House Rules


Rules Concerning Voluntary Evacuation of Territories:


1. If a Power loses a control marker in a territory due to a failure to garrison it (either accidentally or voluntarily), that Power must forfeit 5 Victory Points.  No such penalty applies if control markers are lost due to other causes (including Unrest).


Reasoning:  Great Britain and France each begin with control markers in territories with low economic values (Newfoundland and Guiana).  Often players of these Powers seek to use the garrison rules to divest themselves of this undesirable real estate.  This is ahistorical, since empire was not ultimately about economics—colonies were rather a matter of national pride and prestige.  To simply evacuate a colony would create an uproar at home, and this is reflected in the 5 VP penalty.


2. Great Britain and the United States may not voluntarily give up control—in trade or otherwise—over territories that are eligible for State or Dominion status.  These may, however, be lost in wars.


Reasoning: I have encountered British and American players trying to sell off or trade New Zealand or Alaska, just to avoid the “New Zealand Pressure for Dominion” and “Alaskan Pressure for Statehood” events.  Such a deal would be totally ahistorical, since such territories held large numbers of people who considered themselves British or U.S. citizens, and would have immediately resisted such a move.  Then, of course, there would be the public outcry at home.



Rules Concerning Treaties:


1. Offensive alliances are illegal; in other words, a declaration of war by one Power against another cannot give a casus belli to allies of the declaring Power.  Of course, if one of the non-declaring Power’s allies declare war against the declaring Power, the original declaring Power may call upon its allies.


Reasoning: Offensive treaties might be appropriate in a game simulating the 1930s (the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939 is a good example of one), but not in a game that simulates the more civilized late 19th century.  Alliances were viewed as means to deter potential enemies from declaring war on their members, not a means of ganging up on isolated third parties.


2. Powers that are members of a defensive alliance do not automatically receive a casus belli against a Power that declares war against one of the alliance’s other members.  A Power upon whom war is declared is not obligated to call upon all, or even any, of its allies for assistance.  Not to call on allies does not amount to a violation of the treaty.  Of course, if a Power upon whom war is declared calls upon an ally, and the ally refuses to declare war, then that ally is considered to have violated the treaty.


Reasoning: This builds into the game an opportunity to keep wars limited, or to give a Power an option not to call upon an ally that would be of no value in a war.  For instance, if Great Britain were to declare war on Germany, Austria-Hungary (with whom Germany has a defensive alliance from the start of the game) would be unable to provide any practical help—it would only count as one more European power toward the Great War rule.  And, in fact, it was (and still is) widely accepted in international affairs that no country had an obligation to call upon its allies for assistance in a war.


3. In order to qualify for an end-of-turn Victory Point bonus, alliances must not be limited in terms of geography or potential enemies.  They may have time restrictions, but Victory Points for such treaties are only awarded during turns when said alliances are actually in force.


Reasoning: I've recently seen proposed defensive alliances that were limited to wars breaking out over a single territory, or only to wars with specific powers.  The parties to the suggested treaties were quite up front about them—they were worthless agreements meant purely to produce Victory Points.  This strikes me as contrary to the spirit of the game.  If you're going to get Victory Points for having a treaty, it had better mean something—in other words, the risk of being called upon to go to war should be real.


4. Alliances may not include clauses that invalidate the alliance in the case of a situation that may cause the Great War to break out.


Reasoning: For obvious reasons, no treaty of the age would have included such a clause—nobody would have known what a Great War was.  According to the mindset of the time, alliances were a means of deterring war, not causing one.  An "escape clause" like this would have seriously undermined their value.  Inasmuch as the game attempts to simulate the politics of the late 19th-early 20th centuries, clauses such as this should not, therefore, be incorporated into treaties.  If a player is in a position where his declaration of war would result in the Great War he has two options—either ask his ally not to call upon him to declare war (and a power at war always has the option of calling only some, or none, of his allies), or, if called, to repudiate the treaty (with the appropriate increase in European Tensions, understanding that this could also lead to the Great War).


5. Treaties should be written in simple game terms.


Reasoning: This is more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast rule.  Many players in their diplomatic correspondence seek to write in character—that is, as diplomats of the time might have written.  This is fine in regular correspondence—indeed, it is to be encouraged as a way of adding flavor to the game.  Treaties, however, are enforceable under the rules of the game, so their meaning must be clear not only to the players signing them, but to the GM.  It is, after all, ultimately up to the GM to determine whether a treaty has been violated.  Those who insist on writing treaties in character should include in parentheses after each provision a sentence or two explaining what, specifically, that provision means in game terms.  For example, a treaty provision that reads “France promises to defend the claims of Germany to territory in southern Africa” requires more explanation—even if that explanation is provided only to the GM, so as to leave other Powers guessing.  Does this imply a defensive alliance?  What territories actually constitute “southern Africa”?



Rule Concerning Caribbean-South Pacific Canals:


If a player announces in a Movement/Status Change Phase that he or she is constructing a canal in Panama or Central America, the canal is unavailable for use until two turns later, during the Marker Adjustment Phase.  However, the Victory Point bonus is awarded when the £30 construction cost is spent—that is, at the beginning of the process.  To indicate a canal for which construction is underway, place a Canal Marker face-down in the territory where the canal is being built.  Turn the marker face-up when the canal is completed.


If, after construction on a canal has begun but before it is completed, the territory containing the canal falls under the control of another Great Power, that power wins control of the canal as well.   However, the Victory Point bonus remains with the player who began construction.


Example: The U.S. player announces in 1892 that he is building a canal in Panama.  During that turn he spends the £30, receives 15 Victory Points, and places a Canal Marker face-down in Panama.  However, the canal is not available for use until the Marker Adjustment Phase of 1900, at which point the marker is turned face-up.  If another power were to gain control over Panama before this time, that power would have control over the canal; however, the U.S. player would not forfeit the Victory Point bonus.


Reasoning: Canal-building on a trans-isthmian scale was one of the most difficult engineering feats of the age.  Historically the Panama Canal took ten years to complete (it was started in 1904, and didn’t open until 1914).  The notion that a canal can be completed in the course of a single turn is ridiculous. 



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