Economic Diplomacy IV (re03)

by Fred C Davis

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One of the things which has been overlooked in most Diplomacy variants is that in reality, all of the provinces are of some economic value.  (The “United States” variant recognized this by having every State a Supply Center, but this still ignores the difference in value between, say, California and Nevada.)  In France, the idea of all of the eggs being in the Paris, Brest and Marseilles baskets is ridiculous.  Brittany proper is one of the poorest districts in France, whereas the area called “Picardy” contains some of the most important industrial areas.  Ignoring the importance of the Ruhr in Germany or Piedmont (Milan, Turin) in Italy are other examples of geographic reality sacrificed for play ability.  Even a god forsaken area like Albania is of some value.  The Supply Center concept is useful as areas where armies and fleets have to be built, but they do not need to represent the entire economic strength of a country.

There should also be some recognition of the fact that fleets are more costly to build than armies.  In the real world on 1914, fleets had become so expensive that of the 7 powers herein represented, only England and Germany had built large navies.

Therefore, I propose a variant called “Economic Diplomacy,” in which every province has an established value expressed in terms of so may points or credits per year.  The cost of maintaining armies and fleets is expressed as so many points per unit per year.  Thus, the loss of any province will have an effect on the Power’s economic (and hence, military) strength.  There is a variant called “Hypereconomic Diplomacy” which goes into tremendous detail on such matters.  My version is much simpler, as befits my lazy mentality.  After all, if it turns into work, it’s no longer fun.

In the simplest version of this variant, as presented here, all provinces have values of between 1 and 4 points per years.  Using a slight modification of the Standard Board (3 split provinces, 3 additional passable provinces, and one new sea space), here are the rules:

0. The 1971 Rulebook will apply, except as follows.

1. Most Supply Centers plus Burgundy, Piedmont, Ukraine, and Yorkshire have values of 3 points (or credits) per year.  Most other provinces have values of 2.  (See complete list in Appendix.)  Total annual income from all provinces is 156 points.

2. London and Ruhr have values of 4 points.  Ankara and Tunis have values of only 2.

3. Albania, Apulia, Armenia, Archangel, and Sicily have values of one point each.

4. The initial annual income of each of the Great Powers is:  Russia – 20 credits; England and Germany – 17; Austria, France, and Italy – 16; Turkey – 13.  As of Winter 1900, the Standard Diplomacy builds are made, and each Power is also allocated 3 credits to its Treasury.

5. All income is received at the end of each Fall turn, and all costs paid on the Winter turn.  If a Power’s net worth is insufficient to pay the costs of all the units owned, some units must be removed unless the Power can obtain a loan, gift, or subsidy from another player.  Players can build only up to the limits of their Treasury, and factions cannot support units.  Loans, gifts, and extortions can be obtained only from other players.  There is no “bank” to borrow from.

6. Fleets cost 5 credits each per year.  Armies cost 4 credits each, except that the first 4 Turkish armies cost only 3 credits each.

7. Each Power pays the costs in advance for the following year.  The 1901 units are considered already paid for at the start of the game.  The bills which fall due in Winter 1901 are for the year 1902, including the cost of those units built in Winter ’01.  There is no additional cost for the actual building.

8. Income from all provinces goes to their owners at the end of the Fall turn, using the same criteria for ownership as that used for control of S.C.’s.  (i.e. Spring raid does not affect ownership or income.)

9. Units may only be built in the Supply Centers of the Home countries.

10. Powers may loan credits or make gifts to each other at any time.  Credits may also be used to bribe or reward other Powers, or to pay indemnities.  Credits not spent on any one turn may be saved in the Treasury to be used on a future turn.

11. The GM will indicate the new worth of each Power at the end of each Fall move.  (“Net worth” = income from provinces + credits remaining in Treasury + whatever funds may be loaned or given to a Power.)

a. The GM will indicate where a Power has insufficient net worth to support the number of its units on the board.  Since builds are optional, he will not comment on them, except to note if all Home S.C.’s are occupied.

b. Players have until the Winter adjustment deadlines to come up with additional funds from other Powers to keep its units on the board.  Therefore, the Winter turn is most important, and will always be conducted separately.

c. To report a loan or gift, both the giving and receiving Powers must indicate the extent of same in their orders.  (i.e. “Russia:  3 credits loaned to Turkey.”  “Turkey:  3 credits rec’d from Russia (loan).”)  If the two orders do not agree, the credit transfer is not effective.

d. In the Winter adjustments, the GM will indicate whenever additional outside funds have enabled a Power to have more units on the board than were scheduled in the Fall report.  However, he is not obliged to report the source of this additional income, unless both parties specifically request it.

e. Each Power’s net worth will again be published with the Winter adjustments.

12. One Power may call for the repayment of a loan from another Power immediately.  In this case, the GM is the “banker” in that any such request will be automatically honored at the end of a Fall move.

13. The Treasury of each Power is in the capital province in 1900.  Thereafter, it may be moved to any other province controlled by the Power on any Spring or Fall move.  If a Treasury is in a province that falls into enemy hands, it is lost to the other Power on either a Spring or Fall move.  Said Treasury is immediately associated with the gaining Power’s Treasury.  The nation losing its Treasury must designate a new province as the seat of its Treasury on the next move.  The locations of all Treasuries shall be published in the game reports, and players should keep track of them.  A player may not split his Treasury into more than 1 province.

14. A Power in Civil Disorder will continue to earn income from those armies under its control to pay for its standing armies and fleets, and the GM will see that its debts are paid to the best of its ability.

15. The Victory Criterion is 80 points of income per year from provinces owned (one-half plus  two of all points).  Any two players may form an Alliance Victory with a total of 108 points (equivalent to 24 S.C.’s under old method).

16. Three provinces, Spain, St. Petersburg, and Trieste, are divided into two spaces:

a. Spain is divided into North Coast and South Coast, each with a value of two.

b. St. Petersburg is divided into St. Pete. (a S.C.) with a value of 3, and Archangel with a value of 1.  However, Russia may build fleets in Archangel.

c. Trieste is divided into Croatia, an ordinary province, and Zara (a S.C.), each with a value of 2.  In Winter 1900, Austria builds a fleet in Zara.

17. Additional passable areas are Ireland (2 pts.), Persia (2), and Sicily (1).  There is also a new sea space called “Southern Med.”  Persia is a Home Province of Turkey for income purposes.  It touches Syria, Armenia, and Sevastopol.  (Purists may consider this province to be a combination of Persia and Mesopotamia.)  Sicily is part of Italy for income purposes.  Ireland is independent.  Southern Med. borders on the Ionian Sea, Eastern Med. and Syria, but not on Tunis.

18. Armies may move and support between Naples and Sicily without convoy.  This does not affect fleet movements between the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, as this is a “4-point meet”.


Values of the Provinces:

4 Point Provinces (2):  London Ruhr

3 Point Provinces (33):  All S.C.’s not otherwise mentioned, plus Burgundy, Piedmont, Ukraine, Yorkshire

2 Point Provinces (22):  Clyde, Wales, Gascony, Picardy, Prussia, Silesia, Tuscany, Bohemia, Croatia, Galicia, Tyrolia, Zara, Finland, Livonia Ankara, Persia, Syria, Ireland, North Africa, Spain (n.c.), Spain (s.c.), Tunis

1 Point Provinces (5):  Albania, Apulia, Armenia, Archangel, Sicily

This games can be played on a Standard board by just drawing a few lines dividing Spain, St. Pete, and Trieste in half (“Zara is the southern half of the old Trieste).  You should also draw a line between the “p” and the “1” in the word “Diplomacy” to indicate the boundary between Persia and the other Turkish provinces.  There’s room on a conference may for the Southern Med. space.  If playing on a big board, a piece of cardboard can be attached here.

 Initial Annual Income (115 cr)
Initial Unit CostsInitial Surplus*
England(1×4, 3×3, 2×2)=1714 (2 F, 1 A)3
Germany(1×4, 3×3, 2×2)=1713 (1 F, 2 A)4
France(4×3, 2×2)     =1613 (1 F, 2 A)3
Austria(2×3, 5×2)     =1613 (1 F, 2 A)3
Italy(4×3, 1×2, 2×1)=1613 (1 F, 2 A)3
Turkey(2×3, 3×2, 1×1)=1311 (1 F, 2 A)2
Russia(5×3, 2×2, 1×1)=2018 (2 F, 2 A)2

*  Plus 3 credits each in Treasury as of Winter, 1900.

This gives England and Germany a slightly higher initial income than the other regular Powers.  Since England will have to build move fleets than anyone else, she is really not as wealthy as it appears.  Germany is in the best financial position – a reflection of her early and thorough preparation for war.  Turkey is the poor man of the game, another reflection of reality.  Only the initial cheapness of her armies enables her to take the field.  Russia’s armed forces are also placing her on the verge of bankruptcy, an accurate assessment of the times.  Austria and Italy should have been rated one point behind France in wealth, but then they might have been too weak for game purposes.  As France will have easier pickings in Iberia, something had to be done to give Italy and Austria a break.  The Italian player should note that while his traditional build of Tunis has been downgraded, he van now get points for taking North Africa.  Also, the creation of Croatia protects his rear with Austria, and vice-versa.  It’s Turkey that has proved to be too strong, and Italy and Austria which are too weak, in the records of postal games played to completion.  That may not be true here.

There are only 41 Neutral points.  These consist of 10 orthodox S.C.’s @ 3 points each, 5 spaces at 2, and Albania at one.  This is a smaller proportion of external wealth than in the Standard game or in most variants, so it’s obvious that most of the struggles will be over Home provinces.

115 points plus 41 yields a Grand Total of 156 credits per year.  If all put to use, this would permit the raising of 39 armies or 30 fleets (ignoring the Turkish differential).  If you add those figures and divide by two you come up with the familiar figure of 34 units (alright, 34.5, but you can’t have half a unit on the board).  There will never be quite that many units on the board due to the presence of fractions and the probable hoarding of credits for skulduggery.

Anyone familiar with European history or geography will recognize the importance of such “ordinary” spaces as the Ruhr, Ukraine, and Yorkshire as the reason for their elevation to a higher point value.  As for Ankara, the city by that name didn’t even exist in 1900.  The entire province was extremely backward except for the port cities of Sinope and Trabzon.  And Armenia?  Well, you’ve heard the term “starving Armenians”.  The Great Massacre in 1897 had reduced the living standards in that province to somewhat below that of Lower Slobbovia.

In a few cases, economic reality has been partially allayed for play ability.  In France, for example, there is really no difference in economic value between Picardy and Burgundy.  However, with the German 4-point Ruhr in an exposed position, it was felt necessary to make Burgundy worth 3 points to equalize matters.

The division of Spain is in recognition that the country is too important to be relegated to a single 3-point province.  Also, the division of Spain and St. Petersburg leaves Bulgaria as the only two-coasted province, thereby eliminating some technical headaches from the game.  Persia-Mesopotamia is needed to augment Turkey’s income and to permit more maneuvering in that part of the world.  I’m also rather pleased that after all of this juggling, I came up with figures which yield an annual income comparable to that furnished (in terms of standing armies and fleets) by the 34 Supply Centers of the Standard game.

It will be interesting to see whether this assigning of a value to every land space on the board will affect tactics.  In any event, if play testing should disclose some flaws in the weights assigned to each Power, adjustments can be made without having to make any further map alterations.  One could simply alter the values of certain provinces to secure a balance.  By the way, if you use Conference maps to play the game, all you have to do is write the numerical value of each province right in its space, and everything will be perfectly clear.

Incidentally, if this game should be selected to be played in BUSHWACKER, I would also permit a vote on whether to use the A/F convoy rules, as used in “Abstraction”, etc. in place of the regular convoy rules.

I also calculated a more sophisticated system in which province values ranged from 10 points for London down to two for backwater areas.  However, I decided that my original 4-point idea was sufficient for game purposes.  The assigning of values to provinces on a realistic basis on a 10-point scale would make a painless geography/economics lesson in a classroom environment.  Let me know if anybody uses it.

I am grateful to Tas Ryrie of the idea for this variant.

Questions and Answers for rules

A Follow-Up of “Economic Diplomacy”

I have been advised by two sources that there was a prior Diplomacy variant called “Economic Diplomacy”.  Two different versions were played postally in one of Don Miller’s ‘zines in the 1960’s, and were assigned the designations Ec. Diplomacy I and II.  Then came “Hypereconomic Diplomacy”, which was in progress when I came into the hobby.  Accordingly, while my game was designed completely without any knowledge of these earlier versions, it has been suggested that to avoid confusion I should name my creation “Economic Diplomacy IV”.  Alternately, I could give it a different name, such as “Fiscal Diplomacy”.  However, since all the rules have gone out under the name Economic Diplomacy, it’s a little late for a name change.  Players may continue to refer to my variant simply as Economic Diplomacy for shorthand purposes, but just to keep the record straight for keepers of archives and Miller Numbers, this game will be officially designated as Ec. Diplomacy IV if and when a postal section begins.

Incidentally, I don’t know who invented the original variant called Economic Diplomacy, but I wish to assure whoever it was that I did not know of his creation when I began working on my idea, and have never seen the rules to any of these first 3 versions.

Mark Burden Raises Questions About “Old Timers’ Game” (Economic Diplomacy)

Here are Mark’s questions and my answers:

1. Q.  Can money be lent to another Power at a fixed rate of interest?

A.  Yes, but you’ll have to do your own bookkeeping.  (and keep me informed.)

2. Q.  Can provinces be bought and sold?

A.  Not in this game, as this would make for a variant beyond the scope of what was intended.  If someone wants to run a version of Economic Diplomacy where this can be done, I have no objection, but the rules would have to be explicitly worked out.  For this game at least, you have to get your unit into a province before you can own it.

3. Q.  Can ownership of units be irrevocably transferred (i.e. mercenaries)?

A.  No.  Units will never change “color”.  However, they can be hired out to serve other Powers.  They must still be ordered by the Owning Power, unless said Power specifically gives the GM instructions that the unit can be ordered by another Power.

4. Q.  Can armies and fleets be demobilized during adjustment turns (i.e. OTB retreats and such)?

A.  I had not thought about this idea.  How about a vote on this subject from all the players, due with your Spring 1901 orders.

5. Q.  Can the value of provinces change due to reinvestment of capital or looting?

A.  No.  It’s going to be hard enough adjudicating this game as it is, without adding further complications.  (Anyone interested in games of that complexity should contact Scott Hightower for information on playing “Proxima Centauri”).

Correction to “Economic Diplomacy IV” Rules

The printed rules state there are 23 2-point province, but list only 22.  The correct figure is 22.  The grand total of 156 points or credits is therefore correct.

Upon further review, I’ve concluded that a 79-point Victory Criterion is shaving things a little bit thin, as this is just one-half of the total points plus one.  I’ve decided to round it off at 80 points.  This is not only a easier figure to remember, it prevents someone from winning the game just by grabbing some one-point province like Albania.  Please make manual corrections to these two numbers in sets of the rules.

Notes on “Economic Diplomacy IV”

The Special Symbol on Archangel represents a special Russian build center, which may only be used to build fleets.