Divisions of the Diplomacy Gameboard
The countries of the diplomacy board are most importantly organized along the St. Petersburg-Switzerland-North Africa stalemate line. The three countries north of the line are called the Western Triangle while those south are called the Eastern Rectangle. Each half of the board holds 17 centers, so a power must be able to cross the stalemate line in force to achieve victory.
Composed of England, France, Germany and St. Petersburg, the Western Triangle is more geographically spread-out than its eastern counterpart. This provides difficulties for France when trying to gain a solo victory. Closer centers, like Tunis, Italy, and Warsaw require crossing an easily-held stalemate line, while Scandinavia and St. Petersburg are very far away. Thus France has a good record of strong draws, but has only a middling record of wins because it is simply too far away from anything else. England suffers from the same problem—Scandinavia is closer, but it is difficult for England to deploy armies to Central Europe to conquer MUN, and TUN is far away and across a stalemate line. Germany has the best winning record of the three due to his ability to make up for centers that are difficult for him to conquer, for example SPA, POR, and MAR, with closer centers across the stalemate line, usually VIE, TRI, VEN, and SEV.
Composed of Italy, Turkey, Austria, Russia except St. Petersburg, and Tunis, The Eastern Rectangle is geographically more compact than the Western Triangle, but has four powers vying for five neutrals, instead of three powers (and Russia's northern fleet) battling over seven neutral SC's. The extra competition often turns the East into a complete quagmire, allowing one or two Western Powers to clean up and then turn to attack Italy and Russia. Turkey sometimes gains strong draws out of these games, although often the Western power will rush to a quick solo victory while the four Eastern powers battle each other for dominance. Except for Turkey, tucked in its own corner of the board, the powers of the Eastern Rectangle have an easier time breaking through stalemate lines than their Western counterparts. Italy is more prepared to push into the Western Med than France is to break into the east. Austria's home centers are slightly closer to the stalemate line than Germany's, and it is much easier for Austria to take MUN than Germany to take VIE. Russia can ignore stalemate lines completely so long as he holds onto St. Petersburg or maintains fleets in Northern waters.
Italy as an Independent
Other theories of board division contain a Western and an Eastern Triangle and treat Italy as an independent variable. This is based on the effect that a northwardly aggressive Italy can have on the Western Triangle. While attacks into Germany or France rarely yield worthwhile results for Italy, its actions can decide which power is ultimately victorious in the west.
Stalemate Lines are lines that cross the board that have more spaces on one side than the other that are able to be defended by fewer units than the number of SC's they protect. They are quite controversial, especially in the design of variants, and are considered by most to be a weakness of the game because they do not parallel reality. Whereas real war is won by concentration of force in proper areas, the rules of Diplomacy allow for only one unit to occupy one province.
The most important stalemate line runs from St. Petersburg to North Africa, running between the non-supply center territories and Germany until Switzerland, then between PIE and MAR, GOL and SPA, and the Western Mediterranean Sea. This line separates the Western Triangle from the Eastern Rectangle, and it is around this line that most victories are based. To win, most powers conquer everything on their side of the line, and reach for one center on the other side. This is easier the closer the power is to a stalemate line.
These are the standard three-letter abbreviations for provinces, that will be used for the rest of the book. Provinces are sorted first by region (separated into land and sea areas), then alphabetically by name. If there are multiple province abbreviations available, they are listed in order of frequency.
- Impassable areas are spaces which are marked on most maps, but not a part of gameplay.
- Tunisia is misnamed on the map. The space is called "Tunis", despite the naming rule that only powers' SCs would be named with cities.
- Although the game begins in "Spring 1901", Sweden and Norway are separate provinces for gameplay purposes. This is because the map nevertheless reflects the 1914 borders, in Scandinavia as well as the Balkans.
- "Livonia" and "Liverpool" conflict, so neither is abbreviated "LIV". "Romania" and "Rome" would conflict, but the former was called "Rumania" instead by Allan Calhammer.
- "North Atlantic Ocean", "North Sea", "Norway", "North Africa", and "Norwegian Sea" all begin with "Nor", so none of them use this abbreviation.
- Neither "Gulf of Bothnia" or "Gulf of Lyons" are abbreviated "GUL"; see chart.
|Rumania||RUM or RMA||Balkans|
|Liverpool||LVP or LPL||England|
|Ruhr||RUH or RHR||Germany|
|Rome||ROM or RME||Italy|
|Livonia||LVN or LVA||Russia|
|English Channel||ENC or ECH||Atlantic|
|Heligoland Bight||HEL or HGB||Atlantic|
|Irish Sea||IRS or IRI||Atlantic|
|Mid-Atlantic Ocean||MAO or MID||Atlantic|
|North Atlantic Ocean||NAO or NAT||Atlantic|
|North Sea||NTH or NTS||Atlantic|
|Norwegian Sea||NWS or NWG||Atlantic|
|Skagerrak||SKA or SKG||Atlantic|
|Gulf of Bothnia||GOB or BOT||Baltic|
|Adriatic Sea||ADS or ADR||Mediterranean|
|Eastern Mediterranean Sea||EMS or EAS||Mediterranean|
|Gulf of Lyons||GOL or LYO||Mediterranean|
|Ionian Sea||IOS or ION or INS||Mediterranean|
|Tyrrhenian Sea||TYS or TYN||Mediterranean|
|Western Mediterranean Sea||WMS or WES||Mediterranean|
|Caspian Sea||CAS or CSS||Impassable areas|
|Iceland||ICE or ICL or ILN||Impassable areas|