Diplomacy is a board game, war game and strategy game designed by Allan Calhamer in 1954 and first published by Games Research in 1959. It is currently published by Hasbro under the Avalon Hill imprint. Diplomacy is set historically before the beginning of World War I, and is typically played by seven players, though variants exist for fewer. Each one of the players controls a pre-World War I European power: France, Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Turkey, or the United Kingdom.
Diplomacy is the first commercially published game to be played by mail, and has long supported an active player community through self-published materials and competitive tournament play. It is also very actively played via e-mail and other means on the Internet, continuing its popularity for remote play.
Diplomacy is fundamentally different from most war games or board games because of its main game mechanic: there are no random factors involved in conflict resolution, nor are there turns in the traditional sense to grant strategic bonuses to one player over another. Instead, the focus of the game is on the interpersonal relationships from one player to another, their negotiating and intimidation skills, and on their ability to form beneficial alliances and to determine the intentions of their competitors. Lying, coercion, and well-planned backstabbing are not only encouraged, they are integral parts of the gameplay.
Diplomacy uses a board configured with both ground and naval territories divided into rough interpretations of the political borders in effect in 1901. Each player is granted a total possible number of ten armies and ten fleets that can be used in the course of a game. Armies may only occupy ground territories, and fleets may only occupy either naval territories, or ground territories with open coastline. The starting positions of the first three (or in the case of Russia, four) units each side receives is dictated by the rules and thus is always identical from one game to the next.