than you could possibly have wanted
By Rod Walker
always contended that the 1971 Rulebook is a clear and remarkably
self-consistent document, and that there is no need to have it revised a second
time. Nonetheless, it does appear that the situations involving convoys can be
knotty... but not nearly so problematic in many cases as it might seem.
would like to do in this article is, first, trace briefly the history of the
Rulebook. Second, make a couple of general observations about convoys. Third,
return to some specific examples that have been considered recently and suggest
how they should be adjudicated.
History of the Rules
(1971) Rulebook is actually the fourth. The first Rulebook was that of 1958,
which differed very basically from any of its successors. The second Rulebook,
embodying more or less the present rules, was put out in 1959. This was
reprinted in a different format (much like the present one) in 1961 when Games
Research bought the game. I do not believe any substantive changes were made in
this reprint. The third Rulebook was published in 1966. It was almost exactly
the same as the second, but included two examples (numbered I and II) regarding
cut supports. It also changed the configuration of the board in 5 and 6-person
games. However, no other changes were made.
however, postal Diplomacy was in full cry in the USA. Already differing and
conflicting interpretations of various rules had been uncovered and widely
discussed. They were given names in those days: the Boardman Dilemma, Miller's
Rule, the Turner Rule, Koning's Rule, and so on. Thick compendia of these things
were being compiled in the late 60s. Loopholes abounded and GMs and players
delighted in finding them; it became almost a game within the game to identify a
new rule problem.
Games Research commissioned a young man who had never played Diplomacy, Steve
Marion, to draw up a draft of a revision. At about the same time, I submitted a
suggested draft to John Moot, the President of GRI. John put me in touch with
Steve. After a flurry of letter writing, a committee was formed which would work
with Allan Calhamer in setting up a final revised Rulebook. The committee
consisted of Steve, myself, John McCallum, John Boardman, and a couple of other
postal GMs/players who had been prominent in the preceding orgy of rues
three working drafts were generated. One of them, which I had drawn up, adopted
the innovation of numbering the sections and subsections of the rules. This
ultimately became the underlying basis of the new Rulebook. There were a lot of
discussions over details... the victory-criterion, an expanded sample
game, convoys ... especially convoys. The committee did not in fact reach any
final collective conclusion. Some of the debates had bogged down in fannish
acrimony, and at that point Allan completed a final draft himself and sent it to
GRI for printing.
for a word
about the Coastal Crawl. I've heard some rumblings of confusion on that point.
In the 1961/66 Rulebook, the term "space" was not as clearly defined as it is
now. The ambiguity led John McCallum to conclude that the two coasts of a
double-coasted province could be regarded as two spaces. This being so, the
following orders would be legal and would succeed:
effects an exchange of units, which is otherwise not legal under the Rules. In
the 1971 Rulebook, the term "space" is more clearly defined, and it
is now not legal to exchange two fleets using both coasts of a double-coasted
province (i.e., between Spa & Por, Spa & MAO, Bul & Con). It was Allan
Calhamer's specific intent to preclude such an exchange.
have always presented a difficult adjudication problem. Two difficulties were
well known when the new Rulebook was prepared. One was then called the "Shagrin
Alternate Convoy". It applied to two locations (such as Lon & Bel) between which
an army could be convoyed by either of two different fleets (such as ENG and
NTH). Dick Shagrin argued that if he had A Lon, F ENG, F NTH, and ordered A
Eng-Bel convoyed by both fleets, if one of the fleets were dislodged, the other
would still provide a valid convoy route and the order could still succeed. This
caused a furore, with most GMs opposing the interpretation and suggesting that
if either fleet were dislodged the convoy would be disrupted (although that term
was not then in use). Rule XII.4 represents the usual GM response to the Shagrin
Convoy in 1970, but has itself been said to raise problems.
Calhamer will not agree with me here, but an important consideration in convoyed
attacks is the direction from which the convoyed attack is coming. The important
statement of this concept is Brannan's Rule, named after Steve Cartier (who was
and is also known as Dan Brannan). The Rule states, “The army in a convoyed
attack is deemed to come from the space occupied by the last convoying fleet.”
This originally had to do with whether the convoyed attack could cut the support
of a unit in the space if was attacking, if that unit was supporting an attack
on the last convoying fleet in the convoy chain. Thus:
Spa-Nap C by F WMS & F TYS.
Rom-TYS S by F Nap.
does the attack of A Spa cut the support of F Nap for the attack on TYS?
Brannan's Rule says "No" (and in the mid-60s, many GMs were saying "Yes"). The
Rulebook (Example 13) also now says "No", although the language of Brannan's
Rule is deliberately omitted. It was Allan's intent that Brannan's Rule should
not be used in Diplomacy adjudications, but no language forbidding it was ever
inserted. In fact, my view is that the effect of Example 13 is to support the
use of Brannan's Rule in the absence of conflicting language. Carried to logical
limits, the Rule yields some results regarded by many as peculiar. But it is
still a valid method of dealing with problems that arise with respect to
Recent Problem Cases
I am going
to number these so that they more or less correspond to the order in which they
have been raised. My adjudications will be indicated with each example
(underlined orders fail).
Voice of Doom Poll Situation
Bel-HoI*; F Nth C GERMAN A Den-Bel.
Den-Bel S by A Ruh
A Bel is dislodged. The Rulebook does not say (as if often alleged) that a
country "cannot participate in its own dislodgement". The Rules are actually
sparkling clear on this point. Rule IX.3 is the only Rule (with Examples 1 and
2) that applies. It states that a player can't dislodge one of his own units by
attacking it, and if he supports a foreign unit in an attack on a space occupied
by one of his own units, the support (but not the attack per se is invalid if
that unit does not move out. (Example 2 shows that if the foreign unit has
enough support of its own to succeed, it will, regardless.) Nowhere does the
Rulebook state that a player can't convoy in an attack that dislodges one of his
own units. Nor am I aware of any reason why it should.
Same, With Nastier Extras
Bel S GERMAN A Ruh-Hol, F NTH C GERMAN A Den-Bel
Den-Bel; A Ruh-Hol
moves. Any player who makes the orders England does here is just colossally
stupid. Well, if you screw up, you should pay the consequences ...and either
England did in writing those orders, or Germany did in choosing England as an
Lon-Bel C by F ENG
Bel S ENGLISH F ENG
Bre-ENG S by F MAO
This is a
simplified version of the Pandin Paradox, which had a great vogue of interest in
1971/72, and has remained a popular favourite ever since with some people...who
also presumably indulge in sessions of looking at pinheads and counting angels.
This situation makes clear just how unlikely it is that any GM will ever be
called upon to adjudicate any such set of orders. My ruling, however, is that it
is a paradox, that's the breaks, and nothing goes. Unless the players actually
prearrange the thing, you're not likely ever to see anything of this sort.
Naples Gets Zapped
Spa-Nap C by F GoL & F TYS and S by A Apu; F Rom S F TYS
ION-TYS S by F Nap*.
F Nap is
dislodged and disbanded for lack of retreat. It has been asked whether F Nap's
support is cut, implying a possible contradiction between Rule X and XII.5.
Actually, there is none; Rule XII does not need to repeat what Rule X already
says. The support of a dislodged unit is always cut.
Behold Brannan's Rule
Spa-Nap C by F GoL & F TYS and S by A Apu
Nap-TYS S by F ION
This is 3A
without F Rom and with the Italian orders reversed. Here the attacks come out of
and go into TYS. Because under Brannan's Rule the attack of A Spa is coming from
the direction of TYS, the two attacks are stand-offs. This is a logical
extension of Brannan's Rule and of the ruling made in Example 13. However, Allan
Calhamer specifically disagrees with this ruling and would allow F Nap-TYS to
succeed, disrupting the convoy.
Lon-Bel, F Wal-ENG S by F IRI
Bre-ENG S by F Bel
ENG C ENGLISH A Lon Bel
goes. This situation is easily resolved under Example 13, which specifically
states that the support for F Bre-ENG is not cut by the convoyed attack.
Brannan's Rule applies here and gives the reason; A Lon is coming from the
direction of ENG.
Pic-Lon C by F ENG; F NWG-NTH S by F Nwy; F Bel S F ENG
Yor-Bel C by F NTH; F Wal-ENG S by F IRI; F Lon S F NTH
Pandin's Paradox in full cry, although Tony Pandin's original had four Great
Powers going at it. Yes, it's a paradox. I see no reason to worry about
something like this, which should occur in actual play with about the same
frequency as the Mediterranean fruit fly appears in Siberia. Therefore nothing
moves. But it's a neat paradox, isn't it?
Wal-ENG S by F Bel, F Edi-NTH S by F Lon.
Bre-Lon C by F ENG
Nwy-Bel C by F NTH
neat paradox. As in the previous situation, I rule nothing goes because the
entire cycle is self-defeating. This one is particularly neat because I see no
way of resolving it with any of the methods usually used to resolve Pandin
situations. This in turn highlights my point that it is futile to go to the
trouble to make new rules and whatnot for paradoxes in the first place.
Yor-NTH S by F Edi, F Pic-ENG S by F Lon, F Lpl-IRI S by F Wal, F BAR-NWG S by F
Nwy-Edi C by F NWG, A Den-Lon C by F NTH, A Bre-Wal C by F ENG, A Gas-Cly C by F
MAO, F IRI & F NAO.
example isn't adjudicated, but nothing would go. I hold it up as a perfect
example of the tenuousness of all such hypothetical situations. As with most of
them ... but much more obviously in this case...there are many more units than
there are supply centres to account for them. England and Germany are using 18
units ...and what, prithee, is going on elsewhere in the game? In other words,
in order even to have this sort of situation arise... disregarding the
unlikelihood that the right orders will be issued ... the respective players
have got to neglect their other military fronts just to cram enough units into
the area. Now, no doubt some simple paradoxes will occur, on rare occasion, but
most of these are pure fantasy.
ENG C FRENCH A Pic –Bel* (dislodged)
Pic-Bel S by A Bur, F Bre-ENG S by F MAO
peculiar special case crops up a lot in discussions of convoy problems. It is
nothing more than a red herring. An army does not need a convoy to move to an
adjacent province; therefore (Rule VII.1) A Pic-Bel succeeds regardless of what
happens to the convoy. Whether the convoy was wanted or not is also not
relevant. Ruling otherwise would allow a player to take advantage of a
"technicality" which is in fact not even applicable.
Really Unwanted Convoy
Wal-ENG S by F IRI, A Lon-Bel C by F NTH and S by A Hol
ENG* C ENGLISH A Lon-Bel, F Bel* S F ENG
units are dislodged. This situation is an admittedly knotty one. It is like the
old Shagrin alternate convoy thing in some ways. My position is to treat any
foreign convoy as unwanted unless the army could not move without it. However,
as a GM, my House Rules do provide that the army's orders should specify which
fleets it expects to move by (and I would then ignore any convoy orders not
mentioned in the army's order). The situation here is not paradoxical, but
rather muddied up by the French player. Although this tactic is admittedly
clever, it rubs me the wrong way. GMs should probably have some HR regarding
convoys which will cover this situation. But it will probably never arise in
Wal-Eng S by F Iri, A Lon-Bel C by F Nth and S by A Hol.
Eng C ENGLISH A Lon -Bel. (dislodged)
above in 6C apply here as well.
(1) It has
been suggested that Rule XII.4 should be changed so that in situations where
alternative convoy routes are possible, instead of the fact that any of the
convoy routes has been disrupted being sufficient to stop the convoy, all of
them would have to be disrupted. [This change has now been made in the current 4th
edition rules © 2000.] However, this would have the effect of allowing the
Shagrin Alternate Convoy, which that rule specifically prohibits now. Consider:
GoL, F WMS
Tun, F ION, F TYS
EMS, F AEG
whether France or Turkey will attack him, Italy orders both fleets to convoy.
WMS-MAO, F GoL-WMS
Tun-Nap C by F ION & F TYS
EMS-ION S by F AEG
adjudication, per XII.4, prevents A Tun from moving; F ION is of course
dislodged anyway. But the proposed alteration of the Rule would allow Italy to
hedge his bet by ordering both fleets to convoy. Admittedly a rare circumstance,
of course...but aren't they all, here?
Verheiden Rule was proposed a decade ago. It's been adopted into the Houserules
of some GMs. The rule is to change Rule XII.5 so that it reads:
ATTACK MAY NOT AFFECT THE CONVOYING FLEETS. If a convoyed army’s attack would
affect the outcome of an attack on any of its convoying fleets, however directly
or indirectly, then the convoyed attack may not take place and the army to be
convoyed must hold in its original position.”
in turn would lead to new adjudication problems, I don't know; but past
experience indicates that it would. In any event, because it goes further than
the present Rules in obviating the useful Brannan Rule, I have never been much
in favour of it. I must emphasize that the problems it seeks to resolve are
primarily hypothetical problems.
for a rule, or rules, which would resolve all such difficulties in the game is,
I feel, a chimera. Accounting for all contingencies would probably pad the
present Rulebook to several more pages... and one of its chief charms (and one
of the inventor's chief intentions) is its comparative brevity (as opposed to
most other wargames). This search is also a chimera in another sense; that is,
it is (perhaps unconsciously) based on the feeling that the GM is some sort of
glorified computer who automatically produces game results. Certainly a degree
of uniformity in how games are adjudicated is desirable. There was too much
variation under the old Rulebook. But some individuality, at least in respect to
rare and hypothetical situations, is not necessarily a bad thing.
if) situations like these arise...well, GMs will have to do what they're being
paid to do: make a decision.
(Reprinted from Diplomacy World 28 (Autumn 1981)