Pouch Deposits

Guest Editor and the Readership

Welcome to the Spring 1997 Retreat Issue Pouch Deposits. In the last issue, I put out a topic of discussion regarding openings. Specifically, I challenged readers to come up with openings where two powers ally and gang up on a third to eliminate him as quickly as possible (you can read additional details in last issue's column).

I only got one reply, but it was a good one. I expected a brief list of moves, but the reply I got included a pretty in-depth analysis of the moves and the corresponding problems that might accompany it. It isn't included in the Pouch Deposits below because it will appear as a Zine article in the next issue of the Zine. Instead of setting forth a new topic, I'll let the same one stand and hope for a few more submissions. I'd like to see what other people come up with, and I'd also like to come up with one of my own if I have the time (yeah... right). Give it a try and email me your thoughts.

Simon Szykman

Mail Received With a
Blast from the Past

From Bill Quinn (wcqdds@mcia.com)

How pleasant to wander across your zine. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Bill Quinn, former BNC, former recipient of the Don Miller Award, former PBM player. Several years ago I lost my zest for the game and decided that it was better to drop out than play poorly. However at times I am tempted to play just one more...but I fear that would be like giving a recovering drunk his first drink in years.

As BNC I was the dastardly villan who ruled that PBEM games were "different" from PBM and refused to rate them against the PBM games but was happy to report them and their players in "EVERYTHING...". At that time the speed and ease of email and it's rising popularity would certainly be the death knell of PBM I thought. Surprisingly PBM still exists. Perhaps email was not the asteroid I believed it to be, sending the PBM dinosaurs to extinction. There is something about the handwritten word in the game that adds another dimension. I frequently consulted with an ameateur handwriting analyst to uncover the true motives behind the words. I never trusted someone who typed their letters. It was like playing against a machine, or dealing with someone who always wore dark or mirrored glasses so that you couldn't see their eyes.

In your constellation of PBM players don't leave out Doug Beyerlein who published, played (one story is that he rallied an abandoned 1 unit Italy to victory), GM'ed and served as BNC over the course of 15 or so years. There are others too but his star was brighter to me.

Good luck in Diplomacy. Watch your back and all that. Perhaps one day I'll rejoin the hobby. Don't look for me soon.

Bill Quinn

Mail Received About
The Tactics Library

From Brahm Dorst (brahm@mortimer.com)

I read and enjoyed Matthew Self's "Library of Diplomacy Tactics" and I puzzled long over your question about when the rule that a unit can not cut an order for it's own support, can be used to ones advantage. Anyway, in Problem 2, part 3, Matthew makes an oversight. I tried to contact him but his Email address seems to have expired. The long and the short is that I found a better (or at least alternative solution) to one of his question. Maybe you can figure it out. Here's the challenge:

Given: France F Mar, F Spa(SC), F MAO, F Port, A Bur, A Gascony
Can you think of a way, that Italy can set up a stalemate line to block France from entering Pied, GoL, Wes, NAf Using only three fleets and two armies? (ignore Tyrolia)

[Editor's note: "ignore Tyrolia" means that one should assume that France is not going to come around Swtizerland to attack Italy from the North.]

[Editor's reply: Matt's email account vanished quite a while ago, and we haven't heard from him since. Great puzzle! I've done Brahm one better -- I've come up with two different solutions to it, one slightly better than the other. I'm not including them here so that our readers can give the puzzle a try. If you can come up with a solution, email it to Brahm. The solutions will apear in the next issue of the Zine. If you want to read through the problem from the Tactics Library that Brahm is talking about, you can find it here.]

More Mail Received on an Older Topic:
Spring vs. Fall Stabs

From Larry Peery (peery@ix.netcom.com) (via rec.games.diplomacy)

My comment deals with Manus's discussion of stabs in the Spring vs. stabs in the Fall seasons. This is really a more complicated question, I think. One of the big shocks to all the players at the early WDC's was the fact that there were two very different schools of thought on "stabbing." One group of players, mostly the Brits and Americans, thought stabs should only come at decisive moments in the game, and then only to achieve big results. The other, usually called the Dutch philosophy (for some early Dutchman who practiced and preached it) was that one should stab fast and often, even for just one center, or, worse, even just for the hell of it! It makes for a very different style of play. That, combined with the short games often played on the continent, made Diplomacy a very different game when played in Europe. Today, most players have adapted to either style, and a third, so far nameless, hybrid seems to be coming into vogue.

[Editor's reply: I've always found players from the stab-for-little-gain and the stab-for-the-hell-of-it schools a bit frustrating, because they are generally unpredictable and hard to defend against. In other words, it's much easier to keep a position where an ally can't stab you for 3 SC's than it is to keep a position where an ally can't get a single SC from you. Furthermore, defending like that is counterproductive since you use all your forces protecting yourself against an ally, leaving you with nothing to attack your enemies with. In my experience, the gains from these stabs are usually minimal for the stabber, and I've never found them to be worth it when compared to the big decisive stab. However, I can see how that might not be true in the European tournament style where games are played only to a certain year instead of to completion. Other opinions are welcome.]

From Randy Hudson (ime@netcom.com) (via rec.games.diplomacy)

> eli david wrote:

>> I know that sometimes you see you are dealing with a complete jerk and
>> have to attack him,but do some of you start an AI war as a way of
>> playing and not from disagreements or lack of trust?

Shlomi is on record as suggesting a Spring 1901 attack on Austria is Italy's best option in nopress games. The article appeared last fall on the rtdip mailing list, I believe.

> Speaking from the perspective of Austria, I have found the following to
> work nicely:
> Form an AIR alliance against T, when T is almost gone then you attack I.
> Austria's advantage in this regard is that, while a build in Venice
> usually warns Austria of an impending attack, one in Trieste is more
> subtle.

But a fleet in Trieste is anything but subtle. Nevertheless, it works very nicely here. During the late stages of a Lepanto, there will be Italian fleets in and around Turkey, and one Italian army convoyed there. One fleet, typically in TyS, and one army, typically in Tus, are left to defend the homeland. The new fleet moves to Adr, with A Vie moving to Tyr and A Bud moving to Tri, and Venice will fall in fall. Aeg (or Gre) moves to Ion, with success leaving Italy's southern forces completely cut off. If TyS is used to prevent that, Ven-Apu and Adr s Tri-Ven next spring ensures that Rome is the next victim.

The recent discussion of Fall versus Spring stabs didn't seem to cover this frequent occurrence: the Winter stab.

> Needless to say, in a game I once played
> using this strategy, Russia actually stabbed me at the same time as I
> stabbed Italy.

Heh, such is life.

As Russia, I would tend to do this when I saw you attacking Italy. I would know I have an Italian ally, and with Turkey seriously weakened, success should lead to a breakout into the Med and likely victory. So, as Austria, you can't stab Italy until Russia is either weakened herself beyond being able to damage you, or tied up in the north by England and/or Germany (if he's fighting France, an attack on Italy is likely to produce a French victory).

Mail Received With
Kind Words About the Pouch

From John M. Krische (jkrisc19@mail.idt.net)

First, let me say, great website. There are more than enough resources here for anyone to use in learning the art of Diplomacy.

From James Harman (harmanjd@cds.mrs.umn.edu)

The pouch is overall a very excellent page, and thanks for maintaining it so well.

From Jorge Diaz (mfornielesc@meditex.es)

Congratulations for maintaining the zine and contributing to hours of fun for all of us.

From Macario Reyes (macreyes@dns.lapiedad.com.mx)

I wish to congratulate you on your magnificent job maintaining the Email section of the Diplomatic Pouch, it is very good and has been very helpful for getting myself into the PBEM Diplomacy Hobby. I would also like to suggest that you increased the choices of the Game Queue to include other variants of the game, it is dificult to find openings in most of them and your queue system has worked very nicely for the Standard and Standard Gunboat games. Again congratulations on your excellent work. Keep it up. Greetings, Macario Reyes

[Editor's reply: Thanks for all the positive feedback. Regarding the last letter, now that the Game Queues have gotten pretty popular, we are giving stronger consideration to adding additional games to the queues. The one issue holding is back is that we don't want to overburden the GMs who are helping to keep the Game Queue system running smoothly. We also need to find out which non-standard variants GMs are interested in GMing so that we don't end up with queues for games that nobody wants to run. We'll be working on this.]

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