Diplomacy Games podcast: Episode 48 – Interview with Baron von Powell, creator of 1900

Venue: Felon’s Brewery, Brisbane

Drinks of choice:

Amby – Felon’s IPA by Felon’s, Brisbane

Kaner – Treehouse Cider by the Granite Belt Cider Company, Warwick

Felon's BreweryThe guys interview Baron von Powell, legendary Diplomacy variant developer of 1900, Ambition and Empire and the College of Cardinals. Plus an Around the Grounds and more. Enjoy!


  • The guys are still at Felon’s Brewery in a back-to-back session. Kaner talks beer yoga (0 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby switches to a Felon’s IPA while Kaner sticks to the Treehouse cider (1 min 30 secs)
  • They move onto introducing the interview with Baron von Powell (2 mins 50 secs)

Interview with Baron von Powell

    • Amby explores the nature of Baron von Powell’s name (3 mins 30 secs)
    • Baron shares how often he has played Diplomacy (4 mins 55 secs)
    • Baron talks about postal Diplomacy (7 mins)
    • Amby reflects on Baron’s views about Slack after his experience during the Tournament of Time at PlayDip  (8 mins 10 secs)
    • Baron discusses his fascination with the game going back to the 80’s (10 mins)
    • He goes onto talk about responding to an article in 1998 in Diplomacy World about improving Classic. He goes onto discussing how this became the 1900 variant, with now over 500 games played – you can play 1900 at PlayDiplomacy (premium account needed) and vDiplomacy (14 mins)
    • Kaner discusses his first exposure to 1900 and the concept of Siberian reserve army. Baron talks about his role and where he drew inspiration. He goes onto discussing how he tried improving the Classic map to better reflect the “powerhouse” nature of Germany. He talks about not radicalizing the game, but better reflecting the historical nature of the map for when the game starts at 1900 (16 mins 15 secs)
    • Amby agrees with Baron’s historical thinking (19 mins 20 secs)
    • Amby goes onto ask with the 500 games that have occurred, to what extent the balance is improved (21 mins 40 secs)
    • Baron talks about the rule changes of 1900 (24 mins 15 secs) 
    • Kaner asks whether territories in 1900 that are impassable in Classic (eg Iceland, Ireland) are used (28 mins 15 secs)
    • Baron mentions how stalemate lines are rarely used effectively in 1900 (30 mins 30 secs)
    • Kaner asks Baron about his other well known variant: Ambition & Empire. Baron talks about partnering with Jeff Kase on developing his variant and how its different to 1900 (31 mins)
    • Baron discusses the creation of the Diplomacy point and how they work (34 mins 20 secs)
    • They touch on the Tournament of Time and the nature of how the games worked out based on team strategy (37 mins)
    • They discuss the Dissolution variant and why Baron loves it so much (39 mins 45 secs)
    • Kaner asks about Baron’s latest project: College of Cardinals (10.3 mb PDF download), a variant he’s been developing for 9 years with Timothy Hayward. He begins by talking about some of the early difficulties designing the game (41 mins 20 secs)
  • College of Cardinals map - a Diplomacy game variant
    • He discusses the nature of the role of the Pope and the process of electing the Pope. He talks about the difference in complexity between a Classic game and highly detailed variants like College of Cardinals (44 mins 30 secs)
    • Kaner discusses his experience in previous Crusade variants and how difficult it is to get armies to the Holy Land. Baron talks about how the College of Cardinals tries to address this with the option of a Crusade being called and how it works (47 mins)
    • Amby asks about how Excommunication impacts on gameplay (48 mins 45 secs)
    • Baron talks about Crusade objectives and how convoys work: including effectively “land” convoys. He then discusses how Diplomacy points come into play (50 mins 45 secs)
    • They discuss the Islamic powers in the game. There are 7 Catholic players, 2 Orthodox players and 3 Islamic powers (53 mins 45 secs)
    • Baron says listeners can read the rules and view the map when he sends them through to Kaner & Amby (56 mins 20 secs)
    • Baron discusses Papal Bulls (57 mins 15 secs)
    • Amby asks about the process for electing the Pope (58 mins 50 secs)
    • Baron reflects how the variant evolved how the nature of the Pope changed over time (1 hr 0 mins)
    • Baron flags the variant is in hiatus currently, but says he’d love to see enough committed players play another game. Amby discusses how it would really suit a forum game at PlayDip.  (1 hr 2 mins 30 secs)
    • Kaner asks whether there’s a period of history that Baron feels is crying out for a variant to be made. Baron gives his thoughts (1 hr 5 mins 15 secs)
    • Baron leaves us with his passion: a strategic simulation of Lord of the Rings, a game he has been developing since 1981 (1 hr 9 mins 40 secs)

Note: There are two articles about College of Cardinals in Diplomacy World from 2013 and 2014 (http://www.diplomacyworld.net/pdf/dw124.pdf page 36 and http://www.diplomacyworld.net/pdf/dw126.pdf page 39)


  • The guys are back in the brewery and reflect on the interview (1 hr 12 mins)
  • They both express their interest in sinking their teeth into the variant although it has 60+ pages of rules and contents. If a test game happens it’s likely to be in 2020 (1 hr 14 mins 45 secs)

Sage of the Nine – Norse mythology variant being tested

  • The guys talk about a new variant “Saga of the Nine” a Norse mythology variant developed by Alex Ronke with Chris Helwig that is being playtested. You can also visit the Discord server for the Saga of the Nine game  (1 hr 18 mins
  • Kaner walks on the wildside – committing to FOUR games (1 hr 21 mins)
  • Kaner after NMRing in a game he was in with Amby, experienced the new reliability system over at vDiplomacy (1 hr 22 mins)
  • The guys get back to the Norse variant with Kaner really interested in the Saga of the Nine variant (1 hr 23 mins 45 secs)

Brisbane Backstabbers face-to-face game coming up

  • The guys have organised a local face-to-face game for Sunday 28 July at Vault Games. If you’re interested in this game or future games, please register (1 hr 25 mins 45 secs)

Around the grounds

  • Amby touches on a Versailles game he’s playing at PlayDip – note since recording Amby has already been eliminated (1 hr 27 mins 45 secs)
  • They discuss the Edwardian game at vDip that Amby was getting smashed in (1 hr 29 mins 50 secs)
  • They get into trouble by mostly playing anonymous and gunboat games which limits clarity of the conversation in the podcast (1 hr 30 mins 30 secs)
  • They get back to the Edwardian game “Smoking jackets and single malt scotch” and Amby talks about the nature of the game and the caliber of players he was trying to attract – note since recording Amby has surprisingly been included in a draw (1 hr 32 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner brings up how G-Man runs a similar “Cloak and Dagger” series of high end players (1 hr 34 mins)
  • Amby discusses how the alliances in the Edwardian game are constantly flipping (1 hr 34 mins 45 secs)
  • Kaner mentions – after recounting – he’s actually in FIVE gunboat games at the moment: three Europa Renovatio games and two 1898 Fog of War games (1 hr 39 mins)
  • Kaner talks about one of these games where he is being absolutely destroyed (1 hr 39 mins 30 secs)
  • They return to the anonymous gunboat A World at War 1937 variant game: WW2 Global Boogaloo which Kaner NMRed in (as Thailand). They talk about the game as best as they can, which is easier for Kaner as everyone now knows who he was playing (1 hr 42 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby mentions how he’s waiting on two games to still start: American Funboat (Divided States variant) and Cry George for Harry! (Europa Renovatio variant) (1 hr 48 mins 30 secs)
  • The guys start wrapping up the show, reminding folks if they want to support the guys getting drunk visit our Diplomacy Games Patreon page, if you want better audio visit our Diplomacy Games Amazon page and of course rate and review the show on your favorite podcast platform (1 hr 49 mins)

Just a reminder you can support the show by giving it 5 stars on iTunes or Stitcher. And don’t forget if you want to help improve the audio equipment… or get the guys more drunk,  you can also donate at Patreon or you can also shop at Amazon using our affiliate link. It costs exactly the same to you, but Amazon give us a small cut and it doesn’t cost you a cent more!

Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe so you get the latest Diplomacy Games episodes straight to your phone.

Thanks as always to Dr Dan aka “The General” for his rockin’ intro tune.

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