Pouch Deposits

The Editor and the Readership



 

Many people have confessed, they try the latest and greatest openings or alliances discussed on the Zine.  Excellent!  The Pouch Mailbag continues to receive notes from players willing to share their recent RT and anti-RT experiences. Whether it's an RT or naut (do you like how I slipped that in?), stalemate lines are key to stopping any juggernaut. Thanks to Brandon Clarke, Edi Birsan's Western Walls challenge is solved. Check to see if Brandon got the right answer or, see if there's an alternative?

Many articles take several months to develop. Some authors breathe life into their work over and over again. Take a look at one special Payola article and the author and editor's comments about the long wait for publication.

There have been a number of in-depth responses received about Baron Powell's 1900. It's no exaggeration when stated, all the responses compiled could easily qualify as a seperate article.

Don't forget to read the General mail and a comment about the Grand Prix.

. . . . . .

On occasion, a question or challenge will be posed to The Pouch audience illiciting thoughts, comments, and/or continued discussion. Don't hesitate to respond. Remember, this is your opportunity to be heard, to voice your opinion -- the reader's forum. Let The Pouch (dippouch@devel.diplom.org) know what you think. Here's what a few of you had to say:
 
 


General Mail Received


John Cochrane (usfbulls101@yahoo.com) writes about the 1913 variant:

To start I must applaud the creator of this variant. However, in the description it mentions that Italy does not have a place in the Balkans and therefore Albania should be a SC. I however, have always seen Greece as Italy's chance. Though some may argue as to whether it is geographically part of the Balkans I believe it is close enough. Furthermore, it is not all that hard to capture for Italy if they are able to do the diplomatic arm twisting to get in the right position to snatch it.
 


Jeremy Hoffman (jhoffman@mbhs.edu) writes about "North Sea to Picardy":

I read your article on The Diplomatic Pouch and just had to let you know how hilarious I thought it was. Funniest thing I've ever read relating to Diplomacy (or any board game, for that matter [or any game, for THAT matter]).

. . . . . .

Manus Hand's (manus@diplom.org) response:

"Aw, shucks. Thanks." [And from the editor: Several stories have been attached since the famous article was originally published (S1996M) including an episode at the 1996 Worlds. Of course, people can and do, order Pouch T-shirts with the move on them.]


 
 

Mail Received Concerning
What is the Grand Prix and a Brief History


Brandon Clarke (bjc@stevensons.co.nz) writes:

In his article "What is the Grand Prix and a Brief History" in the S2002R issue of The Pouch Zine, Jeff Dwornicki wrote:

"It was created for the 1999 calendar year with the biggest influence being the Bismarck Cup"

For the record, it is the Bismark Cup, not the Bismarck Cup. It is named after Arthur Bismark, a (some say) mythical character who wrote a series of articles in the mid to late 1980's in Australian postal Diplomacy zines. It is not named after the German statesman or the battleship.

. . . . . .

Edward Hawthorne's (edward@diplom.org) response:

It's good to hear from you again. Thank you for the clarification. I've made the appropriate change.


 

Mail Received Concerning
RT Juggernaut


J. Landon (jmlandon@attbi.com) writes:

I'm a reasonably experienced player and I have seen the Juggernaut three times. Twice I was playing against it, and once I was in it. Once I was playing with newbie players in an FtF game and the rest was with experienced players.

I think one of the reasons the Newbies try to form the alliance is the incorrect perception that the Juggernaut is the most powerful alliance on the board. This is untrue, as it regularly falls apart due to back stabbing.

In the FtF game, when we were all sitting around after the game, which Russia and Turkey had won hands down, the Russian confided in me that he had played the steamroller alliance because of the power it was supposed to have. He went off happily convinced that the RT Alliance was a dominating power. I fear for him if he plays as Russia or Turkey again, because he will be easy to be exploited by the other side, and will probably be stabbed early in the game.

In the two Judge games, which will remain un-named, as one is still going on, I played as Turkey in one, and as France in the other.

As Turkey, I was a newbie, and I can explain my reasoning for joining the Alliance. Turkey agrees to the Alliance in the hope of gaining power, and then forming alliances with the other players, who are deathly afraid of the Juggernaut, and stab Russia, gaining yet more power, and getting a chance to go for the solo.

Russia agrees to the alliance because of the perception that HE is the stronger power. He does cover more area then Turkey... that is true, but Turkey has the rich Balkan area to go after for four, Austria-Hungary for three, Italy for four more, and finally Marseilles, Spain and Portugal for three more, making a total of 14, adding to the three he starts with, that creates seventeen. Exactly half.

In an RT alliance, the cause is usually greed. Each power plans to stab the other, "when the time is right". Occasionally it goes for the whole game, but each agrees with the idea that they can get rid of the other later in the game. Eventually though, the Alliance can be welded together, especially if everyone bands together to destroy it. Both powers then know that they can either band together or be destroyed. (And sometimes both.)

Italy and Austria should never surrender, because of the sheer fear brought on by the word Juggernaut. Though rarely effective, every Diplomat has a friend whose brother was caught by one, etc. Or the more effective Diplomat, especially the German or the Austrian, will claim that he was "caught off guard" by a Juggernaut, and he will explain the full fictional horrors while the Diplomacy players, believing he will have no reason to lie about losing a game, will eat every word of it.

In summary, the Juggernaut was once a deadly and effective alliance, but now its age is passed. Although still successful, it is more often thwarted before it is started (the RT players fear the alliance, knowing that it may destroy them), and then even if it starts, it often is either stopped by fearful players, or is torn apart by internal strife.
 


Donal Murray (jmmurray@iol.ie) writes:

Is the R/T alliance fair to Turkey? Definitely!

I think the Russia/Turkey (alliance), in theory favours Russia, however this is quite often not the case anymore. Assuming all the players are familiar with the alliance, the Juggernaut should have eaten well into Austria and have started on Italy before the Western powers can successfully negotiate terms for the Triple Alliance. If and when the joined powers attack R/T it is Russia who will take the brunt while Turkey will always be able to shoot down the Med more easily than Russia can fend of the Western armies and Northern fleets. This means that Russia often has to trust Turkey and divert his units to stop the Western berage. Turkey should then have the oppurtunity to stab Russia. The beauty of this is even if Russia only looses one SC, quite often, it is enough to collapse his resistance to the Westerners. But (does) this mean Turkey is next? Very rarly Turkey has the best defensive position in the game and with the Med already locked down.... So it is ovious only the country with the armies can prosper in attacks on Turkey couple this with Russia's collapse meaning to most the threat of the Juggernaut boggy man is gone, (drum role) the triple alliance collapses! Turkey now has prospects for moving armies if Germany or France has to divert them and if Italy was being proped up or France or England was holding the Med chances are this line could also weaken.

To conclude, I have found that in the current Diplomacy climate of scaremongering over the R/T alliance, Turkey has good chances if he can drop all sutilty get stuck into Austria and Italy ASAP. Generally speaking, by mid-game, if Russia gets tighted down stab him and then go for the solo in the end game. This has worked for me twice one solo and a three way (in which I was the biggest power). Nowadays it is for the reasons that Russia is favoured in the alliance that she is left high and dry by an astute Sultan. Russia can expand more quickly than Turkey but can also be attacked from more angles by more powers. Turkey expands slowly but can weather the storm, which I have found will loose its fury with Russia's collapse providing (Austria and Italy go early). I think more players should try such an approach you have to play on your countries strengths to prosper so do it!

. . . . . .

Edward Hawthorne's (edward@diplom.org) response:

Thank you for sharing your RT experiences with the Zine. There are several ways for Turkey to dominate the RT alliance. Diploming an early anti-Russian alliance is one method. Encouraging Russia's quick growth is another. The last thing you want to do is project or inform the west of an RT - or is it? Either strategy executed too early could put Italy back into the game and thwart Turkey's growth against a new IR alliance.

Assuming Italy's demise, how do you combat an angry Russian who throws all his/her units against you? Nearly half of the Turkish units are fleets/armies holding or pressing the Med and Iberian front against France. Turkey may be in the draw but an experienced Russian player will keep pace with any Sultan's growth or maintain sufficient units to safeguard against a Turkish attack.

While it's not impossible, attaining a Turkish solo against seasoned players can be exceptionally difficult but we'll save that discussion for another Zine issue. Donal, I'll play Russia and form an RT with you any day.


 

Mail Received Concerning
Western Walls


Brandon Clarke (bjc@stevensons.co.nz) writes:

In the S2002R issue of The Pouch in his article "Western Walls" Edi Birsan asked, "So, clearly, there are plenty of self-sustaining stalemate lines which do not require either Munich, Burgundy or the Mid-Atlantic. The question for your inquiring minds remains: is there one where the enemy has all three places?"

Yep!

    F NAO H
    F IRI H
    F ENG S A/F BRE
    A/F BRE H
    A PIC S A PAR
    A PAR H
    A BEL S A RUH
    A RUH H
    A/F HOL/DEN/HEL/BAL S A/F KIE
    A/F KIE H
    A/F NWY/FIN/BAR S A/F STP
    A/F STP H

That's 12 units holding 12 centres (STP, NWY, SWE, DEN, KIE, HOL, BEL, PAR, BRE, EDI, LON, LVP)

How's that?
Brandon in NZ

. . . . . .

Edward Hawthorne's (edward@diplom.org) response:

Not bad sir. In fact, nice job. This was Edi's first correct response. You da man!


 

Mail Received Concerning
Why Aren't You Playing Payola?


Josť Torres (jose.l.torres@intel.com)) writes:

A Note from the author:
I wrote "Payola" with the intent to use humor to make it rich and more intricate a game -- more accessible to everyday dippers. I submitted my "final, first draft" to The Pouch and some friends of mine for editing and criticism, only to agree with thier critique that I had overdone the humor, and started to revise the entire article. (Unfortunately,) I became way too busy at work and lost track of my obligation to finish the article..... Only to find out that it had been published a year later!!! I agree that it was time to get it out and my desire to perfect it was wasting the purpose of the article...... So I am dying to know - what do readers think about the article and playing Payola after reading the article?

Thanks to Todd Oliver for taking responsibility for "no muu muu" a Payola newbie game and may there be more like it!

Josť L. Torres

. . . . . .

Editor's Note:

After putting on the Zine editor's hat, I'd discovered Josť's original article in a folder of previously published works. As my finger was poised to delete the file, I had decided to verify the public press date only to find, there wasn't one. After a little research, I had made contact with Todd Oliver who confirmed the original wasn't ever shared with the Zine readers. Manus got involved and nearly a year after the submission date, "Why Aren't You Playing Payola?" was published.

Please take a moment to read this lost article and let its author know what you think.


 

Mail Received Concerning
A Diplomacy Variant: 1900


Stephen Quinn (S.Quinn@tcu.edu) writes:

I just loved your 1900 piece in The Pouch. One change that concerns me as being an unnecessary complication; however, is the new ALS territory. Given France can open PAR - BUR with MAR support, what terrific evil by Germany do you forsee in 01 that ruins France if COL and MUN both bordered BUR (and ALS did not exist)?

Sure, Germany could take BUR in the Fall, if MAR-SPA in Fall, but the current game has this feature already with a KIE-RUH opening. If your concern is the added ability of Germany to take BEL, get a build, and push MUN into BUR, then BUR could retreat to COL! To prevent this, Germany has to use BER-KIE then KIE-COL to cover COL, so the Kaiser loses a build.

I just do not see the first move crisis that requires a cluttering new territory in an otherwise elegant reworking of the game.

. . . . . .

Baron Powell's (VonPowell@aol.com) response:

Consider the following:
If there is no Alsace, Germany can open with A Mun-Bur, A Col S A Mun-Bur, F Kie-Den, and A Ber-Kie. Even if the attack on Burgundy fails, Germany has really risked little. It still has an excellent shot at capturing Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands in '00. If, on the other hand, the attack on Burgundy succeeds, Germany has gained a huge edge on its rival.

By inserting Alsace, the (player's) game-start options increase dramatically, an end state I think is desirable. A Par and A Mar can be used in a number of different ways. [As an aside, I'll point out that in games played to date, A Par opens to Burgundy around 84% of the time, while A Mar opens to Spain around 47% of the time and to Switzerland around 37% of the time.] While a German unit in Burgundy in Fall '00 is still a possibility and a cause for concern, it is certainly not the disaster that a German unit in Burgundy in Spring '00 is.

I should also mention another "benefit" to creating Alsace. It places on the map a space of considerable historical significance. I think it can be argued convincingly that WWI might not have occurred if Germany had not annexed Alsace and Lorraine in 1871. Though this point has nothing to do with game play, it is still a plus from my point of view.
 

Stephen's response:

Thanks for the feedback. As long as you are in a sharing mood, what do the Algerian/Morrocco centers add to your scheme? I think the Brit in Gibraltar is an elegant way to create tension between E/F and tone down British openings in Scandinavia simultaneously. However, I am not sure why the two North African centers do not just add clutter. What happens to your design without them?
 

Baron's response:

It goes back to one of my stated goals for 1900:enhanced historical accuracy. At the turn of the century, Morocco was still independent. Given this, I felt it had to be separated from the rest of French North Africa. Once separated, I felt it needed to be a SC.

At the same time, Tunisia was made a part of French North Africa rather than a minor neutral. Since French North Africa could only have one SC and Algeria was the primary French colony in French North Africa, I decided to move the SC from Tunisia to Algeria.

So far my experience has been that the North African SCs create some interesting give and take between Britain and France. More importantly, however, they provide a successful Italy with fuel to run the engine of expansion. Far from being clutter, I think they enhance the flow of things.



Frank Mayer (affaldssakt@hotmail.com) writes:

You placed a high priority to create interesting play around the new Swiss neutral SC.... I'm looking at Switzerland from the Italian and German viewpoint. I agree with you that Austria is likely to have higher priorities elsewhere the first year. I haven't paid too much thought to France, but if Italy and Germany agree, they are in a good position to force the issue.

During Spring 00 Italy can decide to move to PIE, ceding Switzerland to Germany. In the Fall, Germany can reciprocate by helping Italy into MAR. Note that of the three protagonists around Switzerland, only Germany is in a position to support one party into a supply centre of the other.... I wouldn't want to say this combination of first year play is predetermined, but it does help Germany and Italy off to a good start with good chances for further growth.

That brings me to question your claim to have leveled the playing field. On the contrary, I think you've created a central superpower.

. . . . . .

Baron Powell's (VonPowell@aol.com) response:

The opening you suggest has been used previously... one time. It worked spectacularly because the Pope was happy to have Germany as an ally and he felt Switzerland was a small price to pay for the alliance. Further, the Pope was able to trick the (French) President into believing Italy was France's friend.

I believe there is a reason why this opening is not more popular. First, as I stated earlier, most Popes consider Switzerland to be Italy's fair share of the neutral spoils. After all, France still has access to Iberia and now has new conquests in North Africa. Germany is already likely to gain three neutrals (bel, den, net). Why do either need another minor, particularly when Italy has no such bounty of neutrals to go after. French or German requests to occupy Switzerland have generally not been greeted favorably in Rome.

Second, your opening is not without substantial risk for Italy.... A much more popular opening is for Italy to order A Mil-Swi and A Rom-Pie in the spring, followed by A Pie-Mar and A Swi s A Pie-Mar in the fall. Of course, there are many ways france can neutralize these moves. In the end, it really is a matter of shrewd negotiating and guesswork.

It seems to me that conventional dip is all about the triangles (a subject I'll discuss in great detail in a future article). The triangles are E/F/G and A/R/T. Italy is in neither, but tends to lean east. Within each triangle, two powers generally team up against one. Once this is settled, we've reached mid-game and the dynamics change. The point, however, is that the player who gobbles up neutrals without arranging an alliance is more likely to be the odd power out in each triangle.

1900 attempts, with some success, to break down the triangles. It forces more communication between all of the players. What it does not do is force players into predetermined alliances. It absolutely does not cause players to form "Stop Germany" alliances at game-start. I can attest to the fact that Germany holds its own diplomatically at game-start. I can also vouch for the fact that quick German starts do not always lead to German victories. Most Kaisers discover sooner or later that they have too many neighbors and not enough units.


 

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