Middle-Earth Diplomacy VIII (ta04)

by Lew Pulsipher

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1. All 1971 rules of Diplomacy apply, with the following alterations. 

2. An army may be converted to a fleet, or a fleet to an army, in Spring or Autumn, if it is in a coatal space, does not move nor support in the season and it is not attacked in that season. 

3. There are 34 supply centres. A player wins when he has 19 units on the board. 

4. A unit in its home fortress centre  (not that of another player) has a defence strength of two. Thus an attack with one support will not dislodge the defending unit. An unsupported attack still cuts the support of the defending unit. 

5. There is only one movement season, Summer (as  opposed to two in regular Diplomacy — Spring and Autumn). Retreats are taken in Autumn Adjustments are taken in the Winter. Normally, Winter adjustments and the Autumn retreats can be called for with Summer moves in postal play. The game begins in Third Age 3000. 

6. Players are ARNOR, ANGMAR, ELVES, ROHAN, GONDOR, RHUN, Dwarves and Men of RHOVANION, and MORDOR. Note that the Elves have four home supply centres and that the home centres for Mordor are Barad Dur, Nurn and Dol Guldur. Each player begins with one army in each home centre. 


I wanted to experiment with an eight-player configuration. 8 player variants are rare, and since 8 is really too many for a circular configuration, I decided to try a two-sphere configuration and see what happened. Since I’d just received An Atlas of Fantasy with a good Middle-Earth map of the correct size, and since Middle-Earth is a popular subject, I chose this setting. 

In attempting to vaguely represent the War of the Ring, I was thrown a bit off the original track. I could not find a way to give Rohan and Rhun strong interaction without doing too much violence to the scenario , and so I settled for a less than ideal set-up. I also decided, after I’d begun, to experiment with one season instead of two. This makes each move crucial since there is no time to set up a manoeuvre. 

The game was designed for rapid development, face-to-face rather than postal play being uppermost in my mind. The low ratio of units to players contributes to the brevity of the game  The rapid development means that one poor player can screw up the game more than in regular Diplomacy, and a stabbing type of player has more opportunities in the early going because players must takes more chances in order to come out of the opening game with a good, solid position. 

This game shows that one cannot design a board in a vacuum. The board is designed for one-season play. Try it with two seasons and see how much the power relationships change. Mordor, in particular, is hurt when each year contains two movement seasons. Last, fortresses were added to help counteract the influence of a one-move game year. I didn’t want players frozen into their home areas. 

First published by John Boyer in Impassable.