About The Diplomatic Pouch

Manus Hand, Publisher

Hi, How Are You?

I am fine, though frankly I'm a bit stunned when I realize that The Pouch has just ended its third year of existence. Wow. I have been publishing this Zine for nearly a tenth of my life (not quite; it'll take another couple issues to be able to make that statement -- I'm not that young anymore). Still, kind of hard for me to believe. Time flies when you're having fun, I guess, and publishing The Pouch is indeed fun. A lot of work, but fun.

What's On The Menu This Time

You may have already taken a look at the table of contents for this issue, but permit me to comment on it just a bit here. As you may (or may not) know, the idea of the Winter Adjustment issue was for it to be an extra large issue, largest of the year. Well, this time around, the size of the issue seems a bit light to be able to make that claim. Still, I am real happy with the way it turned out.

Guess why I brought this up, though. Yep. To hit you with the perennial "come on, people, send me some articles" whine. Well, now that you've read it, I won't belabor the point.

If there's a theme for this issue, I suppose it's puzzles. Not only do we have two Sherlock Holmes articles (the solution for the mystery I wrote for last issue and a new case by Graeme Ackland), but we have three pencil puzzles. Yes, three: a "cryptic" by Gary Kennedy, and two very similar "acrostics;" one by Simon and the other by me.

Although I'm very proud of and happy with the puzzles, I guess I am a bit afraid that there will be some readers who will be dismayed by the lack of more "serious," game-related articles. If you're one of these people, just remember that I can only publish what gets contributed, and then refer back to the afore-mentioned (but not belabored) whining I did.

My fear is probably ungrounded, though, since the issue does sport some real good serious fare too. Vince Mous and Dan Shoham continue their popular columns, there's an excellent report by Brandon Clarke on the Don Challenge Tournament down under, and there's a fine article from Tony Swinnerton on the Key Lepanto Opening. Theo Kermanidis begins his career as an author with a fun exploration of a particular super-alliance, and David Norman even checks in with a helpful status of the various variants on the Internet judges.

I'm also extremely happy to finally be playing host for an article that was written specifically with the play-by-postal mail crowd in mind! Mark Kinney, a well-known name in that part of the hobby, offers his expertise to the aspiring postal 'zine publisher!

What Has Happened

I'll start this section by talking about the incredible success of a now indispensible part of The Pouch, a part that was inaugurated exactly one year ago now: the Game Queues. Exceeding even our greatest hopes, the queues have created an average of over eight games a week, every week this year!

Hopefully you have noticed that Tim Richardson has spruced up the Face-to-Face section of The Pouch, and you can be sure that this is an ongoing effort, the aim being to fulfill the highest expectations we all could have for a section on what Tim calls "The Way The Game Was Meant To Be Played."

And the new Showcase leader, Ry4an ("The Guy With the 4 in His Name") Brase, has put a ton of effort into that section as well. If you haven't looked in the Showcase lately, you should. A couple of games are now on display, and Ry4an has a number of other games in the works. Send him your input and spur him on!

One other thing has been added to The Pouch. We have formed what is called "The Diplomacy Ring." If you, or anyone you know, has a Diplomacy-related Website (and why wouldn't you?) it can be added to the ring! You can find links to all the information about the Ring right on the bottom of the front page of The Pouch! The ring is fairly new -- I believe there are only five sites listed right now. Let's see how fast we can grow it!

What Is Still Coming Down The Pike

You may remember that last issue I put out the call for input on the names of and categories for a set of awards for the Internet Diplomacy hobby, with the first honors to be given at the end of this year. Well, frankly, we didn't get very much input, so things are moving a bit slower than we anticipated on this one. We have some definite ideas, but they are unformed and we want to make sure we get buy-in before moving too far forward. In brief, we are looking both for more input from the masses, and for a volunteer to coordinate the effort and finally get this done.

We also have big plans for other improvements. Last issue I mentioned that an online player rating system will be created sometime in 1998. It will. This too, is an area where we are looking to get input and help to go along with our ideas. If you are interested in helping, I will be glad to have you say so.

Other unveilings will be coming out as the year progresses. While I am tempted to lift the curtain a bit on a couple of them, I'll keep to myself and just say that a good many of them are Simon's ideas, which means that if they are half as popular as his Game Queues idea has proven to be, you'll be seeing some very nice things coming soon. (Well, by "soon" I mean as soon as I can, and -- as even I am now getting tired of hearing myself saying -- help is quite welcome. I just have this feeling that 1998 will be a year when I won't be able to get as much done here at The Pouch as I'm planning to.)

Well, That's It From Here

I'm sure I forgot something that I wanted to say, but I'll be back in these pages soon enough, and if you want to ask or tell me anything, you all know how to find me.

Stab you soon....

Manus Hand

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