Stabbing is an Evil Thing
By Rick Loomis
(From Diplomacy World #16)
You are all undoubtedly aware that there are two noisy sides to the question of backstabbing in Diplomacy: One group feels that “stabbing” is “Evil” and that all alliances should be forever; the other group feels that the first group is “ruining the hobby,” that “stabbing” is a very important part of the game, and that anyone who doesn’t stab is some kind of party-pooper.
I was going to make some kind of middle-ground comments about how both points of view are part of the game, and so forth, when a Diplomacy variant occurred to me! So actually, instead of another dull “Stab vs. Non-Stab” article, this is a description of still another variant. I’m not going to give it a name until the end, as that would give away the punch line.
In this variant, all agreements and alliances are written down, signed by both parties, and turned in to the moderator. Let’s say that Walter feels that Len has stabbed him. The moderator announces in the magazine the next turn that a stab has been claimed, and prints Walter’s side of the story. The following turn, Len sends his side of the story to the moderator, and it is printed. The turn after that, Walter gets a chance to answer Len’s arguments, and the turn after that, Len gets one more chance. Then all seven players (including any who were eliminated previously) vote on whether or not Len has stabbed Walter. If the majority votes that Len has indeed stabbed Walter, then on the next turn, the moderator prints in large letters in the magazine: “Len is an Evil Person.” Of course, this has no effect whatsoever on the game! I call this variant “United Nations Diplomacy.” Or maybe we ought to make that “League of Nations Diplomacy.”