The single focal point for all Payola games is the Website Payola Place (part of The Pouch's Web- and Email-based DPjudge).
(Disclaimer: neither the fact that Payola is the brainchild of this publication's august editor nor the fact that I owe him large sums of money and he recently sent a few "friends" to visit me at my home has anything whatsoever to do with the fact that I'm discussing Payola or any nice comments I might make...honest.)
In the original variant, bribes were simple -- I'll pay you this much to do this order. That worked well enough but it was somewhat limited. So, Manus spake and lo! different types of bribes were bestowed upon us. Now we could really get tricky. The format of the bribe offer is:
<Amount of AgP> <Bribe Type identifier> <Order>The various types of bribes are:
The above is a brief overview of the Payola variant, and while it covers the essential points, the interested reader is encouraged to take a look at the official rules of the variant, which were published in the Winter 1995 Adjustment issue of the Zine.
|England||5 : F ENG H
||France||2 : F ENG - LON
||Germany||2 : F ENG - LON
England's greater expenditure on the affirmative bribe ensures that F ENG will hold.
The Negative bribe is also simple and straightforward. It is used when you don't care what a unit does as long as it doesn't do the one thing that will mess up your plans. It works best when the unit you're trying to bribe is also likely to be offered multiple bribes from other players, ensuring that your negative bribe will be enough to put one of those over the top.
|England||5 : F NTH - ENG|
6 ! F BRE - ENG
|France||8 : F BRE - ENG
||Germany||3 : F BRE S A BEL - PIC
England's negative bribe to F BRE was sufficient to ensure that Germany's offer succeeded even though England may have had no idea what Germany's order was.
The Move bribe is a bit more complicated but not extremely so. It is used primarily when you want to prevent a unit from holding, convoying, giving support, or receiving support. If you have a wish to invade an occupied space, bribing the unit which is currently there to move out (allowing you to move in without support) is an effective tack. Again, this bribe type is most effective when the unit you're bribing is likely to be receiving multiple offers and yours works to favor the bribe type you want.
|England||4 > F ENG - BRE
||France||8 : F ENG C A BRE - LON
||Germany||5 : F ENG - MAO
England's move bribe was sufficient to ensure that ENG did not convoy BRE - LON. It did not succeed in ordering ENG - BRE, however, since Germany's was an affirmative type offer for ENG - MAO, which was the order that F ENG would have received. Also, note that England would have failed in stopping the convoy if Germany had instead offered 4 : F ENG S A BEL - PIC since that would not have been a movement offer by Germany.
The Hold bribe is sort of like the move bribe, except in reverse. It is used when you don't care what the unit does so long as it doesn't move. There are times when you very much need a unit to stay where it is, either to gain control of a supply center, hold a line, or to receive support. As with negative and move bribes, it works best when the unit is receiving multiple conflicting offers and your hold bribe is designed to favor the success of the bribe type you desire.
|England||4 @ F ENG - BRE
||France||8 : F ENG - LON
||Germany||5 : F ENG S A PIC - BRE
England's hold bribe coupled with Germany's support bribe ensure that ENG does not move to LON. Since Germany's bribe will earn the unit nine pieces of silver and England's would earn it only four, ENG will be supporting PIC to BRE. Note, however, that even if England's offer had been for a greater amount than Germany's offer individually, ENG would still end up supporting PIC to BRE since the affirmative bribe offered by Germany does not add its amount to any order other than the offer listed, but the hold bribe does.
The Gift bribe, at first glance, appears to be sort of silly and have no practical use. However, in reality, it functions as a proxy order and can be extremely useful in no-press games or in any game where proxy is not otherwise enabled.
|England||2 : F BRE - PIC
||France||1 * F BRE - ENG
||Germany||2 : F BRE - MAO
Both the English and the German offer have a total value of 3 AgP (since the French silver piece will be given no matter what), so what will F BRE do? Well, that depends on how the owner of the fleet in Brest (let's say it's France) set his "acceptance list." And what is an acceptance list? Each player must submit a acceptance list at the start of the game and may update it at any time. The acceptance list is submitted in the same format as a SET PREFERENCE command, and it is used to break ties on offers. If France's acceptance list was set to FEGIATR, England's offer would take preference over Germany's and the unit will be ordered to move to Picardy.
First, you and everybody else will be getting more money each year or, rather, you will if you still hold any SC's. Thus, your primary goal is still the same -- get those SC's. If you save 5 AgP's this year but fail to get the extra SC that would have earned you an additional 10 AgP's, you haven't spent wisely. When in doubt about spending a few extra AgP's, ask yourself if spending them will take or protect an SC. If so, spend them.
Second, the amount of money in circulation. You can never know exactly how much money is in circulation except prior to the first turn. However, if you pay close attention to how much you have to spend in order to successfully bribe your own units, how your attempted bribes of other units are accepted or rejected, and how much others spend to bribe your units, you can get a very good sense of how much your opponents are spending every turn. This, in turn, gives you an idea of total cash still in circulation, as well as the current bid break points.
|You started last turn with...||40 AgP|
|For your own three units, you bid an average of...||5 AgP|
|For your own units, your success was...||2 out of 3|
|For two opposing units, you bid an average of...||5 AgP|
|For opposing units, your success was...||1 out of 2|
|Money paid by other(s) to your rebellious unit was....||7 AgP|
|So you offered a total of....||25 AgP|
|And ended up spending....||15 AgP|
From this, you can reasonably determine that
|English account balance: 21 AgP|
|Offer Set 1||Offer Set 2|
|6 : F ENG - NTH|
5 : F LON S F ENG - NTH
5 : F HEL H
5 : F WAL - ENG
|7 : F ENG - NTH|
7 : F LON S F ENG - NTH
7 : F HEL H
7 : F WAL - ENG
In the first example, England has spent exactly what he has in his account. If all of his offers are the highest bids, he's in good shape. However, if one of them fails, he has lost the use of those funds for that turn and, since he didn't allocate extra funds for the other offers, he increases the chances that they will also be too low and will fail, as well.
In the second example, England has overspent, assuming that one of his offers will fail. If he's right that exactly one of them is doomed to failure, he still uses all of his available funds and is more likely to be the high bidder on the other offers since he has spent more on them. Unfortunately, if he's wrong and all of his offers are accepted, he will overdraw his account and all offers will be reduced one silver piece at a time until they are low enough to not overdraw his account. In this case, his offers would first be reduced from 7 AgP each to 6 AgP each, and then all the units would look again to decide if this is still the best offer on the table. If so, the Englishman would still overdraw his account (paying four bribes of six silver pieces each), so they would all be reduced yet again, now down to five silver pieces each. All offers are reduced equally, not just enough of them to get below your bank balance; that's the penalty for guessing wrong.
Normally, Russia would be in a world of hurt, but in Payola, all the Russian
player needs to do is control the German A SIL. If he is able
to get that unit to HOLD, none of Germany's other armies are going
anywhere. Better yet, if Russia can be sure he controls SIL, he also
need only control F LVN, not A WAR.
If A SIL and F LVN both HOLD, then
A WAR can roam without concern for Warsaw's safety.
Germany, on the other hand, must not only control SIL, he must also control WAR and BER. Although his position is tactically superior, the mercenary effect of bribes in Payola puts him at a significant strategic disadvantage. He'll need a large bank account to roll over Russia from this position.
Two interesting side-effects develop from the ability to control key opposing units (and your opponents' ability to control yours). Let's take a look at these.
First, since your own units can be used against your interests if you don't control them, it is often wise to waive builds. If a new unit will not immediately assist in gaining and holding SC's and if its presence could be used to block your desired movements, don't build it. For example, examine the following position:
|If Turkey has a build pending, he should waive it. If we assume that he desires to take Sevastopol, any build in Ankara (his only available home SC) could be used against him by blocking SMY - ARM. If he builds in Ankara, he needs to control both SMY and ANK to ensure he gets ARM. If he waives the build, he needs to control only one unit to achieve the same goal. Since he'll be trying to control the units from the same limited supply of funds and since the extra unit doesn't really help him take or defend an SC, he can save money by waiving the build so that he doesn't have to spend to control the extra unit.|
Second, there are no stalemate lines in Payola. Since any unit will act on the highest bid, no unit can be trusted to hold a stalemate line. The net result of this effect is that Payola games are much more likely to end in solo victories. [Editor's note: at the time of this writing, every Payola game ever played has ended in a solo victory.]
'Til next time, I remain,
The Big Dipper
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