# DippyHeuristics

Der Zar is back! Recently a friend (FH) invited me to take part in an email-based Diplomacy competition he was organizing; after some hesitation I accepted. I was assigned to play Russia, my favorite country, and so far the war has been hugely entertaining. (We'll see how long the Tsar survives.)

Diplomacy, aka "Dippy" to its aficionados, is a brilliantly simple game of simultaneous movement, incomplete information, and intermittent treachery. Some important rules-of-thumb that I've learned after decades of oft-painful experience:

• Make friends promiscuously—you will need them
• Study the rules—badly-written orders, illegal retreats, misinterpreted subtleties of conflict resolution, and other inadvertent slip-ups all increase the odds against you
• Beware the Corners—those countries are extraordinarily tough to control once they grow beyond a few units (and especially Fear The Turkey, unless you are one!)
• Move aggressively in the Spring, conservatively in the Fall—since Winter is when Supply Centers are counted and new armies or fleets get built
• Focus on efficiency—never waste moves (unless you choose to do so with deliberate intent to deceive the opposition!)
• Learn a little elementary game theory—know how to set up a two-person zero-sum matrix of tactical possibilities, so you can analyze local configurations, recognize a minimax optimum, and estimate the probability weights for various orders when a mixed strategy is required because no saddle point exists
• Realize that luck plays a huge part in Diplomacy—don't get angry or despondent when events turn against you, and contrariwise don't get cocky or euphoric when all seems to be going swimmingly
• Remember that Dippy is half tactics and half strategy—so you must:
• examine every unit's moves, every season, in the light of your long-term goals
• examine the overarching situation and your global plans in the light of this turn's specific position

And the most important meta-rule of all, yet also the hardest to accept and live by: Dippy is only a game! Don't take it too seriously, don't destroy friendships because of in-game betrayals, and don't forget that the purpose is to have fun ...

("Diplomacy" is a trademark of Avalon Hill; cf. MinimaxStrategy (5 Sep 1999), ZarStory (16 Jan 2000), GameDays (26 Jul 2001), DippyZines (16 Mar 2003), RussianJournal (28 Mar 2003), ... )

TopicRecreation - TopicHumor - TopicScience - 2005-08-16

(correlates: TheoreticallyKnown, Comments on Suboptimism, DippyZines, ...)