The battle plans are drawn. The initial training programmes are complete. The bazookas and war cycles are ready. And six leaders have risen, each controlling several colleges' resources, to command the military actions of the bloodlusting student bands... Rumours of even greater alliances are rife. Scared first-years are hearing tales that several of the leaders have been seen sending diplomatic envoys to each other in bids for short-term cooperation to the extinction of others. And the gates of the warring colleges are about to open...
Let battle commence!!
|Number of Powers:
|Six, named after colleges: Emma, King's, Pembroke, Robinson, Sidney, Trinity.
|Number of Supply Centres:
|32 (18 home, 14 neutral) - 17 centres to win.
|Cambridge City Centre (Cambridge, Cambs, UK)
Emphasis on colleges of the University of Cambridge.
All locations are abbreviated using the first three letters, unless otherwise noted on the map.
|Insignificant (one sea supply centre, two map-circling provinces, terminology modification)
|Alex Churchill - Maths student at Cambridge University.
|Version 1.04 under email playtest
The basic premise is that the two types of Diplomacy unit, Armies and Fleets, have been replaced by Students and Bikes, respectively. They behave identically to in regular Dip. The main roads (those that aren't pedestrianised) are treated as sea squares, and built-up areas or pedestrian regions are land provinces.
The justification for this is that a gang of heavily-armed students can't cross a busy main road by themselves - it's far too dangerous. But if a band of bicycles are in that region of the road, they can escort or "convoy" the students from one side to the other...
The names of the turns have also been modified, to fit into Cambridge jargon, as follows: The Spring, Autumn (we Brits despise the term "Fall") and Winter phases are now known as Lent, Easter and Michaelmas, and the game begins in Lent '00 Movement.
To those who object to starting in a Lent term rather than a Michaelmas, may I point out that having Michaelmas Term as a Build phase fits rather nicely with the influx of new students that time each year, or in the case of disbands, the graduation (or more likely sending down) of old veterans. And it also means the number of the year stays the same for the five phases, which makes things more manageable.
The abbreviations for Students and Bikes are (surprisingly
enough) S and B: thus the orders from King's for
S King's-Clare; B Queens'-Silver St; S Catz'-King's...or using the map abbreviations:
S Kin-Cla; B Que-SIL; S Cat-KinIf you wish the "convoy" order may be written "e" (for "escort") rather than "c", but we usually don't bother.
gets drunk because
they don't want to
|S Grafton Centre
A few issues were raised trying to design a fairly balanced Dip variant with a map based on a town centre. In particular, the topic of what to do for sea provinces took a bit of thinking about. I thought it would be boring to make it a land-only variant, but just using the River Cam as the only sea regions would equally not work. Finally the idea was suggested at DipSoc that roads could be sea and built-up regions land. This was deemed sufficiently silly to go along with - it also suggested nicely the renaming of Fleets as Bikes and Armies as Students.
Version 1.01 appeared, and after the first face-to-face game was deemed practically unplayable: very unbalanced, and far too many neutral centres and neutral regions so the powers took ages to reach each other. This was because I'd wanted to include all my favourite places in Cambridge City Centre as separate regions on the map (rueful grin).
Radically overhauled, 1.02 appeared, and the map hasn't changed much since. Roads between Newnham and Darwin, Peterhouse and Pembroke, and Parker's Piece and Kelsey Kerridge vanished: despite being amongst the busiest roads in Cambridge, I regretfully realised playability had to triumph over realism.
The Great Power originally named after Jesus College was renamed Sidney after several of the evangelical Christians in the society (myself included) started feeling that a Dip Power called Jesus ought to win every game by default... (grin) But the number of starting centres owned by Sidney Power varied a bit between v1.02 and 1.04. It was too weak with just three units, but too strong with three bikes and one student. In the end the starting unit in Jesus College was changed to another student, somewhat reminiscent of Army Liverpool in Standard Dip (i.e. having to be convoyed to be used for anything other than defense).
The only major issue remaining is the advantage Bikes (Fleets) have over Students (Armies). I'm well aware that Cantabrigia 1.04 is a very coastal variant - there are only nine provinces completely inland! It's possible that in a future update some roads will be removed or inland provinces added to attempt to redress this imbalance. Probably not until after my exams, though....
The current adjacencies are more or less:
_T-S_ _- | | -_ - R_--K | _E - --_\|_- PThere are some nice symmetrical positions (notably Trinity vs. Kings over Caius or the 4-way fight over the Market) and fun bits to play, and generally, I think the variant is actually relatively balanced. Well... more so than v1.01 was, anyway (grin).
Any thoughts still welcome! Is it possible for Sidney and Trinity to be at peace? Is Pembroke too weak? I'm more than open to any comments, suggestions, exploding sheep, or anything else you want to send me about the variant.