On the Games of War

war (wôr) --n. 1. a major armed conflict between nations or between organized parties
within a state. 2. the science, art, or profession of military operations.

game (gam) --n. 1. an amusement or pastime 2. a competitive activity involving skill,
chance and/or endurance on the part of two or more persons . . . usually for their own

For many centuries people have used games to entertain themselves. Over the
years many popular formats have evolved. One of the most popular frameworks involves
the taking over of something. Be it an economy (as in Monopoly) or the world, taking
control is the major goal of many games produced today. Two of these games are Risk
from Parker Brothers and Diplomacy from Avolon Hill.
Both Risk and Diplomacy are concerned with building an empire of the territories
on the game board. In Risk one is attempting to conquer the entire world, while in
Diplomacy one wants to control Europe.
The play of the former entails strategy and dice rolls to simulate battles. A player
begins his turn with a certain number of armies which he places in the territories he already
controls. How many he receives is decided by the number of territories he controls. He
then proceeds to attack neighboring countries and move his armies into those countries if
his attack is successful. A battle is simulated by the attacker rolling up to three dice
(depending on how large his army is) and the defender rolling up to two. The dice are
paired up (attackers highest with defenders highest, etc.) and the higher die of each pair
wins; ties are counted as a defending victory. The loser(s) then removes one unit for each
loss from his army. At the end of a turn, the player may choose to make a strategic move
in which he takes units from one army and transports them to an adjoining territory that he
controls. Plays are taken in turn. Although not covered in the rules of play, alliances and
enemies are usually made and broken frequently throughout the game.
The action of Diplomacy, however, revolves around the forming and breaking of
alliances and adversaries. All players take their turns at the same time instead of in a
sequence. Between turns, the players are allotted ten to fifteen minutes to converse
privately with other players to make deals concerning the movement and plays, and to
notate their moves. After the allotted time is up, the players meet back in the game room
and pass the sheet of paper with the moves of their armies to the person to the right and
that player reads the moves aloud and moves the pieces to their destinations. After all the
moves have been made, conflicts are resolved. Conflicts are resolved by counting the
armies in the square, counting how many armies are supporting each army and then
adjusting the pieces.
Although Risk and Diplomacy both have the same premise, the play of each results
in two very different games. Risk becomes a game of luck with a little bit of strategy, and
Diplomacy becomes a game of cooperation and backstabbing. Both games can be fun and
entertaining, depending on your mood and the people playing.