Pouch Deposits

The Editor and the Readership

Hi ho everyone. It's time, once again, to reach into the mailbag and see what comes out. But before we do, let's set up a new topic for discussion, shall we?

So far, we looked at waived builds and -- with this issue's letters -- at unit disbands and removals. So we've covered the adjustment phase, and discussed at least one aspect of the retreat phase. What's left but to bring up a movement phase topic, then, right?

So how about this: let's talk about Spring stabs versus Fall stabs. Obviously, both have their time and place. Rack your brains and come up with your favorite example of the "perfect" Spring stab or Fall stab. What places on the board are just natural Spring stab terrain? Where can you and your ally reasonably be expected to be that would just be perfect for a Spring (or Fall) stab?

Kind of a wide-open topic, but hopefully you know the kind of thing I'm getting at. Anyone who's been in Galicia while allied to Austria has had the mind race and the mouth water when Spring approaches. Tell your favorite tale and earn yourself not only my gratitude for reading this drivel and responding to it, but also a place in the next Pouch Deposits.

So get on the stick and send in your story, anecdote, bit of advice, whatever. I'll be looking for it.

Now, with that out of the way, let's stick the old Hand into the mail sack and see what we have. We had a wide range of letters this time, so let's get right to them. I've taken the liberty of removing those (always very appreciated) messages which are just pats on my back (I figure I do enough of that myself in the "About" column).

Stab you soon,

Manus Hand
([email protected])

Mail Received Concerning
The Discussion Topic Presented in the Last Issue

From "Tarzan" ([email protected])

Here's a decent example of unit removal!! I'm in a no-press Payola game, playing Italy, and someone ordered my units to attack France while I was allied with France. This eventually resulted in them ordering me into Marseilles (not what I wanted). I needed some way to "signal" France that this "wasn't me." In 1904 I was required to remove a unit. My unit in Marseilles couldn't be touched and there were other units that were certainly less critical to my situation. I chose to disband the Marseilles unit to "signal" France that I wanted him (back) as an ally!!

From a Payola no-press standpoint, sometimes retreats, builds, and disbands are the only ways to let someone know your true intentions.

[Editor's response: For another example of this same principle in action, check out Doug Massey's Annotated No-Press Game, elsewhere in this issue.]

From Jay Albright ([email protected])

I have frequently removed a fleet in order to build an army. Less frequently vice-versa. In fact, my allies and I have often created "fleet eating machines" to accomplish the fleet-to-army transformation quickly and efficently. It's easier with fleets because you're less likely to lose a supply center in the process. You are also more likely to want to try it when playing France or possibly Turkey, when you have built too many fleets and wish to change your mind without losing too much momentum. It can be hard to pull off but it has won me one game and kept me alive in many others.

From Chuck Powell ([email protected])

My first letter to the Pouch. I feel so...involved.

Anyway, the best disband I've seen yet, which I'm sure many of the experienced players out there know, was a modified Lepanto by Italy at DragonCon in 1994 (this was actually the first time I'd ever heard the term Lepanto). Italy ordered Army Venice to Trieste in Spring 1901 and then had it attacked and defeated by two Austrian armies. Instead of retreating home, he disbanded the army, thus allowing a fleet to be built in its place. Combined with the taking of Tunis (and the building of a fleet as a result) this made for an Italy with three fleets in 1902; a naval Italy of frightening proportions! Unfortunately, I was the "Turkey in the middle" of this and was fooled by the ruse of Italian aggression in Austria; I was subsequently ushered from the game, a joyfully humbling experience. Just goes to show that even decently experienced players haven't seen everything.

[Editor's response: My own favorite example is also along the same lines of these last two letters. As alluded to in my previous articles, this scenario was going to be the subject of a full-length article in one of the issues of the Zine, but instead, I'll just cover it here.

I call it the "Slingshot Juggernaut" opening. Since I came up with it, it has been tried twice, both times with the result of a solo win for the Russian player after a gamelong alliance with the Turkish player (well, gamelong until the last move, of course). Now that I'm writing about it here, of course, I suppose it'll never work again.

Anyway, the two biggest problems for the juggernaut opening are convincing the other players that there is no juggernaut and determining what to do with the Russian fleet in Sevastopol. In the Slingshot, both problems are dealt with by a quick and efficient fake war.

At the beginning of the game, both Turkey and Russia claim to everyone (especially Austria) that they will be opening against each other while promising otherwise, and indeed, both do -- in a particular way. Russia sends Warsaw to Ukraine, Moscow to Sevastopol, and Sevastopol into Armenia, while Turkey sends Ankara to the Black Sea and Smyrna to Ankara. To the world, this looks like a total concentration of forces in the southeast.

These Spring 1901 moves are perhaps just a touch off-beat, but creative explanations to the Austrian are easy to come by. For example, Austria would be prepared for the Russian's grand "eastern attack strategy" with a plan like: "Okay, I've convinced the Turk to send his fleet to Constantinople to go out to sea, but my fleet will head south to make sure he has to guard Ankara while I build another fleet in Sevastopol and take the Black Sea."

After the initial moves, Russia also makes sure to occupy all of Austria's attention with his continual hand-wringing -- mad at the Turk for not sending the fleet west and now wondering whether to support Armenia or to use Sevastopol to assure the take of Rumania. Turkey, of course, is equally mad at Russia for the violation of the fictitious Armenia plank of the DMZ agreement. If Austria can be read well enough to assure a Russian Rumania, both Russia and Turkey plead with Austria for his support into Rumania.

In the end, Russia guesses wrong, supporting Ukraine to Rumania with the Sevastopol army (the bright spot being the failure of Bul-Rum), and the Turkish army enters Armenia with support from the Black Sea, dislodging the poor Russian fleet. And -- horror of horrors -- there are no retreats for the fleet. It is destroyed.

Claiming that he is giving up on the fleet idea, since it worked so poorly, Russia builds an army in Sevastopol.

While both Russia and Turkey make loud noises about their war, and while both enter into convoluted plans against each other with the Austrian, the Armenian army busies itself preparing for a convoy across the Black Sea and into the Balkans. Meanwhile, the Rumanian and Bulgarian armies are quietly deciding any support scheme to use against the Serbian defenses. Before the board knows what hit it, the juggernaut is through Austria. It is truly a joy to behold -- especially as Russia (I say, knowingly).]

Mail Received Concerning
Previous Issues of The Magazine

Mail Concerning North Sea to Picardy

From Julian Giles ([email protected])

Loved the article -- when's the follow up, North Sea to Mars?!!

From Andy Bandit ([email protected])

I read your article "North Sea to Picardy," and I laughed my a** off; it was great! Where I can I find more articles you've written on the game?

[Author's response: The North Sea to Picardy article seems to have generated more mail than any other article I've written. I'll try to take this to heart and supply some more analyses of the game written in a similar -- shall we say? -- frame of mind. (Oh, and please insert here the obligatory call for contributors for any and all type of article.)]

Mail Concerning France in the Modern Variant

From Erik Stensland ([email protected])

I wanted to comment on your article that you wrote for the Dip Pouch on France in a Modern game. Great job, you should really be some sort of a writer. Anyway, I am impressed with all your articles in the Pouch.

Keep up the good work, and thanks again for letting me be involved.

[Author's Response: Thanks for your reply. I'm glad you liked my article. I think that Manus, as editor, deserves some of the credit. He does re-word some of my sentences and generally improves the layout.

It's nice to get some fan mail. The only other replies I got were requests to translate articles into Japanese and Chinese! And thank you for your contribution. It certainly made the article better.]

Mail Concerning Last Issue's Rambling
About The Diplomatic Pouch

From Troy Bettinger ([email protected])

Manus wrote:
In the remarks I'm about to make, I want to be careful that I don't sound like a Howard Hughes type hermit, so in case I do, I thought I'd just say up front that I'm not.
Not True!!! I postulate that Manus is a Howard Hughes type hermit. Let's look at the evidence: We must, however, assume that Manus trims his nails, else they would interfere with his typing.

[My response: Okay, you found me out. I would be a full-fledged Howard Hughes type hermit were it not for the fingernails. Oh, and the money.]

Mail Concerning The Big Dipper's Look at Payola

From Joe Carl ([email protected])

I agree that Payola is an excellent game. The zerosum variant is the best of the bunch.

I like that fact that you have to manage your money wiser than in standard Payola. You have to choose your bribes carefully or you end up giving money to your opponents needlessly. There is also more opportunity for other commands besides direct bribes to move or direct bribes to hold.

Mail Concerning Manus Hand's
Report From The WDC Trenches

From Leif Bergman ([email protected])

Hello, there. I just want to say hello and thanks for the kind words in your report about Columbus, but I don't think I deserve them. Pitt is a very good player and I really hope to see and play with him again. Bjørn von Knorring and I are already saving our money for the trip to Chapel Hill in '98.

I think you're right about the game in which you were Italy and I was Turkey. If you hadn't sacrificed yourself, I could have taken Tunis and then forced my way to 18 centers. I kind of lost my momentum in a vital part of that game, I had one unit too few to do what was necessary for the win. The funniest thing about it all is that in my game as Italy, when I grabbed an 18 center win in 1907, I could have taken 19 (I didn't take Bulgaria because I didn't need it; in Sweden we don't and will never separate a solo from a solo, and I was thinking in Swedish terms) and in that game as Turkey, the other players didn't want to proceed and thought that I was delaying the game, so I didn't take Warsaw and Vienna. Instead, I stopped at 12 centers. So I could have won the WDC. But I can only blame myself for the failure.

Have a good time, and hope to see you again.

[Author's response: That Leif could be our world champion right now is easy for me to believe after having played against him. I must agree that in my book, a win is a win, and a 19-center win should be worth no more than an 18-center win. It seems to me that to do otherwise is to invite a board to say, "well, it's a solo, so let's give him all the centers we can to help him in his tournamenent standing." I was overjoyed to hear from you, Leif, and I look very much forward to our next opportunity to play each other. I won't underestimate you at the beginning next time! And there will be a next time....]

Mail Concerning The Pouch In General
(Okay, so I didn't delete them all)

From Phil Shadick ([email protected])

I have just "taken up" Diplomacy (owned the boardgame for a couple of years but dusted it off and re-read the rules a fortnight ago), and played a couple of times with some friends.

I was aware that postal games were available, but thought I'd look the game up on the WWW to play some E-mail, and to my delight found your site.

I have devoured the Zine; it's great! The articles are all well-written and generally meaningful, and I particularly enjoyed the humorous "North Sea to Picardy." Being a bit of a chess player made the Opening Theory articles rather interesting too.

From Thomas Kramer ([email protected])

Just a quick note to thank you and the others at Dip Pouch for your informative works. I played Dip years ago and am now starting anew; your zine has been a good refresher course. I'm starting with a judge game or two right now.

Well, there you have it. Another Deposits column. Yep, it sure is.