Customer Reviews: Diplomacy
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon February 2, 2009
This is perhaps the best game ever invented. Well, that is, if you are interested in history, geography intruige, human nature, diplomacy, and you have plenty of friends that like games and they all have a whole day to play the game.

Here's the basic premis:

The game is set at the outset of WWI. There are seven major European powers (Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Russia, and Turkey) involved in the conflict, and each country is respresented by a player. The game flows more smoothly if you happen to have an eighth player that is willing to serve as game-master. The game-master keeps time, helps interpret rules, helps keep the game moving along, and keeps things straight and in order.

The goal of the game is to acquire control of as many "supply centers" as possible. As a player's country conquers supply centers they are able to add armies and navies to their military might.

Game play involves the following events:

1) Diplomacy - usually a 20-30 minute period where players meet privately with one another to try to make deals of mutual support, alliances, break alliances, etc.

2) Order-writing - when each player writes orders for every one of their armies and navies.

3) Resolution of orders - when all orders are made known, and all conflicts are resolved.

4) Addition or loss of armies and/or navies as mandated by the outcome of conflicts from the previous turn.

The game opens in 1914, and there are two turns per year (spring and fall). A game ends with the fall move of 1918. At that point all players still in the game count up their "supply centers" and the player with the most wins.

What you should know.

1) There are no cards, dice,or other elements of chance in this game, other than the BIGGEST element of chance there is - human nature! You never know when someone will live up to their agreements, support you when you need it, or makenew alliances and stab you in the back. It's pretty brutal - like real life.

2) The game can be played with as few as two players, though it plays best with the complete seven-player game.

3) It takes hours and hours to play this game. A full game may take as long as 8 hours to play.

4) Not all "board game players" will be interested in this game, mostly because of it's length, so you need either a gaming group/club or a large group of gaming friends to find enough players to try this game.

Anyway, I have been playing games, including Avalon Hill bookcase games, and more recent games like The Settlers of Catan and expansions, Agricola ZMG 7026, etc. And I still find this game to be top-notch, even after more than 30 if only I could find six more people who would be willing to play (and a full day for game play!)

Even with those challenges, this game remains a 5-star event.
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on March 25, 2012
This game is infamous amongst my friends for the nicknames it created. I won't tell you mine, but suffice it to say that I wasn't popular with Germany or Italy when I played as France! You CANNOT win this game alone. You have to make deals with people -- and unfortunately, you also have to break them. Make sure you play with people you like a lot, and be sure that they really like you too, or it all may wind up with none of you ever speaking to each other, ever again!

I'm serious. This game can ruin relationships if you're not careful.

It's time-consuming, so I recommend timing each "turn" and limiting the amount of time each round that people are allowed to talk and make deals. The first round should allow no fewer than thirty minutes, and possibly up to forty-five or an hour, to make sure that each country gets to talk to every country leader/player that it needs to, and weigh the deals that are offered. After that, ten to fifteen minutes should suffice.

The game is set up so that no one can invade their neighbor on the first turn, so you'll need to build crucial allies the first time around in order to defend yourself against invasions in the second turn, and make well-coordinated strikes against your opponents.

TRUST NO ONE! This game CANNOT BE WON unless *SOMEONE* is stabbed in the back. Sad, but true. The people who are your allies in the beginning will likely be your enemies after a few short years/turns.

Enough reviews give the specifics of game play, so all I'll offer are some TIPS. You'll find that they sometimes contradict each other. That's because the best strategy for winning means doing what ISN'T expected, and because the country you choose is crucial in determining what course of action you should take for the win.

*Don't rush to attack anyone right away. You need to focus on securing extra supply centers so you can build and strengthen your forces and THEN attack.

*Work on your naval placements, especially if you're playing France or Russia or Germany. You'll be tempted to work your way inland with these nations, and build armies at the expense of sacrificing naval units, but you'll leave yourself vulnerable if you do -- especially from the U.K.

*Try not to play as the U.K. unless you really, REALLY trust the other people. You can't win as the U.K. without some powerful allies in the beginning. If you get stuck with this country, try forging early pacts with nations that can't hurt you right away, like Russia, so that they won't attack you when you start to become a threat, and will help support you against your early enemies.

*The people playing France and Russia should team up with one another against the U.K., cut off its naval channels, and wipe it out immediately, while everyone else on the continent fights it out for inland territory. Divide the north seas between yourselves. Get Germany to help in exchange for a piece of the action. In the normal course of a good strategic game, the U.K. should be the first nation to go, because taking it out is child's play.

*Once Russia and France have obliterated the U.K., they should remain a team long enough to take out Germany.

*If you're playing as Italy, attack France first. Get Germany and the U.K. to help you.

*If you're playing as France, defend like hell from the U.K. and Germany, and attack Italy as quickly as you can, or it will come after you later. Get support from Germany. DON'T FORGET YOUR NAVY. You'll need it later, if you survive.

*If you're playing as Russia, take over the small countries in the East instead of attacking right away. You already have an advantage starting with four pieces, so BUILD and fortify yourself while your Western neighbors start the skirmishes early. Get Denmark and Norway before the U.K. can.

*Lie, lie, lie. Lie to anyone, at any time. Break deals when it's best for you, but not unless you can back yourself up, or people will turn against you too quickly and form teams to take you down. Don't break any deal early on, or everyone will know from the start not to trust you. Build their trust, THEN break it, when you can pounce. The best way to do this is to set up your opponent for an invasion of a third party, tell them you'll support their moves, and then move in behind their back when you KNOW they'll be unsupported. Wipe them out, then have a fresh place to bargain from even though no one else will trust you.

*Don't take anything at face value. Anything your opponents tell you could be a lie. They're out for themselves, and EVERYONE has a secret deal going. Trust no one, and don't leave your vulnerable lands unprotected.

*Don't buy this game unless you have a lot of friends, because you won't be able to play with the same people twice if you take my advice.

That's Diplomacy, folks. It IS possible to win with integrity, but it's not half as much fun! And for those of you who haven't already guessed it, I'll 'fess up to my eternal Diplomacy nickname: Evil Back-Stabbing [rhymes with "witch"]. :-D ;-) And uh, none of my friends will play with me anymore, so if you do find a copy and need some extra players, feel free to drop me a line! :-}
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on June 16, 2009
If you are looking for a game that you can play with a group of friends and be finished in a couple of hours with everyone happy and content, this is definitely not for you. This game, played properly, requires many hours of thinking and, as the name suggests, diplomacy. There is absolutely no chance involved in the game, the game is all about strategy and forming alliances with other players, and then when they least expect it, stabbing them in the back. If you liked the "survivor" television program, or ones like it, you will love this game. I hated the "survivor" series, but I still love this game.

Just a word of warning. Be careful who you play this game with. If they are easily offended and cannot grasp the fact that part of this game entails the necessity to stab another player in the back eventually to win, there could be some definite post-game consequences. All in all, a great game that really exercises the mental faculties and hones negotiation tactics.
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on March 31, 2008
A new version of Diplomacy is long overdue, with the 1999 release often going for as much as $[...] on Ebay.

Rather than metal or plastic playing pieces, this new version of Diplomacy includes glossy cardboard tokens. Though plastic or metal pieces would have been nice, the cardboard tokens are durable and functional, and probably help keep the price of the game low. The game also includes a big note pad of maps that can be torn off and drawn on. You'll need to purchase seven pencils and seven small notebooks for writing down orders.

This game is very fun to play, but unlike Risk or even Axis & Allies, its complicated nature makes play become tedious very quickly for those who aren't used to plying strategy games. Long story short, this is a great game to play with your gamer friends, but less nerdy friends, even those who like Risk, may not enjoy playing.

It can be difficult to gather the full seven players needed, but luckily, the game can be played with a smaller number (as few as 2, according to the instructions).

All in all, if you like strategy games and history and have enough people to play with, this game would certainly be a wise purchase.
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on December 15, 2013
The game board is very well made and looks beautiful too, with sharp lines and good color. The pieces the,selves are cardboard, and although this disappointed me at first, the pieces are actually some tough-ass cardboard if I ever saw it. Rulebook is clear enough. No disappointments in production quality.

Gameplay is tense and I remember multiple times being immersed in the game and the players. I remember everyone writing down orders as fast as they could. I remember being betrayed and betraying others. 10/10 would play again. If i could find more players...
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VINE VOICEon January 28, 2014
Wizards of the Coasts' "Diplomacy" is quite simply one of the greatest board games of all time. Up to seven players take on the role of a leader of various European Great Powers prior to World War I. Europe is divided into countries, and then into smaller geographic areas. Some of these areas boast supply centers (cities). The first one to capture a set number of cities wins. Sounds simple, right? Wrong.

There is no combat in this game in the traditional sense- no dice rolls or random card draws. Instead, the combat is largely deterministic depending on the number of armies' strengths in play. Normally I don't care for deterministic combat, but it works really well here since no one can calculate the strengths accurately because no one knows for sure what everyone else is going to do. After a round of negotiation where players discuss what they want to do with every other player, usually in secret one-on-one meetings, players write orders for their armies and navies. Essentially, you write for your army in Warsaw, or London, or Munich to move into an adjacent space. You can order your units to hold their position. You can order you armies to support other units that are moving. Everyone reveals their orders simultaneously, and then army movements and supports are added up to determine the winner in any conflicts.

It sounds really simple, but there is so much going on here. No one nation is strong enough to win the game on its own, but as soon as your nation becomes really successful and it looks as though you might win your allies will turn against you, all the while protesting friendship until the orders are revealed, and then they bring the knife down in your back. At its heart "Diplomacy" is a game of bluffing and counter-bluffing, of lulling your targets into a false sense of security until the critical moment, then dropping the axe. Therefore, it's a game about personalities. You will alternately be laughing your head off and gnashing your teeth!

A few things you need to know: First, "Diplomacy" can be a very long game. You need to really commit some serious time to it, as it could easily go on for 10+ hours if you want it to. You will need to watch those diplomacy sessions between orders, and keep a strict time limit. This may upset some people who need more time, but if you're not a timer Nazi the game will last forever. Second, while "Diplomacy" certainly is a great game, you need to be careful to choose the right people you play with. If your friends take things personally, and can't get into the spirit of the game, they will get their feelings hurt. This sounds obvious, but "Diplomacy" is easily one of the meanest games out there. I played a game years ago with two friends of mine who are brothers. After one betrayed the other (and consequently helped me out), they had their worst fight of their lives- before or since. The one who was betrayed still gets upset when I bring it up.

With that said, if you think your friends can take a long, mean-spirited game that is absolutely a blast to play, you will definitely want to pick up a copy of "Diplomacy."
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on September 3, 2010
Let me start by saying I already like board games and videogames when I played this game. The reason I bought Diplomacy was singular. In fact, I only knew one thing about it before ordering: "It ruins friendships." Or so someone told me. To me, that indicated that the game was both immersive and competitive. If only I knew how right I was.

When it came in the mail, I read the instruction book. That took me about 2 hours. I read it slowly and carefully and studied the diagrams. It's very important that at least one person playing has done this. The more, the better. This game has strict rules and there aren't any luck factors at all. It's pure skill. This way nobody complains about the outcome of the game and everyone feels responsible for their achievements.

This is a 7 player game. It's possible to play with less people, but ideally and in my opinion, you really need the full seven. It took me 2 weeks to organize a game for a Sunday afternoon. I also think it's very important to pick the players wisely; quitters, griefers, cry-babies will just ruin it. This was the biggest challenge I faced with Diplomacy. Nobody I played with knew anything about the game so I spent around 30 minutes explaining and after about 1.5 hours of actual playing, everyone was comfortable with the rules.

It's exciting to have everyone write down their commands at the same time and then have everyone also reveal at the same time. It allows players to make and break plans in cunning or foolish ways. About 6 hours in, we had to stop playing. One player had to go home and it ruined the game balance. At that point, we had only eliminated 1 person from the game, and things were really getting interesting. We all wished we could have played more.

Bottom Line: An experience you'll never forget. I highly recommend even if you'll only get to play it once!
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on April 22, 2008
What can I say about Diplomacy. I started playing just a week ago and I'm already addicted to it. This game is truly a masterpiece because its not really the game that gives you the most fun, its the interaction with all of the other players. You can make secret alliances, team up to take down the powerful player, or betray your ally and take his country for a prize. A game can go on for months, you can email moves to each other, or meet up with the players a couple of times a week to issue commands to your fleets and armies and talk to the other players. This game can be played with 2 people, but you won't have the experience unless you play in a seven player mode. Overall, if you like to socialize and have a blast stabbing your friends in the back, buy this game!
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on August 12, 2015
This game appeals to those with an intellectual bent who enjoy negotiating and building coalitions in a geopolitical context. Diplomacy is to Risk as chess is to checkers. There are no dice and the results of each turn solely depend on each player's orders and the support he/she can garner from other players. You should play this game only if you know people well enough that they won't be offended after the game if you betray an alliance.

The classic version uses blocks of different colors to represent the armies and fleets of different countries and it is easy to distinguish one country's units from another's. However, with the cardboard pieces in this version, the pieces look much the same (I have a slight degree of color blindness). I plan to use multicolored blocks and multicolored "popsicle sticks" (cut into thirds) I purchased from a hobby store to use instead of the cardboard pieces; I'll still have to paint some of those white. Multicolored stickers for the cardboard pieces would be an easier solution.
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on December 13, 2012
I love this game. I think it is a brilliant way to spend an afternoon, however; this is not a game for everyone.

The good:
One of the most in depth games I have ever played.
Takes hours and hours. (A positive for me)
Can play by mail or play by email.
Simple rules but deep strategy.

The bad:
Takes hours and hours. Honestly, I've never seen a game take less than 5 or 6 hours... Some people won't like that.
Component quality is so-so. The map is beautiful, but the pieces are cardboard... Honestly, I would much prefer wooden blocks or metal pieces. Plastic would be acceptable as well. (I recommend getting wooden blocks from a craft store and painting them to give the game a touch more class)
You need the right play group. This game is at it's best as a 7 player game, and people who are faint of heart will not like this game. It's very backstabby.
ABSOLUTELY NOT FOR KIDS. It says 12 and up... That's waaaay too young. I say 16+

In conclusion: Do research before you buy it. See if it's a game you would be interested in. If you can handle long games of political intrigue... This game is for you, if not, don't get it.
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