Press, By a Newbie and For a Newbie

by José Torres

Writing your first press for a judge newbie is like taking your first steps as an infant - you feel tentative and wobbly and you attempt it feeling like anyone around you could just easily knock you onto your backside.  Personally, mine was enigmatic.  I had no experience on which to base my expectation of how it would be received.  Would people just laugh at it?  Would I identify myself as easy prey to my neighbors?   Would I end up antagonizing my neighbors into attacking me when I wanted an alliance?  I looked on The Pouch and did not find an instruction manual, and after complaining to Manus about it, he used his Jedi mind trick and told me that "those were not the 'droids I was looking for," and so I began writing....

Not that I have vast expertise or anything.   In fact, the one thing I am known for is being a newbie - see last issue's article.  So where do I get off writing this article? (Besides Manus’s Jedi Mind Trick?)  I have been Master for one complete game and two others, and it is a real education. Truly.  Every newbie who is familiar with the judge commands should consider creating a game and using the SET ALL PRESS command, which silently send the Master a copy of every press sent by anyone.  Then sit back, see if you can identify the players with real skill, and watch them go to work!

(Incidentally, it takes no real talent to master a game.  There is a Pouch article on setting up a game on a Ken Lowe Judge, so that is not too tough.  The only real duties are to remember to send in deadline extensions, and to stay out of the way of the players. 

So what follows is guidelines for writing press, specifically geared for newbies.  It is probably of little value to non-newbies.  Heck, veterans may read it and get a laugh. Or even decide to comment about how well-intentioned the article was but how they really disagree and think that I wrote a ton of bunk, and that one should definitely...whatever.  Manus would really hate it if The Pouch received many many comments on this article to put in the readership deposits column, anyway, right?   So if you have a comment that improves the quality of the article (or even if you submit a follow-up article better than mine with the same title), please do so!

For definitions of press types, it is essential to read the Ken Lowe judge's file on "press". Absolutely essential.   Any e-mail judge will send it to you if you send a message with GET PRESS in the body.  Save it on your hard drive, you will wish to consult it often.   Experienced dippers probably have the entire contents memorized, but then there was an 'expert' in a game I mastered that didn't know the difference between Grey/White and White/Grey. (worry about that later....)

Diplomacy is not a sequence of tactical maneuvers (NOPRESS) but rather a game. A player with average tactics and superior diplomatic skills should easily defeat one with superior tactics and average diplomatic skills.

Knowing the tactics of Diplomacy is as essential as knowing that a full house beats a straight in poker.  Without knowing the tactics, one cannot have a good grasp of what is possible in the phase and what is improbable.  But relying on good tactics and poor diplomacy is akin to expecting to receive at least two aces every time the cards are dealt. Because of this, remember the following: Your luck will run out. It always does. So to make headway, send press. And send lots of it.




Well, these are just guidelines. There are times and places to break each and every one.   And knowing when comes with experience, which is exactly what each newbie is short on….


Perhaps the following anecdote is useful in seeing the applicability of the guidelines…(and when to break them!)

I was playing Russia, and at a whim, I signed my initial press and every one that followed as Catherine the Great.   When I got to trusting a particular ally (Or I wanted him to think so) I signed Catherine, or just Cath.   Then one player mentioned that he had midterms and that he liked the Edmonton Oilers, and when I thought about it, I figured the player was younger than 22 years of age and most likely a college student.  Bing!   I had an ‘In’ to getting the player to identify with me better, by continuing the ‘female’ ruse and talking about the Oilers and hockey “How do you play?”  “What is icing?”  “I’ve been to a game, and it was cool!”.  I babbled on and on about personal stuff (some of it fabricated), and so did he.   That game ended in a two way between us, but he easily could have taken the solo!  Incidentally, he did think I was female until the EOG.

A Cheat Sheet

All right, to get you raw newbies started, here it is: cut and paste diplomacy:
Leader of France,

The people of England send this message of goodwill to you and the people of France.  This is a time of great conflict among all nations but we English hope to avoid war with France and therefore would like you to agree to a DMZ in the English Channel.

Furthermore, we see that there are many lands to plunder to the east of us and that an alliance between our two great nations will certainly bring security and prosperity to both our peoples.   We expect that you will comment on both proposals and anticipate that you will wholeheartedly commit to both proposals as they are sure to bring peace and prosperity to the peoples of France.

Your soon-to-be-ally,

That should be just enough to get you started!   Of course, if you copy this exactly, everyone will know it and will attack you immedately.

José Torres

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