Diplomacy Games podcast: Episode 21 shownotes – How to develop a variant, interview with Captainmeme & Rat Wars

Saville Row, Fortitude ValleyVenue: Saville Row, Brisbane

Drinks of choice:

Kaner – Young Henry’s Seasonal Brew from Victoria
Amby – The Other Wine Company grenache from McLaren Vale, South Australia

The guys discuss how to develop a variant, introduce the new segment: online Diplomacy pet peeves and talk NMR’s, interview Captainmeme: a player across vDip, webDip and PlayDip and talk about the Rat Wars variant. Phew! What a bumper episode!


  • The guys go ga-ga over the classiness of the speak-easy bar they’re recording in today: Saville Row. Amby is in ecstasy with his glass of wine as they discuss it’s a year since our first episode (15 secs)

How do you develop a variant?

  • Kaner starts discussing recent questions in the forums from MichaelB and Vauban about how do you create a Diplomacy variant (4 mins 15 secs)
  • MichaleB is looking at creating a global World War 2 variant. Kaner discusses at the time of recording he wasn’t sure about starting positions and as a result getting the right balance vs historical accuracy (5 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby suggests the timeline of WW2 in best achieving historical accuracy and player balance would be around the time of maximum extent of the Axis powers, or just before it. Kaner also suggests depending on the positioning of sea territories around America you could slow down their engagement in the war (6 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner discusses how do you take an awesome map and prepare it for coding. A long time ago KingAtom who created Habelya posted on forum.webdiplomacy.net about what you need to do for map names, and color coding territories to upload them into a php Lab (10 mins)
  • After this you need to do some work in a Diplomacy Lab using its tools to identify where each territory is (which connections that location to the color of the territory), assign whether the territories are land, sea or coast, and create connections between territories. Provided you’re following standard Dip rules this is a pretty straight forward process. Its only with special rules that you need a developer. Depending on the complexity you can either  (14 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby discusses how he really would love to see Versailles brought to vDip. We’ve discussed how awesome this variant is in other episodes. Having it implemented with its special rules for controlling two countries would be really handy if that code is re-used in other variants (18 mins)
  • Kaner discusses good variant development resources at Dip Pouch, Diplomatic Core and the Diplomacy Variant Bank – a couple of good articles about supply centre ratio to territories which you could easily find with a bit of Googling (20 mins)
  • He goes onto mention how a Dip Wiki could come back at some stage in the future which could help pull together even greater detail (21 mins)
  • Kaner brings up how he stumbled on an old archived game on the Diplomatic Core called War in 2020 by Jason Reiner, where using his Indiana Jones skills he reconstructed the variant and brought it to vDip. Jason says he made the map over 20 years ago, and is now looking at developing a Vietnam War variant  (21 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner likes the region and would like to create a Khmer Empire game also set in the region, but understandably hundreds of years earlier (26 mins)
  • The guys start fighting over how successful America’s military endeavors have gone since WW2 (27 mins)
  • They move back to variant development talk and discuss the time they generally took to create variants (from back when vDip was regularly publishing new variants a few years ago). They talk about the prospect of a Dip variant renaissance (29 mins)

Online Diplomacy pet peeves: NMR’s

  • We have a suggestion from Super_Dipsy at PlayDip for a new segment about frustrations of online Dip (31 mins)
  • Kaner discusses one that gets to him is loss of previously published info. Amby mentions the guidance on what to do isn’t always clear and you repeat the same mistakes again and again (31 mins 45 secs)
  • They fight over the frustrations of NMR’s (and Amby takes it on the chin). Kaner discusses the dilemma he has in whether he should take advantage of a NMR player’s centres and whether the game should be cancelled. Amby has no problems with this at all, gobbling up SCs (32 mins 30 secs)
  • They talk about ways around trying to avoid this problem, or reduce the risk of it happening (34 mins):
    • Reliability ratings and how you can create games with high benchmarks to try to avoid this happening
    • Inviting players into password protected games where players are generally reliable
    • A pre-agreement where the game condition for playing is if a player NMR’s the game will be cancelled
    • Set up the game settings when creating to extend the phase automatically if a player NMR’s
  • Amby and Kaner suggest they’ll go out to vDip, webDip and PlayDip and ask what are player’s pet peeves, and based on that highlight a peeve each episode and look at how each of the sites deal with that (43 mins)

Interview with Captainmeme

  • Kaner discusses how Captainmeme has a lot of experience with iritations due to being a vDip moderator and has the Comedy Cube at webDip and also hangs out at PlayDip (45 mins)
  • Our interview starts with Captainmeme introducing himself and how he finds the time to be so prolific on vDip, webDip and PlayDip (46 mins 30 secs)
  • He explains the different styles of play across the three main sites (49 mins 20 secs)
  • Captain talks about his role as a moderator (50 mins 30 secs)
  • He goes on to discuss what he likes about PlayDip (52 mins 30 secs)
  • Captain touches on Mafia and explains the culture of it at webDip and PlayDip (54 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner gives his thoughts and explains why Mafia sounds so attractive to Dip players. As Amby is a bit slow in learning, he keeps asking Cap more questions to better understand Mafia (57 mins 20 secs)
  • Kaner asks what attracted Cap to Diplomacy variants and the variant that hooked him (60 mins)
  • Then its on to his current two favorite variant: 1 vs 1 and Chaos. He goes on to describe his role coordinating the 1 vs 1 tournament at webDip (1 hr 2 mins 45 secs)
  • Captain talks about the upcoming conclusion to the 1 vs 1 webDip Showdown tournament (1 hr 7 mins)
  • Amby fucks up on muting his mike, giving listeners an insight into what happens when his dog barks too much during Skype interviews with Dip players (1 hr 11 mins 15 secs)
  • Kaner gives his personal perspectives on 1 vs 1 games (1 hr 12 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby asks Cap about his role bringing Ankara Crescent (zultar’s favourite variant) to vDip and explains how you play the game (1 mins 13 secs)
  • Amby keeps fucking up with his mike and his dog’s antics. Meanwhile in proper Dip talk, Cap takes his hat off to Kaner’s gameplay in a game of Ankara Crescent they played together in (1 he 15 mins 30 secs)
  • Cap talks about his thoughts on preventing losing SCs in Ankara Crescent (1 hr 17 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner gives his ideas of playing Ankara Crescent… with Bourse (1 hr 19 mins)
  • The guys then start discussing the Bourse game, Captain’s strategy and where he sees the game going (1 hr 20 mins 20 secs)
  • Kaner asks Cap why he let the cat out of the bag on Bourse strategy during the middle of the game, before giving a summary of the game’s comings and goings (1 hr 25 mins)
  • Amby asks if Cap’s strategy has changed now he’s no longer on the board (1 hr 36 mins)
  • Amby asks Cap about his mid-game suggestion for a future game where the score is a mix between the Bourse and the board (1 hr 39 mins 45 secs)
  • Kaner delves into what map would be best for the next Bourse game (1 hr 41 mins 50 secs)

Post interview wrap-up

  • Amby discusses his conversation with Captain re: whether Ruffhaus or Bozo will win the Bourse. Amby discusses the Bourse board SC transfer which would bring Bozo up to 1st position. Amby is doing this at the same time of eliminating Axum and Wagadu and is hoping it will get him into the 5th position he has been aiming for a long time [Amby says in the podcast that RUFFHAUS didn’t know about this, but in fact did… bozo just didn’t tell Amby that he also told RUFF!] (1 hr 43 mins)
  • Kaner also says he found Captain’s  1 versus 1 tournament and Mafia discussion was really interesting and he learnt a lot. Then they start squabbling about how Mafia works based on their understanding of what Captain said (1 hr 47 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner says he’s interested in giving a Mafia game a go (1 hr 50 mins)
  • Amby says he’s starting to get a number of games finishing, including a Mars game – Ground control to Major Tom. And with the ratings changes needs to join some new rated games (1 hr 51 mins 15 secs)
  • Amby asks Kaner about how he created the Mars variant. Amby tries educating Kaner on who Kim Hughes is (1 hr 53 mins 30 secs)
  • They discuss the WWIV game they’ve both joined: Furnace of Affliction (1 hr 55 mins 45 secs)

The Rat Wars variant

  • Kaner created the Rat Wars variant and recently won a game! You can see this game called Ratatouille on vDip (1 hr 57 mins 15 secs)
  • Kaner accuses Amby of not playing his variants (1 hr 57 mins 45 secs)
  • He goes on to discuss the variant’s fog of war nature, the two types of rat units you can build (arrow rats and spear rats) and how they differ in movement and when confronted with walls, and how supply centres work based on rat unit type (1 hr 58 mins 15 secs)
  • Amby expresses his interest in the way the coding for the rules works and how that code could be used in other variants. Kaner then gives a synopsis about the game he played and won. He touches on some general aspects of the variant (2 hrs 2 mins)
  • Amby asks Kaner how he got the idea for Rat Wars (2 hrs 6 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby then asks Kaner if there was a working Lab, what changes would he make to the variant now that its been played a while (2 hrs 7 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner finishes up to discuss his winning strategy for the variant: luck.  Amby says its Kaner’s equivalent of 1066 to Amby (2 hrs 9 mins 45 secs)


  • The guys start wrapping things up. Kaner leaves us with a joke about heaven, old ladies and ducks (2 hrs 11 mins 15 secs)

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If you have any suggestions on what you’d like to see covered in an upcoming podcast, or something you’d like to see regularly covered, please contact us or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks to Dan Philip for his rockin’ intro to the Diplomacy Games podcast.

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