Life Diplomacy (ra10)

by Jef Bryant

This variant is unusual in that it is an amalgamation of two very different games, 'Diplomacy' and 'Life'. The game 'Life', a relative newcomer to the scene compared to Diplomacy, was invented in 1968 by John Horton Conway of the University of Cambridge.  Conway's game is played on an infinite grid of square cells.  Each cell has eight neighbours, four at the corners and four at the sides, and may exist in one of two states dead or alive.  As each generation of 'Life' passes by, cells live out their existence, their fate being decided by how many of its neighbours are alive.  The parallel to the real world being that if a living cell is undernourished or overcrowded it will die.  Various configurations of living cells show surprisingly complex and almost life like behaviour.

In this variant, movement and negotiation follow the normal rules of Diplomacy.  The rules of 'Life' are applied during the Summer and Winter seasons for the removals and construction of units.

1. All the normal rules of Diplomacy apply except for the modifications below.

2. There are no supply centres, neutral or home, in this variant.  Constructions and/or removals are made twice a year; i.e. Summer and Winter.

3. The Spring and Autumn movement seasons are accomplished as in normal Diplomacy.  The Summer and Winter adjudication periods are governed by the rules taken from 'Life'.  During this phase, the nationality of a unit is not considered.  The application of the rules of 'Life' to the provinces, vacant AND occupied, on the board are considered to take place simultaneously.

4. Summer & Winter Builds (Births) for Vacant Provinces.

Each vacant province on the board, terrestrial or maritime, will give birth (or a build) to a new unit if there are units, fleets and/or armies, present in exactly 3 adjacent provinces.  The nationality of the new unit is decided by the majority nationality of the 3 adjacent units.  If the vacant province was a maritime space, a fleet is built, if a non-coastal terrestrial province, an army is built.  If the vacant province was a coastal province the player, representing the nationality of the new unit being born, decides the type of unit.  If no order is given, the GM decides the unit type at random.

5. In the special case where the birth of a new unit is caused by the presence of 3 different nationalities, a neutral unit is built, the GM again deciding at random, the  type of unit if the vacant province was coastal.

A neutral unit follows the rules of a 'Lebling' unit.  This means that it holds in place and can be supported to hold by player's units.  If forced to move, a neutral unit disbands and is removed from the board.  A neutral unit is also subject to the same rules as other units during the Summer and Winter periods.

6. Summer & Winter 'No Change' (Survival) of Units.

This rule is applied to every player's unit, as well as any neutral units.  If a unit has exactly 2 units in adjacent provinces the unit survives or there's 'no change'.

7. Summer & Winter Removal (Death) of Units.

This rule is applied to every player's unit, as well as any neutral units.  If a unit has less than 2, or more than 2 units in adjacent provinces then the unit dies and is removed from the board.

8. This variant is April 1991 by Jef Bryant, and can be published if a copy of the publication is sent to Rue Jean Pauly 121, B-4430 ANS, Belgium.  Copies can be distributed for postal play and variant banks. Any modification of this variant is prohibited without permission of the designer.

9. In order to visualise the idea I have given an example below which covers the first 2 seasons, Spring and Summer 1901 for a hypothetical game.

10. This variant depends not only on the location of a player's units but also the immediate vicinity of neighbouring enemy/friendly units.  This means that Diplomacy between players is very important, especially at the beginning of the game when a player has only a few units.  If a player finds himself with one unit he is, unfortunately, helpless as he will never get another build.

11. The criterion for victory is to have 18 units, fleets and/or armies, on the board after a Summer or Winter adjudication.

12. Example for the first year (Spring and Summer 1901 with builds.)

Spring 1901

Austria  A(Bud)-Ser, F(Tri)-H, A(Vie)-H
England  F(Lon)-ENG, F(Edi)-NTH, A(Lpl)-Yor
France   A(Par)-H, A(Mar)-H, F(Bre)-H
Germany  F(Ber)-H, A(Mun)-Sil, A(Kie)-Mun
Italy    A(Rom)-Apu, F(Nap)-H, A(Ven)-H
Russia   F(Stp)sc-Lvn, A(Mos)-H, A(War)-Ukr, F(Sev)-H
Turkey   F(Ank)-H, A(Con)-Bul, A(Smy)-Con

Summer 1901







No Change







F(Tri), A(Vie)



F(Eng), F(Nth)






*A(Gas),*A(Pic), A(Bur)

A(Par), A(Mar)



F(Kie), A(Sil)

A(Boh), A(Pru), A(Mun)




A(Apu), A(Ven)

*A(Rom), F(Adr)




A(Ukr), F(Sev)


F(Lvn), A(Mos)



A(Bul), A(Con)









* indicates that a choice of unit was made: fleet or  army.

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