"...Since you know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."
- – Thucydides, upon invading Berlin via Prussia
A wonderful/horrific board game that people mistake for Risk, despite the absence of dice and cards.
When elegan/tg/entlemen tell you this game destroys friendships, they are not exaggerating.
Developed by Alan B. Callahamer, the game takes place on the eve of WWI, and seven players assume the roles of the seven Great Powers (Russia, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire) as war breaks out all over Europe. Unlike most board games, turns are played simultaneously with each player writing down his moves for a judge to read. This means you only find out if someone breaks a promise when it's too late... especially if they flank the same armies they promised to support like that one time when James was playing Italy and I helped him against Austria but when I needed him with me against France the motherfucker took my supply depot in Munich just before the winter and I will never trust that shitsucker again!!!
Military action is diceless, requiring simply that one side outnumbers the other side with defender winning ties. This would result in constant stalemates, but forces can have orders to "support" other forces, increasing their strength. Naval units can support forces on the coast, or convoy armies across the seas. Everyone starts with 2 armies and 1 fleet except for Britain, who starts with 2 fleets and 1 army, and Russia, who starts with 2 of each, so you will still need to ask for help in your aggressive manoeuvres, which means asstards like James will help you out until it turns out he likes it up the ass from France so he stabs you in the back.
Austria is the country that should most be focused on defence early on, with a fat drunkard to the east, an vampiric wop to the west and a heathen alien to the south. The four balkan centres may seem tempting, but Bulgaria and Rumania are likely to be taken by the Turk and the Russki by the winter of 1901 respectively, and a combined Italian Russian attack against you can see you conquered faster than any other country in the game. But a great country for those dudes who like to talk to (and to take centers from) everyone on the board.
England is one of the two most defensive countries in the game, and like with many games around Europe will build more fleets than any other, they suffer from a lack of expansionism, with getting armies on the continent a task. Utterly incompatible with the slimy baguette devourers, and don't get fooled by St Petersburg, France is always one season away from putting a fleet in the Irish Sea.
A nice balance between the defensive abilities of Turkey and England and the proximity to centres of Germany, Russia and Austria. France can afford to largely sit out negotiations at the very beginning, seeing how the games going, before siding with either Germany or England against the other. Often has the problem of correct timing when to decide to one side or another. Also, has a port in Marseille and an sometimes anxious, sometimes daring neighbour to the southeast. Both are sources of temptations, misunderstandings and binding power.
Sat in the centre of the map, with Scandinavia (that will be split between the one with crooked teeth and the one with the bottle of vodka) to the North and the Low Countries (Beret wearing dinner) to the west, Germany is a favourite of some of the greatest Tactical Genii of the game, because you aren't as horribly fucked as Austria from the get go and yet still have an excuse to talk to everyone, and have a finger in every Diplomatic pie. Encourage Turkey, play France and England against each other, threaten Russia, beat up Italy, do everything you can to help Austria, because if they go, you go.
Italy is perhaps the most defensible country in the game, ahead of even Turkey. Conversely, Italy finds it even more difficult than Turkey to get rolling.
Ah yes, the glorious Motherland, you arguably have the strongest initial position with two armies and two fleets but also a big mark on your head. It's probably better to think of Russia as two countries, north and south with only two units each. Russia has one advantage no other country except the cheese noshing pansy in the west has: you can build Fleets in the north and in the south, and if you do well, eliminate the stalemate line.
The Castle, problem is that getting out of the castle is just as hard as getting in. Your armies are forced through the Constantinople(Konstantiniyye in Ottoman) corridor which is slow, or being shipped out, which is risky. If you can convince Italy to distract Austria, then you can move both armies out in 1901.
Because the game developed a huge play-by-post following ("post" here meaning the actual postal service; yes, it was/remains that hard to get 7 fa/tg/uys in a room to play) with dozens of fan-run magazines in multiple countries, the ground of Diplomacy strategy is surprisingly well trod, to the point where people have taken to naming some of the most popular opening strategies. Here are a few of the most well known.
Super powerful alliance of Russia and Turkey. Expect someone to cry its name in fear if there isn't a bounce in the Black Sea from turn one. Tends to favor Russia over Turkey due to just how hard it is for Turkey to get the ball rolling.
Named after the naval battle of 1571, this is an Austro/Italian alliance against Turkey. The gist is that Italy attempts to get an army on Syria by 1902. Works for Italy because they usually have fuck-all else to do, and it gives Austria a leg up on one of its biggest enemies that it could seriously use. Again, relies on making sure that there's a 1901 bounce in the Black Sea, because Turkey can start fucking things up if they catch wind too soon.
Major French/German alliance to knock England out of the game as fast as possible, requires a bit of Russian help to really be effective. Russia cockblocks England by moving A Mos-StP, and then A StP-Norway. France super-duper pinky swears not to move to the English Channel (and then does anyway), supports Germany to the North Sea, and they both attempt to convoy armies over.
- One published version of the game actually used cannons and battleships from Monopoly, which is probably the best fate those little tin figures could have hoped for.
- Tzeentch once proposed a game of this instead of the weekly hyper-poker game. Unfortunately, like most other elegan/tg/entlemen that try playing the game, he needed a few more people than the typical crew of the Deceiver, Cegorach, and ol' ol' Empy, so Tzeentch had to break out the meatbread and invite a few more deities to the pocket dimension. The player/country breakdown was thus:
- England: The Deceiver
- France: Tzeentch
- Germany: The Hive Mind
- Italy: Cegorach
- Austria: The Emperor
- Russia: Gork (Mork?)
- Turkey: Mork (Gork?)
Despite negotiations, not a single player could trust the other for an instant, and things immediately went to hell when the Hive Mind started attacking everyone and immediately lost out of pure instinct. Cegorach just sat back and laughed as Gork and Mork pulled a "roight proppa Jugganaught" and proceeded to steamroll everybody, kicking everyone out of the game and ending in a 17/17 draw between themselves. Tzeentch has never offered to play out the game again from sheer embarrassment.
Because of the simplicity of the rules, there are a massive number of diplomacy variants written that were then shared through the various fanzines. Some of these have even been commercially sold, such as the Colonial variant, which uses a map of Asia and the Great Powers competing there.
- Relevant to fat/tg/uys, there is a Warhammer Fantasy Battles variant that uses the map of the Warhammer World. Among a few rule changes to make sure the factions are balanced, the biggest change is that you can contest a retreat by playing a game of Warhammer or Warmaster.
|Classics:||Backgammon - Chess - Go - Tafl - Tic-Tac-Toe|
|Ameritrash:||Arkham Horror - Axis & Allies - Battleship - Betrayal at House on the Hill - Car Wars |
Clue/Cluedo - Cosmic Encounter - Descent: Journeys in the Dark - Dungeon!
Firefly: The Game - HeroQuest - Monopoly - Mousetrap - Snakes and Ladders - Risk
Talisman - Trivial Pursuit
|Eurogames:||Agricola - Carcassonne - The Duke - Settlers of Catan - Small World - Stratego - Ticket to Ride|
|Pure Evil:||Diplomacy - Dune (aka Rex: Final Days of an Empire) - Monopoly - The Duke|
|Others:||Icehouse - Shadow Hunters - Twilight Imperium|