by Simon Cole
Ever since being a child I have always wanted to create my own Diplomacy variant….
The original game is a marvel, it’s almost faultless. All right then, there is nothing wrong with it at all. The point is, everyone’s better at it than I am and that’s the real crux of the matter.
The obvious solution to this problem is to play a variant, Egyptian, Modern, Gunboat, Payola (the list is seemingly endless), and specialise in it. But I have theoretically discovered a strategy that will put me at an immediate advantage when playing any other Dipper. Yep, you guessed it, I developed my own variant and no-one has heard of it (apart from the people sworn to secrecy in the story to follow) until now….
In order to keep development time to a tight schedule of five years, I decided to outline some mission statements of what it was I was trying to achieve. Every day I would repeat these sentences to motivate me and keep me focused, before commencing work on the game:
I want a more challenging variant; a real thinking man’s game. Not a beer and pretzel sham of a mockery like some of the other variants I could mention. Sophistication is what I am aiming for; something James Bond could play and still get the girl at the end.
Yes indeed, I wanted to pull the Diplomacy envelope until it snapped!
After reading about the civilisations of Polynesia I felt that this multi-polar world lent itself to simulation using Diplomacy rules. However, since mapping the entire pacific basin would be a very long and complicated procedure. I decided to focus on just one area, the most enigmatic of the Polynesian islands, Easter Island.
Easter Island Diplomacy
- There are three players, each starting with one centre playing on the map below.
- The game starts in 1100 AD.
- Ownership of a majority of the centres on the board (as shown by the map, there are three total) results in victory.
(One of the rules is that you have to ignore those horizontal bars that have something to do with water depth or something. They were added by mapmakers who, for some reason, didn’t know they were creating a Diplomacy map.)
Here are the details from the first-ever game of EID.Players:
- Tribe “B” played by Ian Mangles (Diplomacy demigod)
- Tribe “C” played by Simon Cole (the man with the plan)
- Tribe “D” played by Jonny Sinclair (a Scottish mate who wins too much)
Spring 1100:After much negotiating with Ian and Jonny, I decided to try what is now known as the “Almost” opening C to A and go it alone without their help.
- Tribe B: B to A – Bounce !
- Tribe C: C to A – Bounce !
- Tribe D: D to A – Bounce !
Having seen the results I realised at once, that this variant was a lot more complex than it appeared at first glance and headed back to the drawing board. Somewhere I was missing something…
Fall 1100:The next deadline fell after a long pub session, none of us were really capable of much and Ian was having trouble walking. Having declared our undying love for each other with things like: “I luv you man!” “You’re my bestest, bestest mate you are (hic),” “Fargle,” and “If you were a bird I would marry you,” here is how the orders ran:
- Tribe B: B supports C into A – NSO !
- Tribe C: C supports D into A – NSO !
- Tribe D: D supports B into A – NSO !
In the morning, apart from the hangover, it was apparent to me that Easter Island Diplomacy was going really well and the fact we had made no territorial gains at the end of the first year was merely a sign that we were “naturals” at it.
Spring 1101:A new idea came to me, what I really needed to make progress was an ally. Being the adventurous type, I proffered my suggestion to Ian. “Why don’t you support me from C into A,” I hinted subtly. To my complete amazement Ian was not too keen… “What’s in it for me?” he said “Well, when I get into A and get my build, I’ll support you into D!” Ian looked perplexed (Maybe the pure genius of my long-term plan was lost on him at this early stage. But I thought he might go for it…)
- Tribe B: B Holds
- Tribe C: C to A – Bounce !
- Tribe D: D to A – Bounce !
Damn, Ian had not supported me into A. I found it hard to understand Ian’s short sightedness, surely he could see what a good thing that was. Then the paranoia set in (another classic characteristic and main selling point of this variant). Johnny had asked Ian to do the same thing! Worse than that, Ian knew it and had deliberately not supported either of us. This meant that Ian was in a commanding position, at this level it’s all in the mind, and Ian had grabbed the mental high ground here, he was messing with our minds!
Fall 1101:Ian was smiling and Johnny and I were feeling nervous, what cunning plan did Ian have up his sleeve next? I figured the best thing to do was to attack, try to get Johnny to help, and not say anything to Ian at all. So I told Johnny my plan…
- Tribe B: B to C – Succeeds. No Builds.
- Tribe C: C to D – Succeeds. No Builds.
- Tribe D: D to B – Succeeds. No Builds.
I was going to have to be more careful who I spoke to in future, someone on the inside had obviously leaked my plan to the opposition.
The spring orders are due this Friday, but I’m not sure I can cope, perhaps like Dr Frankenstein I have created my own monster. I am, though, working on another variant where by the Island of Motu Nui becomes a province without a supply center but a new power (Tribe E) owns a fleet that begins the game there. I feel this may add even more depth to the game (as if it needs it!) I will post more results as they come in, in the meantime, play the game yourself IF YOU DARE! I am now also looking for financial backer to get this roller-coaster of a game to market. Please send offers of $150,000+ for a 20% stakeholding to the e-mail address below please.