Pouch Deposits

The Editor and the Readership

Here's the Mail

Has anyone else noticed I've completely given up on the idea of offering a specific topic for discussion by the readers for the next issue?

Mail Received Concerning
What's Your Point?

From Geraint Morgan (gdmorgan@mail.powys.gov.uk):

Nice article. Reading it, I found to a horror you were describing my style of play (deviate) which is news to me as I'm only playing my first four games and I don't know my style. I just thought everyone played like me. I'll have to watch out in future that I don't stick to this style allways.

From Markus Kaestenbauer (kaestenbauer@telekabel.at):

Thanks for what I consider one of the best Pouch articles ever. Whether it is as useful as fun to read, only future games will show. I have played only for a couple of months so far, but it surely gives me another approach to read other players.

While I don't think that I'm good at analyzing personalities, this is probably due partly to the lack of opportunity (with respect to Dip). Your conclusions are quite obvious when I read them, but I guess that almost every inexperienced player tends to view his general playing style to be the only thinkable. Now I know better.

However, I doubt that, even after taking your article to heart, the fellow player's minds are an open book prior to 1901 for most of us. At least you gave some indications on what to look for, in order to hone our skills.

Another thing strikes me: don't you think that your categories correlate strongly with the Enneagram personality types (somebody brought them up recently on r.g.d.)?

My basic types are Peacemaker, Thinker, and Loyalist (9, 5 and 6), and guess what, I recognized myself as playing according to the "Classicist" pattern.

I would find it very helpful if this information is included in the judge registry data :)

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with us.

Publisher's response: This sounds suspiciously like an offer to write an article for an upcoming issue! When can I expect it, Markus? --Manus

From Michael Czajkowski (st96qd9g@drexel.edu):

I must say that after reading your article 'What's Your Point' in the Spring 1999 Movement issue of DipPouch, I was rather impressed at how well you accuratley described players into such neat catagories. I find that most of the information you wrote was close to my experiences of a Diplomacy player.

When reading this article, I was really aided by your sections on the deviate and romantic player styles. Classifying myself as a hard core Classicist, your article brought some light on to why other powers in such a successful alliance with your power choose to stab, sometimes too early to guarantee a solo.

To be honest with you, to me winning a game is drawing, and I had mostly forgotten that the goal of the game is to grab 18 centers and not win in with an ally or two. I re-evaluated all the games I am currently, or currently had played and found that I the times I had thought to myself 'Oh, I won that game!' were really games which I came to a draw with an ally. Its rather amusing that I consider a draw a win, and an 18-sc victory more or less a luck shot that only occurs when everyone else in the game doesn't know what they are doing the whole time!

Now that I have some light on the psychology of Romantic and Deviate players, I can better understand where they are coming from and possibly spot them early on and expect a stab when the alliance we have is successful. For this I am grateful to you.

Thanks for your input in the DipPouch, it was a rather interesting and useful bundle of knowledge you have shared. Keep the good writing up.

From Shlomi Yaakobovich (alony197@baram.org.il):

First of all, let me say well-done on a fine deep-thinking article !

It was fun to read, and has some original views. As I was reading it, I was trying to relate myself to it (as most readers do, I presume) and position myself in one of the styles you've mentioned. I couldn't quite do it, although some of the characteristics mentioned are in me.

The reason for that is, in my opinion, that your article only describes intermediate players. I have rarely seen expert players who fit your description or a part of it. I can only be sure about myself of course, so let me elaborate.

You stated that there a four types of players, and therefore four types of play. I say au contraire! There are four types of play (assuming for the moment there are only four), and a player, who's experienced enough and wise enough, will choose which style to play according to the situation he encounters. What about me? I play to win (or else why play at all?), if it wasn't a fun game I wouldn't play it (part of the fun is also losing on occasion or else winning isn't that appreciated), I'll stab whenever I feel it is necessary or when it will add to my winning percentage (and enjoy it, too), and a game-long alliance is very acceptable and appreciated if it helps me to win. If I can make friends through the game, the better.

As you said wisely, no one's style is made up entirely of any one of the four you listed. But I think you were inaccurate at times. I have never seen a good player who decided that once he can't win (the Romantic) he will throw the game to someone else and die quickly. That is unacceptable to people who want to win, and only inexperienced players don't believe they can win every position. In the game of Diplomacy, every position is winnable, though it make some time.

Like I said earlier, one may choose to use that style of play to help his cause. For example, Suppose Turkey and Russia had an alliance, against France and England. They were doing fine, and suddenly Turkey stabbed and is trying to get the solo. The ideal for France and England is that Russia is eliminated and they get a three-way. Turkey wants a solo, and Russia wants to survive. What will Russia do? Had I been Russia, I would pretend to throw the game away to Turkey, unless France and England come to my help at once. If that means I'll need to leave all my SC's open for Turkey, so be it. But I never really want to throw the game -- only convince the others I'm willing to. In the likely event that the players are in favor of a draw, I will be able to survive, and hold the last SC needed for the Turkish win, thus being an important and unignored part of the stalemate line -- getting the draw I wanted.

It is true, though, that your article still describes many people in the game. I believe that this is because there are more inexperienced players than experienced players. If I may be optimistic and immodest, then if you put me in a game with six players who fit your descriptions (all sorts of combinations of the four types), I am certain I will do well. Maybe that is part of the thing, too. If I may alter your Romantic type, I might say I am the ultimate Romantic: I play to win, but as an experienced player I know I can always win. All you need is a sharp tongue and a skilled strategic mind. I believe that all expert players will say the same. I don't expect someone to believe a one SC power can win the game until they actually saw it with their own eyes. And that requires a fair amount of experience.

If there is something I can't agree with you more, it's the last paragraph. Psychology is a big part in this game. There is much to be learned through it. I suppose a doctor of psychology will always do well in this game... However, I believe that when you are in a game involving expert/experienced players, you should choose your approach more carefully, because it might feed you with disinformation (an important part of this game). If I were playing in an all-experts players game, I wouldn't use the insights in your article, but regardless, it gave me some interesting ideas for future games...

Thanks again for writing this interesting article,

Author's response: I very much appreciate your feedback. You might be surprised to hear me reply that I agree with your criticisms in large part. I did admit though that my descriptions of styles were more caricature than character. The idea being, as I said, to stimulate people to think about these kinds of issues. I consider the effort successful if you took the time to think about my effort--even if you've come to different conclusions.

Our most important point of agreement is that the better one gets, the less one is capable of being described by my article. We share the view that the best players are those that recognize that the game is sufficiently complex to transcend what might be initially narrow motivations for playing the game and recognize the broader universe of players, motivations and styles. I would agree that this information is probably least valuable to experts playing a game with experts. But since 90% of us do not reside in the top 10% of players, I suspect that for most of us in most games, the article can be a help.

I will take issue with your statement that my characterization of the Romantic "flame out" as inaccurate. If it's never happened to you, I'd say that you've been very fortunate. I was the beneficiary of such a maneuver in my very first Judge game, contributing to a 1907 victory for me. I've also been the victim of such a maneuver. I suppose there is always room for argument that it could have been a failed in-game bluff or tactic (as you suggest), but I calls 'em as I sees 'em. You and I may share an opinion that this type of play is inappropriate (and that would be a Classicist sentiment ), but I've no doubt in my mind that it occurs with regularity--even at higher levels of play.

Mail Received About The Pouch In General

From generalreid@hotmail.com:

I am a PBEM newcomer and have found the DP invaluable as a source of both knowledge and insight. Thanks very much.)

From Pete Libero (libero@ipass.net):

I'm a big fan of the Diplomatic Pouch, and I think you've been doing a great job with it. However, I have a suggestion. Perhaps you should start including onto your Face to Face section some articles specifically geared towards Face to Face playing. Maybe one about how to read your opponents faces or actions, or about positioning your pieces or whatever. Just a thought...

Publisher's response: Anyone care to guess how I responded to this one? (And if he doesn't write it, can I get a volunteer from someone out there, please?) Tim Richardson, who handles the Face To Face section, could make good use of a link from his section to an article like this in the Zine!

And Now For Something Completely Different

From Jack Rudd (jr252@hermes.cam.ac.uk):

This is one of those things that seems like a really good idea when one is in a particular state of mind...

The Italy Song

(To the tune of Monty Python's "Lumberjack Song")

ITALY: I am Italy and I'm OK
I talk all night and I stab all day!

AUSTRIA: He is Italy and he's OK
He talks all night and he stabs all day!

ITALY: I make my moves, I send my press,
I talk to A and T. I take Tunis by convoy, Through the Ionian Sea.

AUSTRIA: He makes his moves, he sends his press,
He talks to me and T.
He takes Tunis by convoy,
Through the Ionian Sea.
He is Italy and he's OK
He talks all night and he stabs all day!

ITALY: I make my moves, I talk to A,
I tell him I'm his friend.
I move an army northwards,
And claim it's to defend.

AUSTRIA: He makes his moves, he talks to me,
He tells me he's my friend.
(Dubiously) He moves an army northwards,
And claims it's to defend?
(More comfortably) He is Italy and he's OK
He talks all night and he stabs all day!

ITALY: I make my moves, I capture Greece,
I walk into Trieste!
When we all carve up Austria,
My share it is the best!

AUSTRIA: (Very doutbfully) He makes his moves, he captures Greece,
He walks into Trieste? WHAT...??
(Sobs) And I thought you were such a good ally...

Publisher's comment: I think we all know by now that Jack is always "in a particular state of mind!"

Well, there you have it. Another Deposits column. Yep, it sure is.