Card Diplomacy

By  Edi Birsan

One of the more awkward aspects of teaching Diplomacy to new people is the writing of orders. Likewise, one of the more frustrating errors that people with modest experience have is with writing incorrect orders. Meanwhile, the social aspect of the game is jumping up and down from the table, talking people's ears off, breaking into clutches of players to convey your own views or simply to deprive them from the time to conspire further against you.

In this simple variant, all of that is done away with:

  1. All players stay at the table and all talk is open at the table.

  2. All players have a standard poker deck of 52 cards and two jokers.

  3. Each Spring and Fall turn is composed of a “stacking the deck” phase where each players stacks his own deck in any order he wants, and then a series of play rounds. In each round all the players expose one card. The highest card MUST go first and the lowest card played MUST go last. Those in-between may pass or go in the appropriate order. A player may only pass three times. When a player has ordered-moved all his units he no longer places cards down.

  4. Ties are broken by the suit priority of spades, diamonds, clubs, and then hearts. Identical cards result in an automatic pass for both players.

  5. Pieces are moved immediately or placed so that their support order is indicated.

  6. A unit may not be given more than one order in a turn but may be retreated numerous times in the phase series by different people. In this way you cannot give support AFTER the fact of the movement since it is irrelevant. However, you could for example have the sequence:

    1. A Munich-Burgundy
    2. A Paris S A Marseilles -Burgundy
    3. A Marseilles to Burgundy

    With immediate adjudication, the Army Munich must retreat and then can go to Belgium. Here it could be attacked again and dislodged by English fleets in the North Sea and English Channel and kicked around the board.


Edi Birsan

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