2-Season Dip

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2-Season Diplomacy is a style of Email Diplomacy where the game is played using a 2 season – Spring and Fall - game year (standard game). It is occasionally referred to as UK-Style, from its relative popularity in early British Diplomacy circles. 2-Season Diplomacy is often played to a fixed-duration turn cycle, with the deadlines set for the same time on the same day of successive weeks.

The Rules of Diplomacy were written with a view to face-to-face play and, as such, contained, and continue to contain as of 2008, specific rules prohibiting diplomatic discussion between the resolution of normal moves and ordering retreats, and between the resolution of normal moves or retreats and adjustments. Email Diplomacy, and to a lesser extent Postal Mail Diplomacy, allows these prohibitions to be compromised by enabling rapid correspondence between players, beyond GM control, at a point where no such discussion is allowed by the rules.

2-Season Diplomacy attempts to stay closer to these letters of the rules by incorporating the retreat and/or adjustment phases within the preceding spring and fall movement turns. Players are expected to submit, for the:

  • Spring turn: Spring move, hold, support and convoy orders, PLUS any retreats that the player feels might need to be ordered.
  • Fall turn: Fall move, hold, support and convoy orders, PLUS any retreats that the player feels might need to be ordered, PLUS any adjustments (builds or removals) that the player feels might need to be ordered.

An advantage of 2-Season Diplomacy is that it reduces the number of deadlines, and the administration time associated with individual deadlines. A disadvantage is that it requires more complex methods of writing retreat and adjustment orders.

There are two methods of writing orders when using 2-Season Diplomacy - conditional and non-conditional.

  • The Conditional Order Method recognizes that players cannot always be sure of the results of their moves before writing retreat and adjustment orders and allows conditions to be specified to give a degree of control over their retreat and adjustment orders. The use of ‘and’ and ‘or’ or ‘nested if statements’ in the conditions can make conditional orders complex, so GMs may limit the conditions to simple ‘if…then…else’ statements. The main advantage of this method is potentially greater control of retreats and adjustments depending on a player’s ability to correctly express their conditions unambiguously. The main disadvantages are that the conditions require a pre-defined intrinsic format without which they may be prone to misinterpretation. Indeed, even formatted conditions may be open to misinterpretations if overly complex. Unless kept simple, that multiple conditions may become contradictory, and that such simple conditions are often incapable of encompassing all the permutations that a player needs to consider even for a single unit, particularly in the fall season. It is possible to construct these conditional statements using a structured format and set of reserved words for use in the conditions rather like a Boolean programming language, but this requires predefinition by the GM and some understanding of such structured language by the players.
  • The Preference List Order Method recognizes that players have, or can develop, an ability to look ahead to possible permutations of pieces following a set of moves and that a preference lists of possible destinations for retreats, possible locations for builds and possible candidates for disbandment can give a degree of control over their retreat and adjustment orders. The main advantages of this method are its lack of ambiguity and relative simplicity vis-à-vis conditional orders. The main disadvantage is that it requires players to weigh the permutations they can see and produce sets of preferences, foregoing the process of making a specific order strictly conditional.
  • The Single Option Order Method (applicable only to retreat orders, and requiring the use of one of the previous two methods for build and disbandment orders) again recognizes that player’ have, or can develop, an ability to look ahead to possible permutations of pieces following a set of moves, but limit the options to a single retreat location. This type of retreat is sometimes used in games which have a standard set of rules for deciding retreats (analogous to the predefined order of disbandments for powers in Civil Disorder). This method allows some flexibility when using such predefined retreat rules.

It is important to note that diplomatic discussion regarding possible dislodgements, builds and disbandments with other players may, of course, be desirable between, say, currently co-operating players. Such discussion, however, would need to take place prior to the submitting of the requisite spring or fall orders.

Irrespective of the method of order writing, the GM first adjudicates the move, hold, support and convoys orders, then any retreat orders, disbanding units without valid retreats, then (if a fall turn) any adjustments and publishes all the season’s results at the same time. Should any retreat or adjustment orders not be given when required then unordered retreats are disbanded, unordered builds are waived, and unordered removals are processed as per the Civil Disorder rules.

The various order methods can be mixed with, say, conditional orders being used for retreats and non-conditional orders being used for adjustments or vice versa.


Conditional Order Method Retreats

  • Italy is expecting to be dislodged from Ven by Austrian A Tri-Ven, Austrian A Tyl S A Tri-Ven, but is also suspecting a French attack to Pie. Italy submits a retreat order If French A Mar-Pie succeeds, then Retreat A Ven-Tus, else Retreat A Ven-Rom.
  • It is Fall and France is expecting to be dislodged from Bur by German A Mun-Bur, German A Ruh S A Mun-Bur, but also notes that there may be an English attack on German-held Hol (English F Nth-Hol, English F Hel S F Nth-Hol). Reasoning that the German A Hol must retreat to a vacant Bel (currently owned by France) as Kie is Russian occupied, and that Bel must be retained if possible, but if there is no danger of losing Hol then Paris would be a better defensive option, then France orders If English A Nth-Hol succeeds or English A Hel-Hol succeeds or Russian F Kie-Hol succeeds then Retreat A Bur-Bel else Retreat A Bur-Par. If A Hol is dislodged then one of the moves listed must have succeeded so France retreats Bur-Bel, to ensure the mutual destruction of both retreating armies so preserving French control of Bel.


  • Austria orders F Tri-Ven. This move may either succeed or be stood-off, so Austria – knowing he has at least one build - also orders in the build section of his orders If F Tri-Ven succeeds, then Build F Tri, else Build A Vie.
  • Russia orders If England orders F Nth C A Bel-Nwy, A Bel-Nwy, then Build F StP[nc] else Build A Mos. If England so ordered then Build F StP[nc] would succeed (if a build was possible). However, if Russia’s order had been worded If England F Nth C A Bel-Nwy, A Bel-Nwy succeeds, then Build StP[nc] else Build A Mos and the convoy had failed, then B F StP[nc] would have failed and Build A Mos succeeded (if a build were possible).


  • Russia is under a Turkish-Austrian–English attack. Russia might lose War, Swe or Sev. There will probably be at least one disbandment required, but possibly two. If only one becomes required then obviously Russia wants only disband the unit least necessary for defense. In this case, the choice is between A Mos and A StP. Turkey is seen as the greater threat, so Russia decides to order If Turkish A Arm-Sev succeeds then Disband A StP else if Turkish F Bla-Sev succeeds Disband A Mos else if English F Nwy-Swe succeeds then Disband A StP else if English F Ska-Swe succeeds Disband A Mos else if Austrian A Sil-War succeeds or Austrian A Gal-War succeeds then Disband A StP. Russia is worried about disbanding A StP if England still has a fleet in Nwy and also worried about disbanding A Mos if it is a Turkish A (rather than fleet) that occupies Sev. Note that the above conditional order could have also been written If English F Nwy-Swe succeeds or Turkish A Arm-Sev succeeds or Austrian A Sil-War succeeds or A Gal-War succeeds then Disband A StP else Disband A Mos. The other conditions listed in the first version can be omitted as they are then implied. If two or more disbandments were possible then further sets of conditional statements may be required. If Russia was lucky and no disbandments were required then any disbandment orders are ignored.

Examples of formats of conditional orders (in increasing levels of complexity):

simple single condition

  • IF condition THEN action

simple single condition allowing multiple actions each for a different unit

  • IF condition THEN action… (ELSE action…)

multiple condition (which may require an understanding of the use of parentheses to show the order of condition resolution)

  • IF condition ({AND/OR} condition)… THEN action… (ELSE action…)

nested if conditions

  • IF condition ({AND/OR} condition)… THEN {action…/IF statement…}, (ELSE {action…/IF statement…})


  • CAPS = a reserved word
  • itals = structured statements
  • () = optional
  • {} = choice (separated by /)
  • … = repeating group (i.e. list of conditions, actions, or (nested) IF statements.

The grammar of structured statements and a lexicon of the reserved would also need to be pre-defined, but might consist of order SUCCEEDS, order FAILS, order ORDERED, etc.

The grammar of the ‘actions’ would be a diplomacy retreat, build or disbandment order, i.e. Retreat Gal-Boh, Build F StP[nc], Disband F Nwg.

Preference List Order Method'' Retreats

  • Italy is expecting to be dislodged from Ven by ‘Russian A Tri-Ven, Russian A Tyl S A Tri-Ven’. Italy submits a retreat order ‘Retreat A Ven-Pie, Tus, Rom’ and if dislodged A Ven will retreat to the first space on the list that valid for a retreat.
  • Both German A Ruh and French A Bur have the option of retreating to either Mun or Bel if dislodged. If Germany orders ‘Retreat A Ruh-Bel, Mun’ and France orders ‘Retreat A Bur-Bel, Mun’ and Bel is a valid location for retreat then they both attempt to retreat there and are both destroyed. If Bel was invalid for retreat (occupied or subject to a previous stand-off) then both would retreat to the next on the list and again be destroyed. However, if Germany orders ‘Retreat A Ruh-Bel, Mun’ and France orders ‘A Bur-Mun, Bel’ then if both spaces are valid retreat locations then the units will retreat as per their first choice and not be destroyed. However, if either, or both, Bel or Mun are invalid for retreat then the dislodged units would gain clash and both be destroyed.


  • Austria is expecting two builds and provides a build preference list ‘Build A Ven, F Tri’. If Austria did get at least one build and Ven was unoccupied then they would build A Ven. If for some reason Ven was occupied then they would build F Tri instead, if Tri was unoccupied. If Austria indeed gained two builds and both centers were unoccupied then A Ven and F Tri would both be built. If Ven was occupied, but Tri unoccupied then only F Tri would be built and the second build waived, conversely, if Tri was occupied, but Ven unoccupied then only A Ven would be built. If both centers were occupied then both builds would be waived, even if Bud was available for a build. If Austria had gained 3 builds then the third would have automatically have been waived as only two preferences were given in the list.
  • France is doing well against both England and Italy. On balance France decides that England is the best target. France expects 3 builds so orders ‘Build F Bre, F Mar, A Par’. If only one build is made then this will be in Bre to be more easily directed against England, if two builds then the next build will be in Mar against Italy, and if a third then in Par.


  • France is now not doing so well against England and France. On balance France decides that England is the most skilled player and has closer units so when it comes to ordering retreats he decides that F Tys is more expendable than F Eng. France doesn’t feel able to spare any of his armies facing Germany so orders ‘Disband F Tys, F Eng, A Pic, A Bur’. Any unit will disband only if required even if a disband order is submitted.

Single Option Order Method (for retreats) The format of this order method is very simple and merely follows a normal order format, e.g.: ‘Retreat A NAf-Tun’.

See Also