Pouch Deposits

The Editor and the Readership

What Do You Want From Me?

So you came here to read the mail, did you? Okay, then, read the mail. With the issue late enough already, I won't spend any time writing something that will just stand in your way. So here's what you came for:

Mail Received In The Form of
An Invitation to Dedicated Players

School of Creative Destruction (SCD) is a group of competitive, high dedication PBEM Diplomacy players that is working to foster an environment of high quality play, as well as a community feel through discussions over email. If you hate NMRs, if you hate games delayed by late orders or quitters who abandon a game as soon as things go sour, if you play to win and fight to the end with your last remaining unit, then read on.

SCD games are played by e-mail, both on and off judges. This is not the only high-dedication group in existence, but the group also emphasizes interaction outside of games through discussions over an email mailing list in addition to the games themselves.

The SCD is serious about the emphasis on high dedication and promptness. Many if not most games allow NMRs (which some people claim disrupt the game, and to which we reply, "Only in games where they occur!"). The SCD Charter outlines the process for removal of players who are unreliable, and this process has already been used in order to maintain the standards expected by the group as a whole and to keep up the quality of play.

If you are a high-quality player (not necessarily quality in skills, but in your ethic: play to win, fight to the end, always on time), then take a look at the SCD Charter. If you like the idea of playing with other players who are committed to those standards, then drop a note to our current SCD Chair and ask to join.

Dedicated players need only apply, but only dedicated players need apply.

Mail Received Concerning
A Cheater's Confession

From David Dernier (newlight@nmex.com):

Dear Anonymous:

Good job!! Concise and to the point. I have never cheated at Diplomacy, and never will, for the reasons you stated. Self-integrity among dippers may seem at first blush hypocritical, but players of a game where deception is sanctioned and expected still have a right to expect that rules of the game will be followed. Thanks, both for stopping and for encouraging others to do the same. Your maturity is showing. I honestly hope you get your first win honestly.

Mail Received Concerning
White, Partial Press

From Pedro Faria (pedro.faria@chemeng.lth.se):

Nice articles. Just wondering if you will touch at the subject of sending press to the wrong power. It have happened to me more than once (but not THAT many times) and I have got it once myself. Now, it can be very bad or not so bad depending on what you said. The immediate thought have allways been, what should I send now to that power? The next thought have always been, can I fake this thing and use it to my advantage? That is, sending pres to someone, pretending it was for someone else and in it both faking the other powers press to me and my reply? I have never tried it as I have never come up with a good opportunity or anything good to write. It is however something never really possible in FTF games. I would very much like to hear what others think about this and if you will write anything about it? I have also thought about posting it in the rec.games.diplomacy newsgroup.

[Author's response: On the subject of sending power to the wrong person; I would be very cautious. I always double check which power I send my press to. I remember a situation where Russia accidently sent a press to me (as Austria) that was intended for Italy. The press tippied word of a R/T juggernaut forming. I brandished the press to Turkey and told him I knbew what was coming, and in such a way persuaded him to join me against the Russian.

As for purposely mis-sending press, I would also not advise it. A mis-sent press is a relatively rare event, and IMO the consequences could be undesired. It might be fun to try now and then, though.]

Mail Received Concerning
The Pouch's Tribute to Frank Sinatra

From Jim McKay:

Great lyrics! I also really enjoyed your Christmas carols last year ("Let Him Grow"? Hilarious).

Here's another for the Sinatra collection:

The Tender Trap

You start by building German ties,
And soon you're telling England lies,
You're singin' your own song, you go along, boy, then ZAP!
Those ties, those "lies," they're part of the Tender Trap.

Soon Italy is on his knees,
And Turkey's moving west with ease,
You quickly write the Tsar but he's too far, away,
Those knees say, "Please don't fall in the Tender Trap."

Some like to fight, thinking brinksmanship is... buried
But not by might, other powers will be getting... married
And suddenly it feels so bad,
To know that you've been truly had,
You hurried to a spot, that's just a dot, on the map,
You're hooked, you're cooked, you're caught in the Tender Trap.

Thanks for the humor.

Mail Received Concerning
Assigning Powers to Players In Diplomacy

From Tobias Bende (f96tobe@dd.chalmers.se):

I thought your article "Assigning Powers" was great. I had just been discussing the issue of distributing powers among players with a friend, as we are to play a face-to-face game next weekend.

As for which method is best, I think that depends on the circumstances. I think that if some players are playing their first game, random assignment might be best, as I think otherwise they may have a disadvantage.

One method I found particulary interesting was the one where the "bottom-most" selection from each players were concidered simultaneously. I'm eager to try that sometime.

Another idea for power assignment could be the "History of the World" method (from the empire assignment in that game) which works like this: The players are ordered at random. The first player randomly draws a colored anchor or something else representing a power. If he wishes to play that power, then he simply keeps the anchor. The other players are not to know which power has been drawn. If a players draws a power he does not want to play, he may pass it to another player, who has not yet been assigned a power to play. That player does not get to know which power he was given. Of course, when a player who has already been given a power by someone else is in turn to draw, he must pass the anchor to someone else. I'm not saying that this method is in any way better than the ones presented in the article, simply that it is another. One twist this method might give the game, is that the diplomacy actually starts before the game begins. A player who was appointed a power he didn't like, might seek revenge and a player given a power he felt was good, might be more willing to ally with whomever gave it to him.

Again, thanks for a great article.

From Jeff Ladd (jeffladd@vt.edu):

Interesting article about assigning powers. Do you happen to know what the judge uses? I seem to recall someone once telling me about a "least sum of squares" type thing. It would be similar Method 2, Variation C except you want the least points, and the "satisfaction" list is [1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49]

[Author's response: Thanx for your question. According to version 2.0 of the Judge Code, "[the Judge] uses an ACM [Association for Computing Machinery] algorithm (Algorithm 415) to assign powers to the players, according to their preference lists, their order of signing on to the game, and (unfortunately) the order that the powers are listed in the power letters list for the variant, the algorithm used "an ACM algorithm (Algorithm 415) to assign powers to players."

To be honest I am not familiar with "an ACM algorithm" (or for that matter, Algorithm 415). However, I did get a chance to review the Judge Code and how power assignment is handled. While I cannot honestly say I completely understood it (the documentation is somewhat limitted), as near as I can tell it functions like this.

  1. A version of Method 2, Variation A (described in my article) is employed. That is, the Top-Most choice from each player's Preference List is considered simultaneously.
  2. The players are placed into an "order". This "order" is based on the order in which the players signed-on to the game. Thus, the first player to signup s a player in the game is first on the list, the second player is second, etc....
  3. When reviewing the Top-Most choice of each player's Preference List, if 2 player's have the same Top-Most choice the "tie" is not broken "randomly" (as I described in my article), but rather the player who appears earlier on the list receives this power.
The results of the Judge Code method might be somewhat disturbing, as follows:
  1. the FIRST person to sign-up for the game (as a power) will ALWAYS get his first choice of powers
  2. when ties occur, they are resolved in favor of whoever "arrived" (that is, signed-on) first (rather than at random)
  3. other types of ties are determined simply based on the alphabetical listing of the powers (for example, AEGIRT)
The methods I outlined in my article are very easily adaptable to coding. I leave these decisions in the capable hands of the Judge Maintenance group. If they would like me to code any of my methods for them I will be happy to help.]

Mail Received In The Form Of General Praise

From David Dernier (newlight@nmex.com):

Hi, I know you don't know me. I played s-mail dip in the late eighties/early nineties. I just wanted to say thanks for maintaining this online presence. Now that I have my degree and the job I was shooting for I can rejoin the dip commmunity! I used to play in a zine called Rebel published by Melinda Ann Holley. Don't know if she's still around, but I'd like to say hi if she is. Anyway, thanks again and keep it up, it's worth the effort.

[Publisher's response: Thanks for the words of encouragement! As for Melinda, she is definitely still involved in the hobby. I met her FTF for the first time at the last World Championships, although we didn't get a chance to talk much. I sit on the Hobby Awards Committee that she chairs, so I regularly get snail mail from her meaning that I do have her snail mail address at home. I've decided to publish your letter here so that I have your e-mail address somewhere I can find it when I have her snail mail address in front of me, but also because you may get a faster answer from a reader out there than you will from me.]

From Gino Martin (lorek@dsuper.net):

I must say. I am impressed with your site and activities. Congratulations. The people playing Diplomacy are really special. There must be something about this game...

I played postal Diplomacy 15 (!) years ago, and now I want to get involved by e-mail. Seems great. I'm really excited.

Thanks, and keep it up!

[Publisher's response: After helping Gino climb through the ropes and enter the PBEM ring, I received a subsequent mail from him that was filled with thanks for my answers, and repeating his opinion (which I share) that Diplomacy players sure are nice. In response to this, I coined a phrase that I was so taken with that I put it into the library of Diplomacy quotes (one of which is randomly shown to you each time you visit The Pouch's front page): "Getting yourself on someone's good side gives your knife the best possible access to his back."]

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