Stalemates A to Y
Due to the design of the Diplomacy board there are many positions
which are impregnable. If the number of supply centers within
the impregnable position is equal to or greater than the number
of units required to defend it the set-up (location of units,
supply centers defended, conditions required on opposing forces)
is known as a stalemate line.
Diplomacy players have known about stalemate lines since the earliest
days of the hobby in the early 1960s; the first stalemate lines
were published in fanzines in the mid 1960s. In the 1970s the
hobby became enamored of stalemate lines and many articles were
written investigating which positions could, or could not, be
Whilst "old hands" find stalemate lines, articles on
stalemate lines, and discussion of stalemate lines to be exceedingly
dull and dry, novices are usually very interested by the concept
of a stalemate line. They are positively excited by questions
such as "What are stalemate lines?", "What is a
dynamic stalemate line", "How do I construct a stalemate
line", "Are there any stalemate lines holding these
centers" and "How do I break a stalemate line?".
In November 1993 stalemate lines appeared (again!) on rec.games.diplomacy.
In order to help answer questions on stalemate lines Mark Nelson
decided to produce a document on stalemate lines similar to the
Diplomacy A to Z and Variants A to Z documents.
The Stalemates A to Y file was born!
The Stalemates A to Y file contains a collection of articles
on stalemate lines. Reading this document should not only answer
your questions on stalemate lines, but it should also cure you
of your interest in them. Perhaps the most important question
that you should ask is "How on earth did Mark retype all
these articles without falling to sleep in the process?".
Perhaps he enjoyed the pain and agony.
14th June 1994
Most of the articles reprinted here were originally collected
and edited by Mark Berch, and were published as a summary of stalemate
positions in Diplomacy Digest. Mark Nelson retyped all
of these articles for email distribution, and also added a few
more articles to the collection. The entire collection was later
converted to HTML for the Diplomatic Pouch (including the
creation of 55 maps) by Matthew Self.
Rod Walker: The Gamer's Guide to Diplomacy: Stalemates
- The Gamer's Guide To Diplomacy contains a chapter on
stalemate positions which is reproduced here (the book is currently
out of print, and not easily available). It defines a stalemate
position and categorizes them into six basic lines, which have
been cross-referenced to the other articles.
(Reprinted from The Gamer's Guide To Diplomacy, 2nd edition,
Matthew Self: Visual Index to Stalemate Positions
- A new visual index to all of the stalemate positions covered
in this collection. Quickly find the ones you're looking for!
Mark Berch: Introduction to the Stalemate Position
- This is Mark Berch's introduction for the collection of stalemate
articles reprinted in Diplomacy Digest. All of the articles
which follow were part of that collection, except where noted.
(Reprinted from Diplomacy Digest 10-11, April-May 1978.)
Robert Bryan Lipton: A Series of Progressive Northern Stalemate Positions
- A series of Northern stalemate lines based on complete control
of the Northern waters. The sequence starts from England and ultimately
includes the Lowlands, France and Germany.
(Reprinted from Graustark #268, 1 July 1972.)
Robert Bryan Lipton: A Series of Progressive Southern Stalemate Positions
- A series of Southern stalemate lines based on complete control
of the Mediterranean. Also includes one Southern position that
only controls the Eastern half of the Mediterranean.
(Reprinted from Graustark #282, 13 January 1973. Also includes
a stalemate line by Bruce Reif published in Graustark #310,
11 May 1974.)
Robert Bryan Lipton: A Progressive Series of Asymmetrical Stalemate Positions
- An unusual series of stalemate lines that are split across
the board, containing both Turkey and England.
(Reprinted from Graustark #301, 17 November 1973. Also
includes a stalemate line by John Beshera published in Graustark
Eric Verheiden: Minimal Southern Stalemate Positions
- Minimal stalemate lines for the Southern powers to hold against
the North. These positions hold Turkey, all of Italy and most
of Austria and the Balkans.
(Reprinted from Graustark #306 and #307, 1 March and 23
John Beshera: Fundamental Stalemate Positions, III
- These South-Eastern positions hold all of Turkey and Austria,
but only part of Italy. Instead, they contain portions of Russia
(Reprinted from Graustark #304, 19 January 1974. Also includes
a stalemate line by Karl Pettis, published in Erehwon #65,
1 March 1972.)
Eric Verheiden: Eastern Stalemate Positions
- Eastern stalemate lines that do not extend into Italy. These
positions include Turkey, Russia and portions of Scandinavia.
(Reprinted from Graustark #310, 11 May 1974.)
Eric Verheiden: Western Stalemate Positions
- Western stalemate positions that do not require complete control
of the Northern waters. These positions include England, France
(Reprinted from Graustark #313, 13 July 1974.)
Eric Verheiden: Northern Stalemate Positions
- Northern stalemate lines not requiring control of the
Mid-Atlantic. These expand from England and Scandinavia to Germany
and France or Russia.
(Reprinted from Atlantis #77, February 1975.)
Ted Holcombe: The Holcombe Position
- A Western stalemate line based on England and France, but
which contains an instructive error.
(Originally published in Diplophobia #93, pre 1972. Our
version from Graustark #315, August 1974.)
Eric Verheiden: The Holcombe Position: A Commentary
- A reply to Holcombe's article.
(Reprinted from Graustark #318, 5 October 1974.)
Eric Verheiden: Stalemate Positions: Practical Implications
- Verheiden reflects on the meaning of stalemate lines for actual
(Reprinted from Impassable #33, March 1974.)
Eric Verheiden: Stalemate Positions: More Practical Implications
- Verheiden considers possible applications of some less-likely
(Reprinted from Impassable #42, 3 November 1974.)
Robert Bryan Lipton: The Dynamic Stalemate
- Defines a "dynamic" stalemate line and provides
two examples. Provides general principles behind construction
of further dynamic stalemate lines.
(Reprinted from Graustark #316, 24 August 1974.)
Arnold E. Vagts Jr.: You Have a Locked Up Position, So Now What?
- Advice on what to do with stalemate lines, especially how
to make use of them diplomatically. This article actually predates
all of the others presented here.
(Reprinted from Hoosier Archives #41, 23 October 1971.)
John Boyer: Stalemate Lines are Crap!
- Don't spend too much time on stalemate lines, use them as
a last resort.
(Reprinted from Erehwon #87, 13 May 1975.)
Jamie Dreier: Practical Stalemate Lines
- Detailed example of a stalemate line used in real play. This
article was published more than a decade after Mark Berch's collection
appeared in Diplomacy Digest.
(Reprinted from Electronic Protocol #246, 17 September
There are also several missing stalemate articles
that I know exist but which I don't have. Is it possible that
you have one of these buried deep in your Diplomacy records?
Articles collected, retyped and archived by Mark Nelson
Converted to HTML by Matthew Self (firstname.lastname@example.org),