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Extensive guide to the rules of Diplomacy

by Robert Spratt AKA Frigidus

The objective of the game is to hold a simple majority of the major cities, the supply centers (marked in the online version as black and white squares) at the end of a Fall turn (each year has a Spring and a Fall turn).

Aside from negotiating with other countries there are 4 things you can do:

  • Hold
  • Move
  • Support
  • Convoy

Hold basically means that you defend the area you're already in. This is the equivalent of telling the unit to stay where it is.

Move is a combination of two possible actions. First, and most simple, you are moving from one territory to an unoccupied one. Second, and more complicated, you are moving into a territory that your opponent either has an army or navy in or will attempt to move into as well. If a unit moves into a space already occupied by another unit then it fails in moving and remains where it came from. If two units attempt to move into the same area they both fail. They remain in the same spot they started in. If two enemy units attempt to invade past each other (switch places) they both fail and remain where they started.

Support is used to make a hold or move option stronger. If a holding unit is attacked, then the supporting unit can help defend. If a moving unit meets resistance, the supporting unit can help push them back. In order to support, the unit must border the objective area (the country that's either being moved into or defended).

If a unit is attacked while it's supporting, its support is taken away and it attempts to defend. The attacker carries on with the attack minus the support.

Any nation can support any other nation. Support can not be refused, but it does not force the supported unit to do anything.

Convoy is used by naval units on the water to transport armies to different areas. If you have a chain of naval units convoying over multiple spaces you can convoy the army through the chain in one turn. If you convoy into an occupied space then the battle is treated like any other one. Other nations can assist in a convoy.

Rules on combat
While there are a lot of complexities to the system, the basic idea is that each unit has a strength of 1. Every supporting unit adds 1 to the total strength. So, for example, if one army with one unit supporting it (total strength of 2) attacked one army without support (total strength of 1) the defending unit would be driven out. That unit will retreat to an unoccupied border country of the nation's choice. If there is no unoccupied border then that unit is destroyed. As another example, if the army driven out in the last example had support (a strength of 2 to oppose the invaders strength of 2) then the invader would be driven back.

If a unit is attacked while it's supporting, its support is taken away and it attempts to defend. The attacker carries on with the attack minus the support.

Any nation can support any other nation. Support can not be refused, but it does not force the supported unit to do anything.

Naval Movement
Moving armies is pretty simple. They can move into any bordering territory or be convoyed across a body of water. However, there are a bunch of special scenarios that apply to navies.

A navy can either be on a body of water or in a coastal country. If it is in a coastal country it covers the entire coast line. However, there are some special cases where they only cover part of the coast.

For example, look at Spain on the map. As you can see, it has a North coast and a South coast. A unit that entered on the North coast can't, then, leave by the South coast. However, the unit is still considered to defend the entire country, even if attacked by a navy from the South.

If a navy is on a coast, it can move to any other coastal country it borders. A navy can support land units and vice versa, but land units (obviously) can't help with a battle in open water and naval units can't help with an inland country.

Sweden and Denmark are considered bordering coastal countries. You can move navies directly from one to the other other you can pass between them.

Adding and removing units
A country is allowed to have as many units as it has major cities. That is why all the countries start with 3 units (except for Russia which has 4). At the end of every Fall turn the number of cities each nation has is counted. If it has more units than it does cities then enough will need to be disbanded to make the numbers even.

You are allowed to choose which units to disband. If you have more cities than units then are allowed to place new units on any of your unoccupied 3 (or 4 if you're Russia) starting cities. You are allowed to choose which of the two types of units you wish to create if you are placing them in a coastal area. If all your starting cities are occupied you will have to wait until the end of next Fall to place new units.

If a country has taken some or all of your starting cities they can not be used to produce new units. In the scenario that all of your starting cities are taken you will have to work with the units you have left. If you retake the starting cities they are treated like they normally would be.

For a full set of rules, see: http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/diplomacy_rules.htm