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Teaching Diplomacy

PostPosted: 22 Sep 2018, 03:20
by Aurelin
For community service, I’m running a Diplomacy club at the middle school I used to go to. It starts next week. I’m really excited, but also nervous because I’ve never taught a group of kids before.

What’s the best way to teach Diplomacy to a bunch of kids? I was thinking about just showing Edi Birsain’s tutorials on the SMART board or something, but that feels lazy. At the summer camp where I learned, the teacher had us start out not using fleets the first time, treating sea spaces like land spaces, but I don’t think I could stand doing that. I know some of you have been playing for fourty years or something, and have probably taught a lot of people to play. Any advice?

Re: Teaching Diplomacy

PostPosted: 22 Sep 2018, 03:46
by Josey Wales
I first learned to play the game in History 12 way back in 198.... ah … wow, that was a long time ago. The teacher brought out the game as we started looking at World War 1 and had divided up the class into 7 groups. Each class was then matched to a move and that made the learning that much more interesting. I always liked history and read a lot but still, was a fun way to learn the game in a historical context.

I remember the comment our teacher made back then "the Italian army is given the same weight as the German army which is complete rubbish. The Germans would have slapped the Italians right off the map if it was simply Germany attacking Italy …" He also mused about a time when he and his wife were playing with some friends, had stabbed his wife and that it took months for them to broach the topic of Diplomacy without erupting into civil war - just to set the stage before the class started playing. That got everyone into wanting to play, LOL.

I would simply explain the rules, convoys and all, add some historical context on what triggered the whole European ballyhoo (abridged version) and then let them at the game.

Re: Teaching Diplomacy

PostPosted: 23 Sep 2018, 02:00
by Aurelin
Josey Wales wrote:I first learned to play the game in History 12 way back in 198.... ah … wow, that was a long time ago. The teacher brought out the game as we started looking at World War 1 and had divided up the class into 7 groups. Each class was then matched to a move and that made the learning that much more interesting. I always liked history and read a lot but still, was a fun way to learn the game in a historical context.

I remember the comment our teacher made back then "the Italian army is given the same weight as the German army which is complete rubbish. The Germans would have slapped the Italians right off the map if it was simply Germany attacking Italy …" He also mused about a time when he and his wife were playing with some friends, had stabbed his wife and that it took months for them to broach the topic of Diplomacy without erupting into civil war - just to set the stage before the class started playing. That got everyone into wanting to play, LOL.

I would simply explain the rules, convoys and all, add some historical context on what triggered the whole European ballyhoo (abridged version) and then let them at the game.

:lol: That's probably true for WW1 Germany versus any country.

Re: Teaching Diplomacy

PostPosted: 23 Sep 2018, 02:00
by Aurelin
Also, tips on GMing? I don't want to get anything wrong.

Re: Teaching Diplomacy

PostPosted: 23 Sep 2018, 02:41
by Josey Wales
I have never GM-ed a game before and I am sure there are any number of members on this site than can provide you some good tips.

However, I recall from my History 12 class the teacher taking great care to explain the rules and in particular three cases:

1) Convoying
2) Difference between the two coastal regions - Bulgaria, St Pet, etc
3) You can't make two moves in one turn - i.e. convoy and support the convoy in the same turn

At the risk of stating the obvious,

JW

Re: Teaching Diplomacy

PostPosted: 23 Sep 2018, 07:50
by David E. Cohen
When GMing, be very careful to differentiate between being a resource and giving advice. In other words, when being asked questions, answer the "Is this legal?" and "Is this written correctly?" type questions. Do not answer the "Is this a good idea?" type questions.

Re: Teaching Diplomacy

PostPosted: 27 Feb 2019, 02:53
by Mr.E
I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand. Little bit crap, but it does bring over the idea that we (most of us) learn by doing.

No learning tools are "lazy" as such unless you're lazy in using them. Just showing the videos would be lazy; discussing them makes them useful.

It depends what time you've got but I'd go with context - what do they know about WWI? If you can get up a real map of Europe from the era, that might be a start. Giving that context is a way to intro the game.

Then show the board. Discuss it. Land spaces, sea spaces coastal spaces. Get them to tell you. Get them to notice the dual-coast spaces. Even give them a chance to compare the board with the real map, and talk about the board.

I know this might be more difficult in America but, from this starting point, the political boards used in Europe are more helpful than the geographical boards used in the Americas. Still...

They've seen the board, discuss the pieces. What do they represent? Where do you think they go in the board (ie armies on land, fleets on sea). Then talk about coastal spaces.

Set the board up... Why do the pieces start here? This introduces SCs. Why aren't any pieces on the neutral SCs? Introduces powers.

Discuss moves. Chances are most of the kids will know how pawns move in chess so one space at a time. Get them to order some moves - hopefully you'll get some bounces so this allows discussion of equivalence of units and shows what happens when two units move to the same space.

This leads on to the support order. Set up some examples, and discuss how support can be cut.

How can England get her armies to Europe? Convoys.

At this point I'd get them to try and play the game without diplomacy. You can discuss more complex moves.

Hopefully someone will get the point that, without diplomacy, it's an impossible game (Gunboat aside!) That allows you to show the necessity of diplomacy... and why the game is called that!

This is turning into a lesson plan and I'll have to charge you ;) but you've got the idea.

The more you get them to come up with what the rules might be, the more they'll get to understand what they are, and the more they try things out the more they'll understand the game.

You'll need to make a judgement about the more complex stuff because they might lose interest if what they think is a good move fails in a game because of a more complex rule but this needs to be balanced with the fact that they'll want to play! I might set up some problem situations and get them to reason their way through.

GMing v Coaching is a difficult one. A will it work question leads to coaching - why do you think it will/won't?

A good start might be to have them play just a single game year as each power before playing a full game.