South East Asia III
by Andrew Reddaway
This variant introduces a new map but maintains the standard Diplomacy rules owned by Hasbro. It straddles the equator, spanning the area from Burma in the west to Papua New Guinea in the east, and from Taiwan in the north to northern Australia in the south.
The intention of the variant is for seven closely-matched powers to contest 11 neutral supply centres, very similar in game play to the original European game.
The fictitious historical basis for the variant is that economic and political instability broke out in China and South-east Asia in 1997. Pro-democracy movements have caused unrest in territories such as East Timor and Hong Kong. China split into several factions, with the southern portion seeking allies among the members of Asean for its expansionist ambitions.
The seven powers are:
Australia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Neutral supply centres are:
Singapore, Brunei, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Spratly Islands, the Marianas islands, Papua New Guinea and East Timor.
All Powers start with three supply centres except Indonesia, who has four. The game is more fleet-centred than Europe, except on the continent around Laos etc. Vietnam, China and Thailand all start with one fleet, the others start with two.
Austria: Army Darwin, Fleet Cairns, Fleet Port Hedland
Game Play Comments
The map has two dominant features - the mainland and the archipelago. On the mainland, the three-way contest between Thailand, Vietnam and China means that if two of these nations ally against the other, that nation is in serious trouble. The seafaring nations face different challenges. Supply centres, even home cities are separated by oceans, so fleets are more useful than armies. Even for the mainland nations, sea power is essential for a solo win.
Federation of Australia
Main religious affiliations: Roman Catholic, Anglican
Australia is the only real Corner Power, and has a very defensible position. Its only threat early in the game is an aggressive Filipino-Indonesian alliance.
Peoples' Republic of China
Main religious affiliations: Non-religious, Chinese folk religions
China will be keen to advance its historical claims on Hong Kong, Taiwan and the Spratly islands, but it will have to contend with other nations before it can do so. China, like Thailand, faces the risk of losing its coastal centres if it concentrates too heavily on a land war. Burma is China's "back door", although Thailand has a greater claim on it.
Republic of Indonesia
Main religious affiliations: Islam
Indonesia plays a similar role to Russia in the original game. Defending against attacks on two or three fronts is nearly impossible, but there are great opportunities to attack or stab, eg against Thailand and Malaysia. It is important for Indonesia to either develop a strong alliance with Australia, or defeat that nation early in the game, since an Australian stab could be devastating.
Federation of Malaysia
Main religious affiliations: Islam
Malaysia's position is in some ways similar to that of Germany's, with excellent early opportunities, but a vulnerable central position. If Malaysia can control the Malaysian sea, it will have good prospects throughout the game.
Republic of the Philippines
Main religious affiliations: Roman Catholic
The Philippines have a strong postion, with early opportunities in all directions. It is also more defensible than Malaysia or Indonesia, having adjacent home supply centres. An alliance with either Australia or China will help secure solid growth.
Kingdom of Thailand
Main religious affiliations: Buddhism
Thailand has better possibilities for mainland expansion than any other nation, but like China, it faces the risk of having its coastal centres overrun if it concentrates too heavily on a land war. For example, an Indonesian-Malaysian alliance can exert strong pressure on Thammerat. Thailand must also guard its "back door", Burma.
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Main religious affiliations: Buddhism, folk religions
Vietnam perhaps has the weakest position in the game, situated between the other land powers and the archipelago. Diplomatic possibilites are strong however, since it can seek alliance with either Thailand or China, and also exert influence into the oceans