The following is a list of "Laws of Diplomacy" put together by various
Diplomacy Gurus. While they may be humorous, and not always acurate - they
may help you understand Diplomacy as well as offer you some good advice:
* = Very Important!
[Goloth's First Law]
Play to win. Go big or go home. Who wants another piece of another dumb
[Goloth's Second Law]
Post armies and fleets in strong stations -- or, in other words, an army in
Munich is worth three armies in Denmark, so leave Denmark to the fleets.
[Goloth's Third Law]
Never forget that opponents and allies do things for their own reasons, not
*[Goloth's Fourth Law]
Play the situation on the map as it is, not as it should be. It will never,
ever be as it should be.
[Goloth's Golden Rule]
Don't fear to stab. Your allies expect you to stab them, sooner or later
(if they don't, then why are they playing Diplomacy, of all games?). You
want to stab them before they stab you. This is fair; they want to stab you
before you stab them, after all.
[Goloth's Law of Discretion]
Be reluctant to stab a small ally in Diplomacy, when the small ally can
punish you by throwing eighteen to someone else. Better that the small ally
stab you first.
[Goloth's Lever Principle]
When you find a stalemate line, use it as a lever to force the guy on the
other side to concede something to you. Why not? You could use it as a beam
to bar the door and force the draw, but for what? This is the Academy.
*[Harrap's Zeroth Law]
Goloth is, quite obviously, a dangerous right-wing loon. But don't let that
stop you listening to what he has to say because he is still making some
[Harrap's First Law]
The enemy of the enemy of my enemy is my enemy.
[Harrap's Second Law]
The act of trusting someone, despite clear indications that you shouldn't,
does not impress them enough that they suddenly become trustworthy. In
reality, they see you as a sucker.
Play to learn. Play to improve. Play so that -- win or lose -- you are
always better than you were the last time your opponents encountered you.
Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the
black flag, and begin slitting throats.
[McZet's First Law of Stabbing]
Double check your orders. If you bungle them you will look unimaginably stupid.
[McZet's Second Law of Stabbing]
Don't apologize; don't rationalize. It is indistinguishable from gloating.
[McZet's Third Law of Stabbing]
Don't stop killing them till you're sure they're dead.
Many a Diplomacy game has been won or lost, not by the actions of the
winning party, but because a third power got ticked off enough to let the
leader win. Usually this was not the result of any stellar diplomacy by the
leader, but rather by miserly treatment afforded the little third. Never
underestimate the effect that greed has on the outcome of Diplomacy games.
[Ecton's First Law]
Never listen to your opponents' words when you can view your opponents' deeds.
*[The Law of Ecton's Boasting]
Diplomacy requires the strength to bear having personal enemies.
It ain't braggin' if you can back it up.
If we see that Germany is winning the war we ought to help Russia, and if
Russia is winning the war we ought to help Germany, and in that way let
them kill as many as possible.
He lied, I knew he lied and he knew I lied. That was diplomacy.
He who walks in the middle of the road gets hit from both sides.
You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun, than with a word alone.
*[Von Clausewitz' First Law]
War is not an independent phenomenon, but the continuation of politics by
*[Von Clausewitz' Second Law]
In such things as war, the errors which proceed from a spirit of
benevolence are the worst. Many assume that half efforts can be effective.
A small jump is easier than a large one, but no one wishing to cross a
ditch would jump across half of it first.
*[Wei Chan Hung's Law]
Always leave a path of escape for the enemy, as a temptation for him to get
out of the fight and to flee for safety. If he sees no way out, he will
fight to the death. And the point is to defeat him, not necessarily to kill
him, isn't it?
***[Huber's Hatchet Law]
Sometimes the best way to bury the hatchet between friends is to get
together and bury it into someone else.
Dying is what you do, when you stop fighting. You can't plan to die
gracefully, if you don't plan on dying. Never die gracefully, but rather
fight gracefully (except when it is better to fight dirty).
[Lauren's Rules of Engagement]
The first object of Diplomacy is never willingly to engage in a fair fight.
Never willingly engage in an unfair fight either, unless it is unfair for
the other guy. If the fight is unfair for you, your diplomacy is no good.
If you're going to lie, lie big -- and never get caught lying by a power
who has more than one unit.
[Hemgi's First Law of Stabbing]
If you trust an ally enough to let two supply centers open for him, then
you are trusting an enemy.
[Hemgi's Second Law of Stabbing]
When an ally with more supply centers than you have is proposing to you a
two-way draw, he is in fact proposing to stab you at a near future time.
When an ally with fewer supply centers than you have is proposing to you a
two-way draw, he is in fact buying some time to get more supply centers
than you have: at this point, the former principle will apply.
***[Highfield's First Law]
Superior tactics can indeed defeat superior numbers, especially in Diplomacy.
[Highfield's Second Law]
Only a fool dislodges a unit and allows a retreat if he has the capability
of forcing an enemy's annihilation.
*[Highfield's Positional Principle]
Position in Spring, centers in Fall, unless the position you need just
happens to be a supply center.
***[Highfield's Stochastic Strategy Theorem]
Variety is the spice of life. Play the same country in the same fashion
with the same moves enough times, and you'll continue to lose games.
*[Rudis' First Law]
Check and re-check your orders. The last thing you need to do is build
where you already have a unit or attempt to move a unit to a province it
can't get to.
*[Rudis' Second Law]
Always remember that another player may, as part of some twisted, maniacal
plot, choose to misorder anyway.
*[Rudis' Third Law]
If you've thought of something, then chances are that someone else has
thought of it as well.
*[Rudis' Fourth Law]
Just because someone else has thought of the same thing you have doesn't
mean you shouldn't go ahead and try it anyway.
[Twain's Disraeli Maxim]
There are lies, evil lies and Army Venice - Trieste.
[Cavebabe's First Law of Communication]
Write everyone. All the time. Every turn.
[Cavebabe's Second Law of Communication]
Get the last word.
[Cavebabe's Other Law of Communication]
Make sure the last words are, "I win."
[The Law of Inverse Posting]
Success in Diplomacy is inversely proportional to the number of public posts.
The mark of a great diplomat is the ability to negotiate successfully with
people who hate you.
Don't forget to look at the map.
[Faust's First Law]
[Faust's Second Law]
The object of Diplomacy is to win. The purpose is to play the game. The
odds of an exciting, artistic game are enhanced when all players accept
The object of Diplomacy is to win, but the purpose is to create a Diplomacy
game. It takes all seven players to accomplish the latter.
We're dedicated to keeping the game going without NMRs even when it's
Spring 1916 and we're down to a two-center power with a fleet out in the
Barents Sea and an army in Gascony 'fer crying out loud and facing down two
different 14 SC superpowers and there's no way that we're going to win but
still, look, the game must go on.
*[The Canuck's Principle of Big Clubs]
Big clubs can be effective, but only if used wisely. Your other neighbours
may have smaller sticks, but if they don't like the way you use your club,
you'll be eating wood very shortly.
Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long
and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.
***[Cousins' First Law]
If you are being ganged up on, go down fighting, but do die gracefully. The
best players in the world couldn't help Austria if Russia, Turkey and Italy
all wanted a piece of the empire.
*[Cousins' Evil Law]
In the immortal words of some evil guy, keep your friends close, but your
enemies closer. It works better in Diplomacy when stated, Keep your friends
close, but between you and your enemies.
[Cousins' Angry Law]
If you are in a position where you have a back door, be very good friends
with your neighbour. If you decide later to anger that neighbour, be sure
that the neighbour you really angered at your front door has died first.
*****[Cousins' Last Theorem]
It's only a game. Have fun and keep a sense of humour.