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Diplomacy Basics

How to Play

Introduction to Diplomacy Powers

Diplomacy is an extremely balanced game. In the hands of an experienced player, every power has a chance to top the board. However, some powers are more difficult for newer players than others. Learning about the strengths and weaknesses of each power can help you in your negotiations and decision making. Always remember that you should play the other players, not the other powers. Your interactions and negotiations with other players will have far more impact on your success than which power you or your neighbors are playing. 

Openings

To an experienced player, which opening you choose can speak volumes about your intent in the opening portions of the game. Understanding which openings help achieve which goal, and perhaps more importantly, how the rest of the board is likely interpret the intent of your openings, are valuable skills to have. Always keep in mind that Diplomacy is not like chess. Negotiations and relationships are just as, if not more important than where you move your pieces. Your openings should always support your goals, not the other way around. 

Alliances

Alliances in Diplomacy tend to be fluid. Any group of committed players can make any alliance work. However, there are some alliances that occur more naturally than others. These alliances occur so frequently, they have often been named. Familiarizing yourself with the more common alliances and the vocabulary used to describe them can help you negotiate more effectively.

Stalemate Lines

A stalemate line is a position on the board that prevents any further advance by the enemy. Stalemate lines are a pretty complex topic. Generally speaking, a newer player does not need to understand them in detail. What is important is that the new player know that these positions *do* exist, and that they become more meaningful the longer the game is played. In most Windy City Weasel bar games, there is not enough time for stalemate lines to become a meaningful part of the game. In house games, and particularly in tournament games, they become more meaningful because of the longer game length. If a veteran player starts talking to you about stalemate lines in the first few years of the game, be aware that they may be trying to use fancy vocabulary to influence your play to their advantage. If its been a few years, you might want to listen more closely, particularly if you are part of an alliance from one side of the board trying to hold back and alliance from the other side of the board. Here are a few resources where you can learn more about stalemate lines:

 Scoring Systems

The Diplomacy rulebook provides one victory outcome, controlling 18 or more supply centers, or "soloing." Because Diplomacy is such a balanced game, a "solo" is extremely unlikely. As a result, the Diplomacy community has invented scoring systems designed to evaluate games where no one "solos" so that we can play the game competitively. Many systems have been used over the years, all of which have pros and cons. The Windy City Weasels use a scoring system called "Sum of Squares" which we feel encourages the behaviors we value most, balance of power, fluid alliances, and backstabbing. Other scoring systems are designed to encourage different behaviors, or to incentivise those same behaviors a different way. If you only play with the Weasels, you really only need to learn our scoring system. If you ever play online or travel to play with other clubs or at tournaments, you should be aware they may not score their games the same way. Generally speaking, every scoring system will reward you for capturing more supply centers than your opponents.

Here are some of the more common scoring systems in the hobby today:

Advanced Strategy & Tactics  

Want to learn more? Check out the Wise Old Weasel Strategy Blog and Advanced Strategy & Tactics section for more articles and links! 

Here are a few other resources that Weasel veterans recommend. Keep in mind that many of the articles on these sites are older and written with Draw Based or C-Diplo style scoring systems in mind. The majority of the content will still apply, but there may be a few subtle differences between what these authors suggest and what applies in Weasel league and tournament play:

  • If you like Podcasts, The Diplomacy Podcast is a great resource. The hosts are tournament regulars and because this is a newer resource, their advice is pretty applicable to Weasel club and tournament play.
  • The Diplomacy Archive has a great collection of Diplomacy related articles that have been collected over the years. This site is a little easier to search than the online "Zines" that follow. 
  • The Diplomatic Pouch has a tremendous backlog of newsletters and strategy articles. Several club veterans had their start in competitive play through this website.  
  • Diplomacy World has been around for over 40 years and is considered by many one of the flagship publications of Diplomacy related materials. Reading the backlog of articles will expose you to the tremendous history of this hobby and the thoughts and opinions of some of the hobby's greatest members. 

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