2025 DBN Invitational Rules

The Diplomacy Broadcast Network (DBN) Invitational is a year-long points competition between players in the face-to-face, virtual face-to-face, and extended-deadline Diplomacy communities, culminating with the DBN Invitational Championship Game. At the end of each season, the top 28 players in the DBN Invitational Standings are invited to compete to become the DBN Invitational Champion, which distinguishes the one player who not only performs well at DBN Qualifying Events, but also excels through the pressure of the DBN Invitational itself.

Table of Contents

1.0 RULES & FORMAT

DISCLAIMER: These rules are preliminary and subject to change until invitations for the 2025 DBN Invitational are sent. Any changes to the rules will be documented in the Change Log section at the end of this document.

1.1 Rules

  1. The Rules of Diplomacy, 6th edition (Renegade Games, 2023), shall be used throughout the DBN Invitational.
  2. Where the Rules of Diplomacy are adjudicated differently by the Backstabbr rules adjudicator, the Backstabbr rules adjudicator shall prevail. 
  3. Where the Rules of Diplomacy or Backstabbr rules adjudicator have been clarified in the 2025 DBN Invitational Rules, the 2025 DBN Invitational Rules shall prevail. 
  4. The DBN Board of Directors reserves the right to adjust these rules at any point to maintain competitive balance in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

1.2 DBN Board of Directors

  1. The DBN Board of Directors (DBN Board) shall be the final arbiter of any rules dispute.
  2. The DBN Board may rule in areas not covered by these rules.
  3. The DBN Board may, at their discretion, disregard specific provisions of these rules in order to reach a result in keeping with the spirit and character of the game of Diplomacy, but shall do so only after concluding that less drastic alternatives would be unsatisfactory.
  4. Members of the DBN Board competing in the DBN Invitational may help organize the DBN Invitational, but shall not participate in rulings once the DBN Invitational Tournament begins until the conclusion of the DBN Invitational Championship Game.

1.3 Player Conduct

All players must follow the Diplomacy Broadcast Network Code of Conduct. Violations of the Code of Conduct will not be tolerated and may result in disqualification from this and future DBN events. Violations should be reported to the DBN Board as soon as possible. All communication will be strictly confidential. The DBN Board will mediate in good faith and take whatever action they deem appropriate to resolve the situation, including pausing a game, censuring players, or requiring players to leave the event.

1.4 Format

The 2025 DBN Invitational consists of a Semi-Final Stage and a Championship Game. The Semi-Final Stage consists of 4 First Chance games and 3 Last Chance games, for a total of 7 Semi-Final games. All games feature power selection by the Paris Method, with the Board Topper from each game in the Semi-Final Stage advancing to the DBN Invitational Championship Game. Click here for a graphical representation of the tournament structure. 

1.5 Awards

The winner of the DBN Invitational Championship Game shall be heralded as the DBN Diplomat of the Year.  No other awards shall be given.

2.0 ELIGIBILITY & SEEDING

2.1 Player Eligibility

In order to be eligible to play in the DBN Invitational, players must meet the following requirements:

  1. Play at least 1 virtual face-to-face game at a DBN Invitational Qualifying Event over the course of the season. The player must play the entire game and it must count in the standings for the event.
  2. Be eligible to play on the vWDC server at the commencement and throughout the DBN Invitational Tournament.
  3. Be available to play in both the “First Chance” games of the Semi-Final Stage and the DBN Invitational Championship Game if they qualify.

2.2 Qualifying Events

  1. DBN Invitational Qualifying Events include events from the Diplomacy community that meet the Minimum Requirements listed in section 2.3 below, beginning in February and ending in January of the following calendar year, excluding the DBN Invitational itself. 
  2. Each Qualifying Event is classified by the DBN Board as a Minor, Standard, or Major event and awarded a number of points based on the classification of the event. Rules for Event Classification is listed in section 2.4 below.
  3. The Event Score for each classification is listed below:
Minor Event: 60 Points
Standard Event: 80 Points Major Event: 100 Points

2.3 Minimum Requirements

DBN Invitational Qualifying Events must meet the following minimum requirements:

  1. At least 5 boards and 14 unique players.
  2. A code-of-conduct deemed appropriate by the DBN Board.
  3. Open and accessible to the general public.
  4. A format that provides a sufficient level of competition as determined by the DBN Board.
  5. Use the original Diplomacy map and contain negotiations, whether verbally or written.
  6. Event organizers must provide DBN an electronic copy of their final standings, with player names and locations whenever possible.
  7. Event organizers must agree to notify players the event counts towards DBN Invitational Standings and advertise the DBN website and YouTube channel.

2.4 Event Classification

Qualifying Events that meet the DBN Invitational Qualifying Events Minimum Requirements are classified by the DBN Board as a Minor, Standard, or Major event based on the following criteria:

  1. Minor Event: Does not meet the criteria for a Standard or Major event.
  2. Standard Event: Has at least 9 boards and 21 unique players.
  3. Major Event: The most prestigious event within a major category of play or events with unusual significance for the given season, as determined by the DBN Board. Examples include global or major regional face-to-face championships (such as the World Dipcon, the North American Dipcon, and European Dipcon), virtual face-to-face championships (such as the Virtual Diplomacy League and the Virtual Diplomacy Championship), and extended deadline championships (such as the Online Diplomacy Championship). The determination of what constitutes the most prestigious event in a major category of play is subject to review each season.

2.5 Placement Points & Standings

Players earn DBN Invitational Placement Points based on their finish at DBN Invitational Qualifying Events. An emphasizes has been placed on event wins. 

  1. Placement Points are awarded based on the player’s final ranking at a Qualifying Event using the following formula:
     Placement Points = 1.5 * (Event Score) / (1.5 + (Place-1)^1.17)

    This results in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place being awarded 100%, 60%, and 40% of the Event Score, respectively. Subsequent places are awarded decreasing scores, reaching about 10% of the Event Score at 10th place, about 3% of the Event Score at 28th place, and so on, never dropping below 1% of the Event Score.

  2. A player’s Placement Points Total is the sum of their three largest Placement Points. 
  3. The player with the largest Placement Points Total is first in the DBN Invitational Standings, the player with the second highest Placement Points Total is second in the DBN Invitational Standings, and so on until all players have been ranked. 

2.6 Tie Breakers

If two individuals have the same Placement Points Total, ties in the DBN Invitational Standings will be broken as follows:

  1. Largest number of Placement Points for a single Qualifying Event
  2. % TopShare of all games within all Qualifying Events
  3. Public Coin Toss

2.7 Qualifiers

  1. 28 players shall be invited to play in the DBN Invitational. 
  2. Eligible players that win a Major Event are automatically invited to participate in the tournament. Any remaining tournament slots shall be offered to players in order of their DBN Invitational Standings at the end of the season. 
  3. If a player is unable to participate, the player with the next highest position in the DBN Invitational Standings shall be invited until all 28 slots have been filled.

2.8 Alternates

  1. In DBN Invitational Standings order, alternates shall be invited to participate in the DBN Invitational Tournament should one of the top 28 Qualifiers be unable to participate for any reason.
  2. Invitations shall be sent to 7 alternates using the same method listed in the qualification rules above. 

2.9 Seeding

Once all invitations have been accepted, Qualifiers shall be seeded from 1 to 28 and Alternates shall be seeded from 29 to 35 in the order of their DBN Invitational Standings at the end of the season. 

2.10 Rookie Eligibility

Players are defined as a Rookie if they were not previously loaded as a player in the DBN database prior to the first DBN Invitational Qualifying Event of each season. Practically, this means the player will not have previously participated in a DBN Invitational Qualifying Event.

3.0 SEMI-FINAL STAGE

  1. The Semi-Final Stage is a group of seven winner-take-all games divided into three rounds. 
  2. The Board Topper from each game shall automatically proceed to the DBN Invitational Championship Game. 
  3. Games 1-4 in Rounds 1 and 2 are First Chance games. Games 5-7 in Round 3 are Last Chance games.

3.1 First Chance Games

Playing a First Chance Game is mandatory. First Chance Games are scheduled for the following rounds:

  • First Chance Round 1: Friday, Feb 21, 6p EST / 11a UTC / 10a AEDT (Saturday)
  • First Chance Round 2: Saturday, Feb 22, 10a EST / 3p UTC / 2a AEDT (Sunday)

3.1.1 First Chance Round Assignment:

Each First Chance Round will consist of 14 slots, enabling two games per round. 

  1. When accepting their invitation to the DBN Invitational, players shall submit a preference list indicating their choice of Round 1, Round 2, or no preference. Players without scheduling limitations are encouraged to indicate “no preference”.
  2. Players who submitted a preference shall be assigned to their preferred round in seed order.
  3. Players with no preference shall be assigned in seed order to the round with the highest average seed. If both rounds have the same average seed, players will be assigned randomly. 
The objective of these rules is to average the seed between rounds as much as possible, while also allowing players with schedule limitations some flexibility. 

3.1.2 First Chance Game Assignment:

  1. Within each round, in seed order, games shall be assigned randomly. The top two seeds in the round shall be distributed randomly, then the next two seeds distributed randomly, and so on.

3.1.3 First Chance Game Advancement:

  1. The Board Topper from each First Chance Game shall automatically advance to the DBN Invitational Championship Game.
  2. Of the remaining 24 players, the top 21 players by seed shall advance to the Last Chance Games (Games 5-7). The remaining 3 players become alternate players.

3.2 Last Chance Games

Playing a Last Chance Game is optional. All Last Chance Games will be played simultaneously and be scheduled for one of the following three times based on a ranked choice player vote. 

  • Option 1: Saturday, Feb 22, 6p EST / 11p UTC / 10a AEDT (Sunday)
  • Option 2: Sunday, Feb 23, 8a EST / 1p UTC / 12a AEDT (Monday)
  • Option 3: Sunday, Feb 23, 1p EST / 6p UTC / 5a AEDT (Monday)

3.2.1 Last Chance Round Assignment:

  1. When accepting their invitation to the DBN Invitational, players shall submit a preference list indicating their preferred start time for the last chance round. 
  2. The DBN Board will select a time for the Last Chance games that best fits the preferences of the players as stated at registration
  3. The top 21 highest remaining seeds from First Chance Games or their replacement Alternate(s) shall play one game each during the Last Chance Games (Games 5-7).

Last Chance Board Division:

  1. In seed order, games shall be assigned randomly. The top three seeds shall be distributed randomly, then the next three seeds shall be distributed randomly, and so on.

Last Chance Game Advancement:

  1. The Board Topper from each Last Chance Game shall advance to the DBN Invitational Championship Game.
  2. All other players shall become Championship Game alternates. 

3.3 Semi-Final Stage Alternates

If a Qualifier is unable to play in a Semi-Final Stage Game, Alternates will be invited in the order of their DBN Invitational Seed. 

4.0 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

4.1 Finalists

The Championship Game is scheduled for one of the following two times:

  • Option 1: Saturday, Mar 1, 10a EST / 3p UTC / 2a AEDT (Sunday)
  • Option 2: Saturday, Mar 1, 1p EST / 6p UTC / 5a AEDT (Sunday)
  1. The 7 players who topped their boards in the First Chance Games or Last Chance Games shall advance to the DBN Invitational Championship Game.
  2. Players who qualify for the Championship Game shall discuss amongst themselves which of the above start times they prefer. 
  3. If players cannot agree on a start time, then the DBN Board shall select one.

4.2 Championship Game Seeding

The Championship Game shall be seeded based on performance during the DBN Invitational Semi-Final Stage. Players shall be ranked as follows:

  1. Solo in First Chance game
  2. Solo in Last Chance game
  3. Top in First Chance game
  4. Top in Last Chance game
  5. DBN Invitational Seed

4.3 Championship Game Alternates

If a player who qualifies for the Championship Game is unable to play, alternates will be invited from players who did not win a Semi-Final Stage game in the order of their DBN Invitational Seed. 

5.0 GAME STRUCTURE

5.1 Objective

All games in the DBN Invitational produce a single winner: 

  1. The player controlling 18 or more supply centers at the end of a fall turn (a solo).
  2. The player controlling the most supply centers at the time of a draw.  If two or more players are tied for the most supply centers, the winner is the player who selected their power last among the tied players.

5.2 Procedures

  1. All games in the DBN Invitational shall use the Paris Method for power selection as described below. 
  2. Each game shall be conducted on Backstabbr with voice negotiations on the Virtual World Diplomacy Community Discord Server. 
  3. Games shall be run by a Game Manager (GM). The DBN Board has granted full authority to the GM to arbitrate individual games in the DBN Invitational. If a player has any concerns, they should notify the GM immediately.

5.3 Power Selection (Paris Method)

  1. Determine selection order: In seed order, players select the order in which they pick the power they shall play. 
    1. The second lowest seed chooses whether they pick before or after the lowest seed (the lowest seed has no choice). 
    2. The next lowest seed chooses whether to pick first, last, or between other players.
    3. Selection continues in this manner from lowest to highest seed until the Selection Order is finalized. 
  2. Select powers: In Selection Order, players shall choose any unselected and eligible power as noted below.
    1. The person who is first in selection order can choose any eligible power.
    2. The person who is second can pick any remaining eligible power, and so on until all powers have been selected.
    3. In the Last Chance games of the Semi-Final Stage, a player may not select the power they played in their First Chance game unless that is the only remaining power.

5.4 Timing Rules

  1. GMs shall use Backstabbr’s native clock to measure timing. Grace periods shall be enabled. 
  2. GM’s shall keep the health and well-being of players in mind. Players may request games to be briefly paused which the GM shall allow at their discretion. 
  3. If the GM finds that a player is intentionally abusing grace periods or pauses to create an advantage or frustrate other players, it shall be considered a code of conduct violation. Players abusing grace periods will be given one warning by the GM. If the behavior continues a second time, the GM will process as if no moves were received for the abandoned power. If the behavior continues a third time, the player abusing grace periods shall be removed from the tournament and an alternate player will be found using the rules for Civil Disorder and Replacement Players. 
  4. The timing rules listed in the table below shall be used:
YearNegotiation PeriodsAdjustments / Retreats
1901 - 191415 Minutes3 Minutes

5.5 Negotiations

  1. All negotiations shall be held within Discord voice rooms, with the exception of typed messages, which are allowed. Players shall always be present in a Discord voice room, whether it is a negotiation room or the Game Table. 
  2. All players shall return to their assigned Game Table voice channel during adjustments, retreats, and draw results. Negotiation during these phases are not allowed. Players are permitted to speak socially, but shall not negotiate during these phases. This is an honor system request, but please respect it.
  3. When using Discord voice channels, it is acceptable to briefly drop into a negotiation room where other players are communicating, request to speak to one or more players, and then immediately leave the channel if requested. Players are under no obligation to speak to one another. Players are permitted to drop-in more than once during a negotiation period if necessary, but this should not be abused. 
  4. Performing actions that intentionally prevent someone from having a private conversation in a negotiation room, such as following someone around or refusing to leave if asked, is considered a code of conduct violation.
  5. Players who have been eliminated from the game may no longer communicate with players remaining in the game.

5.6 Ending The Game

  1. The game shall end in a solo victory if a single power controls 18 or more supply centers at the end of a Fall turn. Solos cannot be conceded.
  2. The game shall end in a draw if all powers remaining in the game agree to end the game. 
  3. The game shall end in a forced draw if no power has achieved a solo victory by the end of 1914.
  4. In the event that there has been no exchange of centers for at least three consecutive years, the GM, at their discretion, may end the game in a forced draw.  If the GM determines that players are exchanging centers merely to avoid triggering this rule, the GM may, at their discretion, end the game in a forced draw.

5.7 Draw Proposals

  1. Beginning in Spring 1907, players may propose a draw once per Spring or Fall season by announcing their intent to draw in the game table, and then requesting the GM to adjudicate the draw. Once everyone is in the Game Table, the GM shall give players the opportunity to openly veto the draw. If the draw is openly vetoed, it does not count as the draw vote for that season. If it is not openly vetoed, each player shall head to their assigned voice room and confidentially cast their vote to the GM. 
  2. If a player proposes a draw, and one or more players decline to congregate in the Game Table, those players shall be considered to have openly vetoed the draw. The GM shall not force players to go to the game table for a draw proposal.
  3. For a draw vote to be successful, every player that controls at least one supply center at the time of the vote must vote in favor of the draw. The GM shall not divulge who voted in what way, or how many players voted for or against the draw.

5.8 Civil Disorder and Replacement Players

  1. If a player experiences technical issues that prevent them from participating in voice negotiations via Discord or entering orders in Backstabbr for a period of time that exceeds one hour, the GM shall seek out an Alternate to serve as a replacement player. At the GM’s discretion, if the original player’s technical issue is resolved before the Alternate takes over as the replacement, the original player may continue play. 
  2. If an emergency dictates that a player must leave the game early, the GM shall seek out an Alternate to serve as a replacement player. 
  3. In the situation where an alternate player cannot be found, the GM shall process standing “hold” orders for the abandoned power and assume a vote in favor of all draw proposals
  4. Players replaced by an Alternate are no longer eligible to participate in any games for the remainder of this year’s DBN Invitational. 
  5. Players replaced by an Alternate may be disciplined or disqualified from the tournament. 
  6. Alternates serving as a replacement player shall receive full points as if they had played the entire game.

CHANGE LOG

Changes from 2024 Rules

1.1 Rules

  • Change to Rule 1.1: Added discretionary clause to provide the DBN Board flexibility to modify rules in the event of an unforeseen circumstance. 

2.2 Qualifying Events

  • Change to Rule 2.2: Clarified that the DBN Invitational itself is excluded from being a qualifying event. 

2.2.4 Event Classification 

  • Change: Introduced a rule to classify Qualifying Events as Minor, Standard, or Major based on specific criteria. Minor events are awarded 60 points, Standard events 80 points, and Major events 100 points.
  • Change: Removed classification of events by format such as Face-To-Face, Virtual, Extended Deadline. Some of these classifications were difficult and felt somewhat arbitrary. This is no longer necessary due to the classification of events as Minor, Standard, or Major. 
  • Change: Removed variable event score based on the number of boards at the event. The event score is now determined by the Event Classification. The objective of this change is to normalize the event values to avoid unusually large events from inadvertently depressing the values of all other events within the category. It has the advantage of making scoring more transparent. 

3.0 Semi-Final Stage

  • Change: Semi-Final Stage is now divided into three rounds instead of four. The First Chance Games are in Round 1 and 2 (no change), but the Last Chance games have been combined into a single round. The purpose of this change is to make scheduling of the Last Chance Games easier to and ensure there is more time between rounds 2 and 3. 

3.1 First Chance Games

  • Change to Rule 3.1.1: Modified assignment rules for First Chance Rounds to better distribute players based on their preferences and seeds. The objective of this change is to more evenly distribute seeds between rounds. 

3.2 Last Chance Games

  • Change to Rule 3.2: All Last Chance Games will now be played simultaneously.  The purpose of this change is to make scheduling easier to and ensure there is more time between rounds. 

5.0 Game Structure

  • Change to Rule 5.4: Adjusted the timing rules to cover years 1901 to 1914, with negotiation periods of 15 minutes and adjustments/retreats of 3 minutes throughout the entire event instead of reducing negotiation time after 1909. The reduction in negotiation time in the 2024 DBNI was a common complaint amongst players, and required GMs to manually adjust game times. The purpose of this change is to make things easier for players and GMs without significantly increasing the duration of time the games take to play. 

5.6 Ending The Game

  • Change to Rule 5.6: Updated the forced draw rule to end the game if no solo victory is achieved by the end of 1914, instead of 1915.