Today's post is about my favorite board game, Diplomacy. Diplomacy is a game where seven players represent the major powers of Europe before the First World War. Each player starts out with 3 units which are a mixture of fleets and armies. The goal of the game is to capture 18 supply centers on the board. The gameplay is simple. Every turn you issue orders to your units. An army or fleet can move into another area. If an opposing unit is in that area or is also moving into that area, then the units bounce and do not move. You need to have other units support your unit in sufficient strength so that they can dislodge opposing units.
I like to explain movement in Diplomacy this way; imagine that you are playing a game of chess. In order to capture a piece, you have to convince another piece on the board to help you make the capture. This leads to the brilliant mechanic of Diplomacy. Before players write down their orders, there is a 15 minute discussion period. Players are allowed to talk to other players, make deals, etc. When the discussion period is over, then everyone writes down their orders. You may write down any order, regardless of what deals you made or what you said. Sure, you can lie and backstab, but that will definitely have consequences. Also, the game is set up so that you will need other people's help in order to capture territories.
Diplomacy is a masterpiece of a game. It is the only game that I have played were I have felt like a statesmen, general, and spy all at once. I do have two critiques of the game. It does require a large number of players who are committed to the game. Also, it has player elimination and it is very possible to get knocked out of a game that will last another 4 hours. Fortunately, Diplomacy has a long history of postal play which mitigates these problems. Today, Diplomacy can be played online. In fact, I have yet to play a face-to-face game of Diplomacy. If you are intrigued you should try a game. I leave you with a few websites where you can play Diplomacy online for free.
gamesbyemail.com - Gamesbyemail has a Diplomacy clone called Politics. This is a turn-based program, where everyone submits moves and after a certain amount of time the game progresses to the next turn. A bonus feature is that you can run games with fewer than 7 players.
www.playdiplomacy.com - Playdiplomacy has a nice interface. You can play a few games of regulary Diplomacy with a free account. If you get a membership you can play live games, variants, and multiple games at a time.
webdiplomacy.net - Webdiplomacy is a site I used once. It worked well and is free
With some more research you can find many other sites that offer the game. I recommend playing it at least once in your lifetime.