Andy and Andy came over tonight. We talked about playing Settlers, but Skinny Andy wanted to play Diplomacy. S.Andy played Diplomacy a lot when he was in high school ("A LOT!"), and wanted to see how it played now that he was older. The game has a maximum of seven players, and is like Risk in that you conquer Europe during some giant "world" war, but is different than Risk in that you can make deals with other players, removing some of the luck of the dice from the game.
Diplomacy is played with a map of Europe, with each player controlling one or more countries, and little tiles representing armies and navies. At the beginning of each round, each player decides what a piece is going to do: stay put and defend the space it's on, move into a new space and attack any other piece that may be already occupying the space, or help another piece move to a new space which is what the navy pieces can do. In deciding these moves or non-moves, players can talk to each other. Before the discussion part of the round ends, each player writes down what he's going to do for that round, which is revealed nominally all at once to everyone.
Since I wanted chocolate souffle, I was unfortunately in the kitchen during the boys' reading of the rules. Given there are a large number of nuances in the game (one of the worst being, if you wrote it down, you can't change it), and I was absent for most of their revelations, I ended up breaking an unknown rule every round. I have to say for that reason alone, my frustration grew and grew and grew with the game (hey, you can't do that, now you're penalized; you can't do that either, go back; you can't do that either, you lose another piece; you can't do that, take it back).
We started out all of us just sitting there, trying to figure out what to do with our pieces. By the third round, we were talking a short bit, but none of us were really managing to do much with our countries and pieces. Well, except for Skinny Andy. He knew what he was doing, and was doing it well.
By the fourth round, we figured out that we could pass notes back and forth between each other. Suddenly, negotiation and, well, diplomacy were possible.
I have to say, that certain aspects of the game were entertaining. Fat Andy complaining about how everyone was attacking him, while he was leading the charge on attacking one of my two countries, was funny. That I came around from his back flanks to out manuveur him was equally funny. Skinny Andy I think would have crushed us, given enough time. Kris was, I think, overwhelmed to the point of being nearly ineffective, often forgetting to write down steps that he had agreed to during our diplomatic conversations.
We played for a couple hours, then decided to be done. I ended up both completely devastated, with Germany having only one piece, and victorious, with Turkey having the most number of pieces, the broadest number of spaces occupied, and, arguably, the best position for future conquest.
Given how much Skinny Andy loved the game as a kid, I'm willing to play again. I can't say without that motivation that I'd be willing.