“My idea is that every specific body strives to become master over all space and to extend its force ( — its will to power) and to thrust back all that resists its extension. But it continually encounters similar efforts on the parts of other bodies and ends by coming to an arrangement (“union”) with those of them that are sufficiently related to it: they then conspire for power. And the process goes on —.” Thus spake Friedrich Nietzsche, in his “Idea for a Kriegspiel.”
Nietzsche never got around to designing a tabletop wargame without any random elements — no dice, no cards to be drawn, no spinner — in which the only way to win, indeed the only way to play at all, is to form and betray alliances. But in 1954 Harvard Law student Allan B. Calhamer did; in 1959, Calhamer published his game: Diplomacy.
I’m a fan of the game, which was introduced to me by HiLobrow friends Joe Alterio and James Parker. As a matter of fact, this winter I’ve been moderating an online Diplomacy game — half of whose participants are HiLobrow contributors. And back in 2010, I published some songs and one-act plays and doggerel that emerged from an earlier online Diplomacy game.
So I’m sorry to hear about the death of Mr. Calhamer; fascinated to learn that he lived for a time at Walden Pond in homage to Henry David Thoreau; and mind-blown to discover that he was obsessed with factoring license plate numbers into primes — and that one of his unpublished games moves players through dimensions of the space-time continuum.
Ave atque vale, Mr. A.B.C. 1-2-3
ALSO: War & Peace Games