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Gentlemen, I present Diplomacy: The Game of International Intrigue

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Diplomacy: The Game of International Intrigue

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Developer(s) Paradox interactive
Platform(s) - Personal Computer
Release date(s)- October 4th 2005
Genre(s) - Turn based strategy
Mode(s) - Single-player/Multiplayer
Rating(s)- ESRB: E (Everyone)

If you ask my friend Napoleon Bonaparte, of the Corsican meadows Bonapartes, he'll tell you how "The best way to keep one's word is not to give it". You see, my good friend knows a thing or two about Diplomacy: The art of thinking twice before doing nothing. Since the dawn of civilization, the fate of nations has been intertwined by negotiations from everything war to peace treaties. And no game captures this better than the computerized version of a long time classic Diplomacy

Since it's birth in '50s the board game Diplomacy has been widely regarded as the best strategy game to ever exist. If you've ever stepped into a game store, you'll know that the game is serious business. And while digital versions of the classical board game have been loyal to its nature, they have yet to acquire the same charm. Paradox Entertainment's Diplomacy may have still fallen into the same pot hole as versions before, it still provides a loyal service to the dedicated fanbase.

France is just asking for it

Diplomacy places you as the leader of one of the seven world powers[1] that dominated European power politics at the start of the 1900s. The game attempts to reenact the disastrous alliance system that lead to the First World War. But winning doesn't require skill or luck, but rather how good you are at using your opponent into gaining what you need.

The game places you at the head of the armed forces of you selected power. There are two kinds of units; armies and fleets, each worth one point. The game takes place on the continent of Europe, with sections divided into land and sea zones. And despite a historical setting, everyone starts of equal in military strength and resources. The only real usable advantage is the geography of Europe itself, such as Britain and France's strategic positioning near the sea, or Russia's access to non-powers land that surrounds it.

The ultimate goal of your conquests is to collect as many resource centers positioned around the globe. The number of centers you control dictates the number of units on the field you can have in total, so it's vital you collect as many as possible. Creating more units requires you to leave a center in your country open at the start of a round, which means you'll have to expand. But once nations realize there only a small number of unoccupied resource centers, fights arise over dominance home and abroad.

The game takes place over "rounds", or years. And each year is broken to four periods, representing the seasons. In order to take over an enemy resource center you must have dominated it by the fall of that year, and in return it becomes your possession at the start of the next year. Units can only make one move per period, so deciding where to go can be just as important as making alliances.

This gets ugly very quickly

Like its table top origins, the game focuses a lot on interaction with others. In order to take an area from an enemy, the player needs to have one more unit than the defender, and visa versa. A direct head to head assault between to armies or fleets would end in a stalemate, so this is where the concept of support comes to play. Players will need troops from home or foreigners to help them outmatch an enemy.

To gain such a desirable advantage, the player will need to negotiate with the heads of other states. Creating lasting alliances and tactic pacts are crucial in surviving. Interacting with the games friendly AI is simple as well. By clicking on an animated version of the period's ruler, you can show them your desired intentions.

The animated avatar will either grunt its approval or dissatisfaction, which can be annoying, but gets the job done efficiently. Don't worry about keeping track of treaties you have made, because the game will warn you if a move you're making violates the preset agreement. And while minor flukes may be tolerated, a total betrayal will make it almost impossible to gain the trust of any country ever again.

A lot of this sounds confusing, and it really is. The learning curve ranges from hard to obscene, and only faithful Diplomacy table toppers will be able to pick up and play. It takes about an hour for novices to pick up the rules, and another handful of hours to stop being dominated. It's definitely not helped by the game tutorial being too convoluted for its own good. Despite an unforgiving difficulty curve, players that don't falter will be rewarded with one of the most mentally stimulating games ever created.

I prefer to play as Britain

And let's face it, the game's Artificial Intelligence could never compare to a living, breathing human opponent, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its own charms. Each countries leader has historically appropriate uniform and personality. However, while breaking a big treaty will cost players a lot in the game, the AI doesn't even think twice about it, especially if you've let yourself vulnerable. But despite not achieving the level of complex conscious decisions as humans, the games computer opponents play style is not broken. Players won't have to worry about stupid or cheap artificial opponents.

The multiplayer feature is much better if you're looking for a real challenge. Especially since the "grunt" system eliminates all possible language barriers. It may be hard to find a game, but it's definitely worth it. The greatest playmode is the sandbox mode, which allows players to create any virtual scenario and act it out. A great way to experience all the "what if's" of the First and Second World War.

The visuals are pretty basic, mimicking the look and feel of the tabletop legend. Animation is fluid, but the game sadly misses the opportunity to explore beyond plastic pieces of the board game. The trouble is that the games requirements are insultingly obnoxious, especially for such low graphical achievement.

By the end of the day it's clear that the best option is to just gather a group of friends and play the original version like it's meant to be. The game is loyal to the series as it could get, so if you're low on free time (or friendships) don't feel threatened to use the game as a window into strategy games. You'll start the game as a victim to the powers that be, but with a bit of patience, you'll find yourself echoing a phrase attributed to another good friend of mine, Julius Caesar "Veni, Vidi, Vici"[2]

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[1] Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire
[2] "I came, I saw, I conquered"

Random Argument Man:
Le snip

Since I wasn't able to get back at you in my previous review, I'll just do so here.

I've added MM to the list, and thanks for the complement.

This looks fun. I should try it. Axis and Allies was always my favorite though.

So it's like a bigger game of RISK!

that looks awesome! At least, the table top version... Wow, what an insult, "it's better if you DON'T code it"

XD I literally just played that. It was part of my History class/grade. The drama generated in that game is Hilarious. I loved mucking up alliances between other players. XP
It is indeed, a "game of intrigue".

I loved the board game Diplomacy. I didn't know there was a video game on it.
This is weird. What's up with your poll? My vote isn't showing up.

masher:
XD I literally just played that. It was part of my History class/grade. The drama generated in that game is Hilarious. I loved mucking up alliances between other players. XP
It is indeed, a "game of intrigue".

Funnily enough, that's exactly how I got into the game. We played the board game for a full week, it was sweet (Except I had to play as France).

It got even more dramatic when the Candy prize got involved.

Looks like..

This Game...

*sunglasses*

Intrigues me.

Ah, Great Revie Pimpeter2.

I geuss even Pimps need a break from the streets to play board game eh?

Deleric:
Looks like..

This Game...

*sunglasses*

Intrigues me.

YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

(Sorry for double post, I couden't let that opurtunity pass)

Wow... Diplomacy. Haven't played this one in ages. Usually my dad or mates go right for the rampant bloodshed of Risk.

Still, decent review, continuing Pimp's proud tradition of schooling the room. Incidentally, Pimp seems the kind of guy to excel at this in both the real-life and virtual setting. I'd love to test that. Just putting that out there.

Diplomacy, huh? I remember hearing about a videogame version. Great review as always, blah blah blah.

The only question is - why did you start a new column in addition to Pimpin Reviews?

Well, I never was a fan of the board game.
As I've said before: If it isn't visual*, its not fun for me.

Still, since this is visual*, I might give it a shot.
Good show, sport.

*Visual as a video game, not visual as in can see

i'll be sure to pick this up sometime.

looks like an intrig....FUN game

Good review, however this game has never been to my personal tastes. It's ruined marriages.

This seems to be suspiciously alot like axis and allies and risk, maybe thats just me though. Played it its no fun unless you can actually talk to the other players and mess with their heads.

I liked the review, I found I could read it well and you didn't get stuck down in pointless details which seems a big problem for many of us when we attempt this sort of thing.

Also, i'd like to suggest that your next review be of Halo 2 as i'm hoping you'll be able to be constructive on your critism or praise of the game and not fall into the regular fanboy/hater pits of doom.

BlueInkAlchemist:
. Incidentally, Pimp seems the kind of guy to excel at this in both the real-life and virtual setting. I'd love to test that. Just putting that out there.

I was thinking of starting a Diplomacy Escapist User group, and hopefully starting an epic game from that. I'll tell you if we get enough interested members, I know at least 1 other guy that may want in.

Kollega:
The only question is - why did you start a new column in addition to Pimpin Reviews?

Well the technical reason is to keep Pimpin reviews on a current release path, the other is to switch the style and format.

The real reason, of course, is boredom.

Thank for reading.

TheNamlessGuy:
Well, I never was a fan of the board game.
As I've said before: If it isn't visual*, its not fun for me.

Still, since this is visual*, I might give it a shot.
Good show, sport.

*Visual as a video game, not visual as in can see

You should! Thanks for reading.

rokkolpo:
i'll be sure to pick this up sometime.

looks like an intrig....FUN game

What and intig....great comment. Thanks for reading, I hope you do try it out.

Therumancer:
Good review, however this game has never been to my personal tastes. It's ruined marriages.

To be honest I could see that. Thanks for commenting.

Jared Veeser-Lynn:
This seems to be suspiciously alot like axis and allies and risk, maybe thats just me though. Played it its no fun unless you can actually talk to the other players and mess with their heads.

Actually, Diplomacy was released in 1954, while RISK was released in 1957, and Axis and Allies was the last one released in 1981.

So actually, those two are suspiciously a lot like Diplomacy. :P

I agree though, the best version is the table top one.

Sir Kemper:
Ah, Great Revie Pimpeter2.

I guess even Pimps need a break from the streets to play board game eh?

I blame monopoly!

crimson5pheonix:
This looks fun. I should try it. Axis and Allies was always my favorite though.

Looked Axis and Allies, and being released 30 years after Diplomacy, it seems to "borrow heavily" from the game. Though, the increased map size seems a good addition. Though, I prefer Diplomacy because its a bit more compact. I mean, the last time around our game took 12 hours to fully complete (I came in "3rd place"), so I can't even imagine how much time a real game of A&A would take.

Demon ID:
I liked the review, I found I could read it well and you didn't get stuck down in pointless details which seems a big problem for many of us when we attempt this sort of thing.

Also, i'd like to suggest that your next review be of Halo 2 as i'm hoping you'll be able to be constructive on your critism or praise of the game and not fall into the regular fanboy/hater pits of doom.

Thanks for reading.

And as for the Halo 2 review, I hope so too! I'll be working on it soon enough.

Pimppeter2:
super snip.

Not long if I was playing Russia.

Nice to read a review on something new.

Also, shouldn't it be:

"Vidi, Vici, Veni" :P

Pimppeter2:

BlueInkAlchemist:
. Incidentally, Pimp seems the kind of guy to excel at this in both the real-life and virtual setting. I'd love to test that. Just putting that out there.

I was thinking of starting a Diplomacy Escapist User group, and hopefully starting an epic game from that. I'll tell you if we get enough interested members, I know at least 1 other guy that may want in.

A third as it were. I love Diplomacy.

The review was good and simple. It read quickly and without a whole lot of effort. It didn't feel particularly in depth but looking back this is largely because you kept it very non-opinionated. You seemed content to explain the rules and intentions of Diplomacy, the noticable feature this computer game adds to the box experience and little else. What might have taken someone else (me for example) a paragraph of exposition, you explain suscinctly and professionally.

It feels a little bare but it gets the job done fast. Overall, a good review.

Eerors:
Nice to read a review on something new.

Also, shouldn't it be:

"Vidi, Vici, Veni" :P

Thanks for commenting.

I don't think so...

Khedive Rex:

Pimppeter2:

BlueInkAlchemist:
. Incidentally, Pimp seems the kind of guy to excel at this in both the real-life and virtual setting. I'd love to test that. Just putting that out there.

I was thinking of starting a Diplomacy Escapist User group, and hopefully starting an epic game from that. I'll tell you if we get enough interested members, I know at least 1 other guy that may want in.

A third as it were. I love Diplomacy.

The review was good and simple. It read quickly and without a whole lot of effort. It didn't feel particularly in depth but looking back this is largely because you kept it very non-opinionated. You seemed content to explain the rules and intentions of Diplomacy, the noticable feature this computer game adds to the box experience and little else. What might have taken someone else (me for example) a paragraph of exposition, you explain suscinctly and professionally.

It feels a little bare but it gets the job done fast. Overall, a good review.

Thank you! And I'll start up the group soon.

I tried not to get bogged down in details. I mean, Diplomacy can be pretty damn complicated.

Thanks again for commenting.

I have removed my words from this site.

Awesome, you can play as Prussia during the age of imperialism? I am so in.

Excellent review, Pimpy. I think this is the first review you've done of something that I was both interested in and didn't already know all about. You gave me all the info I need to make a decision about whether I'd like the game or not, and did it in a balanced way-pointing out flaws and high points without being blatantly biased. It's what I would expect from say, PC Gamer magazine or something. Very professional. I think I'll probably pick it up once I get a decent PC.

Off topic: Have you ever played any of the Hearts of Iron series, Pimp? I'd love to get your take on that since it's my favorite game (HoI2, that is).

joethekoeller:

Eerors:
Nice to read a review on something new.

Also, shouldn't it be:

"Vidi, Vici, Veni" :P

Only if you want to say "I saw, won and came".

What's the chances that he's in court for sexual harassment?

*WARNING! THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE IS IN EXTREMELY BAD TASTE!*

I have to ask about the board game, how hard is it to play for a complete beginner? It looks interesting, and while I'll probably never play it (a lack of local friends is the problem here), I'd like to know, just in case.

Nevyrmoore:

joethekoeller:

Eerors:

Also, shouldn't it be:

"Vidi, Vici, Veni" :P

Only if you want to say "I saw, won and came".

What's the chances that he's in court for sexual harassment?

*WARNING! THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE IS IN EXTREMELY BAD TASTE!*

I'm glad someone the joke. ^_^

My court date is the 40th July :( My boss's secretary didn't understand I actually wanted to squeeze her melons to check for ripeness.

EDIT: joke!

While this sounds like precisely the type of game for me, it truly does sound like the best way to experience it is with human players. Really makes me wish that the folks I used to play Risk with on a weekly basis didn't move away as they'd probably be up for this too.

It's a really good review, Pimppeter2, and the formatting is just fantastic. It really makes me wish that I still had the patience after four/five hours of writing a review to fine tune its presentation. Having said that, I think you'd do well to give it a thorough once over since I still managed to find some little mistakes here and there. Still, it's great work. I was wondering when we'd see the return of "Gentlemen" as I was starting to think that it was just a one-off type thing.

Oh man I love that game, but only the board game. its fun to play with four other people and can take hours to finish.

joethekoeller:

Incidentally, I'm still perplexed to see how Pimppeter2 can do a review of anything and get a whole load of comments. I guess if anybody ever wondered if I was bitter about him being a lot more successful than me, there goes your answer. Nice work as always.

Probably a mix of being an adwhore and a "popular" forumite more than anything. But thanks

Nevyrmoore:
I have to ask about the board game, how hard is it to play for a complete beginner? It looks interesting, and while I'll probably never play it (a lack of local friends is the problem here), I'd like to know, just in case.

There's plenty of online strategy guides and things. Its not terribly hard, the rounds can get a bit confusing. And if your friends are cheap it will be even worse. I suggest going to a local (board) gamestore and asking around. Most likely a pro will be there to tell you.

Swollen Goat:
Excellent review, Pimpy. I think this is the first review you've done of something that I was both interested in and didn't already know all about. You gave me all the info I need to make a decision about whether I'd like the game or not, and did it in a balanced way-pointing out flaws and high points without being blatantly biased. It's what I would expect from say, PC Gamer magazine or something. Very professional. I think I'll probably pick it up once I get a decent PC.

Off topic: Have you ever played any of the Hearts of Iron series, Pimp? I'd love to get your take on that since it's my favorite game (HoI2, that is).

Thank you, and as I said in that user group, Heart of Iron will probably get its own treatment sooner or later

Maet:
While this sounds like precisely the type of game for me, it truly does sound like the best way to experience it is with human players. Really makes me wish that the folks I used to play Risk with on a weekly basis didn't move away as they'd probably be up for this too.

It's a really good review, Pimppeter2, and the formatting is just fantastic. It really makes me wish that I still had the patience after four/five hours of writing a review to fine tune its presentation. Having said that, I think you'd do well to give it a thorough once over since I still managed to find some little mistakes here and there. Still, it's great work. I was wondering when we'd see the return of "Gentlemen" as I was starting to think that it was just a one-off type thing.

Go to a local shop, if you're not shy around strangers, there's plenty of people who would love to play right then and there. That's how I first started being a bit more "serious" about the game.

And thank you. I am sad that I forgot to hawk over this review like I said I would, but I am an over eager fellow and I forgot. I actually enjoy writing the "Gentlemen" series more than the regular "Pimpin Reviews", usually because its always a game that I can give a glowing recommendation to, especially for more obscure titles like this one.

Thanks for commenting, and thanks for the formatting praise. If anything, I do my best to keep the BBcode up and running smoothly, though it is possibly the biggest pain of all.

Mariakitten:
Oh man I love that game, but only the board game. its fun to play with four other people and can take hours to finish.

Yeah, I had a game go something like 20 hours. I didn't do so well myself (I got stuck with the ottomans, I rarely perform well with them. But I was supporting Italy and was at least able to out maneuver Russia, only to get squashed by an Astro-French invasion on my flank.

Nevyrmoore:

joethekoeller:

Eerors:
Nice to read a review on something new.

Also, shouldn't it be:

"Vidi, Vici, Veni" :P

Only if you want to say "I saw, won and came".

What's the chances that he's in court for sexual harassment?

*WARNING! THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE IS IN EXTREMELY BAD TASTE!*

I have to ask about the board game, how hard is it to play for a complete beginner? It looks interesting, and while I'll probably never play it (a lack of local friends is the problem here), I'd like to know, just in case.

Well, to answer, the first time I played it, it wasn't too hard. I went against a few people who knew what they were doing, and one that didn't (if I remember correctly). I had fun, though it was long. It's pretty easy to pick up, and assuming you can find some people to play it with that are willing to donate a whole night, if not more to this, then I say go for it!
As for the review, it was good. A few grammatical/spelling issues, but as for content, it was informative while not boring. Good job!

 

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