1-9 – Variant Descriptions

260AD (Scott Rosenburg).

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 1, November 1974. Six powers (three `Roman Empires’, three invaders). Europe without Scandinavia, North Africa, and Asia north of Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Six double-coasted provinces, one canaled province, Alps and Pyrenees impassable as are the North and Caspian Seas, the Persian Gulf and Arabia, one special build centre. Worth playtesting.

1000AD III (John Lovibond) ???/07

(1) GORDON McDONALD in AC-MONG 40 <August 1991>

The powers in this game include British, Franks, Moors, Byzantines, Vikings, Maygars/Polacks and Polotjans/Dregovites. The British and Franks are situated in the usual places with the Moors occupying North Africa and the Iberian peninsula as far north as Madrid. The Byzantines as well as controlling the Balkans occupy southern Italy with the Maygar/Polacks contained in eastern Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia and the Polotjans/Dregovites situated in the Baltic states, northeast Poland and White Russia. The Vikings? Well, they’re in Norway and Denmark!

The powers vary in strength from 4 to 5 units/centres and orders are submitted for Winter 999AD; these orders containing initial placement of units within the home borders, fleets or armies being up to the owning player. The total number doesn’t have to be positioned at the start, some can be retained for later build seasons, although I would say it doesn’t happen too often. The Magyar/Polack player doesn’t have a coastal area within his/her boundaries and so is allowed to use Lombardy for such.

The A/F system is available with the victory criterion varied depending upon power. British, Franks, Polotjans/Dregovites -25; Vikings, Moors, Magyars/Polacks -28 and the Byzantines – 31.

Historical accuracy may not be total (British including Britons, Anglo-Saxons and Norsemen etc) but the game does seem to have a balance about it. No player is in the middle of the board and everyone is faced by two opposing powers which creates options for alliances and strategy. I think I would have the Moors at the top of my preference list followed by the British. The map is of good quality and the rules simple to follow.

1066 (Ken Clarke).

Rules originally Printed in Darien Settlement 3.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 9, March 1976. Another good Ancient England variant, with a noticeable flaw in that one non-home supply center is labelled as a home center with two names. Two players have units that are either armies or fleets, and two players have units which begin off-board and the right to build in their first three captured centers. It is not clear if the variant is balanced, as three of the seven players have corner positions, two have near-corner positions, and two have inside positions — it is unclear that playing the last four positions would be any fun at all; one of the corner positions is rather isolated so the two near-corner positions are better, but the positions of the Northern Earls and Harold Godwinson are still not very enviable.  1492 (Edwin Godfrey).

(1) Mark Nelson in Beowulf 18, September 1989. The four players are England, France, Portugal and Spain and the aim of the variant is to recreate the voyages of discovery. At the start of the game the GM draws up a map of the world centered on Europe. The players then send their units off the board in an attempt to discover where the supply centres are! The GM tells each player what he has discovered separately so we have an interesting situation where different players can know different parts of the map but no player knows all the map. This is a good idea and has the potential to be a fun game… although there may not be too much diplomacy in it.  1618 (Scott Rosenburg).

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 1, November 1974. A ten player game set around the Holy Roman Empire. No double-coasted or canaled provinces, one off-board supply centre and three special build provinces. The game is designed to show the immediate theatre of the Thirty Years War. There is one obvious typographical error in the rules: “If Austria occupies Prague after Fall 1618, it becomes an Austrian home center in all ways…” should read something like “If Austria occupies Prague on or before…”. The map might be a problem, but a game should prove interesting if it doesn’t bog down due to its size.

1648: The Thirty Years War (IV) (Greg DeCesare).

Rules originally Published in Novgorod 12.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 5, June 1975. Eight powers (Spain, Sweden and Poland for Italy and Germany), Russia and Poland have four centers, Ottoman Empire has five as well as five neutrals to others or reclaimable by him if he loses any home centers. Two fleets per build limitation on each power. Spain may start an army in the Netherlands instead of Leon. Fleets can convert to armies. Neutral centers can be converted. There are mercenaries (half armies) which cannot attack. There are two four-point junctions and many more spaces, both land and sea. The game uses a twelve month year with frozen Winters. Loanable supple centers. Worth looking at.  1885 (Fred C. Davis Jnr)

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 1, November 1974. Nine powers (add Spain and Sweden) on a slightly expanded map, rather beautifully done. Only one double coasted province, which is rather unimportant, with the obvious benefits that result. Twelve month year with quarterly adjustments. Certain provinces may be used for builds without being centers. Army/Fleets are used in lieu of extended convoys. Retreats are mandatory. Turkey begins one unit short, and Italy begins with a discretionary army or fleet in Rome. It is a very beautiful variant and highly recommended.

(2) STEVE AGAR in ??? circa September 1980

An expanded board variant, which adds two new powers in the shape of Spain and Sweden. There are 46 SCs of which 24 are needed for victory. The Davis A/F rules are used.

1898 (??) ??/07

(1) MARK NELSON (28/1/93) A development of Winter 1900 in which the players start with one unit in one of their home centres in Winter 1898. They must recapture their home centres in the standard way before they can build in them. Rules are available from the Judge.

1914 DIPLOMACY (Lewis Pulsipher)

(1) ANDREW ENGLAND in Affaits of State (1988).

This variant attempts to provide a realistic basis for simulating the Great War but with an open ended alliance system (as per the regular game). Supply centres are assigned point values which must be used not only to build units but also to convert neutrals (which have their own armies) and to pay for attacks. This latter rule really makes players think about what they do. Another interesting feature is the alliance system which is based around written agreements which can only be broken with one season’s notice. This makes alliances more secure and tends to channel the emphasis more onto combat. Overall the game provides a good simulation of World War One.

1939 DIPLOMACY (Lewis Pulsipher)

(1) ANDREW ENGLAND in Affairs of State (1988).

This game uses the standard rules but with some important variations. The map is of Europe but the provinces and supply centres are changed to reflect the political geography of the time. In addition two new unit types are added, the tank and the bomber. The tank is worth two units and the bomber may stack with other units and `fly’ to provide support for certain orders. Each supply centre on the board is worth a certain number of points which are then used to build and maintain units. The major problem with the game is that it doesn’t provide for the effect that the United States had on the war. This variant has been made redundant by Chris Edward’s World War Two Diplomacy (qv). This was the first real variant run by mail in Australia through Austral View beginning in 1984.

1939 III (Neil Duncan and Dave Newnham).

Based upon 1939 II By Lew Pulsipher

(1) REVIEW: Steve Agar in Spring Offensive 11 (April 1993) 1939 III is a World War II variant for six players, which has been developed from 1939 II which originally appeared in Lew Pulsipher’s slim volume on Diplomacy variants in the 1970’s. In addition to the usual Armies and Fleets there are also Tanks and Bombers which have additional powers but cost more to build. Tanks are in effect double armies which can either move a single province at double strength or move two spaces with single strength. Bombers are single units which can move long distances and offer support to units some distance away or `bomb’ supply centres. Although some of the rules are perhaps over-complex, especially the Tank movement rules, it should make the game far more interesting from a strategic point of view. The only real weakness this variant has is that you can only build a Tank after every two regular Army units and the number of Bombers can never exceed the number of regular Armies. Tying the number of special units to the number of Armies places England at a massive disadvantage as a Power can only build a Tank at the beginning of the game if they refrain from building fleets (yet if England does that her units are land-locked). Furthermore, Russia can guarantee that England cannot take Norway in the first year, yet England has no other compensating neutrals around (how about a neutral SC in Eire?). I think a better and simpler rule would to say that special units can never exceed 1/3 (rounded up) of a Power’s forces at the time they are built and/or to prohibit the building of special units until after the first game year. A list of Powers and home SCs would also help — from the map Germany appears to have four home SCs to everyone else’s three, but that isn’t mentioned anywhere in the rules. The absence of a SC in Tunis may make the Mediterranean quite empty early on, while putting a garrison in every neutral SC will really slow the game up and drastically reduce the options open to the various powers at the beginning of the game.

1958 DIPLOMACY (Alan Calhamer)

(1) MARK NELSON (26th April 1992)

The first version of Diplomacy to be commercially distributed — Alan Calhamer paid for 500 sets to be made and sold them through small ads. None of the people who were involved in the setting up of Diplomacy fandom in the early 1960’s were aware of the existence of this game — they had all found Diplomacy through the 1959 and 1962 releases which were a significant revision to the 1958 game. (There is no distinction between the 1959 and 1962 games). Diplomacy fans were not aware of their favourite game’s older relative until Rod Walker reprinted the rules in an one-off publication, QUARMALL, in 1971.

There are a number of differences between 1958 Diplomacy and the Diplomacy game of today. The main differences are: Build Rules, Convoy Rules and the map. In addition minor differences are that the costal crawl was allowed and the rules for games with less than 7 players are different.

Players may only build armies in their `capital’ and fleets in their `naval base’. Players may have more than one unit in these provinces, although the presence of multiple units does not increase your defensive strength – they have a total defensive value of one. These stacked units may not support each other nor support the same unit outside the stacked province. If a player loses his capital he may designate one of his other home supply centres as a new Capital, where he may build armies. However if you lose your naval base then you can only build new fleets if you recapture it.

There are no convoy rules. Instead an army and fleet may combine to form a stacked A/F under certain circumstances. This A/F unit then moves as a normal fleet unit. If the A/F fleet unit is in a coastal province then the Army may attempt to disembark.

Tunis is not a supply centre, but Switzerland and Albania are. Home supply centres in Germany and Turkey are different and there are more provinces on the board.

The 1958 game is inferior to the 1959 revision as it is neither as dynamic nor as flexible as the modern game. It takes longer to play to completion because there are no convoys and there are more provinces. However, this hasn’t prevented a number of enthusiastic variant fans from running several postal games.

There are actually two different forms of the 1958 game, because the released version had an error on the map — one of the provinces was omitted. There is also an earlier version, the 1953 game which has several differences in the map; but this was never distributed.