by Norm de Guerre

We discussed the philosophy of the use of propaganda in 50 Shades of Grey Press.

Propaganda as was discussed sounds "outside the box" and, perhaps, complicated, but it simply means spreading ideas and opinions as fact in the hopes of influencing those opinions, and behavior.

Grey press is a form of propaganda that you can use. See the bottom of this article for not so intuitive rules about press.

In propaganda, some of the information or opinions conveyed may be true, others may be false, yet they are all striving for the same thing - the audience's [in our case, other powers] belief in what is written or "pressed" or "broadcast".

This article is about grey press (and even an instance of white press used to effectively propagandize to deceive.

  • Rule #2: You are urged to confer with the game Master or Mistress (M) about their interpretation of the rules in regard to the use of grey mail.

  • Rule #1: Never, ever, ever use grey mail in pressing M(aster), O(bserver) or other judge official, ever. It is possibly grounds for immediate expulsion from the game and a ban from the Judge, with notice to other cite judges. Don't do it. Ever. The M, and JudgeKeeper already have your press, so you can't hide.

  • Rule #3: Review your understanding of sending the permutations of white; grey / press; broadcast and the "receipt" you get back, and see what the recipient sees.

Practice, right now, by carefully sending the varieties to yourself carefully. Note the differences in the message notices.

As we'll see, the use of grey press as "sourced" (i.e. it could be from anyone other than the authentic author) is a meticulous process. It is "forged" to tag another player. It is difficult, but not impossible, to get it past the smell test. Before you hit send it has to be "perfect". Consider writing style (e.g. seldom uses punctuation) and perpetually misspelled words. Those need to be included in the grey press. If you like to toss a occasional anonymous verbal stink-bomb into the discussion, via Broadcast grey, adjust your syntax if you don't want it believed to be from you - otherwise have at it in your own style.

Let's rehearse - conduct, if you will, training exercises.

Now, listen up! I'm not going to say it twice!!

Throughout the scenarios we are Italy.

In all the examples, you want to carefully draft what you want to say.

You then send it to yourself. You'll use the receipt to strip out any clues and otherwise edit the text.

Like, Basic Training, we will begin slowly:

The following two examples, are not technically Grey press, but my spouse, the Queen, says the darkest shade of white is "dirty white":

signon gamename cleverpassword
press to F [!]
Kaiser, I am sorry to decline your generous offer of "all the wine I can drink and cheese I can eat".  
I wish I could support you and share in the booty.  I talked to England, and she doesn't have much 
regard for France, either.  You said you had been in contact with Victoria, so, I presume she shared that with you.
I'll watch your situation, and may get involved.   Let the Queen know.  Thanks.
King Friday XIII

You purposely sent it to France, pretending it was intended for Germany, and regards a supposed attack on France by Germany and possibly England. Are there existing DMZs amongst the three, or even alliances? Has France possibly heard (or not heard) from England or Germany? In any event, you've planted a seed of doubt suspicion.

Secondly, France knows you, Italy, sent it, no matter if inadvertently. You're a neighbor. What's his course of action?

As to authenticity, it appears to have been sent carelessly sent due to a typo, or — if Italy is a Geezer, like, me — a brain fart. Your involvement appears innocent. It works, but, even if it's easy, it shouldn't be over-worked. Authenticity is at stake.

If France, does, in fact, ask you about it, act dumbfounded, or ignore his questions. Ultimately, it results in uncertainty in Paris.

"Your first job is to build the credibility and the authenticity of your propaganda, and persuade the enemy to trust you although you are his enemy."

— A Psychological Warfare Casebook by the Operations Research Office, Johns Hopkins University Baltimore (1958)"

We can quickly dismiss plain vanilla grey press:

signon Igamename cleverpassword
press grey to  A
Emperor Franz Josef ~ Your wife, the Empress, is going to lose her head or be enslaved. 

It's more of an annoyance (and that can be of value against a stressed player) but what is the point? Now ,if one includes some seemingly authentic additional information, it might cause the recipient to pause. Is Germany lying to me? We made PIC a DMZ. What's going on. Who sent this, and how do they know about Germany's plans?

Your wife is going to lose her head or , worse, be enslaved after SER ->  BUD;  RUM S SER -> BUD

The specificity lends credibility. Austria may believe he has (had?) a non-aggression pact with Turkey…

Note also the use of the -> symbol. Was it cut-and-pasted from a receipt that Turkey received. Is that "proof" that Turkey has, indeed, issued such an order and shared it with anonymous power, who's sharing it with you. Be cautious of the use of the ~ (a tilde). If you are using it indiscrimately in press with other powers, including Austria, you've provided a damning clue.

The subtle reference to enslavement points to one player. Which other power in turn-of-twentieth-century Europe would talk in those terms?

I can't tell you who I am just now. Just trust my intelligence agency (google and add the name of the Austrian state security, it lends a gratuitous minor detail, but, that in turn, lends credence) until I can reveal myself, and maybe form and alliance with you.

Bad news, and good (hopeful, maybe) news.

The additions are rubbish, but don't they convey more authenticity and credibility? Additionally, you have a greater glimpse into Austria's troubled state of mind (beliefs, doubts, or complete denial) than any other of powers. That's powerful and exclusive information.

In this scenario, you (Italy) would like to provoke an incident (from the shadows, of course) between Austria and Russian and falsely "betray" an innocent Turkey for not notifying his ally (Russia or Austria or both). Before we consider use of the parameter grey mail, this is an example of "dirty white" press. The syntax for the this mail (press):

Press grey to AR
I don't think I was supposed to receive this, but I am duty-bound to share it with you, both.  
Turkey sent this: Italy, I'd like to have a temporary non-aggression pact. 
 I am going to simultaneously attack Austria and Russia.  Would you like to support?  

You can just simply lie (occasionally, or a lot) to your opponents and/or so-called allies. Why isn't this sufficient propaganda?

In this example, you'd simply Press to F and you and he would receive back the following notice:

Sending white or grey press or broadcasts to yourself you'll receive back either:

The subject line reading Rcpt: USAK:gamename - F1902B Diplomacy Order Entry by Web /tmp/KJB-blah17IQTblah (using the order form at USAK ), or if you are using your own email program you can individualize it: Press from I to I.

Press from  Italy
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Message sent to Italy:
Message from  as  Italy to Italy in 'gamename':
This is an example of white press.
End of message
Phase orders for Winter of 1901 
Broadcast message sent:
Broadcast message from norm.deguerre(at) as France in 'gamename':
This is an example of a white broadcast. 
 Good night, John-Boy!
end of press

A grey broadcast directed at the power which occupies the NTH. Italy wants him to remain in the NTH to convoy Italian armies of the conquered island quickly (it's going to take time to get Italian fleets in position. Italy sends an thinly disguised ultimatum of the consequences:

Fleet One -> NTH
Fleet Two S Fleet One -> NTH
 Fleet Three S Fleet One -> NTH
Don't be stupid...

The potential order is written vaguely, so that should a counter-attack be attempted it will be based on sheer guess work.

Now, in the previous examples we have used the USAK on-line "Order Entry for norm.deguerre(at)"

Orders using the form yield the subject line USAK:gamename - F1906B Diplomacy Order Entry by Web /tmp/LOL-1weekZ

Broadcast message sent:
Broadcast message in 'gamename':
The Almighty Judge is the policeman of the world!
We are not amused!

[Clue: Queen Victoria often used the amusement remark. Might it be England sending this grey broadcast?]

Let's confuse France, a close neighbor (neither ally, nor enemy at this phase):

signon Igamename cleverpassword
press GREY (or gray) to  F
Message to France in gamename
Press from [email address of the English player, (copied and pasted from the game list] 
as England to France in game gamename

Hey, Madame la Presidente, look out for Austria, he wants me to support Germany 
where I can, and attack you and mess up your invasion of Germany.
He sent me this: I will move to  join with you and help support Germany.  
He may not even notice, he's SO involved in his crusade in Russia!
Please protect my identity.  I don't want England getting mad at me!
Say "hi" to Le mari de madame la Presidente, and your scrumptious houseguest
          -  his  young niece."

France receives a message purportedly from England warning her of Austrian, English and German perfidy. Imagine the combinations of effects. At best she is now warned about some neighboring powers, or perceived allies guilty of plotting behind her back. Her confidence is (rightly) disturbed.

If there is no indication she suspects or has acted on the warnings, she is eligible for more effective propaganda. Noxious gas may be prohibited on the battlefields our world, but SBD ~ silent but deadly ~ turn-of-the 19th-century is still available to you. Consider Italy's relations with France. Such analysis is the key for tone. If she feels she is being propagandized, the questions become "by Who?" and "Why?".

"War is waged only with vigor, decision, and unshaken will; one must not grope or hesitate." ."

— Napoleon

In a Zine piece by Paul D. Windsor (DP S1999M: What's Your Point?) he writes about players' psychological tendencies. It's well-worth the read by any level of player, or one who disdains the use of propaganda, or is even participating in a no press game parameter. Windsor informs of a player with tendencies described as "Deviate. This type of player lives to lie and stab. He thinks of Diplomacy as a grand game of liar's poker. His attraction to the game is almost entirely grounded in the fun he perceives he's going to have messing with your mind and betraying you.

Let's construct (line-by-line) a poison-pen letter (corbeau) to disinform Russia:

In the body of your order form, or email:

To: USAK Diplomacy Judge
Subject: Press to R from G 
signon Igamename cleverpassword
press GREY to  I [we're mailing this to ourselves first]
"Message to Russia in gamename:
Press from [insert email address of German player] as Germany to Russia in game gamename.
Hey, Czar, look out for Austria, he wants me to join him 
in an attack against you and mess up your invasion of Turkey.
Austria sent me this:  "I will move to GAL and join with you and 
Turkey in attacking Russia.  He may not even notice, he's SO involved 
in his crusade in Scandinavia!"

Please protect my confidence.  I need a little more time 
before I'm ready to take-on Emperor Franz Josef!
Say "Hi" to the Czarina , your lovely daughters, and your 
houseguest, Rasputin."
end of message

You'll receive the following:

Rcpt: USAK:gamename - S1907M Diplomacy Order Entry by Web /tmp/NJW-wJJ30 if entered on the Orders form at USAK
Message sent to Italy:
Message to Italy in 'gamename': (indicates it came as grey mail)

In a legitimate white press this would read: Message from <email address of German player> as Germany to Russia in game gamename.

Message sent to Russia in gamename:
Press from  as Germany to Russia in game gamename.
Hey, Czar, look out for Austria, he wants me to join him in an attack
against you, and mess up your invasion of Turkey.
He sent me this:  "I will move to GAL and join with you and Turkey in
attacking Russia.  He may not even notice, he's SO involved in his
crusade in Scandinavia!"
Please protect my confidence.  I don't want Austria getting mad at
Say "Hi" to the Czarina, your lovely daughters, and, of course  your
house guest, Father Grigori Yefimovichi.
Your Cousin Willie
end of message
End of message

Open the Order Entry for( Italy's) norm.deguerre15[at]

Type in:

signon Igamename cleverpassword 
Press grey to T

Cut-and-paste all the text in the body from "Message from as Germany to Russia in game gamename." through "Your Cousin Willie".

Do not use endpress or signoff.

Hit send!

It will arrive in Turkey's inbox looking almost undetectably legitimate. There are only two very subtle errors. Can you detect them?

Turkey has been propagandized (by Italy) with disinformation about false intentions of Austria. Neither Germany nor Russia are any-the-wiser about it. If Turkey shares it with Austria and/or will the Emperor mobilize against the Tsar? What will the Tsar's reaction be, if, and when, he's made aware of it. (Note the use of Czar in the grey press.) Be super-aware of other powers' writing styles and quirks.

"Silly"? Too busy?

A game Master at the USAK judge site says:

"Grey press can be a fun tool to use to poke fun at other players. Although they may have an idea of which opponent is sending the message, there is no way to be sure — although the originator's distinctive writing style may make it obvious.

"However, I believe, most people discount grey press entirely, since any information of value will naturally be sent using white press and the originator is identified. This is because the more someone knows about the [unquestioned] source of a piece of information, the more likely they are to trust it.

"The only time grey press provides a tactical or strategic advantage in-game is to reveal a [truthful] secret when it is important for the originator to disguise his identity from the intended recipient(s)."

In 1915, Germany sank the British liner the Lusitania in a voyage from New York to Liverpool. The Germans definitely did not want the U.S. to forgo its declaration of neutrality.

The German's said the ship was transporting arms and munition, an was fairly taken. The German embassy in the U.S. published warnings in newspapers.

Some revisionist thought now says she probably was carrying the materiel. But she was also carrying civilians of all ages. One thousand one hundred nineteen of the 1,924 aboard died. The dead included 114 Americans.

The sinking enraged American public opinion. (

America was brought to the precipice of entry into the war the so-called Zimmerman telegram. The Zimmermann Telegram (or Zimmermann Note) was an alleged 1917 diplomatic proposal from the German Empire offering a military alliance with Mexico, in the event of the United States entering World War I against Germany. The proposal was intercepted and decoded by British intelligence. Revelation of the contents outraged American public opinion, and helped generate support for the United States declaration of war on Germany in April of that year. (Wikipedia).

A German press intercepted by the British — consider the motivations of all the players, including the U.S. and Mexico.

Makes our grey press propaganda very close to real-life events.

This piece is one-half of articles discussing propaganda and the use of grey press to effectively implement it. See "50 Shades of Grey Mail".

The author's use of a nom de plume is in itself deceitful propaganda. It serves to disinform, and, of course, avoid responsibility (à la Sergeant Schultz of the WWII Allied POW camp televison comedy series "Hogan's Heroes"). Schultz prepared for the inevitable repercussion of a losing war, with the incessant refrain "I saw nothing! I know nothing!"

Norm de Guerre

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