The Great Diplomacy Poll

Paul Davidson

No great 'zine is complete without statistics. In a recent poll on the newsgroup, I asked people to send me their preferences and opinions regarding different facets of Diplomacy. Let's take a look at the results, and see how you measure up to the average player of Diplomacy!

Favorite/Least Favorite Countries

First of all, I asked people not only what their favorite countries were, but also their least favorite. While processing the results, I used a system whereby each person's favorite country got three points; second or third favorites, when mentioned, received two and one points, respectively. I added up the totals for each country, calculated the percentages, and these were the results:

What Are Your Favorite and Least Favorite Powers?
Favorite PowerLeast Favorite Power

One of the most interesting things I noticed when I first examined the results is that Austria is very high on both lists, being both second favorite and least favorite! It seems that people either like Austria, or they hate it. Russia is quite the opposite, being near the bottom of both lists. People neither strongly like it nor strongly dislike it. Italy was slightly more popular than I thought it would be, since many consider it to be the weakest country on the board. As for the most popular, France is the clear winner. In fact, not even a single person that France was their least favorite country.

There was also a small number of people who said they had no country preference.

At any rate, it would seem that personal style has a great deal to do with which country a particular person likes to play. After averaging out all results, a preference list from most to least favorite would be:

France, England, Turkey, Russia, Germany, Italy, Austria.
The astute reader will note that this list is remarkably similar to the ordering based on Hall of Fame point awards which is presented in Matthew Self's "Lies, Damn Lies, and Diplomacy" article in this issue of the Zine. Only Austria is misplaced; it seems the dual monarchy is less well-liked than its success record would dictate.


The next question was, "Do you role-play?" The answers which I got are shown below.

Do You Role-Play?

The "sometimes" category is quite broad, ranging from "almost always" to "rarely." Most of the people in this category stated that it depended on the other players in the game. At any rate, those who do role-play outnumber those who don't by a fair margin.

Press Preference

White/grey partial press was by far the most popular overall press setting. The complete statistics are given in the table which follows.

Which Press Settings Do You Prefer?
White Press58% Grey Press36% Fake Press6%
Partial Press79% Broadcast Only4% No Press17%


Not enough people had a favorite non-standard variant to provide reliable statistics, but Fleet_Rome was the most popular. Youngstown was also quite popular, followed by Chaos, Aberration, and Crowded. Personally, I think there are some great variants out there, and I'd encourage more of you to try them.


When asked if people preferred gunboat (anonymous) games or "normal", 54% preferred gunboat, 32% preferred normal, and 14% had no preference.


I also asked people how many games each person like to be involved with at once. While this varied greatly from person to person, the average turned out to be 3.5 games.

Many people indicated that a number of their games were merely mercy positions that they had taken over. I decided not include these in my calculations. In one instance, a player told me that he had been in as many as 40 games at a time, when mercy positions, takeovers, etc. were included. This would obviously have thrown my figures off.

Judge Pet Peeves

Most respondents did not really have a pet peeve. Those who did usually mentioned abandonments and judge crashes, which aren't really the judge's fault. One complaint, however, which came up several times, was that players aren't sent reminders before the deadline arrives.

Favorite Alliances

Unfortunately, there are so many 2 and 3-way alliances possible, that I was unable to put the results into any proper statistical format. Russia-Turkey tended to be a popular alliance for both powers. Most people chose England and France as good allies. Everyone had different ideas for Germany, Austria, and Italy, although the Austria-Italy alliance was quite popular. This kind of thing depends on your style of play and the situation at hand.


While sorting through all the various stabbing opinions and philosophies, I divided people into 4 groups: those who stab only for a win, those who will also stab for a kill or large advantage, those who stab for any advantage, and those who will do it for no reason at all. Although these categories are somewhat vague, here's how it turned out:

When Do You Stab?
Only For A Win18%
For A Large Advantage Or A Kill39%
For Any Advantage37%
For No Reason5%

One stabbing philosophy which deserves mention is that of Jim Burgess:

"Stabbing is part of the contract of the game. When you sign up for the game (unless you have a CareBear contract in which [agreeing with Dan Shoham -- shocker] only stabbing for the win is permissible) part of the implicit contract is that stabbing is permitted by the rules. Diplomacy players who have ethical standards strive for a strength of character whereby they will admit their stabs freely within the context of the game and any "bad feeling" will stay within the context of the game. Stabbing and being stabbed is fun, in my (humble) opinion."

Well said!

Cool/Unusual Stuff

A number of people related interesting stories of cool stuff they had done. There were a number of impressive convoys, as well as other interesting stories. Andy Schwarz wrote:
"I won, outright, the very first Judge game I signed on to, Empress, on USEF. In it I stabbed England and France twice, once on the same move, and managed to race to a win by 1906 or 1907. I am very proud of this."

I would be too. Here's an interesting tactic for gaining allies, sent to me by G. Broster:

"As Russia, I once came into the game at about 1905 and attacked Germany, England, Austria, and Turkey in my first turn. The next turn I had 4 offers of alliances sent to me."

Dumb Mistakes

One common mistake is that of submitting incorrect orders to the judge (as I have done on occasion). Andy Schwarz gives an example of what he once did:
"In a nopress game as Italy, in Fall 1901, I order F Ion-Nap instead of F Ion-Tun! Then someone posted to that in one of his games, some lamebrain had ordered F Ion-Nap!"

Andy has this bit of wisdom to add:

"I was in too many games at once. I used MacDip to click in my moves and I somehow misclicked it. I copied and pasted without checking the Judge reply, and I learned my lesson the hard way: always verify when the Judge accepts your moves."
Another mistake many respondants had made was forgetting to occupy an SC through to the fall, or forgetting to occupy it altogether. Rick Jenkins writes:
"I forgot to recapture a SC that was mine to begin with, lost to another power and then vacated, ready for me to walk into. I had to remove a unit and that cost me the game."

Other common mistakes were trusting the wrong person too much and sending press to the wrong power. It seems even the best Diplomacy players have made and still make these mistakes. It's comforting, in a way.

Player to Beat

Well, as you might guess, Dan Shoham is the man to beat. Jamie Dreier and Conrad Minshall were also mentioned by a lot of people. The only other player whose name came up a couple of times is Joel Furr. It seems a lot of people would like to beat him. As one person put it, "I would like to beat Joel Furr... Oh, you mean in a game."

This person wisely chose to remain anonymous. ;-)

I know that deep down, we all appreciate Joel.

Paul Davidson

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