Ambition & Empire VI (hc12)

by W. Alex Ronke, Jeffrey S. Kase, & B.M. Powell

Download Map and Rules


Ambition & Empire is a Diplomacy variant for ten players set in Europe in 1763. A player achieves victory when he or she controls at least fifteen supply centers (hereafter SCs), and that player has the most SCs of any player.

The game begins immediately after the Treaties of Paris and Hubertusburg, which together marked the conclusion of the Seven Years War. The title pays tribute to the empire-building, war-and-conquest philosophy held by the great leaders of the day. This remarkable cast of historical figures included Maria Theresa of Austria, Frederick the Great of Prussia, and Catherine the Great of Russia. This period would culminate with Napoleon, one of the greatest empire builders in history.

Except as otherwise indicated, the rules of standard Diplomacy apply.


Starting Date. The first turn of the game is Spring of 1763.

Minor Power Units. Unlike the minor powers in standard Diplomacy, which do not have units, the minor powers in Ambition & Empire each have either an army or a fleet. See V. MINOR POWERS to determine what type of unit each minor power has.

Minor power units prevent the Great Powers from simply moving into an unconquered minor power SC without support. To occupy a minor power, a Great Power needs to move in with support.

If a Great Power attacks a minor power and dislodges the minor power’s unit, the GM immediately disbands the minor power unit. If a Major Power moves a unit into an unconquered minor realm and then either moves, retreats, or disbands that unit before the Major Power establishes control of the minor power, the GM rebuilds the minor power’s unit as part of the adjustments that take place during the Fall turn.

The Great Powers may use Diplomacy Points to gain control of a minor power.

Diplomacy Points (DPs). DPs are an abstract representation of the financial and political resources each Great Power has at its disposal.

At the start of each Spring and Fall turn, each player receives one DP for each SC he or she controls, up to a maximum of three DPs per turn. Players use their DPs to influence the actions of minor powers. Players allocate their DPs when they submit their movement orders for the Spring and Fall turns. Each player may allocate none, some, or all his or her DPs each Spring or Fall turn. For each DP he or she allocates, the allocating player submits an order telling the GM how to use the DP (i.e., to have a minor power unit hold, move, or support). A player may consolidate his or her DPs, if he or she allocates more than one, into a single order.

Players may not carry DPs they do not use over into the next turn. Instead, players simply lose unused DPs.

Players do not have to tell each other how they allocated their DPs or honor their agreements with each other. Only the GM will know how the players allocated their DPs. The GM does not publish DP allocations in the adjudication. Instead, the GM only publishes the results.

If, during a Spring or Fall turn, a player allocates more DPs than he or she is entitled to, that player loses all his or her DPs for that turn.

Gaining Control of Minor Power Units. The GM examines how the players allocated their DPs. If only one player allocated DPs to a particular minor power, that player gains control of that minor power. If multiple players submit orders to the same minor power, the GM publishes the order with the most DP support. If no single order for a particular minor power unit has more DP support than any other order for that unit, the minor power unit holds.

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

Example 2:
In Spring ‘63, France allocates one DP to Switzerland to get it to support a French attack on Savoy. Austria also allocates one DP to Switzerland to get it to support an Austrian attack on Venice. Because France and Austria each allocated one DP to Switzerland, neither controls Switzerland. 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 Savoy. Austria allocates only one DP to Switzerland to get it to support an Austrian attack on Venice. Because France allocated one more DP to Switzerland than Austria did, the Swiss support the French attack on Savoy.

Example 4:
In Spring ‘63, France allocates one DP to Switzerland to get it to support a French attack on Savoy. Austria allocates one DP to Switzerland to get it to support an Austrian attack on Venice. In support of France, Turkey allocates one DP to Switzerland to get it to support the French attack on Savoy. 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.

The GM publishes the order for a minor power unit that has the most DP support just as the player or players wrote the order. This is true even if the order is invalid, in which case the minor power unit holds.

Example 5:
During the Fall ‘63 turn, France allocates three DPs to A Hesse-Westphalia to Bavaria. This is an invalid order. Because no other Great Powers allocate DPs to Hesse-Westphalia, France wins control of the Hesse-Westphalia army. The GM publishes A Hesse-Westphalia to Bavaria (Invalid) in the Fall ‘63 adjudication.

Minor Power Unit Movement Orders (the “Sortie”). While players may order a minor power unit to move or attack an adjacent space (or a non-adjacent space via convoy), a minor power unit will never end the turn outside of its original location (aside from being dislodged). This means that a minor power unit can move (i.e., “sortie”) to cut support or bounce another unit, but it cannot end the turn in a different space than it started the turn in.

Accordingly, the GM declares invalid an order for a minor power unit to attack/move if the attack/move would result in the minor power unit successfully moving to another space.

Example 6:
During the Spring ’63 turn, Britain allocates one DP to United Provinces to get it to move its fleet to English Channel. France orders F Brest to English Channel. The French fleet and Dutch fleet bounce in the English Channel and return to their starting locations.

Example 7:
During the Spring ’63 turn, Britain allocates one DP to United Provinces to get it to move its fleet to English Channel. France orders F Brest to Mid-Atlantic Ocean. Because the French fleet does not oppose the Dutch fleet’s movement to English Channel and because the Dutch fleet cannot end the turn in the English Channel, Britain’s order to the Dutch fleet is invalid. The GM publishes F United Province to English Channel (Invalid).

An order that supports a minor power unit’s movement order is invalid if that support would result in the minor power unit movement order succeeding.

Example 8:
During the Spring ’63 turn, Britain allocates one DP to United Provinces to get it to move its fleet to English Channel. Britain also orders F London S F United Provinces to English Channel. France orders F Brest to English Channel. The movement of F United Provinces, by itself, is sufficient to prevent F Brest from moving to English Channel. Because the support from F London would cause F United Province’s move to English Channel to succeed, a result that cannot happen, the GM publishes F London S F United Provinces to English Channel (Invalid) during Spring ‘63 adjudication.

Limitations on DPs. If a Great Power is attacking (or supporting/convoying an attack on) a minor power, that Great Power may not allocate DPs to that minor power during the turn the attack or support is taking place. This rule prevents a Great Power from allocating DPs to a minor power for the purpose of having the minor power unit move, thereby making it ineligible to receive support during the Great Power’s attack on that minor power.

The Religion Rule. In recognition of the religious divisions in Europe and the Mediterranean world in 1763, the Religion Rule restricts what Great Powers may order minor powers to do. Players may allocate DPs to any minor power in the game; however, the restrictions below apply.
● The Papal States army may only hold, attack/move (“sortie”) to an adjacent space that is either empty or contains a non-Catholic unit at the start of the turn, or support another Catholic unit.
● An Islamic minor power may not support an attack by a Christian unit into a space an Islamic unit occupies at the start of a turn.
● A Christian minor power may not support an attack by an Islamic unit into a space that a Christian unit occupies at the start of a turn.

For gameplay purposes, Orthodox and Protestant units are equivalent; they are both Christian and non-Catholic. Additionally, the distinction between Catholic Christian units and all other Christian units matters only when players consider orders for the Papal States army (see the first bullet above).

See IV. THE GREAT POWERS and V. THE MINOR POWERS for a list of which powers’ units are Islamic or Christian, as well as whether the Christian units are Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox.

Austria & Southern Netherlands. Even though it is a starting SC for the Habsburg Empire, the Southern Netherlands (SNe) is not a home SC for Austria. Austria may not build units in the Southern Netherlands. This is the only SC on the map in which the initial controlling Great Power may not build.

Austria gained control of the Southern Netherlands (also known as the Austrian Netherlands or Catholic Netherlands) after the War of the Spanish Succession. From the start of their rule over the Southern Netherlands, the Habsburgs tried continuously, without success, to trade it for another territory closer to its core domains. These actions, which the well-informed inhabitants of Southern Netherlands knew about, did little to engender loyalty amongst the Southern Netherland’s people towards the Habsburgs. The general antipathy of the Southern Netherlands’ population towards Austria and the Habsburg’s near complete failure to take advantage of this relatively prosperous holding manifests itself in game terms in the fact that even though Southern Netherlands starts the game as a possession of Austria, Austria may not build in the Southern Netherlands.

Crimea. Crimea serves as a home SC for Russia if Russia controls it.

Additional Home Supply Centers (SCs). The five Great Powers that start the game with two home SCs (Denmark-Norway, Turkey, Poland-Lithuania & Saxony, Spain, and Sweden) may convert one of the SCs they conquer into a home SC. These new home SCs are locations from which the five listed Great Powers may potentially build units in future turns.

Conquered SCs become home SCs when the controlling Great Powers build in them. After a Great Power identifies an additional home SC by building in that SC, that SC remains a home SC for that Great Power for the duration of the game.

Example 9:
Turkey conquers Crimea in Fall 1764 and builds there in Fall 1765. Crimea becomes a home SC for Turkey. Russia gains controls of Crimea in 1767 and builds there in Fall 1768. Crimea becomes a home SC for Russia and Russia can build there for as long as it controls the SC. Turkey takes Crimea back from Russia in 1770. Crimea once again becomes a home SC for Turkey.

A Great Power’s additional home SC may be either a minor power or the home SC of another Great Power. If the new home SC was originally another Great Power’s home SC, it functions as the home SC for whichever of the rival Great Powers controls it during the game. This means that a home SC that belonged to a Great Power at the beginning of the game will never count as an additional home SC for that original owner (i.e., building a unit in a recaptured home SC does not preclude that Great Power from later acquiring another additional home SC during the game).

Example 10:
Poland-Lithuania & Saxony conquer Baden-Wuerttemberg in 1763. In 1764, Poland-Lithuania & Saxony build an army there. From that point on, Baden-Wuerttemberg is Poland-Lithuania & Saxony’s third home SC. Poland-Lithuania & Saxony later capture Bavaria. Because Baden-Wuerttemberg is already Poland-Lithuania & Saxony’s third home SC, Bavaria may never become a home SC for Poland-Lithuania & Saxony during the current game. This remains true even if Poland-Lithuania & Saxony loses one of its three home SCs later in the game.

Example 11:
Denmark-Norway captures Hanover in 1763. The following year, Denmark-Norway captures Hesse-Westphalia, but it cannot build in Hanover because the fleet that captured that space in 1763 is still there. The following year, Denmark-Norway captures United Provinces, but loses Hanover to Prussia. Denmark-Norway disbands the dislodged F Hanover and builds an army in Hesse-Westphalia, thereby making Hesse-Westphalia Denmark-Norway’s third home SC for the remainder of the game.

Example 12:
Denmark-Norway conquers Stockholm and builds a unit there the following year. Even though Stockholm is one of Sweden’s original home SCs, it is now a Denmark-Norway home SC. Later in the game, Sweden recaptures Stockholm. Stockholm reverts to its original status as one of Sweden’s home SCs. Sweden later captures Mecklenburg and builds a unit there the following year. Mecklenburg now becomes Sweden’s third home SC. For the rest of the game, Copenhagen, Christiania, and Stockholm are home SCs for Denmark-Norway, and Stockholm, Abo, and Mecklenburg are home SCs for Sweden.


If a player drops out during the game, the GM should attempt to find a replacement player for the affected Great Power rather than have that Great Power lapse into civil disorder. In the event the GM cannot find a replacement player and declares the Great Power to be in permanent civil disorder, the following rules apply:

● The GM immediately disbands all units of the Great Power in civil disorder.
● All unoccupied SCs the former Great Power controlled become newly independent minor powers.
● The GM builds minor power units in the newly independent minor powers. The minor power units will be armies or fleets depending on the type of unit that was in that SC at game-start.
● New minor powers have the religious affiliation of the former Great Power.
● If a unit belonging to another Great Power occupies a SC the former Great Power controlled at the time it went into CD, that SC does not immediately become a new minor power. If the occupying Great Power moves its unit out of the former Great Power’s SC so that the SC is vacant at the conclusion of a Fall turn, the SC does become a new minor power and the GM builds the appropriate unit there during Winter adjustments.
● For the remainder of the game, all newly independent minor powers are subject to the provisions of IV. MINOR POWERS. This means Great Powers can use DPs to influence the new minor powers.
● After the GM declares a Great Power to be in permanent civil disorder, another player may not take it over.


In comparison to the great conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries, European wars of the early 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. Pitting Austria, France, Russia, Saxony, Spain, and Sweden against Britain, Hanover, and Prussia, it was, in short, a bloody and destructive world war fought in theaters across the globe. When the war-weary participants finally laid down their arms in 1763, a new and in many ways more balanced dynamic existed amongst the Great Powers. Ambition & Empire explores this new balance of power in Europe.

Great Britain & Hanover – The Kingdom of Great Britain & The Electorate of Hanover (BH)

Color – Dark Blue (#00247d)
Religious Affiliation – Christianity – Protestant
Starting SCs – London, Edinburgh, Liverpool, & Hanover
Home SCs – London, Edinburgh, Liverpool, & Hanover
Starting Units – F London, F Edinburgh, A Hanover, & F Gibraltar

NOTE: Gibraltar is not a supply center (SC), although a fleet starts there. Liverpool is a SC for Britain, though no unit begins the game there.

Denmark-Norway – The Kingdom of Denmark-Norway (DN)

Color – Puce (#a75a6a)
Religious Affiliation – Christianity – Protestant
Starting SCs – Copenhagen & Christiania
Home SCs – Copenhagen & Christiania; also one additional SC
Starting Units – F Copenhagen & F Christiania

See II. SPECIAL RULES – Additional Home Supply Centers (SCs) regarding Denmark-Norway obtaining one additional home SC.

France – The Kingdom of France (FR)

Color – Vivid Blue (#1b1bff)
Religious Affiliation – Christianity – Catholic
Starting SCs – Paris, Marseilles, & Brest
Home SCs – Paris, Marseilles, & Brest
Starting Units – A Paris, A Marseilles, & F Brest

Habsburg Empire (Austria) – The Habsburg Empire, also known as Austria (HA)

Color – Yellow (#edbc29)
Religious Affiliation – Christianity – Catholic
Starting SCs – Vienna, Buda, Milan, & Southern Netherlands
Home SCs – Vienna, Buda, & Milan
Starting Units – A Vienna, A Buda, A Milan, & A Southern Netherlands

See II. SPECIAL RULES – Austria & Southern Netherlands regarding builds in the Southern Netherlands.

Ottoman Empire (Turkey) – The Ottoman Empire, also known as Turkey (OT)

Color – Red (#e30a17)
Religious Affiliation – Islam
Starting SCs – Constantinople & Smyrna
Home SCs – Constantinople & Smyrna; also one additional SC
Starting Units – A Constantinople & F Smyrna

See II. SPECIAL RULES – Additional Home Supply Centers (SCs) regarding Turkey obtaining one additional home SC.

Prussia – The Kingdom of Prussia (PR)

Color – Midnight Blue (#001f34)
Religious Affiliation – Christianity – Protestant
Starting SCs – Berlin, Breslau, & Koenigsberg
Home SCs – Berlin, Breslau, & Koenigsberg
Starting Units – A Berlin, A Breslau, & A Koenigsberg

Poland-Lithuania & Saxony – The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth & The Electorate of Saxony (PS)

Color – Pink (#f52887)
Religious Affiliation – Christianity – Catholic
Starting SCs – Warsaw & Dresden
Home SCs – Warsaw & Dresden; also one additional SC
Starting Units – A Warsaw & A Dresden

See II. SPECIAL RULES – Additional Home Supply Centers (SCs) regarding Poland-Lithuania & Saxony obtaining one additional home SC.

Russia – The Russian Empire (RU)

Color – Light Green (#679267)
Religious Affiliation – Christianity – Orthodox
Starting SCs – Moscow, Kiev, & St. Petersburg
Home SCs – Moscow, Kiev, & St. Petersburg; also Crimea
Starting Units – A Moscow, A Kiev, & F St. Petersburg

See II SPECIAL RULES – Crimea regarding the Khanate becoming a home SC for Russia.

Spain – The Kingdom of Spain (SP)

Color – Burgundy (#7e142a)
Religious Affiliation – Christianity – Catholic
Starting SCs – Madrid & Barcelona
Home SCs – Madrid & Barcelona; also one additional SC
Starting Units – A Madrid & F Barcelona

See II. SPECIAL RULES – Additional Home Supply Centers (SCs) regarding Spain obtaining one additional home SC.

Sweden – The Kingdom of Sweden (SW)

Color – Cerulean (#006aa7)
Religious Affiliation – Christianity – Protestant
Starting SCs – Stockholm & Abo
Home SCs – Stockholm & Abo; also one additional SC
Starting Units – F Stockholm & A Abo

See II. SPECIAL RULES – Additional Home Supply Centers (SCs) regarding Sweden obtaining one additional home SC.


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 and North Africa.

List of All Minor Powers

Minor PowerReligionUnit Type
Algiers (Alg)IslamFleet
Baden-Wuerttemberg (BaW)Christianity – ProtestantArmy
Bavaria (Bav)Christianity – CatholicArmy
Courland (Cou)Christianity – ProtestantFleet
Hesse-Westphalia (HeW)Christianity – ProtestantArmy
Crimea (Cri)IslamArmy
Mecklenburg (Mek)Christianity – ProtestantArmy
Morocco (Mor)IslamFleet
Papal States (Pap)Christianity – CatholicArmy
Portugal (Por)Christianity – CatholicFleet
Savoy (& Sardinia) (Sav)Christianity – CatholicArmy
Switzerland (Swi)Christianity – ProtestantArmy
Tunis (Tun)IslamFleet
Tuscany (Tus)Christianity – CatholicArmy
Naples & Sicily (NaS)Christianity – CatholicFleet
United Provinces (UPr)Christianity – ProtestantFleet
Venice (Ven)Christianity – CatholicFleet

Conquering Minor Powers. Each minor power, although a “non-player,” starts with an army or fleet (as specified in the previous section).

Minor powers hold in place unless a Great Power uses DPs to order the minor power unit to do something (See II. SPECIAL RULES – Diplomacy Points (DPs)).

As in standard Diplomacy, a Great Power controls a minor power SC when one of its units occupies the space after the completion of all Fall moves and retreats. After a Great Power gains control of a minor power SC, the Great Power can leave the SC vacant and continue to control that SC until another Great Power occupies that SC at the close of a Fall turn.

Minor Powers’ Markings. Minor power unit markings show the religious affiliation of each minor power.
● Christian minor power units show either the Papal keys (the Papacy), a cross fleury (Catholic), or a Luther rose (Protestant).
● Islamic minor power units show a crescent and star.
● See The Religion Rule under II. SPECIAL RULES to see how this affiliation affects gameplay.


In 2016, W. Alex Ronke ( used Inkscape (URL: to create a beautiful map (v6.00) and wonderful unit icons for the Ambition & Empire variant. The latest map update (v.6.01) leaves Alex’s original work virtually intact. The only alterations are a name change for one space (Two Sicilies becomes Naples & Sicily) and the units for six minor powers (Algiers, Courland, Crimea, Tunis, Tuscany, and Two Sicilies) now follow the standard minor power color scheme instead of having the colors of an associated Great Power.
GMs who wish use Inkscape to make their maps can contact Alex for the source SVG file and a basic tutorial of how to manipulate it. The use of Inkscape is currently the variant designer’s preferred method for generating the highest-quality maps for Ambition & Empire contests.

1763 Standard Starting Map.

Figure 1: The map at game-start with unit icons and abbreviated space names.

Full Names Map.

Figure 2: The full names of each region on the map. Colors reflect game-state at game start.

Version 5.0 Legacy Map.

Figure 3: The map from Version 5.0 of the Ambition & Empire rules (2006). Provided for reference.

Changes from the v5.0 map to the v6.01 map include the following:
● Regions inside Poland-Lithuania & Saxony are restructured.
● The Turkish SC of Ankara is now Smyrna.
● Crete is playable.
● A crossing arrow is now in place between Andalusia and Morocco.
● The minor power Two Sicilies is now Naples & Sicily.
● Historical affiliation between six minor powers and their patron Great Powers, as denoted by colored boundaries, is no longer present.


Holstein. Unlike Kiel in standard Diplomacy, there is no canal in Holstein. Instead, Holstein (Hst) has a split coastline.

Lake Ladoga. Lake Ladoga, the Russian body of water adjoining the spaces of St. Petersburg, Novgorod Territory, Karelia, and Moscow, is impassable. A unit may not move from St. Petersburg to Novgorod Territory or vice versa. Similarly, a unit may not move from Karelia to Moscow or vice versa.

● The Island of Sicily is an integral part of the Naples &Sicily space and is not a separate space of its own.
● Two spaces on the map, the SC Savoy and the Island of Sardinia, together represent the Kingdom of Sardinia, a minor power.
● The Islands of Crete, Iceland, Ireland, and Sardinia are passable spaces and units may move to them. The numerous unnamed islands on the map (e.g., Corsica, Cyprus, Majorca, Rhodes, etc.) are not playable.

Courland & Koenigsberg. Courland and Koenigsberg border each other. This means Lithuania does not touch the Baltic Sea and is impassable for fleet movement purposes.

Straits of Gibraltar & Moyle.
● Gibraltar is a sea space that contains the Straits of Gibraltar. Because there is no land portion of Gibraltar (i.e., no Rock of Gibraltar), Gibraltar does not break the coast of Andalusia in two.
● The Straits of Moyle is a waterway between Ireland and Scotland. It is part of the larger Irish Sea space.
● Armies and fleets may move directly back and forth between Edinburgh-Ireland and Andalusia-Morocco using the crossing points the arrows on the map indicate. Armies do not require a convoy to make this move.
● Units may not move or provide support between Edinburgh and Ireland if a fleet belonging to a different Great Power starts the game-turn in the Irish Sea. Units may not retreat between Edinburgh and Ireland if a fleet belonging to a different Great Power is in Irish Sea prior to retreats. These same restrictions apply to movement, providing support, and retreats between Andalusia and Morocco when a fleet belonging to a different Great Power either starts the game-turn in Gibraltar or is in Gibraltar prior to retreats.

Example 13:
Spain moves A Madrid to Andalusia and F Barcelona to Western Mediterranean Sea in Spring 1763 with the intention of attacking Morocco in the Fall. Contrary to expectations, Britain does not move F Gibraltar. The British fleet prevents A Andalusia from either supporting F Western Mediterranean Sea into Morocco or moving to Morocco itself with support from F Western Mediterranean Sea in Fall 1763.

Example 14:
If, in the example above, Britain had moved F Gibraltar to Mid-Atlantic Ocean in Spring 1763, Spain would be able to attack Morocco in Fall 1763 from either Andalusia or Western Mediterranean Sea with support from the unit not moving. Britain moving its fleet back to Gibraltar in Fall 1763 would not in any way hinder Spain’s attack.

Example 15:
Again using the scenario in Example 13 above, Britain offers to use F Gibraltar to convoy the Spanish army in Andalusia to Morocco in Fall 1763 in return for an alliance against France. Though Spain is actually in league with France, the Spanish accept the British offer and order A Andalusia to Gibraltar to Spain and F Western Mediterranean Sea S Andalusia to Morocco. Britain orders F Gibraltar C SP A Andalusia to Morocco. The Spanish attack fails, however, because F Algiers supports F Morocco.

Smyrna & Constantinople. Smyrna has two coasts: a north coast that borders the Black Sea and a south coast that borders the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean Sea. During Movement, Retreat, and Build phases, all Great Powers must specify the Smyrna coast that their fleets are moving to, retreating to, or being built on, just as they would any other space with two coasts.

Fleets belonging to the Great Power that controls Constantinople (Turkey at the beginning of the game) may treat the two Smyrna coasts as if they are a unified coastline. The unified coastline does not eliminate the requirement for the Great Power that controls Constantinople to identify that part of the unified coastline, north or south, its fleet moves to, retreats to, or is built on.

Example 16.
Turkey controls Constantinople at the beginning of 1768. During the Spring 1768 turn, Turkey orders F Black Sea to Smyrna (sc). This order would be invalid for any other Great Power because only Turkey currently controls Constantinople.
During the Fall 1768 turn, Turkey can order F Smyrna (sc) to Armenia, Black Sea, Constantinople, Aegean Sea, Eastern Mediterranean Sea, or Syria.
It may alternatively provide support to units in any of those locations or support other units’ movement to those locations.

Example 17.
Continuing Example 13, Austria gains control of Constantinople at the end of the Fall 1768 turn. The loss of Constantinople means that Turkey must treat Smyrna like it has two coasts.
The Turkish fleet on Smyrna’s south coast can now only move to or support action in Constantinople, Aegean Sea, Eastern Mediterranean Sea, or Syria. The Black Sea and Armenia are now off limits to Turkey’s F Smyrna (sc).


Being based on a map of Europe in 1763, Ambition & Empire has several spaces that do not appear on the conventional Diplomacy map. As in Diplomacy, there are 20 sea spaces. However, with few exceptions, the land spaces are radically different, particularly in the east. There are 77 land spaces, of which 44 are SCs. All spaces on the Ambition & Empire map, along with their abbreviations, appear below. An asterisk () annotates SCs.

Abo* Abo
Adriatic Sea Adr
Aegean Sea Aeg
Algiers* Alg
Andalusia And
Armenia Arm
Baden-Wuerttemberg* BaW
Baltic Sea Bal
Barcelona* Brc
Barents Sea Bar
Bavaria* Bav
Black Sea Bla
Berlin* Ber
Bohemia Boh
Bosnia Bos
Breslau* Brl
Brest* Bre
Buda* Bud
Burgundy Bur
Christiania* Chr
Constantinople* Con
Copenhagen* Cop
Courland* Cou
Crete Cre
Crimea* Cri
Croatia Cro
Dalmatia Dal
Dresden* Dre
Eastern Mediterranean Eas
Edinburgh* Edi
English Channel Eng
Gascony Gas
Gibraltar Gib

Greater Poland GPo
Gulf of Bothnia GoB
Gulf of Lyon GoL
Hanover* Han
Helgoland Bight Hel
Hesse-Westphalia* HeW
Holstein Hst
Iceland Ice
Ionian Sea Ion
Ireland Ire
Irish Sea Iri
Karelia Kar
Kazan Kaz
Kiev* Kev
Koenigsberg* Kon
Languedoc Lan
Lapland Lap
Leon Leo
Lesser Poland LPo
Lithuania Lit
Liverpool* Lvp
Livonia Lvn
London* Lon
Lusatia Lus
Madrid* Mad
Marseilles* Mar
Mecklenburg* Mek
Mid-Atlantic Ocean MAO
Milan* Mil
Morocco* Mor
Moscow* Mos
Naples & Sicily* NaS

North Atlantic Ocean NAO
North Sea Nth
Norwegian Sea Nwg
Novgorod Territory Nov
Papal States* Pap
Paris* Par
Picardy Pic
Podolia Pod
Portugal* Por
St. Petersburg* StP
Sardinia Sar
Savoy* Sav
Scania Sca
Skaggerak Ska
Smyrna* Smy
Southern Netherlands* SNe
Stockholm* Sto
Switzerland* Swi
Syria Syr
Tunis* Tun
Tuscany* Tus
Tyrol Tyr
Tyrrhenian Sea TyS
United Provinces* UPr
Venice* Ven
Vienna* Vie
Wales Wal
Wallachia Wla
Warsaw* War
Western Mediterranean Wes
Yorkshire Yor
Zaporozh’ye Zap


As soon as exactly one Great Power controls at least 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 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 still in the game may terminate the contest by mutual agreement before a solo occurs. If this happens, any decision the players reach (e.g., concede game to one player, concede game to an alliance) must be unanimous. If the players cannot agree, all players who still have pieces on the board when the game ends share equally in a draw.


1763. A recurring question about Ambition & Empire we have received is about how we settled on the date of 1763. Why create a variant that starts at the end of the Seven Years War instead of right before it? Part of the reasoning was that we did not want to create a variant that simply allowed players to reshape the events of the Seven Years War. We were looking at doing a period of history that no one had simulated before. We would not be surprised if this figured on some level into Calhamer’s decision to select 1901 as the starting point for Diplomacy rather than 1914.

However, we also believed that the states-system and balance the Seven Years War created was far more conducive to a multi-player variant than what existed at the outset of the war. For starters, while several events and political forces factored into the struggle, at its heart, the Seven Years War was a fight between the superpowers of the day, France and Britain, for global dominance. At the conclusion of the Seven Years War, however, this power structure was simply no longer in place.

The Ten Powers. Until the conclusion of the First World War, five Great Powers dominated international relations in Europe: Austria, France, Britain, Prussia, and Russia. In his book, The Emergence of the Eastern Powers, 1756-1775, author H. M. Scott traces the origins of the Great Power system to the events of the third quarter of the 18th Century; most notably, the military emergence of Russia and Prussia in the Seven Years War and, with Austria, a shift to the east in the center of power in Europe.

For play-balance, we added five other states to the mix. The first of these had to be the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). While not yet the “sick man of Europe,” it was certainly ailing. We also added four other countries who reached their zeniths in the 16th and 17th centuries and who were now gracefully (or not so gracefully, in one case) settling into second-tier status in 1763: Denmark-Norway, Poland-Lithuania, Spain, and Sweden. The inclusion of Saxony with Poland-Lithuania reflects the fact that the Prince-Elector of Saxony was also King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania.

Of these positions, players and observers have made the most ado about our inclusion of Denmark-Norway and Poland-Lithuania & Saxony. Denmark-Norway was little more than a commercial and shipping power by 1763. Poland-Lithuania was on the brink of anarchy. Austria, Prussia, and Russia would soon begin the process of partitioning the Commonwealth out of existence. Though we could not deny these historical realities, we chose to view these states in terms of what they could have potentially contributed to a great European war. The Danes had one of the largest merchant navies in Europe. The British would later show their concern over what the Danish navy might be capable of by attacking Copenhagen twice during the Napoleonic Wars. Saxony, though not nearly in the same league as Austria or Prussia, was still the third leading German state and more than capable of mischief. Poland-Lithuania was impossible for European statesmen to ignore, if only for its sheer size. Most importantly, however, we decided to add of these states to the mix of played positions because we felt the dynamics their inclusion created enhanced overall play balance. They also served to meet our desire for a larger multi-player variant.

Sixteen Years Later: Version 6.0. In 2016, approximately one decade after the release of Ambition & Empire v5.0, our variant-designing partnership expanded to include fellow designer W. Alex Ronke. His initial intent was to prepare updated SVG-based graphics and GM tools for the Ambition & Empire map, but he soon became an integral part of discussions regarding rules and map changes. We soon decided to release an updated edition of the variant: v6.0.

We collaborated via multiple email discussions and collectively decided on several changes to the variant. Some were cosmetic, but others were more substantive alterations to the rules. We began by deciding on new colors for each power. The original Ambition & Empire color scheme was an extension of classic Diplomacy colors. The scheme for 6.0 instead largely uses shades similar to colors in each powers’ flags or military uniforms.

We also adjusted the rules regarding the acquisition of home (build) locations. We did this to provide a more rules-oriented approach to connecting Great Powers to their traditionally affiliated minor powers. Previously, markings on the map that had no bearing on actual gameplay showed the Major/minor connections. For instance, the minor power of Courland had an orange border to mark its affiliation with Poland-Lithuania & Saxony (orange prior to 6.0), but this connection was purely cosmetic. With version 6.0, these affiliations became more formal, with several minor powers becoming guaranteed “home” locations for their connected majors, should their parent powers ever absorb them.

We also updated the rules regarding Diplomacy Points to match those of another of Baron’s variants, College of Cardinals, which he co-designed with Timothy Hayward. The most important change was the addition of the sortie, which allowed players to give minor powers move orders to bounce adjacent spaces and cut support while remaining in place.

Finally, we made some alterations to the structure of the map itself. We redrew regions in Poland-Lithuania and in Saxony to better reflect internal borders of that era. We made additional adjustments to rules regarding three “straits” on the map: Gibraltar, Moyle, and Bosphorus. The conditionally adjacent coastlines of the Bosphorus, which a similar rule in College of Cardinals inspired, ended up being somewhat complex, but we felt that it accurately reflected the importance of Constantinople in regulating traffic between the Black and Aegean seas.

After Another Six Years: 2022. We were generally pleased with how the variant played using the v6.00 rules and map, but there was one disappointing aspect of game play. This stemmed from the affiliation we created between six minor powers and their patron Great Powers. It made sense to declare these six minor powers as build sites for their corresponding Great Powers, but doing so resulted in a few suboptimal consequences. To correct this, we took a step back and reinstated two rules that had been part of the Ambition & Empire rule set from early on: a third home SC for those Great Powers that started the game with only two, and Crimea as a fourth home SC for Russia.

When Jeff and Baron created Ambition & Empire in 2000, available source material showed two Kingdoms of Sicily in southern Italy, the one on the Island of Sicily, and the one also known as the Kingdom of Naples. Using the space name “Two Sicilies” seemed appropriate. Officially, however, the Kingdom of Two Sicilies came into being in 1816. To correct this minor (but annoying) historical faux pas, we dropped the space name Two Sicilies and replaced it with Naples & Sicily.

Conclusion. Ambition & Empire has undergone notable change since its first appearance in 2000. Much of this change represents valued, thoughtful comments and suggestions we received from several dedicated players over the course of the years. We are genuinely grateful for their input and enthusiasm for the game.