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Diplomacy» Forums » Variants

Subject: Diplomacy variant/rule to avoid too strong alliances rss

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Harald Viken
United States
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Hello everybody,

a friend of mine had a suggestion for a rule after the last game of ours, when alliances tended to get so strong that they first send 2 persons out of the game quite early (without really participating in the game and the talks), while afterwards putting the game to a near deadlock(because two strong alliances were splitting Europe). (Yeah, I know a lot of people think this is the whole idea of the game ) We would like to have some rules that makes the game less predictable, mostly by making an alliance not coordinate all actions together in detail.

So here is his suggestion for a variant/house rule:

Each player can and shall talk to 2 (no more, no less)other players in pricate each dipomacy round (possibly excluding the first round), for instance for 5 minutes. Either by turn or by drawing (from a pile of all countries' flags), one player at a time can choose who they want to talk to, which means that the first player has full control of her talks, while some of the players don't choose, they only get chosen. In the room of the board everyone can talk freely, but not in secret.

In this way, every player can have the chance to influence somebody, even if they're on different sides of a grand allicane. And two close allies might be prevented from planning each round together in detail, making the alliance weaker offensively and more vulnerable, for instance when it comes to trusting each other, since it can go rounds when they don't talk.

Maybe a lot of experienced players thinks this looks like a really bad suggestions, since it limits the diplomacy so much. But our (quite inexperienced) group seems to need some kind of control to prevent the game being just about who picks the best team in the first round.

Does anybody have any comments,suggestions or wanna try this out and report on it? My group will probably not be able to try it for another couple of weeks at least.
 
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Nick Case
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Epsom
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Oh dear. I'm all in favour of groups developing their own house rules but this game is called 'diplomacy' for good reason. If two players have a strong alliance then the rest of the players need to form their own to survive.

In my past games the players who went out early are the ones who failed to tie up with other counties and respond fast enough when a threat became apparent. Having a border you can relax defences on certainly gives you an edge.

A random approach to who you can talk to really rips the heart out of this luck free game imho. The game isn't broken, I recommend sticking with it but try to guage when alliances are born at pre-empt them.
 
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Dan Dolan
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Highland Lakes
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Sounds like you're looking for a feel good and love everybody game. Diplomacy probably ins't for you.

If two players go out early it's because they didn't do well in negotiating their survival. They were the shallow end of the gene pool.
 
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Adam Stone
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Alliance breaking is a tricky skill to learn, but it's one of the true joys of Diplomacy, and a feature that really sets it apart from other games. I think I can understand how a group of inexperienced players might run into trouble with "unbreakable alliances". Sometimes, players new to the game may not trust their ability to stand on their own, and may be unduly difficult to pry from an alliance that appears safe. Ultimately, though, such alliances are counterproductive, because you can't win the game in an alliance--the best you can hope to do is force a draw.

I think your variant may actually serve its purpose by encouraging players not to rely on an ally too long. You may try playing a couple of games with your randomized negotiation rules and then go back to full negotiations to see if people have gained a bit more confidence and might be more willing to go for the stab when it's in their interest.

Other possibilities you might want to consider are playing with people outside of your group, either at a con or online, or playing a game or two without negotiations at all (aka Gunboat Diplomacy). Playing outside of your group will expose you to other styles of play, and may help you see ways to improve your position on your own without the help of (or perhaps at the expense of) an ally. Gunboat is useful, I think, for building tactical skills. Even without negotiations, alliances can be formed, but they tend to be much more unstable, and you generally won't find any complex agreements being arrived at. Each player will need to learn how to use their pieces to maximum effectiveness, and will learn to trust their ability to read the board and execute a plan.

I won't speak for other players, but for myself, most variants that limit or modify negotiations are really just helpful (often fun) exercises for the real deal--full negotiation Diplomacy. But there always seems to be an audience looking for more, so have at it!

 
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