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The Ethics of Diplomacy - Part 7: Tournaments and Teamplay

Teamplay during an online game is likely to be banned under metagaming rules.  It's clearly unfair if a couple of players enter a game to play together, supporting each other and attacking others, when everyone else in the game is playing as an individual.  Well, I say clearly but that isn't always the case; some people just don't think there's anything wrong with it.
However, it is also something that can arise in FTF tournaments and it has often been banned, for obvious reason... again, I'd say obvious reasons.
It is (or was) common for a tournament or convention to combine individual competitions with team competitions.  A local club or organisation might have a number of players attend, therefore, and this is often true when there wasn't a team competition, simply because it's nice to go with your mates.
It didn't take long for teamplay to be outlawed.  What was happening was that players from the same club would help each other out in games.  It wa…

The Ethics of DIplomacy - Part 6: Impersonating Others

It's difficult in online play to impersonate anyone else.  The websites have power-to-power messaging, and even when you message everyone (known as Public Press on Playdiplomacy) it comes up with your power's name.  But elsewhere, impersonating another player, or even a GM, is possible.

Press Press, in Diplomacy, is when players send messages.  When playing on a website you will be able to send messages to players directly.  This isn't really press although a couple of websites count it as this.

Usually, press is seen as being messages to be published to all players.  It origninated in postal games; when players submitted orders they would submit press which would be published alongside those orders.  There were three types: white press, grey press and black press.
White Press This is press where the player sending it is identified.  In the postal game, each power was issued with a standard ID, or dateline, which might be the name of the power or the capital of the power.  N…

The Ethics of Diplomacy - Part 5: Aliases

The online game is full of aliases.  If you join a website to play Diplomacy then you're asked to provide a username.  There's nothing wrong with that although it does, perhaps, take away something from the community of the Dip hobby.


As in most things, there's a history of this in postal Diplomacy and this is usually seen as a way to be anonymous.

With online play, however, it may be possible to change your username.  This might be simply because you realised the name you chose was not a good choice.  For instance, a number of players may use a version of their email address which may not be the best idea.  If you come across someone who is an idiot who thinks it's acceptable to harass players off-site then using your email address could be a mistake.

Sometimes it's realising that the name you chose really does you no favours.  I come across this every day at work.  I deal with younger people who don't necessarily think much about what they should put in an em…

The Ethics of Diplomacy - Part 4: Cyber-bullying

I suppose this could be placed withing the metagaming section because it often takes the form of bringing something from outside the game into the game, but it isn't necessarily restricted to that.


Let's start with what bullying is when it comes to Diplomacy or any other game.  What we're not talking about is bullying as part of the game.  In other words, some players can be quite... forceful... in their negotiations.  This isn't what we're talking about.

Cyber-bullying is about threatening people with things outside the game to get things done in the game or, in some cases I've seen simple threats of violence.

The most likely threat is when a player will threaten another with persistent attacks when they come across each other in games.  This is metagaming, really: it's no different to planning to work together in future games.

However I've seen threats of violence.  It's sometimes linked to people from the same school.  But I've seen threats t…

Bitten by the Bug

I received a text from Mrs THC part way through my morning at work.  It said that she'd been sent home from work because she was feeling crap, was aching, and her throat hurt.


OK.  There it is.  Almost bound to happen at some point.

I was feeling OK but I sent back a reply that I'd see my boss.  I knew what it meant: 14 days of self-isolation.  My boss had to look it up.

As it happens, it's probably as much that her work is being cautious.  She doesn't have a persistent cough (and she also has a cough because she smokes like a chimney, to use a cliché), she doesn't have a fever, and she really doesn't have the common symptoms.

But me?  I started feeling like my throat was hurting as soon as I got the message, and I got a headache.

So, is it going to be 14 days of isolation?  It probably should be but I'm finding it hard, right now, to expect that.  Maybe a week to be on the safer side.  If Mrs THC doesn't come out with any more persuasive symptoms withi…

The Ethics of Diplomacy - Part 3: Metagaming

Metagaming is when anything from outside a game affects what happens in the game.  This can be difficult to isolate in Diplomacy because human nature is to learn from mistakes (for most of us, anyway).  So what qualifies as metagaming, and why is it wrong?

Bribery In his book The Game of DiplomacyRichard Sharp recounts a number of cases of bribery, some of them more jokey than anything else, but bribery (or blackmail) still.  In those days of a smaller, less anonymous Dip hobby, it was - perhaps - easier to use these shady tactics.  The underlying philosophy seems to have been that if "the rulebook doesn’t mention the subject" anything goes.


TeamplayThe online game can't really include teamplay.  If two or more players enter a game as a team, agreeing to help each other against all-comers, this isn't a fair game.  It is, of course, easy to work with someone you know, and as a one-off it is probably acceptable, assuming there has been an in-game agreement to work toge…

The Ethics of Diplomacy - Part 2: Cheating

If a game's worth playing, it's worth playing to win.  And if a game's worth playing to win, it's going to involve cheats.


I really don't get it in Diplomacy.  There are no prizes, other than honorary ones.  Yes, there are titles, maybe a cheap trophy or two, but nothing more.  So why cheat?

Well, often, simply because it's possible.  There isn't really much of a challenge to cheating in online Diplomacy... except the "getting away with it" aspect.  But, with sites using more sophisticated methods of detecting cheating, the chances of getting away with it are small.

Multi-accounting This is when a player uses more than one online account in a game.  This might be at the start of the game, or it may be to get back into a game a player's been removed from.  It's usually not allowed.

It's clear that having one player controlling multiple powers in a game isn't fair.  Those powers are never going to be competing against each other and o…

The Ethics of Diplomacy - Part 1: Introduction

Lying and betrayal play an integral part in Diplomacy.  How, then, can there be any ethical or moral concept to the game?  Isn't this a game without ethics?


It's certainly true that a game of Diplomacy will feature lies, half-lies, omissions and betrayal.  It's difficult to imagine a game that wouldn't involve these.  When the box the game came in used to feature the slogan "Destroying friendships since 1959" nobody should be surprised by this!

But, in reality, experienced players understand that you get more success in Diplomacy by being honest most of the time.  It's a game about building trust.  There is always going to be a point where that trust is going to be broken if you are to win games, but dishonesty isn't going to be rewarded.

There are some aspects of the game that do require a certain degree of morality and ethical appreciation, therefore.  There are players who will tell you that if you can get away with something, then it's all fin…

A Week Away

I've taken a week's break from The Embassy now, for a couple of reasons.


What a week, though.  In that time, the UK has almost shut down due to Coronavirus and my job role has changed to cope with it.  Still, I'm proud to announce I am now classed as a "key worker" so my kids can still go to school.  I'm open to adopt your kids if that helps.  I have cupboard space for sleeping.  They're especially welcome if they can make bread and don't need toilet paper.

That isn't why I was away, though.  I've been working on my new Dip zine PERFIDIOUS and PERF#1is out now.  It was actually out last weekend but then I buggered it up by being an idiot.  Oh well.

And, if you're vigilant, you'll have noticed the name change.  It was originally and unimaginatively called "The Embassy Journal".  Is PERFIDIOUS better?  Oh yes.  If you want to subscribe to, send me an email.

I have three subscribers already... which is infinitely more subscriber…

Back for Good..?

Eventually, I was able to move into the modern world.  I got a PC.  Yep, a real computer.  And I got t'internet.

Even more eventually I wondered: What will I find if I search for Diplomacy on the web?  So I searched and the first return of note was Play Diplomacy Online.


So, I wasn't impressed with the map used back when I joined.  But, you know what, it was only the map.  The game system worked.  The game was easy to access.  It didn't have a long, long wait for things to happen.  And I could play live games against people.

I think PlayDip was about a year old back then.  Not everything ran smoothly.  But it improved - massively.  The map is now pretty looking, there are interesting variants available on the main site, the ranking system is much better than the old one, games are interesting and varied.

For me, though, it's always been the Forum that has interested me as much as playing Dip.  The discussion about Diplomacy there is amazing.

did spread my wings a bit…