So you have your new game, and the time comes to get some friends together so that you can lie to them, stab them in the back and take their centers. Or, in Diplomacy speak:
"Correct the misunderstanding of the agreed relationships between the countries and establish defendable and stable borders."
There are a few basic things that you may need to consider:
Set Up: Timing
Diplomacy games have been known to take a long time from a board gamer's perspective. The way to avoid the problem is to set a short time limit for your first games. I have found that 10 minutes to negotiate and 2 minutes to write orders is the best to start with. You will find that new players cannot talk about their positions for ten minutes, while experienced players can talk forever. Invest in a timer if you do not already have one in the kitchen. You can get these for about ten dollars at a Radio Shack type place.
Set Up: Fewer Than Seven Players
The true beauty of Diplomacy is experienced with seven players. However that is often not always possible. There is a simple variant system called Escalation, which will allow you to play the game in a balanced manner with fewer than seven players. It is also the best way for two players to practice their fundamental tactical skills with a strong emphasis on strategic thinking. There is also the Chaos Italy Variant, which is a lot of fun when you only have six players. Both these variants are available through this website.
Set Up: Read the Newbie First
Establish a pattern that when you have new players, you always read their orders first, so you can correct their orders in a positive social setting without having a lot of information out there from orders aleady read that could affect their memory of the 'intention' of their poor orders.
This is also one of the reasons that when there are two new players I recommend that they be placed in France and Turkey, so as to have as little cross effect as possible. Also, both those countries are more forgiving of poor tactical choices than any of the inner three powers (Austria-Italy-Germany).
HOW TO LEARN QUICKLY
The rules, as written, had a little too much input from a tech writer spending a lot of time and print in dealing with exceptional situations. There is a single-page DipTeach.doc that covers all the rules that you need to get going. It is also a good handy guide to have in your set to hand out to new players when you teach them the game.
The most common errors people make are:
All these points are covered in the teaching script and video downloads described in the next section.
HOW TO TEACH QUICKLY
The time will come when you will have to teach someone the rules to the game. This can be quite a problem, and a boring exercise for many people on both sides. It also can be rather embarrassing at times when new people ask questions out of the blue in the middle of your thinking, and you are stunned a little. The most important thing about teaching is to get through the basics, and let the more subtle issues come later. People have to start to play quickly, or they lose interest or feel the game is too complicated. The worst case is that you have the person thinking that this is a game for rule lawyers. This game is really VERY SIMPLE. In line with that, three approaches have been developed over the decades (really, after 45 years of teaching, Diplomacy isn't that scary!):
So there you have it — the getting started quickly guide for your own home entertainment social group. Getting started into the hobby mainstream of Email games, Face-to-Face tournaments, and world class play — that is for another time and another article.
Any Questions? There will be a test at your next house game!
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