The Void Variant
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Contents Basic Rules
· Basic Rules
· Design Notes

  1. The normal rules of Diplomacy apply except where amended herein.

  2. The Void variant is played by 36 players. Each player begins the game by owning a single unit on the standard Diplomacy map. Each power is named for the starting location of his or her unit. Each unit begins the game on one of the 36 non-supply center locations that are adjacent to two or more supply centers. Powers on land begin the game with an army; powers at sea begin the game with a fleet.

  3. The game starts in the Fall 1900 Movement phase, and all of the thirty-four supply centers on the board are unowned at the beginning of the game. Obviously, at least two of the 36 players will be eliminated from the game after the first movement phase.

  4. When building units, a unit may be built at any owned supply center.

  5. The single-character abbreviation (for use in SIGNON and PRESS TO commands in the DPjudge's e-mail messages) for each of the powers is as follows:
    Adriatic Sea: AAegean Sea: BAlbania: CApulia: DArmenia: EBaltic Sea: F
    Barents Sea: G Black Sea: HBohemia: IBurgundy: JClyde: KEnglish Channel: L
    Finland: NGalicia: P Gascony: QGulf of Bothnia: RGulf of Lyon: SHelgoland Bight: T
    Ionian Sea: ULivonia: VMid-Atlantic Ocean: W North Sea: XNorwegian Sea: YPicardy: Z
    Piedmont: 0Prussia: 1 Ruhr: 2Silesia: 3 Skagerrak: 4Tuscany: 5
    Tyrolia: 6Tyrrhenian Sea: 7Ukraine: 8Wales: 9W Mediterranean Sea: + Yorkshire: *
    Note that the Ken Lowe judge's avoidance of the letter "O" as a SIGNON power identifier is continued by the DPjudge in this variant (and in chaos), even though on the DPjudge, only the letter "M" is reserved (for the Master). [The Ken Lowe judges use the letter "O" to identify all observers.]
Design Notes

The Void variant was created by Mario Huys. His original motivation for the variant was based on his thoughts about what would be a proper setting for having a game start in a Fall turn, instead of the usual Spring or Winter turns. Since he had just completed implementing the chaos variant map for the DPjudge, the answer came to him quite naturally. A simple count of the locations that qualified for inclusion gave him the number of 36. He considers it providential that this is the same number of strategems that are given in Sun Tsu's "Art of War," one of the bibles of Diplomacy players everywhere.

About a month later, there was a discussion on the dpjudge mailing list about the power names used in DPjudge chaos as compared to those used in the Ken Lowe judge (Njudge) chaos. As he toyed with the idea of bringing the DPjudge solution to the Njudge, he started reading the Njudge documentation (specifically its support for additional variants), and he found a passage in section 3.4.8 of the documentation (found here), that says that the Ken Lowe judge can support any variant with 34 or fewer players, but that should be sufficient unless "you find something more insane than chaos."

Realizing that the DPjudge does not have any such restriction, Mario set about implementing his creation on the DPjudge, in hopes of it becoming a success, inspiring change in the Njudge.

Some of the initial players of the variant wondered how the game would play if it began in Spring instead of Fall. This is an interesting variant, but Mario comments on whether this would ever become official as follows: "It won't. I'm much too fond of the cannon fodder part. Fewer survivors means it's harder to outright kill the remaining contenders in the second and third year as there's almost always some SC to retreat to. A Spring start will probably mean more survivors, more like chaos with different power names. I don't want that. Let void be void."

Regarding the name of the variant, consider the origin of the word "chaos." Chaos is from the Greek word Khaos, meaning "gaping void." How very appropriate. Mario actually originally chose the name mostly because in Void each player starts on the non-SC territories (or, in other variants, the usually "empty" spaces), but the Void variant actually embraces (by starting outside the Chaos starting locations) and extends (by allowing a bigger variety of starting positions after Winter 1900, depending on which centers remain empty) the Chaos variant.

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