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In my eyes, the absolute classic of boardgames. Published by Avalon Hill, now sadly nothing more than a mere label of Hasbro, Diplomacy evokes in me the memories of ancient victories and humiliating defeats.

The game of diplomacy is easily learned, but difficult to master, as it always depends on the qualities of your fellow players, and lady luck has but a little role. Instead you have to ask yourself the little questions of trust or betrayal:

Will your ally stand by your side or switch sides at a crucial point?
Will you keep your promises to your ally even though his flank is wide open to an invasion?
Are you really facing the Turko-Russian juggernaut, or is there more danger from the west?

Played more than once with the same players, the game evolves, as players who double cross others will not usually be very well trusted the next few games. Expect to be the first to go in the game after the one where you betrayed all your partners. So one must be dependable, but no dupe to win. As shared victories are possible, be willing to share with your ally, instead of stabbing him.

And still, the sight of a close friend and former ally suddenly looking at you when the moves are read out aloud, eyes and voice breaking, is a priceless sight indeed. Unless the stab was incomplete, in which case one's fate is sealed.

As I said, I have pulled off glorious single victories and suffered humiliating defeats. It`s all in your hands in a game of Diplomacy and let it be known that this is a good game to while away long winter nights, with six good friends. For this is what you need for a game of diplomacy. Time and good friends, as less than good friends may end up not being very friendly afterwards.

It is, of course also perfectly possible to play the game online, but I do prefer the face-to-face variant as the direct process of wheeling and dealing, arguing and bargaining that is integral to this game (hence the name) gives it the spice that makes it so addictive. The glorious interpersonal relationship of enemies and allies alike, the ability to look into someones eyes to discern wheather he will keep his word or not, all this can't be simultaed online. And so, the best players are those who are the best judges of character, able to read little looks, words and gestures as well as the actual moves on the board.

But remember, it's just a game. Don't hold personal grudges, and put personal feelings aside when playing. If you are not able to do that, don't play, or you will lose trust in your friends quickly. I saw lasting friendships, even relationships breaking apart because of a successful stab. Play for fun,and remember: It's just a game!