Pouch Deposits

The Editor and the Readership

Well, here we have enother Diplomatic Pouch mail bag. Once again, there were lots of letters waiting for me when I took this assignment on. I've tried to pick out some of the more interesting ones for publication.

However, before we get to that, in the last issue David Cohen tossed out this trivia question:

In standard Diplomacy, what do these three and only these three provinces have in common: Norway, Denmark and Tunis?

although many people tried their hands at this, Mike Sandy answered correctly, with:

They are the only supply centers which are adjacent to more sea spaces than land spaces.

There was a second answer supplied by another reader which was nearly accurate in which they said "provinces" instead of "supply centers". This is inaccurate because North Africa would also need to be on the list.

Editor's Note: There were also several answers that attemted to get at whether and to what extent these provinces can be garunteed to be taken in 1901. It is true that England, Germany, and Italy respectively can force these three provinces, but you'd also need to include Bulgaria, Spain, and Portugal in such a list.

And right on cue, David has come through with yet another puzzle for us:

In Standard Diplomacy, what province on the board could possibly be occupied by more different units than any other in 1901?

As an example, Tun could be occupied by units originating in Bud, Nap, Rom, Ven and Vie.

Think you know the answer? Send your responses to dippouch@devel.diplom.org!

Mail Received Concerning
Why We See Things the Way We Do and Location of WDC in 2003 and Beyond

From David Hood (David_Hood@w3link.com):

Saw the Pouch article. Very clear thinking about this, but remember an important point: we are trying to predict the future by adopting your theory. It may well be that in four years the N. American hobby is a lot bigger than the European, or that it is much smaller with respect to Europe than it is now. We have all got to be flexible about this and be willing to adapt to any changing situations.
(Continued below)

David Norman's response:

I agree. The article does assume that the current hobbies keep roughly the same sizes, which may well not be the case. But because it not only states its conclusions, but also how those conclusions were arrived at, it should be fairly easy to look at the situation a few years down the line, understand how things have changed, and apply the same reasoning to the new situation.

Brandon Clarke's response:

Absolutely. That is why the article mentions that planning a full 9 year rotation (2 WDC's in Australasia) is not sensible, and that next time WDC goes downunder we will need to revaluate this whole thing again... it is because of the possible emergence of other continents wanting to host WDC that we impress upon Europe the desirability of having a three year gap now...

Obviously as the relative sizes of each hobby change the balance between how many WDC's each gets needs to change too. It probably takes about 5 years before anyone can actually see the change in the size of a hobby on a continental scale, so one cycle right now works out quite well in this respect anyway.

The important point is for everyone to try and see that the factors that affect the way we look at our own hobbies are not neccessarily as important to people from other hobbies, so it is not reasonable to expect them to neccessarily share your value systems... and therefore in order for us to try and have a meaningful exchange of opinions on where WDC should be held we need to make the effort to at least be aware of the other group's way of thinking and values.

(Continued from above)
The important thing for N. Americans to keep in mind is that WDC is not the defining event for Diplomacy that year - if we don't have WDC some year and wanted it, BIG DEAL! We still have Dipcon, which is always going to be the primary fcous whether it is combined with WDC or not.

- David Hood

David Norman's response: Or alternatively, you can take the European approach this year, of we haven't got WDC, North America has, so lets go over there and win it instead :-).

Editor's Note:

Ouch! :-)

Brandon Clarke's response:

And as intercontinental travel to WDC becomes more common, not having WDC in a given year will be seen as less of a hardship...Looking forward to seeing you ALL in Canberra 2002.

Oh and in case you haven't all heard... I came thrid at the Canberra Capers tournament over the weekend... which is almost certainly enough to see me become the first person to successfully defend the Bismark Cup... *HUGE smile*...It's not in the bag yet, but very close to it...

Editor's Note:

The Diplomatic Pouch would like to congratulate Rob Stephenson, who came from behind and won the New Zealand Championships and the Don Challenge to nudge out Brandon and win the Cup. Also congratulations are in order to Melissa Nicholson and Andrew Goff (3rd and 4th respectively), who played well down the stretch and made things interesting.

From Buz Eddy (BuzEddy@AOL.com):

I want to thank David and Brandon for the comparative analysis of the three continental Diplomacy hobbies. I agree that the North American Postal hobby used the scoring philosophy that was adopted by many of the regional and national FTF events. Yet, I simply consider that reflective of the "competition SHOULD produce a winner" value. I believe the relatively mild protest against the "declining centers" victory conditions to be used at the 2001 DipCon emphasizes that value.

I want to touch on both of the points raised by David Hood. First is the size of hobby issue. The North American continental hobby is in infancy. The efforts in 2000 of Edi Birsan and others to pull together a North American continental hobby are showing results. Although the 405 players in reported results for 2000 may be dwarfed by the 5000 in e-mail, it does reflect substantial growth. The WDC happened to fall in the US in the year that the first major continental promotional effort was undertaken, and served as a focal point. Yet I choose to believe WDC appeal was only collateral to the success.

David Hood's point that WDC is perhaps not that crucial to the development of the respective continental hobbies seems self-evident. Of the 115 North Americans attending at Baltimore most would have attended if it was only DipCon. The other 290 players clearly would have played in their events.

That the WDC is not crucial to continental hobby development is not the point. WDC is a deepening cultural and gaming experience. Yes, continentally I can recall all of my encounters with Hood, Yerkey, Kobrin, Reiff, Birsan, Martin and others. But equally important are my games with Leif Bergman, Mark Wightman, Vick Hall, Thibald Constance. International gaming is important to me on an individual level.

The question in my mind is the WDC 1 international event a year the best idea. Olympics go on a 4 years cycle. Chess and golf have many international events per year. Is 2003 WDC-Europe, and 2003 WDC -North America and option to be considered?


Mail Received Concerning
User's Guide to the JDPR

From Doug Massey (masseyd@btv.ibm.com):

Just read your article on the pouch. I think you did a nice job of (a) understanding the math and (b) summing it up in less than ten pages. :-)

There's one thing I'd like to point out, though. Your primary reason for going through all this was to determine what affect an outcome in a particular game would have on your rating. I'm not a big fan of folks playing games just for the sake of their rating, but I've been convinced that it does happen. The thing to keep in mind is this:

No matter what variant you're playing, who your opponents are, what the press settings victory conditions might be, it's ALWAYS a good idea, in terms of JDPR rating, to try to maximize your result in that game.

So you shouldn't be trying to determine if you need a 3WD or a 4WD to hold your rating steady. Instead you should be (if you're goal is to maximize your JDPR) trying to determine if the risk involved in going from a 4WD to a 3WD is worth it. Once you've figured your chances (let's say that you could stop right now and take the 4WD, or you could move forward and try for a 3WD, maybe fall back on a 4WD anyway, or maybe lose the game outright, with probabilities P3, P4, and Pl), just check to see if the risk is worth it:

Is P3/3 + P4/4 + 0*Pl > 1/4 ?

So if you figure your odds are P3 = 20%, P4 = 70%, and Pl = 10%, then

0.20/3 + 0.70/4 + 0 >? 0.25
0.242 < 0.25

So the gamble doesn't make much sense, according to your goal of optimizing your JDPR and the probabilities you've estimated.

There's lots of grey in those estimates, though . . .



Mail Received Concerning
Bruce Duewer's series on Machiavelli

From Brendan McClure (bmcclure@gpu.srv.ualberta.ca):

Hello Bruce. I was the replacement player (Florence) in the game Brahms that we all agree cost you (and me) the victory? Remember you said "I didn't realize how badly florence needed a crash course in mach diplomacy"? Your EOG was basically an attack on my skills as a player. Well ever since then I've been paying attention to every single word you've said about Mach in the pouch, and it's payed off. After Brahms, I signed onto my second mach game (Galileo), first that I've played from the start, a no-press nodice mach game. I won as Turkey thanks to you.

From Brahms I learned that having lots of units (Austria) was better than having lots of money (You). Takling this to heart, I kept churning out units. I used the tactics you talked about in the articles to attack Naples and capture him. After that I eliminated and took over Florence; and the Papacy after that. I only used three bribes the entire game - one to disband Florentine Army Florence (eliminating him, enabling home area takeover), one counterbribe of a key elite unit (turned out to be a waste), and one purchase of Venetian fleet Lower Adriatic, so I could surprise convoy my army Ancona to Carniola for my 23th.

I cannot express how much I have learned from your articles. Genius. I think I gained 20 games worth of lessons between Brahms and your articles. Not only was my victory achieved in my first real mach game, it's my first solo among any game or variant against the general Dip community. Against the big names too - Jason Wilke, Robert Rehbold, Neil Barr....

I owe you big. Thank you so very much. You are the King of Machiavelli.

Brendan McClure

PS: I want to read that last article you promised! I can't wait until the next Zine comes out.

Mail Received Concerning
Eliminating the Paradox in Diplomacy

Editor's Note: Something that I noticed today which may be worth mentioning....If we consider newer editions of the rules to be more important that older rules, then it may be worth noting what could be considered a change in the 2000 edition of the rules.

In the 1982 version of the rules you have two different rules that apparently contradict each other. The first is the old Rule 10, which says that support is cut if a unit is dislodged. The second is the old Rule 12.5 which stated "If a convoyed army attacks a fleet which is supporting an action in a body of water, and that body of water contains a convoying fleet, that support is not cut."

In their excelent W1999A letters to the Pouch, authors such as Rick Desper and Ron Spade suggests that there is no paradox if you interpret rule 12.5 to take precedence over rule 10. Likewise, Manus essentially suggests doing the same thing, though he considers it to be a new rule, rather than an interpretation of existing rules. Simon, on the other hand, vigerously defends rule 10, saying that there is nothing in the rule book to lead one to conclude that it is a less improtant rule.

In the rules summary on the back page of the 2000 rules, we have the revised Rule 12.5, now called Rule 21. It states "A convoyed Army does not cut the support of a unit supporting an attack against one of the fleets necessary for the army to convoy.(This supersedes Rule 13.)"

Now then, Rule 13 is simply "Support is cut if the unit giving support is attacked from any province except the one where support is given". However, right on it's heals is Rule 14 (which is the 1982 Rule 10) which states "Support is cut if the supporting unit is dislodged."

One might logically conclude that since the rule book specifically states that Rule 21 supersedes Rule 13, but does not mention Rule 14, then it does not supersede 14, and we must continue to abide by it as best we can.....this does not lend any credit to Simon's proposal, but it might be interpreted to say that Manus' solution is unacceptable.

I half wonder if the Hasbro people simply want us to be left with the paradox....

Anyway, here's what the readers had to say this time:

From Steven Irrgang (sirr3836@mail.usyd.edu.au):

Inspired by the complexity of the situation and the effort you have both put into the resolution of it, I've extended it to a new situation which, in the end, gives support to rule 2.

For the record, I originally voted first for rule 2, because 'nothing happens' is a result that no-body can really complain about, whereas in resolution 1 France seems to have abused the paradox to his clear advantage. However after reading the arguments I changed my vote to rule 1, based partly on the arguments presented, and partly because I like to view a convoy move as in some sense the 'replacement' for (for example) BRE - ENG, ENG - LON. Using this model gives a result most similar to that of rule 1, the difference being that under this model the German fleet would get ENG, but the fact that this does not happen is at least in line with the other flaw in this model - that a normal convoying fleet which is attacked but not dislodged (obviously) does not get bounced back.

The orders are:

A: Wales -> English Channel -> Belgium
A: Picardy SUPPORT Wales -> Belgium
F: English Channel CONVOY Wales -> Belgium

A: Denmark -> North Sea -> London
A: Yorkshire SUPPORT Denmark -> London
F: North Sea CONVOY Denmark -> London

F: Holland -> North Sea
F: Belgium SUPPORT Holland -> North Sea

F: Mid Atlantic -> English Channel
F: Brest SUPPORT Mid Atlantic -> English Channel

F: Irish Sea -> English Channel
F: London SUPPORT Irish Sea -> English Channel

(This can obviously be considered with less countries to increase the chance of this ever actually happening to a lower order infinitesimal, but I chose the groupings above because to keep units with similar 'goals' in the same country and different 'goals' in different countries)

The paradox is as follows:

1. Assume ENG is beleaguered.
2. The convoyed army will get into BEL thanks to the support from PIC
3. The support from BEL for HOL - NTH is then cut
4. The attack HOL - NTH therefore fails
5. This allows the convoy of DEN - LON to succeed with support from YOR
6. The fleet in LON is thereby dislodged
7. Support of the attack IRI-ENG is cut
8. MAT - ENG will then succeed, disloding ENG
9. This means WAL - BEL fails
10. Support from BEL for HOL - NTH is not cut
11. HOL - NTH succeeds and NTH is dislodged
12. DEN - LON fails
13. Support from LON is not cut
14. ENG is beleaguered, and we have come full circle with no resolution.

(Note that the paradox is still present even without the armies in PIC and YOR supporting the convoys, but for the remainder of this email I shall leave them in place.)

Rule 1:

As stated, Rule 1 does not apply, as the supports being cut where for actions which were not aimed at the convoy which caused them to be cut.

Editor's Note: Actually, this is incorrect. Manus' rule states "If a convoyed army attacks a fleet that is supporting an action in or into a body of water that contains a convoying fleet, that support is not cut by the convoyed army under any circumstance." It doesn't matter which convoying fleet is being targeted by the actions of the attacked fleet. However, this relates to another change in the 2000 rules.

Manus' rule is clearly an extension of the 1982 Rule 12.5 which states "If a convoyed army attacks a fleet which is supporting an action in a body of water, and that body of water contains a convoying fleet, that support is not cut." However, Rule 21 in the 2000 rules instead states: "A convoyed Army does not cut the support of a unit supporting an attack against one of the fleets necessary for the army to convoy.(This supersedes Rule 13.)"

Had Manus based his rule on the 2000 rule instead of the 1982 rule, he may well have ended up with the problem that you describe.

There is however resolution in the spirit of rule 1, which is that no support is cut and both convoys succeed.

Editor's Note: Actually, this is wrong too. If we rule that the supports offered by London and Belgium are somehow uncuttable, as I expect Manus would, then the resolution is as follows:

The fleet in Belgium sucessfully supports Holland's attack on the North Sea, meaning that the North Sea is dislodged, meaning that Denmark's attack on London will fail.

Meanwhile London sucessfully supports IRI -> ENG, which bounces 2v2 with MAO -> ENG supported by Brest. This means that English Channel remains intact to convoy Wales -> Belgium, dislodging the fleet in Belgium, which despite it's dislogement still manages to support HOL -> NTH per Manus' rule.

Rule 2:

Rule 2 however still resolves this situation. If either army is considered to hold, the result is that ENG is beleaguered, and NTH is dislodged.

Editor's Note: Agreed. This actually raises an interesting question, which had had always bugged me about Simon's solution. In your example, neither convoying army actually causes a paradox by itself, it takes both of them to do it.

If Denmark had held, then there is no paradox, ENG is beleagured, and Wales takes Belgium.

Likewise had Wales held, then there is no paradox, Holland takes the North Sea, Denmarks move fails, and ENG is still beleagured.

In this situation, one might rationally argue that "My move didn't cause the paradox, his did." and thus "Only his unit should have to hold, mine should be allowed to move." In this particular situation, we might be able to readily conclude that in fact both units collectively caused the paradox, and thus they should both have to hold. However, in an equally complex situation, and in the heat of battle, it seems like there is potential for an argument.

While I'm at it I might as well be a further pain in the bum by adding that rule 2 as stated, in the origional situation could be argued to hypothetically allow what should be an invalid A: PAR S A: BRE H as the army in Brest is officially treated as holding. Obviously this is just a stupid technicality that I hate being the one to mention but while I'm being a pest I might as go the whole way.

Editor's Note:Simon acknowledged this problem in a later issue of the Pouch, and stated that his intention was that his rule be phrased in such a way as to prevent that particular abuse.

I hope this adds some useful information to the debate.

- Steven Irrgang

From Mark Wilson (Mark.Wilson@Charterbridge.com.au):


I've read this and do not agree with either resolutions. I believe a fundamental flaw exists in the basis of any situation where there are four units attacking one space (anywhere on the board).

In the discussion in the article, which I'll use to demonstrate my point and suggested solution, we have the situation (convoy aside - it can exist or not exist for the purposes of making this point) of four units attacking one space:
1) WAL - ENG, LON S WAL - ENG. This by itself should dislodge the French fleet.
2) BEL - ENG, NTH S BEL - ENG. This by itself should dislodge the French fleet.

Q: Why, when the two are combined and played at the same time, does the French fleet survive in ENG?

Neither England nor Germany are playing any supportive roles for this fleet, and all things considered, the fleet should be dislodged (or destroyed if no space available for retreat). If just one of the forces is removed (or downgraded to an unsupported move), then the French fleet is on the move in the retreat phase (or crushed). In this situation, I believe and the space should be made vacant as a standoff space, and the French fleet moved along. The convoy would not even come into consideration of succeeding.

This is not the same as two independent units both attacking a space causing the same result, as neither of these causes superior force to be applied to the occupying unit in the space.

I'm not aware of why this would not be the resolution for the situation discussed in the article, or for any situation where multiple superior forces are applied against an occupying unit.

If you have some comment on this, I'd be very interested to hear it.



PS - if, in the event the convoy was to be considered to be sufficiently geared up (but not successful) to cause a cutting of the English support, then the German fleets' supported move would dislodge the French fleet in it's own right. Personally I would not believe the convoy to succeed in cutting the support from LON. I would liken the space ENG as superior force being brought against the occupying force, but without sufficient force from one of the two attacking powers to then occupy it themselves.

Editor's Note:I believe the reason that Manus and Simon do not suggest anything along these lines, is that they are attempting to reconsile the paradox without changing things more than they need to. Since under the current rules the fleet ENG does survive, I think that they considered a change to that rule to be beyond the scope of what they are trying to do.

However, there are certainly many people who agree with your point that beleagured garrisons, as they are treated under the rules, don't really make sense.

From Philip Keogh (PhilipK@pathology.leeds.ac.uk):

I am a VERY novice player to diplomacy and only now returning to the game after a number of years. I acme across, by accident, your ariticle "PARADOX RESOLUTION RULES".

I found both arguments well founded and useful. But how to choose?

It seems the paradox will always remain in one form or another. So why not leave it up to the judge or GM to pick which rule they will use.

Manus Hand's response:

Yes, my DPjudge allows this. If the GM sets the RULE "BELEAGUERED_DISRUPTS" it works Simon's way. If not, it works my way.

Once it has been picked once it should then be used consistently in that game. Thus allowing them to choose either of the rules in other games and hence inducing a further "fog of war".

Manus Hand's response:

Actually (thinking a bit here), it would be kind of neat (for "fog of war") purposes (and this situation is sufficiently remote that I think "fog" might should apply), if perhaps the players never knew which setting was being used, and the GM could change it in mid-stream if he wished.

(Of course, if this idea has any value, I see one issue at the DPjudge right now. The players can always just LIST the game to see which is in use -- I'd have to make the BELEAGUERED_DISRUPTS rule something that doesn't show up in a game list even if it's set. Either that or add a new rule RANDOM_PARADOX which would decide before each movement phase adjudication whether or not to use the BELEAGUERED_DISRUPTS rule....)

There is nothing like a parodox to focus the mind.

Philip Keogh

As always, please feel free to comment on any of the articles in the Pouch, and we'll be glad to include you comments in the next issue.

Matt Shields signing off as guest editor, and heading back to work on the Tournament Ratings.....