The first and most important rule to remember when thinking about Mastering a game of Diplomacy, on or off the net, is know what you are getting into. Mastering a game of diplomacy is a serious commitment. In many ways it can take up much more time than simply playing in a game.
Think about it. When you are playing in a game, all you have to worry about are the 6+ other players trying to take advantage of you, offering a helping hand while sharpening the knife and painting a target on the small of your back. When you are mastering the game, you have the responsibility of keeping these ruffians in some semblance of order. Organized chaos is a phrase that comes to mind.
If you aren't really aware of the time commitment you need to make to master a game, you could be in some serious trouble. All of this leads us to rule number 2.
The judges are just about the most useful tools for managing the unruliness that is a typical internet Dip game. Use them if at all possible. They will make your life much, much easier.
This rule holds true even if you are not playing online. It should perhaps be restated as using whatever tools you have available to simplify your job as a master. Anything that will help you be better organized and can ease the lines of communication between the players and yourself will be a great boon to you. It allows you to focus your energies on the game itself, rather than the details of it's administration.
As with most knowledge, these rules were learned through making mistakes rather than some special insight into the ways of the Dip world. (And if had the special insight into the dip world you could bet I'd spend my time playing...)
As many of you know my first, and so far only, stint at mastering has been in this wonderful publication's game dippouch. To say the least, dippouch is an unusual game of diplomacy. Two games in one, dippouch has enough play to involve both the actual powers and spectator's alike. In theory at least.
In practice dippouch has been overwhelming to master. With a current count of over 85 participants, with many participating each round of trading, there is quite a bit more work than for a standard game. And with the temporary loss of Kevin Roust's USCA judge (get well soon!), it has been far too much to handle in the manner it has deserved.
But as we all learn from our mistakes I am happy to say that it has gotten under way again on USIN, freeing me of the complications of a jerry-rigged communications system that did not work very well.
Live and learn.
Well, learn from my early mistakes. Take plenty of time to prepare for your game. Leave enough time in your schedule to address all of the unforseen problems that are bound to creep up. If they don't crop up, relax, it's good for you. Use whatever tools you might have at your disposal to make your job easier.
Until next time.
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