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"You don't have to live with him." (I've roped everyone into playing an online version of the game.Negotiations are conducted over text and email, so the relentless anxiety and paranoia involved can be stretched out over weeks rather than contained in a single session.
Though you might envy Russia, who starts with an extra piece, that simply makes them a larger target, and more vulnerable to attack.
At my wife's urging I nevertheless struck another deal. A distinctive feature of the game, as conceived by its creator, Allan B Calhamer – a Harvard educated postman – is that there is no element of chance.
Unlike with Risk, there are no dice; an attack succeeds based solely on whether the units attacking a territory outnumber those defending it. It's only now that you know whether an ally has kept their word; and at some point someone is going to have to betray someone, or, as experienced players call it, "stab" them. Clausewitz is supposed to have said that war was the continuation of politics by other means; Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai said diplomacy was the continuation of war by other means. The game is like a combination of chess, Big Brother, and a balloon debate wheeling desperately out of control.
The object of Diplomacy the game is to obliterate your opponents; one hopes that diplomacy itself has evolved slightly beyond that.
What the game does make you appreciate are the compromises and concessions necessary in the real life version, something people ought to bear in mind when David Cameron attempts to renegotiate Britain's membership of the EU.
Three times, already, we'd agreed mutual non-aggression pacts in the Balkans, and three times he'd gone ahead and tried to invade Serbia. This doesn't mean we've become more measured in our dealings with one another; more sensitive to each other's needs. Diplomacy is a board game in which players compete to achieve world domination, taking on the role of various countries in the lead-up to the First World War.