In Diplomacy you submit written orders for your units each turn on a slip of paper. Once everyone has submitted orders, all orders are revealed. The culture of Diplomacy allows various sorts of shenanigans.

What happens if you submit an order slip for another player's units?

For example, let's say you're playing Turkey and someone else is playing Germany. You submit two pieces of paper: one for Turkey and one for Germany. The German player submits orders for only Germany. When the orders are revealed, everyone can see that two different sets of orders were submitted for one country.

Back when Allan Calhamer (the inventor of Diplomacy) was playing the game, a move called a "Flying Dutchman" was sometimes used. In this move, Turkey would include among its orders an order to move a German unit. If no one noticed (or no one objected), the order would be executed as written. According to him, it was never really outlawed in the game, it just got rarer over time. What I'm asking about is only a small escalation above a Flying Dutchman, I think.

  • Is the culture of everyone who plays Diplomacy (not just your play group) really so flexible that it allows shenanigans to the extent of directly breaking rules? Is your play group like that? Do people commonly cheat in other ways? (Also... you can likely tell who did it by handwriting, right?)
    – Cascabel
    Aug 5, 2014 at 4:15
  • 1
    Yah, I'd say this falls outside the rules. Submitting two sets of orders for yourself (with one labelled that it supersedes the other) is generally considered acceptable however.
    – bwarner
    Aug 5, 2014 at 12:32
  • @Jefromi, you'd be surprised what's allowed in Diplomacy games sometimes. I'll make an edit to show the precedent I'm reading about.
    – Joe
    Aug 5, 2014 at 17:44
  • The "Flying Dutchman" did not involve entering orders for someone else's units. It involved using an extra piece that you were not entitled to, often by executing an extra build or neglecting to execute a removal due to a lost center. Separately, he talks about writing orders for a country and removing their actual order set. But I would still consider this to be allowed only if your gaming group has specifically said it is OK.
    – bwarner
    Aug 11, 2014 at 13:30

4 Answers 4


I believe the traditional response is to feed the game board to a tiger and award the offending player a toothbrush covered in jam.

Which is to say, you're asking what the rules say should happen in a scenario that cannot happen if you're following the rules. That implies a contradiction, and contradiction implies anything.

The rules of the game say "...each player writes an order for each of his/her units on a piece of paper." (emphasis added). If you choose not to play the game that way, you're pretty much going to be on your own when it comes to deciding what the implications of your alternative rules are.

  • So Calhamer's Flying Dutchman is completely outside the rules?
    – Joe
    Aug 10, 2014 at 4:05
  • 2
    @Joe It's certainly outside the rules as they're written. You can't really expect that the rules will tell you what to do if you don't follow them. That's something to sort out with the people you play with. You can play by the rules in the box. You can play with well-defined house rules. (It sounds like Calhamer did this.) You can play a game where people just cheat or break the rules, and then you have to argue and try to sort it all out, so that the cheating and rulebreaking basically is the game, go for it. But at some point, you have to decide what game you're playing.
    – Cascabel
    Aug 10, 2014 at 6:35
  • Absolutely. I was just assuming (without warrant) that if Calhamer did it, it was probably allowed.
    – Joe
    Aug 10, 2014 at 7:56

In that case I'd assume from the handwriting it would be pretty obvious which were the real Germany's orders. If you submit orders for another player, then your version won't be executed.

  • 1
    And if you can't tell, then I guess you argue a lot, and know you're playing with someone who doesn't really care if the game gets messed up?
    – Cascabel
    Aug 5, 2014 at 18:51

Avoid this situation by having everyone submit a public key signature on all of their moves, which can easily be verified by the other players. Implementing this with pen and paper is left as an exercise for the reader.

  • 3
    Honestly if you need to go this far to verify orders then I would say the group you are playing with has some trust issues.
    – Joe W
    Aug 19, 2014 at 3:12

I think of it this way, in Diplomacy the goal is to win by using every tool in at your disposal against your fellow players. However the communication with the judge is different and needs to be truthful (not counting submitting multiple set of orders that supersede each other)

It is one thing to deceive other players with fake orders, and letting others get their hands on "someone else's" orders it is another thing to do with the judge and can lead to issues. For example how would the rest of the group react if Germany submits fake orders for France that allow Germany to easily take more territory and gain in power? Most groups would have some serious problems with that and it would most likely lead to a lot of problems for the judge and the game.

However if the orders where just faked for the other players while they where making their plans then that is a different story and can be a very good idea. But on the flip side if you get caught doing this it can lead to you not being trusted again.

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