How to Join


There are two important points you MUST know before joining ANY game:

  1. Signing up is a commitment: Most games last many game years and that usually translates (depending on the deadline options) to many months, if not years, of real time. By signing up for the game you are committing to making those deadlines so that the other players (and you) can continue to have an enjoyable game. Diplomacy can be frustrating (and highly enjoyable) and long. Do not make this commitment unless you are sure. You will be depriving other players of their game. No one is forcing you to play, so please make sure you want to see the game to its conclusion.

  2. Games are played anonymously: After the end of the game, you may reveal your identity. However, during the game, you may make no effort to find out or reveal anyone's identity. Anonymous play allows players to play in later games without fear of being judged based on earlier games. If you work with or know of anyone else playing a game on BOUNCED, do NOT talk to them about the game. This places you at an unfair advantage. It can be very difficult, but by registering for the game, you agree not to say anything about the game or your identity until after the game is over. At that point, feel free to brag (or find a shoulder to cry on).

    The single exception to this rule is for private games (restricted userlists). These game cannot count for statistics and do not need to be anonymous; however, they should clearly state so in their descriptions. More complete information on this stipulation can be found at the anonymity help section.

To join a game, go to the main BOUNCED center and find a game pending additional players (or one pending replacement players if you are familiar with replacement players). If none exist, you will have to wait until someone does create a new game.

Follow the game link to a page describing the game. Check all of the game options to insure that this game is one that you want to join.

If the game suits your interest, enter in your powers' order preferences (if requested) and press "Join."

How to Observe

Some games allow observers. Observers have no control over units but can have some press abilities and can see the board as the game progresses. If you would like to join as an observer, find a game that suits you and follow the same instructions as above, but join as an observer.

If you do not wish to send press but merely watch passively, you may select the "watch" link beside the game listing. Any game which allows observers will allow you to watch the game this way. You do not have any press sending privileges, but everything is exactly the same as being an observer. The advantage is that you don't clutter the game up with extra observer players.

How Power Preferences Work

Some games allow the players to specify their preference for powers. In games which do not, players are assigned to powers randomly. However, if preferences are allowed, each player, upon registering for the game, writes down a sequence of letters designating their preferences. Each power is abbreviated by its first letter. Powers appearing earlier in the list are given higher priority.

As an example, consider the Standard game (7 powers in Europe in 1901). The powers are abbreviated A, E, F, G, I, R, T. Thus, if a player would prefer to play a central power, he/she might write GIAFRET as his/her preference. This would give highest preference to playing Germany, followed by Italy, then Austria, and so on. Turkey would be this player's least preferred power.

Powers may also be given equal ranking by placing them together within brackets. Thus, if, in the above example, the player would actually be equally content with any central power and finally equally discontent with any non-central power, he/she could give the preference [GIA][FRET] (which is the same as [IAG][ERFT] or any other permutation within the brackets).

Powers may also be left unlisted. Powers unlisted are assigned (if necessary) to a power only after all other powers have been assigned. If the algorithm (described below) does assign such an unlisted power, the player will probably end up with whatever power none of the other players wanted. Thus, the list [AEFGIRT] has an even chance (or close to for the random-order algorithm) of getting every power while the blank list (which can also be written []) will result in the player receiving the power least desired by the other players.

There are two algorithms for assigning powers to players. Each proceeds by repeatedly selecting a player and then assigning that player to his/her most preferred power (that has not yet been assigned). If multiple (unassigned) powers have been ranked equally highly, the tie is broken by a random draw.

The difference between the algorithms lies in how they choose the next player to assign. The random-order algorithm is the simpler. It picks a player at random each time. The more complex max-entropy algorithm picks the player whose preference list has the largest unassigned powers tied for most preferred. If there are more than one such player, a player is chosen at random from the set of players who all have this property.

An example often helps to clarify, so let's assume that there are five powers in a game abbreviated by the letters A, B, C, D, and E. We will assume that the preference lists submitted to the algorithm are:
playerpreference list

The random-order algorithm is simple. Let's assume that on the first round, it randomly picks player 4. Then player 4 is assigned power B (player 4's first choice). On the next round, we'll assume that the algorithm randomly picks player 3. Player 3 is assigned power A (player 3's first choice from among the power yet unassigned). If on the next round, the algorithm selects player 2, player 2 is assigned a power randomly chosen from the list {C, D, E}. We'll assume that player 2 gets power C (purely by chance, not because it is listed first). Player 5 now has no unassigned powers listed, so player 1 is automatically chosen for the next assignment. Player 1 is given power E (a random choice between D and E, the only two powers left which player 1 has ranked evenly). Finally, player 5 is assigned the remaining power, D.

The entropy algorithm is slightly more complex. On the first round, player 2 will automatically be chosen because he has ranked the most number of powers equally as first. So, player 2 will be assigned a random power from the list {A, B, C, D, E}. We'll assume that the algorithm assigned player 2 the power D. Next, the algorithm will randomly pick between players 1 and 3. Both of these players have 2 powers ranked as their first choice whereas players 4 and 5 have only 1 power ranked as their first choice. We'll assume that the algorithm chooses player 3 and assigns power B (randomly chosen from A and B). Now that powers D and B have been assigned, the preference list over the remaining powers now looks like:
playerpreference list

So, player 4 is chosen next and is assigned a power randomly selected from the list {A, C}. We'll assume player 4 gets power C. Players 1 and 5 then both have only a single power listed as first. If we assume the algorithm selects player 1 randomly, then player 1 gets power A and player 5 gets the remaining power, E.

In general, there is no benefit to listing powers as ties (in brackets) for the random-order algorithm. However, in the maximum entopy algorithm, it is advantageous to list powers that you consider approximately equal as tied in preference. For example, if you list [ABCD]E, then, unless no one who has listed [ABCDE] gets E and everyone else has listed [ABCD]E, you are guarenteed not to get power E. However, in return for this, you have no control over which other power you get. Whereas with the random-order algorithm it is impossible to insure you have a truly equal chance of getting any power (the list [ABCDE] only does this if you are assigned first), with the max-entropy algorithm, the preference list [ABCDE] does insure that you have an equal chance at any power.

Of course, if you don't want to understand this, it isn't a big problem. Just write down a list of the powers in order that you prefer them and group together any set of them you consider approximately equal. You'll do about as well as with any other method of preference listing.

Game Options

To know whether or not a game will suit your interest, it is important to understand the options. Most are self-explanatory. However, some may be confusing.


Press is the diplomatic communication between players. Broadcast press is press sent from one player to everyone else. Partial press is press sent from one player to a subset of the other players (often just a single other player) White press is press for which the recipients know who sent it. Gray press is press for which the sender is hidden (to all but the game master and sender). There can be different press options for players and observers (i.e. each may have a different set of press color and partiality). As well, observers can either be included in partial press or excluded (the latter requiring all press to observers to be broadcast regardless of other press options). Thus, the main options for a game are whether gray, white, both, or none press is allowed and whether broadcast or partial press is allowed (partial press being a superset of broadcast press).

The game master is the person who created the game and is responsible for making sure the game runs smoothly. The game master is to be unbiased but has control over deadlines, the options of the game, and changing orders or finding replacement players if absolutely necessary. The GM (game master) always knows the sender of press (including gray press) and always has "white partial" press options. When a game is paused, no press may be sent with the exception that the game master still has regular press ability and players can send press just to the game master. In fact, in all games (regardless of press options), everyone can always send press to the game master.


Deadline computation is slightly complex. However, the basic idea is that every phase has a length (shown on the page describing the game) and this time is duration from when the previous phases's orders were processed to when the orders for this phase are due. This time can vary by phase type (e.g. whether it is a movement, build, or retreat phase). This time may be slightly modified to insure that it does or does not fall on certain days or falls at a certain time during the day. The deadline is never shorter than listed. It can only be longer. Regardless, the time and day that the next set of orders are due are listed on the power's page (the game page that shows you the current state of the game).

As well, for every phase there is a grace period. Getting your orders in before the deadline results in moving your commitment rating upwards towards 100. If you are late, but still get your orders in before the end of the grace period your rating moves down towards 0, but you still remain in the game. If you miss the end of the grace period, the game is paused and the game master will proceed to place your position up for replacement, thus removing you from the game and making everyone else's life difficult. DON'T DO THIS.

Press and Grace Period

There are three different methods for dealing with late players during the grace period. The game options list which one will be used for the game. If the game is paused for any reason, these restrictions are lifted (but no press is allowed).

(c)1999-2020. Christian R. Shelton. All rights reserved.