I played my first game of Diplomacy tonight; since we were all beginners, we very quickly got into a stalemate situation. It ended up being Russia and Austro-Hungary vs. England and France. I have a few questions:

1) Do any of you do PBEM Diplomacy? Does it work fairly well?

2) Can someone explain how coastal zones work for fleets? We were never sure when you could move between sea areas and coastal areas, or which ones you could go into and leave, etc.

3) How does the game balance out Russia’s initial starting army advantage?

It’s All Too Much” from Yellow Submarine by The Beatles


5 responses to “Diplomacy”

  1. I play lots of PBEM Diplomacy. It works great, although it’s somewhat different. It’s also different if you play with restrictions on the “press” settings (how players can communicate with each other), e.g. if you can only make comments in public (and not communicate privately with anyone), or if there’s no communication (other than what your units do, which can say a lot).

    A coastal space is just like any other space. You can move from one coastal space to another coastal space as long as they’re adjacent along the coastline, so Mar – Spa is fine, but Mar – Gas isn’t (since Marseilles and Gasconny are adjacent, but the border is inland). Moving from a sea space to a coastal space is also just the same, i.e. F Lyo – Mar is all there is to it.

    The spaces with two coasts are a little tricky. One odd thing is that fleets can’t technically swap spaces even if there’s a coast change, i.e. F Spa/nc – Por and F Por – Spa/sc bounces, because Spain is a single space, even though you’d think the fleets should be able to slide along the coasts without even seeing each other. There’s also some question about whether a support for a fleet in a bi-coastal space has to specify the coast, e.g if Austria supports F Con – Bul/nc, and Turkey orders F Con – Bul/ec, is Austria’s support valid? I can’t remember what the official rules say; I think the PBEM servers don’t consider that valid.

    Russia’s initial numerical advantage isn’t an advantage at all, because each of their fleets is stuck on one side of the map, so they can’t bring more than three units to bear in any direction. There’s more to it than this, but in a nutshell, if you consider Russia vs England or Russia vs Turkey, in either case Russia has only three relevant units to attack with (because the other fleet is totally unuseful), and so does their neighbor. (Even more so against Austria or Germany, where neither fleet is all that useful — especially against Austria.)

    More generally, the game balances positional advantages by making the players aware of it. Turkey is very hard to eliminate, but if everyone knows this, A/I/R will routinely wipe out Turkey in the first few years, just so they don’t have to worry about stupid impossible-to-kill Turkey any more. That makes Turkey a very hard power to play, despite their superior position, because you have to convince someone to ally with you even though your position is superior (and therefore, any alliance will eventually work out to your advantage).

    A/R vs E/F in a stalemate seems very unusual to me. Who was in control of the southern Med centers? Did A/R have enough fleets in the Med to stop France?

    We should do a Swat PBEM Diplomacy game some day (but whenever we try, we never get enough interest to keep it going).

  2. PBEM is better, in my opinion–more time to argue and talk, less information available based on who’s talking to who.

    2) Fleets can enter any coastal province. They can’t convoy while in a coastal area. Fleets can support any province, or a move to any province, that they can move to.

    3) Russia has 4 neighbors and no natural allies. England can need help against Germany, but Norway will always be a big sticking point. Russia can’t help Germany without threatening it in the north, and is easier for Germany to kill than France (and provides a securer rear area). Austria can ally with Russia, but it’s just as likely they won’t. The same is true for Turkey. Italy is an interesting Russian ally, but is hard to work with. So Russia is likely to be fighting on 2 fronts with shaky allies all the time. Plus, if it develops a secure alliance everyone else is likely to gang up on it.

    If you like Diplomacy, we should play sometime. I want to try out the North America map and the 9-player 1600 map, but I like the original board too.

  3. more time to argue and talk

    This is why I’m unwilling to do pbem, actually — I’m willing to devote 10 hours all at once to a face-to-face game occasionally, but with pbem it would end up taking much more of my time, even if it were more spread out.

  4. SO…that sounds like game for nerds! =P

  5. Pretty much. It’s similar to Risk, but instead of rolling dice, you talk for a half hour.

    ::looks to left at shelf of board games:: Hrm, I have Civilization, The Farming Game (Harvest the Fun!), Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Rings: Sauron Expansion, The Settlers of Catan, The Seafarers of Catan, The Cities & Knights of Catan, and The Starfarers of Catan.

    Yup, I’m a nurd! :o)

Nurd Up!