The Editor and the Readership
Guest Editor Ry4an here: Wow. I knew that Manus gets about 500 pieces of mail a day, but I had no conception of just how much that is to wade through. What's more, while most of the pouch related email can be described using a subset of the adjectives interesting, intelligent, and coherent, some of the stuff that finds its way into the pouch's inbox is better described as kooky bordering on scary.
That said, I selected some of the most interesting, intelligent, and coherent messages and have included them below.
However, before we get to that, in the last issue David Cohen tossed out this trivia question:
In standard Diplomacy, what do these four provinces, and only these four provinces: Liverpool, Moscow, Rome and Smyrna, have in common?
and Brian E. Tanner was the first to correctly answer:
They're the only Home Supply Centers that start at with an Army and cannot be captured by a foreign Power the first year.
However, that answer is more specific than necessary. David's solution was simply that they're the only home supply centers which cannot be captured by a foreign power in 1901 (with no specification as to the inital unit type).
Editor's Note: It's my guess that Mr. Tanner didn't consider the, admittedly unlikely, situation wherein Italy convoys the Austrian into Naples, Russia convoys Germany into St. Petersburg, or the English player convoys the German into Edinburgh.
Mr. Cohen has a new one for us, answers to which can be sent to email@example.com:
In standard Diplomacy, what do these three and only these three provinces have in common: Norway, Denmark and Tunis?
Thank you for your recent DipPouch article on Paradoxes. I imagine you've received a bunch of feedback, so I'll keep my comments brief.
On a gut level, I prefer "Result #2", but am not enamored with the rule as it is written. My primary objection (actually, to both proposed rules) is that they do not go to the root of the problem.
I am not a master of all things paradoxical, but I believe the problem lies in the "Beleaguered Garrison" rule. A modification to that rule would cover the paradox you described and many other adjudication disagreements that appear from time to time. One of which, recently dominated the Vermont Group postings for several days.
As I'm sure you know, rule IX.5 currently reads:
"BELEAGUERED GARRISON. Since dislodgment occurs when another piece enters the space in question, as indicated in IX. 2., above, it follows that if two equally well supported units attack the same space, thus standing each other off, a unit already in that space is not dislodged."
I proposed the folowing addition:
"That unit does not retreat, but is considered dislodged in all other respects including, but not limited to, providing support and convoying."
Mine is not a new idea as I'm sure it has been suggested by many others, but I thought I would forward it nonetheless. It does appear to resolve the paradox you described and cover the adjudication disagreements I alluded to earlier.
Let me first admit that I am still somewhat of a beginner at Diplomacy. I have played a number of face-to-face games, and my friends and I are in the midst of our first e-mail game, but my experience is limited.
It seems to be pretty well agreed upon that in order to find the proper resolution to this problem should be whatever 'feels' to be in the spirit of therules. To this end you propose that essentially because France has 3 units to England's 2, they should prevail. I think this is a false assessment of the situation.
You first state that Germany's units are relatively neutral. This I agree with. Where I differ from your logic is where you give France a count of three in the attack. As a matter of principle in Diplomacy, a convoyed army has a strength of one. It is extremely similar to if the fleet itself had simply made the attack. For this reason, I feel as though it is a 2-on-2 situation. The French army in Yorkshire, and the fleet/army from the direction of the channel against the two English fleets. In this situation then, all should be thrown back.
I read your argument for resolving paradoxes and, honestly, voted for Simon's solution. Actually, while that's what it looks like I did, in fact I really voted against your proposal. Ironically, I think your logic is stronger--the real issue for me was that the outcome dictated by your logic seemed wacky, whereas Simon's argument, while considerably weaker, did support a move that appealed on an intuitive level, which, as it turns out, is very important to me.
I love the relative abstraction of DIP and the simplicity of its rules while preserving flow, variability and strategic flexibility, and I'm willing to give on realism to get those things. But even I draw the line somewhere. That's what got me to thinking of another possible solution, hence my letter to you.
I'll work with the scenario used by you in the paradox discussion, because its a good and simple one.
It doesn't seem right to me that a fleet undertaking a convoy operation should be allowed to convoy when the space it occupies is under attack from (one or more) forces that attack the space occupied by the convoying fleet with greater strength, regardless of whether these attacking forces "bounce" each other or not.
To our specific example, I think the fact that the force of the German attack (strength 2) and the force of the English attack (strength 2) on the English Channel are each stronger by themselves than the force of the French convoy (strength 1) is the first order consideration. The fact that the German and English "bounce" is a second-order consideration. Doesn't it seems counter-intuitive that a weaker force should survive the bounce and complete its convoy mission in a space undergoing massive attack?! Looked at this way (humor me for a moment), the convoy is disrupted and therefore the supposedly convoyed French army never makes it to London to disrupt the English fleet.
Important points: First, I believe this approach is consistent with your logic that the German player's moves cannot fairly be assumed to be either pro-English or pro-French. Second, it provides fairness to the Germans and English, each of whom individually attacked the space with more force than the French. Third, it seems to produce a more realistic outcome--convoys in hostile waters should not be made easy operations, for in truth they are not. Fourth, it attacks the problem at its source: the convoy. By doing so, you avoid the problem of dealing with what happens when the convoyed French army lands in London, because it never got there. And if it never got there, it doesn't seem fair that it should have any effect on cutting the support of the English fleet in London, right?
The result is identical to that in Simon's argument, but for a different reason: The convoy didn't hold--it attempted to succeed and was repelled by a stronger force (actually, by two stronger forces!)
Which brings up another interesting point: Why should we assume that either of the French or English fleets are hostile or friendly to the convoying French? In the absence of orders supporting the convoy or any other units heading into the English Channel, we must assume that any orders calling for German or English units to move into the English Channel are intrinsically opposed to the forces of any other country (including France) attempting to enter/move through the space, regardless of the strength of that country's force.
So, can this logic resolve Paradoxes cleanly, fairly and with minimal disputes with the existing rules? To Simon's credit, he acknowledged that either his or your proposed rule change could have unintended, unpleasant consequences in other circumstances--so, potentially, could any rule trying to incorporate what I'm driving for. How do (can?) you construct a rule incorporating this logic without tripping over the original rules any more than either of the very interesting ideas promoted by yourself and Simon?
I recently had the opportunity to read the articles on cheating in the Pouch over the Spring and Fall 1998 issues.
I would like to say that whilst this cheating is something I do not understand the reason for, please do not ban freemail accounts.
My parents have asked me to avoid anything that may clog up the family ISP account, and since then I only use my freemail account.
Actually, since today, that has become two accounts, due to the fact that I wish to avoid press getting mixed up. I have, however, used the iamalso option suggested in the Guide to Internet Diplomacy, and this, I believe, should allow me to play without the possibility of cheating.
The simple reason I wrote this was to ask that freemail accounts not be banned, since they are in some cases the only means to PBEM Diplomacy.