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Re: Side Game Proposals

Posted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 3:26 pm
by kqrgcw
To all,

I will bring the whole SPW series.

To start the SPW series the best bet is to do 1914 west front and east and forget about Serbia. The situation is very fluid and has not become dug in as yet. In addition the fronts effect each other. A big Russian push peels off units from the west just as the Germans realize that the Schleiffen plan would not be the cake walk they thought.

In my own campaign game I am about to start June 1915. The mid and later war are interesting in their own right but take a differant mind set. The west is stalemated but the possibility always exists ( just as in the real thing) of getting a breakthrough so managment of logistics, artillery, etc. is critical. Not a good period to get into the game. If people like the system next year I could set up the three big pushes of 1916. The west front starting with Verdun and the British buildup, The Trentino offensive against Italy in the spring that almost reached the Lombard plains, and the Brusilov Russian summer offensive. Since reinforements and withdrawals are built into each scenario along with victory conditions they can all be played at the same time so everyone has something to do.

I only use two "home rules" (don't boo and hiss) that make retreats unpredictable and make bertter use of the really detailed terrain leaving surprizes for the player to respond too. These keep the fronts moving at the time when the operational war was in full swing before the fronts bogged down due to ammunition exhaustion.

I have done the 1914 west and east about 6 times and only got close to Paris once. It is very tough. Not wasting your supply is critical to the system. The Germans will burn up supply so that if the allies can mount a counterattack they can have issues. The French have about half the supply of the Germans a good part of which will get used in Plan 17. Hoarding supply for their counterattack is critical. The British have hardly any.

As to the multiplayer games If I remember rightly there are some designers notes at the end HIS that help that I can copy. . As someone else stated there are really only a few main goals for each player with byways that can help you get there but won't win by themselves. For this period one helpful hint even if more than 3 players is to remember that England and the Protestants are natural allies as are Spain and the Papacy and France and the Ottomans. Of course people don't have to work together but each sides interest correspond in the manner listed.


Re: Side Game Proposals

Posted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 3:56 pm
by DaveM1
Lee ThatLee:

Missed your post till just now....

Good grief, you've played Diplomacy -- and in TOURNAMENTS! That is one game I could never, ever do well in (or probably enjoy). The entire idea of a game BASED ON making promises and backstabbing later gives me the willies. I'm relieved that your style leans towards balance of power, so I don't have to worry about a hidden sociopath in our midst!!

I'm wary of negotiation based games, I think, because deep down I'm basically built like a small town Midwestern farmer lol. Give an honest day's work, work hard, save hard, Golden Rule, be honest and fair, if it's too good to be true it probably IS too good to be true. "I'd rather lose doing Right than win doing Wrong." Better off missing an opportunity than jumping in and regretting it later. Partly because of all that I'm basically a gullible guy who's learned to be cynical and careful.

All of which makes me a really, really bad diplomat and deal maker!!

Re: Side Game Proposals

Posted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 12:59 am
by ThisLee
ThatLee: Yes, I will bring God's Playground again

Re: Side Game Proposals

Posted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 2:23 am
by thatlee
Dave, very funny! Now you are making me go off on a Diplomacy rant. I think Diplomacy is one of the best designed and most elegant games ever – up to a point. That point for me is when the game gets down to 2 or 3 players. Then I lose all interest. But with a full complement of 7 players to start, this is a fabulous game.

Now, I admit Diplomacy is a cutthroat game and players can be knocked out early. Feelings are sometimes hurt, so playing in a tournament with strangers can be a good idea. Also outside of tournaments it is hard to get 7 people interested in playing.

As to your point about lying and backstabbing, I must disagree. Most new players, when they first hear that they can lie and backstab to their hearts content are either exhilarated or terrified thereby. I am like you, it is really difficult for me to engage in shadow behavior even in a game. But such behavior is perfectly allowed in Diplomacy and some players are pretty sneaky.

Unfortunately for them, they do not know the hidden and secret truth about Diplomacy. And right here on this humble forum I will divulge this great secret! Free of charge!
It is this – Diplomacy is all about telling the truth and keeping your promises. I know, I know, you don’t believe me.

But in a game with knowledgeable veteran players, someone coming in with the idea of lying and backstabbing is going to be killed off very quickly. Not because of any moral imperative. Think about it. You need allies you can trust. They need to trust you. A player who is revealed as a liar and backstabber is looked upon as a loose cannon. Who can trust them? No one, so they are engulfed (it is a cruel game, remember).

I don’t lie or backstab at all in Diplomacy and yet I do quite well in most games. The key is to understand the geopolitical imperatives. If you understand the situation, what you need, what other powers need, then it is very difficult to be lied to or backstabbed by another player. The truth is in the situation, not in what a player is offering, so I try to stay alert to the geopolitical constraints of the moment.

Cool, eh? Of course the same applies to HIS, although with much less scope for diplomatic maneuvering. So you can be a diplomat without lying or backstabbing. On the other hand, there is something beautiful about a well-played backstab. It is a work of art really. Ahh, perhaps it would be nice to indulge my dark side once in a while…and it might even be psychologically healthy to do so. Hmm, I will have to ponder this.


Re: Side Game Proposals

Posted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 12:10 pm
by DaveM1
OK, that's a model of diplomacy I can get behind -- finding common ground of mutual interests so that each party gets a "win-win".

Which brings up the NEXT weakness I have with negotiation based games: I'm not very good at subtlety, especially over long range. I've got the utmost respect for people who ARE good at it, but it looks like magic to me half the time. For example, when I read John LeCarre I know there are indications of what's coming, and I know that guy has just said something very revealing, but I have no idea how to parse out what its implications are going to be. Either that, or it's too much work to parse it out and I just plow ahead knowing that all will become maybe it's not that I'm not good at it, maybe just too lazy to develop the skill lol.

Anyway, heard a podcast a while back you''re going to love. This American Life did a story about a reporter who AGGRESSIVELY loved the game Diplomacy and used his connections to finagle his way into the world championship - with an Honest-to-God professional, high level US State Department diplomat as his advisor. ... -your-back


Re: Side Game Proposals

Posted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 12:44 pm
by DaveM1
MarkD wrote:
DaveM1 wrote:I've got Combat Commander but have only played it a handful of times, almost all as a solo gamer. Love to play it with someone who's really into it!

I feel like I've got no more than a basic handle on it, and while I like the flow and quick play I'm not completely sure about it. I plan on bringing it with me, though.
I've only played Combat Commander once and I got my butt kicked.

BTW I can't reply to PMs. I live in Westland, Michigan. Halfway between Detroit and Ann Arbor.
Well, shoot! John (long term gamer and our web guru) is in Ann Arbor! You guys ought to definitely do some gaming, and maybe some car pooling!

A few weeks ago I had a bunch over for a weekend of gaming, and John drove down from AA. I'm hoping to do the same thing after the holidays, so who knows?

Re: Side Game Proposals

Posted: Sat Dec 13, 2014 11:01 pm
by thatlee
Hi Dave,
I hope I did not misrepresent the goals of Diplomacy or of player negotiation. At the core level of any multi-player game, there is limited room for “win-win”. Diplomacy is all about gaining hegemony over Europe. This involves cruelty and player elimination. My point is, if you are squeamish about lying and backstabbing, that is okay because such behavior is not necessary to destroy your opponents (but it does add a powerful option).

Now, the key to being a skilled player in a negotiation based game (and HIS might just barely qualify) is quite simple, but it is an imperative. You must shift your perspective away from your day to day persona, especially in regards to feelings. There is a temptation to deal with players as if they are part of a normal social circle. If you fall into this trap, you leave yourself open to manipulation and you may walk away from the game with hurt feelings.
Instead, you must focus your attention on one thing only --- the geopolitical imperatives of the current situation. If you can perceive this, then you are not likely to be manipulated in any way.

For example, look at Europe prior to WWI (the starting point for Diplomacy). Let’s say you are playing England. If Germany is building a large fleet, what does this mean? No matter how subtle the Ge player is, no matter his charisma, no matter what glittering offers he makes, no matter what your relationship is to this person outside of game, look at the situation on the map. The simple fact is the only power Ge can effectively use this fleet against is…wait for it…England! Base your actions on that.

Toss aside your feelings towards the player or his words, look at the map. Know the geopolitical situation. You don’t have to be a puppet master spy. But if you ignore the geopolitical dynamics you are wide open to getting played, and deservedly so, I might add.

So don’t get lost in the spy master thing. You don’t need such subtle skills, but know that they have a place in a negotiation based game, and others may use them. Stick to the geopolitical situation. Look at the map, know what your country needs to do to win and what other countries need to do to win. It’s that simple. It is just like playing any other wargame.

Only you must not get lost in feelings and fluffy hopes and dreams and golden promises drifting serenely about the clouds. Stick to the geopolitical situation, and base your actions on that.

Historically, prior to WWI, Germany massively expanded her fleet. England correctly understood the geopolitical consequences of this move, even though the ruler of Germany was a cousin of the queen, and acted accordingly (ie, started a cold war arms race against Germany).

Hope this helps,


Re: Side Game Proposals

Posted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 2:02 pm
by thatlee
Dave – I got up early this morning and listened to the podcast you recommended. Awesome! Thanks for that. That was fun. If you don’t mind I’ll pat myself on the back now, because everything I said about how to play Diplomacy skillfully was validated.
The ambassador guy was very good at reading people, but he could have reached the exact same conclusions by knowing the geopolitical situation on the game board. I thought the protagonist guy was a real jerk, I would never want to play with him twice. He seemed to think he had reformed at the end, but I am not convinced…

Back (way back) in the 80s I had a friend that was really into Diplomacy. He gave me an article in the Avalon Hill General (their in-house magazine) to read. The writer was a world champion player and he advised not to lie or backstab. I was relieved because I was terrified at the prospect of stabbing and getting backstabbed. That article gave me the courage to try the game. I only played 2 times with my friend before he moved away. But I have always had a soft spot for Diplomacy and I enjoy it everytime I get a chance. It is a great game.


Re: Side Game Proposals

Posted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 2:13 pm
by DaveM1
Glad you liked it! "This American Life" is my favorite podcast bar none, and I save them up for car trips because it's one of the few my wife really enjoys.

My favorite part of that show was when Ira Glass interrupted the jerk guy and asked (as I remember), "Wait, wait. What part of telling that player, 'If you don't do this I'll photoshop an image of you performing bestiality and post it all over the internet' DIDN'T seem over the top????"

Re: Side Game Proposals

Posted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 2:16 pm
by thatlee
Yeah, I think my jaw dropped to the floor on that one. Wow. Wow. Wow.