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I'm planning a game of Diplomacy with my friends for this weekend. The problem is, none of us have ever played before, so I'm trying to fill the gaps in my understanding so that our inexperience doesn't reduce the fun.

One of the issues I'm worried about is someone getting eliminated, or practically eliminated, early in the game. I'm not sure how often eliminations happen in the game, but I really don't want to ask someone to reserve four hours of their time to play, only to have them get taken out of the running very early and have to watch the rest of us play. Note that I'm not opposed to someone getting eliminated, but to someone not having fun because they were eliminated.

How often do early eliminations happen in Diplomacy? Do you ever find player elimination to be a problem? What, if anything, do you do to reduce the potential negative impacts of player elimination? What tips would you give a group of noobs with regard to eliminations?

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Not a huge Diplomacy expert, but my experience of the game is that newbies are more likely to be shocked by the game going on for hours and hours and hours than they are by "being eliminated quickly". I take it your group isn't filled with jerks who will savagely pick on one player as soon as they scent blood in the water? Diplomacy can feel like a really mean and spiteful game as its main method of getting ahead is the well-timed double-cross, but then it's usually kind of in the interest of the other players to help the betrayed player get revenge... –  thesunneversets Mar 11 '13 at 0:44

3 Answers 3

The game will most likely contract from seven players down to six or five within the first 6 turns, with someone hitting zero SCs in Fall 1903. The first people eliminated will probably be pretty bummed, but usually not so much at the game as at the person they trusted, who stabbed them.

You could arrange to make the first eliminated player become the adjudicator for future orders. That helps everyone and keeps them in a position to learn more about the game with everyone else.

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Like Ry4an said, it is pretty much guaranteed that some people will be eliminated (or nearly so) early on. You'll want to make people aware of this at the beginning, and set some expectations going in of how people will react (ie Is it OK to just give standing orders for 1 or 2 units and leave? Is it OK to proxy control of units to another player and leave? Are eliminated players allowed to listen in on negotiations between other players?) You might want to have other games on hand so that eliminated players can entertain themselves during the negotiation phase and check in on the Diplomacy game occasionally if they're interested in the final outcome.

Another option that I mentioned here is to plan to play several mini-games with pre-determined ending years. You won't get the full end-game experience, but several shorter games with some time to debrief in between might be a better first Diplomacy experience than one full game with a number of eliminations.

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Players can be eliminated in two ways. 1) They get "wiped out," losing all of their supply centers and pieces. 2) They are surrounded and about to get wiped out, so they resign by declaring "civil disorder." Their piece remain on the board until eliminated, and they can't move, but other players can "support" individual pieces located in cities to prevent them from being captured by a third party.

Elimination usually takes time (at least two or three game years), but is part of the game, so people need to learn this. If everyone is new, there may be a lot of back and forth that will prevent people from being eliminated quickly. And even after elimination, there is an incentive for people to stick around: 1) to see others get eliminated and 2) to learn from the experience of others.

One way to greatly reduce the chances of your new players' being eliminated early is to have them draw separately for the corner countries that are less likely to get eliminated. In Diplomacy, Should You Have Separate Country "Draws" For Players of Different Experience?

Once these players have drawn their countries, you can have a full draw for everyone else.

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