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Posted on Oct 7, 2005 in Electronic Games

Diplomacy – Game Review (PC)

Armchair General

Here are just a few of the fourteen AI personality types:

Bear – The Bear is a cautious and patient survivor. He is a team player, but his modesty and openness refrains him from being in the centre-point of any alliance. Because the Bear is a trustworthy ally, who just chew small chunks at a time. The Bear tend to grow slow but steady and thus become a very strong end-game player.

Dog – The Dog has a strong bark, but he rarely bites. However if he bites he never let go. He is a team player who thrive in alliance where his loyalty shines and where he modestly collects the spoils of war. He is both naïve and patient at the same time and prefers the concrete of the great plans.


Dragon – The Dragon is a paternal and dominating team player who more or less demands to be the leader of any alliance. He is a grand planner who is quite open with his intentions, even if his mighty Greed often shines through. In negotiation he is both personal and intimidating and shuns the speculative and deceptive. He quickly gets irritated by slippery players and has got a bad streak of vengeance in him. The Dragon is quite enigmatic due to the fact that he is both logical and paranoid which sometimes make him act erratic and pre-emptive.

Lion – "Hear me roar” the lion says. The Lion loves to be in the focus, and in alliance he wants to play the most important part. Rather aggressive the lion want adventure and do not balk for war and conflict. However, he is a fair player who dislikes lies, and easily goes impatient with the secretive and reclusive.

Shark – The Shark is ruthless and greedy beyond measurement. She is not generally a team player but can act like one if the alliance feed her consistently with fresh meat. Should it not she would immediately defect. She is often short-sighted and brutish, but patient and deceptive. Had it not been for her aggressiveness she would also have been considered secretive.

These descriptions aren’t just lip service either, they really seem to make a difference. By way of an example, in my first game I played as England and found myself almost constantly pestered for deals and alliances from France. France was being portrayed by a "Bull" player, the description for which read as follows:

Bull – The Bull is an easy to please and easy to anger kind of guy. Strong-willed and stubborn the Bull isn’t exactly cooperative however he is not secretive or lying, rather he is a concrete plain-talker. The Bull have the capacity to grow very fast if allied with the right players, but his expansion will be very obvious and may become considered a threat.

Indeed, I did find this type of AI player to be rather "plain-talking", a cards-on-the-table kind of a guy, and someone to treat with caution – was he really keen to get into an alliance with me or was he just feathering his own nest with a view to stabbing me in the back later? As it happens, he did remain faithfull however my my German opponent was being played as a "Shark" and hindered me at every turn.

Once you have chosen your country and your opponents, you can then select how clever the AI actually is with three options ranging from Easy to Hard, how long each round should last (each turn can last up to 30 minutes thus allowing for some meaty negotiation) and then it’s time to enter the game. Fans of the boardgame will feel fully at home here – the sequence of negotiation, orders, resolution and retreat remains the same, but unlike the boardgame it’s pretty much impossible to make an error when submitting those orders, the game simply won’t allow ambiguous orders.

The picture below shows the game map around which your entire game will revolve. But unlike the previous PC version of Diplomacy, it’s possible to zoom in and out of this main view and even pan around once you get really close-up. What’s more you can rotate the view and even swoop down to gain an isometric viewing position over Europe, which makes things a little more interesting even though it has no effect on gameplay. At the top of the screen you will see seven symbols representing the seven nations vying for supremacy. Each symbol contains the national flag, a real-time count of how many Production Centres that nation controls and a small speech bubble – which we will look at later.


The Map

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