Empires of the Middle Ages
Summary for the SPI board game

Rewrite of Ties and Claims Rules

At times the original SPI rules for Claims and Ties read ambiguously and even contradictorily. After several close readings and many playings, the rewrite below is my attempt to spell everything out in clear fashion. A great deal of this material, the majority in fact, is left completely unchanged. The main changes from the existing rules include:



Through Diplomacy, a Leader seeks to form liaisons based either on family ties or diplomatic agreement, between an Emperor and the local rulers who had the support and allegiance of the populace within a specific area.


Diplomacy is a Foreign Endeavor by which a player may form a Diplomatic Tie to or Conquer a Target Area. Diplomatic Ties are primarily useful as a means to obtain Claims to Areas (see 18.0 Claims), but they may also serve as offensive and defensive tools because of their effect on Unrest and Rebellion (17.0). The Diplomacy Endeavor is the only Endeavor for which a Leader's Diplomatic Stature is used. Several special characteristics distinguish Diplomacy from the other Foreign Endeavors.


[12.1] Special Characteristics of the Diplomacy Endeavor

[12.11] The Base Area for a Diplomacy Endeavor is the Active Player's Court Area (exception, see 21.0 Exile).

[12.12] There is no limit to the number of Areas which lie between the Target and the Base. Moreover, Sea Areas have no effect on the undertaking of a Diplomacy Endeavor. No chain of connected Areas between the Target and the Base of a Diplomacy Area need be considered.

[12.13] A player may form a Diplomatic Tie with any Area, regardless of whether the Area lies within or without that player's Empire.

[12.14] A player may never have more than one Diplomatic Tie with a given Area at a time. If a player has a Diplomatic Tie with an Area, he may still undertake a Diplomacy Endeavor against that Area in hopes of attaining a C result. Any additional T results, however, would be ignored.

[12.15] Any number of players may have concurrent Diplomatic Ties with the same area.

[12.16] A player may never undertake a Diplomacy Endeavor against an Area which is currently serving as another player's Court Area.

[12.17] Whenever a player undertakes a Diplomacy Endeavor against an Area which belongs to an opposing player, that opposing player's Diplomatic Stature is automatically subtracted from the active player's Leader Effectiveness Rating. Whenever a player undertakes a Diplomacy Endeavor against any Independent Area (including Areas owned by a Magnate) except Venice, 3 is subtracted from the Leader Effectiveness Rating. When undertaking a Diplomacy Endeavor against an Independent (including Magnate-owned) Venice, 5 is subtracted from the Effectiveness Rating.

[12.2] Diplomacy Endeavor Costs

A player must expend one Gold point each time he undertakes a Diplomacy Endeavor. Additional costs due to Sea Areas are never incurred when undertaking a Diplomacy Endeavor. However, a player may elect to spend additional gold in order to increase his Leader Effectiveness Rating (see 9.33).

[12.3] Diplomacy Endeavor Results

A Diplomacy Endeavor may have three possible results (apart from having no effect):

T (Diplomatic Tie is Formed): The player has formed a Diplomatic Tie with the Target Area and places a Diplomatic Tie Marker on the Area's Register.

C (Diplomatic Conquest): The Target Area has been conquered and its Social State Marker is immediately replaced with a marker belonging to the player.

T/C (Diplomatic Tie and Conquest): The player has formed a Diplomatic Tie with and conquered the Target Area. He places a Diplomatic Tie Marker on the Area's Register and the Social State Marker is immediately replaced with a marker belonging to the player.

[12.31] When a player achieves a C result through the play of a Diplomacy Endeavor, the Conquest is total, ignoring the usual restrictions based on the Population Value of the Area. Moreover, the Area does not enter a State of Unrest, and Fortifications are not reduced as they are when an Area is conquered by means of a Conquest Endeavor.

[12.32] If, through a Diplomacy Endeavor, an Active Player whose Leader is of the Christian Religion, conquers an Area belonging to an opponent whose Leader is also Christian, the opponent may contest the Conquest by calling for a Diplomatic Parley (see 20.4).

[12.4] Effects of Diplomatic Ties

[12.41] Diplomatic Ties affect Rebellion Values (see 17.0) in the following manner:

  1. The Rebellion Value of an Area is reduced by two if the player who possesses the Area has a Diplomatic Tie to the Area.
  2. The Rebellion Value of a player's Area is increased by two if one or more of his opponents have Diplomatic Ties to that Area. An opponent may, however, temporarily waive the effect of his Tie on the Rebellion Value of the player's Area, if he so desires. If more than one opponent has a Tie to the Area, each opponent must waive the effect of his Tie in order for there to be no increase of the Rebellion Value.

[12.42] A Diplomatic Tie can be broken only as a result of the "Diplomatic Coup" Holding Card or "Leader Dies Heirless" Event Card, or if the player who established it decides to remove it. There is otherwise no limit to the longevity of a Diplomatic Tie. Unlike Claims, Diplomatic Ties may never be traded or given away.

[18.0] CLAIMS


An essential element of medieval European political life was the feudal arrangement between an emperor and his lieges. In many instances, an emperor's control over a given kingdom or duchy was based on that emperor's claim to the fealty of the king or duke. These claims took many different forms, ranging from simple oaths and hereditary allegiances to complicated dynastic ties. But even though an Emperor might personally claim the fealty of an Area, his Claim meant little if it were not recognized by either the Church or his peers. In the game, a player may call for public acknowledgement of a Claim's legality. Thus, Claims are different from Diplomatic Ties, Ties reflecting popular support in an Area with Claims representing the assent of Europe's other rulers. Disputes often arose over contested and conflicting claims and many of medieval Europe's longest and bloodiest struggles occurred when two sovereigns both had claims to the same lands.


A player who has a Claim to an Area places one of his Claim markers on the Area's register. Possession of both an Area and a Claim to that Area provides the player a Victory Point bonus at the end of the game. See 26.0.


The following is a list of the ways to obtain Claims. These rules should be read in conjunction with 12.0 Diplomacy and 19.0 Event Cards.

  1. Via Scenario: Claims based on the historical situation are assigned at the beginning of the game per the scenario instructions.
  2. In Unclaimed Areas: The following methods of obtaining a Claim only apply to the situation that no player has a Claim to the Area in question. Note that competing Diplomatic Ties on the Area have no effect on this process.
    1. A player receives a Claim to the Area if at the time he takes ownership, he already has a Diplomatic Tie with that Area.
    2. Symmetrically, if a player already owns the Area but not a Diplomatic Tie, he receives a Claim by forming a Diplomatic Tie.
    3. Alternatively, if a player already owns the Area but not a Diplomatic Tie, he also receives a Claim if he plays the "Recognition of Claim" Holding Card.
    4. A player who acquires possession of an area via the "T/C" result on Diplomatic Endeavors receives a Tie, possession and a Claim to the area.
  3. Against Competing Claims: Obtaining a Claim to an Area already already claimed by another player is slightly more difficult:
    1. When a player who owns the area and has Diplomatic Tie to it plays a "Recognition of Claim" Holding Card, he receives a Claim.
    2. If the player who owns the area and has Diplomatic Tie to it does not have or wish to use a "Recognition of Claim", he may obtain a Claim by calling a Diplomatic Parley and receiving a favorable decision. See 18.2 Resolving Claims Through Parleys. Per 20.53, such a parley for a given Area may only be called once per Round per player.
  4. Via Dynastic Inheritance Card: When a player has a Diplomatic Tie to an Area, he may obtain a Claim to that Area by playing a "Dynastic Inheritance" Holding Card. The Claim is granted regardless of any other competing Ties or Claims in the area.

[18.1] Claim Restrictions

[18.11] A player may only have one Claim to an Area, but there is no restriction on the number of players may who may have Claims to the same area.

[18.12] To acquire a Claim to an Area, it is necessary that the Area be of the same Religion (but not necessarily the same Christian Church) as that of the Leader. See 7.2 Religion. For this reason, it is most useful to place the Claim marker on the Religion indicator of the Area.

[18.2] Resolving Claims Through Parleys

Like other parleys in the game -- see 20.5 Diplomatic Parley Procedure -- a Claim Resolution Parley is performed through balloting, with each player having a number of votes equal to his Leader's Diplomatic Stature. The question to be decided is whether the player who requested the parley should receive a Claim to the Area. The players do not cast their ballots on the basis of any merit of the Claim, but purely out of self-interest.

[18.3] Special Situations

  1. As described under 22.27, Iberian Moslem Areas change Religion automatically the instant the Area is conquered by a Christian Leader. In this situation, if the conquering player already has a Diplomatic Tie to the Area, he immediately receives a Claim to the Area as well. If such an area is conquered via Diplomatic Endeavor, the player receives a Claim if he already possessed a Diplomatic Tie or if he has just gained a Tie by result of a "T/C" result.

  2. In the scenario 21.0 Twilight of the Middle Ages, the Turkish States Leader is of the Moslem Religion and does not begin the game with any claims. This Leader may obtain Claims via 18.0 (2) and (4), provided, of course, that the area is Moslem. This is the only way that this Leader may obtain Claims. Per 20.5, the Turkish States Leader may not call a Diplomatic Parley nor vote in one.

  3. There is no restriction on the number of Areas to which a player may have Claims. The size of the countermix is not intended as a limitation.

Also ...

Last updated: Fri Sep 27 14:03:50 PDT 2002
Created: Sun Feb 20 16:44:21 PST 2000