Diplomacy Games podcast: Episode 114 – Interview with Stephen Agar on Dip zines, the Variant Bank and much more

Venue: Greenglass, Brisbane

Drinks of choice:

Kaner: Pipsqueak cider from Little Creatures, Freemantle

Amby: Château La Reyne Malbec from Cahors , France

Greenglass, BrisbaneThe guys interview Stephen Agar, creator of the Diplomacy Archive for zines and the Variant Bank, on getting back into the hobby. Plus the guys talk cheese and languages. Oh and their games too.


  • The guys introduce the show, venue and drinks. They grab some lunch and then return (0 mins 10 secs)

Interview with Stephen Agar

  • The guys start setting the scene for their interview with Stephen Agar, creator of the Variant Bank and collector of Diplomacy zines around returning to the hobby (4 mins 15 secs)
  • The interview begins with Stephen talking about running postal Diplomacy back in 1976 and his progression initially with the hobby (4 mins 30 secs)
  • He starts talking about creating in 1999 Diplomacy Archive and Variant Bank. He goes onto discussing how he received 1000’s of UK Diplomacy zines and how he’s looking at providing them to the British Library (11 mins)
  • He discusses rediscovering  aspects of the game from rereading and cataloging zines and how only about 10% of all zines are online (15 mins)
  • Stephen goes onto discuss how he’s inherited about 1,600 variants from the North American Variant Bank which aren’t online (17 mins 30 secs)
  • They discuss why interest in variants have reduced in the Diplomacy community compared to the 1960’s and 70’s (22 mins)
  • He talks about the ingenuity and fun in variants like Abstraction, Multiplicity and light hearted variants like Vain Rats, Deluge and Geophysical Diplomacy (27 mins 30 secs)
  • Amby asks what you’d typically find in a zine edition before progressing to a general discussion around views around how the community has evolved (33 mins 45 secs)
  • Stephen talks around the passing of veterans in the community (44 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby asks about what things were like in the postal Diplomacy scene (47 mins 30 secs)
  • They talk a little around Richard Sharp and his book on the game (50 mins 15 secs)
  • The conversation moves onto the physical nature of zines, Diplomacy folklore and the challenge of dealing with old web tech (53 mins)
  • They discuss how people can contribute to Stephen’s project (59 mins 30 secs)
  • Stephen talks about stalemate lines and correspondence with Allan Calhamer and Stephen’s 1959 edition of Diplomacy (1 hr 8 mins)
  • Stephen asks if anyone is interested in a postal Diplomacy zine to reach out to him by email (1 hr 16 mins)
  • The guys return to give their thoughts on the interview (1 hr 18 mins)
  • Amby reflects on the difficulty of getting sufficient players for an email game, talking about the David E. Cohen game he’s in and gives a thanks to David for creating the connection with Stephen (1 hr 30 mins 45 secs)

Around the grounds

  • Kaner announces he’s about to win a Germany 1648 game which he thinks will be over by the time this episode goes out (1 hr 37 mins 50 secs)
  • They talk cheese and languages (1 hr 44 mins)
  • Amby discusses one of the games he’s in and the guys can’t remember which variant they both previously agreed to play (1 hr 54 mins)
  • The guys talk about Daniel Lester winning the 2022 Web Diplomacy Championship and touch on the announced plans for 2023 WDC in Bangkok, Thailand (1 hr 59 mins)
  • They start to wrap up the show (2 hrs 3 mins)


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

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