The Diplomacy Academy

Dan Shoham


First, a personal note. In the months since the last issue I have changed jobs -- moving from the defense industry to the civilian economy, and relocated -- from Boston to San Diego. As a consequence, I did not (and still do not) have much time and net access to devote to the hobby. I have not played in any judge game and I have no access to I do have Email ([email protected]), and -- within reason -- respond to questions and provide input when asked. I hope to return to higher levels of activities when I'm more established in my new life. In the meantime, I'm making an effort to keep my committment to this column.

For the second installment in the Diplomacy Academy series, I've chosen a game I lost: "fresh". The Fresh End-of-Game statement is, perhaps, of some "historical"; significance. It is the first place where the concept of The Diplomacy Academy was pronounced -- although not particularly defined.

At first, it may appear that fresh is not a good choice for the Academy: I didn't play from the start. By the time I joined, the endgame was already commencing. What's more, most players by then have lost much of the fire in their game, and were willing to accept a loss. Furthermore, the final outcome had one such player deliberately hand the game to another player.

While such playing conditions and outcome can not but be discouraging, and while it is quite tempting to dismiss a loss under such circumstances as "unrepresentative," "unavoidable," and "excusable," I do not view it in this manner. A good Diplomacy player should be able to operate and win under whatever playing conditions prevail. A good player does not grumble when a player hands the game over to someone else, but must ask himself questions like "Why did he do it?", "Could I have predicted or prevented it?", or better yet "Was there something I could have done to have him hand the game to me instead?".

I do not view myself as playing an acceptable game when I play emotionally, or toward any objective other than maximizing my outcome. I do, however, find it quite acceptable to subvert other players toward emotional and other non-maximizing plays, and to take advantage of it when it happens. This is somewhat akin to what citizens expect of their government at time of war. As a citizen, I would be quite outraged if I found out that my national leader has allowed a burst of rage (or any other emotion) to interefere with military or diplomatic decisions. On the other hand, I would be quite happy to find that my leadership has manipulated the leader of the opposing nation into emotionally-driven mistaken decisions.

While in game fresh I did not commit the sin of emotional play, my inexperience in playing a game dominated by the need to understand other's motives and emotions kept me from playing by solid rules of thumb and guidelines which I should have developed early on. This failure allowed a blindspot to develop into a loss.

In keeping with the analogy to national governments and what their citizens expect of them (i.e., no excuses!), I wrote the End-of-Game statement to fresh in the format of a report by a commission of inquiry (which presumably would be appointed through the pressures of citizens outraged by their government performance and excuses). The governmental structure reflected through the report would be typical of a modern state with checks and balances, separation of powers, civilian rule, etc. The various departments and sections refered to in the report are a way of representing various ideas, thoughts, and plans which I had at the specified times (which may or may not have been put into practice).

To help keep the context of the game, I've placed the EoG's of the other players first (in the order they were produced), and my own last. Given this EoG's format, I did not have an opportunity -- within the EoG -- to congratulate the winner, thank all players, the GM, and the judge keeper. I shall do so now.


EOG's for the game "Fresh"

Dan Shoham
([email protected])

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