Simply put, Diplomacy is a game of communication, cunning, strategy, and treachery. Oh, the treachery.
Not so simply put, Diplomacy is a game that pits players against each other as they vie for control of Europe in the years before World War I. However, unlike other similar games like Risk, Diplomacy is every bit about negotiating with other players as it is about militaristic strategy.
The following is an overview of the rules of Diplomacy to get you started. At the bottom we've collected a guide to some helpful & more detailed resources for when you inevitably want to know more.
2. How To Win
As with all wargames, your goal is to express your dominion over men by crushing all who oppose you. There are two ways to do this.• Solo Victory
- In order to achieve a solo victory, simply be the first power to hold 18 supply centers. Why, it could hardly be simpler!
- Alas, sometimes pesky other players will prohibit you from achieving victory all by yourself and in these instances you may wish to share victory. Monty Python's Black Knight said it best: "Alright then, let's call it a draw."
Shared victory is agreed upon by all the powers still present on the board. In Backstabbr, this is achieved by using the Victory Condition dropdown box in the upper right corner of your game screen. All powers wishing to share the victory must have their victory condition set to match the number of players splitting victory, and any remaining powers must have their victory condition set to "Surrender." A win will be awarded at the next turn adjudication. Remember: Powers may lie about their victory condition and the game will continue!
Ex: Turkey, Russia, France, and Italy are the only active powers remaining in a game. Turkey, Russia, and France have agreed to split victory, and Italy has agreed to surrender. If Turkey, Russia, and France all set their victory condition to "3-Way Victory", they will win as soon as either Italy is eliminated or as soon as Italy sets their victory condition to "Surrender."
There are three different seasons in a Diplomacy year, and three different types of turns. They look like this:• Spring
- There are two phases here: First is the order phase, where you communicate with the other players via press and issue commands to your units. Once those orders are submitted, the system processes all the orders at the same time. Then, if any units are dislodged from their location, there is a second phase where players issue orders for that unit to either retreat or disband.
- Same as the spring. Again, there is an orders phase followed by a retreat phase (if necessary).
- At the beginning of winter, control of supply centers shifts hands. Any supply centers with units occupying them shift to the control of the power that controls said unit. Any supply centers left unoccupied do not change ownership. During this season, players issue orders on which units they would like created or disbanded, depending on the number of supply centers they control. Units may only be built in the "home" supply centers a power starts with, regardless of their expansion.
Some additional notes about the particular types of turns:• Order phase
- During this phase players may issue orders to their units and communicate with other players. These may be called the "Spring Order Phase" or the "Fall Order Phase."
- This phase occurs immediately after any order phase in which a power had a unit forcefully dislodged from their position. That power must issue orders to that unit to either retreat to an unoccupied adjacent territory or to disband. (Note: A unit may not retreat to a territory if it failed to move there in the order phase and "bounced" nor if the attacking force that dislodged the unit came from that territory.) These may be called the "Spring Retreat Phase" or the "Fall Retreat Phase." Press is disabled in this phase.
- The build phase occurs only in winter. They are basically synonymous. Press is disabled in this phase.
There are two types of units in Diplomacy.• Army
- The basic military unit, armies may occupy any land tile. In Backstabbr, they are represented by a circle.
- These units can traverse the seas. They may occupy any water tile, as well as any coastal land tile. They may also be used to transport army units across water. Fleets may only be built in home supply centers with a coast. In Backstabbr, they are represented by a triangle.
During the Order phase, powers issue one of four different move commands to each of their units.• Move/Attack
- A unit may move freely into any unoccupied adjacent tile. Army units may only move to land tiles, whereas fleets may move into either water tiles or land tiles with a coast. To order a Move/Attack in Backstabbr, click on the tile containing the unit you wish to order and then click on the tile you wish it to move to.
Some land tiles have two coasts that are considered to be separate. These tiles are Spa, Stp, and Bul. These coasts are considered to be separate tiles for the purposes of movement and support, and are marked accordingly on the map. For example, a fleet that is stationed on the north coast of Spa may not then move to Mar, WES, or LYO.
Similarly, Kie and Con look like they might have two coasts, but are considered to have only one. A canal is marked on the map to help you remember this.
When a unit attempts to move into a tile occupied by another unit, this is considered an attack. Resolving these is a critical element of the game and will be covered below.
SPECIAL NOTE: The Backstabbr engine is designed to allow you to submit orders that are NOT legal. For example, you may order an English army in Lon to move to Mos, but that movement will fail on adjudication. This is an intentional design feature intended to facilitate lying. If you are unsure about the validity of a move, please test it out in the Sandbox.
Move orders are commonly expressed in text as following:
A Kie - Ber (An army moving from Kie to Ber)
F NTH - Den (A fleet moving from NTH to Den)
- A unit may hold its ground. To order a Hold in Backstabbr, click on the tile containing the unit you wish to order and then click on that same tile a second time.
Hold orders are commonly expressed in text as following:
A KIE H (An army in Kie will hold)
F NTH H (A fleet in NTH will hold)
- A unit may support either the Move/Attack order or Hold order of another unit. In order to be eligible for this, the supporting unit must capable of moving itself to the tile in which the support move ends. This means that armies may not support manuevers on water tiles, and fleets support manuevers on land tiles only if they are coastal. To order a support move in Backstabbr, click the tile containing the unit you wish to order, then press the S key on your keyboard, then click on the tiles representing the move you wish to support. (Two different tiles for a move, the same tile twice for a hold.) There is also a button for issuing support orders underneath the map if you don't have a keyboard or are playing from a mobile device.
Multiple units may support the same move, and powers may support the movements of other powers. A unit that has issued a move order may not receive any hold support, however.
Example: In Germany, Kie may support a movement from Pru into Ber, and it may also support a unit in Ber holding. It may not support a hold in Pru nor a move from Ber - Pru.
Support orders are commonly expressed in text as following:
A Kie S Pru - Ber (An army in Kie supports a unit in Pru moving into Ber)
A Kie S Ber H (An army in Kie supports a unit in Ber holding)
F NTH S Swe - Den (A fleet in NTH supports a unit in Swe moving into Den)
F NTH S Den H (A fleet in NTH supports a unit in Den holding)
- A fleet unit may transport army units across water. Fleets may only do this when they are on water units. To order a convoy move in Backstabbr, click the tile containing the unit you wish to order, then press the C key on your keyboard, then click on the tiles representing the beginning and destination of the convoy. There is also a button for issuing convoy orders underneath the map if you don't have a keyboard or are playing from a mobile device.
Multiple fleets may be used to carry out a convoy. For example, if England possessed an army in Lon and fleets in ENG and MAO, he could convoy the army from Lon to Por if both fleets issued the same convoy command. Convoys may be disrupted if any one of the fleets carrying out a convoy is dislodged.
Convoy orders are commonly expressed in text as following:
F NTH C Lon - Nwy (A fleet in NTH convoys an army from Lon to Nwy)
A Lon - Nwy (The order for the army wishing to be convoyed in this scenario)
6. Resolving Attacks
In Diplomacy, resolving army move orders is referred to as "adjudication." A move/attack is contested anytime an opposing power is either already in that territory or moving to it at the same time. For the purposes of resolving an attack, every unit involved in the attack is considered to have a power of one, and the unit with the greatest power wins the attack. If the attack powers are the same, nothing changes.
Examples (all examples occur between Germany & Austria and assume opposing powers):
- An army in Boh attacks an army in Mun with no support for either unit. They have the same attack power, so it is a draw. Both units remain in their starting territory.
- An army in Vie and an army in Mun attack an unoccupied Boh at the same time with no support. They have the same attack power, so it is a draw. Both units "bounce" off each other and return to their starting territory.
- An army in Boh attacks an army in Mun, and Boh has support from an army in Tyr. Boh has an attack power of 2 and Mun has an attack power of 1, so Boh wins and Mun is dislodged.
- An army in Vie and an army in Mun attack Boh at the same time. The move/attack from Vie to Boh has support from Tyr and Gal, and the move/attack from Mun has support from Sil. Vie has attack power 3 and Mun has attack power 2, so Vie wins. Vie moves into Boh and Mun stays put.
- Armies in Vie and Mun are attacking Boh exactly as in the example above with support from 2 and 1 adjacent countries respectively. This time, however, another army intervenes by attacking Gal from War. Neither Gal nor War will move since they both have attack power 1, but Gal's support of A Vie - Boh is cut. Now both Vie and Mun have attack power 2, so they bounce off each other as well.
Units providing support may have their support cut if they are attacked by an opposing power, even if they are not dislodged from their territory. A unit that is under attack cannot break support of units supporting that attack.
"Diplomatic press" is a form of official communication between foreign powers. In online Diplomacy games, "press" is the term used to describe in-game messaging between players. On any Backstabbr game screen there will be a Press tab in the navbar; clicking on it will show a screen where you can create new message threads with one or more other powers and view message threads already in progress.
Press on Backstabbr is already organized into threads analagous to email threads, so you don't need to create a new thread for each message in an ongoing communication.