Pouch Deposits

The Editor and the Readership

Man alive!!! Do you guys ever write a lot of stuff to Manus! I'm sitting here with a new appreciation for what he does... when I agreed to be the Guest Editor for this issue of the Pouch Manus directed me to the Pouch Mailbag and told me to FTP the file to myself and then "have a go." It was 2.5 MB of raw text!!!! The mailbag since the last issue was positively bulging with your efforts... articles, letters, opinions, responses to articles...

When I sat down to go through the Pouch deposits this morning I thought it would be fun... eight hours later my head is starting to hurt... Manus, you are amazing.

In fact, there was sooooooo much mail regarding the "Eliminating the Paradox in Diplomacy" article Manus and Simon wrote in the last issue that I've decided to put all of those letters in a separate article (still in Deposits format) elsewhere in this issue.

Mail Received Concerning
Your Favorite Border

From Andrew Goff:

My favourite border is different from everyone else who sent one in: it is Tunis-Ionian. Someone mentioned Italy getting into MAO or Marseilles as "the key," but as France or Turkey, either getting Ionian (as France) or Tunis (as Turkey)...well... it just makes me excited in ways I can't talk about in public, okay? A close second would be Western Med to MAO, with various combinations of Munich, Tyrolia, Bohemia, Galicia, and Silesia all roughly equal in third.

Mail Received Concerning
Geography is Destiny

From Jack Brawner (TrojanOwl@aol.com):

Hello, Paul! I enjoyed your article very much. It is kind of funny, though, how "conventional wisdom" changes over the years.

Permit me to introduce myself. My name is Jack Brawner, former publisher of PBM fanzine "The Flying Dutchman," former winner (and drawer and gonzo) of many mail games, former author of 2 S&T articles in Diplomacy World and many others in other zines, former Dipcon regular (collecting half a dozen top 10 finishes and close to a dozen best-of-country awards), former this, former that, etc. LOL

I am re-entering the hobby after an 18-year absence, and am in three new games. I have definitely noticed form perusing articles and active negotiations that the E-mail game of today and the snail-mail game of yesteryear are quite different.

It was fascinating to read your "conventional wisdom" debunking. Indeed, very few of the wisdoms of today were widely held in the 70s.

The main reason that Edi Birsan consistently promoted the "Lepanto" option was because most games seemed to begin with an Italian attack on Austria or France! Edi never attacked Turkey when he played Italy, he just convinced the Austrian that he was going to!

Anglo-German alliances were much more popular than Franco-German alliances. The "conventional " wisdom was that France has nowhere to go but through Germany pretty soon. Anglo-French were probably second, often running up against R/G/I walls, while A/T battled.

Austria-Russia frequently moved against Germany as early as Spring 1902. Germany frequently moved vs. Russia in 1902. It just seems like conventional wisdom mutates.....

Author's response: Thank you for your message! I very much appreciate hearing from one of the older hands of the hobby. Your comparison of conventional wisdom from another time and place is, of course, equally fascinating for me.

Mail Received Concerning
Variants and Game Queues

From David Norman (David@ellought.demon.co.uk):

Manus Hand wrote: Yes, I've been requested many times to add queues for non-standard-map games. My resistance has been that it would be too many queues and players and the page visuals would be too overwhelmed.

What I may do (no date attached here) is simply copy the standard queue page, and make a new one for Modern, another for Aberration, etc., etc. Multiple pages, all with the same queue types.

Another issue, though, is I don't know how many GM's would want to sign up to be in both the standard GM queue and the Aberration GM queue (...and the one for Modern, etc., etc.).

Rather than having a queue for every variant (given that if you include USTR's variants, there are around 80 of them), why not just group them. On my variants page, they are grouped into Small, Medium, Large and Huge variants. These roughly translate to 3-5, 6-8, 9-11 and 12+ players, although I move them around a little (e.g., Crowded is 11 players, but would still only be medium, as it is a standard map). Each page could list the variants which it covers.

Of course, a lot of the variants on USTR are not stable or good enough to be included, but I'm sure there are a few which are.

Could you make the queues such that masters can advertise a game to everybody on a queue, and then people sign up and remove themselves, so that people can choose which games to take?

Editor's comment: So, variant lovers out there [shuddering at the thought; Manus's Payola is the only variant I can stomach], what do you all think? How would you like to see this implemented? E-mail Manus and let him know.

Mail Received Concerning
How To Run a Diplomacy Tournament - A guide for first time Tournament Directors

My article in the last issue could perhaps more accurately be described as a guide on how to build up a hobby base in your area from scratch, with a view to running a tournament. I wrote this article in response to a request by Manus to share some of the lessons with him that I'd learnt in building up the New Zealand hobby so that he could use that to help build up the hobby in the Rocky Mountains with the ARMADA group he was setting up. The ARMADA is not the only group however that has sprung up following the article. It seems that there are number of people trying to grow hobbies in their area at the moment, so I thought it would be a good idea to publicize their efforts, and the things they've learnt so that people in their areas can see the work they are doing, and so that others in other areas can be motivated to do similar things...

From Lex Middelberg (lexattor@iafrica.com):

I've just read your article in the zine - I'm doing the same as you - only in South Africa - only the market is much much smaller here 25 registrations on the judges.

In any event, I hope I may contact you next year if I get so far as to arrange a tournament.

Bob Tweed (langy3@yahoo.com) is also keen to get the Face to Face scene moving in Tasmania, Australia, and Anthony Davies (asdavies@adam.com.au) is working on building up the hobby in South Australia.

A random discussion on RTNOW (the mailing list used to set up Real Time Judge Diplomacy Games) lead me to stumble across activity in St. Louis:

From: Frenchy (frenchy8388@yahoo.com):

I'm thinking of putting together a club in the Midwest U.S., in and around my hometown in St. Louis, with hopes of one day hosting a Diplomacy tournament.

Editor's Comment: And then there are the developments in Israel, which are really exciting...

From Shlomi Yaakobovich (shlomiya@yahoo.com):

I've read your article in the DP with great interest. I have to say it came out just in time, since I have began to organize the Israeli Diplomacy hobby just recently. I made a small attempt last year (somewhere in July) to find Israeli players, but it was not so serious, and I had less time and other resources to make it work. I have the needed time, resources and energy to do it now.

I am going through the judge "get whois" results (I did that last year too), and I'm also exploring other areas. I seriously doubt there's a postal Diplomacy hobby in Israel. I have created a virtual community (that also offers the services of a mailing list) to gather all the players. It's going pretty well, we have 26 people there already.

Author's response: Let us all know which areas you are using... it might help Lex in South Africa too...
To which Shlomi replied: Well, my main tool right now is work. I am connected to the internet all the time, so I spread the word on IRC, attracting newbies. I thought that in a later stage, I'll post notes in chess clubs or other places (still need to think about it) and try and attract those people. I think this game has some similarities with other games, and those people who play those other games may also be interested in this game. But not yet, I'm still working on the email/internet/phones area.
Author's response: You're doing the right thing. The results to effort ratio for the internet over more manual methods of recruiting is WAY superior. Only worry about pounding the pavements AFTER you've chased down the bulk of your net leads... the reward for time is much lower after you start posting notices in games shops/clubs etc. Concentrate on your recruits' friends too... concentrate on them hard. You can almost increase your catch by half again by chasing them down.

This brings me to my question - when you said "establish a hobby base", how many people did you mean ? 20 ? 50 ? 200 ? How many people participated in the tournament - and to count it as a success, how many people did you need ?

Author's response: Have a look at the New Zealand Diplomacy Championships web page at http://www.stevensons.co.nz/~bjc/Diplomacy_articles/NZChamps.html As you'll be able to see in the results from the 1998 tournament there were 29 players. That gave us four boards per round which I was thrilled with as a first effort. How many people did I need for it to be a success? I was hoping for 21 (3 boards) and so exceeded my own expectations. The 1999 tournament grew to 5 boards. The aim is for 6 or 7 boards in 2000.
To which Shlomi replied: I checked out the website. Cool. I have 39 players listed on the mailing list so far, and some newbies still not onboard. Growing, growing... We are organising a game on saturday the 8th of January, so far it's looking good. I am thinking, how should I use this game to promote the issue ? Some players expressed their interest but their lack of time currently. I don't want to lose these players - they might be those who come next time.
Author's response: The mailing list is the key. Keep them on the mailing list. I've got two mailing lists...one for announcements only which only I can post to... it's for those who don't want the high traffic stuff but want to be kept informed. Then I have a second list for the advertising and organising of games, light hearted banter, and the analysis and review of games. It creates the sense of community. Also, get snail mail addresses if you can. Once a year, three months out from your tournament (when that happens) send out a full brochure thing to try and kindle the interest in those on the margins... take what you can get for the first year, and then after the first tournament make sure you do a review...type up a review and post it out by snail mail and email to all your contacts.... make them see it was a success and make them want to come next year... in your review explain how to get onto the announce email list and then make sure you post updates every month.
BTW, there was a sort of Diplomacy convention in Israel two years ago, but it was pretty poor, nor properly organised, and only 13 players, two rounds (yours truly won the event). I am taking that lesson very seriously, and I hope to do things better this time.
Author's response: Good. People hate getting burnt. Lots of people will not come to your first effort because they think it will fail and don't want to invest the time in something they think will be a flop. Make SURE you shout from the rooftops when it's a success, and needle them to come to the second one...
My strategy here is a little different than yours (I think). I first want to create the hobby base, and not talk about a tournament. I have learned that people who don't play regularly (basically every person I know) are usually reluctant to enter something so formal so early. Talking about making a tournament will only scare them (even enough to object joining the hobby base), and I want as many people in the hobby base as possible. It shows strength to have many members.
Author's response: By the sounds of it the Israeli hobby might be smaller than the New Zealand hobby was. Having said that, you've got a much less dispersed population to draw on. What's the population of Israel?
To which Shlomi replied: I think we're a small community of Diplomacy players here. The population of Israel is 6 million people, including all the non-Jewish citizens (about 20%).
Well there's only 3 million in New Zealand. You're way ahead of me
However, there are many parts of the population that are not a target crowd: religious people, Arabs, the poor, new immigrants, and more.
I see....fair call.
I think the average Diplomacy player here (I'll be happy to be proven wrong) is: non-religious, at least 12 years of school (possibly also academic degree), a city boy, works in an above average paying job. Something along those lines. Again, I might be wrong, but all the diplomacy players I've met are of this kind.
That is the usual profile. Here in New Zealand we now have a pool of about 15 - 20 women as well.

... Once you show them with one or two club meetings that it will come...

Now that's a good idea. After two games or so I'll announce the Diplomacy Club of whatever-name, and this could be cool. I see a small weak point: as long as things are solely organized by me, this might cause some problems later.
Yes, I had that problem too. I was the organiser, and if I'd disappeared it would have a ll fallen over. However now (two years later) it's grown to the point where it operates with only a small amount of effort from me, and several of the leading club players have started organising stuff... Grant Torrie ran the second NZDC (with my help) so now if I disappeared I am confident things would keep on keeping on without me..
I am using a very aggressive (probably similar to my style of play) method for recruiting new members. I look for them in the judges, the ICQ, the IRC, and players' friends too. I am even making some publicity for the game in the IRC (when I enter it), and offer to teach this best-ever-board-game to interested people. I already have two students :-) I also instruct other Diplomacy players in Israel if they wish to play by the judges. I think it's important that people play the game, and remember how much they love it, or else they might lose interest.

We continue to grow, and I am even thinking of making the first game with these members in two weeks or so. It could be a nice test and see how this works. I am making a serious effort not to rush things, so people won't lose faith. If we try to organize a game and fail, it could be bad.

Later I received an update from Shlomi, indicating that things in Israel are going from strength to strength:

From Shlomi Yaakobovich (shlomiya@yahoo.com):

Well, since we've talked, we've had 2 FTF games already! The first was of a pretty-low level of play, with 3 beginners an unbalanced board (2 couples played), but it was fun. We didn't finish the game, but we did get to 1906 when it became obvious that the FR alliance would sweep the board (I was France...). The second game, which we played yesterday, had some veterans, and it was much more significant. Not it's result, but it's essence. I won the game as Austria (a concession in 1909) - I had 17 SCs going for 20 - but that is less relevant. The people who played in this game were experienced people, who play FTF now and then, but most of them play on the judge. That's how I got to them.

These people were contacted by me during the last two months, and were added to the mailing list. Last week I sent a message we're organizing a game this Saturday, and asked who's interested. Surprisingly, 6 other guys were interested! So, although we played a game before (players were guys I knew or their friends), and it was the second game, it was actually the first game that was based on people coming from the list. And this game was a big success. Obviously I am happy over my solo, but I am more happy that the Diplomacy hobby is getting into shape.

Author's response: That is fantastic news mate... really, I'm thrilled to hear it's going so well.
We've had some other diplomatic action lately, I thought you might be interested.

I have contacted a group of people in southern Israel, and they have never played a seven-player FTF game before. They are are newbies to the judge. So, I created games for them, and one by one they joined the judge play. They now play Diplomacy by email, and although it's not the real FTF thing, it keeps them playing, and that's important.

Author's response: Absolutely agree... that's superb news... if you keep them playing by email it increases the chances of one or two of them deciding to travel to your tournament, and if you can get even one of them to make the trip, they'll have a great time, and go back and tell the others how good it was, and next year they'll come in numbers...
I am doing it for other guys in Israel too.

I have created the first Israeli-only Diplomacy game played on a judge. It helps two causes: increase the Diplomatic activity between Israelis, and help people get used to different kinds of games (email, FTF, postal, etc.). I think it's important to vary the activity and open the people's minds, before I announce a tournament. Above that, it allows players to communicate on the phone, or FTF if they know each other (it's non-gunboat).

I am playing around with another idea: a realtime ICQ/IRC game. It will help people from other parts of Israel to play. I don't think the time is right for that yet, though.

That is a problem - the long distances. People don't want to go all the way from Haifa to Tel-Aviv to play a game. It's a long drive. The two games were played in the Tel-Aviv area, with player from around Tel-Aviv. It's in the center of the country. There haven't been any games in Haifa yet. Or Jerusalem. I may even go there and organize a game myself. We'll see.

Author's response: The distances aren't really that long. They will think they are at the beginning. I fly to Australia to play in tournaments. I don't do it every week or every month, but I do do it. So far a total of four other Kiwis have flown to Australia with me in the last year.

If you start having monthly meetings, you may find that a car load (say 4 people) will travel down to Tel Aviv once a month... they can make a weekend of it or something... play Diplomacy... go out for dinner... party a bit... go to the theatre...whatever turns them on....

Have a look at the ARMADA pages... (See Manus' About the Pouch intro in the last issue of the pouch) - it's sounds like the model they're developing for the Rocky Mountains area might suit Israel too...

The mailing list is the key. Keep them on the mailing list.

There are 46 members, things are slowing down a little. I hope to get to 60+ in two months, and then start thinking of the tournament. Somewhere in September I think, maybe late August. Three rounds is what I have in mind, I want at least four boards, but I am troubled by the amount of time we'll need. Well, still time for that.
Author's Response: Aim for three boards for your first tournament. If you get four like I did it's a bonus, but three boards is what you need for it to feel like a tournament and not just a club meet... four is great, five is amazing...

Advertise your tournament internationally - you might find you get some people from Europe keen to come...

From Andrew Goff:

I just wanted to add a little something to Brandon's advice about setting up and running a tournament. I'm sure Brandon does this too, but it was strangely omitted.

Recruit. When you're drinking with friends or having coffee or whatever and someone asks, "what're you up to this weekend?" tell them, "I'm playing in this Diplomacy tournament and blah blah blah."

So many people just go, "oh, nothing much" -- or even worse they treat it negatively: "Oh - you wouldn't be interested, it's just a board game." This will kill your fledgling hobby stone dead.

The easiest way to get new players is to talk to friends/workmates/complete strangers about it and get their interest up. If they don't like it then you haven't lost anything. If they do, then they can tell their friends about it and you're building a hobby that will survive without you having to be there all the time.

Brandon is undeniably Australia's best advocate of promoting the game, and I think he has underestimates his personal magnetism in his article. He's a champion, and it's well worth a trip to Australia or New Zealand just to meet him!!! But even if you have the personality of a brick you can still have success by the methods in the article and the method above.

Remember that not just people into Warhammer are going to like this great game. It is something that such a diverse range of people enjoy that you could find a wannabe World Champion just about anywhere - it's just a matter of talking them into that first game!

Mail Received Concerning
the Ten Best Diplomats

Last issue Larry Peery proposed we address the issue of which ten "Real Life" Diplomats we "Armchair Diplomats" considered the best of the millennium, and who would be listed as the top seven Diplomacy (The Game) players. Some of the responses appear below, and Larry's own answer can be found elsewhere in this issue.

From Bjorn von Knorring (bvk@swipnet.se):

Gosh, this was tough one. But I will give it a try. No doubt it will be debated...

  1. Toby Harris, England
  2. Jim Mills, England
  3. Leif Bergman, Sweden
  4. Christian Dreyer, Sweden
  5. Dave Horton, England
  6. Xavier Blanchot, France
  7. Bruno-Andre Giraudon, France
  8. Dan Horning, Sweden (retired)
  9. Karl Stengard, Sweden
  10. Inge Kjol, Norway (retired)

What, no Americans?!? Well, I don't play e-mail. And I have only been in US once so I don't think I really can judge. The only option is Pitt but the only thing I know is the win in WDC-96. That alone hardly qualifies... Other will have to judge about that. And only two Frenchmen. Well; as far I think. A good Diplomacy player will have to know how to play as well 1907-games as well as DIAS, no-time-limit-games. The Frenchmen are brilliant as 1907-games are concerned but weak on endgame. The above players are really good players no matter system or time limit.

From Leif Bergman (leif@pobox.se):

Hard question but made me start thinking. When you do a survey like this you have to put away your feelings about what right and wrong. Who has achieved the most from his/her diploming.
1. Adolf Hitler in the early stages of his era was a great diplomat, setting up a goal and achieving it.
2. Stalin: The same there, Poland and all that.
3... Now it becomes harder, there are many to pick from. Tito, Churchill, and Raoul Wallenberg to mention some of them. After thinking for a few moments I have to say that there are two that stand out (Hitler and Stalin) and after that it's an even race between many.

More interesting is the best Game Diplomats. Having played on the international scene for 6-7 years and attended well over 60 cons playing Diplomacy I might have some answers to this.

In my book the best Diplomat is Nils Lindeberg, a former Swedish player who taught me a lot when it comes to talking: every word he says, every arm moment, every raising of his eyebrow had it's purpose. When he played Diplomacy he was 100 percent focused.

Places 2-6 I choose not to rank they all have different ways and they can't be ranked. In no particular order, I would list:

There are many many many more but this is a table I would like to see some time! There are also many players that are really good at some countries. When you have Emeric Mitzi (UK) playing England or Henrik Anderson (Sweden) as Germany or Austria or Björn von Knorring (Sweden) as France you have to pay special attention to them. But if you have any of the above mentioned players on any position on the board you are in trouble. They are all great at every power.

In Sweden we have a competition called The Golden Blade Award. It goes to the player that first takes a solo with each country in an FTF non-gunboat competition. No one has claimed the trophy yet but Karl Stengård only has Russia to go. I have Turkey and Germany to go. Anyone else out there who likes to claim the glory?

From Rick Desper (R.Desper@DKFZ-Heidelberg.de):

Let's see. Like all "best of the millennium" lists, this should be dominated by people from the last ten years, right?

  1. Michael Jordan
  2. Arnold Schwarzenegger
  3. Bill Clinton
  4. Snoop Doggy Dogg
  5. Robin Williams
  6. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
  7. Bart Simpson
  8. Heidi Klum
  9. Donald Trump
  10. Fatboy Slim

More seriously...

  1. Prince Metternich. Austria-Hungary. Had some great ideas, but don't remember the particulars.
  2. Ben Franklin. A great representative for the U.S. before we had nuclear weapons.
  3. Henry Clay. The "great compromiser" of the 19th century.
  4. Henry Kissinger. Sort of obligatory.
  5. Woodrow Wilson. Well, he tried.
  6. Mikhail Gorbachev.
  7. Marco Polo.

Seven greatest Diplomacy players? Impossible to judge. But I'll give you the list of the seven people who would be the greatest at Diplomacy, if they put their mind to it.

  1. Michael Jordan
  2. Arnold Schwarzenegger
  3. Bill Clinton
  4. Snoop Doggy Dogg
  5. well, you get the picture....

From Daniel Kirkwood (dkirkwood@ameritech.net):

As always, the Fall 1999 Retreat issue of the Pouch was superb. My interest was particularly piqued by your challenging your devoted readers to give their nominations for the ten greatest diplomats (as opposed to Dip players) of the last millennium. Here are my nominations; others' mileage, of course, may vary. (Note: I deliberately didn't list theoreticians, such as Machiavelli or Clausewitz; some may disagree with my reasoning in not doing so.)

Note to the hypersensitive (though if you are, why do you play Dip?):

This article is about as "politically incorrect" as one can reasonably get. One of my top ten may in some not-too-distant day be canonized (in my opinion, rightly so), another's the most reviled figure in modern history (again, rightly so). Not one is uncontroversial. I am well aware that, if you choose to publish this (and you probably shouldn't, because it's very long and rambling, among other reasons), you and I will probably both need asbestos underwear. Thanks for reading it, anyway.

  1. Prince Otto von Bismarck. I can't imagine any reader not listing the Iron Chancellor in their top ten, and would expect at least half of your respondents to put him at #1. The unification of Germany under Prussian headship required three victorious wars in under seven years; in each case Bismarck had to first devise a pretext to fight, and then win the war quickly in order to keep other powers from intervening (Britain and France in 1864; France in 1866; Austria-Hungary in 1870). Having done this, he had the sense to be content with his gains and make alliances to ensure Germany's security beyond all question, rather than attempting to conquer Europe. Aside from all this, he deserves all honour from devotees of the Hobby for providing the supreme historical example of a stratagem dear to every Dipper's heart: doctored press. His editing of the famous Ems telegram provoked Napoleon III to declare the war which overthrew his empire.

Bismarck is unquestionably Number One, but I'm a lot less sure about the order of the rest. In no particular order, here they are.

Thanks again for reading this long ramble, and thanks above all for editing and publishing the Pouch, unquestionably the most fun one can have on the Net without offending one's wife.

From Theo Kermanidis (theok@eisa.net.au):

The Best and Worst Diplomats... my choices!

The Best Diplomat of the last millennium... um... it would have to be Marco Polo. Why? If an Italian can go all the way from Italy to China and return with the recipe for pasta and not get killed... then he can just about negotiate anything.

The Worst Diplomat for the last millennium... that is too easy. It would have to be Prime Minister Chamberlain. He got a sign sealed and delivered non-aggression statement from the Nazis.

From Edi Birsan (edi@mgames.com):

Real world last thousand years:

  1. L. Hapsburg (1300's)
  2. King Henry II of England/Normandy 1100's
  3. Mitternich of Austria-Hungary c.1801-20
  4. Fredrich the Great
  5. Prince Albert (of Queen Victoria fame)
  6. Otto von Bismarck
  7. Emmanual of Savoy
  8. Chou En Lai (China 1948-64)
  9. Dag Hammarskjold, U.N. leader
  10. George Bush (Sr. -- Desert Storm, et al.)

Diplomacy game great Diplomats;

  1. Edi Birsan
  2. Mike Rocamora
  3. Brenton Ver Ploeg
  4. David Hood
  5. Dan Mathias
  6. Chris Martin
  7. Leif Bergman

Mail Received Concerning
The Bismark, or is that Bismarck Opening

From Darren Kilfara (Darren_Kilfara@SSGA.COM):

This concerned reader is simply writing to enquire why there's an article entitled "The Bismark Opening" in the latest issue of the Pouch, when "Bismark" is the capital of one of the Dakotas (I always forget whether it's North or South) and "Bismarck" the name of the German statesman? (Or is the author a Dakotan himself?) Just checking....

Sorry to introduce myself to you on such critical grounds, given that I think your Zine is one of the best sites on the web. Keep up the good work!

Editor's Response: Hehehe. Good onya Darren. It's always a good idea to hassle Manus when he slips up like that -- I do it all the time. Since receiving this letter from Darren it seems Manus has gone and corrected the spelling of Bismark... or so he thinks... if you see my article in this issue of the Pouch, In Pursuit of the Bismark, you'll see that I spell it "Bismark"... there is a very good reason for this and I thought I ought to explain it to save Darren the trouble of writing in for the second issue in a row. The Bismark Cup, the award for the D.A.A.N.Z. Best Tournament Player of the calendar year is named after Arthur Bismark, a mythical (some say) character from the Postal days of the Australian Hobby in the late 1980's. He delivered a series of papers, published in Australian Diplomacy postal zines on how to become a great Diplomat.

Yes Manus, I know Manus... they'd make great material for an article at the Pouch.. .I'll see if I can arrange something... jeez, you'd think as Guest Editor you'd be free from the nagging stick wouldn't you?

Mail Received Concerning
What Every Young Tyrant Should Know

From Zep (pzaft@servomex.com):

Hi Bruce,

I just read your F1999M zine article on the Machiavelli judge implementation and found it most enlightening. I've only played a handful of judge games (many of which have crashed) but as a player of the battle line version from many years back I find the differences interesting but find they do not detract from playability.

Points of special interest were:

"Special units if attacked have their entire support broken in a normal manner." I never knew that thought it was only reduced accordingly.

Points I'm still not sure on:

"Transfer of assassination chits can occur at any time. The receiver is not notified."

Author's response: Thanks for your letter;

No one is notified. In fact, since I wrote the article I've had someone (identity withheld to protect gunboat) write me telling me that on USIN it doesn't even always show up properly in the listing immediately. I need to try this next time I can test it without bad game consequences.

I guess that means no other power is notified but you never know with all these bugs. Please confirm, I've been longing to know this as I have a close ally in one game and we want to swap chits but not if other powers find out.

"Bribes against units in cities of value greater than 1 cost twice as much."

I've long wondered about this, the rules say major city garrisons which suggests fleets and armies are not doubled.

Author's response: I didn't word it well. The only units that can exist in cities are garrisons; they are the only ones for which the bribes cost twice as much. Armies and fleets are priced normally.
"If a power takes control of another home area, from that point on it doesn't lose control of a home area unless another power gains control of it. Thus, a power could own nothing, and remain in control of several home areas."

I understand the above but the following just confuses me.

"[Yes, I know that another common ruling is that when one loses control of all but one home area they are back in the state as if they had only an initial home area. I feel each choice is somewhat arbitrary, but my ruling has a little more tradition.]" Please explain further.

Author's response: Well, in the case where a power has taken another home area, simply losing the cities of either home area does not remove control of that home area from them.

The situation I then mention is that when someone _does_ manage to take control of the home area, does the original power get eliminated if they lose their home cities? Or are they still safe unless another power takes complete control of their home area? I tend toward the later interpretation, but I think both could be justified. I know of GMs who use each, and I'm not sure exactly how the judge does it (or if the judge does it consistently) since it comes up very rarely.

"Fleets can't carry an army inland, and the convoy cannot jump coasts."

Do you mean to inland or from inland or both? e.g. a fleet in Aquila cannot convoy A Bari-Aquila-Spoleto or A Bari-Aquila-Capua. But is A Capua-Aquila-Bari or A Spoleto-Aquila-Bari allowed?

Author's response: I mean that the army must start in an area with a coast adjacent to the fleet at the start of the convoy, travel through fleets that form a continuous chain of each legally being move to the areas the adjacent fleets are in, and end in an area with a coast adjacent to the final fleet in the chain.

So of the examples, all are disallowed. Sorry for the poor wording.

I would appreciate your advice on these matters and humbly suggest you revise your article for the benefit of others.


Author's response: I have sent Manus updates for the article that will hopefully make it clear to future readers.

Mail Received Concerning
Geography is Destiny

From Frank Mayer (frank.mayer@darmstadt.netsurf.de):

Hi Paul,

I like reading your articles very much.

In the article you talked about tending to chose allies (and enemies) because they have a low fear rating. One idea that occurred to me, might be to focus instead on choosing an ally who shared your same perception (fear) of a third parties. This seems more natural, as every alliance needs a good target to stay viable.

It so turns out that the two best candidates for Italy (Russia and England) are natural allies in both respects, although we see that Russia is more likely to get distracted by Turkey (who, as you pointed out, is a secondary concern to Italy early on). If we wanted to generalise your results to other cases (non-standard maps, redefined midgame fear factor..) differences may emerge.

Author's response: Thanks for your feedback. I'm expecting to hear from more people who disagree or view things in a different way regarding this article. Depending on how this article is received, I may return to this subject in the future and try to apply this logic to other maps (e.g. Colonial or Modern). Not having ever played a map variant, though, I probably wouldn't want to do it without collaborating with someone familiar with the variant.
From Kevin Hill (mdkhill@mindspring.com):

Hello Mr. Windsor,

My name is Kevin Hill. I'm a relative newcomer to Dip.

Let me begin by saying, I'm extremely impressed with all of the articles I have read by you. I've read Lawyer Dip, Caissa at the Table, and now Geography is Destiny.

I'm still rather conservative to try negotiating the way you described in Lawyer. To me it seemed slightly more aggressive than I'm comfortable with at this point. That may not have been your intention, just my interpretation. After reading Caissa, I started an Excel spreadsheet to track tempo in the 2 games I was playing in. I was very diligent at it for the first 5 or 6 game years. After that, the units began to wander and I began to tire of trying to back track each one to it's starting location. I'm excited to try a strategy based upon the points you made in Geography. I'm going to try Germany, Austria or Turkey I hope.

I have a few questions/comments regarding Geography.

Wouldn't it be true, based upon your analysis, that a power should try to ally with another power whose fear factor is close to it's own? For instance, Austria and Russia, Turkey and Russia, and Austria and France all have identical fear factors. Other than the last, the others seem to be typical alliances. Anyway, if two powers allied whose fear factors were very different, for instance Italy and France, the more fearful of the two, in this case, Italy, would be always worried that his ally, namely France, would be considering a stab, true? Of course, a stab is possible in any alliance, but in that case, it would seem more potent.

Towards the end of the article, you list some assumptions that you think are untrue. You suggest that Germany and Austria are not natural allies. I understand that that doesn't mean they should be enemies necessarily either. However, one of the reasons I've heard that they should not pursue hostilities toward each other is that each leaves a weak side if they divert attention away from their traditional enemies, France and England for Germany, Russia and Turkey for Austria. What is your opinion on that?

Also, in your specific example of altering Italy's strategy, you propose attacking Austria first. Or rather, in the first year. From basically all the articles I've read on opening strategy, it is suggested that making enemies in the first year is a bad thing. What is your response to that?

On an off topic, where did the name Caissa come from?

Anyway, this is long, so I'll quit. I think those were my main questions anyway. Please reply at your leisure.

Author's response: Hi Kevin,

As always, I appreciate the kudos. Now on to the points of business you raise.

First, as to the "aggressive" nature of lawyer-style negotiating, I would say that it both was and was not my intent. What I mean to say is that I never consciously said to myself that I must ensure that anyone who reads this article will become a more aggressive negotiator. OTOH, I do think that for most people, that will be the natural result. Since I also think that most people can afford to be more aggressive in their negotiations, I don't think that's a bad thing.

You make a good point about allying with powers with similar "fear factors." Your Italy/France example rings true. There are probably a lot of different ways to view that fear factor analysis and, to be honest, I'm not certain that I've got it right. Like most people, my opinions about things like "what's the best way to play alliances?" is in a constant state of evolution. What I like most about the feedback from this article is the way people are being spurred to think fresh.

You also make a good point that when I say that A/G are not the automatic natural allies that they are reputed to be, I'm not saying that they are automatically enemies either. I do think, though, that better play can be achieved by taking a more balanced view of the A/G relationship. To return to an observation from my article, Austria, owing to her lack of fleets, has a greater interest than any other power in getting across the major north/south stalemate line. I think that better Austrian play would include an invasion of Germany much sooner than most Austrian players begin to contemplate such things. I agree with you that the case can seldom (but not never) be made for such an invasion in, say, the first two game years, but playing the center powers calls for fluid and flexible strategies (owing to all of those high fear factors in every direction). It's all well and good for Austria to team up with Germany in 1901 to ensure that Russia is denied both Sweden and Galicia, but if 1903 rolls around and Russia is at 4 SCs and Germany is at 8, in my opinion it's time for Austria to pursue a new dynamic. Yet, how may times have we been involved in such a game where Austria refused to perceive the large neighbour to the north as a threat or, alternatively, said that he supposed it was a threat, but there was nothing he could do because it was "too early" to contemplate sending units north? That's the kind of thinking that I'm hoping to encourage people to rethink.

On Italy attacking Austria first: Yes, I generally agree with the rule that making enemies in 1901 is generally not wise, but every rule has an exception (except that one ;-)). The unique problem for Italy is a lack of ability to build an effective strategy based on attacking neutrals first and other players second. This is a power wherein a case can be made for the S01 stab strategy. Let me repeat, though, that Italy's S01 stab of Austria has to be a multi-faceted, long-term strategy which is part of a grander strategy for playing the whole board. That's a pretty tall order and you should only violate the "don't attack other players in the opening" rule if you can fill that order.

Other folks have asked where "Caissa" comes from. In chess literature, Caissa is frequently cited as the goddess/muse of chess. I think there is even an online chess site called "Caissa's Web" or some such thing.

From Clay Snyder (clay.snyder@dinuba.com):

I just felt like commenting on Paul Windsor's article "Geography is Destiny." Actually, it's not so much in response to this article in particular as it is to a general trend I've noticed in The Pouch this last year. This may just be my own ignorance coming to bear, but it seems to me that there has been a great push toward viewing the Powers in Diplomacy through the lens of their aptitude for "tempo." Now maybe this isn't as new as I think, maybe I've just not been paying enough attention, but since when did this become the standard by which we judge the Powers? It seems that everyone accepts it as universally agreed upon, but I personally don't put any stock in it at all. I've seen many a game won by a player who spent the early portion of the game turtled up, whose "tempi" would have been very low indeed. It just bothers me a little that what seems to me to be a theory with no base has been so readily taken to by everyone who writes an article about Dip. Maybe I'm just being obnoxious. Anyways, I thought I'd get it off my chest. Keep up the good work and thanks for the time.

Clay S.

Publisher's response: Paul's concept of tempo does seem to have started something of a fad. The Pouch just publishes whatever is submitted, and I would be more than happy to publish any kind of rebuttal to that concept. (In other words, please send me an article!) :-)


Mail Received Concerning
The Newly Redesigned Millennium Edition Western Triple Alliance

From Manus Hand (manus@diplom.org):

I was looking at the triple, and I think I see a potential problem. With Germany opening to Prussia, Silesia, and Denmark, Russia has absolutely no reason not to think that the Den-Swe bounce is coming. So it seems that BOT-BAL is probably Russia's choice.
Author's response: Somebody else pointed this out. You are quite right that moving to Bal is a better move. It complicates things, but I don't think the situation is less optimistic for E/F/G. There will be no setback, only a slight slowing in German advancement. It is still near-certain that Russia will lose StP in 1902, while Germany will likely get two builds in 1902. And the situation illustrated in the map in the article already was conservative in assuming that Russia would have an army in Ukr to cover War in 1901. Otherwise, Germany will take War in 1901 and Germany will have a second build in 1901. And one additional thing to consider is that if Russia is forced to disband a unit in 1901, he'll need to keep his armies so there's a good chance that he'll disband the Northern fleet. He could disband the Southern one instead, but he's more likely to pick up a supply center by keeping the Southern one. If he's already written off the game in 1901, then he may keep the Northern one just to cause trouble.
Assuming that Russia does defend Warsaw in F01, Germany will get only a single build (for Sweden) and can only build in one of the vacant centers (Kiel and Berlin) that are adjacent to the Russian fleet. It would seem that Germany might have to reverse course from Livonia to cover Berlin. The Russian fleet is also adjacent to a vacant Denmark. NTH-Den is probably how E/F/G would handle that while Germany covers Kiel and Berlin, but now Germany is split in half and Russia in the Baltic has really gotten to be a thorn in the side and slowed down the shotgun attack.

What do you think?


Author's response: True, assuming that Russia has defended War, Russia can be a bit more of a nuisance by moving to Bal. But that fleet will only be of nuisance value. There is the possibility that it would entice an E/F stab of Germany, but if the alliance stays together Germany is fine and Russia is in serious trouble, regardless of what Russia does. As I said above, Russia will have losses in 1902, and the Triple can prevent Russia from making gains in the North to make up for it. It may slow progress, but it won't set back the Triple unless it encourages an E/F stab of Germany.

Thanks for the comment!

Mail Received Concerning
The Hasbro Interactive CD-ROM

From Hayden Lewin (HLewin@sanyo.com.au):

Well, I spent the money and purchased the new Diplomacy CD-ROM game.

After parting with my hard earned ($79 from EB) I raced home and put the disk in the drive. After three installations I finally got the thing working. I seemed to only like a full install into the default folder. The opening sequences were nice with period photos of the area and famous personalities from the warring parties. It was ok but wasn't why I purchased the game. Finally I arrived at the start screen and click on single player game. btw there is already a patch found at the Microprose web site.

Game setup is easy, there are seven lines for the countries and a simple click will scroll through various levels of computer intelligence (????). A country can be set to civil disorder, low, medium, high or player. So I thought, what the heck ill start off on medium setting as France in a standard game.

Enter phase 1 - initial negotiations ....

You are presented with a desk at which all your opponents sit. Background music is your countries national anthem (cute) ... So I click on the create room button to enter into a conference room, click on Germany and the send - inviting Germany to the party ... Negotiations are made up of simple logical orders which are constructed by clicking on icons, so i enter "Germany" "Attack" "England" - and send (Start with a sealion) Then "Germany Move Kiel Holland" to which a reply of accepted pops up. I am midway through my next order when the kaiser leaves the room (frustrating) ... Anyway you can construct many types of orders i.e. move, hold, support, convoy, attack, don't attack, DMZ and can preface anything with hearsay to spread a few rumours. This is a bit clumsy but how else can you talk to a computer in a way he understands... I try and talk to a few more parties in the same way before clicking on the next phase button .... Warning - click too early on this and the computer players will not have finished their negotiations and it is like playing gunboat which is really easy...

Phase 2 - movement ....

Click on Paris - click on move - click on Picardy Order entry is very easy and very logical. When an order is entered a little arrows appear on the map for movement, plus signs for support and anchors for convoy. Not much to talk about here, there is also a button to click on that gives a summary of your negotiations so you can tell which agreements you want to break...
Click on next phase ...

Phase 3 - CONFLICT ...
This is good. Each order is dealt with individually and displayed on the map. After the orders a listed, each point of conflict is described and resolved. If you want to skip this, you can just click on next phase and it skips the detail and you jump to the adjustment phase.

Phase 4 - Adjustments ....
As with order entry click on the army/fleet and chose move or disband. Simple again ... Then click on next phase and go 1-2-3-4 again then

Phase 5 - Builds
Again the build interface is good.. Simply click on your home SC and select either fleet/army ... If you make a mistake click again and select disband. there was no negotiation here which is a bit of a downfall....

After all builds are complete, click on next and you get a summary of the game to date - who has what units etc., click on next turn and away you go....

The gameplay is clumsy in negotiation but is a real winner in the order construction, conflict, adjustment, build phases... The real falling is in the level of PC intelligence ... In short there is none. By 1908 I had finished on 22 SCs ... I tried again as turkey on High Setting and had won by 1911. If you want to play this game by yourself only then you will be disappointed - AI is simply not good enough ....

I am yet to try a multiplayer game but I think that it will suck in the negotiation phase and expect that ICQ or the like will be used in conjunction with the game. However I think that in a real time over the net situation augmented with ICQ the game will be a winner.

In addition there are several variations included - shift left, shift right, gunboat, 1898, roman fleet. But only variations based on the standard map.

In summary - if you are a novice and want to learn the basics of the game then high level AI on the pc will be a good place to start otherwise the game will only be useful in a multiplayer situation, only then if you give the point and click negotiation the flick and use on line chatting.... Graphics and sound are good as you would expect in any new game. If anyone wants to try multiplayer at any time, send me an email or try me on ICQ 51550154 ....

From Theo Kermanidis (theok@eisa.net.au):

I finally got myself a copy of the Diplomacy CD-ROM game. Um err... one question? Was there supposed to be some smarts in the AI or did they forget to include that with this release? Just for laughs I tried a 1898 variant with gunboat set. I played France and completed the 18 SC conquest against all high rated opponents with only 2 armies and one fleet. The graphics are nice, but if the game keeps bombing out... I recommend it to my enemies, and people I plan to stab real soon.

Mail Received Concerning
Real Time Diplomacy

From Jose Torres (r28738@email.sps.mot.com):

I noticed a problem with RT Dip: you always need seven players ready to go. I looked on the variant list and could not find one like this
  • Use any map
  • Three or more players
  • Each player starts by submitting a list of SCs that are his first through Nth preference for SC. Then the initial SC is assigned for each player, much like power selection is done right now. Ideally there would be a requirement for a minimum number of spaces between initial home centers, and that minimum would depend on the number of players playing.
  • After each player gets an SC, an adjustment phase begins.
  • Finally, the HOME CENTERS could be considered what is owned after three years or could just permit building in any owned empty center, or any center adjacent to the home center, etc.
  • This is flexible in terms of number of players, solving a frequent issue for RT dip. And it is a lot like several other variants.

    The only names I can think of is RTVariable, Variable, or Flexible Dip

    Jose Torres

    Manus replied: Yes, and I think Edi Birsan's Escalation Diplomacy would make a good RT variant since getting seven people for RT Diplomacy is often a killer.
    Editor's comment: Hah! Excellent.. .I get to nag you now Manus... that's a great idea, but of course most RT play is done on the Judge... so of course we'd need someone to code up Escalation Diplomacy for a Judge wouldn't we? Oh... my! Look over there... our very own Judge coder extraordinaire, Manus Hand, with his very own recently lauded DPjudge to boot... *evil grin* How about it Manus?

    And before any of you email me, the above paragraph does not in anyway indicate I approve of variants in any way, shape, or form. Variants indeed! Pah!

    Some of the Mail Received Expressing
    General Appreciation of The Pouch (Ego-Feeding)

    From Rodrigo Rezende (rezende@cerradonet.com.br):

    I am from Brazil and I've just read an introductory article of yours in The Diplomacy Pouch and I am really excited to play it! A long time ago when my English was not so good (believe or not, it was worse than this) I tried to play Diplomacy, but didn't because I thought I would have to buy a kind of Hasbro CD to play it by e-mail, and I've never saw something in my town. But now I see that there is an excellent support structure to help me play! Thanks for running the DP!!! It is really good!
    Editor's comment: Thanks. Hearing new people in different parts of the world enjoying the Pouch really is one of the most gratifying things about being involved with it. Being able to help you into such a rewarding hobby is a joy. For any questions on the rules and their nuances it's probably worth checking out the rec.games.diplomacy newsgroup.

    Some of the Mail Received Expressing
    General Appreciation of The DP Judge (Yet More Ego-Feeding)

    From Jeremy Koopmans (jeremyk@gpu.srv.ualberta.ca):

    Let me introduce myself, I am Jeremy Koopmans. I have long since been interested in the game Diplomacy. This all started when I found the actual board game in my parents game closet. I probably never would have opened it except that I thought it was a game I had played at my grandparents which had the same type of box. It was not the same game, but was instead a game which had never been played by my family (I guess they never realized what a great game they had.) Anyways, I spent several hours acquainting myself with the game and loved the simplicity of play and the endless possibilities it offered without using dice. I managed to convince my dad to play a game with me but the two player version did not do justice to the game. I tried a three player game with my sisters but that turned into a two vs one game invariably. Unable to ever recruit enough players get a full game going, I have yet to play a complete game. Then, last year, I went to college and for the first time had easy internet access. I did a search diplomacy and found the diplomacy pouch. I browsed around the site and was very interested by the articles that were written. I even got around to registering with a judge but with all my time constraints (assignments, midterms, and finals) I didn't feel I had the time to learn how to use the judge system and be able to complete a game. Now in my second year of BS degree in comp sci I have decided to take another look at the game. I read the article about DPJudge and was quite impressed. Being a programmer myself, I had thought about coding up a Diplomacy system but I decided that without actually having played the game, I probably wouldn't be able to do the game justice. Anyways, I think it is great that you have created this system. I plan to observe a few games and then start playing them. I was wondering if using DPJudge requires experience with PBEM systems or if I can pick it up without that prior knowledge.

    Well, there you have it. My first ever Deposits column. Hope you liked it.

    Brandon Clarke signing off as Guest Editor.