Diplomacy is a game that takes no time to learn, but ages to master. Because webDiplomacy is user friendly it gets many Diplomacy novices, but there are also lots of very good players.
Points are what let experts play with other experts, and novices play with other novices, so that everyone is challenged to the right amount.
When someone creates a game they can select how many of their points they want to "bet" on the game.
Only people who can bet the same number of points can join the game.
An expert player will have more points and so only other expert players can play in high-stakes games.
Once everyone who wants to join has joined the game has a large "pot" of points. If there are seven players
the pot size will be seven times the size that each player bet.
Once the game is over the pot is paid back to the players depending on how well they did.
The amount of points you get depends on how many supply centers you have at the end. If you have the 18 supply centers needed to win you'll get most of the points, but if you have more supply centers than you started with at the end you'll still win something. If you get defeated, or have to leave the game, then all the points you bet are lost.
For more experienced players there is a "Winner-takes-all" mode, which can be chosen instead of the default
"Points-per-supply-center" mode. In winner-takes-all games the winner gets all the points from the game, and
the runners up get nothing.
While the objetive of the game (reach the target cupply-centers and win the game) stays the same in both gametypes there is a difference in how to play if you can't win. In order to get as many points as possible in a WTA-game you need to prevent the one player from winning the game and draw with your allies. In a PPSC-setting you try to get as many SCs as you can, and to stop a player from winning and draw can be unfavourable if you just take care of your points.
Because of this you need more diplomatic skill to achieve a good score at a WTA-game. You have to outplay all your opponents or coordinate with all other players to stop the one player winning (without getting left behind).
The WTA setting is for players who think that winner-takes-all is more true to the board game; there's no honor in second place, and playing for second place makes the game worse!
But remember that you are less likely to get any points back in a winner-takes-all game; even if you play well you might get no points back, so try to bet less on winner-takes-all games than points-per-supply-center games!
Sometimes a game can't go any further; two or more players have arranged their units so that the other players
can only hold their position. In these cases the game is a draw, and the points are split equally among all the
surviving players, regardless of how many supply centers each player has.
Draws can be voted for at any time; if all the players still surviving vote for a draw the points in the game will be split up equally and a share given to each player still surviving. (In a draw a surviving player with 15 supply-centers will get the same number of points as a surviving player with only one!)
New players get only 100 points to start out with, but don't worry about losing all your points! If a game ends and you have less than 100 points (including the points you have bet into any other games which you're still playing in) then you get topped back up to your starting 100 points!
As players win more points they can enter games that cost more points, and climb up the ladder towards the
expert players. But in high stakes games you can gain and lose lots of points very quickly, so be careful
about betting all your points!
If you're getting a good collection of points try to limit yourself to betting half your points at a time, especially against the expert players, or you could be back to playing with novices!