Some years ago, I created a modern Diplomacy "takeoff" game (with a new name to be determined). The five "countries" are U.S., Russia, China, Europe and the Middle East. The pieces are fleets (F), armies (A) and air squadrons (S), and the object is to capture "population centers." There are limited nuclear capabilities. The time is the present. Otherwise it plays much like the original.

How would I go about trying to get it "produced?" Would you play it if it were produced? And any suggestions for the new name?

  • @pat: How do I register so I can vote and (use meta)? I've "voted" by "accepting" answers, but that's all I can do for now.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 5, 2011 at 18:19
  • Take a look at the FAQ, particularly the "Accounts, registration and logging in" section.
    – Pat Ludwig
    Commented Jun 5, 2011 at 22:21
  • @pat: My bridge question that you just closed was that game's version of this question. I got three very helpful answers for this one (and accepted one). I would have thought that people would come with helpful suggestions of clubs, tournaments, pros, cruises, software for the US, particularly NYC.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 21:42
  • lets keep discussion of that post on that post (or meta) please.
    – Pat Ludwig
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 0:34

4 Answers 4


A few immediate thoughts:

  • from a game play standpoint where are the "BRIC" countries (Brazil, India, Indonesia etc) or are you designing the game to largely involve conflict between the 5 powers you cited in Africa, South America etc?

  • from a "how do you get a game produced" there are many routes. An increasingly popular route would be to go independent - many games are starting with Kickstarter campaigns (where the supporters get the first copies of the game) which has the advantage of helping you gauge the actual market interest and demand. In the case of a modern update to an older game you may have to determine what, if any, patents or other IP rights you might have to license from the original (if any at all) and thus may have to deal with the original publisher (or who ever now owns the rights to the game). Since Diplomacy is a fairly old game it is likely that any patents on the game board etc have long since expired.

  • a final suggestion, Diplomacy has had a very long standing tradition of being played online (via email, via websites etc) could you make a digital, online version of your game before you make any investment into a physical game (with all the production costs & distribution issues that involves?). A digital game, especially if you can attract a core of engaged players, likely would also help you iterate on the game design and evolve the gameplay and game balance based on many rounds of playtesting.

And finally while there are game players here on Stackexchange I assume you do know about the very active and engaged board game community of BoardGameGeek? I'd strongly suggest reaching out to serious Diplomacy fans there and at reaching out to independent game publishers both on BGG and via their Twitter and websites. I'd also suggest subscribing to great game design podcasts such as Richard Garfield's great podcast (and there are many other board game related podcasts that feature long interviews with game designers and publishers).

  • I'm pretty sure you can't patent a board game, at least in the United States. In fact, games have very little IP protection. The most that can typically be done is enforce copyright, and typically that only applies to artwork, which could include a map, the text of the rules, and custom writing, such as text on cards. I agree with Shannon that you need to look into it, but IP probably won't be a big hurdle.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 1:37
  • actually yes you can indeed patent a board game and quite a few board games (and their pieces, components etc) are protected by patents. (years ago in college I seriously pursued patenting a board game design and probably still could as I haven't yet seen an example of the mechanics and construction I was proposing) Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 3:34
  • for just a few random examples see this blog that covers among other topics board game patents - purplepawn.com/2011/01/january-board-and-card-game-patents-3 - design patents & patents on methods can cover a lot of things. That said, it does require something which is "nonobvious" and new so simply updating Diplomacy with different flavor text probably doesn't qualify. Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 3:37

Not to discourage your work, but you should consider renaming it. The Diplomacy hobby has long had a varient named 'modern':

Modern (Vincent Mous)

A ten-player variant that takes place in modern times on a modified map which contains the regions on the standard map plus a slightly larger portion of Western Asia and Northern Africa. Standard Diplomacy rules apply, along with special geography rules (e.g. canals and coasts) for a few of the provinces.

-- http://www.diplom.org/Online/variants3.html#m

It's different in concept, so the same name might be trouble.

Historically of the hundreds of alternate maps only two have been sold commercially, back during the Avalon Hill days. They were colonial and ancient -- neither sold well.

Not to laud Diplomacy too much, but there seems to be a small subset of the Diplomacy community that's interested in variants. Most of them (us) view the mapboard/rules as a framework for the negotiations and secondary to the real game. The value of the tried and true mapboard is I can read a set of orders in a blink and know exactly what's happening w/o looking at the board. Map variants take me out of the "it's all about the relationships" stage and throw be back into the "can I move Fleet X to Y?" zone that I left behind years ago.

  • The "name" was meant to be a "description" so people could immediately identify with the original, for the purposes of asking the question. That's why I put in quotation marks. The title might be something like 2000, etc.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 8, 2011 at 1:38
  1. drop the name. It's too similar to a popular game, and the differences will draw ire, not applause, from that crowd. And it sounds in concept dangerously close to Supremacy.
  2. Don't bother trying to find a buyer. You'll need to go it yourself to build enough rep to get someone to by it from you.
  3. Best bet: PDF playtest. Do a low-cost PDF Print & Play version, counters and maps both printable. Get people to play it, critique it, tear it apart. Then revise and re-release based upon their feedback.
  4. Once you have it playtested, use a Kickstarter project to raise the up-front money for the initial print run. If you get enough, you print. If not, you don't, but you aren't out anything (and Kickstarter kicks back much of the cash.) See below for more on this.
  5. Once you've raised the cash for the initial print, you do the initial print run. IMMEDIATELY fulfill the kickstarter promises. Then sell the rest through a website, and offer stores and distributors a discount.

When you go to do the kickstarter, remember to account for printing costs, component costs (the bits can probably be commercially acquired), and your combining time and effort, and at inventory tax for your locality for at least a year, plus shipping and handling on the absolute worst case of owed copies due to the kickstarter. Plus 25%, as (IIRC) Kickstarter takes 20% off the top.

So, if your "$5" is a revised PDF of to match the last minute changes in the boxed set, that's pretty much a freebie. If it's going to cost $30 in parts and print, and 10 minutes to pack, that's 0.15 hours, and you should pay yourself $10/hr for pack, so $1.50 for that, and $30 to ship anywhere in the world can be done... you need to set the "get a signed copy" at about the $100 level... so that, even if EVERY bit of your initial run of 200 is eaten, you still are getting in $80 per set costing you $35 to make and up to $30 to ship.

And no matter how you do it, get ads out. A column inch in X-men is frightful expensive, but is an advert that will be seen for years and around the globe. An advert in your local paper is forgotten the next week, and seen by only a tiny portion of the target audience.

Don't neglect conventions, either. People playing it in a demo are likely to spread word of it... good or bad, it's a great route for feedback.

  • I wasn't going to the use the name (more like 2000). That's why I put it in quotation marks. But I wanted to convey the idea that it was a "takeoff" on an old idea.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 12:49

"Diplomacy" is such an established game that probably no gamemaker will want to produce a "variant" from scratch.

That said, there are lots of gaming clubs (on line and face to face) that enjoy learning and playing diplomacy with new maps (and sometimes new rules), just as there are continental variations on "Risk." I'd suggest pitching your idea to one or more of these gaming groups and try to get your game adopted in a small way by them.

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