Explore! is a Diplomacy variant game that has borrowed many aspects from the Sid Meier game Civilization. I took some aspects from the board game as well as the computer game, blended them together with Diplomacy and came up with a truly unique game unlike ANY other you have ever played. Like the Civ computer game, you will be starting your fledgling civilization with one small city, you chose the name of your small Empire, design your flag (your small icon designation) and even get to name your city and each new space you are first to 'discover". Your knowledge of the world will be those spaces that surround this starting city space only. Each turn you will have a myriad of order options, do you explore your surroundings? Do you grow your city? Do you improve your military? The style of play is up to you as well, you may chose to be an explorer or pirate, you can concentrate on internal growth making your cities the envy of all others, you can be a military power or a pacifist, the options are endless. While I have "borrowed" from Civ. this is a Dip game, do not expect a game of Civilization but rather a Civ "flavored" game.
While the game offers so many new opportunities, it will feel very familiar to anyone familiar with Diplomacy. The rules are simple and intuitive.
here you will find the rules
Rules updates (it is a fairly new game and questions do arise often)
Explore! Is a Diplomacy variant game with plenty of ideas inspired by the Game “Civilization” both the board game and the computer game. Players familiar with Diplomacy will immediately recognize most game concepts yet players of Civilization will certainly find some elements borrowed from that game as well. The end result is a truly unique game unlike any other. All the strategy and warfare of Diplomacy with many myriad paths of growth found in Civilization. The game has now been played several times to great success and the rules have been firmed up yet some rules are still a work in progress. While most glitches have been worked out, we will undoubtedly run into a "situation" or two, please understand the game is getting more and more complete but is still a bit of a work in progress and your patience is appreciated.
What you can expect from your GM:This game is HUGE as far as the GM's duties go, As in standard games, a master map of what happens turn by turn is made, from there the GM must make individual maps and scoring updates for each and every player, this takes a LOT of time and is all done by hand. The game starts easy to manage and the first few seasons are adjudicated with few errors and in fairly quick time. As the game progresses and the powers get larger and larger it gets progressively more and more difficult to judge. ERRORS WILL OCCUR! I ask all players to realize the adjudication and mapping is all done by hand and to work with me through any mistakes. Please simply point out the error and I/we will attempt to work through the problem as best as possible. Most errors are simple mapping errors and easy to fix but the occasional “bigie” may slip by, working through mistakes is the key to running a good game and I think I have almost always worked through them well in the past. Also, as the game grows, it takes longer and longer to judge and to map. While the game will start off FAST, it may require an extra day for me to finish mapping. This may actually be an invisible delay to you the player as the deadlines are often fluctuating but be aware I sometimes require an extra day to fully map everything out.
I will send each player an information page showing the basic rules as well as their known world, the contacts they know and the points they have accumulated to date. Again, should I make a mistake (it is easy to do) please inform me and I will try to fix it immediately. Should I in error send you a section of map you have not yet explored, consider this a gift...you learned something by way of a traveler from afar? The game will be very individually and specifically tailored to each player. This will be what takes me the most time to map. Again please be aware that I do all of this by HAND, not only that, but my graphic skills are near nil and I don't even know how to use layers in my paint program so this is a bigger undertaking than you might think.
What I expect from you the player:
This game is blind and I expect each of you to keep it that way, please do not try to work around things by trying to find other players identities before you "meet them" in the game. Once you do meet another player I ask you not to share other contact information. You MAY share map information… all you know, bits and pieces only or complete lies (yes, you can send fabricated and forged maps showing what you want known). I will not confirm anything regarding things you have not explored yourself, information shared by others can not be confirmed by the GM. As with any game, you may want to share your thoughts and learned maps with the GM, if you do so, it certainly keeps the GM entertained but game specifics you can not yet know yourself can not be given by the GM
The game can start very slowly as you each start with one city and one military unit (army or fleet to be referred to as “unit”) ...like standard Dip, a supply center (or city) can support one unit. In this game you can improve cities, you can build new cities (on city sites only) and you can train to improve your offensive and defensive abilities. Since we start with few units and it takes time for each improvement, in it’s early stages, the game can be VERY slow to start. I would like you each to check with the game daily, it will take very little time and default orders will also work real nice... for example, you could say something like move to XYZ, name the new area "Blah Blah" build a new city, should a neighbor border my first city, please move back to cover it just in case.
This would cover 4-5 turns alone in the early game and help the game chug along at a faster pace in these early (boring) turns! I fully expect each player to give this game more attention than a standard one turn a week Diplomacy game. The blind nature of this game generates greater interest so the extra attention in the early stages is hardly a huge effort. I do expect to run through SEVERAL years turns in the first few weeks.
If you have not yet done so, please send me your nation name. Be creative in your choice. I would suggest using an ancient civilization, a civilization from history or possibly a “nation” based on your local geography.
Please name your first city/territory (fitting with your “theme”)
and if you like, send me a flag that will fit the icon sample on the info page posted or tell me a color scheme and design ideas you want and I will create a flag for you. I do enjoy helping you design your flag so please don’t think you are putting me out in any way should you not be as 'artistic' as you would like. Should you ask for help designing your flag, do understand we are working with only a few pixels and things must be very simple and basic (I have had players ask for Lions and Dragons and animals on shields and such, you can not put that much info in so small a space, think SIMPLE)
You will get to name each territory you “discover”
I ask you to use easily differentiated names for each territory named (please nothing like Black Forest, Black Swamp, Blacksville, Blackwood, Black Forest North, Black Forest South, Black Forest East, New Black Forest, etc) this will keep confusion to a minimum. Also, no names that are vulgar or possibly offensive to others. Should a name already be in use elsewhere (you may not yet have found that space and yes, it has happened several times in past games) I will ask for a new name should I notice and the time is available but sometimes I will simply name it myself as I do not review your orders in great detail until it is time to adjudicate. I will not delay the game for such a simple reason as a name but even if I were to name your space, you will get full credit for the naming of course. I will try to keep with your theme if I am aware of the theme (so maybe you want to share that with me or send a preliminary list of possible names). Please keep the names “fairly” short as longer names are hard to fit on the map, use your discretion when you see a smaller space, PLEASE give it a shorter name or I may be forced to ignore your request and name it differently.
In all messages to the GM please include the word Explore or the game name in the subject line as well as a brief note regarding the message topic such as:
Explore, Mordor orders, or Explore rules question, etc.
All my messages are sent in individual e-mails. I try to make each note as uniform as possible and use a “form letter” of sorts. I will try to customize parts to suit your power but realize it is a form letter to all in many ways and some things might not make perfect sense to you.
These options include the following, broken down by type of order possible
Units (army or fleet) have more choices than they do in standard Dip.
In addition to the standard Movement, support, hold and convoy orders
Each unit may also perform several other tasks
O …Offensive Training
A unit may take 4 consecutive turns to “train” it’s military in better offensive techniques. After four consecutive turns of offensive training a units “strength” will increase one point. In standard Dip, each military unit is equal, all worth one “point” of power. After offensive training units in this game can be worth 2 “points” or more. This would be similar to having an extra support in an attack. One unit with 2 points of strength (or more) is supported by one supply center (or city). Supply centers support UNITS, not unit strength.
A unit with 2 or 3 points of offensive strength add those additional points in offensive attack supports as well. Units max out at 3 points of offensive power.
Additional offensive points do not help when defending oneself from attack nor lending defensive support to another unit.
Should an improved offensive army lend support to another’s attack, all points are added to that other attack. The Improved army can not split the points to two different attacks.
Should that unit be attacked, his entire support is cut, not just an equal number of points to the unit who attacked.
Should a “trained” unit be forced to retreat, this extra offensive power plays no part in any retreat options. Retreat rules are the same regardless of the increased offensive firepower.
D …Defensive Training
A unit may take 4 consecutive turns to “train” it’s military in better defensive techniques. After four consecutive turns of defensive training a units “strength” will increase one point. In standard Dip, each military unit is equal, all worth one “point” of power. After defensive training units in this game can be worth 2 “points” in defense. This would be similar to having an extra support in an attack. One unit, 2 points of strength (or more) is supported by one supply center (or city). Supply centers support UNITS, not unit strength.
A unit with 2 or 3 points of defensive strength add those additional points in defensive supports as well.
Additional defensive points do not help when attacking or lending offensive support to another unit.
A unit may max out at 3 points defensive power
A unit itself may never be worth more than 3 or less than 1 but all other standard game support orders remain unchanged.
…again, offensive points apply to offensive orders ONLY, defensive points apply to defensive orders ONLY. These include orders to support other units,
ex. a unit with 2 points offense and 1 point defense can only offer defensive support (to a unit ordered to hold) of 1 point only.
Dislodged units with greater offensive or defensive powers are treated equally during the retreat phase, these soldiers are in retreat mode and are not capable of using their advanced training at this time of fleeing.
Should an improved defensive army lend defensive support to another unit, all points are added to that other units total defense The Improved army can not split the points to two different units.
Should that unit be attacked, his entire support is cut, not just an equal number of points to the unit who attacked.
Should a “trained” unit be forced to retreat, this extra defensive power plays no part in any retreat options. Retreat rules are the same regardless of the increased defensive firepower
Other unit info…
Should a unit change his orders before his 4th consecutive same order or come under attack of any sort, dislodgement or not (regardless of how strong offensively or defensively), any time spent towards that advancement is lost. This means ANY change! Changing from a city advancement to a unit advancement, moving, or changing from advancement to even a support… any change means you must start that advancement from start again.
...the above rule can be harsh and is often met with great agony, it really upsets those who get 3 turns of training/improving wasted seeing red. Remember this when the idea to thwart another comes to you, do not do so lightly, this is a bold and evil tactic that WILL make you a certain enemy.
Some ask why so harsh a "penalty" and express bewilderment as to how three turns of training could simply go forgotten, you must remember this is a strategy game, not absolute reality, and that the reasons for that were made with the scope of game progression in mind. The ability to hit an enemy and thwart fulfillment of these actions is a great option to have in ones strategic planning. And it can be deviously fun to do to, simply accept this rule as being a harsh one and learn to live with it is all I can suggest, but do beware it could happen to you!
Should a unit retreat, that unit retains all advances made.
Should a unit either be disbanded OR chose to retreat OTB, all advances for that unit are lost. A new unit may be built in any owned city but it will start at 1 point each offense and defense regardless of how “powerful” the previous unit may have been. (Remember, cities support UNIT’S not the level of power)
Point calculations for improved units
Calculate total uncut offensive power vs total uncut defensive power
Units strength is “portable” meaning defense is carried regardless of moving or not,
City defensive points are not portable and apply only to those units already in that city space, NOT to those who attempt to move into that space.
Extra city defenses DO apply even if a city happens to be empty of units.
City defenses can be thought of as "city walls" and offer the added defenses to units (or a city "garrison" should the city be devoid of units) behind the walls, as in standard Dip, a unit that moves may not receive defensive support. Same thing here, should a unit move, he does not receive any extra defense from the city walls. Thinking about this logically, how can the walls help that unit while they are out on the border attacking another?
A Mordor (o1, d2) sits in the city of Mordor, a level 2 city
Should A Mordor hold (or support another ...std Dip rules) it will have a defense of 3 (2 for having an improved defense and another 1 from the improved city)
Should A Mordor move unsuccessfully, it does not get the extra point of defense from the city walls and his defense is simply 2 points defense (his UNIT defense only)
A Mordor (o1, d1) sits in the level 2 city of Mordor
A Mordor - Paris (fails, insufficient force)
A The Shire (o2, d1) - Mordor
The result is the Mordor army must retreat as The Shire has offense of 2 vs Mordors defense of 1, we do NOT add the city wall defense to the moving unit, we can think of this as an attack of 2 vs 1 vs 1 but NOT 2 vs 1 PLUS 1.
Lets get more involved and complex:
A Mordor (o1, d2) - Paris (fails, insufficient force)
A The Shire (o2, d1) - Mordor
In this case, The Shire fails in his attempt to move
Mordor has a defense of two and the Shire has an offense of two
A Mordor (o1, d2) in Level 2 city Mordor
Improved unit vs improved unit
Should an improved offensive unit attack an improved defensive unit (and vice-versa), this is handled simply by adding the offense vs defense as explained in the following example:
3 offense, 1 defense army and a 2 offense, 3 defense army attack each other:
3 offense vs 3 defense bounces
2 offense vs 1 defense wins
…In this example the unit with 2 points offense beats the 3 points offensive army (thanks to superior defense holding back the larger armies offense)
Cities may also be improved similar to the basic units above.
City improvements are made by the military units themselves
Instead of the standard movement, support, hold or convoy
And instead of the new unit improvement orders “O” and “D”
Units may also choose to build or improve their cities.
New cities may be built on city sites ONLY, these sites are marked with small “+” symbols on the map (some are red, some are white there is no difference, the color is for contrast against map colors only, for ease of sight). A unit may build a new city in a similar manner as his offensive and defensive training is done. Four consecutive turns will build a new city. Any break in the timeframe again results in all progress lost and requires that unit to start over again. Again, these spaces are not cities and are simply sites suitable to sustain a city, the city must be built with four consecutive turns (B1, B2, B3, B4). The site does not automatically turn into a city!
Cities may grow if you put the time into making them bigger and better. By using four consecutive turns you can (in order) improve a city in the following ways:
Level 2 City
A level 2 city has a garrison in the city adding one point of defense to that city regardless of the city being occupied or not. The garrison adds one to a units defensive strength total as well. This extra point of defense may not be used to support anywhere outside the city space and is defensive for that space ONLY.
Level 3 City
In addition to the level two defensive bonus, a level three city supports an additional unit (a level 3 city supports 2 units). The additional unit may be built in any owned city and if one is not available (vacant) at that time, like standard dip, it can be added after the next Autumn turn one does become available.
Level 4 City
A level 4 city has a city wall in the city adding yet another one point of defense to that city regardless of the city being occupied or not. The city wall adds one to a units defensive strength total as well. This extra point of defense may not be used to support anywhere outside the city space and is defensive for that space ONLY
Level 5 City
In addition to the previous bonuses, a level five city supports yet one more additional unit. (a level 5 city supports 3 units) The additional unit may be built in any owned city and if one is not available (vacant) at that time, like standard dip, it can be added after the next Autumn turn one does become available
Cities may not offer support to any moves outside the city
City bonus defense is in place regardless of being occupied or not, however
Vacant cities may not be supported from outside the city, support may of course be given to a unit in that city but a VACANT city can not be supported.
Further Clarification, City Defensive Upgrades (City Walls)
City defensive upgrades cause a bit of confusion, the standard game rules are changed quite a bit by city upgrades and depending on how you look at this, you could make arguments for all sorts of situations. It would help if you think of the upgrade as a city wall. When a city upgrades to level 2 (and level 4) it increases it’s defense and that city is thought to have built a defensive wall around itself. At level 2 the defense is increased by one point, at level 4 the wall can be thought of as being higher and thicker adding a second point of defense.
At level 2, the wall will add one point of defense to even an unoccupied city, the thought is that the city inhabitants can easily defend themselves from small armies even though no military units are present. Thinking of the wall aspect, a city can not offer protection to units that are not behind said walls. A unit attempting to move to his fortified city does not gain any defensive advantages from these walls since they are outside those walls and receive no benefit. Should 2 different powers (one friendly, one enemy) both send force one units at a city, it would act as a 1 vs 1 bounce. (actually 1 vs 1 AND 1 but not 1 vs 1 PLUS 1)
In the above example, an argument can be made that the city would allow its own troops in but we use standard Dip rules that call for a bounce, the rationale here can be assumed that the equal, opposing units are either bounced before reaching the city or the battle is so fierce at the city, the gates can not be opened for fear of the enemy pouring through at the same time as the friendly forces.
Should a unit attempt to move outside a city and be attacked at that same time, the walls are not added to that units defensive total, clearly, units outside the walls can receive no benefit while outside their protection!
Should a unit offer support to another unit, the defense would apply. This would be in accord with standard Dip rules but can still apply to the wall idea in that support may be thought of as supplies sent to another while the actual troops are still behind the walls. Should a unit in a level 2+ city support an adjacent unit and come under fire himself, that support would be cut as in standard Dip rules but the extra defense would still apply. So a level one unit in a level 2 city would not be dislodged by a force of two attacking even if that unit had been supporting another. BUT, if that same unit were moving, then the walls would not help him and he would lose 2 vs 1 as in standard Dip.
Walls offer support to those behind them and as such can not offer support to units attempting to move behind them nor can they offer support to units in adjacent territories, only UNITS may offer such support (standard Dip rules)
Should a city be taken by an enemy during a Spring turn the city is not yet lost HOWEVER, the enemy unit is sitting behind the walls and those walls do offer the same protection to enemy units as friendly units. Walls are incapable of thought and can not determine who they will help, any unit behind those walls will get the defensive bonus regardless of city ownership.
The same rules apply to level 4+ cities with an extra point
of defense added to the numbers.
Villages (Optional Rule)
The village is a new addition to the game those who have played before may not be familiar with. The village may or may not be used in any specific game, if the village will be employed, it will be stated so before your game starts!
Villages may be built in the same manner as a city is built but has several differences from a city...
Villages may be built in ANY land space as long as it is not adjacent to a city space, a city site or another village. Should two villages be completed at the same time, neither will be built and all time spent on the build is lost, production must be started over.
Villages are built in THREE consecutive turns (vs the city time frame of 4 turns)
Unit support can be provided by villages at the rate of one support per two villages
Villages may never be improved beyond their one and only level
In games using the Village optional rule, builds may NOT be raised in a village (unless spelled out by the games GM before the game starts)
Villages are worth TWO points towards your game score
A unit may rename a previously named space by spending one turn to do so.
This renaming is purely for vanity/ego reasons only, no points for that areas original discovery will transfer. If a player wants to burn a turn or has a turn to waste, he may chose to rename any areas (even his own previously named areas).
Order Writing Mechanics:
Standard Diplomacy mechanics,
Specify the unit type (A army or F fleet)
Specify what unit (spell out the FULL name of the space your unit is in)
Use above letter codes (also on information sheet) to describe the units action (B = Build, I = Improve, O = Offensive Training, Etc)Spell out space moving to/space supporting (if required)
Other game details and notes:
Each territory will be color coded to identify ownership of supply centers. Each player in the game has a unique color, while two players might have similar colors, no two powers will be the exact same color.
This color coding will generally indicate who controls what area.
Please do not worry about what color an area is as the color on non city spaces means nothing. City space coloring is the only color that DOES matter, the rest are there to help me map each players known world only. (and it looks prettier)
Units that bounce, have their training/improvement/building interrupted, forced to retreat, etc. will have their units action designator colored RED on their icon. Other Players will see this as well (assuming they can see into that space) and can only guess what may have happened to turn that designator red.
The first player to land in an un-named space is considered to have been the one to discover it, this player names the area and gets a point for the discovery. Simply being next to a territory does not constitute complete discovery even though you may “peek” into it. The coloring of spaces can give you an idea as to who has been where and what the other players may be seeing themselves. The first to “view” an area will turn that space their color. That space will remain that color until another enters that space. This means that a power that comes up next to one of these areas peeked into does not change the color (until entered) of the adjacent area, this second player to the region knows another had been nearby but the original player has no idea the second one is sitting so close by. ONLY land spaces will be colored while sea spaces will always be the same shade of blue. The reasons for this are due to the artifacts left behind by each passing units, on land they will leave behind signs as well as the random nomads will have reports of such past visits to an area while at sea the artifacts left behind would have sunk and the sea is not as full of nomadic people to report these situations. Do pay attention to the naming of spaces, including sea spaces however.
During the course of the game there will be many situations where two players both border the same undiscovered, uncolored space at the same time. A space can of course only be colored one color, when this occurs both powers will be advised another player is viewing this space and one color will be chosen at random, the color will change only when a new power moves through that space.If I have the time, I will try to stripe these spaces with both players colors.
Some games may use an "Age of Discovery" variant rule. After a preset number of points are reached by the leading player (usually 100 pts.) the map will suddenly be revealed to all. No more secret, "fog of war" maps for each player, all points are known to all as well, the "Age of Discovery" means there are no more secrets! AFTER the age of discovery kicks in, there will be no more points earned for nations met but all points earned up to that point will of course remain in tact for each player. The age of discovery helps the GM manage the game much easier as the game gets VERY hard to map at this time, it also helps players make what could be last moment shifts in strategy to stop the leader and/or make a move to the leader board themselves. The real life thinking is the world is getting smaller and smaller and information can no longer be kept secret, the mysteries of the world are shared and understood by all travelers around the globe.
Cartography specifics are illustrated below, please take note as to how the map will be revealed as you can gain an advantage by understanding the coloring scheme.
New opponents will be met throughout the game, you will be provided with their email address and nations name when one of your cities or one of your units borders one of their units or cities. You may contact these new nations and discuss strategy but you may also exchange maps. These maps may be altered and chaged as you see fit, please understand the only maps that you know must be correct are those supplied by the games GM. Should you exchange maps, do not exchange the contact information you have! You may discuss other nations in general terms (“Have you met the “Aztecs” yet?” but do not ask “Have you met John Smith yet”) If contact information is accidentally learned in any way, you are expected to follow the rules of the game and refrain from contacting that player about any game specifics until you do finally meet in game.
Occasional updates will be made sporadically during the game. Possible announcements of great cities being built, elimination of powers, occasional scoring updates, etc. will be throughout the game. No exact details will be made, these will always be very general and vague.
Once you know a portion of map, it will remain known to you. You will be able to see other nations units move in and out yet you will not know their identity until you have a unit or city border their unit or city.
Soooo, assume you know an area to the far north yet your units and cities are all 2 or more spaces away and do not border that far northern space. You may see an opponent move in, even though you can see him, he will likely not see you, In this example, neither of you will know the identity of the other.
Once a space is named it remains that name all game long regardless of ownership (or possible renaming). The points earned for it’s discovery remain with the original discovering player, these points are never taken away.
The map will wrap around east to west and often north to south"land bridges" may or may not be on your worlds map. A land bridge is the term given to those spaces that allow an army to cross a narrow section of water similar to the standard games Denmark/Sweden border where fleets can flow through east/west while armies can cross north/south. If your world does have land bridges the rules can vary from game designer to game designer. For my particular rules (this will be spelled out if different!) a land bridge is seen by a fleet that is positioned between the two land masses and can be seen by those in either land mass, if the bridge is there, the spaces are adjacent so they MAY see the other side. Bridges can be crossed by both army or fleet (this can also change depending on variant designer but will spelled out before the games start).
Every player will start off with one city and one unit,
Please advise if you prefer an army or a fleet.
Each player will also be adjacent to one city site and none will have two within site that first turn. There are many more and the distribution of them is fairly equal but much of that has to do with how well and where you explore. Also note points are added for named “discovered” territories, this should not be overlooked as these points are never taken away while cities and city advances can be lost if taken by others.
All game moves and rule updates will be made via e-mail
I will try to post some rules on Redscape but everything will be done via email.
It should be noted that retreats can possibly yield both points and information. Should you retreat to an unexplored space you can of course name it and gain that point for doing so. If you retreat to a vacant (level one) city, it can become yours as well (in the fall turns of course). Any new map information will also be provided.
Any clues to how many city sites or how densely placed is unknown, how many other players is unknown, how large the map is, is unknown. You must discover this on your own. The map is however not going to change once we start it will remain fixed, nothing will be added or subtracted.
There are no pre-existing cities outside each players starting city. (no “neutrals”)
Should you find a vacant opponents city, you can waltz right in and take it from him, this COULD of course result in his elimination. (standard supply center support rules are in place)
The game will START with a fast pace
If everyone is doing the same thing we might even skip 2 or more turns
Eventually when contact is made with others and you need the extra time we can slow down to once a week moves but to START, we will speed things up.
Winning, End of Game:
The game is typically won by accumulating 125-150 points (or more!). this value may be higher or lower but will be preset before your game starts.
Points are earned for various achievements and all these points are listed on your information page.
Should two (or more) players reach the victory point total at the same time, then the player with the most points at that time will be declared the winner
Should a tie still exist, then we will simply continue until one power manages to have more points than all others (victory point total or more)
A word of advise…
The game is not all about military conquest, it is not all about exploration and growth. The most likely winner will have a balance of these two game aspects.
ANY questions, please ask!