Pouch Deposits

The Editor and the Readership

Our Favorite Borders

I was gratified to receive a virtual flood of e-mail in response to my question, "What is your favorite border?" Overwhelmed, in fact. I've never before had such voluminous response to any of my suggested topics for discussion! Thanks to all of you who mailed me your answer, and you'll all find my own answer revealed in my responses to the incoming mail. There seemed to be something of a trend. People (myself included) seem to have a liking for moves that suddenly transfer pressure from one theatre to another. In fact, in thinking about the responses, I have come up with an idea for an article (how like me, huh?) -- a discussion of the different traditional DMZ's, where they overlap, and moves into one DMZ from a location inside another. Anyone want to write it for me?

From Russell Dovey (elaurian@iname.com):

It has to be, must be, Burgundy to Munich. This is the way to say to the hapless German player,"Hah! Stick that in yer pipe and smoke it! You're screwed, mister! (insert manical laughter here)"

From Marc Leotard (marc.leotard@fucam.ac.be):

My favorite border is Tyrolia-Munich.

From Steve Araps (saraps@erols.com):

Successful land assault from the east on mun, breaking through the center of the stalemate line.
Editor's response: That's close to my answer....
Or is it Western Med. to the Mid-Atlantic from Italy?
Editor's response: Not a bad second indeed. I also like any kind of convoy out of Kiel. Usually takes the board by surprise and almost always works and shifts momentum fast. Speaking of which....

From David Hood (David_Hood@w3link.com):

My favorite move would be the move A Kiel/Denmark to Livonia by convoy...

From Tim Yokum (darkwolf@communitygate.net):

Ya. Being a primary German player (yes, I'm a weirdo who likes to play Germany above all others!) I'd have to say Den/Nwy-Yor followed by Yor-Lvp. A gutting of England in one year from which he usually cannot recover. (Though you can send from other places, Denmark or Norway are my favorite sources.)

From David Degville (DEGVILLES@cs.com):

I've been playing e-mail Diplomacy for a few months now after playing at university for a few years. The change from FTF dip to e-mail is quite shocking. But to answer your question..... My favorite border crossing? Well I enjoy playing Russia and often find myself penned into a southern battle with Turkey and/or Austria. As such I especially enjoy "breaking out." This comes most easily moving from StP-Nwy. It semms somehow to "free me" and increase my sphere of influence from south-eastern Europe to the whole of North Europe in one single move. I immediately have increased relevance to England, France and Germany then previously.

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

Unquestionably my favourite border to cross is the StP - Fin - Nwy border. I love seeing my units cross that border when I'm playing Turkey, Austria or Italy.

Having said that, everytime I play Turkey (and to a lesser extent, Italy and Austria) I aim to get a fleet into the Barents and an army into Clyde. I think the crowning glory of my Diplomacy career will be a game where I'm Turkey, and I finish participating in a draw with a fleet BAR and army Cly, preferably owning say Budapest and Munich.

That would be grand!

From Ian Cooper (20c@sprintmail.com):

I dunno about a favourite border, but I do tend to begin to really enjoy the game whenever anyone goes into Galicia. There's just something about that province that, once it's taken (especially late in the game), makes the game more exciting in every game I've played. I don't know what it is.
Editor's response: Bingo!

As for national borders; well, for me it'd have to be the French/Italian border - sparks tend to fly when someone crosses that one.

From David Hertzman (knave@idirect.com):

Well, obviously crossing into Marseilles from Piedmont is the nice biggee that tells you that you are on your way to a sweet solo victory.
Editor's response: Not a bad choice....
That said, my favourite move is the Galicia-Bohemia slide when I am Russia and planning on attacking Germany.
Editor's response: You're very close to my choice, which is the Galicia-Silesia border. Any move from Gal to Sil or vice-versa is just such a big momentum shifter, and it seems like it's so rarely expected.
It is so easy to claim that you are going after Austria....
Editor's response: I guess we have the same take. The whole Pru-Sil-Boh-Gal area is so often DMZ'ed between a number of powers; usually, it's two separate DMZ's, and no one thinks that you'd enter the one simply because you really want to go to the other.

I also get little squirms around Prussia since that usually signals a big change in game policy, but I am very biased towards the Russia-Germany dynamic for some reason, I think it is the most interesting on the board. They absolutely must remain friends at the beginning, but each benefits somewhat from the other's downfall.

Editor's response: Indeed so. And Russia can so easily be in Gal "to finish Austria" and then quickly move to Sil to put Germany in huge trouble. (Germany has a harder time doing the reverse, but Boh-Gal, as you pointed out, is similar -- sudden unexpected pressure on War, Rum, and Ukr-Sev/Mos).
Response from David: Hmm, now that you mention it, the Gal-Sil is a biggee, Boh-Gal is the preparation, but the Gal-Sil is the shift from the attack on Austria to the direct assault on the German home supply centres.

We do indeed have the same take, though. Boh/Sil/Pru is often an "automatic" DMZ, and as such it is always exciting when it is broken. In fact, I always make a point of trying to be the first into that zone if I am nearby, since you can pick up a very nice tactical advantage if your attack is unexpected.

Sil-Gal would not be as exciting though... why is Germany in Sil to begin with? Very anti-Russian, so why would he be doing that unless Russia was dead or some treaty was made? Hmm... I'm beginning to clue into something here. Galicia is pretty much an Eastern province, while Sil is a Western province... crossing means that you are changing theatres of operation...

Editor's response: Actually, I prefer Sil-Gal to Gal-Sil. One of my favorite things to see (much like Brandon's wish to occupy Barents and Clyde) is a German army that runs straight for Rumania via Mun-Sil-Gal-Rum.

From Edi Birsan (edi@mgames.com):

I agree with you that Silesia to Galicia is cute but I also like Kiel-Livonia convoyed by the Baltic. Amazing the number of times that that is not picked up.
Editor's response: You and David Hood. The northern equivalent of Spain to Tuscany (or vice-versa).

Now For Something Completely Different

Larry Peery suggested our next topic for conversation. Since the year-numbers are about to begin with a different digit, Larry would like to know which real-life diplomats would be considered (by us armchair Diplomats) the ten greatest of the "millennium" (yes, I know the millennium won't end until 31 December 2000, but "the ten greatest diplomats of the years beginning with '1'" just doesn't have the same ring).

Send in your opinion on who were the most talented diplomats of the last ten centuries. Feel free to include in your mail who you think are the seven greatest Diplomacy (The Game) players over that same time period (or the last forty years, whichever is shorter ).

If we get enough response, maybe we'll formalize this and have actual voting. Or re-do it next year when the millennium really does come to a close.

And Now, The Rest of the Mail

And there's a lot of it....

An Announcement From
The Inventor of Diplomacy

From Allan Calhamer (calhamer@usa.net):

In a couple of months the book "Calhamer on Diplomacy" is expected to be available, either by download or in paperback, from 1stbooks.com. It proceeds topically, discussing aspects of the Game of Diplomacy and parallel events drawn from diplomatic history. My hope is that the Game will make the history more interesting, and the history will make the Game more interesting. This is not a how-to manual, although it may contain some strategic tips. It may be illuminating and occasionally controversial in its analysis of the history.
Editor's response: I think I can speak for the whole hobby when I say that we all eagerly await this new work!

Mail Received Concerning
Pouch T-Shirts and Mousepads

From Mike Warde (chukars@pa.mother.com):

Great quality! Have there been many orders?

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

The shirts you sent were perfect. Absolutely perfect mate.

From Daniel Kirkwood (dkirkwood@ameritech.net):

My shirt just arrived today. It looks great and is of excellent quality.

Thanks very much again.

Mail Received Concerning
The Mail in Last Issue Questioning Whether Diplomacy is Worth an Emotional Toll

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

Hi, I've been asked this question myself, and I agree with Manus: the answer is, "Definitely."

Through Diplomacy you learn more about yourself, and how you interact with others. In addition, you make fantastic friends. Some of us even meet interesting women.

If you feel you're paying a price for it emotionally, I say keep playing. I pay an emotional price for playing Diplomacy when I lose, but it's a small price. However, when I win the payoff I get is enormous. Learning to win sometimes takes time, but once you get enough experience under your belt, and develop your game you learn that, as disappointing as the setbacks are, they are far outweighed by the rewards of playing.

From José Torres (r28738@email.sps.mot.com):

Shortly after sending in my question, I realized that I knew the answer all along and that it agreed with your position - I was merely fishing for validation. So I registered on USIN and USEF and began observing in several games. When one of them needed a replacement player (that never happens!) I eventually took the bait and signed on. After getting my feet wet, writing a few press messages, and (!) convincing my country's nemesis (based on history) to switch and ally with me, I figured I was on to something. I have since joined two games for Newbies (one by accident. Honest! I don't know how I got signed up for the second one! , one foreign language game, and one Bliztkrieg 15Hr per phase mad dash. Yes. I am currently in five games, and I have only been late twice.

Foremostly, I am writing to say how amazed I am at how much I have learned about myself and human nature. I am embarrassed at how 'wimpy' my initial comment seems to me today. Geez, if a player took that tone in their first press in a game, they would be waving a big flag that said "Please, take advantage of me, stab me first or second! Pretty please!" I must laugh at how enthused I would be today to get a message with that tone from one of my neighbors. (Drooling!)

I have not yet finished a game (1905 is the latest I've gotten, simply because there is a lot of waiting...) but I no longer consider myself a 'hapless newbie.' I sniffed out a Key Lepanto and split the Austro-Italian alliance with press. I was the decision maker in another and convinced my fellow dippers to concentrate on targets of my choice (causing wo eliminations, soon to be three). As the replacement player I convinced my country's previous nemesis to cooperate against the local bully to gain my first SC (one I'll remember with pride) and then eventually stab that old nemesis down to 1 oneC (the best I could do in one turn).

Dan Shoham or Jamie Dreier I am not. But I feel like I can do a decent job of dipping my fellows to roughly do what I want a reasonable amount of time. Where did I learn it? WWW.Diplomacy-R-Us.com! Of course it was The Pouch. I'm not trying to flatter you, but you've worked hard to help the Dip community with The Pouch and I must say you've made the world a better place (for dippers).

Particularly, I learned a great deal from the following articles:

By the way, I was disappointed to read about Paul's wife. My wife and child mean everything to me (well, after Diplomacy!) and the Windsors are in my prayers.

The first three articles really go for the heart of the reason to play Diplomacy - learning about onesself and human nature. (If you can't tell, I am a fellow who reads the entire owner's manual before even plugging in a television set, and I have read at least half of all of the articles that are not on variants, and only half because I do have a wife and kid.)

I see an excellent potential article for Newbies to be entitled "Advice on writing your first press." After joining my first two games, I took an hour to write my first messages because I was so inexperienced and a bit overwhelmed with the feeling that I was going to "do it wrong" or "not do it the right way." (I did do it 'wrong,' anyway; that's for sure.) I learned so much from trying to dig my way out of the hole I'd put myself in. It may be counter-intuitive from reading such a rambling e-mail that I've become so much better at edifying a thesis with supporting facts, but in fact I have improved greatly. For the first time in my life I now feel like I have the skills to persuade someone to do what I think is best. That is part of the true value of Diplomacy, as I am sure you agree.

Gunboat games have given me freedom to adopt personas very different from my own. In real life I used to be far too considerate of other people to my own detriment. Now, I realize that everyone is a backstabbing son-of-a-bitch and a carebear all at once, and perhaps not only socialization but also position and opportunity which dictated which trait guides a person. I have yet to be eliminated in any of my games (all of my positions are up at least one SC over start/takeover) but I have no real fear of being beaten. If you lose this game it is not too often because you were tactically inferior but beacause you were unable to pursuade other people to act as you want/needed them to. Learn from it and move on. Or if you find yourself playing with Dan Shoham, resign immediately! I have found that I respect people who take their lumps fighting gracefully, and I never have any respect for unjustified resignations (life intruding is justifiable). If players have a problem emotionally with having their positions wiped out after months of work (playing a game) then they need to have their heads examined.

Every night, I promise myself I am going to write shorter press. All of my games are waiting for a late power, so I checked the Zine and found the recent issue, and well, here's the outcome. I would be happy to create a succinct summary of this for the next dip pouch issue, but I thought you might actually be this interested in what I had to say on the subject because of the dedication level you show for the hobby and the 'zine. Is your dedication rating default at the machine overflow value?

I don't know when one graduates from being a newbie, but I sure feel like I have already. It is too bad I can't just play Dip for a living.

Editor's response: Ain't it the truth. I think we all live for the day when there's a Professional Diplomats Tour, just like golf and tennis have. See you on tour!

As for the rest of José's mail, I rarely publish letters that I follow up with a badgering to write an article. In this case, though, I decided that much of what he had to say in his letter would be interesting to the readership, despite the fact that, yes, he succumbed to my badgering and wrote an article, which you can find elsewhere in this issue. (José -- I still like the "How To Write Your First Press" article idea. How quickly can you get it to me? )

Mail Received Concerning
The Sneak Peek at the Hasbro Interactive CD-ROM

From Brahm Dorst (brahm_d@yahoo.com):

I had to choke back a tear when I read that The Pouch was going to be mentioned in the in-box literature. I recall all the nervous paranoia during Avalon Hill's takeover by Hasbro on r.g.d. as everyone feared the worst sort of treachory courtesy of Avalon Hill. I recall my mind being filled with visions David Kovar being forced to establish guerrilla camps around the globe, keeping the judges running on contraband servers while imperial stormtroopers of the Hasbro empire hunted them down. I was overcome with happiness that the treachory was kept in the game where it belongs and in real life we all seem to be getting along. I'm also proud to have been a member of the hobby during this historical moment for The Pouch, as it gains official status continuing a noble tradition started by "The General."


Editor's response: Thanks for the mail. Yes, I must say that I have been very very pleased with the support that Hasbro has given the hobby. From inviting me to write two chapters in the CD-ROM game manual to devoting the inside back cover of that manual to pointing new hobbyists to The Pouch, the people I have worked with at Hasbro have been nothing if not completely supportive of the hobby.

Mail Received Concerning
The Hasbro Interactive CD-ROM

From Bill Palechek (William.Palechek@westgroup.com):

I'm just e-mailing you with a very short evaluation of the new Diplomacy computer game released by Microprose/Hasbro. I purchased the game over the weekend, installed it and proceeded to play a single player game against six computer opponents. I was very disappointed in the AI for this game. I had no problem defeating the computer opponents in a very short period of time. I proceeded to play 2 more single player games with the same results. Three single player games against 6 computer opponents each game, all on the highest level of AI/difficulty, with a solo victory for me in each game. The ease of my victory was pathetic. The AI for the game was laughable. I'm taking over supply centers from other players and those computer players are asking me to make some of their territory neutral zones. Hello, I'm taking your country...

Maybe the multiplayer option has something to offer but the single player games are worthless. I plan on trying to bring the game back for a refund or at least to exchange for a game that gives me a challenge.

From Ian Cooper (20c@sprintmail.com):

Well, I'll start by saying that I'm an old-time Diplomacy player who fell by the wayside a few years ago, and hasn't played the game since. Both my wife and I were avid players, until we found that a minority of Diplomacy players don't seem to like women playing the game. So, in order to have a more pleasant life, we left the game even though we were both often very successful at tournaments. However, I digress.

I just picked up the new Diplomacy computer game and played it for the first time tonight (single player). Here's a quick review:

The game looks great. It seems to play well - no bugs seen yet. Gameplay is very smooth and the interface is very intuitive. You can literally load the game and be playing quite happily straight away without looking at the manual. While I haven't yet played a multiplayer game, the multiplayer interface also seems very good - it's a snap to set up on the Microsoft Gaming Network, and again, you can be up and running in minutes. The only thing I miss (having been spoiled by the recent 'chrome is all' trend in computer gaming) is more pretty graphics and sounds - the game could have used a nice intro soundtrack (perhaps a nice 'History Channel' type introduction to the world as it was in 1900) and a few more graphical extras. But for the dedicated Diplomacy player who just wants a no-nonsense approach, it does the job well, and I think it will be a great tool for making multiplayer games much easier than they are at present, and much more accessible for players new to the game.

The only real problem I have with the game so far is in single player mode. The AI is quite simply atrocious. The old Avalon Hill computer Diplomacy had better AI, and gave the player a far better run for his/her money than does this version. I played one game as England against the computer opponent with all the difficulty options turned to high, and I gained my 18 supply centres fairly easily by 1907. I had allied with the German 'player' early on in the game, and I backstabbed him pretty ruthlessly in 1903 - but at the end of the game, with only one supply centre left (all the rest had been taken by me), the German was still happily talking to me. If this was a human vs. human game, the guy would have been trying to throttle me, while pleading with his neighbours to 'fight the common foe'. The AI doesn't even play well tactically - missing obvious moves, and seeming not to care whether it's a Spring or Fall move. Basically, the single player game will work as an introduction for the complete neophyte, but for seasoned players, it's a complete waste.

However, I don't think anyone really expected a chess-type AI for this game - what we need is a nice base from which to mount multi-player games over the internet. This, the latest version does admirably, although with little fanfare or chrome.

Editor's response: Thanks for the review. Someone foolishly volunteered to write us up a full-blown review of the product. Look for that in the next issue.

From Sean Roberts (Roberts.Sean@tchden.org):

I had an amusing experience with PC Diplomacy last night. Playing Italy, I was called into a meeting room with Austria and Russia. Right in front of me, Russia asked Austria to attack Italy (me)! Making the whole thing more strange, Austria accepted and they proceeded to "discuss" their invasion plans right in front of me.

From Marc Meyer (MarcKari@concentric.net):

Congratulations on getting a section on strategy in the manual.
Editor's response: Thanks! (I also wrote the "What is Diplomacy?" section, he says immodestly.)
Now you are a famous mega-star in the computer game world,
Editor's response: Next: complete world domination!
I just wanted to be one of the first to congratulate you. I've admired your work on the DipPouch, and I think the computer game owes a lot to you and everyone who has worked to keep the Judge system alive.
Editor's response: Thanks very much!

From Justin Absher (liberator@hotmail.com):

Is it just me or did Hasbro and Microprose drop the ball on this one? Granted the graphics are nice and the pre-WWI pictures were a good idea but the game is just no fun. For the single player mode the opponents don't have a strategy that I can discern, they just send you gibberish. They suggest that I do anything and everything. In the end it is meaningless to converse with the other countries. It is worthless to ask another country to support a move or to agree to support another countries move because it never happens. Firm alliances are never made and therefore "stabs" never occur because nobody is ever "friendly" enough to fool, or be fooled. So by 1904 I stopped talking to my opponents all together and I won by 1910 (I was England). So I started over as Italy and put all my opponents to the hardest setting. Still they sent me gibberish. I stopped conversing with them in 1903 and won in 1907. Keep in mind that I have played maybe three games of Diplomacy in my whole life so I am not exactly a master player here. If a complete novice can sit down, ignore his opponents' press (to me the whole fun of Diplomacy is talking with one's opponents), and win consistenly with Italy by 1907 something is very very wrong.
Editor's response: I have heard many reports like yours. When I playtested a pre-release version of the CD-ROM, I also had no trouble roaring to victory, theoretically against six players. The Articifial Intelligence is still apparently very artificial. This is too bad, but it raises my hopes that the CD-ROM will bring people to the human hobby. I only hope that the ease with which the AI players can be dispatched does not make a bad impression on players new to the game. As we all know, Diplomacy is a very challenging game (the best!) when the level of competition is right. This next letter inspires more hope:

From Manny Lopez (havana@ix.netcom.com):

Would it be possible for the Diplomatic Pouch to post a players wanted column or schedule of open game opportunities for play on the MSN Gaming Zone?

I have played a couple of games on the Zone with Hasbro's new game and they went well. It's just very difficult to find people lurking in the Diplomacy game room.

Editor's response: My response to Manny was just what you'd expect from me: "How soon can you have something to me that will enhance The Pouch as you suggest?" . His response was positive, and I put him in contact with Doug Massey (the E-Mail section leader) for coordination. Some areas of The Pouch have already been minimally expanded for users of the Hasbro Interactive product. Look for Manny's updates and other updates to the various sections as they occur....

Mail Received Concerning
Assigning Powers in Diplomacy

From Keith Ammann (geenius@albany.net):

OK, it's goofy to be responding to an article written a year ago, but reading the Pouch isn't always a completely linear experience.

I'm surprised that there was no mention of the "least squares fit" method of power assignment. It's like maximizing satisfaction, but instead of going for the high score, you go for the low. To take Tarzan's recurring example:

Cornelius GEFTARI

Ideally, you evaluate all possible combinations of powers and choose the best one, but that's impractical if you're working by hand, so a good place to start is with a bottom-up method. Looking at the lists, nobody has placed Italy higher than fourth place. Someone is going to have to be Italy, so it looks like it'll be Cheeta. Similarly, no one has placed Austria higher than third, so Simon gets Austria. All other powers are now somebody's first or second choice. Cornelius, Dave and Tarzan get Germany, Russia and France uncontested, leaving Manus and Petar to fight over England. Turkey is still unclaimed, and it's Manus' second choice and Petar's fourth, so Manus gets Turkey and Petar gets England.

So here's the assignment evaluation table:

PlayerPowerRank In Player's ListSquare of Rank
Cornelius Germany 1st 1
Cheeta Italy 4th 16
Manus Turkey 2nd 4
Tarzan France 1st 1
Simon Austria 3rd 9
Dave Russia 1st 1
Petar England 1st 1
Avg.: 1.86Sum: 33

It so happens that this is the outcome generated by Tarzan's "group satisfaction" method. Is there a better one? My guess is that there isn't. A swap of a first- and a third-place power for two second-place powers would knock two points off the sum of squares, for example, but in this case that opportunity doesn't exist, because no one placed Austria (the only third-place power) higher than third. What's interesting is that in the above table, satisfaction has been optimized not only for the players but for the powers as well. That is, every country has been assigned to a player who ranked it as high or higher than all other players did. If you whimsically assume that Turkey is "happiest" being run by a player who wants to play Turkey, then being played by Cheeta, Manus or Dave is the best possible outcome for Turkey. By maximizing the "happiness" of the powers, you also maximize the satisfaction of the players!

The next realm I would like to see explored is the evaluation of grouped powers. For example: A[EFGIR]T

Austria is clearly the first choice. But what are [EFGIR]? Are they counted as second place? If so, is Turkey third or seventh? Or does the group have a "center of gravity," putting it in fourth place? (This is what I generally assume.)

Author's response: Thanks for you feedback. Actually, my article does address exactly what you presented. I believe I referred to it as as yielding the "Least Dissatisfaction" or something like that. Perhaps, I didn't score it the same way you did (you refer to least squares) but I still would consider what you suggest as a variation of the "Least Dissatisfaction" method.

What we really need is someone (like me?) to code all these various methods into a Judge (yes, Manus, I'll work on it!!).

Here's another interesting thought on the topic of power assignment and satisfaction: The preference matrix


is equivalent, if you imagine the powers themselves to have "preferences," to

Austria BA[EG][CDF]
England DFAB[CEG]
France GA[DEF]CB
Germany [EF]G[BC]AD
Italy [BC]A[DEFG]
Russia A[EG][BCDF]
Turkey CD[BE]G[AF]

A least squares fit on the first matrix would produce one of the following assignments:

Option 1 Option 2
Austria Bob Alice
England Frank Doug
France George George
Germany Eddie Frank
Italy Carol Bob
Russia Alice Eddie
Turkey Doug Carol

(Both options sum to 16, all get 1st or 2nd choice) Now, when you apply a least squares fit to the second matrix, you get:

Option 1 Option 2
Alice Russia Austria
Bob Austria Italy
Carol Italy Turkey
Doug Turkey England
Eddie Germany Russia
Frank England Germany
George France France

(Both options sum to 13, all get 1st or 2nd choice)

Which happens to be exactly equivalent to the assignments done in the other direction! Thus, a happy country makes for a happy player.

Mail Received Concerning
Diplomo, Ergo Sum

From Edi Birsan (edi@mgames.com):

In your reaction against the scoring system you focused on my game in the third round. What you reported was not quite the situation that occurred. As Italy I swept rather quickly through Austria and into Turkey. Meanwhile the West was a tangle of alliances and stabs and what not between France/England and Germany. David Hood had the highest profile of having announced that he had won the last five tournaments he played in and having won his prior game as Russia. This combined with a slashing set of alliance shifts in the west had earned him few friends.

As the game progressed I maintained a deal with the French player to dominate our respective East/West portions of the map. Time was going on and I had to make a decision as to whether I could win the game within the tournament time period and I concluded that I could not. Being of the old school: Win Only or another result, the another result that I wanted was a 2 way draw as combined with a prior 2 way and 3 draw I had a decent chance of ending up in top 7 positions of the tournament. The downside was the voting system. If the game went on a dead lock at the end then it would be draws include all survivors and not only would knock my position down in the tournament but would have elevated Hood's who was not allied with me in the game. The players in the west also wanted to extend their rating in the tournament and there was the basis of the deal that was negotiated. The small survivors in the game knew that they would be eliminated if the game was not ended by a draw vote. Therefore for them the best bet was to vote to end the game. Their survival and their score was higher because the game ended early. In fact as I recall at the end, even David was suddenly not sure if he would survive if the game went on. Therefore, the game was voted an end to the two way draw of Italy and France...where the remaining survivors all received points based on their supply centers. I believe that the vote was unanimous at the end and that even David voted for it, though technically he was not needed as he had only 4 centers. But it should be noted that David ended up with a higher score for surviving in the game than being eliminated. The game was not a bad display of abuse, in fact it was an excellent use of the voting concept in a game to achieve a result that could not be obtained by board play. It was a very diplomatic way to end the game.

Now whether there should be any vote in a scoring system or not is a different issue.

Also if prior rounds should affect the game in a tournament or not. These are tournament design issues.

However, I simply wanted to explain the game you saw and to correct your feeling that there was something very odd going on, it was just diplomacy.

From Cliff Johnson (cjohnson@stclair.cc.mi.us):

Thank you for pointing out something that has been bothering me for years. I have played in the ORIGINS Dip Tourney for several years. I have the highest praise for the chap who has been running the thing in every single regard except for the execrable system for ending/scoring the game. It is so frustrating to have been playing very well, dominating the board, on your way to a solo or fairly exclusive draw, and then have time run out and have to go through endless pettyfogging to share the draw with nearly everyone else, no matter how poorly they had played.

Another Round of Mail Received Concerning
The "Risk-Taking" Experiment

From Jack Sinnott (Jack.Sinnott@hboc.com):

I read your follow-up articles and the response threads. I think I have another take on your data. Why not drop the assumption that a respondent's "France/Turkey Attack Differential" is relevant? If you're trying to measure map effects, why not measure responses between maps?

What I'd like to see is the differential across experience and risk profiles between the maps. Why not plot the map response differentials for each population as data points? For example, try comparing the responses from both maps to "...likelihood that Italy is setting up to attack you..." for "somewhat conservative experts". In the end, you'd get 50 data points for each map: 25 for each unique population x 2 for the "likelihood" questions. You could graph it in two dimensions (y= {experience, risk}, x=likelihood) or in 3 dimensions (x=experience, y=risk, z=likelihood) depending on how you want to slice the results.

With 100 separate data points, some interesting comparisions could be made. How do aggregate responses between maps to one question contrast with aggregate responses to it's mirror question? Does the sum of those aggregate comparisons equal zero? Can you spot trends by altering your choice of which variable to plot as x/y/z (assuming each variable is plot independent?) In addition, you could easily make comparisons that adjust for map bias, such as comparing the aggregate of "Map A Likely + Map B Unlikely" vs. "Map A Unlikely + Map B Likely"

In addition, you might better explain statistically significant deviations by viewing each respondent as a unit. In that case, you'd get 446 data points to answer such questions as "Are experts more likely than intermediates to describe themselves as cautious and if so, could this be controlled for given the data?"

The possibilities are endless...

Author's response: I think I see what you are saying. I took data that went across multiple dimensions (which map, level of expertise, level of risk-taking) and flattened it by plotting only one dimension at a time (differential vs level of expertise for map 1, and for map 2, and differential vs level of risk-taking for map 1, and for map 2). You are suggesting plotting the three dimensional cube and looking for trends or patterns in volumes or areas along slices. Interesting. I've already had one person take me up on my offer to pass on the data I have (see the article by Marc Leotard in this issue). I again extend the offer if you are interested in exploring some of your endless possibilities.

p.s. I have no idea how anyone could not have seen the orientation! I didn't consiously recognize it at the time (I didn't actually take the test - I read the article only after the Spring issue came out so I was too late), but I certainly recognized the 3-D nature of the map. I really wonder about the spatial-reasoning/depth perception abilities of some of our fellow Dippers...

In defense of the unwitting experimental subjects, I don't think that people did not notice the 3-D nature of the map. But I think it's easy to not take notice of how 3-dimensional objects are spatially oriented. A pattern can be in front of you without you noticing. Having read the article about the test before having seen ruined the possibility of your having missed it. It's like looking for an object hidden in a picture. You can look right at and fail to see it, but after it's been pointed out to you, it's so obvious that you can't not see it.

From James Schoonmaker (SCHOONMA@FinancialTech.com):

I read the results of your survey, and your interpretation of them, in the 'Zine. I was very interested in them, and I'm pleased to see how seriously and intelligently players study the game. I'm a novice player, but I have some experience in chess, and some of the more sophisticated articles strike me as being very similar to those written about chess.

I was fascinated by both your hypothesis and the study.

Author's response: Thanks for the kind remarks.

I had some thoughts on why, perhaps, you didn't get the results you expected, as well as the irregularities.

My first thought is about the maps. The visible "end" of each of the pieces is on the left in both maps; perhaps those surveyed subconsciously took this into account when they determined the likely target of the Italian forces. My second thought is methodological. The accuracy of at least the breakdown by skill level relies solely on self-reporting. Could it be, perhaps, that rather than experts being more likely to be swayed by the orientation of the pieces, that those surveyed misrepresented themselves? It simply seems unlikely to me that "experts" would be the least likely to base their conclusions about the possibility of a stab on the actual position of the pieces. I have no data to back it up, but it would seem to me that those unsure enough of themselves to misrepresent themselves as experts (due to discomfort over inexperience?) would also be the most likely to base their interpretations on the orientation of the pieces.

The first thought is a possibililty. The second is not only possible, but likely. I mentioned this in my followup to the original article. True experts might intentionally downplay their expertise, but since they have no reason to do so in an anonymous survey, it is more likely that some players who are experts relative to a large population of players may not personally consider themselves to be experts.

Again, I have nothing to support any of these ideas, but your piece got me thinking.

I've received enough comments indicating that I got people thinking, that I consider the experiment a success for that reason even if the results themselves weren't conclusive. Thanks very much for the note.

Mail Received Concerning
The Upcoming Release of the Hasbro Board Game Edition

From Buz Eddy (BuzEddy@aol.com):

My contact reports that Hasbro still hasn't printed. She didn't say whether the Dec. 15 release date was slid again or not.

The cannons and boats are cast from the Parker Brothers molds from monopoly then annodized to the familiar country color. The cardboard disks with flags to indicate center ownership on the board will be helpful, but I'm concerned that one of my friends (um, acquaintances) who likes to slip additional units on the board now and then, now has an additional weapon in his arsenal.

From David Partridge (rebhuhn@rocketmail.com):

Did they fix the colors on the pieces? In the demo set that I got it was very hard to tell the Russian and the French pieces apart, especially in dim light (we were playing outdoors). I passed that info back to them and they acknowledged it, but I don't know if they did anything about it. Another point we had was that the center ownership pieces were cardboard squares, standard game piece size. We recommended using smaller disks, did they really change to disks?
Buz's response: Didn't set the pieces up, but they looked fine in the package. The center ownership pieces are round, maybe about penny size.

Some of the Mail Received Expressing
General Appreciation of The Pouch (Ego-Feeding)

From Sean Spence (sspence@giveblood.org):

Great site. You certainly hooked me. I would ritually abase myself, but these are new pants. You understand.

From Carsten Woolsen (c991031@student.dtu.dk):

I'd like to thank you and all the other staff on the Pouch for the great job you are doing for all us Diplomacy players out here. If it weren't for you, I would have no one to play with, but now I have.

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