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Post 27 May 2014, 7:10 am

I MIGHT have played Steve the last round. After telling the TD that I would bow out if it helped, I was talking to Doc (who Steve played that round) and he said he was supposed to leave but would fill in if needed, I ended up out and him in...maybe that was supposed to be ME in Doc's position?
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Post 27 May 2014, 7:15 am

GMTom wrote:I MIGHT have played Steve the last round. After telling the TD that I would bow out if it helped, I was talking to Doc (who Steve played that round) and he said he was supposed to leave but would fill in if needed, I ended up out and him in...maybe that was supposed to be ME in Doc's position?


Well, as you can tell, that game was one of the highlights of my Diplomacy-playing life. So, no offense, but I'm just fine with the way it was.

I soloed on Edi at Dipcon in Seattle earlier this year. That was cool--because he never saw it coming and Edi sees everything. But, this was better. I've won many tournaments, mostly back in the day in Los Angeles (but also Avaloncon and Boston Massacre). This was better.

The exhilaration of playing the best and doing better than holding your own cannot be equaled.
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Post 27 May 2014, 7:31 am

absolutely no offense taken at all!
...it just would have been nice to play each other is all, but you got a better game and that's more important.
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Post 27 May 2014, 7:43 am

GMTom wrote:absolutely no offense taken at all!
...it just would have been nice to play each other is all, but you got a better game and that's more important.


Well, I don't know if it's "more important," but it was a blast. That one turn . . . priceless.

Not on the same level as my grandson being born this morning . . . :winkgrin:
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Post 20 Jun 2014, 12:59 am

I see this article has been causing a stir: http://grantland.com/features/diplomacy ... pha-nerds/
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Post 20 Jun 2014, 8:16 am

danivon wrote:I see this article has been causing a stir: http://grantland.com/features/diplomacy ... pha-nerds/


It's funny. I know all of the players except the author (a neophyte). I'd go so far as to call a few of them "friends." I think the game is a bit extreme, but then again, with Ecton and Bartalone that's not unexpected. They are two of the more excitable players.

The overall thesis, the "Alpha Nerd," is, I think, correct. I do think, however, that the typical ftf tournament game has less than this amount of drama. There's only one other player in the hobby who can bring this much into a game and he wasn't at Chapel Hill, thankfully.

Bartalone, Martin, and Ecton are all DC/Baltimore area players and have known each other for years. I would suggest this was not the best board to put the newbie on (TD Hood assigns players. There's a certain randomness, but it is NOT random, unlike other tourneys)
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Post 20 Jun 2014, 1:14 pm

My perspective having been there and this being my first tourney...

I saw some similar shenanigans as far as the promises to split the board in this way or that way only to be changed last minute...duh, it's diplomacy and that's part of the game! It can sting and hurt but, it's part of the game. I was eliminated from a game that started at about 10AM that lasted to about 10PM, the game can be crazy!

And regarding the "Alpha Nerd" to be honest, I expected to find more nerds than I did. Yes, there were more nerds than you would find in a random sampling of people but I went to this assuming about 2/3 nerds to 1/3 "somewhat normal" it was maybe 1/4 nerds and 3/4 "normal".
We all have a nerdy side playing games like little boys no doubt, but for the 3/4 majority, it didn't show outright, (I hope I was part of that "normal" group but maybe, just maybe I'm ignorant of my own nerdiness?).
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Post 20 Jun 2014, 1:56 pm

GMTom wrote:We all have a nerdy side playing games like little boys no doubt, but for the 3/4 majority, it didn't show outright, (I hope I was part of that "normal" group but maybe, just maybe I'm ignorant of my own nerdiness?).


I just thought you'd be 10 feet tall and bullet-proof. :)
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Post 20 Jun 2014, 2:15 pm

I think the term "Alpha nerd" was accurate (not in the sense of saying that people that play the game are geeks--the author was careful to say that was not that true of most diplomacy players) but I wish he would have developed that idea further. People who play diplomacy generally are reasonably intelligent and I think generally speaking being intelligent is part of how they define themselves. Performing well in diplomacy tournaments enhances that status; performing poorly is a blow to that status. Chess is a similar measurement of status based on intelligence but in chess you cannot blame other people for poor performance. If another player beats you repeatedly, well, they're just better than you. With diplomacy you can blame other people for your down-fall. If only this player did not make this silly move, or this player did not blindly trust his ally, or this player did not attack me when he should not have done so, etc. The high emotions, I think, come from this threat to the ego due to a poor performance in an intelligence based game and the desire to shift blame from oneself. That's my take on it, anyway. It seems ridiculous, right, we are competing for status in a silly boardgame. But those strong emotions are coming from somewhere and men in particular always compete for status and perhaps if we reflected on these underlying motivations a bit more we could make the FTF hobby grow a bit more.

I did play in a e-mail game with Brian Ecton once. He was England and he and Germany attacked me (France). I gambled in Fall 1901 that he would not go for Brest, built two, and was able to build a fleet in Brest. (see how I am trying to enhance my status by bragging about my gamble that worked!) So I was able to convince him to switch alliances. He is a very good player, I can tell you that. This was probably close to ten years ago when I was really into playing diplomacy and I had a number of solos myself but I did not have too many solos against me. He was pretty arrogant but his tactics and strategy were very good. And, yes, he did get a solo.
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Post 22 Jun 2014, 9:18 pm

Speaking with one of the Brits who was at Chapel Hill, and others who have played in the US, I get the impression your tourneys are more like that than ours. We have smaller groups of players, and we tend not to get the emotional stuff. Scoring systems may help, and also that we tend to have only two possible outcomes (DIAS, with no-one excluded, or a solo).

But it seems you guys are more into alliance play and letting a good player continue to do well, rather than to disrupt.
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Post 23 Jun 2014, 5:19 am

Interesting article to read, especially from the point of view of someone who has never played FTF (but has played PBEM on and off for about 10 years now). FTF seems much more difficult, and intense - the obvious main differences being that you have to think quickly, and be able to be convincing, lie, apologize, whatever to people's faces and not just to a computer screen.
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Post 23 Jun 2014, 6:45 am

danivon wrote:Speaking with one of the Brits who was at Chapel Hill, and others who have played in the US, I get the impression your tourneys are more like that than ours. We have smaller groups of players, and we tend not to get the emotional stuff. Scoring systems may help, and also that we tend to have only two possible outcomes (DIAS, with no-one excluded, or a solo).

But it seems you guys are more into alliance play and letting a good player continue to do well, rather than to disrupt.


I don't think this game is representative of much. Bartalone is someone I like, but he is given to some bellicosity. I would note he has toned it down a LOT over the past few years. He's a good player with some holes in his game that are due to his very strong sense that there is only one approach to the game . . . his.

Ecton I don't really understand, so I won't comment.

But, putting those two on the same board as a noob/reporter was a mistake. It was like adding vinegar to baking soda and hoping for the best.

As for being into alliance play, I am. Bartalone introduced me to something I loathe: chaos theory-style. In a nutshell, you don't commit; you agitate. The goal is to get your neighbors mad at each other, join in on the stronger side, and wipe them both out. I can see it working sometimes, but if you are facing alliance types, it may be too slow to resolve one side of the board.

My best game, coincidentally, had two Brits on it. I set out to make sure one did not conquer the board. I knew he needed a win to win the tournament. I knew he would play for it. He was England and I was Russia, so it seemed likely I would be his first or second target. Dan Lester is a very nice guy and a fantastic player, but I was not going to "let" him do anything.
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Post 23 Jun 2014, 6:46 am

theshrizzz wrote:Interesting article to read, especially from the point of view of someone who has never played FTF (but has played PBEM on and off for about 10 years now). FTF seems much more difficult, and intense - the obvious main differences being that you have to think quickly, and be able to be convincing, lie, apologize, whatever to people's faces and not just to a computer screen.


You've just summarized why it is 100X better than PBEM. Thanks!
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Post 23 Jun 2014, 10:57 am

Doctor Fate wrote:I don't think this game is representative of much. Bartalone is someone I like, but he is given to some bellicosity. I would note he has toned it down a LOT over the past few years. He's a good player with some holes in his game that are due to his very strong sense that there is only one approach to the game . . . his.
I think that the shouting was hard from a long way away. The guy organising the little UK tourney I was at this weekend was quite annoyed to see an article like this come out just beforehand. There were a few late dropouts which could just be people not following through (which is common, if annoying for a TD trying to get enough for 2 boards), but if they read that I can understand their reluctance.

The thing we really don't have is arguments about draws. It's a very simple thing - we either publicly veto (which almost never happens, and when it does it's obvious why), or we have a secret ballot. But in every game where there's been a draw vote in which I played ftf, there's been no wrangling about it. As it's DIAS or solo only, that does mean that if you want to exclude someone from the draw you have to actually knock them out.

I guess it depends on how new players are treated. We had a new guy turn up to MidCon last year, and we did not totally screw him over. He came back for YorkCon this weekend. And we had two postgrad students this weekend who had never done a tourney before and one had never played a house game ftf either. Treating these guys with respect and good humour, and forgiving misorders or mistakes (while not forgetting and certainly not avoiding taking advantage of them) is what keeps people coming back. Unless we only want sociopaths and masochists...

Ecton I don't really understand, so I won't comment.
Spinning a newb a line that you are going to carebear them and then stabbing them is not unknown, and it's a good object lesson for them. But there are ways to do it.

But, putting those two on the same board as a noob/reporter was a mistake. It was like adding vinegar to baking soda and hoping for the best.
There do seem to be some interesting draws at Chapel Hill. Random or seeding would not appear to result in some of those combinations - does Mr Hood come up with it himself?

As for being into alliance play, I am. Bartalone introduced me to something I loathe: chaos theory-style. In a nutshell, you don't commit; you agitate. The goal is to get your neighbors mad at each other, join in on the stronger side, and wipe them both out. I can see it working sometimes, but if you are facing alliance types, it may be too slow to resolve one side of the board.
Over here we are generally playing a short game - up to 07, or 09 if we have a longer session. And our clock time is one chunk for diplomacy and order writing rather than them being split.

So boards don't tend to always 'resolve' - and any solos would be a result of seriously bad play by others (more so than in longer or open-ended games). Chaotic players tend to get pounced on, if they are too flakey. But then again if the game is too predictable, if someone is not prepared to switch on their ally, then it can make for a boring game. I don't want a game like Agricola where you can spot who will win from the first few moves. being the chaotic one can be useful in the end game - because when it comes to dot-grabbing in the last year you don't want to be easy to predict, and you want everyone to know they can work with you if they make a good case.

My best game, coincidentally, had two Brits on it. I set out to make sure one did not conquer the board. I knew he needed a win to win the tournament. I knew he would play for it. He was England and I was Russia, so it seemed likely I would be his first or second target. Dan Lester is a very nice guy and a fantastic player, but I was not going to "let" him do anything.
Dan is good, and most of the UK players are really nice guys - I make no claims on my part.

When you have a tournament leader on your table, or one of the potential winners, of course you try to keep them down. It's a great alliance-building tool. of course, when you have the two guys who can win the tourney on your board in the last game (England and Germany to your France as it was for me yesterday), it's going to be painful.
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Post 23 Jun 2014, 1:27 pm

danivon wrote:
Doctor Fate wrote:I don't think this game is representative of much. Bartalone is someone I like, but he is given to some bellicosity. I would note he has toned it down a LOT over the past few years. He's a good player with some holes in his game that are due to his very strong sense that there is only one approach to the game . . . his.
I think that the shouting was hard from a long way away. The guy organising the little UK tourney I was at this weekend was quite annoyed to see an article like this come out just beforehand. There were a few late dropouts which could just be people not following through (which is common, if annoying for a TD trying to get enough for 2 boards), but if they read that I can understand their reluctance.

The thing we really don't have is arguments about draws. It's a very simple thing - we either publicly veto (which almost never happens, and when it does it's obvious why), or we have a secret ballot.


Same. I really dislike the secret ballot. It may be democratic, but it's a bit silly.

"Why wasn't the peace treaty signed?"

"I dunno. I suppose some country didn't sign it."

"Which?"

"Dunno. They all say they signed it."

"Um, right. The old secret and anonymous treaty signing."

But in every game where there's been a draw vote in which I played ftf, there's been no wrangling about it. As it's DIAS or solo only, that does mean that if you want to exclude someone from the draw you have to actually knock them out.


Most tournaments are DIAS. I think it's more sensible that way.

I guess it depends on how new players are treated. We had a new guy turn up to MidCon last year, and we did not totally screw him over. He came back for YorkCon this weekend. And we had two postgrad students this weekend who had never done a tourney before and one had never played a house game ftf either. Treating these guys with respect and good humour, and forgiving misorders or mistakes (while not forgetting and certainly not avoiding taking advantage of them) is what keeps people coming back. Unless we only want sociopaths and masochists...


I think that's right, but . . . if you go to a "championship" as your first event, I think you've got to expect something other than kid gloves. I know what you mean, and I've seen that/done it at smaller events. Further, I like a bit of "niceness" in my games--not being overly nitpicky.

Ecton I don't really understand, so I won't comment.
Spinning a newb a line that you are going to carebear them and then stabbing them is not unknown, and it's a good object lesson for them. But there are ways to do it.


Sorry, no, I meant him in a general sense. He's got a playing style I don't much care for.

But, putting those two on the same board as a noob/reporter was a mistake. It was like adding vinegar to baking soda and hoping for the best.
There do seem to be some interesting draws at Chapel Hill. Random or seeding would not appear to result in some of those combinations - does Mr Hood come up with it himself?


Yes. I have not asked him, but I know at least some of the games were not random at all. For example, I agreed beforehand to be in the NPR/Ambassador Ross game (not knowing that Ross would be there, but understanding it would be recorded). That was probably a mistake. I might have placed or even won had it not been for that round.

As for being into alliance play, I am. Bartalone introduced me to something I loathe: chaos theory-style. In a nutshell, you don't commit; you agitate. The goal is to get your neighbors mad at each other, join in on the stronger side, and wipe them both out. I can see it working sometimes, but if you are facing alliance types, it may be too slow to resolve one side of the board.
Over here we are generally playing a short game - up to 07, or 09 if we have a longer session. And our clock time is one chunk for diplomacy and order writing rather than them being split.


Most games end by 07-09 over here. However, not having a limit set beforehand does permit a more natural flow. I'm quite certain there's a real edginess 3-4 turns before game end over in the C-Diplo type of system. I may find out--I'd like to go to Milan next year.

So boards don't tend to always 'resolve' - and any solos would be a result of seriously bad play by others (more so than in longer or open-ended games). Chaotic players tend to get pounced on, if they are too flakey.


So, in DC last year, both of my immediate neighbors were doing this and it took me several turns to sort it out. They would not "lie" per se; they simply tried not to agree to much, hoping relations with the others would worsen. I find it a maddening approach.

But then again if the game is too predictable, if someone is not prepared to switch on their ally, then it can make for a boring game. I don't want a game like Agricola where you can spot who will win from the first few moves. being the chaotic one can be useful in the end game - because when it comes to dot-grabbing in the last year you don't want to be easy to predict, and you want everyone to know they can work with you if they make a good case.


I've played Agricola just once. Enjoyed it, but I did not know it was quite so predictable.

My best game, coincidentally, had two Brits on it. I set out to make sure one did not conquer the board. I knew he needed a win to win the tournament. I knew he would play for it. He was England and I was Russia, so it seemed likely I would be his first or second target. Dan Lester is a very nice guy and a fantastic player, but I was not going to "let" him do anything.
Dan is good, and most of the UK players are really nice guys - I make no claims on my part.

When you have a tournament leader on your table, or one of the potential winners, of course you try to keep them down. It's a great alliance-building tool. of course, when you have the two guys who can win the tourney on your board in the last game (England and Germany to your France as it was for me yesterday), it's going to be painful.


One might suppose this to be the case--stop the leader. However, we come back to Ecton. Ecton was Russia to my Turkey in a game in which the eventual champion was Italy. Thomas Haver, again a very nice guy, was the Italian. The Austrian was someone I'd played before, yet was not aware of how easily cowed he was. Ecton and Haver convinced him to go with them vs. me. Now, that's fine in most cases. I don't even mind when it is against me. However, in this case, it handed the championship to Haver. I tried everything to change things, but to no avail. I did last 5 years against the AIR, even destroying Ecton's southern fleet and taking Sev and Rum from him at one point. I do not know and it was not said, but I suspect Ecton rather wanted to prove something against me rather than take the larger picture into consideration. Hey, whatever floats his boat.