Consider the one board game to rule them all, at least for diplomats, negotiators, and other would-be hagglers, and it is called Diplomacy. David Hill writes a tell-all in Grantland this past June–detailing the creation of a game created by Harvard graduate Allan B. Calhamer that sold over 300,000 copies and entered legendary status.
There are two things that make Diplomacy so unique and challenging. The first is that, unlike in most board games, players don’t take turns moving. Everyone writes down their moves and puts them in a box. The moves are then read aloud, every piece on the board moving simultaneously. The second is that prior to each move the players are given time to negotiate with each other, as a group or privately. The result is something like a cross between Risk, poker, and Survivor — with no dice or cards or cameras. There’s no element of luck. The only variable factor in the game is each player’s ability to convince others to do what they want. The core game mechanic, then, is negotiation. This is both what draws and repels people to Diplomacy in equal force; because when it comes to those negotiations, anything goes. And anything usually does.
Hooked yet? Check out Ira Glass on This American Life for an interview (bleeped version) and more on the powerful effect of negotiation.