Further Reflections of
a New Diplomacy Newbie

by Dave Simpson

Would all the material that I had printed out, read and re-read help me to stand up to the test of playing in a game online? Only one way to find out!

That first "Signon"

I can't remember much about my initial Diplomacy games, as they didn't get off the ground that well. I was signed up to a newbie game using the pouch queue system (what an excellent idea that is, from a newbie perspective) and when that proved insufficient to quell the appetite I had for the game, I signed in as a replacement in another game and then looked to start off a third. Unfortunately, these games were on USAK and we lost them, so I ended 2006 without a lot of experience to my name.

I signed up to another newbie game and it started up over the Christmas holidays, so nothing really got going until January. I also got in to another (non newbie) game as a replacement. Both of these games have now finished — I managed a 3 way draw in the newbie game and took a solo in the game I was a replacement in, so maybe all that reading worked out after all!

Stephen's Six Rules for a Newbie

It has been an interesting exercise for me to compare my initial impressions with Stephen's from the Spring 1995 Retreat issue.

Rule #1: Make allies early on and stick with them.

I can't agree more. In my newbie game I allied myself with Germany during 1901 and we stuck it out right to the end. Although we had few hairy moments where one of us was convinced the other was about to attack, we managed to get through the whole game without once attacking the other. In my replacement game, I joined a working Western Triple and again, I stuck with it for years, far longer than the Eastern powers thought I would. Then finally, the knife came out when it had to. You have to trust someone in this game; or maybe I should say, you have to ensure that someone else will trust you in this game.

Rule #2: Get very aggressive very fast.

Maybe, maybe not! The pen is mightier than the sword after all. If your diplomacy works out, maybe you don't have to get aggressive that fast. If you make enemies in 1901, you could find trouble coming your way. Equally, do too well in 1901 by force and the classic "Early Leader Syndrome" may hit you. It would be far better to convince someone else to be aggressive to your eventual benefit!

Rule #3: Take advantage of a 24 hour internet connection…

…to send out as much press as you can. Yep. Definitely. Send press to everyone (they may no longer be your enemy in 2 years time). Be reliable, be honest (most of the time) and keep up communication links even if you don't have much to say. In his series of articles, Stephen talks a lot about the anguish of the stab (on the stabber as well as his victim) — how much easier is it to wipe out the guy who never says anything than the guy you get regular, often useful, sometimes funny, messages from each turn, without fail.

Rule #4: Take advantage of the emotional players who become involved in real spats in the game.

I've not really seen this yet. I've stabbed people and they've not liked it. I've been stabbed and for sure, I didn't like it either; but at the end of the day it is only a game, albeit a very powerful one! I will bear this in mind though for future reference. Maybe I'll write something one day about how I used this to my advantage, and how I felt about it afterwards.

Rule #5: Settle the Balkan issue quickly.

This applies to any division of neutral centres, or indeed a division of a target powers centres between allies. In my newbie game, my France was allied with Germany and we split up England, the low countries and Scandinavia between us to a predefined hitlist. In a game I am playing now as Austria, I have solved the "Balkan issue" by taking all the centres for myself. Speed is of the essence — a protracted conflict is no good as you are going to over commit units for very little gain, often exposing your back for that stab that shatters your ambitions.

Rule #6: Project all moves out two or three moves in to the future.

Still as hard to do as Steven said; but if you can find the time to do it, boy does it help. I have talked myself out of a huge stab as 3 moves down the line it turned out that I would not have been able to take that elusive final centre and I would have indeed lost Tunis — and also, more importantly, have lost two allies. A year later, pretty much the same stab worked a treat and the solo was mine, but I came close to blowing it.

I am still a newbie, no doubt about it. A draw and a solo don't make me some sort of genius. I have since started another game as Austria, been reduced to 2 centres immediately by an IR alliance, and will be lucky to see the end of 1904; so not everything is rosy for this noob. In this particular game, I didn't follow some basic advice and it has cost me dearly. Not only that, but I'm currently playing as Austria in 2 games and just because it worked in game 1, that doesn't mean the same thing will happen in game 2! A pretty basic mistake to make, I would imagine.

Dave Simpson

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