N – Variant Descriptions


Rules Originally published in the US in Thangorodrim.

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

This was an attempt to produce a more acceptable 5-player variant than the normal 5-player variant which has Italy and Germany unplayed and which was called Napoleonic Diplomacy in the 1966 rulebook. Double and Triple armies are allowed as well as Double fleets. Loss of a home nations capital causes automatic civil disorder in that nation, newly captured areas have to be garrisoned. A/F are also used.

NAPOLEON’S EUROPE, 1795 (Gerald Drews and Harry Drews).

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

Seven powers (Spain instead of Italy) on a well-designed map. Victory criteria is 17 of the 41 centers. No canals or special point, five double-coasted provinces. A perfectly straight-forward game with no special rules. This is a very highly recommended game. I cannot begin to list its features as they are all on the map.

NATURAL CATASTROPHES By Clause Boursin ??/07

(1) MIGUEL LAMBOTTE in SoL2 (October 1990)

Several catastrophes menace the land Provinces (drought, earthquake) and sea provinces (tornadoes, icebergs). They make the affected provinces impassable.


(1) MARK NELSON in The Mouth of Sauron Volume VII

6 (February 1991)

This is a Third Age non Super-Sauron Tolkien variant. Due to the extensive development of Downfall over the years there is little similarity between the latter marks and Hartley Patterson’s original design. This variant goes back to the roots; I would classify it as a revised Downfall I. Applying some of the better ideas to be found in the latter Downfall designs (Nazgul, Cavalry units and map change ideas) to Downfall I Richard has produced a game which adds another angle to Third Age variants.

Richard points his finger at the “Super-Sauron” approach of Downfall (and most of the other Third Age variants outside of the Middle-Earth series) as being responsible for many of the balance problems with Downfall. To avoid these Richard sets the game in an earlier period (TA 2750) when Sauron was just another growing power and the Ring unimportant (there is no Ring piece). This produces a variant which is more akin to the traditional variant-on-a-new-map idea. The only rule I dislike is an optional alignment rule.

One intriguing rule concerns the length of the game. If Sauron has not won by 3020 TA (18 turns) then the Ring is destroyed, and he goes into civil-disorder with the game continuing. At first sight this would appear to make Sauron a poor choice of power, in a game with `good’ players we expect to see an anti-Sauron alliance which lasts until he enters civil-disorder. We’ll have to see what happens in practice. Sauron’s initial set-up is also interesting.

Anyone thinking of running another Downfall game is advised to run this, eight player, game to generate some feedback. One final thought: expect to see some of Richard’s new idea re-incorporated into the Downfall series if they prove to be worthwhile.

NORMAN EUROPE (Gerald Drews) ??/??

Rules originally Published in Paroxysm 28.

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

An interesting seven player variant which needs some work done. The powers are arranged intriguingly with the Normans split between England and southern Italy, the buffer zones between powers are laden with centers. There is one triple-coasted province unnoticed in the rules and several unmentioned double-coasted ones. I am completely mystified by some of the decisions as to which provinces are supply centers, but I suspect it has something to do with consideration of play rather than history.

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

This is a good game. The rules are simple, although the map isn’t too good and on the face of it some of the powers may have difficulty due to their positions.

There are Normans in England, and Southern Italy, Norsemen in Norway, Sweden and Russia, around Moscow, Germany taking in central Germany and the Germanic part of the Hapsburg Empire, France without Savoy (named Burgundy for the game?), Islamic Territories taking in north Africa and half the Iberian peninsula and the Byzantine Empire taking in the Balkans, Cyprus and Trebizond (an area in northern Turkey with a geographical position similar to Pontus) and the Crimea.

The victory criterion is 19 centres for a solo victory, 25 for a joint win and 30 for a 3-way alliance if players so wish, with the game starting in 1101.

Certainly the diplomatic options are greater than 1000AD (qv) making communication a must and this is particularly necessary for the Normans in order to retain Southern Italy, but a skillful player can play off the Islamic Territories and the Byzantine Empire against each other to ensure this area’s safety.

NORTH AMERICA 2020 (???).

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

North and Central America have become split into seven separate states. Players can use limited numbers of Hovercraft, some provinces become frozen in Winter, and intervention, internal dissension, or raw material shortages can plague your country. Also Partisan activity and Severe Weather. Apart from the addition of Hovercraft, the main section is a fairly pure variant, the optional rules however add a completely new dimension.

NUCLEARDIP (Jean-Yvres Cornu) ???/10

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

A variant of Ecodip (a variant popular in Switzerland) which runs simultaneously on the map — movement of units and nuclear missiles — and off the map with the economic game. Presence of the UNO.


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

Thirteen players, global, economic, differing supply sources, victory by unanimous consent, each player bids for his country and uses funds left over from the auction for initial defence, diplomatic movement except for planes and bombs, substantial air and supply rules, combat is within a space and is reliant on economic considerations, devastation rules and bankruptcy rules. It’s a bloody wargame masquerading as a Diplomacy variant.