Illegal Gunboat (rb91)

by Patrick Lafontaine

The idea of this variant was inspired by the validity of an order during a No-Press Gunboat adjudication: one of the players legally supported another country’s unit, which didn’t benefit from this support. As giving illegal orders is prohibited in Gunboat II Diplomacy (Dipsomania house rules) the enjoyment in playing such a game is lacking for my liking (I don’t like Gunboat without press).

If there’s a way to send messages to the other player’s, allowing alliances and bluff, without press, what would happen? How could I do this, you would say! The answer is to use the orders to send these messages!

1. The normal rules of Diplomacy (1971 version) apply except where modified below.

2. Each country is controlled anonymously.

3. Press is strictly prohibited, under any form.

4. Each country’s orders must be given using only :

– Legal province abbreviations.

-Legal unit abbreviations (A or F) for each of the player’s units, followed by the abbreviation of the province where it is located in parenthesis.

– Legal order abbreviations, with correct structure :

H (Hold) : used alone after a unit.

– (attack) : needs a destination province.

C(Convoy) : needs a starting unit (A only) and a destination province. Can only be used by F units.

S(Support) : needs a starting unit to be supported and a destination province or a Hold.

5. Giving illegal orders is allowed, either for an attack, a convoy or a support. However, illegal orders have the same results as in regular Diplomacy, i. e. such orders will always fail and the unit will hold in place. In the game reports, there will be no comments such as NSU (No Such Unit), NSO (No Such Order), Ill (Illegal), …

6. Fleets can be ordered to convoy an army even if the fleet is located in a coastal province. As such an order is illegal the convoy could never take place.

7. Giving orders to unowned units is prohibited. If such orders are given, they will not appear in the game report.

8. Units that do not exist on the map can be supported or convoyed. For example, at the start of the game (S01), the following orders could have been given :


F(Edi)C (GERMANY) A(Hol)-Par


The A(Lpl) order is illegal, as well as F(Edi) order. These units would be considered to hold in place. The F(Lon) order is legal and therefore can take place.

9. NMR (No Move Received) units will hold, without mentioning in the game report the missing orders of these units.

10. Units that have been given illegal orders can be supported to hold by other units.

11. There’s no general rule about interpreting illegal orders given by other players. This means that each player must “create” his own glossary that can translate his intentions to make them understandable by the other players. This “glossary” can only be built with legal provinces and orders that are valid in regular Diplomacy.

For example, the orders in 8. can be interpreted as the intention of England to attack Russia [A(Lpl)-Stp], and as an offer of help to Germany to get inland French centres [F(Edi)C (GERMANY) A(Hol)-Par]. However, it’s worth mentioning that this last order could also be interpreted as a support for France to be beware of Germany, as the F(Edi) didn’t support Germany, but only Convoyed it!

As you can see, subtleties can occur in such “messages”.

12. The following rule is optional, and is only used if the idea of having to “sacrifice” a movement order for a unit to communicate a message is unacceptable to the GM and/or the players.

The players can write such orders above during the summer seasons. These orders, even legal ones, will not be applied and have no effect except for sending messages. This will assure a certain mobility for the units on the board and allow communication between the players.

Translated by Jef Bryant February 1993.