Further Reflections from a Diplomacy Newbie

Stephen Lepley

Having played miniatures and board games with others as a youth, I did not feel prepared for Internet Diplomacy. In the final analysis, Diplomacy has a lot to do with interpersonal relations/communications and only a little to do with the board. One must admit that "Diplomacy" is well named.

The integrity disputes in the game and on the newsgroup are a little surprising. Knowing that lying is a legal part of the game, it is remarkable that people get upset about the Diplomacy lie. It seems, however, that integrity disputes will always be associated with Internet Diplomacy. As long as people have emotions, feelings are going to get hurt and disappointment will lead to verbalization. Months of game play followed by a lie and stab easily turns into a real dispute. By the way, it seems to be good policy to side (in a minor way) with someone in one of those disputes. They so appreciate your understanding of their positon that they give you just about anything you want. Well, at least it worked that way when I tried it.

I feel a sort of remorse when helping to wipe out another player. You get to know the guy, even a bit about his personal life. Then, you wipe him out and he is gone! If you only play a few games a year like most of us, you never see him again. Did he give up Diplomacy in utter disappointment? Will you ever see him? Was it worth it to try to understand him so well, just to see him disappear into the net? Does he now hate you and is he seeking revenge someday?

As game two was wrapping up, I reevaluated my desision to play Diplomacy. More than once in the past, I felt as if I would quit for good. There is another challenge left for me though. I mean, besides getting that first solo victory. The thing I like most about the game is getting to understand the tactics and personality of my opponents as well as the social aspects.

Some of you may recognize me as the individual trying to start a fixed Diplomacy group. Well, I did. We finally got 8 players together and our first game is underway. Most of us are middle-aged with all the numerous responsibilities that come with time. I look forward to analyzing the play of these fellows over time and learning how to get what I want out of them. Not only that, I am hoping to build some real friendships as we play. Maximize the social value of the hobby.

This is not simply another Diplomacy experiment. I am hoping to eventualy wind up with a group of guys that will play Diplomacy over the years. Share their games and lives. This group is my final Diplomacy challenge. I'm looking for that feeling we had when we went over to our friends house and spent the night playing in giant "miniatures" games, eating pizza, drinking soda, and having a good time. I never will understand why that one guy marched his camel corp right into my heavy riflemans' killing zone. "Pete" was his name. I used to love outmaneuvering Pete. He took it so badly! Miniatures teach one to play your advantage for all it's worth while keeping the opponent from exercising his advantages until it's too little and too late. I once caught a group of heavy knights in a swamp with my archers. Wow, half way across they were routed. When they turned and ran, none made it out of the other side! Don't come sneaking up the backside of my castle!

I'm going to stick with Diplomacy for awhile now. By limiting the number of games I play to only one or two at a time, the load should remain bearable. Now, If I could only figure out why that Turkish player wants me (Russia) to let him into the Black sea on the first turn? Egads, could he possibly be trying to outmanuver me? Nah! :-) Wait a minute!!! Pete, Is that you?

Stephen Lepley ([email protected]) is a Process Technician for a manufacturing firm. He lives with his wife, three birds, and a Chow Chow dog in the hills of western Massachusetts.

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