Total Diplomacy Risk Game Strategies

How can you Stop a Rumour?

By Ehsan Honary :::: Monday, September 22, 2008

:: Article Rating :: Psychology, Diplomacy, Online Risk Games

You won! You just keep winning. You must be a great player if not the best. It wasn't easy. Some players in your view were just plain bad. You had some arguments with some other players in the game, but you don't think of it much. You think it's just part of the game.

Sometime later, you go back to the online forum only to discover that there is a whole amount of conversation going on about you from certain players who did not approve of what you did or said in the game. In effect they are spreading rumours about you and your character and trying to destroy your reputation. As you know, winning Risk repeatedly is all about reputation and any damage to that will have all sorts of serious consequences for you when you are online next time to play. So you need to be able to control the rumours. The question is, how?

The situation is the same if you were not playing the game online. Rumours can spread behind your back and when you get back to your friends next weekend to play with them, you realise (quite late of course) that they have already plotted to remove you from the game, perhaps to teach you a lesson.

All of this means that you need to be able to control your reputation and spread of any rumour. Here, you will learn a number of techniques to achieve this.


So you have decided to defend yourself and turn the tables. Rumours spread due to two important characteristics: anonymity and secrecy. Because the message is delivered in secrecy it stays longer in the network. The source of the rumour tends to be unknown. If you ask someone, "Where did you hear about this?", the usual answer is, "Well people say it", or "It's the word in the street" and similar.

So the first weapon you have against the rumour is to bring it out of secrecy. You need to find the source and reveal it. Once people know who is behind the source, they will evaluate the rumour differently. They may no longer look at it as a true or false statement; rather they will judge the statement along with the credibility of the source. If the person is already known for false statements you have practically killed the rumour there and then.

So find out who is the player behind the lies and reveal his or her identity to the masses. Be just as vocal. Let everyone know and tell them to tell everyone they know that the source of the rumour is X and he/she has an axe to grind. Don't try to deny the rumour or provide reasoning on why it is not true. That will be automatically taken care of if the reputation of the source is not strong to begin with.

However, it's not always this easy. It might be straight forward to see who is accusing you in the online forums. After all everything is recorded. In real life this can be more difficult. So this time you may have no other choice but attacking the rumour itself.

Let's examine how rumours spread in the first place. The two most important characteristics are likeability and believability. If the rumour sounds interesting, then people start to tell each other; "Did you know so and so did this?". The other aspect is how believable is it. If it can be believed, even if it is outrageous, then it is more likely to spread. Likeability and believability make the rumour viral. Obviously it is much less likely for a rumour to become popular if the statement was totally illogical or unbelievable. As the saying is,

“A partial truth is more dangerous than a total lie.”

So if you want to kill the rumour, you can take advantage of these two characteristics. You don’t need to justify yourself or deny the claim. Instead, you can counter-act it by telling a lie or a rumour which is even more outrageous than what is already out there, while incorporating the original idea. This is critical otherwise you have achieved anything other than spreading a new rumour. A more outrageous statement will dominate the weaker statement and can undermine the entire credibility of both statements, hence disarming the person who initiated the rumour in the first place.

Once heard, people no longer have a good reason to investigate further. The statements are so out of this world that they might as well not waste any time on them.

Of course, to make this even more effective you can spread a series of half-truths and outrageous statements to completely bury any other potential rumour out there on that topic. People will no longer trust what they hear and the problem will go away.

Of course this technique is not really that new. It has been employed in propaganda and PR for a long time and it is indeed a requisite in any modern conflict, warfare or competition. Risk game, with obvious analogies to any competitive environment is no exception.