by Edi Birsan
Diplomacy is a time proven classic 7 player game with a fine play balance between all the countries. However, at times players can not assemble 7 players or there are 8 or more players. Escalation is the system that provides a solution and a unique game experience each time played.
Start with a map and no pieces on it. Each player takes a different color set of pieces, if you have to duplicate then have the pieces face alternating North or East for the additional players. Decide who goes in what order during the ‘Escalation Placement’ phase of the game. Recommended is that the owner of the game places first and then in alphabetical order by player. Decide on the number of pieces players will place during the Escalation.
One by on, each player places one piece on the map, this is the Escalation as players react to each other’s prior single piece placement. The piece may be an Army or a Fleet and it may be on a Supply Center, a non Supply Center province or a Sea Zone with the classical rules of only one piece per space. Each player starts owning any Supply Center they start a piece in. Continue until the agreed number of pieces are placed.
Play the Spring 01 and the Fall 01 seasons simultaneously like a normal game. At the Winter 01 resolution each player writes down his three ‘home’ supply centers and may build there if appropriate starting in Winter 01 and for the rest of the game. Players are not limited to declaring traditional home centers, nor do they have to be adjacent. For example a player may declare that Brest, London and Naples are his three home centers if he owns those centers in the Winter of 1901.
Suggested starting number of pieces:
2 players: 12
3 players: 8
4 players: 6
5 players: 5
6 players: 4
7 or more players: 3
Discussions can be limited to table side only (all discussions open to all), none (Gunboat) or traditional secret/private talks. Generally it is recommended that for 4 players or less that there be no discussions other than at the table.
As a teaching device for two players, increase the number of starting pieces to 17 to give players a more intense Escalation Phase of the variant and to teach planning ahead.