Diplomacy A – Z

Version 6.0



Whenever a group of people is united by a common interest, it evolves its own set of words and phrases. Sometimes these words make a transition into mainstream language, sometimes they remain understood only to a small number of like-minded people. Many people reading this document will know some specialized jargon, words that people working in their field use to describe their own world.

This document is intended to be a self-contained reference to the world of Diplomacy, almost exclusively the world of the snail-mail Diplomacy hobby. Words found in this document fall into four main categories. They may describe the play of the game (names of openings, strategic concepts, tactical ploys), they may describe terms that arise in its adaptation to postal and email play (Press, NMR, famous press bylines, GMing practice, scoring and rating systems), they may be terms which are associated with the hobbies that has grown up around the play of postal and email Diplomacy (organizations, special projects -mostly never implemented!) or they may even be words that hobby members use (eg variant names).

Although this document is large (and getting larger!) one should not get the impression that the world of Diplomacy is jargon-ridden and that you can’t get by without knowing most of this document. This is far from being the case. In actual fact very few of the terms in this document are in general use and most of them are very easy to pick up.
Of the Diplomacy openings, the only ones with wide currency are the Lepanto and Juggernaut. Most of the other ones have only been used by the person who invented them and quickly left common usage (if they were ever in it). If an unusual term is used it is almost always possible to work out its meaning from the context. As there is no universally accepted system of naming openings, the same opening may have more than one name; I’ve tried to cross-reference these. In the past, attempts to produce comprehensive lists of opening names have been prepared by Richard Sharp (for inclusion in his book “The Game of Diplomacy”, used by him in his zine Dolchstoss and by several other British Publishers) and Adam Gruen (for a series of articles in Diplomacy World on Openings that was never completed). Richard based his names on a systematic method, modeled on that used by Chess players; this has been criticized as providing some dull names — Mark Berch preferred to use ‘Crimean Crusher’ rather than Richard’s ‘Russian Attack’.

Most named Diplomacy opening refer only to S01 (Spring 1901) moves, there are very few that also consider F01 (Fall 1901) options. Oddly the two that are in wide-spread use are more ‘concept’ openings whose ideas are for alliances lasting several years rather than one season, perhaps accounting for their continued usage.
There are a few terms that arise from adaptation to postal play. However some of these can be obscure and not always clear when used, but then that’s what this document is for! It took me a long time to work out what a double deadline was. The first time it happened, the GM also asked all players to send in moves for the current and subsequent seasons, so I got the impression that a double deadline involved sending in a double set of orders for the deadline!

Probably the hardest set of words for any novice to come to terms with is those words that are to do with the hobby. These are often names of zines and people. When they are still active in the hobby it is usually possible to find more out about them, but if they are zines that are long folded or people that have long been absent from the hobby then this is a difficult thing to do.

Fortunately there are very few people who refer to old zines and old people in a regular manner. Only one or two zines like to dwell on the Hobby’s past and if you’re not interested and don’t read these zines then you can enjoy yourself without caring who they were and what they did.

In a very real sense this document is not aimed at the Diplomacy novice, you DON’T needs to know any of the material herein! This document is really aimed at those people who are interested in the structure of the Diplomacy hobby (or maybe just Diplomacy trivia) and want to know more about the history of our hobby. And who knows, in reading this you may find a really good idea that needs to be resurrected… Reading this document won’t make you a Hobby History Wizard, but it’s a good start…

As well as giving definitions, as outlined above, I have also included Diplomacy trivia: How often are players eliminated in 1902 and as what countries? Read this document and find out!

A Word about the Words

Where do all these words come from? This is a collection of words that different Diplomacy hobbyists have used at different times and in different countries. In order to make this document as complete as possible I’ve not restricted myself to terms originating in one country, I’ve put everything in that I could find (sources are listed below in “HISTORY OF THIS PROJECT”).

This document is biased in that items can only be included if I know about them. If you think that I should have included something else then mail me some details and I’ll consider including it in for the next release.
The primary aim of this document is to define technical terms referring to the play of the game and define terms that Diplomacy hobbyists might use. It is not intended to provide reviews of Diplomacy variants or to act as a “Who’s Who” of Diplomacy hobbyists: these are projects which deserve their own files. I expect to release Versions 1.0 of a “Variant AZ” in January 1993 (it’s just a matter of writing an introduction). Note: It’s now August and it is available!
Some Diplomacy variants have capsule reviews, these are variants which are either mentioned elsewhere in the text (for example I have included variant jargon which often refers to Diplomacy variants); variants that were contained in any of the source material used for this file or variants that I decided had to be included! The selection of variants in this file is idiosyncratic, if you are interested in variants you are recommended to read the “VARIANT AZ” document.

Similarly I have included capsule reviews of a few Diplomacy zines and a few hobby personalities. Some of these entries are for people/zines mentioned elsewhere in the text and some because I decided that they deserved to be included in this publication. As for a “Who’s Who” I have dreams about producing one…
In the following ‘hobby’ almost always means the snail-mail hobby, if we mean the email-hobby we try to remember to say ’email-hobby’.

Occasionally an entry will reference a published article. I have tried to restrict these references to zines such as Diplomacy Digest and Diplomacy World, zines which have a plentiful supply of back issues. If the back issues are not available there will always be someone who has access to them. In theory it should always be possible to track down articles published in these zines. (In many cases I can supply you with either a copy of the article or tell you who can supply it to you.)

Finally, the first DIPLOMACY AZ was prepared by Mark Berch in 1980 and originally published in Diplomacy Digest #34-36 (April-June 1980).

Mark Nelson