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Variant Rules

by Pedros (with further additions by site admin)

On the "Create new game" page (under the Games tab) you will find many options available when you are first putting together the details of a new game. Apart from the standard Classic game, many are available only to premium members (and are one of the main reasons many people decide to pay for premium membership). This page explains how these variations work. It is important to remember that, unless stated here, all the usual rules of Diplomacy, and all House Rules, apply.

Variant maps

At present we have four different maps available to play on: two versions of the standard Diplomacy map, and maps for each of the Milan, 1900, and  Ancient Mediterranean variants.  All these main site games have the same basic rules: if you know how to play standard Diplomacy you can play the Variants.

Milan is a 7-player variant which is played on a map much resembling the standard map.  However here Italy has its geography changed: from the standard map, Tuscany and Piedmont are removed; Venice is re-named "Venetia"; Rome is lengthened to absorb Tuscany, and Piedmont is split into Savoy (which also takes in part of the French province of Marseilles so that Savoy borders Marseilles and Burgundy in France as well as Rome in Italy) and Milan, which borders Savoy, Rome and Venetia in Italy and Tyrolia in Austria; the changes (in northern Italy) are intended to strengthen Italy’s starting position slightly.

The Italian supply centres in this game are Milan (army), Rome (army) and Naples (fleet).

 

At first glance, the 1900 map looks very similar to Regular.  There are, however, significant differences in the map (which is extended further into North Africa and to the East).  There are also two small but important differences to the actual rules.

Firstly, Ireland and Iceland are both passable and armies can cross from Clyde to Ireland (even if an enemy fleet is in the North Atlantic!); Switzerland is not only passable but is a neutral supply centre; and the coast of northern Africa is complete, with four supply centres.  England and France start with units there, although they are not home centres and builds are not allowed there.  Finally, England starts with a fleet in Gibraltar which is not a supply centre, rather than Liverpool (which is)!

There are 39 SCs in total, and 18 are required for victory.  This means that two players can reach 18 in the same year.  If so, the player with the greater number is the winner; if there is a tie, the game continues until one player has 18 and more than any other player.

The first big change to the rules are that fleet movement is allowed in either direction between Mid-Atlantic Ocean and the south-east corner of the map (either Egypt or Hejaz – the Red Sea is not passable).  But fleets doing this arrive with a strength of only one half; the fleet is assumed to travel around the south coast of Africa and to be exhausted on arrival!  But if they have support, a supremacy of one-half is sufficient to win a battle (exception – armies convoyed east-west attack at full strength, whilst armies convoyed west-east attack only at half-strength – presumably the effects of the heat!).  Fleets in MAO can also convoy armies under similar conditions.  Support cannot be given around the south of Africa, however!  Fleets can retreat around the south of Africa, but a local fleet retreating to the same space is victorious.

The other change is a bonus for Russia, which can become exposed early on.  The "Russian Emergency Measures" reflect the huge manpower available to the Russian army.  If at any time they do not control all of their home centres (but still control at least one) they can support one additional unit to their SC count, and during this time they are allowed to build in Siberia if they wish (although it never counts as a Supply Centre).  If they subsequently regain all four centres, or lose their last centre, this bonus ends and they must regularize their count in the next Winter.

You will find the designer’s detailed explanation of these slightly complicated rules at http://www.dipwiki.com/index.php?title=1900

 

Ancient Mediterranean is a completely different map, and a 5-player variant. Here the powers are Rome, Greece, Persia, Egypt and Carthage. Other than the variant map and the smaller number of players, the rules are basically the same, but there are some peculiarities with the map:

-       There is a 4-way join between Gulf of Tacape and the Ausonian, Messenian, Libyan seas, allowing movement between them all

-       There is a 4-way join between Gulf of Pelusium, Sinai, Thebes and Alexandria

-       The Nile allows fleets to travel as far as Bayuda

-       The Baleares is a special territory. It acts as an island, but a fleet in The Baleares can also be part of a convoy (unlike other fleets on coasts)

 

Game types

All the following game types can be played on any of these maps.

1.     The "Regular" game is the one we are used to, where you know exactly who is playing which country, and you can send messages in the game.

2.     "Anonymous Players" and “Anonymous Countries games include a degree of anonymity. “Anonymous Players” games are completely anonymous; members are not allowed to know the names of the players involved or the powers that a member is playing. Once the game has started, players may choose to claim a particular identity in Public Press or in-game messaging if it is available, but of course they may be lying! But players must not reveal their participation outside of the game, for example in the Forum. “Anonymous Countries” games remove anonymity on participation in the game but retain strict anonymity of who is playing which country.

3.     "Public Press Only" (PPO) games are anonymous, and the above rules for “Anonymous Players” games apply. But in this case there are no private messages in the game; all communication must be public, through the Public Press. Obviously, this makes a huge difference to the diplomacy you can engage in.

4.     Finally, "Gunboat" games are also completely anonymous but in addition have no messages at all, not even public ones. In these games it is even more important than usual to keep an eye on the moves other players order – often a player will order a support for another country's unit in order to suggest an alliance or a possible future move.

Anonymous, PPO and Gunboat games are offered ONLY to Premium members.

 

Variant Starting positions ("Game variants")

Any of these variants can be played as any of the Game Types and maps above.

1.     Again, the "Classic" game is the basic one, with the usual map and starting positions.

2.     "Fleet Rome" has the usual starting set-up, except that (as its name implies) Italy starts with a fleet in Rome instead of an army. This gives Italy some additional options both in diplomacy and early moves.

3.     ""Winter 1900" takes the Fleet Rome idea further. The map starts empty of units, and the game begins with a Build phase for 1900 in which all players can choose which units to place in their usual supply centres. In this variant, the initial Build phase is the double-length one. So if, for instance, you've always wished that the Russian fleet in St Petersburg started on the north coast instead of the south, this is the variant for you!

4.     "Build Anywhere" (BA) goes back to the standard starting positions but, again as its name implies, future builds can be made in any vacant supply centre which you control at the time. This means that reinforcements can be brought to the key areas much more quickly than usual.

5.     "Age of Empires" (AoE) is rather different. It starts with an empty board and a build phase, but in this variant you begin with only one supply centre, in your national capital (London, Berlin, etc). It is also a Build Anywhere variant, and allows you to decide to build from a completely different base from usual (Italy, for instance, could decide to aim for a set of supply centres around the edge of the Western Mediterranean rather than the land of Italy; whether they could get away with that, of course, is for him or her to decide!) Because this variant started out from the idea of early nations beginning to grow, it begins in 1900 BC rather than AD, and the years count downwards – confusing at first!

6.     Now for something completely different – "Chaos". In this variant, each player starts with 3 supply centres, but they are scattered completely at random across the 34 centres on the map. It is up to you to work out a way of dealing with the problems this causes, and to negotiate or fight your way to a manageable empire! The game starts with a Build phase, and the game is again Build Anywhere.

Fleet Rome, Winter 1900, Build Anywhere, AoE and Chaos are offered ONLY to Premium members.

 

Other game types

1.     "Live" games are the nearest thing to online face-to-face Diplomacy. All seven players are online throughout the game, which will last a set number of hours, and turns last only ten minutes. There is an option to either end the game as a draw once the Live period has ended or to continue the game as a normal game with preset deadlines. This feature recreates some of the manic frenzy of the face-to-face game across the board! If you want to play one of these games there is a strict procedure laid down to make sure that 7 players are signed up and all are ready to go at the start time - you will find the details in the Forum at http://www.playdiplomacy.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=33. Details of forthcoming live games will be found in the same part of the Forum and as you become better known on the site you are likely to receive private invitations as well.

2.     "Fog of War" alters the whole character of the game. You can only see the spaces in which your pieces located, spaces next to them and any supply centres you control. The rest of the map is covered in a grey fog. There is no Order History and no list of the outcome of orders. If you get e-mails telling you that phases have changed then the e-mail will tell you what happened to your orders – but otherwise you don't even have a record of what you asked for, let alone what the outcome was!

3.     "Stuff Happens" games are different again. Here there is an element of chance in the game. At random points something might happen to change the game. There are no defined events listed: if something happens, then it is communicated to players through a correspondent.

These three types can be applied to any game but are offered ONLY to Premium members.

 

Short-handed versions

Both standard Diplomacy and Milan variant allow a short-handed version of the game. This can be chosen if you want to play against less than seven players. (This feature is not offered for Ancient Med).

1.     6-players. This offers the standard game except that ITALY is in "Civil Disorder" for the duration of the game. This means that Italian units will never have orders issued to them and they will be destroyed if they are dislodged.

2.     5-players. Similar to the above, except ITALY and GERMANY are both in Civil Disorder.

3.     4-players. In this version, players may control more than one power in these pairings: Austria/France, Italy/Russia, Germany/Turkey, England plays on its own.

4.     3-players. In this version, players control groups of powers: England/Germany/Austria, Italy/Russia, France/Turkey.

5.     2-players. This is different again, and meant to simulate WWI. The players control either England/France/Russia or Germany/Austria/Turkey; ITALY is in Civil Disorder for the extent of the game.

These short-handed variants are played by the published rules for such games with the exception of the 2-player version; in this game it was felt necessary to have Italy as a Civil Disorder power throughout. The 2-player version is ideal for learning the rules of the game and site mechanics.

Short-handed games are available to ALL players.

 

Other features

1.     "Password": passwords are used to prevent any player entering a game who does not have the password. These games may be invitational games or games where the creator wanted to limit entrance for some other reason. In Rank and No Rank games the password will ONLY stop players who have not received the password from entering the game at the start; should someone leave the game, the position is advertised on site for any other member to take over that power. In Friends and Schools games, the password is in force for the length of the game.

2.     "DIAS" (Draw Include All Survivors): If a solo is unlikely games may be ended in a draw agreed by all surviving player. If, when the game is set-up, DIAS has been selected then any surviving players will be part of the agreed draw. If DIAS has NOT been selected, then the player proposing a draw may select which countries to be included as having drawn the game. In both circumstance ALL survivors must agree to the proposal. To use DIAS it MUST be selected when the game is set up.

3.     "1st turn NMR protection": If this is selected when a game is set up, should a player NMR (send no orders in for any units) that player will be eliminated from the game and the game will return to the pre-game "Join Game" status until the game has a full set of players again. All messages and orders are saved and once the game re-starts (at the beginning of the first phase) the new player can come into the game seeing something of what has happened! To use this feature it MUST be selected when the game is set up.

4.    "Fixed Deadlines Only": All games will have a finalize option. This means that when a player has completed negotiations and entered orders s/he can finalise those orders. When all players have finalised the game will progress to adjudicate the phase. Orders can be changed at any time even after a player has finalized as long as one other player has not! However, if you do not want to have this in your game, you MUST select Fixed Deadlines Only when the game is set up.

Finally, there are other games you may wish to try...

 

Diplomacy Variant Forum Games

Within the Forum you will find a whole set of very different games, usually played with different maps; sometimes with the same rules as usual but often including some very different features which are described in the introductory posts for the individual games. There are different historical games (Colonial Asia, early Britain, the whole world), games which bring in wider political or economic features, Lord of the Rings and other fiction-based games, and many others. See http://www.playdiplomacy.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=34 for details.

 

Tournaments

Finally we should mention tournaments, which are organised regularly for Premium members ONLY. There are all sorts of different tournaments available. See http://www.playdiplomacy.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=27 for details.