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One Night Ultimate...Diplomacy!?

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gpetersen
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Diplomacy is one of those games that I love despite its flaws. It takes too long, it features early player elimination, it only really works with exactly seven players, and the game is totally broken as soon as one player gets bored and decides to let his ally make his moves for him.

Werewolf was a similarly flawed classic. Designer Akihisa Okui improved it by first creating One Night Werewolf and later One Night Ultimate Werewolf, condensing the game into a single exciting round.

I want to do the same for Diplomacy. I want to make a micro game with the theme of negotiating the WW1 alliance structure, but have it take place in a single round. This would actually be more thematic than the original; alliance structures were fluid before the war, but were fairly fixed once the war began (aside from Italy's surprise entry on the side of the Entente).

So here's what I propose: Each player is a great power. The game is played in a single 15-minute round. Each great power has one card for each of its neighbours (3-4 depending on the country) and these have different card backs. These can be played, face down, to attack the corresponding country. Cards that are held and not played represent the "health" of a power.

At the end of a 15 minute timer, play ends and all cards are flipped up, maintaining their order.

Now, as a disclaimer, I haven't playtested this yet and the rules for resolving conflict will most likely need revising, but here's what I'm thinking: You resolve each card in the order they were played. For each card, the attacking country does 1 damage if he is under attack, 2 otherwise. Damage is represented by taking another country's card from his hand and putting it down in front of you. If you take a player's final card from his hand, he is eliminated. When you eliminate a power, take all the cards in front of him and all of his cards in the attacking queue.

Finally, a player can win outright if he ends the game with at least half of the total cards, including those in front of him, those he played to attack others, and those in his hand. If no player has enough to win outright, the player with the most cards can name one or more allies to share a victory, but he may not name any allies that fought each other. If he can't name an alliance with enough cards to win, the player with the second most cards gets the opportunity to do so, and so on.

Thoughts? Comments? Concerns?

polyobsessive
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Interesting

Hmm, interesting.

I'd have thought that the core of Diplomacy that would be good to preserve would be the move/support/hold orders and the simple simultaneous resolution.

I'm not sure about the alliance victory you suggest, though it could work.

I was thinking that maybe each player might have a secret objective, being another country that they want to suffer a hit, and if that is achieved, they win -- possibly along with other players who also win. You could even have a second objective where you have a country you want to protect. Perhaps there could also be an element of drafting or passing these objectives, so you may be able to infer some information about the objectives held by other players.

Just a thought.

Also, are you thinking about this being purely cards, or maybe having a board or map?

gpetersen
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Victory Conditions

polyobsessive wrote:
I'd have thought that the core of Diplomacy that would be good to preserve would be the move/support/hold orders and the simple simultaneous resolution.

My feeling is that the core element of Diplomacy, the part that really makes it fun, is the negotiation. You feel really cool when you're having a secret meeting with Germany in the back room trying to hash out a deal. The move/support/hold mechanics are really just the simplest possible wargame rules that allow for negotiation and deception.

That said, I have considered using card orientation to add something like a support order.

polyobsessive wrote:
I'm not sure about the alliance victory you suggest, though it could work.

I was thinking that maybe each player might have a secret objective, being another country that they want to suffer a hit, and if that is achieved, they win -- possibly along with other players who also win. You could even have a second objective where you have a country you want to protect. Perhaps there could also be an element of drafting or passing these objectives, so you may be able to infer some information about the objectives held by other players.

Secret objectives are a simpler win condition, but I wouldn't want to make them country specific. So rather than "eliminate Germany from the game" I would prefer "one country neighboring yours must be eliminated." That way, the game mechanics don't dictate the alliance structure. I'll try out some solo playtesting with both of these victory conditions and see how they work!

polyobsessive wrote:
Also, are you thinking about this being purely cards, or maybe having a board or map?

I was thinking purely cards. However, I would put a map of Europe on each card with the adjacencies indicated by lines, so that people can easily reference who is connected to who.

polyobsessive
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Negotiation

gpetersen wrote:
My feeling is that the core element of Diplomacy, the part that really makes it fun, is the negotiation. You feel really cool when you're having a secret meeting with Germany in the back room trying to hash out a deal. The move/support/hold mechanics are really just the simplest possible wargame rules that allow for negotiation and deception.

Yeah, you're absolutely right. I was thinking mechanically, and wanting to preserve something that reflected that, but yes, without negotiation, Diplomacy wouldn't even have its name!

gpetersen wrote:
Secret objectives are a simpler win condition, but I wouldn't want to make them country specific. So rather than "eliminate Germany from the game" I would prefer "one country neighboring yours must be eliminated." That way, the game mechanics don't dictate the alliance structure. I'll try out some solo playtesting with both of these victory conditions and see how they work!

That seems a very sensible interpretation of that idea. Sounds worth trying.

gpetersen wrote:
I was thinking purely cards. However, I would put a map of Europe on each card with the adjacencies indicated by lines, so that people can easily reference who is connected to who.

That makes sense. I think a board would be useful mostly for that purposes, so keeping the relevant info on cards sounds good.

It'll be interesting to see where you go with this: it could work very well.

Heiko Moeller
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Love the idea!

Sounds amazing!
I especially like your ONUW comparison/approach. I run a bigger group in Berlin and hopefully get to try your variant in the near future.
If I do, i'll report how it went :D

aqsgames
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Joined: 05/14/2014
Like your thinking. Is

Like your thinking. Is there a way of maintaining the X attacks Y "supported" by Z

That alliance and whether it is kept is an important feature I think

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