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Post 11 Jan 2011, 10:46 am

Chad's post: Diplomacy and the Deposed asked our thoughts on a variants that could make Dip a "better" game, following some of the more recent Euro-game concepts.

The first thing would be to eliminate player elimination. How about a variant where every power had a home center or region that could never be lost? Is there a variant like this already?
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Post 11 Jan 2011, 12:34 pm

I pondered about this: what if - once built - a player never had to disband a unit for losing a supply center? Not that it ultimately matters, but it makes historical sense. Losing a city shouldn't mean all soldiers conscripted from that city should have to capitulate. So, a 3-center Austria which loses Budapest in the Fall would still have 3 units in the Spring, even though she only retains 2 centers. The only way to destroy a unit would be to force it into disbandment (via no valid retreat or voluntary disbandment during a retreat) OR the loss of a power's last home center = immediate surrender (disbandment) of all units on the board (ala chess: the King is dead).

I'm not a game designer, but the idea sounds quite intriguing. The final rule which stipulates that a player loses ALL units once he/she loses his/her final home center would prevent players from steamrolling their units forward and simply trading centers with their "trailing" partner.

It also abrogates the Zero-Sum edict of Diplomacy which I personally detest: "the stronger get stronger and the weaker get weaker". In this variant, all players remain a force to be reckoned with despite the loss of territory and cannot be ground down to rubble with mathematical precision.

Thoughts?
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Post 11 Jan 2011, 2:15 pm

It wouldn't really work. England would be almost totally invulnerable to attack in that scenario because once it has 4 fleets it can control almost all the approaches. Stalemate lines would also be much easier to establish, and would become practically unbreakable.
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Post 11 Jan 2011, 2:41 pm

Hmmm, good point. But is this idea completely unfeasible? What if the extra unit(s) didn't have to be disbanded until AFTER the upcoming Spring turn? What if the loss of foreign centers meant you had to disband, but never home center ones? Or, along Javelin's idea, what if a power could never drop below two units (until all home centers were lost)?
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Post 11 Jan 2011, 6:34 pm

Many years ago Norm ran a variant called Guerrilla Warfare, which was based on standard Dip, but each power was also given a guerrilla unit that was half the strength of a regular unit, which was not associated with a center and, I think, otherwise used normally.

You could do a variant where each power plays normally but if they ever control zero units, the player gets a guerrilla unit that is untethered to a supply center. The idea would be you could never completely wipe out a power because its guerrilla forces would always continue to fight. A power put in that situation could be very strong diplomatically because it wouldn't have to worry about protecting its last center. It could travel anywhere it could get to and really influence game to the end. Such a rule might also discourage the taking of the last one or two centers belonging to a player because the untethered Guerrilla unit would be more powerful.

I like the concept because there is a certain element of realism to it, as it is now too easy to conquer and occupy a foreign power. Finally, one of the most memorable games I ever played on Redscape was where I was a one center replacement player in PG 1. I played that one center for months with pages and pages of dip. It was great fun, because that one unit was really important in the larger game. One center does not mean a game is not fun, it's what you do with that one center that makes the difference, and if another power is not holding the taking your last center over your head like the Sword of Damocles then you could have some insanely fun dip.
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Post 12 Jan 2011, 8:40 am

but who wants to play with only one army. I have encountered many players who just resign when in a difficult spot.

Here is an idea, and I would express it with an example. :suspect:

lets say, Germany takes Warsaw. Russia has to disband one unit. Instead of disbanding it, the Russian player picks a unit and changes its allegiance. That unit would have two flags, one russian and one german. That means, that Russia retains ownership of that unit, but that specific unit cannot attack German centers and units since it gave its allegiance to Germany.
thus that would keep the players in the game, and force players to co-operate even more.
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Post 12 Jan 2011, 10:00 am

That idea would be too complicated, and it almost certainly wouldn't work very well. Solos would be almost inconceivable for a start, and it would mean that once the initial neutrals have been divvied up your potential for effective growth reduces down to zero. I can see it getting very messy and complicated too. What happens if somebody controls say 7 centres, has 5 actual units of their own and two more that they have 'allegiance' over and then somebody manages to take one of their centres ? Do they still have to hand over allegiance of a unit to the enemy even though they still technically have more than enough centres to support all their own units ? Do they instead get to choose to release one of the units they have allegiance over ? But what happens if the guy who just conquered the centre doesn't want any of those units ?
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Post 12 Jan 2011, 11:48 am

I already (just) posted in that other thread...
My NWO game strives to fix this problem, take this idea and run with it if it helps!
There you have a formula for winning as a coalition of players, we have indeed had a one center power take part in a WIN. The other thing it does is to often time make sure one is eliminated all the sooner since his vote is hanging out there to be cast for others, quick elimination is something you may not have considered but could also work well.

http://tomahaha.webs.com/newworldorder.htm

This game is pretty massive so there would certainly need to be differences, in a standard 7 player game you simply can not have multiple winners. But maybe the idea grabs you or leads you into a different train of thought?
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Post 12 Jan 2011, 1:17 pm

I like NWO: it's one of those top-notch GMTom variants and I definitely want to port it over to the automated system as soon as humanly possible.

What I'm hoping for is a Diplomacy-"lite" variant. Something akin to playing a 10 minute game of Chess as opposed to the tournament-regulation 90+ minute games. Something that can be played quickly and as painlessly as possible. Speeding up the game turns isn't a solution. What I'm primarily focused on is a game that doesn't saddle or alienate players with an undesired game to the effect that they resign (either with perpetual "Hold" orders or abandonment) and don't come back. Naturally, we don't want players to return if they are always going to abandon games: but that's the point -- they shouldn't WANT to abandon their game(s).
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Post 12 Jan 2011, 2:09 pm

Some thoughts...

Faster Turns and some sort of pre-set retreats and disbands they can use. This speeds up play but avoids the quick deadline for a retreat or adjustment, if they are saddled with an unwanted build it can kill their enthusiasm.

What about some way to allow others to move for them? I would normally hate that option but in your "lite" version, maybe it can help reduce problems for those less than hardcore players? Some formula for splitting up remaining units that the original power has some input over? Again distasteful for hardcore players but I'm shooting from the hip here.

Right now we need 100% agreement from all to end a game, first off I would add any non-votes would count to end (a player who fails to vote has shown he is less interested to bother to vote, he can be assumed to want to end the game?) But what about some way to say have all but one agree and the game can end? Or possibly some sort of formula for an end game vote that would favor the big guys but encourage smaller players to band together and possibly thwart the aggressor nation.

Add some sort of UN peacekeeping troops, once per turn or per year. A vote by the UN (all surviving players and/or add any vanquished players vote goes to the new owner of his capital city? ...allows more votes to the aggressive players and adds a new dimension of strategy) is made and peacekeepers are sent to an area that can not be attacked? I added this to a NWO game and it was quite fun, it can give those minor players a way to gang up on the big guy and their interest is maybe kept alive?

I had one game a while back that required players to make public forum postings, the players had fun trying to out-do each other and they did a great job of staying in character. The problem their is people lose interest in even this as time goes by, especially as they fade to oblivion. But it does help generate greater interest and takes full advantage of the forums, maybe the interest holds, if not for the one game, more likely into another they will now want to stick around for and not simply leave the site?
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Post 12 Jan 2011, 3:16 pm

GMChad wrote:What I'm hoping for is a Diplomacy-"lite" variant. Something akin to playing a 10 minute game of Chess as opposed to the tournament-regulation 90+ minute games. Something that can be played quickly and as painlessly as possible.


If it's automated, this may already exist. It's called Gunboat diplomacy. Alright, maybe not 10 minutes, but if you automated adjudication, and gave people three minutes a turn to submit orders, it would be pretty short. I also don't think much of gunboat, so I'm not promoting this as a solution, but I thought I'd throw it out there.
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Post 12 Jan 2011, 11:03 pm

Personally, I think that a 2-player version of Dip would let players learn the mechanics of submitting orders, and the basic tactics, without having to deal with the negotiation (or the backstabbing). A reasonably simple way is to give each player 3 powers, and then decide how to deal with the 7th one. Possibilities include: making the 7th power completely impassable; putting it in CD mode, so it requires a supported attack to take one of its centers; or maybe something a bit more complicated like saying when one player attacks the neutral power, on the next move, it permanently becomes part of the other player's team.

A WWI simulation is the obvious place to start, and that's what the rulebook lists as a 2-player version. But the version there has the 7th power (Italy in this case) choose which side to join based on a coin flip. One of the big draws of Dip is the way it's based on strategy without random chance, and then this variant virtually lets the whole game be decided by a coin flip.

The other advantage of my suggestion, is that there are a ton of possible games, based on all the different ways to divide the powers up. If it's always WWI (A/G/T vs. E/F/R), that would get completely repetitious in a big hurry.
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Post 13 Jan 2011, 3:20 pm

I thought that the standard rule for 2 player dip was that italy was waited 1 year then joined the side that was winning, not by coin toss.
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Post 13 Jan 2011, 6:41 pm

Baldrick wrote:I thought that the standard rule for 2 player dip was that italy was waited 1 year then joined the side that was winning, not by coin toss.


LOL!

Are you sure you're talking about 2-player Dip, or maybe the historical reality of WWI? ;-)
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Post 14 Jan 2011, 3:40 am

Geojanes has a very good idea there, and I think I recall someone else proposing something similar earlier on. Once a week, say Sunday evening GMT, realtime online games can be played. Gunboat seems like the ideal starting point for this concept, teaching players the mechanics of the game in a short period, like a FtF game would. 5 minutes per turn means a game lasting to 1912 would take 2 hours. If successful this could perhaps be expanded to real standard games with a gmail like chat option, 10-15 minutes per turn. Something to think about.