by Jeff Kase
This 15 player variant uses the standard Diplomacy map with three exceptions:
The island of Ireland is a supply center.
Comment: This compensates for what I feel is Diplomacy's undervalue of Great Britain's power. Italy and England may have both been "Great Powers" at the turn of the century, but Italy and England were by no means equally great powers. In 1901, "the sun never set on the British Empire" and England was arguably the world's most powerful nation.
Yet in Diplomacy, while every other country has at least one "sure" conquest at the beginning of the game (eg. Italy and Tunis), England is at a disadvantage. I think this is why countries tend to discount and underestimate England early in the game; a pitfall which tends to haunt them later and has earned the island nation its "wicked witch" reputation.
England doesn't start the game with Ireland, nor does it act as a home supply center for England during the game (though this is historically inaccurate; Ireland did not achieve independence from the United Kingdom until 1922). In the interest of fairness, England must attack and occupy the island, just like any other supply center, in order to gain the build.
Albania is a supply center.
Comment: I always wondered why it wasn't. This gives Italy a legitimate shot at a supply center in the Balkan region. It therefore contributes to some new dynamics and interplay in the game, rather than the same old tripartisan division of the Balkan region between Austria, Turkey, and Russia.
North Africa is a supply center.
Comment: Its clear why this wasn't made a supply center; it seems to give France a distinctly unfair advantage. However, the addition of Portugal and Spain as minor powers negates this.
The variant also uses the rules of standard Diplomacy, with the following exceptions.
The First Turn of the Game is Winter, 1913. Moves work the same as Diplomacy; orders for units are submitted in two turns per year, for the spring and fall, with the only difference being the first move begins in Spring, 1913, rather than Spring, 1901. However, the very first turn of the game, a "pre-move" turn if you will, begins in Winter, 1901 and is for builds.
Prior to the first move, a country should conduct negotiations with its neighbors and develop strategy. A country must then select its builds. While the rules of Diplomacy apply here (each country gets one unit per supply center and units must be built in the country's home centers), countries may chose what types of units to build and where to build them.
After countries have conducted their diplomacy and built their forces, i.e., the "build phase" has concluded, the game is ready to begin. The second turn — the first move — Spring, 1913, is then conducted and the game follows the rules of standard Diplomacy from thereon.
Example: Germany starts the game with three builds and must build these units in Kiel, Berlin, and Munich. However, Germany may decide to forgo a navy altogether and build three armies. Conversely, Germany may anticipate war with England and decide to build a fleet in Berlin as well as Kiel. Once Germany has submitted its builds, results are published in the first adjudication of the game, Winter, 1901. The following turn, Spring 1901, Germany submits orders for its units.
Comment: I think this change closely reflects the nature of the times. It is well documented, a "tit-for-tat" arms race between nations was largely responsible for precipitating the animosity and mistrust that arose among the Great Powers in the period leading up to the Great War. To challenge England's naval superiority, Germany built additional warships for her navy. This in turn made England nervous, who responded by building more warships to maintain her navel superiority.
There are 8 Player Minor Powers. Along with the seven player Great Powers of standard Diplomacy, there are also 8 one-center "minor powers." These countries are played the same as any other country: they can treat with other nations, move, attack, support, build; the one exception being that they start the game with a single, not multiple, home supply centers.
While a minor power starts with one home center, a player may designate a second supply center in his control as a second home center during the game. This second home center functions the same as any other home center. Once the second home center has been so designated, it is final; a minor power that loses its second home center may not designate another supply center as a new second home center.
Example: Serbia captures Greece and desires to have a port in its control. Serbia then designates Greece as its second home center and may build fleets there. Later, Serbia captures Bulgaria but loses Greece. Although Serbia still has a coastal supply center under its control — Bulgaria — it may not build fleets, because its other home center is still Greece, which has been captured.
The following countries are minor powers in 1913: Bulgaria, Belgium, Sweden, Serbia, Greece, Rumania, Spain, and Portugal.
Comment: My interest in adding additional players to Diplomacy was inspired by the book, The Guns of August; a fantastic historical account of the intrigue and events leading up to, as well the early part of, the Great War. In standard Diplomacy, Germany walks into Belgium, plain and simple. In WWI, a scrappy Belgium put up quite a fight against a vastly more powerful and superior German army. King Leopold of Belgium was able to buy himself additional time by pleading with France and Britain for support. France and Britain were eventually drawn into the war against Germany, in large part, based upon Germany's outrageous acts of aggression against Belgium and its violation of her neutrality.
Having more player nations provides additional dynamics and intrigue, new alliances, and increased diplomacy between player nations.
It may be noted, the addition of these minor powers appears to put Turkey at a disadvantage. Every other country is within reach of at least one unoccupied supply center to gain a first-year build; England - Ireland, Russia - Norway, France - North Africa, Italy - Tunis, Germany - Denmark, Austria-Hungary - Albania. Furthermore, the greatest concentration (four) of these minor powers is in the Balkans, bordering Turkey.
However, I feel these adjustments again produce historical accuracy. Strategically situated in the corner of the board and surrounded by water, sharing a common border with only one Great Power, with a host of unoccupied centers at her fingertips, Turkey, in Diplomacy, rivals in strength, any country on the board.
In reality, however, Turkey was truly "the sick man of Europe." Indeed, just prior to WWI, Greece and a confederation of other Balkan states, including Bulgaria, Serbia, and Rumania, had thrown off the last yoke of Turkish presence in Europe, expelling the Ottoman Empire from the continent for good in the first Balkan War. The game essentially picks up then, where history left off.
Winning the game. Despite the creation of additional supply centers, as in standard Diplomacy, the first player to control 18 supply centers wins. However, unlike Diplomacy, two or more nations working together as an alliance, may also win as "co-champions" by controlling 26 supply centers.
To end a game and win as co-champions, there must be a unanimous decision among the "allies" that control the 26 centers. There need not be agreement among all the remaining player in the game; only agreement between two or more players — the "alliance" — which control at least 26 centers. If this occurs, the game is over; objection amongst other remaining players notwithstanding. Nothing prevents a member of the alliance, however, who would like to win solo, from reneging on the alliance and voting to continue play to do so.
Example: Russia, Austria, and Bulgaria have been cooperating and now control 26 centers between them. They agree to end the game, with a shared victory among members of their alliance. France, Spain, and Britain are still alive and object. However, since all three members of the alliance of Russia, Austria, and Bulgaria agree and control 26 centers, the game is over.
Example: Russia, Austria, and Bulgaria have been cooperating and now control 26 centers between them. Austria and Bulgaria would like to end the game with a shared victory, but Russia, which has 14 of the alliance's 26 centers, would like to continue play. Since Austria and Bulgaria do not have enough centers between themselves (12) to end the game on their own, the game continues.
Comment: While negotiation, treachery, influence, and deception is certainly the name of the game, the idea here was to abate the overwhelming pressure to "stab" your allies; to permit success for those who also used cooperation, collaboration, and trust as a means to an end.
Again, there was also a desire to add some realistic and historical treatment of war; to encourage and foster stable alliances. Once the allies defeated the central powers in WWI, they didn't start attacking each other and fight it out for ultimate supremacy. And finally, it provides a way for players who so choose, to end a game that is well in hand and where the outcome is inevitable.
1913 GAME SUMMARY
In summary, the "1913" variations to the standard Diplomacy map and game produce the following:
The Great Powers
Great Britain. Home centers - Edinburgh, London, Liverpool.
The Minor Powers
Sweden. Home center - same.
Unoccupied Supply Centers
Ireland. Not applicable.
Total supply centers = 36.
Centers needed to win = 18 for a single player or 26 for two or more players working as an alliance.