Black Hole Diplomacy: Rules

Variant in which random spaces become black holes turn by turn. Introduced by Pedros from a variety of older, similar games and GMd by Pedros. Winner: Radical Pumpkin (Italy)
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Black Hole Diplomacy: Rules

Postby Pedros » 15 Aug 2012, 10:11

Here are the (hopefully final!) version of the game rules as we will be playing it.

1. Regular map, and regular rules of Dip apply except as below.

2. After each Spring and Autumn turn, after retreats (but before adjustments), the GM will randomly select one of the 75 provinces on the board, or Switzerland, to become a BLACK HOLE. The province selected can be either a land or a sea province.

3. The province selected by the GM will cease to exist immediately, and any unit in that province is annihilated. If the province is a supply center, it is removed from the adjustment chart, reducing the total number of supply centres by one. Black-Holing lasts for the rest of the game. All provinces which touch the Black Hole now touch each other - movement, support, retreats and (if appropriate) convoys can pass through them as though they weren't there.

Clarification 1 This may mean the loss or creation of coastlines, so that provinces may have more than one coastline for the first time, may have coastlines where they didn't have them before, or lose coastlines which they did have. Fleets on a coastline which is suddenly divided into two may choose after the hole is announced (in a retreat-phase-like period of 24 hours) which coastline to be placed on; fleets in a coastal province which gets a new coastline not part of the original one stay on the coast they were already on. Fleets on coastlines which become marooned in a landlocked province will be destroyed.

Clarification 2 If a second black hole is created touching an existing one, then the logic of the rule applies: all provinces touching the first black hole were touching the new black hole, so they are all touching those adjacent to the second black hole.

4. Each player may designate with his Spring 1901 orders ONE home supply center to be immune from the effects of Rules 2 and 3. If no preference is indicated, the GM will select one. The decision cannot subsequently be changed, with only ONE exception: if a player loses control of his exempt center to another power, and is left with only two of his home centers, then if one of the latter is Black-holed he may change exemption to his last remaining center. This may only be done once per player in the course of the game.

5. The choice of exempted home centers is not revealed unless a player specifically requests the GM to announce his or her choice.

6. If any country is eliminated entirely from the game, whichever of his home centers was at that time exempted from black-holing shall cease to be exempt and shall return to the "pot"

Clarification (agreed in the following discussion) If a player loses his last unit and controls none of their home SCs (and so can never build another one) they are considered eliminated and their exempt SC will be a candidate for Black Holing from the next season on.

8. Victory condition is control of a majority of surviving SCs after a Fall season.
"Sooner or later, one of us will stab the other. But for now we're both better off as allies" (kininvie)
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GM House Rules

Postby Pedros » 15 Aug 2012, 10:12

Please note especially my approach to deadlines and NMRs. I'm pretty tough on NMRs - I find it's the only way to keep the game moving.

Orders Please title your orders "Black Hole - England - orders/retreats etc Spring 1901" (or something similar that I can recognise!) And send them to me by PM. Please don't just hit the reply button! (if you do I don't know what you've sent me!) If you title your orders wrongly and I don't find them it's your fault and the NMR will stick. I always check to see whether missing orders are floating around somewhere unexpected, but if I don't find them you have no cause for complaint.

It's up to you to make sure they're accurate. I won't read orders in detail until the deadline (this is so that if somebody else asks a question there's no chance of me betraying your secrets! - also because it's the way original Dip rules worked) If it's clear what they mean (I'll accept any recognisable abbreviations so long as they aren't ambiguous) then no problem; but if they're at all ambiguous they're invalid (issues like not specifying a coast when there's only one option I'll accept). If you spot an error in my adjudication please report it publicly as soon as possible. Any error not reported before the next movement deadline will not be corrected.

If two different orders are given for the same unit, then I will use the first order and ignore the others.

Other messages Please title them something different, so I know which is which - otherwise I'll probably assume they're orders and not read them before the deadline! If you ask a rules question then if it's clear I'll answer it; if it's something not clearly covered by the game rules I'll do my best, but in the light of argument from other players I might change my mind after the adjudication. If you think I'm wrong, I expect you to say so loudly and with clear reasons; if you do, I'll listen and consider the arguments (and allow an extension whilst it's sorted out). If a question is asked privately then it will be answered privately.

Deadlines 72-24-24 from the time the new map goes up (with a similar 24-hour phase if needed for decisions about which coast a fleet is on after a hole is announced). I'll send a PM at the same time so there's no excuse for not noticing! but I recommend you subscribe to the new sub-Forum as soon as it's in place so there's no chance of you missing a new topic. And post provisional orders early, just in case!

For phases longer than 24 hours I'll also send a reminder about 24 hours before the deadline (give or take a few hours), and a separate message (BCC) to those players who have not yet submitted orders.. This is because I'll then be strict about NMRs - see below. [i]nb: after a recent case in Zeus, if at any time I fail to send one of these reminders and I don't realise that but post the orders, an NMR will stand. You will have had two PMs about the deadline, and after all it is up to you to know the deadline and get orders in.

Speed deadlines: Once I have orders from all players I will process them as soon as possible, unless they are marked 'Provisional' or similar. (I encourage provisional orders where appropriate to reduce the risk of NMRs, and I don't mind how often you change them - I will only open the last ones I receive.) But if you do send in provisionals, please let me know once you're happy to finalize them, just to move the game along. I may write to check if yours are the only orders waiting to be finalized, but if I do, then this is a reminder not a hassle! Don't feel pressurized into finalizing before you're ready!

Requests for delays: Where there's a good reason I'm happy to accept a delay of deadline, but I don't want this to happen too often - one of the biggest reasons for games failing is that they don't move along quickly enough and players lose interest. But please give as much notice as possible for everybody's sake! In particular, extensions will not be granted at the last minute on 72-hour deadlines simply because access is difficult. Get your provisionals in early!

Finally, please note: if you want a substitute whilst you're away it's your job to find one!

NMRs I will usually aim to process the orders fairly soon after the deadline, though there may be exceptions. I take the same view as the main site software - if you get orders in a few minutes late but before I begin, you'll get away with it. Once I start opening up orders, it's too late. No exceptions.

NMRs on retreat and build phases count for one half. When your NMR total reaches three and you're out. Two in successive movement phases and you're out. Any NMR on the first phase and you're out and the game will hold for a replacement, after which the first phase will run again. For retreat and build phases I take the view if you don't submit it's your problem - you've missed the chance but that's all. If somebody's NMR leads to expulsion then there will be a pause while I try to replace them, and the new player gets a day to talk and post orders. If replacement is difficult I reserve the right to put the faction into Civil Disorder (although I don't like doing this).

I also check a player's last logon time when they NMR. If it's several days ago it makes me wonder whether they've left the site altogether, and I'll try to contact them. If this doesn't work then I reserve the right to replace them without further warning.

Errors in adjudication I'm only human, so check the map after orders to make sure I have it right! If there's a substantial error it will delay the deadline, so I'll try to be perfect!


And, as always, the GM's decision is final[/i]
"Sooner or later, one of us will stab the other. But for now we're both better off as allies" (kininvie)
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Blind Auction: Rules

Postby Pedros » 15 Aug 2012, 10:19

(Please don't submit bids until I ask for them!)

Dirk Knemeyer wrote:Blind Auction Bidding
By Dirk Knemeyer with Pete Dale and Tim Crosby
v. 1.3, November 1, 2011

This bidding variant reflects my personal enjoyment of and desire for determinism in attempting to secure a particular starting power. While Blind Auction Bidding technically gives every player an equal chance at each and every power, the system is designed to accommodate very different strategies: go all-or-nothing for the power you most want to play? Go for a few powers in a balanced way, to make it likely you can play one of a select few? Or avoid that one power you simply do NOT want to play by bidding for all of the others in a conservative way that should help you avoid the one you despise? The choice is up to you.


PROCEDURE
1. Each player has 100 {actually, 140 for this game - Pedros} points to spend on bids for all of the powers in your game

2. You must spend at least one point on every power in your game and no more than 80 on any one specific power

3. You must only bid in whole numbers, no fractions or decimals are allowed

4. You must spend all 100 of your points and will be asked by the GM to re-submit if your total is less or more than 100

5. Your bids will be evaluated from the highest points allocated to the lowest, regardless of the order you put them in. However, in cases where you bid the same amount on more than one power, whichever is listed first is considered your "highest" bid, all the way down to the bottom-most being considered your "lowest" bid, and this ranking will affect the order in which your bids are evaluated (see para. 8)

6. Players not interested in bidding may express "no preference". In this case they will receive 100/x rounded down to the nearest whole number, where x = number of powers in the game, on each power, with their order from "highest" to "lowest" randomly generated (See para. 8)

7. Players may change their bids up until the moment the GM has received the bid from the last player, after which bids may not be changed

8. The GM will then review the bids of all players and identify the most points spent on any power or powers. Where a player has more than one bid of that value for powers not already allocated to any player, only his highest ranking bid of that value will be considered

9. If only one player has the high bid on any of the highest bid powers, that player is assigned that power for the game and both the player and power are removed from the bidding. This process is then repeated for the next highest number of points bid on any power

10. In the event of a tie bid, where two or more players have bid the same high amount on the same power, the GM will randomly determine which player receives the disputed power

11. The process continues until every player in the game has won a power

12. Players are forbidden to discuss their bidding, strategy, or even if they are simply choosing "no preference", with any of the other players in the game. By design this process is intended to be completely blind and force the player to deeply consider risk and reward


EXAMPLE
In a game of Standard Diplomacy, Joe very badly wants to play Russia. To have the maximum chance at securing Russia, Joe assigns his 100 points as follows:

Russia - 80 Austria - 4 England - 4 France - 3 Germany - 3 Italy - 3 Turkey - 3

As long as no other player submits this precise bid, Joe will get Russia. If one or more other players submit this precise bid, Joe will have a chance to get Russia, but he also has a chance to get stuck with a leftover power at the very end.


EXAMPLE
Jane has played Austria, Germany and Italy each three times in Standard Diplomacy but has only played each of the other four powers either never or once. If Jane knows one thing, it's that she doesn't want to get stuck with one of her three old standbys. So, Jane decides to bid her 100 points like this:

England - 25 France - 24 Russia - 24 Turkey - 24 Austria - 1 Germany - 1 Italy - 1

Jane is a little worried because she figures that a lot of other players will only bid one on the rarely popular Austria or Italy, but she is optimistic that with 24 or 25 points on four different powers one of them will slip through the cracks to her.


EXAMPLE
Jerry doesn't want to play Italy in his upcoming game of Standard Diplomacy. Bottom line. No way, no how. He can bid one on Italy but a lot of other people will probably do that, too. He thinks he needs to get creative. England and Russia are the two most popular powers so he is going to just give them one point, too. That gives him 97 points to spend on four powers. Thinking about which of them he likes best he decides to bid his 100 points like this:

Turkey - 51 France - 16 Austria - 15 Germany - 15 England - 1 Italy - 1 Russia - 1


EXAMPLE
Harvey doesn't care who he plays in the new game of Standard Diplomacy. What's up with this crazy bidding anyway? "No preference," he writes to the GM. So the GM assigns his points based on the prescribed formula:

100 points, divided by 7 powers in Standard Diplomacy and rounded down to the nearest whole number, is 14. The GM randomly determines the order of those powers, making Harvey's bids:

Austria - 14 Germany - 14 England - 14 Italy - 14 Russia - 14 France - 14 Turkey - 14

He is thus most likely to get Austria, least likely to get Turkey.
"Sooner or later, one of us will stab the other. But for now we're both better off as allies" (kininvie)
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Re: Black Hole Diplomacy: Rules

Postby Jegpeg » 15 Aug 2012, 13:35

Any Reason why we can't call the game "Black hole" in our PMs calling Deluge is just confusing. :lol:
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Re: Black Hole Diplomacy: Rules

Postby Pedros » 16 Aug 2012, 14:04

If you insist!
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Discussion: When is a country eliminated

Postby Pedros » 12 Oct 2012, 18:22

It doesn't much matter in Regular Dip, but in games like this where the elimination of a country changes things (here it means another territory, the exempted SC, goes into the pot for Black Holes) it's an important question. We need to resolve the exact definition quickly - before the next set of movement orders - since both Austria and Germany could be affected.

The issue is this:- if a nation loses its last unit, and no longer controls any of its home SCs, it can never build another one. If that happens in the Fall the situation is simple - eliminated. But what if it happens in the Spring?


For instance, suppose England had lost its last piece in the Spring of last year rather than the Fall. Could London (the exempted centre) have been Black Holed in the Fall or not? My view is that the answer ought to be "Yes, it could" because England is now, without any doubt, gone for good. But it's possible to argue that since he isn't officially eliminated until the end of Fall Build count, London is still exempt - even though exempting it was a privilege for England, not anybody else.

So, before the orders for Spring next year are resolved, we need a decision on this just in case. And it isn't one I can simple announce, because it wasn't in the initial rules. I'll abide by a majority vote of surviving players up to the time of the Spring deadline; if it's a tie then my casting vote will be, as I outlined above, for the exempt SC to go straight into the pot for the Fall season.

Answers either here or by PM please; abstentions will be abstentions and a majority of those voting will decide it. If everybody's voted (or just four of you) before the deadline then the result will be announced then.
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Re: Black Hole Diplomacy: Rules

Postby Kithchener » 12 Oct 2012, 19:27

I vote yes, london can be black holed.
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Re: Black Hole Diplomacy: Rules

Postby VGhost » 12 Oct 2012, 22:50

I would say that revoking the exemption ought to depend on formal elimination - meaning, the protected SC can only go back "in the pot" after the Fall turn.

Pedros says "without any doubt", but it is entirely possible - not probable, not likely, not expected, but possible - that an occupying force would choose to move out of an SC occupied in the Spring. (There could even be good reasons - imagine Turkey pushing for a solo allowing France to retain Brest on king-making terms because his own build would be too far from the front. If I'm playing France the Turk is probably making a bad decision, but I'm going to try to talk him into it!)
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Re: Black Hole Diplomacy: Rules

Postby Jegpeg » 13 Oct 2012, 02:09

GhostEcho wrote:I would say that revoking the exemption ought to depend on formal elimination - meaning, the protected SC can only go back "in the pot" after the Fall turn.

Pedros says "without any doubt", but it is entirely possible - not probable, not likely, not expected, but possible - that an occupying force would choose to move out of an SC occupied in the Spring. (There could even be good reasons - imagine Turkey pushing for a solo allowing France to retain Brest on king-making terms because his own build would be too far from the front. If I'm playing France the Turk is probably making a bad decision, but I'm going to try to talk him into it!)


If France has Brest then the rule doesn't apply as it DOES hold one on its SCs and if it keeps it until the fall it can get a build and continue with the game. If France has no units but owns Bel (and no home SCs) then it is dead as it has no units to move or get its home centres back he no longer has any influence in the game.
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Re: Black Hole Diplomacy: Rules

Postby Radical Pumpkin » 13 Oct 2012, 02:29

My 2 cents: if a power has no unit on the board and does not control any of its home centers, then there is no way that power could ever again benefit from its own Black Hole exemption. Initially I was going to say that that's insufficient reason to add a complication to the rule for when exempted home centers re-enter the pot... but then I realized things are a bit more complicated: there's no guarantee that the situation will change at all come the end of the next fall season. In theory, a situation could persist indefinitely where (say) England controls Belgium only but has no units on the board. Another power, who controls the English home centers, might want to keep England in possession of Belgium (but with no units) for many years purely in order to exempt one of England's home centers from Black Holes. That seems like it introduces an undesirable kind of gameyness into things, at least from my perspective.

So, in the end, I vote that if a power ever finds itself with no units on the board and controlling no way to ever build, its home centers immediately re-enter the pot. If a power either has a unit or controls one of its home centers, it should not be considered eliminated.
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