Diplomacy is an absolutely classic board game. But to get most out of your game, you need proper preparation. Prepare yourself with these five tips to avoid disappointment and be sure of a fun game of conspiring and backstabbing.
- Appoint someone to keep track of time
It happens to everyone: at the start of the game everyone agrees to 30 minutes max rounds. You set an alarm, and after three rounds, everyone ignores the alarm. This is why Diplomacy takes forever to finish. The best way to solve this is to appoint someone who isn’t playing the game to keep track of time in exchange for food and good company. A referee that has no stakes in the game helps to speed up the game. And that increases the chance that you will finish Diplomacy this time.
Make sure everyone know the rules
This seems too obvious to mention; is it possible to play a game without knowing the rules? Yet, it is not totally superfluous to quickly rehearse the rules in advance. Diplomacy doesn’t have too many rules, but the many interactions between the commands of all the players cause extremely complex situations to emerge. The most frustrating thing that can happen is to screw up a round, because you forgot whether or not you were allowed to retreat to a land with a stand-off.
This is a very good tutorial on the rules of Diplomacy: video.
Settle on clear rules in advance
Off course, everyone sticks to the rules, but there likely will occur situations in which the rules are ambiguous or seem a little too rigid. For instance, someone submits his instructions too late, or two players only talk to each other and refuse to talk to anyone else. Settle in advance on how to manage these situations. Do you allow everyone one late submission, or are you strict? What to do with instructions that are not clearly written? If you discuss how to handle these situations in advance, everybody will be more alert and it is clear how you will deal with them.
Read up on a good strategy
Diplomacy is a very strategic game so you need to meditate on real strategies. When you considered a few strategies in advance, you will probably play better and it makes it easier to convince your fellow players to join your plan. There are a lot of Diplomacy strategy guides on the internet, like The Game of Diplomacy by Richard Sharp, or this playlist by HistoryGamerDotCom. Make your opponents read or listen to a few basic strategies to lift the game to a higher level.
Be careful who you play with
It is true for every game that fellow players make or break the game. But in a game of Diplomacy, a game that consists of talking, making pacts, and breaking alliances, this is even more true. Players that get annoying after only one hour, are most likely not the best players for a game that lasts at least a few hours. Also players that are easily distracted or very susceptible for peer pressure are probably not the most fun. The ideal Diplomacy player has a very long attention span, loves to debate, but doesn’t talk too loud and isn’t afraid of social repercussions.