Allan B. Calhamer, R.I.P.

by John J. Miller

The inventor of Diplomacy, one of the greatest board games, has died:

Back in the Fortran era, the game was a sort of board-game version of TV’s “Survivor” set in pre-World War I Europe, with its shifting alliances, deception and back-stabbing,

A favorite with politicians, it has a spot in the Hall of Fame of boardgamegeek.com, where gamers from around the world are mourning Mr. Calhamer’s passing. …

The game is jokingly referred to as a pastime that has been “Destroying Friendships since 1959,” said Mike Webb, vice president of marketing and data services for Alliance Game Distributors.

It doesn’t use dice or chance. Instead, players represent a power: Austria-Hungary, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia or Turkey. They manipulate armies, fleets, supply centers and negotiations to try and control Europe.

“In many ways, the hobby-game industry as we know it owes its existence to Allan Calhamer,” Webb said. Diplomacy “moved away from pure strategy games like chess and from straightforward die rolls for conflict resolution, and it introduced bluffing, lying and manipulation. . . . Diplomacy opened up entirely new dimensions to gaming, truly bringing a new level of social interaction into gaming, a legacy that can be seen today in hundreds of hobby games.”