C – Variant Descriptions

CANNIBALISM (Jeremy Maiden)

Rules originally published in He’s Dead, Jim! Volume III: XV.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 10, July 1976. A group of people are stranded on a desert island which can support only one person, so during the game they kill and eat each other until the winner is left. Three moves out of six are at night, and therefore secret, and there are rules governing a secret knife and secret caves, combat, food value and division of spoils. It should be highly amusing, especially as stabs are rather final!

(2) Mark Nelson, Beowulf 18 (September 1989).

A wacky idea with great press possibilities. Seven players are marooned on a desert island which will only support one player. Food is provided by the one coconut tree, or by eating the other players… Players who don’t eat DIE! So the players go around ganging up on each other and eating the losers until only one player remains.

CATSPAW (Ron Melton, Mike Ritter and Kevin Rowland)

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 2, December 1974.

Take any game of Diplomacy or any variant where you don’t have enough players. Allow each player (including those eliminated) to write extra orders proportional to the number of centers they need to win for the unordered units, with repeated orders allowed and invalid orders forbidden; each unit follows its most popular order. Each player may write exactly one extra build order; retreats and removals for the unordered countries are handled in the same manner as NMR would be. Try it next time you’re short of players.

CHAOS II (Michel Ferion) ??/34

(1) All of us have our dark secrets. Yes, I was the man who introduced Martin Lewis to Chaos II. I was in temporary charge of the Variant Bank between rescuing it from Geoff Kemp and handing it on to Steve Doubleday. Martin asked if I knew any interesting variants, and I told him about this one reasoning that if any zine could get 34 players for a game _Vienna_ could. The rest, as they say, is history. For the uninitiated, this game starts each player off with one supply centre (and hence one unit) on the regular board. There is also provision for nominating home supply centres and joint wins.

(2) MARK NELSON (28/1/93)

Played on the regular diplomacy board. Each of the 34 players starts with one unit occupying one of the 34 centres. In the first season players elect what unit type they wish. Some people don’t have much choice (A(Ser)!), others do, it is traditional for Tun to build A(Tun). There are extra rules detailing which centers you can build in as the game progresses.

Has been played postally, via email and even face-to-face. The largest (in terms of the number of players) diplomacy variant to have been played to completion and, possible, the most playable large variant. The rules can be downloaded from a Judge.

CHINESE (Tom A. McCloud)

Rules originally published in Speculum 24.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 8, December 1975.

There are six powers and three random Chinese factions. Three staging areas with unlimited stacking for the powers — Siberia for Russia, Indo-China and the Pacific for the other five. Annual moves — no seasons. Imperials disappear in 1911; Kuomintang have one army for every three years 1911 to 1928 and adjust for supply centers thereafter; Communists have ten armies every thirteen years starting 1927. Chinese builds are random, but they annihilate units in the build centers. It costs to bring in and maintain armies (there are no fleets) and to have units annihilated; revenue comes from supply centers and should a power go too deeply in debt the player is deposed and replaced.

CITIES IN FLIGHT I (Thomas Galloway) sb01/03-07

(1) Steve Agar and James Nelson in Spring Offensive 19, January 1994.

This variant is based on the Spindizzy novels by James Blish and is fought on map containing 21 planetary systems which contain between one and eight planets. Some planets are regular supply centres, others can only support half a unit. Movement between planetary systems is made by way of an interstellar flight order, this move must specify the date of arrival and may be of any distance, taking a single move to go to an adjacent planetary system, two moves for one two systems away, etc. Once a unit is in interstellar flight its order cannot be changed. There are two versions of this game both for between three and seven players: in the first all players start in the Sol system, in others the players start in their own planetary systems.

COMPILER’S NOTE: There are two different variants called CITIES IN FLIGHT III Mark Nelson 11th January 94.

CITIES IN FLIGHT III (Thomas Galloway) sb02/nn

(1) Steve Agar and James Nelson in Spring Offensive 19 (January 1994).

Whilst the basic game mechanics remain the same as Cities in Flight I, this version can accommodate an unlimited number of players and seeks to combine the elements of a Diplomacy variant with a fully fledged roleplaying game. Initially players must bid for ships of three types and then equip them with labourers and food. The number of labourers a player has determines the number of specialists and genii a player has. These different classifications of people must be fed or they starve and also have a productive life span, although they can reproduce (with the exception of genii who can be kept alive through life enhancing drugs). The players then have to bid for contracts which will be for a set time and require a set number of labourers, specialists etc. One player controls the Police forces and if the laws are not obeyed (these may be changed during the course of the game) then the Police can try and enforce the law, with or without the help of the other players who may (or may not) be rewarded for their public spirit. This variant has a lot of potential for being developed into a campaign style management game, although the rules are not yet polished.


Rules originally published in He’s Dead, Jim! Volume III: XVIII.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 10, July 1976.

A monstrosity. Perhaps playable? I suspect a game would go on forever except that every space (or planet) the Oakies visited would become depleted pretty rapidly, and (unless there is a conversion rate between raw materials and currency that is missing) without any benefit, so that without a constant introduction of new planets the game will mercifully run down. Perhaps, with much work, a semi-decent space wargame might be developed along these lines.

CITY STATE (Hartley Patterson) ??/07

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

Is situated in Italy in the 1300’s with the powers being Venice, Genoa, Milan, Mantua, Florence, Pope and Emperor (the Holy one). A simple version of Machiavelli. This is apparently the second version of the game, the original one including France and having Naples instead of Mantua; I suppose the idea being to prevent a bottle-neck further down the peninsula.

Venice and Genoa being trading partners have double supply centres which are reduced to a single one if a line of supply cannot be traced to the southern end of the board. These with Naples and Pisa are the only ports for the purpose of fleet building. As in Machiavelli cities within provinces are separate from the provinces themselves and a unit `behind the walls’ controls the supply centre of that province but not the province itself, although, if the province falls vacant than that unit can re-occupy the province. A unit `behind the walls’ for two successive seasons is disbanded – starvation having eliminated it. A fleet may only be `behind the walls’ in a port. Indeed units `behind the walls’ cannot support attacks or be supported, but friendly units can be ordered to raise the siege –which means if their attack succeeds they do not move into that province but rather the unit `behind the walls’ can move out.

Other characteristics of the game include double armies for the Emperor at the start but only being able to build single armies for every two centres gained and losing all his double armies means elimination from the game. There are also boxes for movement with 18 centres for victory. A nice map and looks good!

CLINE-9 MAN (R.Cline et al)

(1) JAMES NELSON in SPRINGY 45 (February 1991).

This is a series of games which adds two powers, the Barbary States and Persia to the southern end of the board and a few additional provinces, including the Volga Canal (which is hardly ever used). There are currently at least eight versions, of which V and VII are the best.

CLINE 9-MAN V (Bob Cline, Fred C. Davis Jnr and Andrew Poole)

(1) Mark Nelson in Beowulf 18, September 1989.

In an attempt to round off the regular game two players are added in the south: the Barbary States in the south-west and Persia in the south-east. Off-board boxes enable players to move around the bottom of the map. A number of map changes are made to incorporate these new powers and to get rid of some of the problems in the regular map. One of the most popular variants designed having seen 8 revisions in over twenty years and countless games.

COLONIA (Fred Hyatt)

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 2, December 1974.

Eight powers (Netherlands, Portugal and Spain instead of Italy and Germany) on a cylindrical map of the world. For the colonizing powers, half of the `home’ supply centers are `colonial’ centers which serve as `home’ centers for whoever controls them. There are two special centers which if taken can be used as `home’ centers by Russia, one of which can also be so used by the Ottoman Empire. There are also four centers in the Pacific which are `impassable’ to armies. No special rules. The only questions are size (50 centers needed for victory) and possible problems with the map. This variant looks good.

COLONIA VI (Fred Hyatt) ??/09


This is a global variant which has a truly massive map. It is very much in the tradition of monster variants (such as Youngstown) that were popular in the early years of postal diplomacy. A unique aspect of Colonia VI is that each power begins the game with overseas colonies which can serve as building centers for whichever power controls them.

COLONIAL (Glen Reed & Peter Bergren)

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 1, November 1974.

An abstract map/game, which is not very well done. Seven powers with varying victory conditions (which is the most noticeable thing in its favor). Two types of supply center (permanent and colonial) with rules for conversion. Army/Fleets are used in lieu of convoys and there is a special type of `transport fleet’ which are built in addition to, not instead of, armies and ordinary fleets. There are off-board boxes and optional coastal-crawl provinces and canaled provinces. Not particularly recommended, although it shows promises of becoming worthwhile after play-testing.

COLUMBUS (unknown)

(1) James Nelson in Variants & Uncles…NOT! 1 (January 1993)

This is still in an experimental stage and is a hybrid of 1492 and Conquest of the New World III (qv). The layout of the provinces in the New World is known but not their type, e.g. sea, land, centre, non-centre etc, which is determined at random (urgh!) The players’ home centres are in the old World and are garrisoned, thus making it possible for conflict in the old as well as New World.

COMBAT for HEGEMONY IN EUROPE (unknown)??/07

(1) MIGUEL LAMBOTTE in SOL 2 (October 1990)

Europe in 1814, with provinces in revolt, the possibility to create minor powers and aims which are either hegemonic or neutral. The rules for “Hegemony in Europe” are required.

COMPLOT (Evan Jones)

Rules originally published in Carn Dum 9, 10 & 12.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 4, March 1975.

Very complicated. Step reduction by thirds, irreplaceable fleets, minor powers’ bourse and revolts, four seasons a year, movement factors, fortifications, stacking rules, economic victory conditions, optional combat, battle plan matrix, troop quality chart, combat takes place in a space, no supports, weak fleets, separate builds and maintenance charts, complex control rules, blockades and complex supply calculations. I’d sooner play a wargame — something simple like Strategy One.

THE CONQUERORS (Lew Pulsipher) ??/04

(1) GORDON McDONALD (?) in Ac-Mon ?? (?)

The historical background for this game has been twisted in order that the game should be more playable. The four powers are Carthage, Macedon, Persia and Rome. The eastern part of the map depicts the situation prior to the battle of Issus, 334BC, when Alexander defeated the Persians, while the Western part is based on the situation just prior to the First Punic War, 264BC. This probably explains why the year 300BC has been chosen as the gamestart, being between the two dates already mentioned.

There are 29 supply centres, with a victory criterion of 13 units on the board, deviating from standard victory criterion; this is an attempt to force players to consider the whole board when forming strategies rather than just their own segment which can occur in many games. Thus it is hoped that it is less likely that two 1 against 1 conflicts will occur.

Another deviation from history is the strength of the individual forces, all having two armies and two fleets each, this combined with the fact that it is a four player game makes it more a game of tactics than strategy.

The map, of fairly good quality, takes in North Africa, most of mainland Europe and the eastern part of the Middle East. It avoids the clutter and imposed geographical restrictions that are apparent in many of the Diadochi variants. On first inspection one may get the impression that, as in Diadochi V, Carthage and Rome are likely to become mortal enemies. Yet, this may not be the case as a pact between Persia and Macedon may prove too much to ignore; indeed these two powers have as much chance of conflict as the other two.

The rules are simplicity itself, the only addition to the regular rules being unit placement, the year start, the map and the victory criterion. If one was looking for an easy to play historical variant, with limited diplomacy and without having to wait ages for a waiting list to fill, this game could fit the bill, thus overcoming many of the problems variant players face.


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

A revision of Lew Pulsipher’s COTNW I. There are five European powers (England, France, Holland, Spain and Portugal) whose units are initially Off-The-Board and proceed to colonize the New World. Each power may use one of its newly established colonies as a home sc. The revision introduces more SCs, two Indian defensive armies and a few other change chances and clarifications. An interesting game which is similar in some ways to Excalibur.


(1) James Nelson in Variants & Uncles…NOT! 1 (January 1993)

This variant is similar to 1492 in that conflict does not occur in the Old World but at this the similarities end. The New World is known in that players have a map of it prior to starting. Each power starts with units in off-board boxes, where conflict cannot occur, and these move onto the board in conventional fashion. The off-board centres gradually decrease but to compensate powers are allowed to build in certain owned New World centres (e.g. England in Nova Scotia or Virginia).

CORNER DIPLOMACY (Eric Brosius) rb61/07

Rules originally published in Bushwacker 207, April 1989

(1) MARK NELSON (1/8/92)

This is a minor-map change variant. Where three areas on the regular map meet, the junction is called a corner and a new province is created there. These new provinces never speed up movement between regular areas, and units in corner positions have fewer movement options than in regular areas. Their only conceivable use is either towards the end of the game when they *might* be used to attack stalemate lines or in giving units an extra province to retreat to. I can see no reason why anyone in their right mind would want to either run this or play in it.

COURIER (Jeremy Maiden)

Rules originally Published in He’s Dead, Jim! Volume III: XVIII.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 10, July 1976.

An extraordinary variant, even if he doesn’t like it himself. Instead of an ordinary build, four couriers with double-speed but no combat value may be built. Each player has a leader who has no combat value but may give orders to couriers and units in his space, or adjacent to him, and couriers and units may relate orders and messages to other leaders. Couriers and messages (and perhaps leaders?) may be captured. A player only knows what happens in his leader’s immediate vicinity, or what information gets back to him.


(1) Stephen Agar

Crazy Whako Heptadiplomacy is an amalgram of ideas from Don Miller, Lew Pulsipher and Jef Bryant. It uses seven players and seven boards – either each player players (a) the same country on each board or (b) a different country on each board – take your pick (Mark recommends the former). Movement between the boards is possible either on the basis that (for example) you can move from Lon on Board 1 to Lon on any other board, or you can move from Lon on Board 1 to Wal, Yor, NTH, ENG on any other board (again take your pick). There is even the possibility of combining fleets on different boards to facilitate convoys (but as Mark admits this could be frightening to GM). TO make the GMing even harder, you have to keep track of which board each unit was built on, and then the adjustment phase for each board directly affects the units built on that board. To show you how complicated this game is, there are 238 SCs and a winner requires 70 centers at the end of an Autumn adjudication. Provisions exist for 2-way and 3-way wins (as in Mercator). Draws are not allowed. Of course this will be a mentally exhausting game to pay and I wonder if anyone has ever managed to play the game to completion. Whereas Don Miller imagined a Twin Earth approach with two boards, to use seven boards you really do have to be mad. I’d put this one down as probably too unwieldly to be sustained, but I would be happy to be proved wrong.