rec.games.diplomacy

Frequently Asked Questions

Version 0.96.  Last updated 20 January 2002.

About the FAQ

1. How do I get the FAQ?
2. Who made this FAQ?

Diplomacy, the classic boardgame

3. What is Diplomacy?
4. Who makes Diplomacy and how can I buy It?
5. Are the rules available online?
6. Are there any web sites with Diplomacy information?
7. Is there a newsgroup about Diplomacy?
8. What should I know before posting to rec.games.diplomacy?
9. How can I learn strategy and improve my game?
10. Are there any books on Diplomacy?
11. Is there any Diplomacy software available?
12. What are Diplomacy variants?

Getting Started

13. How do I get started playing PBEM Diplomacy?

Playing Face-to-Face or by Post

14. What is "FTF" Diplomacy?
15. How can I find other people to play Diplomacy with Face-to-Face?
16. How can I get started playing in Diplomacy tournaments?
17. What is postal Diplomacy?

Rules Questions

18. Frequently Asked Rules Questions

Finding Out More

19. Well this FAQ didn't answer my question, what do I do now?
 

About the FAQ

1. How do I get the FAQ?

This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) will be posted to rec.games.diplomacy once a week. The latest version is also available on the web, at http://www.diplom.org/DipPouch/Online/FAQ and http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/FAQ  

2. Who made this FAQ?

A lot of people contributed towards the creation of this FAQ. Too many for a poor FAQ maintainer to list them here, or even remember them all.

Diplomacy, the classic boardgame

3. What is Diplomacy?

Diplomacy is a boardgame of strategy and intrigue for seven players, where random chance plays no role. Luck remains crucial (can I outguess my opponent?), but the game uses no dice, no cards, and no drawing of lots beyond the distribution of who is to play what power. From there on, it is you versus the other players, with tactics, strategy, cunning, negotiation and persuasion your primary tools for winning the game.

In Diplomacy, each player controls one of the seven major powers at the start of the twentieth century: Austria-Hungary, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, or Turkey. No one player has sufficient power to win alone, and yet cooperation is rife with risk, since nothing a player says during negotiations is binding. By negotiating alliances and treaties with the other players, each player seeks control over Europe, balancing trust and suspicion, loyalty and ruthless backstabs. This intrigue and blend of strategy and tactics has made Diplomacy a beloved game since it was first published by Allan Calhamer in 1959. Allan's story as to how he developed the game is at: http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/resources/calhamer/invention.htm.

Almost since the game was introduced, Diplomacy has been played by people communicating, negotiating, and sending orders via postal services. This form of play spread far, and there are still a large number of fanzines dedicated to this form of play. Internet Diplomacy, played much in the same way as Play By Mail (PBM) (only much faster and more flexibly) was a natural continuation of this, when it was introduced in the late eighties. Today the Play By Email (PBEM) and PBM hobbies are closer than ever, as more and more people obtain Internet access (at home or at work).

4. Who makes Diplomacy and how can I buy it?

Diplomacy is currently made by Hasbro in the USA and Gibsons Games in the UK. Hasbro issued a new edition of the boardgame Diplomacy in 2000 (as well as a PC version under the Microprose brand). Players outside North America and the UK should be able to buy the current Hasbro edition of the game as an import through games shops. The Microprose PC version is now out of print, but can still be found for sale in various places. Current news on where to buy Diplomacy can be found at http://www.diplom.org/Online/Guide

5. Are the rules available online?

Yes. The rules for Diplomacy can be downloaded online from http://www.hasbro.com/instruct/Diplomacy.PDF. Standard Diplomacy maps can be downloaded from http://www.diplom.org/Online/maps.html or http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/diplomacy_rules.htm.

6. Are there any web sites with Diplomacy information?

There are a large number and variety of Diplomacy sites available on the web, most are tiny, though some are huge, some haven't been updated for years, other are updated frequently.

The Diplomacy home page is hosted by The Diplomatic Pouch, an electronic magazine and superb resource for on-line Diplomacy information. It can be found at http://www.diplom.org. For newcomers to Diplomacy, however, you might find it more informative to start on the welcome page, http://www.diplom.org/DipPouch/Welcome.html which will give you a brief introduction to the game, the community of players that has developed around it (a.k.a., The Hobby), and the Diplomatic Pouch itself.

There are several other good online resource sites for Diplomacy. For example:
The Diplomacy-Archive: http://www.diplomacy-archive.com
Rob Lancaster's Diplomacy Site: http://www.gate.net/~lancast/diplomacy/
 

Links to a host of different Diplomacy pages can be found at: http://www.diplom.org/Online/ or http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/resources/links.htm

There is also a Diplomacy Ring with over 100 Diplomacy sites.

The Diplomacy Ring
[ Join Now | Ring Hub | Random | << Prev | Next >> ]

7. Is there a newsgroup about Diplomacy?

The rec.games.diplomacy  newsgroup is a unmoderated, open discussion forum. People discuss strategy, ask questions about difficult adjudications, relate interesting anecdotes, and often advertise available positions in games. It is recommended that you read this FAQ through before making your first posting to the newsgroup, since there is a good chance that if your question is basic, it will be covered here.

8. What should I know before posting to rec.games.diplomacy?

Whether you are a seasoned Internet user or not, please take a moment to review the following list of rules that especially apply to rec.games.diplomacy. The newsgroup is not moderated in any way, and nobody is responsible for keeping people in line. However, off-topic postings, excessive or redundant postings, commercial announcement (spams), flames, and trolls (flame-bait) are not acceptable to most subscribers.

In particular, if you wish to make a game opening announcement (that is a vacancy for an email game of Diplomacy or a Diplomacy variant), please use the keyword "Opening:" at the beginning of the subject line of your article. Other information about the game (game name, variant type, power available, number of centres, and which judge (if any)) would also be very helpful in the subject line or the body of the email.

Do not post messages advertising commercial products, unless the forum is designed for such purposes. One exception is for directly relevant commercial ventures (i.e. Diplomacy stuff), which are generally allowed a single post announcing their availability. Do not forward chain letters of any sort, including messages on viruses and other "important" matters. 99 % of such messages are hoaxes, and people will find out about the rest anyway. Remember that the Internet is international, and that people of all faiths and convictions participate. Try not to cause offence, by being polite and using common courtesy in your words and tone. Remember that sarcasm, for example, is VERY hard to convey via text alone. Basically, don't be a jerk!

9. How can I learn strategy and improve my game?

The best way to learn strategy and improve your game is through practice. A next-best way is to participate in games as an observer, preferably one you know has skilled players in it, and carefully follow the game. Watch what people do and try to extract a reasonable explanation for why they might do that (though don't make the mistake of expecting that players always make the best move -- players make mistakes or make gambles that don't pay off). One can also learn a lot from reading well-written end-of-game (EOG) statements, but well written ones (or any written ones at all) are not always available.

It is recommended that the basics of tactics are learned first, since they are fairly simple and quickly mastered. Following that, it is often useful to read some of the many articles written on strategy. The largest online strategy and tactics resource is to be found at http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/resources/strategy.htm.  While reading articles can introduce you to new ideas, it really is no substitute for practice and experience.

If you would like to follow an annotated game, the Showcase on the Pouch at: http://www.diplom.org/DipPouch/Showcase is worth a look.

10. Are there any books on Diplomacy?

The Game of Diplomacy (1976) by Richard Sharp is long out of print but available online at http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/god.htm.

The Gamer's Guide to Diplomacy (3rd ed. 1993) by (Ed.) Rex Martin is an introductory guide which is now out of print, but copies do turn up on ebay.com from time to time.

Calhamer on Diplomacy by Allan Calhamer (1999) 1st books. ISBN 1-58500-758-7. Available at http://www.amazon.com discusses the boardgame Diplomacy, and how the Diplomatic tactics and strategies which are common in the game relate to the Diplomacy used in the real world by various nations, especially the major European powers of the late 19th and early 20th century.

With the release of Diplomacy as a PC game in 2000, Prima published an "Official Strategy Guide" to Diplomacy written by Rex Martin and Michael Knight. ISBN 0-7615-2634-X

11. Is there any Diplomacy software available?

If you want to play against the computer then Hasbro released Diplomacy for the PC in 2000 under the Microprose banner, though the software did not meet universal acclaim, having a weak AI and the adjudicator was not 100% accurate. This game may be out of print, but it is easily available at auction sites such as ebay.com. Some reviews are available at http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/resources/software.htm

There are a variety of amateur Diplomacy adjudicators, mapping software and other utilities available. A good selection can be found at http://www.diplom.org/Online/mapsoftware.html (and includes such things as programs for mapping out Internet games, programs for managing games you are running and doing the adjudications and programs for managing FtF tournaments etc.).

12. What are Diplomacy variants?

Diplomacy basically consists of a simple set of rules for adjudicating moves and a map on which to play. However, by changing either or both of these basic elements, fans have also created Diplomacy variants. The most common variants use the original rules of Diplomacy, but play on a map from a different time or place. A variant can be as simple as the Fleet_Rome variant, which merely changes the army in Rome at the game's start to a fleet, or extremely complex like those set in Tolkein's Middle Earth with special units, unusual maps, and new rules and added game elements. A short introduction to Diplomacy variants can be found at http://www.variantbank.org/what_are_variants.htm.

Since Diplomacy was first published, a number of commercially made variants have appeared, e.g. Machiavelli (originally published by Battleline Publications and later Avalon Hill) and Colonial Diplomacy (Avalon Hill).

The Variant Bank at http://www.variantbank.org catalogues over 1350 known Diplomacy variants and has the rules for over 400 available online (and growing). The Diplomatic Pouch's variants page has rules for and articles for a smaller number of variants, but it does include brief descriptions of the variants it lists. It can be found at http://www.diplom.org/DipPouch/Online/variants.html.

Descriptions for many variants can be found at http://www.variantbank.org/descriptions.htm. The Variants A to Z file on which this collection of variant descriptions is based can also be found at http://www.diplom.org/DipPouch/Online/VariantsAtoZ/var-intro.html. It is also available by ftp from ftp://ftp.ugcs.caltech.edu/pub/diplomacy/Documents/variants.tar.Z.

One of the beauties of Diplomacy is how easily its framework can be extended and manipulated without losing the core essence. Thus many players enjoy playing standard games along with a variety of new variants to combine the classic game with new twists and changes of pace.

Getting Started

13. How do I get started playing PBEM Diplomacy?

Getting started in PBEM Diplomacy is a relatively easy process. Ideally, the first thing you will need is a copy of game, so that you can understand how the game is played. However, given that the rules and map are available online (see Q.5 above), it would be possible to play without owning the game - though we would still urge people to acquire the "Real Thing". Once you have read and understood the rules, you are ready to play. There are several different ways in which you can play a game of Diplomacy online - though you will have to choose between using a human Game Master (GM) to run and adjudicate the game or having the game adjudicated and run by software (e.g. a JUDGE) running on a server (which can either be web-based, or email based).

(a). An Internet Game using a Human GM

There are a few variations on this theme – but mostly the evolve around the simple idea that you email the orders to a GM, who will adjudicate and then send the results back to you, setting the next deadline etc. Some are run via a web page, some through some sort of “club” or mailing list, and some are just organised privately.

There are many communities and sites offering this sort of service. Two worthy of mention (and which demonstrate different approaches) are:

CAT23 – Games organised through various CAT23 mailing lists. Games usually fill quite quickly and many variants are run as well. http://www.cat23.com. However, each game is basically run independently of the others.

Diplomacy 2000 – Games are organised through a frequently updated web site, with 1, 2 or 3-weekly turn games. Results and maps are put on the site and results are also emailed to the players. A good sense of community for a web site and highly recommended. http://www.dip2000.org.uk

Some other player communities can be found at: http://www.diplom.org/Online/communities.html 

(b). An Internet Game using a Judge or a web-based adjudicator

A Judge is a piece of software originally written in 1987 by Ken Lowe and modified and updated by many people since. There are several servers linked to the Internet running the Judge software, which can be used to automatically run games of email Diplomacy. The person who makes sure that the software runs correctly is called the Judge Keeper, and every game running on the Judge also has a Games Master (GM) looking after it. Essentially, once you have registered to play on a particular Judge (see below), the way it works is this:

- A GM creates a new game on a Judge
- You get a list (description) of the game from the judge, and check it is to your liking (game settings can vary in many ways, see the new players guides (links below) for more information)
- You join the game
- Once seven players have joined the game, the Judge assigns countries in accordance with preferences and sets the first deadline
- All communications with other players are sent (and received) by email via the Judge
- Before the deadline you send orders to the Judge
- Once the Judge gets all the orders in it sends out the adjudication by email etc. If not all seven sets of order are in, then there is a grace period in which the late player can submit orders. If they fail to do so, they are removed and a replacement player is sought

There are several guides for new players who want to play Diplomacy on a Judge, some of the best can be found at:
http://www.diplom.org/Online/FAQ/newguide.html
http://www.diplom.org/Email/newintro.html
http://home.pacbell.net/andyhre/main.html.

You can register with a Judge at http://www.diplom.org/Email/registration.html. There is a list of openings in public games at http://www.diplom.org/openings/openings.html and queues for the most common types of game at http://www.diplom.org/DP-cgi/setqueue

Once you have a good dedication record, there are communities who cater to such players who have proved they are reliable opponents (e.g. the Vermont Group - http://www.diplom.org/Email/VG/vermont.html).

Judges can also be used for “real time” games with deadlines as short as 6 minutes – check out http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RTDip if you want to give it a try.

The principle web-based Diplomacy adjudicators are the DPJudge at http://www.floc.net/dpjudge/ and the Bounced site at http://www.dipbounced.com. These are not dissimilar to using a Judge, save that instead of interfacing with the Judge using email, you do it via a web page.

Playing Face-to-Face or by Post

14. What is "FTF" Diplomacy?

"FTF" stands for "Face-to-Face" and refers to games played by a group of people who are physically in the same location. Usually the term "FTF" is used to distinguish a game played "in- person" from games played by mail ("postal" Diplomacy) or over the Internet ("PBEM" Diplomacy). Of course Face-to-Face is the way Diplomacy was meant to be played - looking your opponent straight in the eye as you tell them one whopper after another. Some find it exhausting, some stressful - but most agree it is a far more intense experience than playing by email or by post.

15. How can I find other people to play Diplomacy with Face-to-Face?

The Diplomatic Pouch web site has a Clubs and Organizations page that lists people from all over the world who are seeking participants in FTF games (http://www.diplom.org/Face). Another good place to look is the Diplomatic Corps website at http://www.diplomaticcorps.org/FTFClubList.html. Many universities or game/hobby stores have gaming clubs that might include Diplomacy players. People often seek other Diplomacy players in their area by posting a message to the rec.games.diplomacy newsgroup. But best of all, help the hobby expand by teaching your friends how to play Diplomacy!

16. How can I get started playing in Diplomacy FtF tournaments?

The best resources for finding Diplomacy tournaments in your area is The Diplomatic Pouch's FTF page, http://www.diplom.org/Face and the similar page at the Diplomatic Corps website at  http://www.diplomaticcorps.org/ComingEvents/ComingEventsList.html. Contact local universities and see if they have a games club - these are often fertile ground for finding Diplomacy players near you. Some of them may know of tournaments in your local area. Complete novices are always welcome at tournaments (even if you don't know how to play). Just make yourself known to the Tournament Director at least an hour before the round so you can be brought up to speed ready for your first game.

17. What is postal Diplomacy?

Postal Diplomacy is Diplomacy played via non-electronic "snail" mail. It is usually played through 'zines which have articles, letters columns, publish variants, game results and waiting lists for new games etc. More information can be found at http://www.diplom.org/Postal. Specifically for the UK it is worth checking out http://www.postalgames.org.uk which has general information on the amateur postal games community and how to get involved.

Rules Questions

18. Frequently Asked Rules Questions

Q: Can I dislodge my own unit?
A: No. Nor can you support a foreign unit such that it dislodges one of your own units. However, a support to attack one of your own units may be valid for other purposes (such as standing-off an equally supported attack).

Q: Does an attack on a convoy disrupt it?
A: No.

Q: Is F(Gulf of Bothnia) S F(Barents Sea)-St. Petersburg (nc) legal?
A: Yes. You can support an attack on an space if you can move to it (ignoring coasts).

Q: Can I remove one unit and build another in the builds phase?
A: "No. During adjustments if a player has more units than SCs, then he must select one or more to remove in order to make the counts exactly equal. If he has more SCs than units, he may build new units up to the amount that would make the counts exactly equal (providing he has enough owned, empty home SCs available). If he has exactly the same number of SCs and units, he is unable to do anything during adjustments.

Q: Is F(Spain) nc - Portugal, F(Portugal) - Spain sc legal?
A: The moves themselves are legal, but the result is a stand-off and neither piece moves as two pieces may not exchange spaces.

Q: Here are some orders, what happens?
A: If you are not sure then (a) read the rules again, (b) ask your GM or (c) ask on rec.games.diplomacy.

19. Well this FAQ didn't Answer My Question, What do I do now?

The best bet is to post a question on the rec.games.diplomacy newsgroup - we're a friendly bunch after all. :-)

If you have any comments, updates, error reports etc. on the current version of the FAQ,
please send them to: DipFAQ@yahoogroups.com.

 

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