by Larry Peery

This Diplomacy variant is, I think, original. I asked several people in the hobby if they’d ever seen or heard of anything like it and all said no, so I’m assuming it is. If, by chance, it is similar to another variant someone has already published I will certainly yield credit for it to them. I was looking for a simple variant that would be both educational and entertaining for newbies, and still simple to play. I think I found it. I hope you enjoy it.

The standard Rules of Diplomacy, except as noted, are used, as is the regular game board.

The game is played in seven one year cycles. Each cycle consists of the traditional Spring Move, Retreats, Fall Move, Retreats, and Adjustments.

Each one year cycle is referred to as 1901A, !901B, 1901C, 1901D, 1901E, 1901F and 1901G.

At the end of each cycle all supply centers are counted and the total held by each player is entered on the supply center chart. Note that the chart lists the players by name and not by country.

Once the number of supply centers held is recorded all pieces are removed from the board and replaced in the original Spring 1901 set-up positions.

The play them moves to the next cycle, referred to as 1901B for instance. The game begins in Winter 1900 with the traditional opening diplomacy period. The players may decide to follow tradition and allow for negotiations before the Spring and Fall moves or they may agree to play the game “gunboat” style with no negotiations between moves.

Players are playing for themselves, not a particular country. During the seven cycles of the game each player will play each of the seven Powers once.

Players may decide on one of two options for determining country assignments: 1) Use a matrix chart listing countries on the X axis and players on the Y axis. Fill in the chart advancing the players position so that all the spaces are filled in an orderly fashion. I think it’s pretty simple, but just in case, here’s a sample:


The advantage to the matrix system is, it cuts down on the amount of time needed to determine who is playing what country when. The disadvantage to the matrix system is it introduces an element of predictability in the play because the positions of each player are known in advance.

The alternative way of determining country assignments is the traditional random draw out of the box, with players redrawing as needed until they get a country they haven’t played before. The advantages of this system are:

  1. It mostly avoids pre-arranged alliances from carrying over from cycle to cycle since players won’t know until the draws are completed who their neighbors are;
  2. It encourages spontaneous negotiations in each cycle. The disadvantage of this system is the amount of time it will take, especially in the end cycles, to match up players with powers.

If you, gentle reader, can think of other pros or cons for each method please let me know.

In this highly condensed version of Diplomacy each player only has one year to get it right (e.g. gain as many centers as possible) and a single disaster (e.g. not getting an expected supply center) could prove fatal at the end. I was almost tempted to call this “Bare Bones Diplomacy” since it eliminates so much of the fat and forgiveness found in the traditional game.

Hopefully this game will, for newbies, give them a crash course in those all-important 1901 moves, and because they have to play all seven of the powers in a short time they’ll see things from a wider peerispective than they would in a traditional game. In addition, they’ll be forced to make decisions quickly about what unoccupied supply centers are available to them and whether it’s better to go for the sure gain or the potentially greater gain (or loss). All in all, it teaches a lot in short period of time — the hard way.

Larry Peery

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