Ambition & Empire V (hc11)

by Jeff Kase and Baron Powell

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Except where indicated, standard Diplomacy rules apply.


Ambition & Empire is a Diplomacy variant for ten players that is set in Europe at the conclusion of the Seven Years War (1756-63). The title pays tribute to the empire-building, war-and-conquest philosophy held by the great leaders of the day; a remarkable cast of historical figures that included Frederick the Great of Prussia, Maria Theresa of Austria, and Catherine the Great of Russia. This period would culminate with Napoleon, one of the greatest empire builders in history.


Compared to later times, wars of the 18th century were usually not destructive and rarely conclusive. Battles were not fought to destroy enemy forces but to outmaneuver them and gain a position of strength from which to negotiate. One year’s foe might be next year’s ally. The Seven Years War was different however. Pitting France, Austria, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and Spain against Prussia, Great Britain, and Hanover, it was, in short, a world war that was much bloodier and more destructive than other wars had been. In 1763 the last of the war-weary powers laid down their arms and signed another treaty establishing yet another balance of power.

The following is a list of Europe’s Great Powers in 1763, the players in Ambition & Empire.

1) Kingdom of Poland/Saxony (2 Supply Centers)

In 1763, Poland could not be counted as an independent participant in international relations; the king’s diplomacy was conducted from Dresden, Saxony. Although it was the third largest country in Europe, Poland was weak because the king was chosen and controlled by the nobles. In 1697, Elector Frederick Augustus I of Saxony became king of Poland, initiating an economically draining bond between Saxony and the declining Polish kingdom that lasted until 1768. His son, Frederick Augustus II, was an idler and gadabout who left governance of Poland & Saxony to the Prime Minister, Count Heinrich von Brühl. Brühl attempted to strengthen the state by acquiring a land corridor in Silesia, linking Poland with Saxony. When Frederick the Great annexed Silesia himself, Brühl made efforts to reconcile Austria and France – two traditional enemies – thereby initiating a reversal of alliances called “the Diplomatic Revolution” and setting the stage for the Seven Years War. Succeeding in 1763, the newest Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, Frederick Augustus III, was an able leader. In foreign affairs he was a neutralist but, alarmed at Russia’s increasing intervention in Polish affairs, he began to drift towards Prussia.

Starts with armies in Dresden and Warsaw. Unit color is orange.

See also V. Special Rules regarding Konigsberg becoming a home SC for Poland & Saxony.

2) Kingdom of Sweden (2 Supply Centers)

The 18th century in Sweden was the Age of Freedom, a period that saw the transition from absolutism to a democratic form of government. During the Age of Freedom, Sweden attained a level of scholarly and cultural achievement equal to that of any nation in Europe. This was also the golden age of Swedish trade and commerce. The Swedish East India Company was extremely successful until it was forced out of business during the Napoleonic Wars. In 1751, King Adolf Frederick succeeded to the throne, although most of the power during his reign rested in the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag. Frederick had been elected heir to the throne by “the Hats,” a faction of parliament that favored an aggressive foreign policy that would regain Swedish hegemony in the Baltic. Sweden was still smarting from defeat in a recent war with Russia that resulted in the loss of more of its Finnish territory. The Hats hoped to obtain better conditions of peace from Russia through Frederick, who brought about the overthrow of the generally pro-Russian “Cap” Party in the Riksdag.

Starts with a fleet in Stockholm and an army in Abo. Unit color is pink.

3) Kingdom of Spain (2 Supply Centers)

Spain was under the rule of Charles III (reigned 1759-88), one of the “enlightened despots” of the 18th century who helped lead Spain to a brief cultural and economic revival. Charles was a man of considerable qualities. In 1734, as the Prince of Spain, he had conquered Naples and Sicily, making it part of Spain’s empire. Thereafter, the Spanish Bourbons ruled the “Kingdom of Two Sicilies” as an “independent” kingdom. Charles was convinced of his mission to reform Spain and make it once more a first-rate power, but his foreign policy was unsuccessful. Fearing that British victory in the Seven Years War would upset the balance of colonial power in North America, he signed a mutual defense treaty – the Bourbon Family Compact – with France. Unfortunately for Spain, its entry into the war was too late to save France. Charles had overrated his own strength and that of his ally. Sharing in defeat, he lost Florida to Britain and revealed Spanish naval and military weakness. Nevertheless, while Spain was no longer a significant military power, Charles efficiently administered Spain’s colonial empire and renovated the economy and general welfare of Spain to an amazing degree.

Starts with a fleet in Madrid and an army in Seville. Unit color is maroon.

4) Kingdom of Denmark and Norway (2 Supply Centers)

Dating back to 1441, when the Danish King Christian I was proclaimed the King of Norway, “union” between the two countries existed, with Denmark ruling over the less-populous and more agrarian Norway. Neutrality and a consequent improvement in the nation’s foreign trade marked Frederick V’s reign (1746-66). Since the Great Northern War (1709-20) – in which the kingdom failed to recapture territories lost to rival Sweden during the preceding century – Denmark & Norway had eschewed the wars of Europe. During the 18th century, Denmark & Norway acquired an important merchant marine and navy. Thus, preserving the state’s neutrality to enjoy freedom of the seas became a great concern of its leaders. In 1762, this neutrality was threatened when Denmark & Norway became embroiled in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Duchy of Holstein. Thanks to the efforts of an outstanding statesman, Count von Bernstorff, who had earlier preserved Denmark & Norway’s neutrality in the Seven Years War, a carefully drafted treaty was negotiated and Russia renounced its claims to the duchy.

Starts with fleets in Copenhagen and Christiania. Unit color is purple.

5) Austria/ The Habsburg Empire (4 Supply Centers)

Maria Theresa (reigned 1740-80), the Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary, was a key figure in the power politics of 18th century Europe. To the Habsburg Empire – a dynastic agglomeration of disparate lands – she gave a measure of unity and was one of the most capable rulers of her house. Indeed, her dynamic and resourceful leadership saved the Habsburg monarchy from total dissolution in the War of the Austrian Succession. For the remainder of her reign, Maria Theresa implemented reforms to ensure that Austria would never again be so humbled. Guided by her minister, Count von Kaunitz, Maria Theresa streamlined the Austrian administrative structure and drew together to the extent possible, the multiethnic and polyglot regions of the far-flung Habsburg Empire. “This woman’s achievements,” stated her lifelong enemy, Frederick the Great, “were those of a great man.” In 1763, two great Houses – the upstart Hohenzollern monarchy of Prussia and the caretakers of the ancient Holy Roman Empire, the Hapsburgs of Austria – vied for hegemony over Germany in a condition of tension called “the German dualism.” This meant that each had become so powerful that only the other could keep it in some sort of check.

Starts with armies in Vienna, Budapest, Milan, and Austrian Netherlands. Unit color is red.

See also V. Special Rules regarding building in the Austrian Netherlands.

6) Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland/ Hanover (4 Supply Centers)

Britain and France fought the Seven Years War for control of the seas and dominion over the colonies. Britain was already a formidable economic and naval power and, due to her robust economy, was able to act as the “war chest of Europe” by hiring mercenary armies, bankrolling needy allies, and providing subsidies to foreign garrisons all across Europe. Hanover, a small German state, was the British ruling dynasty’s continental possession. It raised armies to fight the French in Europe during the Seven Years War. Britain & Hanover would arise from the war as the undisputed leader in colonization, but the success aroused fear throughout Europe that British sea power was leading to a monopoly on overseas trade. In the face of widespread resentment, Britain & Hanover found itself politically isolated and without allies. Victory in the Seven Years War was also achieved during a period of internal turmoil. In 1760, the “mad” King George III succeeded to the throne and would become one of the most controversial monarchs in British history. In the first 10 years of his reign, administrations changed no fewer than seven times. Division and instability were not just confined to the court and parliament; the 1760’s were also a period of bad harvests, rising food prices, high taxes, and sporadic unemployment. Such instability undoubtedly hampered efforts to resolve the problem of its own American colonies.

Starts with fleets in London, Edinburgh, and Gibraltar, and an army in Hanover. Unit color is dark blue.

Note: Gibraltar is not a SC, although a fleet starts there. Liverpool is a SC for Britain & Hanover, though no unit begins the game there.

7) Kingdom of France (3 Supply Centers).

Though nothing like the empire it would soon be under Napoleon, pre-Revolutionary France – wealthy and populous – was still a power to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for France, it was under the long rule of Louis XV (reigned 1715-74), who took more counsel from his mistress, Madame de Pompadour (or “the Prime Minister in petticoats,” as she was derisively called by those who deplored her influence), than the ambassadors and advisors of his court. Although France had the richest resources of any country in Europe, its government was chronically poor because it could not effectively tap the sources of wealth within its kingdom. Louis XV’s ineptitude in affairs of state would cost France defeat in the Seven Years War and almost all her possessions in India and North America. His ineffectual reign earned him the contempt of his subjects and a tremendous loss in France’s prestige. More ominously, it contributed to the decline of royal authority that led to the outbreak of the Revolution in 1789. As one source commented, “French influence was at a very low ebb in 1763.”

Starts with armies in Paris and Marseilles, and a fleet in Brest. Unit color is light blue.

8) The Russian Empire (3 Supply Centers)

During Elizabeth’s reign, victories over Turkey consolidated the empire’s control in the Ukraine. Moreover, Russia was participating increasingly in the political game of Europe and interfering in the affairs of Poland. In the Seven Years War, Russia was enlisted to fight against Prussia and Britain & Hanover. Russian armies were successful in conquering East Prussia and occupying Berlin briefly (the empress’s death during the Seven Years War saved the King of Prussia from total disaster). Her replacement, Peter III, ruled for a mere six months. The first of his monumental mistakes was to make peace with Russia’s “bitterest enemy,” but Peter’s own hero, Frederick the Great. In 1762, he was deposed in a bloodless revolt and Catherine was placed in his stead. Imperial expansion continued under Catherine the Great (reigned 1762-96), who led her country into full participation in the political and cultural life of Europe, carrying on the work begun by Peter the Great. With her ministers, she reorganized the administration and law of the Russian Empire and with her armies, greatly extended Russian territory. Under Catherine’s rule Russia grew strong enough to threaten the other great powers, and because she was in fact a harsh and unscrupulous ruler, she figured in the Western imagination as the incarnation of the immense, backward, and forbidding country she ruled.

Starts with armies in Moscow and Kiev, and a fleet in St. Petersburg. Unit color is white.

See also V. Special Rules regarding Bakhchisaray becoming a home SC for Russia.

9) Kingdom of Prussia (3 Supply Centers)

The autocrat Frederick I left his son and successor, Frederick II, a wealthy financial reserve, productive domains, a hardworking bureaucracy, and arguably, the best-trained army in Europe. Frederick II, known now as the Great (reigned 1740-86), put the newly realized strength of the Prussian state at the service of an ambitious but risky foreign policy. Frederick astonished Europe within months of his accession to the throne by invading Silesia, a prosperous and flourishing province of the Habsburg Empire, thus precipitating the War of the Austrian Succession. The Austro-Prussian struggle for Silesia continued, with uneasy intermissions, until the end of the Seven Years War. Facing seemingly insurmountable odds in the Seven Years War, Frederick brilliantly outmaneuvered and outfought the coalition bent on Prussia’s destruction that had been assembled by Austria as payback for the War of Austrian Succession. The final acquisition of Silesia increased the territory and population of tiny Prussia by a third. Frederick’s wars not only established his personal reputation as a military genius, but also won recognition for Prussia as one of the Great Powers of Europe.

Starts with armies in Berlin, Breslau, and Konigsberg. Unit color is black.

See also V. Special Rules regarding Konigsberg becoming a home SC for Poland & Saxony.

10) The Ottoman Empire (3 Supply Centers)

Not involved in the Seven Years War, but impossible to ignore as a power in Europe, the

Ottoman Empire was under the rule of Sultan Mustafa III (reigned 1757-74). Mustafa instituted governmental and military reforms (including the adoption of western-style tactics, uniforms, and arms) to halt the empire’s slow but steady decline. A century and a half earlier the Ottoman Turks had ruled over the largest empire in the world, but that day of glory was now fast fading. Dominated by military and religious factions, the empire remained a medieval state politically, economically, and socially. In spite of urgings by France and Prussia, the Ottoman Empire was reluctant to participate in the European scheme of alliances and counter-alliances. Nevertheless, it fought constant, intermittent wars with its European neighbors in the 18th century, including three separate wars against a Russo-Austrian alliance between 1736 and 1792. Although no longer at the peak of its power (the last siege of Vienna took place in 1683), it still took a coalition of European nations to bring down the Ottoman Empire in the 18th century.

Starts with armies in Sofia and Bakhchisaray, and a fleet in Constantinople. Unit color is yellow.

See also V. Special Rules regarding Bakhchisaray becoming a home SC for Russia.


In addition to the ten Great Powers, there is also a host of “minor powers,” which are non-player neutral SCs representing the smaller states of Europe. These include the following:

  • Algeria
  • Baden-Wurttemberg (representing the small independent states of southern Germany)
  • Bavaria
  • Hesse-Westphalia (representing the small independent states of central Germany)
  • Mecklenburg
  • Morocco
  • The Kingdom of Two Sicilies
  • The Papal States (see Section V, Special Rules)
  • The Kingdom of Portugal
  • The Kingdom of Sardinia
  • Switzerland
  • Tunisia
  • The Grand Duchy of Tuscany (representing the small states of Tuscany and Modena)
  • The United Netherlands
  • The Venetian Republic

Each minor power, although a “non-player,” starts with a unit (unit color is dark green). All minor powers start with an army except for the following minors that start with a fleet: Portugal, the Venetian Republic, the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, the United Netherlands, Tunisia, and Algeria (the fleets in Tunisia and Algeria representing the Barbary pirates).

Minor power units prevent a Great Power from simply moving into an empty space and gaining control of the SC. To occupy a minor power SC, a Great Power will need to move in with support. A minor power unit that is forced to retreat is disbanded. If a Great Power does not occupy the minor power SC at the end of a Fall turn, the minor power’s unit is automatically rebuilt in the Winter.

As in standard Diplomacy, a Great Power controls a minor power SC when one of its units occupies the space after a Fall turn has been played and completed. Once a Great Power gains control of a minor power SC, it can leave the SC vacant and still keep control of it as long as that SC is not occupied by another Great Power at the close of a Fall turn.

Minor power units do nothing but hold in place, unless the unit has been ordered by a Great Power using its Diplomacy Points.


At the start of the Spring and Fall turns, each Great Power receives one Diplomacy Point (DP) for each SC it controls, up to a maximum of three DPs per turn. During each Spring and Fall turn, each Great Power may allocate none, some, or all of its DPs to minor powers that still have units on the map. For each DP allocated, the allocating Great Power submits an order for that particular minor power’s unit. A Great Power may also consolidate all of its DPs (if it has more than one) into a single order. A Great Power may only order a minor power to hold or support. A minor power can not be ordered to move/attack.

Unused DPs may not be carried over into the next turn. They are simply lost.

Players are not required to tell each other how they allocated their DPs. Just as with negotiations, players may honor their agreements with other players or not, as they see fit. Only the GM will know how Great Powers have allocated their DPs. DP allocation is not published in the adjudication; only the end results are published.

The GM determines how DPs have been allocated. In the event of a conflict, an order for a particular minor power’s unit is followed if it is supported by more DPs than any conflicting order. See the following examples:

Example 1. In Spring ‘63, France allocates one DP to Switzerland to get it to support a French attack on Sardinia. No other major Power allocates a DP to Switzerland so the Swiss unit supports the French attack on Sardinia.

Example 2. In Spring ‘63, France allocates one DP to Switzerland to get it to support a French attack on Sardinia. Austria also allocates one DP to Switzerland to get it to support an Austrian attack on Venetia. Since France and Austria each allocated one DP to Switzerland, neither controls Switzerland and the Swiss army simply holds in place.

Example 3. In Spring ‘63, France allocates two DPs to Switzerland to get it to support a French attack on Sardinia. Austria allocates only one DP to Switzerland to get it to support an Austrian attack on Venetia. Since France allocated one more DP to Switzerland than Austria did, the Swiss support the French attack on Sardinia.

Example 4. In Spring ‘63, France allocates one DP to Switzerland to get it to support a French attack on Sardinia. Austria allocates one DP to Switzerland to get it to support an Austrian attack on Venetia. In support of France, Turkey allocates one DP to Switzerland to get it to support the French attack on Sardinia. Although France, Austria, and Turkey each allocated one DP to Switzerland, the French get the Swiss support because the Turks supported the French diplomatic efforts with the Swiss.

If, during a Spring or Fall turn, a Great Power allocates more DPs to minor powers than it is entitled to, all of that Great Power’s DPs are forfeited for that particular turn.


  • The first turn of the game begins in the Spring of 1763.
  • While the Austrian Netherlands acts as a home SC for Austria, Austria cannot build in the Austrian Netherlands. However, Austria may build in Milan.
  • Britain & Hanover may build in Hanover.
  • Konigsberg is a home SC for Prussia while it is controlled by Prussia. Konigsberg is a home SC for Poland & Saxony while it is controlled by Poland & Saxony. Thus, Poland & Saxony must control Konigsberg to build a fleet.
  • Bakhchisaray is a home SC for Turkey while it is controlled by Turkey. Bakhchisaray is a home SC for Russia while it is controlled by Russia. Thus, Russia must control Bakhchisaray to build a fleet in the Black Sea.
  • Any power may allocate DP’s to the Papal States, but the Papal States army may only be ordered to hold or to support a unit belonging to a Catholic state (i.e., France, Austria, Spain, Poland & Saxony, Tuscany, Two Sicilies, and Venetia).


As soon as one Great Power controls 15 SCs, the game ends immediately and the player representing that Great Power is the winner.

If two Great Powers each gain control of 15 or more SCs at the same time, the player representing the Great Power with the most SCs is considered the winner. If the two Great Powers each control the same number of SCs, the game continues until one player has 15 or more SCs and that player has more SCs than any other player.

Players may terminate the game by mutual agreement before a winner is determined. If this occurs, any decision reached by the players (e.g., concede game to one player, concede game to an alliance) must be accepted unanimously. If the players cannot agree, all players who still have pieces on the board when the game ends share equally in a draw.


If a player is lost during the game, the GM is strongly encouraged to find a replacement player for the affected Great Power rather than have it lapse into civil disorder. In the event no replacement player is found and the GM declares the Great Power to be in permanent civil disorder, the following rules apply:

  • All units of the Great Power in civil disorder (GPCD) are immediately disbanded.
  • All SCs controlled by the GPCD that are unoccupied are immediately considered newly independent minor powers. Minor power army units are built in those minor power spaces.
  • All SCs controlled by the GPCD that are occupied by a unit belonging to another Great Power are unaffected. If the occupying Great Power moves its unit out of the GPCD’s SC so that the SC is unoccupied at the conclusion of a Fall turn, a minor power army unit is built there and that SC is considered a newly independent minor power.
  • For the remainder of the game, all newly independent minor powers are subject to the provisions of Section III. Minor Powers. In particular, this means the new minor power can be influenced using Diplomacy Points (see IV. Diplomacy Points).
  • Once a Great Power is declared to be in permanent civil disorder, it may not be played by an active player again.


  • There is no canal where Kiel used to be located.
  • Lake Ladoga, the Russian body of water adjoining the spaces of St. Petersburg, Novgorod, Karelia, and Moscow, is impassable. A unit may not move from St. Petersburg to Novgorod or vice versa. Similarly, a unit may not move from Karelia to Moscow or vice versa.
  • The Sea of Azov, an integral part of the Bakhchisaray space, is considered impassable for fleet movement purposes. Only one unit, a fleet or an army may occupy Bakhchisaray at any one time. Further, this means that Kazan has only one coast. This is the coast along the Black Sea. The tiny coast off of the Sea of Azov is ignored for fleet movement purposes.
  • Gibraltar is a sea space that contains land. This means that a fleet in Gibraltar can convoy an army and that an army can occupy Gibraltar. Gibraltar breaks the coast of Seville in two. It does not break the coast of Morocco in two.
  • Army movement across water is permitted without a convoy at crossing arrows: Morocco-Gibraltar, and Ireland-Edinburgh.


Being based on a map of Europe in 1763, Ambition & Empire has a number of spaces that do not appear on the conventional Diplomacy map. As in Diplomacy, there are twenty sea spaces. However, with few exceptions, the land spaces are radically changed, particularly in the east. There are sixty-seven land spaces, of which forty-three are SCs. All spaces on the Ambition & Empire map, along with their abbreviations, are listed below. SCs are annotated with an asterisk (*).

Abo*AboAdriatic SeaAdr
Aegean SeaAegAlgeria*Alg
Austrian Netherlands*ANeBaden-Wurttemberg*BaW
Baltic SeaBalBakhchisaray*Bak
Barents SeaBarBavaria*Bav
Black SeaBlaBerlin*Ber
Dresden*DreEastern MediterraneanEas
Edinburgh*EdiEnglish ChannelEng
GibraltarGibGulf of BothniaGBo
Gulf of LyonGLyHanover*Han
Helgoland BightHelHesse-Westphalia*HeW
HolsteinHolIonian SeaIon
IrelandIreIrish SeaIri
Mecklenburg*MecMid-Atlantic OceanMid
Moscow*MosNorth Atlantic OceanNAt
North SeaNthNorwegian SeaNwS
NovgorodNovPapal States*Pap
St. Petersburg*StPSamogitiaSam
Tuscany*TusTwo SiciliesTwS
TyrolTyrTyrrhenian SeaTyS
United Netherlands*UNeVenetia*Ven
Western MediterraneanWesYorkshireYor