Versailles (qf01)

by Martin Kennedy

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I. General Rules

The basic mechanics of the rules are the same as the old Avalon Hill (now Hasbro) Diplomacy (copyright) game rules – 1982 Edition. Note that most Game Masters (including me) choose to modify or expand upon the standard rules in their own House Rules. I am no exception: mine are included elsewhere in this site. The special variant rules mainly relate to the initial set up and how the seven Major and seven Minor (satellite) Powers are played.

I.1. Country Assignments

This section supersedes and modifies my House Rules, which are designed for ‘non-Satellite’ type games. Essentially, the GM will have opted either for the fixed pairings, meaning you put in your preferences for the Majors and you get the appropriate Minor assigned automatically, or the allocation of Minors may be by preference also. Where Minor preferences are used, country assignment is a two stage process, which differs slightly between manual GM and Judge games.

I.1.a. Manual GM. Unless you are playing designated pairs (the suggested ones or your own) or random power assignment, when signing on, players should provide preferences, in priority order, for the seven Major Powers. The GM should then initially allocate the Major Powers and inform the players, who (knowing their Major Power assignment) would then repeat the process for the Minor Powers.

I.1.b. Judge – ‘Standard’ Version. The process is very simple, as the Minor powers are automatically designated as another home SC of the parent Major power. This means that, for play purposes, there are in fact no Minor powers as separate entities. The letter codes for each Major power are:

Britain – B
France – F
Germany – G
Italy – I
Poland – P
Turkey – T

I.1.c. Judge – ‘Advanced’ Version. Presumably, the Advanced version would only be selected if a non-designated minor pairing system is being contemplated, so the following directions assume this. If you are setting up a game as GM, you will need to ‘set players 7’ before listing, to utilise the duplex properties of the Judge. See the Judge duplex data file (‘get info.duplex’) for further information on duplex play. When signing on, players should provide preferences for both Major and Minor Powers in the one preference list. The first seven letters MUST give the priority order for ALL seven Major Powers. The next seven letters MUST contain the priority order preferences for ALL seven Minor Powers.

Some care will need to be taken to get this right. Preference listings should be checked by the GM as they come in, as the Judge will not pick up any transposing of Major/Minor Power preferences in the two ‘sub-groups’ of preferences (meaning some players could be allocated two Major or two Minor Powers by the Judge program). The selection of Minor Powers must therefore be done ‘blind’, that is without knowing which Major Power you have been allocated. Any errors carried through into the initial game set up would need to be corrected by the Judge Keeper (an occurrence to be avoided if at all possible).

If the GM does not want the preference process to run initially in the automated Judge sign up mode, he could always call for participants ‘off Judge’, get the players to submit their preferences to him manually and then create the game ‘off list’ and direct each player as to which powers he should sign on to. This could be done to reproduce the same kind of effect as in the manual game (ie resolve the Majors first, then the minors) or where the GM wants to allocate his own designated Major/Minor pairs.

The Judge preference letters for the Minor powers are:

Czechoslovakia – C
Egypt – E
Greece – H
Rumania – R
Spain – S
Sweden – W
Yugoslavia – Y

On the Judge, in an Advanced Gunboat game, the linkages for each pairing will not be readily apparent and could be misrepresented for diplomatic purposes. While this might be considered a legitimate ploy and a desirable facet of the game, there is an anomaly in the Judge program which, unless fixed (if ever), allows the ‘summary’ command to identify Power linkages (not email IDs) even in Gunboat games. This is mentioned so as not to provide an unfair advantage to those familiar with the arcane intricacies of the Judge code/commands. At their discretion, GMs of Gunboat games may choose to broadcast the linkages for each Satellite pairing at the beginning of the game (an intention to do this should be noted in advance in the game listing).

If in doubt about how to sign on for the Judge version, check the listing notes, the variant info file and (if necessary) contact the GM for guidance before submitting the your preferences.

I.1.d. Judge Player Replacement. In the Standard game, this is simple and as per normal dip. For the Advanced game, where the duplex mode is enabled, while the parser lets one player sign on initially to play as two powers, does not let a replacement sign on for an abandoned pair of powers. If one of a player’s powers has already been eliminated, fine. You can sign on OK for one. Where two powers must be taken over, you need to contact the Judge Keeper to arrange it – the GM can’t do it. Its also best to set the game ‘nolist’ while this is happening, to prevent another player coming in and confusing the issue. This is a bit of a pain, so its another good reason for trying to stick with the game to the end! GMs should note this in their listing comments and may need to make the game ‘nolist’ and advertise separately for a replacement player when a dual takeover is required. I’ll be incorporating the above guidance in the Judge variant info file for the next iteration.

II. Playing the Minor Powers

II.1. ‘Disclosure’ Options

II.1.a. Open. Everyone knows who’s been allocated which Minor Power (the default option). The Judge equivalent would be a game where each player’s identity is known, so Minor power ownership would be obvious from the mail addresses displayed for each power.


II.1.b. Secret. An ‘advanced’ play option. Which Major Power owns each Minor Power is kept secret from other players (irrespective of whether the real – ie e-mail – identity of the Major Power players is known). A separate ‘pseudo’ identity for Minor Powers (somewhat analogous to a proxy arrangement) using only the country name would be established, with correspondence handled through the GM. In a Judge game, this would be achieved with a ‘Gunboat’ game setting. The GM would probably organise some limited form of press for the Minors.

II.2. Growth and Control

II.2.a. Control. In ‘manual’ games the owning Major Power can never take direct control of its Satellite’s home SC. If reconquered from another Power, it is ‘Liberated’. The same would happen in reverse if a Minor Power occupies a parent Major Power home SC. A Major Power cannot therefore control it’s Satellite Minor Power’s home SC for its own building purposes at any time and vice versa. This applies even when such an SC is ‘liberated’ from a third party: the SC reverts to being a home SC of the original power. Thus, it is conceivable that an eliminated power could be revived and re-established via its ‘satellite’ partner. Note: For the Judge, the Standard version (by making a designated Minor another home SC of the owning Major) embodies this concept by default. It also allows builds to be interchanged freely between the Minor SC and the original Major home SCs. However, on the Advanced Judge version. this rule does not apply, where each power is treated as completely separate by the parser. In the circumstances outlined above, SCs would be conquered by the satellite partner in the normal way, including between satellite partners.

II.2.b. Control – Optional Rule. For manually adjudicated games: if she/he wishes, the GM can use the same Minor ally SC = Major power SC rule as for the basic Judge game. Thus, the minor power (whether designated or selected by preference) becomes an additional home SC for controlling Major power. Only units of the Major power would be built in that SC. This would allow the use of gains made from the Major power to be used to build in an ‘outpost’ Minor power location. GM’s call!

II.2.c. Adjustments. Minor Powers generally control any conquered SCs themselves for build purposes (excepting rules II.2.a or II.2.b above). However, SCs other than an associated ally’s home SCs change control normally if occupied by units of the associated Minor/Major Power. Note: this does present the opportunity for ‘asset stripping’ between associated Major/Minor Powers, other than in their own home SCs. As with the standard game, any power can only build in its own home SC(s). Note again that with the Judge adaptation, all SCs (including home SCs) are conquered if occupied in the fall by another power anyway, even when it is a satellite power in the Advanced version.

II.2.d. Victory. For victory conditions, the SCs of the Major and Minor Power controlled by the player are totalled. The victory target is 22 SCs. At this stage, it appears that for Judge games, where the 22 SC victory limit is reached by a player’s Major/Minor Power satellite combination, the victory will need to be awarded manually by the GM (as the Judge will not combine the SCs of the player’s two powers). Judge GMs who attempt to keep power pairings unconfirmed in gunboat games should note that a player could thus ‘sneak up’ on the victory target without the other players knowing this is the case. It may be prudent to warn players of this possibility at the outset, at the GM’s discretion.

III. Set Up Options

III.1. Designated Set Up

The designated set up in home SCs is per the following predetermined locations and unit types:

Major Powers – Locations & Type of Build
Britain – F Lon, F Edi, A Liv
France – F Bre, A Par, A Mar
Germany – F Ham, A Ber, A Mun
Italy – F Nap, A Tri, A Rom
Poland – F Dan, A War, A Kra
Turkey – F Ank, A Con, A Smy
USSR – F Len SC, A Mos, A Kie, F Sev

Minor Powers – Location & Type of Build
Czechoslovakia – A Pra
Egypt – F Egy
Greece – A Ath
Rumania – A Buc
Spain – F Mad
Sweden – F Swe
Yugoslavia – A Ser

III.2. Free Set Up Option

Another ‘Advanced play’ option, now also available on the Judge using the Advanced version, is starting the game with a build turn (Winter 1928). The unit mix (ie fleets or armies) can be set by the Owning player for both the Major and Minor Powers controlled. The first phase of the game would therefore be adjustment orders. This could be preceeded by a diplomacy period, at the GM’s discretion. Units must still be built in home SCs. Not all units need be built, if the Owning player wishes not to.