Modern Times

Vincent Mous-Harboesgaard

Brief Introduction

Modern Diplomacy is a simple Diplomacy variant set in modern day Europe, circa 1995. The rules are the same as normal Diplomacy, but the map is different.

History of the Modern Diplomacy Variant

Standard Diplomacy takes place at the beginning of the 20th century. With the 20th century almost gone, I was beginning to feel that the game was a bit outdated and the map needed revising. This is not to say that the game wasn't challenging or fun anymore, just that it could be interesting to play in a more current setting.

To make the game more current, a new unit type -- airplanes -- was originally added. Planes could go over water and land but could not capture a supply center. Therefore, if France managed to move a plane over London, England would still own it, but not be able to build there. As I didn't want to make major modifications to judge code, and since the game seemed to work well without planes, planes were soon dropped from the picture. The modern variant as played on the judges does not use planes, though if someone is willing to program it let me know!

Overview of the Modern Diplomacy Variant

Modern Diplomacy is a Diplomacy variant with a different map. It takes place in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa starting in Spring 1995. All rules are the same as normal Diplomacy except the map.

When creating the game, I had to decide which countries to make powers. After many attempts at drawing a map, I settled on making any country with 30 million inhabitants a great power. Furthermore, those with more than 60 million inhabitants were given 4 home centers, while Russia (with 200 million plus) was given 5. Iran would have qualified as a 4 supply center great power, but this would have made it necessary to extend the map into Asia, so it was simply made a neutral supply center.

Other than this, borders and neutral supply centers were distributed to even out the game. Monaco was made a neutral SC even though its size does not warrant it, and Gibraltar was made a British home SC, to give Britain a port in the Mediterranean, to give Spain more than one neighbor, and to take some pressure off France.

Why does the variant only include Europe? I think that one of the good aspects of regular Diplomacy is that it is confined to the relatively small but densely populated continent of Europe. Europe has many small but relatively powerful countries, at least historically. The various world-spanning Diplomacy variants I have tried suffer, in my opinion, from having too many powers and being generally unbalanced or unwieldy.

Why has war broken out in 1995? We have to consider that for some reason all international organizations (the EU, UN, NATO, GATT, etc.) have all broken down. Maybe nationalist governments have been elected in some countries in Europe, the Bosnia conflict has spread, global warming has reduced arable land, terrorism has erupted throughout Europe. Who knows? Likewise, the United States, China, and other countries outside Europe are not getting involved. They might be waging civil wars or war with each other, they may have been victims of a natural cataclysm, a nuclear holocaust or biological warfare, or they may simply not want to risk the lives of their men and women. This is certainly possible; the US Senate voted recently against sending troops to Bosnia to monitor a peace deal, let alone a war! Whatever the reason, Europe is once again on the brink of war.

Rules to Modern Diplomacy

Map of the Variant

The map for the Modern variant is shown below.


The (compressed) PostScript version of this map may be obtained via ftp at
A bitmap version of the map is available in the pkzipped judge maps package file obtainable via ftp at

Notes on Geography

  1. Cairo, Hamburg and Istanbul behave as Kiel and Constantinople did in the original game: they have no coasts but fleets can pass through them to bodies of water of both sides.
  2. There is another canal linking Rostov and Volga, thus permitting access to the Caspian Sea to ships. Rostov is situated along the Don River which empties into the Black Sea, while the Volga empties into the Caspian Sea. In the real world there is a canal at Volgograd linking the two rivers, somewhere in the southern Volga region on the map. This is the only way to get ships into and out of the Caspian Sea.
  3. Iran is the only territory with multiple coasts in the game; the south coast touches the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, while the north coast touches the Caspian Sea.
  4. Where possible, the full name of a territory was put on the map. The following were supply centers only abbreviated by the first three letters:

    adr seaadriatic seaanaanatolia
    clyclydeczeczech republic
    helheligoland bightholholland


Abbreviations for territories are the first 3 letters of the territory, except for:

Alternatives are also available for many spaces, especially water spaces. See the map file for these alternative abbreviations.

Great Powers

There are ten great powers in the game, ranging from three center powers to a single five center power.

Starting Positions (Spring 1995)

The starting positions for the powers are shown below:

Winning Conditions

There are 38 home centers and 26 neutral centers on the board, making 64 total centers. To win the game, control of 33 centers is needed.

Ongoing Games

The first game of the modern variant started on the USCA judge ([email protected]) in October, 1994 and was called euro94. The second game (and, at this writing, the most advanced in gameyears) started soon thereafter on the USVA judge ([email protected]), and was called seville,

The games which are running at the time of this writing include:

Feel free to sign on as an observer to any of these games and look at the strategy.


The variant was designed by Vincent Mous and programmed for the judge by Vincent Mous and Nicholas Fitzpatrick with a lot of help from Kevin Roust. The variant was tested by those playing the many judge games, as well as some friends of the creator.

Vincent Mous-Harboesgaard
([email protected])

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