Anarchy Rules OK!
By Peter Swanson
letter from Richard Kitt:
I suggest that rather than let a country go into anarchy you should start a
standby list. This means that a game would keep flowing, and prevent certain
countries receiving an unfair advantage when another country drops out (e.g.
easy pickings). This system is put to good use by Roy Taylor in Jigsaw where he
has about eight players on the list for regular Diplomacy and 2 for variants,
thus covering for any emergency."
for the letter, Richard. Actually, this system, or ones similar to it, are used
in nearly all European zines, and from what I've seen, most North American zines
too. Notable exceptions are 1901 and all that and, of course, Rats, which simply
place countries into civil disorder or anarchy after two successive NMRs.
I believe that when I start a game of Diplomacy, I am in competition with six
other players, not six other abstract countries of the Diplomacy board. It is
their, and my, job to win the game by the use of stratergy, tactics, diplomacy
and the sending in of moves, among other things, not the least of which is the
cultivation of friendships. The best postal players win games by successfully
employing all these skills. If a player fails in one of these skills, for
example, sending in orders, then he is likely to lose the game.
when seven people line up for a Dippy game, and one or more drop out, then the
others "last the course", and consequently do better. Some of them may
even have the orgasmic pleasure of walking into undefended centres and
annihilating standing units. So what if the drop out was a tactical genius? That
alone does not make a postal Dip player. Certainly the game does not stagnate
due to a drop out, though it can in extreme cases become a slugging fest as two
or three players race to knock out the remaining anarchist pieces.
don't agree that drop outs give "unfair advantages" to players by
virtue of easy pickings to others. Of course dome players receive an advantage,
but as fair an advantage as a player receives when his neighbour is attacked and
overcome, and he can 'pick easy' of the remnants. Diplomacy is a game of human
nature and you make similar misjudgements when you ally with a future drop out
as when you ally with a player who stabs you.
I think is unfair is a complete stranger coming into a game and taking over a
Power and thus destroying all the alliance structures, which have no doubt been
painstakingly set up. A player who has strived for over a year and is just about
to push for the last half dozen centres needed for victory, yet is stabbed by
some supply centre-happy new kid who has simultaneously stabbed the other two
players (and who really couldn't give a tuppeny bugger about the game anyway),
is going to feel a trifle pissed off.
final reason is simply because it says in the rules: "If a player leaves
the game, or fails to submit orders in a given Spring or Fall season, it is
assumed that civil government in his country has collapsed. His units hold in
position, but do not support each other..." I may add that it also says
that "It is probably more desirable...to allow a player who has not
previously had a country to replace a player who has left the game." It is
less likely for the NMR to happen in a FtF game for which the rules were
devised, where the reliable six can withhold the reluctant seventh's beer until
he coughs up his orders; and some rules have to be changed for postal play. But
rules are rules...
get me wrong; 'I'd find it far more pleasurable and satisfying to beat six
active players than six duds, but I should beat the duds - I should not lose to
six standbys when I set out to play the originals.
I must admit that I have become slightly fed up with some standbys in a few of
my games recently (notably DK 74/7 in Greatest Hits) and also I do have the urge
to offer something different to most, assuming of course that it is better or as
good. I am not breaking with tradition (heaven forbid), by the way. This is the
original method of play. So, no standbys in Rats games, though there will be
exceptions in variant games, since I expect these to be under a type of play
from Rates live on no evil staR No.3 (June 1976)