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Subject: Modern Diplomacy rss

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Michael Ptak
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Livermore
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I mentioned today at my gaming group the possibility of starting up a play-by-email game of diplomacy. Since I was thinking about making a custom designed board (just graphically) I thought about making other tweaks to the game that could be interesting as well, rules-wise.

My intention was to keep these changes subtle but to add additional dimensions to the game. Maybe even allow other categories of victory (so the other players don't feel so bad about not getting all the supply points).

Aircraft:
The thought was to bring Diplomacy to a modern setting. Accordingly aircraft are more important now than they were in 1900, but they still cannot hold territory. Players will be allowed to place one aircraft marker in a land territory they occupy. This piece can perform a support action on a territory up to two spaces away, even on water.

The aircraft cannot dislodge armies on its own and will retreat regardless if it is supported when attacked. Like other units they will be destroyed only if they cannot retreat to a space. After that they can re-place their aircraft marker in a friendly territory.

The aircraft marker can only perform two actions: Move and support. When Moving, it can move to any territory under the player's control, but of course cannot support.

It must be understood that the aircraft piece doesn't represent one plane, but represents the focus of aircraft operations. It can be anything from fighters flying out of established bases to using the local highways and field bases.

Nuclear Weapon:
Nuclear weapons are a very important element of present-day diplomacy. Wars still happen even in the nuclear age but don't spiral out of control because of retaliation. This option gives players another card to play during negotiations.

Each player has three nuclear warheads at their disposal. So long as they have at least one supply point, they may use their nuclear weapons. Notation is [Nuke]- so and so territory. That territory becomes impassable because of nuclear devastation, fallout, and radiation. Any territory is a legitimate target, but players only have three.

One ideal way to use this mechanic with referees is to deploy nukes anonymously. That way, a player can nuke his own territory and blame it on another to rally support! Additionally it can be used to create buffers, or deny the conqueror the last few supply centers. Might work in a fallout mechanic, but these would be limited nukes- not full on nuclear war.

Power:
Diplomacy is about talk backed up by what is on the board. Score is the hard rule of how many supply centers you have. But Diplomacy doesn't model things like popular support, foreign endorsement, and so on. "power" is an attempt to model these things and create another means to win.

Each player begins with 7 power. Power can be exchanged freely between players, and must be recorded but does not have to be announced to all players.

The only time a player is mandated to give power is when one player takes a supply territory away from another player. The defeated player must give the conqueror one of his Power tokens. If the defeated player has no power to give, he must say so and no power is granted.

Power is zero-sum. Players can use it as incentives to sweeten deals,slicken alliances, and bribe other players. Players are not bound to actually hand over the power they promise.

At the end of the game players reveal their total amount of power. The player with the highest amount of power wins, even if he or she did not capture 18 supply points.

Alternatively, winning by power is just another victory category. One player can win by conquest, and another can win by power.

Power will be the hardest to model in PBEM without a referee to track transactions. In face-to-face play it can be simply represented with player shields and physical tokens. Still, it's another tool to use in diplomacy for the sake of coercion.

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It's been a long while since I have played diplomacy... as understandably it gets very competitive and in our gaming group it's the cause of one (friendly) rivalry between two of us. But I wanted some way to enhance the game so... thoughts?
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Ben Delp
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This sounds pretty ambitious, and I'm impressed. But perhaps the solution is a different game, say, Supremacy, with a house rule to fix the stock market issue? Maybe Attack!? It sounds like you're tweaking Diplomacy to a point that it will become a completely different game. More power to you, if you press ahead with it.
 
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Michael Ptak
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I don't think so. Tweaking into diplomacy would add things like an expendable currency to buy units (and an economy model to create them), a new hierarchy of units, perhaps a model to represent the intentions of religion...

The tweaks I'm adding are subtle. Airpower is so important nowadays I wanted it to be represented in a way that could enhance sea warfare and land warfare. In a modern conflict air power is used to support ground attacks in securing territory, so that's what the marker is for.

Nukes, as I mentioned, are a new option for diplomacy. Giving players the power to wipe territories off the map is an incentive, disincentive, and tool for threats that shape modern diplomacy. Giving three to each player is enough, and I'm not seeking to make a complex model of nuke stockpiles, constructing them, impact of non-nuclear protests etx.

Power was just a fun little thing I wanted to model as another plane of winning the game. It may or may not work but it was an idea I wanted to put out there for players to win 'by diplomacy', instead of just taking the supply points.
 
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Nate Sheusi

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If you want to play with modernized motif's, then, in my opinion, you should just choose another game.

What makes diplomacy so good is that it is very simple, and that the board, more or less, becomes transparent. By implementing new ideas, you bog down gameplay with more rules and you take away from what the game is truly achieving, and thats interesting social dynamics

just my 2c
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Michael Ptak
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I didn't think these changes were that complex! Did anyone even read what I was proposing, or did you dismiss it offhand because it's a variant that adds a new kind of unit?!

Let me break it down for you:

Aircraft -> Remote support, like an invisible adjacent army that can't take territories.

Nuke -> Instantly remove up to three territories from the map.

Power -> Coins traded in deals and bluffing which have no effect in-game except as a hidden condition for victory.

The first expands on conquering only in a subtle way and doesn't involve a lot of cognitive processing except to see if the target army is two spaces away. The other two are purely for diplomatic effect and do not intrude on the mechanics of the game. It's not like I'm adding rules on weather or popular uprisings by the provinces conquered.

I thought my additions were elegant and simple enough to at least merit some discussion on the matter. But both of you have blown me off without discussing how this could work and where I might be wrong.

Maybe I shouldn't waste my time with diplomacy since the player base is only open to new maps.
 
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Edward Rustin
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I think that Aircraft as you describe could make for an interesting variant. It subtly alters the strategic space without changing it too much.

Similarly with 'power', it could be interesting, but I'm not sure how much effect it would have. If power can't be used for anything, then I'm not sure why I'd want it, and if it's part of the win condition I can't see why I'd ever give it away. It feels like it's simultaneously both useless, but too valuable.

Nukes though, I don't agree with. As you describe them they're just too powerful - there's no incentive for someone to not nuke all three home centres of another power on the first season and thus put them out of the game. Just one nuke per power =could= be interesting, but I'd still be concerned about it significantly unbalancing the game. Diplomacy as it is is very delicately balanced in spacial terms, and being able to remove a territory from the map would majorly upset that.
 
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Bill Eldard
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naterd00d wrote:
If you want to play with modernized motif's, then, in my opinion, you should just choose another game.

What makes diplomacy so good is that it is very simple, and that the board, more or less, becomes transparent. By implementing new ideas, you bog down gameplay with more rules and you take away from what the game is truly achieving, and thats interesting social dynamics

just my 2c


I totally agree. Diplomacy is at its core a cutthroat negotiation game overlaying an abstract military conflict theme.

Adding complexity to the conflict rules may inadvertently tamper with the negotiations by introducing too many variables and/or devastating outcomes. For example, on the first turn, three powers conspire to expend 1 nuke each to destroy Great Britain's three supply centers. GB is dead in the water, no?

Let us know how the proposed new rules work out in playtesting.
 
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Michael Ptak
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There we go. This is the kind of discussion I was hoping for.

When I considered nukes I thought the gamble was that if you had the weapons pointed at an enemy, they had them pointed at you. Yes you could wipe out GB in one turn, but in turn the other powers could wipe you out in one turn as well. It's negotiation, timing, and keeping them as a threat for coercion purposes, though three is perhaps too much. I just wanted it as an option on the table and something to consider in light of the real world situation of mutually-assured destruction.

Power would be an incentive in secret negotiations. You wouldn't give it all away obviously, but say you cut a deal with another player saying 'I'll give you x amount of power if you do this'. 'I won't kill you for X amount of power'. You wouldn't have to deliver it either. The thought was a little something that could grease the negotiations, instead of 'payment' on a deal through actions. Diplomatic coercion is not always through force, and this was a way to represent it. Similarly, you can bluff other opponents by down/up playing the amount of power you have.

If I ever play Diplomacy and test these elements I'll give feedback, but I posted here because I had these ideas and wanted a discussion of why they would or wouldn't work.
 
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Ian
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Just FYI, on the excellent www.dipbounced.com site, there is a Modern variant map that's played.

Normal moves and units, so not quite what you are looking for here….but an interesting variant with a slight adjustment to the standard map.

It's set in 1994, with Britain having 3 fleets in GB plus one in Gibraltar; Germany, Italy, Turkey and France with 4 units, Russia with 5; plus new powers Poland, Spain, Egypt with 3 and Ukraine with 4.

The historical win stats for this are:

britain 12.34%
egypt 13.14%
france 7.78%
germany 9.33%
italy 10.58%
poland 8.76%
russia 9.47%
spain 7.74%
turkey 11.28%
ukraine 9.23%
 
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scurvy buffdog

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I really like your new rule suggestions. It's exactly what a modern game of diplomacy could use. My question is do you have a new map in mind? I'd like to see it if you do.
 
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Alex Ronke
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scurvybuffdog wrote:
I really like your new rule suggestions. It's exactly what a modern game of diplomacy could use. My question is do you have a new map in mind? I'd like to see it if you do.


It would seem you revived a very old thread, but there are a number of variants that tackle the concepts outlined in the opening post.

I play a lot over at PlayDiplomacy.com, and I'm one of the GMs on their play-by-forum community.
http://www.playdiplomacy.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=34

We play and develop a lot of variants there. It's comparable to playing by email. One variant I developed and playtested last year might interest you: Dissolution.

Map

http://i.imgur.com/nzEoZJt.png

Rules
http://www.playdiplomacy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=804&t=547...

Subforum
http://www.playdiplomacy.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=804
(contains the entire public record of the playtest)

I don't want to further hijack this thread, though, so please feel free to PM me if you have questions about it.
 
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