I love Diplomacy. The alliances, intrigue, negotiation, backstabbing, and the relatively simple mechanics that help emphasize the diplomatic aspect over the game mechanics.

However, it can be hard to find a group of people to play it with; not everyone likes such a cutthroat game, it requires 7 players (I hear you can do it with fewer, but that it's not as good), and it takes up a whole day to play.

Are there any good games that have a similar diplomatic and negotiation focus, but which play quicker, require fewer players or are more flexible in player number? A game will be a good fit if the diplomatic aspect of alliances, backstabbing, and the like is a substantial or the majority of the game, with less emphasis on individual strategy, tactics, and luck.


8 Answers 8



In Junta you play leaders of a Banana republic. Each turn the elected El Presidente hands out various offices and announces the budget for the year and who will be receiving how much. He doesn't reveal how much he's keeping for himself though :)

If anyone is unhappy with their allocation they can arrange a coup, marshal their forces and try to unseat El Presidente. If they don't wish to go with the open war route, they can try to assassinate any other player by guessing their location from among the 5 allowed each turn. Assassinations are only a temporary inconvenience as your brother/uncle/cousin will be happy to take over the family business :)

The goal of the game is to get as much cash as you can into your swiss bank account. The only way to put money into it is to go to the bank, and survive the inevitable assassination attempts.

The game will take upwards of 2 hours, but a shorter game can easily be done by not using the full money deck. It is a lighthearted game, but full of diplomacy, bluffing, and backstabbing. On turns without a coup (probably every other turn) there is no significant use of the board.

  • 1
    This looks like it has some of the right elements, but reviews and comments on BGG seem to indicate that the coups take too long and distract too much from the diplomatic aspect. Definitely worth checking out, but I'd still be interested in hearing about more games. Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 20:22
  • This sounds very similar to the board game Swärje, in which you run a political campaign full of corruption with the goal to smuggle money to your Swiss bank account. A caveat is that it is in Swedish.
    – danr
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 9:09

A Game of Thrones

It is based on a novel and has a bunch of expansions.

Not sure if it is that much simpler though. It has more other mechanics than diplomacy, but the supporting and backstabbing part is a bit simpler. I've played it once now and it was quite fun. It 'only' took a few hours, even though it was the first time. Also the fact that not everything is executed in parallel makes it a bit easier to understand.

However, the fundamental part where you promise to your ally to do certain things and then it later turned out you did the exact opposite is still very much there. E.g. you agree to support someone's attack, put a command counter on a province and later it turns out that you didn't support him.

  • One major way A Game of Thrones differs from Diplomacy is that A Game of Thrones explicitly forbids private communication - if you have anything to say, you have to say it to all players. This changes the negotiation aspect quite a bit in a way that I personally prefer.
    – Mag Roader
    Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 21:42
  • Also of note: 3-5 players (6 with an expansion)
    – Mag Roader
    Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 21:43
  • 1
    @Mag, oh yeah, I forgot about the open negotiations thing. This indeed makes it less like Diplomacy. I still felt pretty similar to when I played Diplomacy though, when it came to alliances and backstabbing. Next to that, it makes playing the game a lot easier and faster. You don't have to hassle with going to seperate rooms the whole time. Anyway, when playing Diplomacy face-to-face (as opposed to playing through mail or online), you also can have a bit of a clue of what is going on behind your back. Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 23:25
  • This definitely qualifies as in the Diplomacy family. The rules are a bit more complicated, but it plays more quickly and requires fewer players. Open negotiations do remove some of the intrigue in Diplomacy, but I think they leave enough for it to count, and help speed the game up (having to sneak off to do secret negotiations taking up a large amount of the time in Diplomacy). Commented Nov 2, 2010 at 17:38

Republic of Rome

Plays a little quicker than Diplomacy - 4-5 hours which makes it just playable in an evening, rather than needing a full day. The game mechanics are more complex than diplomacy, but most of them are on cards, so you only have to deal with a fairly modest set at a time. If you can arrange for your inexperienced players not to be HRAO for the first turn or two, it's easy enough to learn, and reasonably experienced players hardly ever refer to the rules.

Especially if you play the Middle Republic or Late Republic scenario rather than the Early, it's a game all about diplomacy and negotiations between the players as they try to scramble to the top. Early Republic is more about the players as a team trying to defeat the game-system (aka Carthage).

  • Great! So, sounds like it's a bit shorter than Diplomacy, and requires fewer players, and a bit more complex. Thus, I think it qualifies as a Diplomacy "lite" according to my criteria. Commented Oct 24, 2010 at 15:47
  • It's really good with five or six - you can't play with more than that (it messes up the pace of the game if you draw more than six cards a turn). In mechanical terms, four is fine, but I don't believe that diplomatic games work with four, as 2v2 alliances tend to snowball, and 3v1 makes it too easy to bring down a leader. Republic of Rome has a lot of random factors, so it's a game of skilled improvisation rather than long-term careful planning like Diplomacy. Commented Oct 24, 2010 at 21:29

Switch published as High Hand

This is very light. Build poker hands from a tableau of cards, but there is an alliance/partnership mechanic in it. It was designed by Robert Abbott, known for inventing Eleusis and Epaminondas.

  • Interesting. Sounds like it's very light compared to what I'm looking for, but it does have a negotiation aspect. Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 20:58

Quo Vadis?

Players seek to move their policians through a set of committees and eventually to sit on the Roman Senate. To move politicians forward from each committee to the next requires a majority of members in the committee to approve it. Players make deals with each other in a "I'll vote for you here if you vote for me there" kind of way. The points are scored by collecting chips along the way to the senate, and the winner is the player with the most points when the senate is filled.

I haven't played the game for quite a while now, and don't own it, but I'm going to be looking out for a copy now I've remembered it!

For an 'at a glance' overview of several Board Game Geek reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/344583/what-you-need-to-know-and-what-people-think-about


Origins of World War I

I've played this as described in Sid Sackson's Gamut of Games. I think it might be less negotiation than you're looking for, but one of the key mechanics is forming an alliance before the end of the game. You basically have to balance whether you think you are better off ganging up with another player to tackle the current leader. Apparently, there's a print-and-play version you can download from Board Game Geek, and there was a published version called Origins of World War II.

  • Yep, sounds like it's a bit lower on actual diplomacy than I would like, and a bit higher on standard gamey action resolution, but it does look like it could be considered in some ways a "diplomacy lite", so have an upvote. Also, why don't I have A Gamut of Games yet? Oh, it appears to be out of print. Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 20:50
  • @Brian, Gamut of Games is well worth tracking down. There are lots of used copies around. I even have a spare copy if you're interested in a book swap.
    – Don Kirkby
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 21:40

Empires in Arms

Could be described as Diplomacy-heavy rather than "lite". It's a classic monster wargame, but it falls into the multi-player competitive category - most big multi-player wargames are in pre-defined teams (e.g. Axis vs Allies in WWII games).

EIA is a pretty good grand-strategic simulation of Napoleonic warfare, with a diplomatic system that has formal declarations of war, alliances and peace treaties. You'll probably find there's too much wargame there and not enough diplomacy, but it's a classic for a reason.

It's also incredibly long - you'll do well to finish in a full weekend.

  • Definitely Diplomacy-heavy! but it's my favorite game so I have to give you +1 anyways :) It is also inflexible in player number, needing 7. While you can play with less (down to about 4) it will not be the full experience and too much will depend on who gets to control the other 3 countries for each year.
    – Pat Ludwig
    Commented Oct 26, 2010 at 4:39

How about taking the negotiation and alliances mechanics into the realm of abstract strategy games? Years ago, I heard about a Shogi variant for three players with rules that automatically trigger an alliance whenever two players gang up on the third. When the alliance forms, the victim gets extra powers to defend himself. Today, I stumbled across a detailed description of Sannin Shogi. It sounds interesting as a very different approach to building alliances in a game.

  • Hmm. That sounds like it's a somewhat different kind of alliance than I'm looking for, if it's automatically triggered. The nice thing about Diplomacy is that the alliances are not specified at all in-game; you ally with whoever you want, and it can change whenever you want. But the structure of the game makes alliances, and backstabbing, necessary. Still, sounds like an interesting Shogi variant that I should check out. Commented Apr 15, 2011 at 21:00

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .