Feudal Diplomacy I (mi03)

by Lewis Pulsipher

There are two versions of this variant, one a game vaguely representing the feudal chaos of ninth century Europe under siege, the other adding magic to the medieval setting. Most epic fantasy, after all, is set in a medieval world; not a great stretching of the imagination is needed to imagine epic fantasy in Europe in the tradition of Morte d'Arthur, Chanson de Roland, Orlando Furioso, etc.

After Charlemagne's death (814 AD) the political unity of western and central Europe slowly crumbled under the pressure of internal disagreements and external attack. The Vikings of Scandinavia, Magyars of Asia (and later, Hungary), and Saracens of Africa and Spain raided incessantly. Feudalism was, in part, a response to the raids, as these raids caused the disintegration, while pointing out the impotence, of larger political entities such as countries. While in this game the raiders are less threatening than in our actual history, the barbarians and nomad units are meant to represent the Viking, Saracen, and Magyar raids. They tend to be nuisances rather than threats to survival, but nobody can ignore them. Fleets are not used because the raiders controlled the seas. Unfortunately there is no simple way to order non-player fleets, so the sea is ignored altogether.

The Board: The standard Diplomacy board is used. However, sea spaces are not used in this game, and there are no fleets. Movements are allowed between the following pairs of spaces: Belgium and London; Tunis and Naples; Tunis and Syria; Edinburgh and Norway; Spain and North Africa.

2. Seasons: There are three movement seasons in each game year, Spring, Summer, and Fall, followed by Fall adjustments. All units are moved from the board at the end of the Fall movement season, going into winter quarters. In each Fall adjustments season every player builds a new set of units in the centers he owns!

3. Starting the Game: Players choose the supply centers in which they will begin the game. The number of centers each player begins with depends on the total number of players in the game, as shown in the Table following.

Negotiations may take place before, but not during, center selection. Centers are selected one at a time. Each player writes a priority list of unowned centers, listing as many as the number shown in column four of the Table. This lists are revealed simultaneously. If two or more players have the same first choice, their second choices are used after all other first choices have been allocated, and so on down the priority list until there is no conflict or the lists are exhausted. In the latter case, every player who desires to may make a new list instead of taking what he had-those who exhausted their lists must make new ones, of course-and the procedure is repeated.

When selecting his second or third center, a player cannot include any center in his priority list which is closer than the minimum allowable distance to a center he already possesses. This minimum is shown in column three of the Table and depends on the number of players and the number of centers each player begins with. For example, when six play, each player receives three centers and none of the three may be within less than three moves of each other. Berlin and Paris, for instance, are three moves distant, as are Smyrna and Greece (no sea movement, remember).

No player may begin in a barbarian supply center (See rule 12).

After all centers are selected, each player chooses one center to be his castle; this is where his knight unit begins the game. Normal armies begin in his other centers.

4. Center Ownership: A center is captured by occupation in any season, not just Fall.

5. Building: When a player builds a unit he may do so in any unoccupied center he owns.

6. Retreats: An army is automatically disbanded when dislodged. Knights may retreat as per standard rules. (The rationale for this; in ancient and medieval battles casualties were usually light until one side broke and ran (if one did). That side suffered heavy losses during the pursuit. The more heavily armed, better trained, and mounted knights could retreat more safely.)

7. Castles: (A) A castle automatically gives one support to any unit in it, or if unoccupied gives one support to one unit of the owning player which is moving into the castle.

(B) A castle alone has the strength of one army, so a supported attack, or attack by a knight, is necessary to capture a lone castle. A castle cannot receive support, though a unit in or moving into the castle may be supported.

(C) When a player's unit occupies a castle in any season he becomes the new owner. Castles may not be built, and are destroyed only by nomads and barbarians.

8. Knights: A knight unit (N) is equal to two normal armies acting together. An attack on it cuts an amount of support equal to the attacker's strength, so a normal army supported by another cuts all the knight's support, but an army without support cuts only half the knight's support. A knight unit requires only one supply center for supply.

9. Number of Knights: The number of knights a player may have depends on the number of centers he owns.

Knight Quota

Number of CentresNumber of Knights
1-5

6-8

9-11

12-14

15-17

1

2

3

4

5

10. Role-playing: A player's first knight unit represents himself, and is specially abbreviated K (for King). If this unit is disbanded the player is out of the game (since "he" is dead) and his units stand in civil disorder (Diplomacy rule XIV.4).

11. Nomads: Three nomad armies roam the eastern plains and steppes. They appear randomly each move season according to dice rolls; roll after all orders for the season have been revealed, but nomads are considered to move at the same time as other armies. If a nomad army fails to enter the specified space owning to a conflict, it doesn't retreat or return to anywhere-it simply isn't represented on the board. If the same number is rolled more than once, then the nomads are in the same space. Treat this as though one moved there with the uncuttable support of the other(s). Nomads destroy any castle they capture. Nomads may be supported (if the player is lucky enough to guess where the nomads will be going). Nomads armies need no supplies.

Nomad Appearance

Die Roll Location

1 Livonia
2 Moscow
3 St Petersburg
4 Sevastopol
5 Ukraine
6 Warsaw

12. Barbarians: (A) Ankara, Edinburgh, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, and Tunis are "barbarian" supply centers. A barbarian army begins the game in each one. If the army has no supplies during a Fall adjustment it is disbanded; however, whenever a barbarian center is vacant at the end of a game-year a new barbarian army is built there, even though a player nominally owns the center. The new barbarian recaptures the center, of course.

(B) Barbarians move randomly each move season, not moving more than one space from the home center. For example, a barbarian army from Sweden, when in Sweden, has equal chances of moving to Norway, Finland, or Denmark, or of holding. Number these options and roll a die, reroll if 5 or 6 results. The same barbarian, in Norway, has the choice of Sweden or Finland (or hold).

(C) If a barbarian can move so as to certainly capture a neutral or player-owned supply center, whether it is adjacent to the barbarian's home center or not, it will do so.

(D) Barbarians are disbanded when dislodged; but this does not prevent a later build in a vacant barbarian center.

(E) Barbarians may be given support, even though they are unpredictable. Support is not counted when determining whether a barbarian can certainly capture a center (as in (C), above), though of course the support is counted in actual adjudications.

(F) If a barbarian captures a center, at the end of a game year a new barbarian army is built in the original center and the captured center becomes the home of the original barbarian. There is a difference, however, such that if the new center is captured by a player and then left vacant at the end of a Fall move the barbarian is not rebuilt. The center is still civilized even though temporarily occupied by barbarians. For example, if a barbarian army from Sweden captures Denmark the latter becomes it home center. Another barbarian is built in Sweden during Fall adjustments. If Denmark is later captured by a player and then vacated, a barbarian is not build there.

13. A player wins when he owns seventeen supply centers.

Optional Rules: For a different game, allow players to choose their starting centers as close together as they like.

Start Table

Number of Players

 

Number of Starting Centers per Player

Minimum Distance Between Centers

Length of Each List

 

2
3
3
4
5
6
7
7
8
9

7
5
5
4
3
3
3
2
2
2

2
3
2
3
3
3
2
2
2
2

3
3
3
3
3
4
5
4
5
6

Note that there are different choices for three and seven players.


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