Following the passing of board game designer Allan Calhmer in 2013, a piece of board gaming history is up for auction right now as part of his estate sale. The first edition of the game Diplomacy was printed as a numbered print run of 500 copies, and the copy up for auction right now is number one of those first 500 editions. The auction ends April 2, 2017 at 9:05 PM EST.
The copy was found in a mailing box with a return address of “Diplomacy,” located in Boston, Mass. Postmarked July 21, 1959, the contents of the auction including, per the auction listing:
The game board
A box of wooden game pieces
3 Conference Maps
“Diplomacy – Rules of the Game” which is 6 stapled sheets (sheets 2 thru 5 are 2-sided). The back side of sheet 5 is stamped “THIS IS SET NO. 1 OF THE FIRST EDITION, OF 500 SETS” (the number “1” is handwritten in ink pen).
Also in the box is a “Sylvania Signal” newsletter dated November 21, 1958 with an article about Mr. Calhamer and his new game. This was no doubt put in the box many years ago and will be included.
Diplomacy is a legendary negotiation game with no elements of chance. Per the Avalon Hill game description:
At the turn of the 20th century, the seven Great European Powers engage in an intricate struggle for supremacy. Military forces invade and withdraw, shifting borders and altering empires with subtle maneuvers and daring gambits.
Form alliances and unhatch your traitorous plots as you negotiate and outwit—in a delicate balance of cooperation and competition—to gain dominance of the continent! In Diplomacy, your success hinges not on the luck of the dice, but your cunning and cleverness.
Top Game For Ruining Friendships
Diplomacy has made many Top Ten Lists on the Dice Tower including:
Top 100 Games 2015
Top Ten EPIC games
Top Ten Mean and Nasty Games
Best Political games
Best Convention Games
Games That Have Stood the Test of Time
Mean and Nasty Games
Diplomacy is likely most famous for being one of the friendship killer board games. The game was Tom’s original number 1 pick as the top Mean and Nasty Game.
Google “top friendship destroying board games” and any thoughtful list usually results Diplomacy taking the top spot. Top Tenz list of Top Board Games (for Ruining Friendships) describes the game mechanics:
There’s zero random chance in Diplomacy, so if your friends decide you need to be eliminated there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. And while you hate them for it, you know you would have done the exact same thing to them. At that moment comes the realization that, deep down, you were never really friends at all.
Quinton Smith from Shut up and Sit Down’s list of The Top 5 Board Games That Really Will Ruin Friendships also gives Diplomacy the top rank and warns: “Buy Diplomacy at your own risk. I will absolutely not be held accountable.”
Ruined Friendships By the Numbers
Diplomacy has always been recommended as best with 7 players, that means a combination of 21 friends are usually playing the game. With 9,336 logged plays on boardgamegeek, that makes approximately 65,352 ruined friendships since 1959.
There’s no way of knowing how many friendships were ruined by the very first copy of Diplomacy, but this is your chance to both own a piece of board gaming history while at the same time clearing 6 contacts out of your phone.