Comments on the Variant from "backseat"

Excerpted from the EOG Reports Quoted in Full Elsewhere

From France's EOG report:

The advisors system was fun, but I won't try it again, except maybe as advisor. It is too frustrating not being able to conduct one's own diplomacy. This is going to be my first and last game where I can send no press.
Thanks to everyone, players, advisors and Master for a great game.

From Russia's EOG report:

I wish to thank all the players, advisors and especially Simon for a smooth running game.
I love this variant and would play in another backseat game tomorrow. Even the position of advisor appeals to me. I had the same concern that my lovely advisor Risa Shadouvian pointed out early in the game. If the player ignores the advisor, the advisor may lose interest or actually turn against the player. My early strategy was to follow my advisor's advice and try to win their trust. Once the other players thought that I was doing everything my advisors said, I would be in a better position to pull an unexpected stab. I never got the opportunity as my advisors fell silent early in the game.
Working without an advisor when everyone else has one can be good and bad. You have no one negotiating for you, but no one is pointing out options that you hope the other players don't see. There were a few times that I wished my advisors had not said something because I did not want the other players to consider that option.

From Germany's EOG report:

Thanks to all of you who played and advised. I had a lot of fun in the game, and would have even in defeat. [Germany won the game. -Ed.]
Anyway, I found the game compelling because there were so many possibilities. One could follow the posted advice which was often excellent though risk a waiting appropriate defense, borrow some of the advice, or "build your own".

From Italy's EOG report:

First, I found this game to very enjoyable and would like to thank Simon for running an excellent game. I found this variant interesting, although I think it might be better is all players would have advisors who were active to the same extent all the way throught the game (although I know this is not practical).

From England's EOG report:

Thanks to all expecially Simon. This is a great variant.

From Turkey's EOG report:

In this variant style, the "driver" of the country has very little to say and also has no control over his "backseat advisors". This, of course, makes the game very interesting.
In hindsight, turkey could only have succeeded if a mechanism existed for the "Driver" and the "Backseat advisor" to talk. For example, at the beginning of each spring move only.

Although I died early, I would play another variant game of this style.

From Eric G. Scharf's Advisor EOG report:

First off, I'd like to offer my sympathy and admiration for the guys who actually had to *play* through all our blather. If I were in the same situation, I'd've probably ignored the advisers and treated it like a no-press game, except that I hate no-press, so I'm not sure what I'd've done. I'm especially impressed by the players who actually tried to follow our advice.
In the end, Waid [an advisor, -Ed.] performed that role of the loudmouth kibitzer who walks by the board and repeats the obvious. While most games don't specify it in their house rules, I suspect that an observer acting like Waid would be kicked out in short order (exempting those games deliberately so designed, of course). In FTF, such behavior could result in physical ejection. Yet there's something to be said for Waid-like commentary, beyond the simple comic relief. Waid always pointed out the Emperor's lack of clothes. In PBEM Dip especially, players often decide on a policy without hearing a lucid argument made for alternatives. Waid holds the status quo to account. I suppose a case could be made that games played without such commentary are "impure," in that local ignorance allows inferior strategy to succeed where it otherwise might not have. However, if I ever bamboozle my fellow players (perish the thought!), you won't find me clamoring for a "disinterested party" to offer his opinion.

From Tom Koutsky's Advisor EOG report:

>From my perspective, at least, the most interesting part about these EOG statements is the revelation as to who the advisors were.
Honest -- I entered the game with the intention of screwing over England. How I would precisely do that was uncertain, but I figured it would be fun to see if I could use the "advisor" position to box in a power into a conflict he (or she) did not want to enter. And thus, Lord Lansdowne, the somewhat incompetent but responsive and active advisor was born.
I enjoyed this game immensely and think the variant has a great deal of merit. As a relative new-comer to e-mail diplomacy, it was good for me to get used to using the judge and the style of play and press. I learned a lot and I thank you all.

From Conrad Minshall's Advisor EOG report:

I had great fun in my two game years as "Risa Shadouvian". My approach was to try to speak to and influence all 7 rulers, rather than speaking just to the Russian ruler and the other advisors.
>From my experience with those 1st 2 game years I'd say this is a great variant! If another game of it is ever played I'd love to be one of the 7 major powers and experience what that side plays like.

I had two ideas for variations on this variant. It might be cool to permit some sort of private communication between an advisor and the major power. That communication could be unrestricted, or one-way, or limited to one letter every 2 game years... or whatever. My other idea is to combine "Backseat Driver" with my "Bourse" - so the observer/advisors would also be buying and selling currencies. With either idea there would be many details to be ironed out.

From Jeff Jones's Advisor EOG report:

First of all, thanks to Simon for the excellent idea of the backseat variant,

From Timothy Ferguson's Advisor EOG report:

Thanks also to Simon. I really enjoyed this variant and would gladly play a rematch.

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