Hey Gang,

I am Baron Powell, the designer of the 1900 variant. I want to wish everyone a happy new year. I also want to give everyone an opportunity to kick the new year off by participating in a variant Tim Hayward and I have created called College of Cardinals. College of Cardinals is a twelve player variant set in Medieval Europe at a time when crusading zeal within the Catholic community was still high. Each player plays a Monarch in charge of one of the seven Catholic, three Islamic, or two Orthodox Major Realms of the day.

College of Cardinals follows standard Diplomacy rules, but has some additional provisions that add layers of intrigue that players must navigate through and give College of Cardinals its unique historical flavor. These provisions include:
- Armed minor realms. There are twenty-seven minor realms. They are the equivalent of Classic’s minor neutrals, but they come with units of their own. Each minor is either Catholic, Islamic, or Orthodox.
- Diplomacy Points (DPs). Jeff Kase and I introduced DPs in the Ambition & Empire variant. Since then, the excellent 1648 and 1936 variants have also used them successfully. DPs give each Major Realm the ability to influence what the units belonging to the minor realms will do each turn.
- The Religious Rule. This rule restricts what Major Realms may order minor realm units to do. Religion played an enormous role in the daily life of everyone across Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. It served both to unite and divide peoples, and to influence decisions large and small. A strong belief in doing God’s work on Earth did not eliminate political ambition, however. In fact, realpolitik was frequently in evidence in the Age of Faith.
- Papal elections. Each player in charge of a Catholic realm also plays a Cardinal in the College of Cardinals, which selects a new Pope each decade. Control of the Papacy can have significant consequences, as the Pope has influence over Catholic minors and, if certain specific conditions exist, the ability to declare a crusade.

Tim and I have been working on College of Cardinals constantly since 2010. There have been three successful playtests over the past three years. Our study of game results and the player feedback we received have all contributed to the evolution of the variant. We believe the current map and rules make for an intriguing variant that is balanced, captures the history of this exciting time period, and provides plenty of opportunity for mischief and duplicity.

As for the game itself:
- This will be an e-mail contest. I will serve as the GM and provide the adjudications. I do not intend to run this game via Redscape
- Moves will take place on Tuesdays. Retreats, adjustments, etc., will take place on Thursdays.
- Players will bid for the Major Realm they play using auction rules that I will provide.
- Based on previous playtests, I estimate the game will run from January through May or June.

I am looking for clever, devious, and reliable players who will see the game through from start to finish. Several such players are already on-board. I will fill the remaining seats on a first come-first serve basis. If you are interested in playing or observing (and I cannot have enough observers), please contact me at vonpowell@aol.com. I will send you a copy of the map, variant rules, auction rules.