Friend or Foe

Alliance Simulation - Eight State

Lesson Plan - 8 State

The Continent


  • This is NOT something you can throw out to burn up a couple of days to entertain your students. It requires a considerable amount of preparation.
  • You MUST know your students. Not simply their names, but their personalities and idiosyncrasies as well. Therefore, this is best for later in the school year.
  • You MUST be willing to let the students have control. It may appear chaotic to an outsider, but it is not about them anyway.
  • Color is our friend! Color graphics greatly enhance any learning process and it is an integral part of this simulation. The coloring system makes the abundance of information manageable. In other words, do not be cheap! At the very minimum, you must give each group a couple colored maps.


  • Students will create a workable and enforceable Alliance system designed to ensure the survival of their respective country.
  • Students will be able to explain how alliances made before World War One influenced the conduct of the war and its outcome.

Time Required

  • This simulation lends itself well to block days. You will need at least two hours, which can be split over two days. There is natural break between the teacher explanation and the conducting of the simulation. In my 50 minute periods, I tend to slow it down and run it a full week. The first day is setting it up and the next four are for each of the yearly rounds.

Lesson Theme & Audience

  • This is a country alliance simulation designed for World/United States History during a unit on the First World War.
  • The Rationale of this lesson is to give students a hands-on approach to the cause and effect of alliance systems as a prerequisite for understanding some of the causes for the outbreak of the First World War.

Prior Student Preparation

  • Students will have been introduced to the First World War and the political, cultural, and social environment of Europe before its outbreak, that made it possible.


  • Skill reenforcement will focus on communication and diplomacy.


  • Alliances: The different forms that they may take.

Teaching Strategies

  • Direct instruction to relay information on rules, procedures, and strategies for simulation.
  • Student centered and created learning once simulation starts. (Teacher has no active participation.)

Student Activities

  • Divide the students into eight groups. One for each country. MUST be eight groups, will not work otherwise. Use whatever method you feel appropriate for selecting group members. Some possibilities are:
    • Teacher Selects. (Worst choice, unless a specific need is required. Teacher control over this simulation is best at an absolute minimum. Reread the caveat!)
    • Random Draw. (Fair choice, useful for fulfilling a perceived need to both validate the simulation and split potential groups.)
    • Draft. (Good choice for both splitting cohorts and giving them some control over group selection. Simply select eight leaders and have them go down the roster choosing one at a time. This method has been used with success.)
    • Students Select. (Best choice, if you read the caveat. Great manipulation tool. Students with aggressive personalities can easily be put in situations requiring diplomacy.)
  • For best effect, keep in mind the following two points when arranging the eight groups.
    • Have potential allies near each other.
    • Keep Almanar and Bahkan as far apart as possible.
  • Easiest possible arrangement is as follows. (Of course a mirror arrangement would work as well.)
  • Distribute Student Resources
    • Country Confidential Information Booklet for each student. Tell students to keep the Country Folders secure.
    • Water soluble overhead projector markers (red, green, black for each group)
    • 3 clipboards (2 for the Ambassadors, 1 for the Secretary of State)
    • Country Questions for each student
    • Agreement Chart for Secretary of State
    • Blank Confidential State Papers (several for each group)
    • Alliances Chart for Secretary of State
    • Plenty of hand wipes!
  • Use the following resources to explain game concepts. Although this site was designed to show students the material from the website via an LCD projector, you may create transparancies from the materials if necessary.
  • Explain the World Situation Summary.
  • Distribute Country Questions.
  • Explain roles. Each group needs TWO ambassadors and a Secretary of State. All agreements need FOUR signatures. (See Confidential State Paper.)
  • Only Ambassadors may move around room.
    • HINT: Tell students to have the ambassadors work independently, but still communicate with each other as well as their country.
    • HINT: Have students that remain at desks to watch the interactions in the room. Who is talking to whom?
    • HINT: Tell ambassadors to have a pretext to talk to other groups, even if false. This allows espionage - the ability to hear and/or prevent other conversations.
  • Ambassadors present signed Confidential State Papers to the teacher to make official. They have the choice of making public at the time if both parties agree.
  • Students will be anxious to start. Be sure they have done the background reading and have completed the Country Questions assignment beforehand.
  • After sufficient time has elapsed have students return to groups. Follow Endgame Procedures. SLOW DOWN!!! Students will be emotional. Calm them down so you can have a rational group discussion.
  • If war is declared, sorry you are on your own. Resolve it however you wish to reinforce concepts.

Assessment & Extension

  • Assess with Closure Questions and class discussion.
    Best done immediately after conclusion of simulation on same day.
  • On the following class meeting use the Curricular Extension for concept reinforcement.

Note on Resources

All printed materials are available on this web site. It is best to place the Country Confidential Information booklets in sheet protectors so you can use them more than once. Please use color wherever possible!