Diplomacy Games podcast: Episode 77 – Interview with David E. Cohen

Venue: Saccharomyces, Brisbane

Drinks of choice:

Kaner:  Black Hops Hornet IPA and Grifter Oatmeal Stout

Amby: Black Hops Hornet IPA


The guys interview renown Diplomacy variant creator David E. Cohen before they test out an alliance for the ages: The Juggernaut.


  • Playing Diplomacy at SaccharomycesThe guys discuss their drinks and venue (0 mins 10 secs)
  • They introduce the interview with David E. Cohen (3 mins 40 secs)

Interview with David E. Cohen

  • The interview starts badly with lots of technical issues – both in the initial connection and also the quality of the recording. Bear with us listeners, slightly normal service soon returns. That said there are chair squeaks and other background noise throughout the interview at our end (4 mins)
  • Eventually their perseverance pays off as David explains his process for creating variants (7 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner asks where the idea for Known World 901 came from. David explains where it came from and how it fitted in with Western World 901  (8 mins 20 secs)
  • Amby asks about the process of bringing together multiple maps into a single new game eg Maharaja coming together with Spice Islands to create an East Indies variant (9 mins 45 secs)
  • Kaner brings up the Mandate of Heaven variant and how to port it across (11 mins)
  • Kaner asks David about his first variant he created (16 mins 20 secs)
  • He goes onto ask about his latest project, Dawn of the Enlightenment (17 mins 30 secs)
  • David discusses his approach to breaking sea stalemate lines: High Seas provinces. They are similar to sealanes but allow multiple units in the same geographic space (19 mins)
  • Amby asks about what feedback David has received during play testing (26 mins)
  • David talks about the differing victory criteria for players and the timing of the variant (27 mins)
  • Kaner asks about whether anyone is planning on porting Dawn of the Enlightenment to an online Diplomacy platform (29 mins 45 secs)
  • He asks whether David has a rule of thumb for variant creators (30 mins 40 secs)
  • David touches on his new variant he’s started working on, Unconstitutional (33 mins 20 secs)
  • Amby asks an Australia based question for Dawn of the Enlightenment (36 mins 50 secs)
  • David covers off what variant developers need to avoid (38 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby asks what pitch would David give to a classic player on why they should try playing a variant occasionally (40 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby double checks about adjacency between the North and South Atlantic High Sea provinces (44 mins 20 secs)
  • Kaner discusses how he’d approach porting the map across to vDiplomacy (46 mins)
  • Amby asks about whether Kaner should put his effort into Dawn of the Enlightenment or Squirrel Wars (48 mins)
  • Amby asks David who else’s maps does he like when it comes to variants (49 mins 20 secs)
  • They discuss the backing up of variants over at vDip (51 mins 30 secs)
  • David discusses how much would be needed to buy the rights to Diplomacy (52 mins 30 secs)
  • The guys start wrapping up the interview (53 mins 30 secs)
  • After the interview they give their thoughts & Kaner announces he really has started working on Dawn of the Enlightenment. They discuss how maps are constructed and displayed in the online Diplomacy environment (54 mins 45 secs)
  • They discuss trying to get access to the variant Lab with Flame. They talk about thoughts on the winning conditions, the High Seas provinces, the spread of SCs on the map and avoiding determined moves (58 mins 45 secs)

Alliances that work: a Juggernaut case study

  • The guys get some more beers while Kaner sets out the Diplomacy map on the table (1 hr 11 mins)
  • They talk about a recent Patreon episode where they tested what happens when you have an unbreakable alliance and which are alliances that work. The guys are testing this by playing against the Bots at webDip (1 hr 12 mins)
  • The discuss the random games they created and their thinking on why they chose to test the Juggernaut (1 hr 15 mins)
  • They discuss Kaner wanting to do a slingshot, trying to trick the Bot players to thinking an RT is not happening (1 hr 18 mins)
  • They discuss their potential moves (1 hr 21 mins 30 secs)

Spring 1901

Juggernaut play test - spring 1901


  • The guys discuss Spring 1901 (1 hr 25 mins)
  • Next up they plan what to do in Fall 1901 (1 hr 28 mins)
  • Kaner challenges Amby’s thinking on a movement (1 hr 32 mins)

Fall 1901Juggernaut game play - Fall 1901

  • They finalise moves and discuss how the turn worked out – after Amby admits to a bit of a technical screw up (1 hr 36 mins 30 secs)
  • The guys start planning their moves for Spring 1902 (1 hr 40 mins 40 secs)

Spring 1902

  • Gameplay - Juggernaut Spring 1902They discuss the adjudication from Spring 1902 (1 hr 49 mins)
  • Next up is their plans for Fall 1902 (1 hr 52 mins 20 secs)

Fall 1902

  • Gameplay Juggernaut - Fall 1902They come back and discuss Fall (2 hrs 1 min)
  • After talking builds, its time to discuss plans for Spring 1903 (2 hrs 4 mins)

Spring 1903

Juggernaut game play: spring 1903

  •  After some more beers they breakdown the moves for spring 1903… including an embarrassing misorder by Amby (2 hrs 11 mins)
  • The guys then start planning for Fall 1903 moves. Kaner teaches Amby another lesson on move logistics (2 hrs 16 mins 30 secs)

Fall 1903

Juggernaut game play: fall 1903

  • Amby discovers Kaner is right again as they examine Fall moves (2 hrs 24 mins)
  • After some bitching from Kaner about his phone provider, its time for discussion about spring 1904 (2 hrs 30 mins)

Spring 1904

Juggernaut gameplay: Spring 1904

  • The guys discuss the latest set of moves (2 hrs 33 mins)
  • Onto planning for Fall 1904 (2 hrs 35 mins)

Fall 1904

Juggernaut gameplay: Fall 1904

  • Time to unpack Fall 1904 and Amby’s cheeky move pays off (2 hrs 41 mins 15 secs)
  • After builds, the guys plan for Spring 1905 (2 hrs 45 mins)

Spring 1905

Juggernaut gameplay: Spring 1905

  • The guys analyse the moves for Spring 1905 (2 hrs 50 mins)
  • And before the guys wrap it up for the night, they plan for Fall 1905 (2 hrs 52 mins)
  • Amby discusses a Virtual Diplomacy League game that Kaner might be interested in. Then its a little haircut talk (2 hrs 55 mins)

Fall 1905

Juggernaut gameplay: Fall 1905

  • And in the last wrap up of the night, Kaner & Amby dissect Fall 1905 before wrapping the podcast up (3 hrs 1 min)

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, plus you get extra podcast episodes!

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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