Set in pre-WWI Europe, each player controls the armies and navies of one of the seven great powers at the time. After a short period of negotiation or conferences, each move consists of all players writing "orders" for each of their units. All moves are implemented simultaneously and you discover which of your allies kept their word and which ones are lying, back-stabbing, blood suckers.
I remember my friends playing in high school. I never played, though. My recollection is that there was already a group of seven who knew how to play and they didn't want to wait for me to get up to speed. Or maybe they just didn't want me to join their reindeer games, but this is not the place to reanalyze high school issues...
It doesn't take long to discover the central gathering place on the 'net for a game which is a geek magnet like Diplomacy. The Diplomatic Pouch has all the answers and links that any player or wanna-be could need. I learned that:
- the game is popularly played via email and automated judges.
- you can use a web based java interface to track email games.
- if you are tired of the standard scenario, there are many variants which you can play.
- you shouldn't pay more than $40 to buy the game new or you can buy a used copy on ebay for considerably less, like I did.