"Bid" Diplomacy (rb64)
This is a method whereby all 7 Great Powers are played by fewer than 7 players; this is 5 or 6. Determining the unplayed Great Power(s) can vary. Any of the combinations indicated above will do. Or draw lots to determine which Great Power(s) will be unplayed....or played by proxy, actually.
Each "eliminated" Great power will still have orders written for its units. This is done as follows:
Each player will write orders for his own country and for each "eliminated" country. Each of those latter sets of orders is a "bid" to control that country for that season. All of the bids will be placed in a box (or hat or whatever) and one will be drawn at random. The set of orders drawn will be used. This process is repeated for each "eliminated" country each season. After each drawing, unused bids are destroyed unread.
Part of each player's diplomacy will be to get other players to write the same bid as his. The more identical sets written, the greater the chance one of them will be selected.
There will be a good deal of excitement in this game. It might be, for instance, that Germany will attack France in one season, then reverse and attack Russia in the next.
The "bid" process would also be used for retreats and adjustments.
This way of playing the game introduces a certain element of chance, which some players may not prefer. However, it will also add an element of competition and suspense which would be missing if unplayed countries were just omitted altogether.
There is an alternative method for bids. Each season, the players draw for the unplayed countries. The winner(s) then write orders for the countries drawn. No player may write orders for more than one "eliminated" country in any one season. The drawings take place before each diplomacy period, so that each winner would write retreat and adjustment orders as appropriate. (Or adjustments could be considered a separate "Winter" season, as in postal DIPLOMACY.)