Diplomacy is a strategic board game created by Allan B. Calhamer in 1954 and released commercially in 1959. Its main distinctions from most board wargames are its negotiation phases (players spend much of their time forming and betraying alliances with other players and forming beneficial strategies) and the absence of dice or other game elements that produce random effects. Set in Europe just before the beginning of World War I, Diplomacy is played by two to seven players, each controlling the armed forces of a major European Power (or, with few players, multiple powers). Each player aims to move his or her few starting units—and defeat those of others—to win possession of a majority of strategic cities and provinces marked as "supply centers" on the map; these supply centers allow players who control them to produce more units.
Diplomacy was the first commercially published game to be played by mail (PBM); only chess, which is in the public domain, saw significant postal (long distance) play earlier. Diplomacy was also the first commercially published game to generate an active hobby with amateur fanzines; only science-fiction/fantasy and comics fandom saw fanzines earlier. Competitive face-to-face (FtF) Diplomacy tournaments have been held since the 1970s. Play of Diplomacy by e-mail (PBEM) has been widespread since the late 1980s.