Diplomacy Quickstart Rules

Diplomacy is actually a very simple game -- probably one of the simplest wargames ever written. The new Hasbro rules, however, describe every unlikely exception as part of the main rules making the rules some 15 pages long. This document is an attempt at "quick start" rules.

First off there are three kinds of provinces in the game: land provinces, coast provinces and sea provinces. The first can only have armies, the second can have armies or fleets and the third can only have fleets. A few provinces have oddities such as two disconected coasts or a connection accross water. Mostly these are obvious and, in any event, they're in the rules. Outside of those oddities, every province is adjacent to several other provinces. For each kind of unit, only those provices are considered "adjacent" that the unit could move into. Every province has a unique 3 character abreviation, usually the first three letters of it's name -- look in the back of the rules book for unique abreviations or just spell out the name (but notice that there are a LOT of provinces that start with "NOR").

Each player has fleets and armies for which he writes orders. All the orders are read and executed simultaneiously.

The basic command in the game is the move or attack command. In this a unit moves from one province to an adjacent province. If the province is empty (or the unit in it moves out) the move succeeds. If the province has a unit in it or a unit moves in then the move fails. Two units moving into the same province both fail; this is called a standoff. You can standoff your own units (it's especially useful if you need to keep a province open).

To get your unit to move into a province in the face of opposition you'll need to give him support. A unit can support another unit if it can move into the target province itself. With support a unit can push an unsupported unit out of the province it's in (called "dislodging") and can force it's way into a province into which another unit is moving. If both units have the same support then it's a standoff again. The unit with the most support is the one that wins. You can't support a unit to dislodge one of your own units.

When a unit is dislodged it gets to move after all the other units move. It can move to any unoccupied province except the province it was attacked from. Or the owner can disband it.

You can prevent a unit from supporting another by attacking it. The support this unit would have provided is said to be "cut". The unit doesn't have to be dislodged to have it's support cut, it just has to be attacked.

By default a unit holds but you can explicitely give a unit a "hold" order so that another unit can support it's holding. Supporting a unit that is holding makes it harder to dislodge.

The final order is the convoy. Fleets that are in a sea province can convoy an army accross that province. The convoy can be across multiple sea provinces if all the sea provinces have fleets that are doing the same convoy. A fleet can only convoy one army. Obviously, the army has to be in a coastal province that is adjacent to the first sea province, all the sea provinces have to be contiguous and the final desitination has to be a coastal province with adjacent to one of the fleets. You can convoy an army that is attacking or one that is supporting. The convoy orders succeed unless one of the fleets is dislodged in which case it fails.

Since all orders are done simultaneously you have to write them down. Put your country and the turn number at the top of the orders (soon the room will be filled with little slips of paper that all look alike). An attack order looks like this:

A bre-par (army moves from brest to paris) 
F Lon-eng (fleet moves from london to the english channel.

A support order looks like this:

A mar s a bre-par (army in marseilles supports the army moving from brest to paris)

A convoy army looks like this:

F eng c a lon-bre (fleet english channel convoys army moving from london to brest)

Sometimes units support units doing things that the actual units don't do or they convoy units that don't move. Or the order is miswritten or ambiguous or just plain illegal. Units in these situations hold. You can try to be nice about it but you can't let players decide what they meant to write AFTER they see other people's moves; it ruins the whole game.

The first turn is a Spring turn (1900, I believe) and the second is a Fall turn. The third would be Spring 1901 and so on, Spring then Fall, throughout history.

Some provinces have supply centers in them. If you control a supply center at the end of a fall turn you own it. If you have more supply centers than units you can build another unit in any unoccupied home supply center (that is, a supply center in your home country). Obviously, you can only build fleets on coasts. If you have more units than supply centers, you have to disband the extra.

You will quickly find that you can't get squat done by yourself. You will need help from the other players. That's why it's called "diplomacy". There are no rules about this: lie, cheat, steal and make promises you can't keep. It's all part of the game. And this is the leading cause of people writing support orders for units that don't move that way!

As I said before, there are a bunch of wacky exceptions that you will probably never see. But you have the rules and can look the weird situations up.


Last changed 06/15/03.

This page (including all images) Copyright © 2003 Dave Menconi.