The Editor and the Readership
Unfortuantely, in the effort to get the Zine out, we only had time to include one letter. However, next issue, we promise to include yours, if you send it in to us!
Dear Randy and Lawrence
I’ve been reading old 'Zine articles, and was particularly attracted by Matthew Self’s “Library of Tactics” (Winter 1995 Adjustment).
Very insightful and well explained, it shows several tactical tricks that any worthwhile diplomat must have in his toolkit.
I had a go at the tactical problems he presented at the end, and I think I found a (marginally) better solution to problem 2. There Matthew asks us, as Italian leaders, to keep France out of the Mediterranean, maybe by adding some armies. His solution is to add an army in Tuscany and make the fleet in the Gulf of Lyon fall back to the Tyrrhenian Sea, forming a stalemate.
My alternative solution is: Add an army in Tunis, and order units as follows:
Gulf of Lyon S Piedmont-Marseilles ( or S Tunis-Spain or Holds)
Western Mediterranean C Tunis-Spain
North Africa S Western Mediterranean
My line of thought goes like this:
The only way for France to get into the Med is to dislodge either Lyo or Wes or both. This is the case because neither North Africa nor Piedmont can be dislodged, and neither Lyon nor West move.
Consider first West. Any French attack on West will have, at most, a force of 2: either Spa attacks and MAO supports, or the other way around. Hence, NAf S Wes ensures Wes cannot be dislodged. And since the fleet in Wes cannot be dislodged, the Tun-Wes-Spa will always take place (not that the attack on Spa will always succeed -it can succeed or fail- but the convoy will take place anyway).
Consider now Lyo. A French attack on Lyo requires either Mar-Lyo and Spa S Mar-Lyo, or Spa-Lyo and Mar S Spa-Lyo. In the first case, the Tun-Wes-Spa convoy cuts the support from Spa, and so the attack fails (1 to 1). In the second case, the attack Pie-Mar cuts the support from Mar, and so the the attack fails as well (1 to 1). Hence, Lyo cannot be dislodged by France.
Thus, Italy can retain this position (A Pie, F Lyo, F Wes, F NAf, A Tun) forever, and has effectively barricaded the Med with 3 fleets and 2 armies.
I think this position is marginally better than the one presented in the article, since Italy doesn’t have to give up Lyo (though it is true that there is no change in SC count, so the discussion is somewhat academic). From a more rigorous point of view, I think it is a better solution because it can achieve the same results as before (denying the Med to the French) with minimum modification of the situation (only an army is added, without moving any other unit or adding any other piece, while Matthew Self’s solution also requires Lyo-Tys and a new French fleet in Mar). Finally, on a subjective plane, I think this solution is a bit more elegant as well, as it combines two of the most interesting tactical tricks taught in the Library: the “leapfrog attack” and “defending by attacking the attacker”.
Finally, a caveat: regarding the convoy to Spain, I think there is no incentive for the French to support this move (as was the case in part 2 of the problem) since, unlike part 2, there is no gap in the Italian front left by the attacking unit, and France will only lose Spain in the process (though it is not clear whether Italy will be able to maintain it). However, the solution to this problem will probably depend on the availability of other units elsewhere in the board (e.g., if Italy could move some units to Tys and/or Tus and/or Tun –in the case the attack on Spain succeeded-). The same can probably also be said about France supporting an attack on Mar.
I am quite confident the solution is correct, though not 100% sure, so I will appreciate any corrections (especially if I made a gross mistake!). Please send my solution to Mr. Self, so he can “rebuke” me if I deserve it. And, finally, I have not checked whether someone raised the same issues in other Zine’s issues, so it may be the case that someone else already thought about this possibility. If it is the case, please accept my apologies and discard this message.
Miguel A. Sanchez Villalba
Publisher's response: there is a certain flaw in his approach and that is one where what you do is to arrange for the convoy to Spain to work, then you counter-attack destroying the army. Now there is a problem as there can be a double attack on either Western Medit or Lyon. It is very hard to set up a 'dynamic' stalemate line... that is one that relies on attacks as opposed to defense supports. This is a good example of the problem. --Edi Birsan