Word is seeping through the Internet gaming community that Allan B. Calhamer, the inventor and designer of the board game Diplomacy, died Monday at the age of 81.
In the adventure gaming hobby's earliest days, Diplomacy was considered of the the three legs of the hobby triad -- which was comprised, back in the 1960s, of board wargaming, miniatures wargaming and Diplomacy.
|Allan B. Calhamer|
|Large deluxe Hasbro box version|
My first exposure to the game was actually from a home-brewed variant while I was in high school. My best friend's older brother had gone off to Yale and been exposed to the game. He didn't have his own copy, but the was able to create a facsimile edition when he got home for the summer and we spent the summer break playing out Yale variant game and having a blast. Naturally, having done the game from memory, our version had some changes from the original, (and not improvements) but before long we got a copy of the actual game -- (this was the Gamescience edition) and kept playing.
|Current Hasbro edition|
Myself, I had too eclectic tatstes to settle on playing Diplomacy only -- but many people did and still do. I did take part in some postal Diplomacy for a number of years -- a very popular way to play. Diplomacy was exceptionally well-suited for postal play and later, Internet play.
When Avalon Hill bought the rights the game got access to widepread distribution that increased its popularity and Diplomacy is one of just two of classic Avalon Hill titles that Hasbro has kept in print since it took over AH (The other being the equally classic game Acquire).
|AH wooden block version|
Mr. Calhamer never really followed up with anything nearly as successful. He wasn't a brilliant game designer in the way of his contemporary Sid Sackson or today's Reiner Knizia. But he did design a brilliant game.There may be those inclined to dismiss him as a one-hit wonder, but I think that's a mistake. A one-hit wonder, after all, does have a hit -- which is something the vast majority of artists never have at all. And game design is, at heart, a form of art. Mr. Calhamer designed a game that, I am quite sure, will still be bringing enjoyment to players not yet born. That's success.