D – Variant Descriptions

DEADLY DIRTY (Michael Lind)

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 3, February 1975.

A combination of Black Angels (Lew Pulsipher) and Ghods of Diplomacy (Peter Aronson). There are two spaces, Heaven and Hell, adjacent to every space on the board; there is mock money earned each turn, and by gambling; the mock money can be used to bribe other players, the Ghods, or the GM. The bribes are such that GM errors are undetectable. To quote the rules “if YOU are crazy enough to try this variant, you’re on your own — GOOD LUCK, you’ll need it!”

DELUGE (Tim Sharrock) ru02/07

Rules originally Published in He’s Dead, Jim! Volume II: XVII.

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

As Europe sinks slowly into the sea, province by province, the population (and hence supply centres?) move inland. The schedule seems a little strange, perhaps incomplete, as the game does not seem to match its description. Why do we need another board changing variant?

(2) Pete Sullivan in C’Est Magnifique 55, July 1988.

A simple enough concept — Europe gradually floods every year until only Switzerland remains above ground by 1908. The winner is the only player with a unit left at the end. It features the inevitable Army/Fleet rules, as well as allowing units to convert from Armies to Fleets under certain conditions. As the board gets increasingly flooded, this can be very useful! A very paranoid game at the end, as often a player will have to decide who to throw the game to. Andrew Poole has produced a series of maps showing the state of the board at the end of each year, which is a very useful player (and GM!) aid.

(3) JAMES NELSON in SPRINGY 45 (February 1991)

This is a fun and very simple variant. Each year land-provinces sink, becoming sea-provinces, and supply centres are therefore gradually lost (a few new centres are also created in the first few years). The effect of this is that each game year the number of supply centres decreases and fleets become more and more important. After eight game years only Switzerland, which becomes passable during the course of the game, remains. The winner is the sole survivor. With the rules you get a complete set of maps showing the effects of the deluge on Europe.

DIADOCHI V/Triumverate/Imperator (Dick Vedder)

Rules originally Published in Quo Vadis 57-58.

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

One map, one game system and three scenarios and very well done. Standard Vedder map; double, triple (Rome) and special home centers, loans, limitation on building more than two fleets at a time, bridges across certain straits, special political and pure rules for the last two scenarios and Barbarian and Persian rules.

DILATORY (Scott Rosenburg)

Rules originally published in The Pocket Armenian 13.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 5, June 1975.

Every move a space changes center to non-center or non-center to center.

DILUVIAN (Matthew Diller)

Rules originally published in The Pocket Armenian 13.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 5, June 1975.

Every move a land space changes to sea or sea to land. Armies on coasts that become sea become Fleets; Fleets in sea that become coast become Armies; Armies inland that become sea are annihilated, as are Fleets in sea that become inland; no specification for fleets on coasts which become inland, for creation of canals or straits, or which coast of a newly split coast a fleet is located on. Each player has one unchangeable home center; centers which change cease being centers. Due to the existence of the GIGATON BOMB VARIANT, this is not the worst variant in existence; it comes close, though.


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

Two players on a chess board with chess pieces and chess moves, but with simultaneous movement as in Diplomacy. Each chessman has a strength equivalent to its chess point value.


(1) Andrew Poole in Outposts 6, October 1981.

This variant was designed in 1980 and is a game of normal diplomacy played in parallel with a game of Cluedo. Victory in the game of Cluedo gives the player three extra off-board supply centres (which cannot be destroyed) at the next winter adjustment. Armies supplied by these can be built in any of the supply centres that the Cluedo winner owns or even in Special Areas (Crete, Iceland, Ireland, Sardinia, Sicily, Switzerland, or Siberia). The rest of the variant covers special rules relating to these procedures, and also the full rules for Postal Cluedo.


Rules originally published in Urf Durfal 2.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 7, September 1975.

Five gangsters in Manhattan run the rackets and control short and long range influence/political pressure units. The value of rackets is determined randomly for each player each turn. The game is strongly reminiscent of other economic games such as Brotherhood and Organized Crime, but not as good as they are, so I do not see any particular value to this variant.

DIPLOMATIC (Martin Janta-Polcznski)

Rules originally published in Bushwacker Volume V: VI.

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

A player does not own (for purpose of builds, victory condition, or recognition) a captured supply center until a majority of the players *owning* a majority of the supply centers (double majorities) send in recognition orders in a winter season. The effects on the former owner of the supply center were not specified.

DOWNFALL (unknown)

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

This is a series of games based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Downfall, collectively, is probably the most popular variant in the UK. At first sight the later versions appear to be amongst the most complicated variants. These try to emulate the book in fine detail, including pieces representing Gandalf, the Rangers, the Nazgul, Faramir etc.

Of the various designs DOWNFALL III (little chrome … more of a wargame than a simulation), Definitive Downfall and Hardbop Downfall are probably the best. The latter two are examples of the more popular book-emulating designs.

DOWNFALL I (Hartley Patterson) ??/08

Rules originally published in War Bulletin ?? circa 1974)

(1) STEVE AGAR in V&U 2 (July 1980)

Hartley unashamedly set out to recreate the book, removing the anomalies in Third Age (qv). The players are: Dwarves, Gondor, Rohan, Sauron, Saruman, Umbar and Gandalf. Gandalf is a single unit, which is only reported in conflicts. To prevent unlikely alliances, Hartley adopted the idea of Good, Neutral and Evil alignments to prevent alliances untrue to the spirit of the book — hence Gondor can not ally with Saruman.

Besides Gandalf, the Nazgul appears as a special unit controlled by Sauron (or a power using the ring), the Balrog protects Moria, and Ents and Hobbits are accounted for. Fortresses and mountains are scattered across the map to improve play balance. Complicated but colourful!

DOWNFALL II (Robert Sacks)

Rules originally published in Lord of Hosts 4, March 1975.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 5, June 1975.

The rules make it impossible to learn (I have been told) but Tolkien purists and rule-flaw finders will have a heyday. There are eight and a half players: The Ents (played by the GM), The Elven Lords, The Rangers, The Peoples of the North, The kingdom of Rohan, The Steward of Gondor, Saruman, The Men of Harad and Rhun and Sauron. After much deliberation Smeagol has been excluded from the game, but the Hobbit heroes have been included in a minor way. Due to all the special rules (and the stacking permitted) the playtesters feel that the diplomacy of the War of the Ring is adequately simulated.

DOWNFALL IX ts21 (Richard Egan, Martin Lewis et al)

(1) Tim Collier in Moonlighting 8, June 1990.

Downfall IX has many new challenges. True to the book, it has the perfect combination of `Chrome’, `Special Units’ and a skillfully designed map. From Saruman’s crows to the `Riders of Rohan’ with a potentially potent impulse move, you have a wide variety of features to add spice to the frantic Diplomacy. The predetermined battle lines leave the neutral powers being lusted after by both sides. The race for the Ring and the flight of the fellowship skillfully sustain suitable suspense against the wider backdrop of the `War of the Ring’. All in all, my favourite version of Downfall, allowing you to live as well as play the game.

DOWNFALL X (Richard Egan and Martin Lewis)

(1) Pete Sullivan in C’Est Magnifique 55, July 1988.

In the beginning, there was Hartley Patterson who designed a Tolkien variant called `Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King’. There were a couple of other versions, but it was not until the Viennamob hit the hobby that Downfall re-designing became the `in’ thing for all hip and dudey variant fans. This tenth version is probably one of the best, if only because it has the potential for solving the in-built imbalance of any Tolkien scenario. It uses different `victory points’ for each power, which can be fine-tuned in the light of further games. It also features somewhat less of the atmospheric but fiddly `chrome’ which afflicted `Definitive’ Downfall and Downfall IX.

DUDLAND (Greg Costikyan and Scott Rosenburg)

Rules originally Published in Urf Durfal 11.

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 12, February 1977.

A rather atrocious variant, based on a rather atrocious press series. The lists of double coasted provinces and four point provinces in the rules do not match the map, there is some confusion as to the rights of the `Custodian of the Dudness’ with respect to dudded supply centers, and it is not made clear if sea spaces or provinces on the other continent can be dudded and whether armies can be dudded out to sea or fleets onto land. There are rules for government- in-exile and anti-dud units. One player can send annual letters of attack which forces a unit to hold. Needs work to make it worth playing. For those unfamiliar with the atrocious NY’ism `dud’, any unit in a dudded province except those of the Custodian and anti-dud (or `dud-out’) is transported to a province of the Custodian’s choice, though a `dud-out’ unit unduds a dudded province. Definitely needs work.

THE DYING EARTH (10,000 AD) (Lewis Pulsipher)

(1) Robert Sacks in Lord of Hosts 5, June 1975.

Each player receives, stacked, two armies, one hero and one wizard; thereafter armies may not be stacked. Builds occur in any owned center. A hero adds one in support of units it is accompanying. Each wizard has a choice of three spells from the seven available, and may use one each turn (in the same or adjacent space) before moving. Highly recommended.