Diplomacy destroys friendships. Never has a game taken the social bonds I carefully built among my peers and so easily ruined them. You have been warned.

Diplomacy is a unique game. This war game is best played over the course of hours and days. You play one of the European countries during the first world war. Rather than using dice, battles are won based on strength: two units beats one unit. A battle with equal force is a tie. Defeated units are pushed elsewhere on the map, and are only ever removed if a player loses their major supply centers. Since players only have three units and lots of territory to cover, alliances are built very quickly.

Turns are played in a strange, simultaneous way. After all players have secret conversations with each other, they must write down their orders and turn them in. All orders are revealed and resolved at the same time. Players can promise to write down one thing, but are free to write whatever they want. These are the moments when you find out if your friends are going to stand by you or stab you in the back. And after hours and days of game play, those betrayals can really hurt.

Everyone should play Diplomacy once. There is no game more suited to teaching about the fragility of alliances. It's like a Werner Herzog movie played out in your own living room. Diplomacy is a beautiful tragedy.

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