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Better Correspondence: Be polite

  The whole point of communicating in a Diplomacy game is to get people who are competing against you to help you.  That, in turn, means you need to be someone who they want to help.  Come across as an idiot, rude, intolerant, demanding, etc (it’s not a short list) and this isn’t going to happen.  You’ve got to show how nice you are; that you’re the person they could see marrying into their family (yes, you’re a Dip player, but so are they after all). There is a place in Diplomacy for more direct language at times, there’s no denying that.  But those times should be limited.  You’re likely to be burning bridges. Let’s not kid ourselves: this is Diplomacy.  Politeness is the only accepted hypocrisy!  But, still, it pays. You can be assertive - you’ll probably have to be at times if you’re going to get what you want.  You can be angry (or at least portray yourself as being angry) when somebody does something that has damaged your game.  Sometimes, you know, showing no emotion in this si

Better Correspondence: Be persuasive

  As I said above, in a Diplomacy game there is actually very little negotiating that takes place.  The times this is likely to happen tend to be when players are trying to form alliances.  It will usually revolve around how each player will benefit from the alliance. Negotiation techniques vary.  Most people will have heard of negotiating from a position of strength, and this has a place in Diplomacy.  However, although the relative positions of the players involved will tend to be recognised, this is usually implicit rather than explicit.  I’m sure some players will use the bullying technique based on being the most powerful power of the two, but it’s rare.  Diplomacy players may not be the most genteel of people, but mostly it’s recognised that bullying someone into an alliance is going to result in some backlash later on. A more productive way of negotiating is to work out what you’d like from the outcome, and then what you need from it.  You might want Germany to give you all the

Better Correspondence: Know how to say what you want to say

  If you’re talking to someone face-to-face there are certain tricks to make yourself appear more like them than you are.  For instance, mirroring techniques are known to help someone become more open to what you have to say.  This is when you copy the person’s demeanour.  If they cross their arms, you do; if they lean forward, you do, etc.  If they start taking their clothes off, hit the panic alarm.  There are boundaries. This isn’t much use online. Well, OK, there are some situations when, if someone starts taking their clothes off online, you might want to buy into the situation, you dog, you. This is probably not the case in Diplomacy, though. In a Diplomacy context, there are certain things you can do to make you appear more their kind of person, and mirroring is one of them.  In this case, however, you’re not mirroring their typing style, you’re mirroring their messaging style. Are they chatty?  Then be chatty.  Are they straight to the point?  Then be straight to the point als

Better Correspondence: Ask the right questions

  A lot of correspondence, with players you’re working with and those you’re simply maintaining contact with, is about finding information.  The best way to find information is to ask.  You may not always get the truth, but you’ll get information and all information is important. Before you can ask the right question of someone else, you need to ask yourself a question: What do I want to know? Sounds stupid, doesn’t it?  Surely you know what you want to know?  You wouldn’t be thinking about asking something otherwise! Take it a little deeper, though, beyond ‘what’ to ‘why’.  Why do I want to know this?  What are you going to get from knowing the answer to the question? I’ve said above that it’s important to understand another player’s motivations, their point of view.  It’s equally important to know what your motivation is for asking a question, and that boils down to what you’re trying to do and what you’re going to do with the answer. If you can get to the bottom of this, you can beg

Better Correspondence: Put yourself in the other person's position

  As I’ll discuss more below, in a game of Diplomacy there is often very little actual negotiation going on.  This is because, very often, it isn’t a case of: “If you want this from me, this is what I want from you.”  More often, it’s about finding the common ground over what you need to do or agreeing tactical actions on the board. However, when you’re discussing something with someone, you should be prepared to step back for a while, look at the board, and try and work out what is motivating the other player.  What do they need?  What do they want to do? If you want to understand a person, you need to have empathy with them.  You can then talk to them in a way that is going to appeal to them. Let’s be honest here, we’re not talking therapy or anything like that: we’re talking about getting an advantage that you can use.  Pretty damn cutthroat, I know, but you’re not there to ‘be there’ for them. If you want to build a better relationship with someone, you should want to know about th

Better Correspondence: Communicate when you don't want to

  Let’s face it, there are times when sending a message to someone isn’t an easy thing to do.  I’m not sure which I find most difficult: writing to someone who has stabbed me, or writing to someone who I’ve just stabbed. Be as honest as you can be when writing this kind of correspondence.  Certainly you should make sure you come across as being genuine.  If, as the stabbed, the stab has hurt you, admit it.  Don’t pretend you didn’t intend the stab if you are the stabber. If you stabbed the person you’re writing to you need to explain why you did what you did, and again avoid being patronising. Everyone should be looking to learn something when playing Diplomacy.  None of us know it all.  Richard Sharp wrote what many people still view as the Diplomacy ‘bible’ ( The Game of Diplomacy ).  Not everyone agrees with what he wrote (which shouldn’t be surprising) and, indeed, in the years after the book was published, Sharp himself had changed some of his opinions. On the other hand, don’t tr

Better Correspondence: Communicate with everyone

  Everyone will tell you that, at the start of the game, you should be communicating with every player on the board.  This is absolutely correct, even with those players who control powers so far from your borders that you have nothing tactical to say to them. At the start of the game the thing is simply to get communications underway, no matter with whom you’re communicating. Yes, you do really need to communicate with England if you’re playing Austria.  You’re hopefully going to survive the Early Game and, by then, England could well be a power you need to talk with more strategically.  If you’re only just corresponding with them at this point, you’re already behind the game. Others have been messaging from the very start. Start by introducing yourself, if you don’t really know what to say.  You don’t need to write an autobiography; just wish them luck, give a flavour of yourself.  What kind of relationship do you want with them?  Let them know.  It might be that you’re hopefully goi