Thursday, 7 August 2014

The Game that Ruins Friendships

There was movement in old Europe, for the word had passed around
that Diplomacy once more was up for play.
So they mustered up their forces, in for penny, in for pound,
'til all the hacks had gathered for the fray.
All the tried and noted stabbers from the nations near and far
had gathered round the game board for the fight.
For the rulers love hard talking, from the Archduke to the Tsar, 
and the Sultan snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Kaiser John, who wore with style his Pickelhaulbe hat.
King Max's knife was itching in the dark.
But few were nicer Archdukes than when Sam was titled that.
The Old Man was personified by Mark.
Then Hywel the newly-minted pope turned up to try his hand,
no sooner he than Nick the Frog, he came,
and numbers were completed by Kevin of Russian land.
As finer bunch as ever played the game.


Just when you thought that my horrible massacring of rhyme and meter over the year couldn't get any worse, I'm back at it, warming up for Raptember with a little take off of the Banjo to commemorate the new email Diplomacy game that I've just starting up with some fellow Blaugustines and other members of EVAC. If all goes to plan, I'll be running this game for the next three or four months, giving me lots of gaming content to fill up the always difficult Thursday slot and lots of opportunities to turn my hand to the making of ditties.

It should be a nice chance for me to share my love of diplomacy with others without feeling conflicted about wanting to destroy them in order to win the game for myself, so I'll greatly enjoy watching all the diplomacy take place from the safety of the sidelines. And of course, since this is Diplomacy we're talking about, I'll probably spend a lot of time trying to soften the blows to shattered egos and attempting to reduce the number of international conflicts being solved by assassination.

I don't have much more to say, so let me leave you with the opening lines of the textbook on the game, Richard Sharp's The Game of Diplomacy:

In a changing world, some things do not change. It may be fashionable to decry the simple Virtues, but we still like to find them in our friends. Loyalty, honesty, frankness, gratitude, chivalry, magnanimity - these are the hallmarks of the good friend, the good husband and father, the nice guy we all hope our daughters will marry.

In the amoral world of Diplomacy, however, they are the hallmarks of the born loser. If a fallen enemy reaches out a hand for assistance, the wise man lops it off. If a friend does you a good turn when you’re down, wait until he’s down, then beat him to death. If an ally asks for your help in planning the next season’s moves, give it freely and copiously, then do the reverse of what you agreed and let him take the counter-attack. Try to surround yourself with people who trust you, then let them down; find an ally who will gladly die for you and see that he does just that.

I love this game.

1 comment:

Michael5000 said...

I played a game of Diplomacy once. I lasted about 15 minutes. I never spoke to the guy who shafted me again, on the reasoning that, if he would screw me over so casually in a boardgame, how could I possibly trust him in real life, with real stakes.

I think that's the kind of attitude that keeps me from enjoying this widely-admired game. Just guessing.