Devolution Diplomacy

The Exciting Game of Politics and Backstabbing in Blairite Britain

Jack Rudd

One of the minor annoyances of playing most of your Diplomacy over the board instead of by e-mail is that you can't always be sure of getting the right number of players. In particular, at Cambridge University Diplomacy Society, we don't really have a good eight-player variant. So, last holidays, I took it upon myself to design one.

The Great Powers

The first problem I had was where to set my variant. After some thought, I decided that the British Isles would be a good place to set a variant. This, however, ran into the potential problem of the variant just being a clone of Heptarchy or Bretwalda.

The way this problem got solved was by a little bit of good fortune. I had remembered one of Geoff Bache's problems in designing Heptarchy was that Northumbria and Scotland nearly always seemed to go to war. The obvious solution to this was to move the power corresponding to "Northumbria" further south, and the question then became what to call it. The word "Yorkshire" crept into my mind, and with it crept an association... Yorkshire... thinks it ought to be independent... set the game with "great powers" that currently want independence from the UK (or, at least, parts of them do). This meant that I could fairly easily get this list of powers:

This left me with two great powers to put in; one on the east coast and one in central Britain. After some thought, I named the power on the east coast Anglia, and made it consist of Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. There's no current basis for this power at the time of writing, but who knows what may happen?

Which left me with a huge, unwieldy power containing (at last count): Gloucestershire, Hereford and Worcester, Shropshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire. I could have called this power "The Midlands" or some other such ordinary name, but instead decided to go for a name that was really evocative of Blairite Britain. The power was therefore named Middle England.

Variant Design Notes

It might help to look at the map (it's kinda large) while reading this section. Or then again, it might not.

Those of you who like variant statistics can sit back and be fascinated by the following facts:

And, for those of you who are still awake, a couple serious thoughts on the design of the variant:

  1. I tried to put neutral supply centres into blocks of neighbouring squares, as they are in Standard; this was a recommendation I picked up from Stephen Agar's article on variant design. Twelve of the neutrals did indeed end up in three neutral blocks: one block containing Alnwick, Newcastle and Workington, one containing Chester, Derby, Liverpool and Manchester, and one containing Bristol, Luton, Oxford, Reading and Southampton.
  2. However, the other eight supply centres were dotted around all over the place. This was a partial consequence of the need for guaranteed builds for some of the weaker powers, particularly London (hence Dieppe) and Anglia (hence Lerwick - which also brings Anglia closer to Scotland, giving those two powers more options). You might want to note that three of these eight -- Lundy, Scilly, and Douglas -- are actually available to more than one power in the first year, which might make for some interesting diplomacy. Or then again, perhaps not.

Results of Playtests

There haven't yet been any playtests.

Just in case you want to contribute...

I will be more than happy to respond to any ideas you want to send me regarding the design of this variant. If your ideas are very lucky, they might get put up on the Devolution Diplomacy page on my website.

Jack Rudd
([email protected])

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