for an exciting and interesting Diplomacy game. I've certainly seen at least one tantrum thrown during a face-to-face game that encountered this scenario (although in that case, the ironclad alliance was a mix of experienced and newer players).

And while I'm slowly moving toward more of a soloist-type mindset myself, I do have to wonder: if they can succeed in that goal, isn't it still an effective strategy? Is it fair to treat that strategy as somehow causing the game to lack "integrity"?

It may not be fun to play against a stubborn Thelma-and-Louise type alliance, but if they eliminate you from the map, isn't that strategy simply your Kryptonite rather than a ruination of the game itself?

I'm just not sure I see the point in the sort of quasi-snobbery that treats draw-oriented players as anathema to the game itself. It's perhaps the mark of a less experienced player, but if so, it's also a pretty ordinary launching pad into learning the game and getting exposed to better strategies. And often enough, the ironclad alliance strategy works; otherwise the more experienced players wouldn't be so annoyed by it.

As a side-note, I'd be wary of putting too many words into Calhammer's mouth about what he did or didn't intend for the game. There's a good deal of misinformation about Calhammer's intentions floating about in the circles of the hobby, and I know I've been tripped up by it in the past.
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Re: It took a few years but I get it now!!

Postby Machiara » 13 Sep 2017, 22:50

NoPunIn10Did wrote:
It may not be fun to play against a stubborn Thelma-and-Louise type alliance . . .


Showing your age, NP. :)
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Re: It took a few years but I get it now!!

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 13 Sep 2017, 23:06

Machiara wrote:
NoPunIn10Did wrote:
It may not be fun to play against a stubborn Thelma-and-Louise type alliance . . .


Showing your age, NP. :)


Amusingly enough, I've never seen the film.
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Re: It took a few years but I get it now!!

Postby Machiara » 13 Sep 2017, 23:39

Me either! But you don't have to have seen a film to use it as a cultural reference. That said, doing so DOES generally put you in the population of people who were paying attention to such culture when the film came out. Not always, but most of the time. So many kids today don't get my '80s and '90s pop culture references. Get off my lawn, you whippersnappers!
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Re: It took a few years but I get it now!!

Postby Tarsier » 14 Sep 2017, 00:24

NoPunIn10Did wrote:I think where folks may draw lines differently is in the definition of "very prematurely." Sometimes a group of players' best defense mechanism, knowing that they might not be as talented diplomatically, is to latch onto the notion of a draw as that game's goal and form a steadfast alliance within the first year or two. This would probably be a great deal earlier than more experienced players might reorient to a draw.

Here's the thing, though: this can be done specifically as a means of defense against much better negotiators. It's a tactic. The shark gets sniffed out by the minnows; the weaker players decide that their best chance is to shut out any attempt by that better player to make inroads diplomatically. Then they commit to an ironclad alliance and push for a draw.

It's not a very high-skill tactic, to be sure, but it can be a highly effective defense against the shark: the silver-tongued more-experienced soloist-type player.


NoPun, I appreciate your point, but again, I don't know of a "soloist" on the site who has ever argued that draws as a defense are wrong. I think that's part of the reason for all this debate - some caricature of soloists as solo-or-die lunatics. I would challenge anyone on the site to identify where any player, even a big fan of solos, has ever claimed that players shouldn't resort to forcing a draw out of defense.

In fact, I'm not sure if "soloists" even exist. My own philosophy is to share a positive conclusion with as few partners as possible.

Look at the OP's actual beef:

[G]oing for the draw as a design purpose of playing this game, Diplomacy, is the worst kind of gaming possible. Going for the solo is the only way this should be played. IF and only IF a draw is the only way out... then so be it... but going for the draw from the outset... just to get points... is a perversion of this the best of all games.


So ... his concern (and mine) isn't with draws as a defense, but draws as the "design purpose" in someone's game. He admits draws are fine if it is the only way out.

There are players who play for a draw just for points, which is self-defeating in a way, as you get to a point (such as my rank) where any draw results in negative points. We know there are players who seek the draw, as the OP admits to having been one.

It is probably also extremely frustrating for those soloist-type players, as they're essentially not getting to use their communication skills for an exciting and interesting Diplomacy game. I've certainly seen at least one tantrum thrown during a face-to-face game that encountered this scenario (although in that case, the ironclad alliance was a mix of experienced and newer players).


I think it is frustrating for any player, right? Who likes to be ignored? But that's a problem that's bigger than the solo/draw debate.

And while I'm slowly moving toward more of a soloist-type mindset myself, I do have to wonder: if they can succeed in that goal, isn't it still an effective strategy? Is it fair to treat that strategy as somehow causing the game to lack "integrity"?


Not fair at all. I agree. After all, your scenario presented draws as a defense. I've never seen anyone take issue with that. It isn't the point of the OP.

It's perhaps the mark of a less experienced player, but if so, it's also a pretty ordinary launching pad into learning the game and getting exposed to better strategies.


Sure, I'll buy that new players might play it safe. I'm really not taking issue with that. Such a scenario exists in any game/sport.

I'm just not sure I see the point in the sort of quasi-snobbery that treats draw-oriented players as anathema to the game itself.


No snobbery here at all. See my next point.

And often enough, the ironclad alliance strategy works; otherwise the more experienced players wouldn't be so annoyed by it.


Sure it works. That's the problem. Let's look at an extreme here. Let's suppose a game of seven players begins. For whatever reason, six of those players agree in year one that they'd all like to share their first "win" - none have had one before. They all band together and eliminate poor Austria (because ... who else, right?). Austria tries like hell to persuade them to break apart, but none are really interested because if they turn on the alliance, they'll miss out on that sure thing. So, Austria's 5 units (supposing he has a great first year) is now up against a mega-alliance with 29 units.

He is quickly eliminated. The players are satisfied with their draw and conclude the game.

Fair to Austria? In the spirit of the game? A victory? To each his own on game style?

I'd say most of us would agree that the answers to these three are "no", which is why we almost never see (if we ever have) six-way draws, especially early in a game (note we aren't talking about a draw that results from a stalemate situation, which would fit what you described).

So, what makes a five-way draw (again, not as a result of a defensive strategy) more valid? A four-way? A three-way?

At least by the point of a three-way, one could argue that the partners are numerically as a disadvantage (three countries paired up against four). However, if the other four don't realize an unbreakable alliance has formed in year one, at least one, if not two, of those countries will be eliminated or seriously crippled to the gain of the super-alliance before the rest of the board realizes what is going on. We know this from experience, which is part of the reason why the site has a rule against meta-gaming, as it is painfully obvious that an early (in the case of metagaming, just before year one) unbreakable alliance of three (or sometimes two) can be deadly by the very nature that the game is robbed of the gift of true diplomacy.

As a side-note, I'd be wary of putting too many words into Calhammer's mouth about what he did or didn't intend for the game. There's a good deal of misinformation about Calhammer's intentions floating about in the circles of the hobby, and I know I've been tripped up by it in the past.


That's fine, but my reference was to the rules that come with the game, as I quoted them earlier. If those are an aberration of Calhamer's intent, then ...

Again, I challenge anyone to find where a "soloist" (again, a silly label) has argued that draws are anathema. Perfectly fine defensive strategy. Just ... should it be the goal going in for any player beyond a newbie or someone in a tournament setting?

Out of curiosity, does anyone know if a similar debate arises in online versions of Catan or other strategy games?
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Re: It took a few years but I get it now!!

Postby StarWatcher009 » 14 Sep 2017, 00:36

Tarsier wrote:Out of curiosity, does anyone know if a similar debate arises in online versions of Catan or other strategy games?


In chess, going for a draw, especially with black is often a valid tactic; even though many might argue that the game is better when both play for a win.
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Re: It took a few years but I get it now!!

Postby V » 14 Sep 2017, 03:57

I'll make a second contribution to this age old debate (probably a mistake). In support of NoPunIn10Did's comment reference "premature". The problem with this argument is one or two participants are usually making subjective decisions upon other participants actions, deciding on their behalf that their choice whatever it may have been, was premature & "carebear" etc. To add to this mix the decider/s are usually in a state of frustration facing defeat or at least disappointment.

I have been in so many games in which a clearly strong player forms a solid alliance with another. A neighbour makes an error of judgement early in the game & the two of them command maybe 12+ SC's very quickly. Either of them, left to their own devices could very easily formulate a solo.
There are often not that many options, but to try & establish a larger committed rival alliance, bent on destroying the "bad guys". This may not necessarily be a "natural" alliance & may require members to fully commit in an unexpected direction. Once a successful path towards the objective is found, it takes a huge amount of persuasion to not simply implement the eliminations, especially if a change of direction has become difficult.

Was it premature? The victorious side is unlikely to think so. The defeated side probably will. It is so subjective & coloured by the outcome, that the whole debate becomes a nonsense.

I promise (to you guys & myself) I will not attempt a third contribution. I've gotten trapped in this soloist vs carebear debate way to often. As I said before all approaches to this game have to be considered valid at all times, because one has to assume the person taking the approach is doing the best they can within their abilities to participate as well as they can. For another participant to sit in judgement of what was done & when is always going to be a lost cause.
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Re: It took a few years but I get it now!!

Postby Tarsier » 14 Sep 2017, 04:27

StarWatcher009 wrote:
Tarsier wrote:Out of curiosity, does anyone know if a similar debate arises in online versions of Catan or other strategy games?


In chess, going for a draw, especially with black is often a valid tactic; even though many might argue that the game is better when both play for a win.


Good point. Again, it's a defensive strategy, not just because black bonded with the white player.
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