Crusader Era Variant: College of Cardinals

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Crusader Era Variant: College of Cardinals

Postby VonPowell » 13 Jan 2014, 05:16

To All Diplomacy Enthusiasts Who Enjoy Variants:

My name is Baron (Von) Powell. I designed both the popular 1900 variant (which appears on this site) and, in coordination with Jeff Kase, the less well known, but generally well acclaimed Ambition & Empire variant. I am writing to you now to offer you an opportunity to play in or observe the second play test of College of Cardinals, a variant that Tim Hayward and I have spent nearly five years working on.

College of Cardinals starts in the year 1170 (i.e., between the Second and Third Crusades). It is a twelve player variant that pits the following Powers against each other for control of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East:
- The Almohad Caliphate
- The Angevin Empire (England)
- The Ayyubid Sultanate
- The Kingdom of Castile
- The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium)
- The Kingdom of France
- The Holy Roman Empire
- The Kingdom of Hungary
- Kievan Rus’
- The Duchy of Masovia (Poland)
- The Kingdom of Sicily
- The Zengid Emirate

College of Cardinals is most certainly NOT simply a map variant. Instead it has a number of special rules that Tim and I included to give players a good feeling of the political and religious challenges the ruling Monarchs of the Crusader era experienced. These special rules include:
- Armed neutrals. Borrowing from a rule Jeff and I included in Ambition & Empire, each of the twenty-six minor powers start the game with an army or a fleet. Major Powers will not be able to simply walk into a minor power supply center (SC). Instead, a Major Power army or fleet must attack with support. Minor power units can hold in place, provide support, or sortie (i.e., the minor power unit may move into an adjacent territory for purposes of cutting support or blocking movement, but must end its turn on its own home SC).
- Diplomacy points (DPs). Again borrowing from Ambition & Empire, the Major Powers can gain control of minor power units by using DPs. Each Major Power controls one DP for each SC it controls, up to a maximum of three.
- Religious conflict. As in Ambition & Empire, the religion of each Major and minor power constrains what support they can provide to each other. Even within these constraints, however, there are ample opportunities for mischief.
- Chaos builds. Standard Diplomacy and many variant limit builds to controlled home SCs. The rationale behind this restriction simply does not exist in a variant that takes place in the 12th and 13th centuries. College of Cardinals allows builds in any controlled SC.
- Limitations on the Holy Roman Empire. At first glance, the Holy Roman Empire appears quite formidable. Looks can be deceiving, though. The Holy Roman Empire starts the game under restrictions that simulate the problems the Emperor faced in 1170.
- The Pope. A decade in College of Cardinals is the equivalent of a game-year in standard Diplomacy. At the end of each decade, the players in charge of Catholic Major Powers elect one from their number to be the Pope for the next decade. The Pope wields considerable diplomatic clout because he controls Papal DPs and can call for crusades.
- Crusades. A variant on the Crusader era would not be complete without the ability to conduct crusades. A mechanism is in place that allows the Pope to declare crusades against enemies of Catholic Europe if certain events occur. The Pope can also declare crusades against Catholic Monarchs that break Church laws.
- Excommunication. Excommunication is a severe penalty that all Catholic Monarchs should strive to avoid, as the consequences are dire.

As the above list of special rules suggest, College of Cardinals is more complicated than standard Diplomacy. I do not doubt this complexity will turn off many potential players. That said, I believe those players willing to give the variant a try will find that the special rules accomplish exactly what Tim and I hoped they would, namely create countless opportunities for intrigue and deception, increase the need for all players to communicate with each other, and create an environment that accurately captures the feel of the Crusader era.

Tim and I wrote the College of Cardinals rules carefully so that they explain the special rules clearly. We have put numerous examples in each section to show players how certain rules work in practice. We have also included considerable historical commentary to help put some of the variant rules in context.

The first College of Cardinals play test, which took place from February through July of 2013, was a success in our opinion because it showed that our game mechanisms worked as we intended them to. Player feedback from that play test and our own observations helped us identify a few areas in the rules that required clarification to remove ambiguity and prompted us to examine some new ideas we could install to enhance the overall play balance (which was not far off in the first place).

As I mentioned earlier, we plan on running a second play test of the variant in the very near future. The target date to start the game is 11 February 2014. The equivalent of Spring moves (i.e., Early Decade) will be due on Tuesdays, Summer retreats (i.e., Mid-Decade) on Thursdays, Fall moves (i.e., Late Decade) on Tuesdays, and Winter adjustments (i.e., End Decade) on Thursdays. I will serve as GM. If the last game is an example, we anticipate the game lasting four to six months.

We are looking for players who enjoy the give and take of negotiations, who are willing to devote the time to play well, and who see things through from start to finish. If you are interested in playing, serving as a stand-by, or observing, please contact me at [email protected]. I will provide you with a copy of the map, the variant rules, and my house rules.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Stabbing,

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Re: Crusader Era Variant: College of Cardinals

Postby asudevil » 13 Jan 2014, 05:25

I don't see a fall retreat deadline in there anywhere.
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Re: Crusader Era Variant: College of Cardinals

Postby I Love Italy » 13 Jan 2014, 06:50

I may be interested. Put me down as a stand in for now, but I may change my mind in the next week or so.
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Crusader Era Variant: College of Cardinals

Postby VonPowell » 13 Jan 2014, 08:15

ASU Devil - Fall retreats are combined with Winter adjustments in the End Decade turn. Adjustments can be made conditional on retreats.

I Love Italy - Please send an e-mail to the address in my original message and I will send you a copy of the map and rules to look over.

It is my intent to lock this topic for discussion as soon as I figure out how to do so. Please send any comments and/or questions to [email protected].

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Re: Crusader Era Variant: College of Cardinals

Postby Pedros » 13 Jan 2014, 10:07

This is NOT a variant offered for play on this site. The OP was placed here by Baron von Powell by arrangement, but any discussion, applications to play, etc, should be sent to him at the e-address in the OP.
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