On The Games Of War


On The Games Of War Essay, Research Paper

On the Games of War

war (w?r) –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.

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