Tribute Scoring Formula: Supply Center Count + Survival Bonus +/- Tribute
In Tribute scoring, players who survive to a draw get a bonus but have to pay tribute to the board-topper (the player controlling the most supply centers). The size of the tribute increases with the board-topper’s center count. The goal of this scoring system is to promote dynamic games where as many players as possible attempt to top the board.
Topping the board is very valuable in Tribute. Players should aim to top the board, up to the point that there really is little hope of achieving it. In that case, players should aim to survive and keep the board-topper as small as possible.
Players not topping the board may opt to try to eliminate smaller powers in order to increase their survival bonus. Doing so is risky because it may allow the board-topper to grow, offsetting the small gain in survival bonus by a larger increase in tribute owed.
For players topping the board, eliminating a smaller power can result in a small gain or even a small loss, since doing so eliminates a tribute payer. If another player eliminates a smaller power, the board-topper’s score always decreases. Thus the board-topper should aim to keep smaller powers in the game if they are willing to help them secure the board-top.
If a small power is forced to choose between elimination and helping the board-topper secure the board-top, Tribute will give them some reward for doing the latter, in addition to the satisfaction of revenge. However, the score of all non-toppers is maximized if they work together to contain the board-topper. Even better if they bring the board-topper low enough that they themselves can take the lead.
The incentives in Tribute scoring can be summarized thus: Top the board if possible, with as many supply centers as possible, otherwise survive and keep the board-topper as small as possible.
Want to read more? Check out “To Whom Tribute Is Due”, the Diplomacy World article by War Weasel Brandon Fogel.