There has been lots of talk in the news lately about political credibility. What happens when a politician lies or doesn’t follow through with promises? (No, unfortunately Obama isn’t the only one.) Supremacy players get to experience this directly first hand.
Typically, new players immediately seize on the ‘backstab’ maneuver. There is often a tremendous short term advantage to be gained. It’s easy to promise all sorts of things: cash, support, resources, alliances, non-aggression pacts, arms limitation agreements, trade agreements. There are even written forms for this. “Put it in writing!”
Writing up a formal document may help ensure players actually live up to their agreements. It makes it tougher for players to reinvent history later or weasel. “I didn’t say I would support like that.”, or “I didn’t say when I would do that.”
“Oh really? Well what does this say? Isn’t that your signature?” A formal written document may help in some situations with some people. Ultimately, they can be broken just as easily as verbal agreements. There is nothing in the rules stating that a player has to follow through with what he promised. Just as in real life, Supremacy players can betray you.
Veteran Supremacy players rarely, if ever lie or backstab. Experience teaches that it doesn’t pay. Everyone watches closely in a Supremacy game. Your word means a lot. If you don’t follow through with what you agree to, very quickly things start to go bad. Even little things can have a big impact. Why? Credibility. If you are willing to do that, then how can anyone trust you on anything else?
If you are going to badly damage your credibility, it better be for something big. Something that can make you win the game. Even still, is that good enough? Are you ever going to be playing a game with this group of players again? Yep, this game goes on way beyond just this one game. Yes, players will remember what you did next game, weeks or even months later. They may not even remember exactly what you did. They will remember that they can’t trust you. Is that damaging? Absolutely. In Supremacy, it’s devastating. Negotiation and diplomacy is how you get most of the important things done. Questionable credibility is a major handicap.
Can you recover a damaged reputation later? It’s possible. It’s going to take time. You’re going to have to beg. Apologize. Make clear that your poor judgment was a big mistake. That you have changed. That you want to earn peoples trust again. That you have learned your lesson. Look for little chances to demonstrate your trust. Leave yourself vulnerable somewhere. Give players a way to get even with you if you double cross them. Try to make some great sacrifice in the aid of an other player. Even if it costs you the game, just to keep your word. They will remember that too.
Trust can be broken instantly with 1 bad decision. It can take several games to gain it back. If you are persistent and consistent, you can slowly rebuild it.
Maybe our politicians should play Supremacy!! They could learn a few things.