This game is infamous amongst my friends for the nicknames it created. I won't tell you mine, but suffice it to say that I wasn't popular with Germany or Italy when I played as France! You CANNOT win this game alone. You have to make deals with people -- and unfortunately, you also have to break them. Make sure you play with people you like a lot, and be sure that they really like you too, or it all may wind up with none of you ever speaking to each other, ever again!
I'm serious. This game can ruin relationships if you're not careful.
It's time-consuming, so I recommend timing each "turn" and limiting the amount of time each round that people are allowed to talk and make deals. The first round should allow no less than thirty minutes, and possibly up to forty-five or an hour, to make sure that each country gets to talk to every country leader/player that it needs to, and weigh the deals that are offered. After that, ten to fifteen minutes should suffice.
The game is set up so that no one can invade their neighbor on the first turn, so you'll need to build crucial allies the first time around in order to defend yourself against invasions in the second turn, and make well-coordinated strikes against your opponents.
TRUST NO ONE! This game CANNOT BE WON unless *SOMEONE* is stabbed in the back. Sad, but true. The people who are your allies in the beginning will likely be your enemies after a few short years/turns.
Enough reviews give the specifics of game play, so all I'll offer are some TIPS. You'll find that they sometimes contradict each other. That's because the best strategy for winning means doing what ISN'T expected, and because the country you choose is crucial in determining what course of action you should take for the win.
*Don't rush to attack anyone right away. You need to focus on securing extra supply centers so you can build and strengthen your forces and THEN attack.
*Work on your naval placements, especially if you're playing France or Russia or Germany. You'll be tempted to work your way inland with these nations, and build armies at the expense of sacrificing naval units, but you'll leave yourself vulnerable if you do -- especially from the U.K.
*Try not to play as the U.K. unless you really, REALLY trust the other people. You can't win as the U.K. without some powerful allies in the beginning. If you get stuck with this country, try forging early pacts with nations that can't hurt you right away, like Russia, so that they won't attack you when you start to become a threat, and will help support you against your early enemies.
*The people playing France and Russia should team up with one another against the U.K., cut off its naval channels, and wipe it out immediately, while everyone else on the continent fights it out for inland territory. Divide the north seas between yourselves. Get Germany to help in exchange for a piece of the action. In the normal course of a good strategic game, the U.K. should be the first nation to go, because taking it out is child's play.
*Once Russia and France have obliterated the U.K., they should remain a team long enough to take out Germany.
*If you're playing as Italy, attack France first. Get Germany and the U.K. to help you.
*If you're playing as France, defend like hell from the U.K. and Germany, and attack Italy as quickly as you can, or it will come after you later. Get support from Germany. DON'T FORGET YOUR NAVY. You'll need it later, if you survive.
*If you're playing as Russia, take over the small countries in the East instead of attacking right away. You already have an advantage starting with four pieces, so BUILD and fortify yourself while your Western neighbors start the skirmishes early. Get Denmark and Norway before the U.K. can.
*Lie, lie, lie. Lie to anyone, at any time. Break deals when it's best for you, but not unless you can back yourself up, or people will turn against you too quickly and form teams to take you down. Don't break any deal early on, or everyone will know from the start not to trust you. Build their trust, THEN break it, when you can pounce. The best way to do this is to set up your opponent for an invasion of a third party, tell them you'll support their moves, and then move in behind their back when you KNOW they'll be unsupported. Wipe them out, then have a fresh place to bargain from even though no one else will trust you.
*Don't take anything at face value. Anything your opponents tell you could be a lie. They're out for themselves, and EVERYONE has a secret deal going. Trust no one, and don't leave your vulnerable lands unprotected.
*Don't buy this game unless you have a lot of friends, because you won't be able to play with the same people twice if you take my advice.
That's Diplomacy, folks. It IS possible to win with integrity, but it's not half as much fun! And for those of you who haven't already guessed it, I'll 'fess up to my eternal Diplomacy nickname: Evil Back-Stabbing [rhymes with "witch"]. :-D ;-) And uh, none of my friends will play with me anymore, so if you do find a copy and need some extra players, feel free to drop me a line! :-}