by Chris Dziedzic

Personally, I am a big fan of play by e-mail (PBEM) Diplomacy games. I have always preferred them to the various judges. I think play by e-mail allows for much more creativity and flexibility by both the Game Masters and the players. The ability for press, analysis and commentary to come out simultaneously with an adjudication is a great addition to any gaming experience. There are minimal reliability issues with PBEM, since all that is needed are private e-mail accounts. There is no judge program to go down.

Of course, in the increasingly mechanized world, games on the various judges are often easier to find and join than games in a non-judge PBEM community. What kinds of opportunities are available to play PBEM Diplomacy games? I recently went through the record of three different English language PBEM communities that I am familiar with: Cat23, the Diplomatic Corp, and DipWorld. Each has a navigable archive of game results. I compiled data on all 2006 game starts in those three communities.


I cut my teeth in the Cat23 community back in 2000 and 2001 when I first started playing games of Diplomacy on line. Because of that personal history, I still have a strong affinity for this forum, despite the gradual decline in the number of games and players within it. This community uses a number of list serves, one for new game announcements, and others for season by season result postings. Looking over the thirteen game starts from 2006 in the Cat23 community, this is what we have…

Dip1239 Standard January 2006
Dip1240 1900 April 2006
Dip1241 Standard May 2006
Dip1242 Standard May 2006
Dip1243 Conquest of the Americas June 2006
Dip1244 Standard / Gunboat June 2006
Dip1245 Western World 901 June 2006
Dip1246 Standard July 2006
Dip1247 Standard / Gunboat July 2006
Dip1248 Standard August 2006
Dip1249 Sengoku August 2006
Dip1250 Standard August 2006
Dip1251 Standard October 2006

Diplomatic Corp

The Diplomatic Corp is a newer PBEM community. If there is one drawback to this community it is that all of their postings are on one list serve. Thus to get the new game announcements, one must also wade through the season by season results postings and other game specific broadcasts. Reviewing the eighteen game starts from 2006 in the Diplomatic Corp community, we see…

DC79 Standard / Gunboat January 2006
DC83 Hundred January 2006
DC84 The Age of Pericles January 2006
DC85 Standard / Reverse Gunboat January 2006
DC86 Standard January 2006
DC87 Standard February 2006
DC88 Hundred / Gunboat February 2006
DC89 Standard March 2006
DC90 Standard April 2006
DC91 Conquest of the Americas April 2006
DC92 World Game May 2006
DC93 Standard May 2006
DC94 Standard June 2006
DC95 Standard August 2006
DC96 Fog of War September 2006
DC97 Standard September 2006
DC98 Standard November 2006


It is safe to say that DipWorld is the most active of the three communities that I researched for this study. Thirty four games were started in this community in 2006. Besides the use of a single list serve, similar to the Diplomatic Corp, the club also has a well maintained, user friendly and attractive website. It is quite easy to scour the results of archives games. In fact, I have already recommended this community to one Dip Pouch author who likes to research and write ‘zine articles on variants. There is no better place to start such a project than by looking at the archived results of the variant one is interested in. Here are the thirty four DipWorld community game starts in 2006

DW375 1898 Crowded January 2006
DW376 Fallen American Empire January 2006
DW377 Standard / 10 year max January 2006
DW378 Standard / 10 year max January 2006
DW379 Standard / 10 year max January 2006
DW380 Standard / 10 year max January 2006
DW381 Standard / 10 year max January 2006
DW382 Standard / 10 year max January 2006
DW383 Standard / 10 year max January 2006
DW384 Standard / 10 year max January 2006
DW385 Standard / 10 year max January 2006
DW386 Standard / 10 year max January 2006
DW387 Standard February 2006
DW388 Standard February 2006
DW389 Milan March 2006
DW390 South America 5.1 March 2006
DW391 Standard March 2006
DW392 Sail Ho March 2006
DW393 Standard March 2006
DW394 Standard March 2006
DW395 Colonial May 2006
DW396 Renaissance May 2006
DW397 Standard May 2006
DW398 Chromatic June 2006
DW399 1600 June 2006
DW400 Standard June 2006
DW401 Conquest of the Americas July 2006
DW402 Standard August 2006
DW403 Standard October 2006
DW404 1900 October 2006
DW405 Standard October 2006
DW406 Standard October 2006
DW407 Colonial November 2006
DW408 South America 5.1 December 2006

So what are enthusiasts playing in our hobby? It appears that standard Diplomacy is still the “standard” for most players. (Ha! I want to thank my team of gag writers for that clever line.) Over 60% of the games in each of the three communities studied were games of standard Diplomacy.

As far as variants are concerned, the ones that were played multiple times within these three communities in the year 2006 were 1900, Colonial Diplomacy, Hundred, and South America 5.1. One note for those review the charts above, the game of the Conquest of the Americas variant was a single game that was cross registered in all three communities to create a high profile for the play test.

Let’s also take a moment and the timing of game starts in each of the three communities throughout the year 2006…

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Cat23 1 0 0 1 2 3 2 3 0 1 0 0
Diplomatic Corp 5 2 1 2 2 1 0 1 2 1 1 0
DipWorld 12 3 6 0 3 3 1 1 0 4 1 1
Total 18 5 7 3 7 7 3 5 2 5 2 1
(Game starts by month in the Cat23, Diplomatic Corp and DipWorld communities)

OK, so a word of caution… the spike in the DipWorld game starts in January 2006 reflect ten game starts of standard Diplomacy games with a ten year maximum for an annual tournament. Generally, new game starts are pretty consistent throughout the year in each of the three communities. The only real decline appears to be in November and December. This is not a surprising observation. With the upcoming Holiday Season often requiring deadline extensions while players are on vacations and prioritizing time with family and friends, it is understandable for GMs to wait until after the New Year to begin a new game.

Admittedly, this is just a small sample of the numerous PBEM communities out there in our hobby. I chose these three because they are all Anglophone communities with which I was familiar and could navigate within to obtain the relevant information. I’m certain there are French and German and Spanish (etc.) language PBEM communities, as well as other English language communities. Hopefully other readers and contributors, who are familiar with these other communities, can do a similar treatment about further opportunities for PBEM play.

Chris Dziedzic

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