Pouch Deposits

The Editor and the Readership

Let's Get Right to the Mail....

I am always wanting to give this column a theme of its own by the presentation of a topic for discussion, so here's a quick one. Let's say that in a standard game of Diplomacy, a power owns ten supply centers. Send in a piece of mail that specifies a power and says how many of the ten units you are entitled to are armies, how many are fleets, and how many you would like to have waived. A wide field, yes, and of course the necessary situation specificity is not provided, but perhaps we can see how "naval" each power is generally considered to be. What do you say?

Beyond that -- my latest attempt to start a dialogue here -- I see no need to preface any further the incoming communications that appear below, so here they are.

Manus Hand

Mail Received Concerning Overheard at the Ministry of Finance

From Doug Essinger (revref@nb.net):

I have read your article about the relative costs of each supply center, and your comments about designing a variant based on this information.

In giving your comments some thought, I have come to the tentative conclusion that setting a supply center's revenue generation value on its cost of maintanence is not realistic, and provides little in the way of creating new reasons for going after a center since the costs of acquisition and maintenance is directly proportional.

However, I think that to base the supply center's revenue generation value on its attractiveness (which seems to me to be well defined by your "silver" metric) would add a very interesting dynamic. And I think that the "financial" dynamic of which supply centers to conquer can be enhanced by a second, simple addition: increase the value of home supply centers for their original owner. Let me explain.

First, I would take your "silver" metric and use it to assign generic revenue generation values to each supply center. This should relatively well reflect the attractiveness of ownership. Then I would add another bit of revenue generation value to the home supply centers of each country for that country only; I would also have the country's capital generate a bit more revenue than the other two centers.

An example: the "silver" metric assigns a revenue generation value of eleven to Trieste, nine to Vienna, and ten to Budapest. (These are just numbers pulled out of the proverbial hat.) That would be the revenue generated for any country other than Austria that controlled these centers. For Austria, I would add another one AgP to Vienna and Budapest, and two to Vienna for being a home supply center.

As I thought about the schemes, it seemed to me that this scheme "reflected real life" better; in real life, citizens would generate more revenue for their own rulers than for foreign occupiers.

In addition, I feel that this scheme will provide some interesting game dynamics. First, I believe the higher country-specific revenue differential for a capital SC would mimic the emotional ties to a capital which seems to exist in real life by giving a greater financial payout for the capital than for the other centers. Second, I believe that the country-specific differential would create a pull toward a country trying to defend its own territory by giving a greater reward in higher income for a home center than for a neutral.

What do you think?

[Author's response: Thanks for your comments regarding modifying the SC payoff in Payola.

While there is good basis for concluding that an adjustment is necessary, I have to agree with you that the alternative of making the SC payoff proportional to the Hand values is not perfect, and the discussion of how the adjustment is to be made is really fully open.

In your message, you suggested an alternative SC-payoff scheme with two components:

One thought that occurs to me, is that the second point would likely increase the initial survivability of each power. In Payola we have seen that Austria is frequently at a disadvantage. One of the goals in any change to SC payoff would be to correct this. Your scheme might help by making it harder for Austria to be surrounded and swallowed right at the outset.]

Mail Received Concerning Pins and Magnets

From A Reader at fsc100@aol.com:

Nothing personal, but since you're already using your computers for PBEM, why not use a map program that can be downloaded?

It is easy, paperless, and pretty good.

[Editor's response: Yes, but it's tough to touch, and some people like a hands-on board to think with and on which to push pieces around.]

From Stephen Loughman (stephen@lifestrat.ie):

I just read the interesting article on keeping track of games in the Fall '97 Zine.

My own solution has been quite a simple one. For each of the games I'm playing, I have set up a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. I then put in a .bmp of the relevant Map as a background.

For Fleets and Armies, I have created small drawing objects in appropriate shapes and colours. I then move them around the board as needed (Copying and deleting to show removals and builds.

I find this method very convenient not just for keeping track of games, but also for playing around with possible next moves.

I would guess that a healthy proportion of e-players have access to Excel or similar, so this solution should also be possible for them.

Mail Received Concerning Go Fasta Go Fasta Go Fasta

From Derek McLachlin (dmclachl@julian.uwo.ca):


Thanks a lot for your great article on winning with Italy in the Diplomatic Pouch. Last weekend we played FTF just after I read your article, and by pure luck I drew Italy. I decided to give your strategy a try, and it worked like a charm! England, France and Germany got involved in a long indecisive battle in the north, while Russia and Turkey were both into taking out Austria, who died in Fall 1902. I then turned on Turkey with Russian help, while England and Germany were pressuring Russia in the north to keep him from getting too big (and thus he was dependent on my help!). When Turkey was down to two I stabbed Russia to jump to 12; meanwhile France was nowhere near the Mediterranean as he stabbed Germany. I was then able to turn west and pick up the SCs I needed for the guaranteed victory in 1908.

My SC gains were as follows:

So a hearty endorsement from me. If you have any tips for the other countries, let us in on them!

Mail Received Concerning The Doctor of Diplomacy Program

From Brandon Clarke bjc@stevensons.co.nz):

Larry, reading your article in the latest Issue of the Pouch came at a time when I really needed it. There's a few paragraphs below explaining why.

I've put a lot of work lately into trying to get The Auckland Diplomacy Club up and running. When the second meeting feel on it's face due to insufficient numbers I really questioned whether it was worth it or not. I was able to more than satisfy my desire to play over the net, and I guess that first stomach-knotting feeling of failure got me down, and wondering whether it was worth struggling on.

Your article started a train of thought that has rekindled my commitment to The ADC. I read your article, and thought 'Some day I'd like to think I might be able to say I'd earned one of those' (A Doctorate in Diplomacy), and while it's a long way of yet, I figured growing the ADC from nothing to a full blown New Zealand National Diplomacy Network would be a step in the right direction for the 'services to the hobby' requirement.

Then I stood back and realised that was a pretty selfish reason to continue. At that time I read Jared Fleshers: Baby Steps article, and I e-mailed him welcoming him to the hobby. In that email I pointed out he was one of the lucky ones who found the hobby early. One of the guys I work with only 'found' Diplomacy when I taught him to play earlier this year, and he commented that he rued not having found it 20 years ago.

That's when I realised that selfish reasons or not, I had to forge ahead. If I didn't, who knows how many young Kiwi diplomats might never find The Great Game?

So with my enthusiasm rekindled by you Larry, and also in no small part by the efforts of Manus and everyone who makes the Pouch what it is, I hope to have many more reports from the ADC for all to read.

Mail Received Concerning the Account of World DipCon VII

From Vincent Mous (vim2@rocketmail.com):

I liked your account of the World Trip to Sweden. It was fun to read about our John Adams dinner and the dip games you played in. Have you come up with a solution to the early posting of results which led to your not doing so well in the team competition?

I'm not sure that Leif's argument was good. Actually, perhaps it was, but he didn't carry it far enough. I ended up as second best England during the tournament, with 14 SCs (during the team competition, even) - but I didn't know how big the biggest England was (15 SCs). I actually asked Leif a few years before the end and he said he thought it was 11 SCs. If I had known, I might have stabbed my ally earlier to have a better chance of taking the best England prize.

Well, one can always complain.

Ego-Stroking Mail (A Selection)

From Glenn Smith (GlennS64@aol.com):

What a wonderful site! I introduced Diplomacy to all of my classmates at the Defense Language School years ago ('88) and haven't really made time to play since. I am excited to be involved again, and want to thank you and the staff for making that possible.

From Dan:

I would like to congratulate you on the new index page for the Diplomatic Pouch. While the site has always been of great use to diplomacy players, the new, cleaner layout makes it more visually appealing.


[Editor's response: To Simon goes the credit. Don't let him tell you otherwise.]

Well, there you have it. Another Deposits column. Yep, it sure is.