Octopus's Garden Issue Twenty-Seven

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HELLO, good evening and welcome to issue 27 of Octopus's Garden, the subzeen with its very own lettercol that hath come again like wheat that springeth green. An html version of this subzeen is available on the Web at http://www.manorcon.demon.co.uk/octopus/index.html. It's also sent to the TAP mailing list, which you can join automatically by sending the message 'subscribe tap' to majordomo@igo.org. The message 'unsubscribe tap' sent to the same address will get you off the mailing list.

pre-Round 8 (RR 1549 FR)


Railway Rivals (France)

Little Froggy FooFoo ChooChoo (LFFfCc) [orange] (Pitt Crandlemire, MA ??)
French Rail Emperors And Kings (FREAK) [purple] (W. Andrew York, TX)
Orders on file
Conrad's Absurd Names Create Acronymic Nausea (CAN CAN) [green] (Conrad von Metzke, CA)
Orders on file
The Blue Nosed Special (TBNS) [blue] (John Colledge, Scotland)
Orders on file
Railways Asserting Very Egalitarian Lines (RAVEL) [yellow] (Berry Renken, Netherlands)
Orders on file

Please will Neil Hopkins stand-by for LFffCC/orange. This will work the same way as stand-bys in American Diplomacy ; i.e. if Pitt submits orders by the next deadline, then he keeps the position ; otherwise Neil's orders will be used. (The main difference from a Dip-type situation is that I have held the game over in the meantime, as an NMR! can ruin a game of RR, not just for the defaulter, but for the other players as well.) Other players can, if desired, make their orders conditional on who controls the position, although I suspect this is less necessary than in Dip. Orders already on file for other players will be used unless changed. (This procedure is all explained in the postal house rules.) Orders for Round Eight by 23:59:59 Greenwich Mean Time on FRIDAY, 25th JULY, 1998, to Peter Sullivan. E-mail : octopus@manorcon.demon.co.uk PGP key available for the paranoid.

The Lettercolumn...

Lewis Hutton, @zetnet.co.uk writes

I too was like you looking for references on Railway Rivals, having recently aquired access to the web. I found that there is next to nothing on one of my favourite boardgames, and would agree that there ought to be at least, a FAQ for the game. Hopefully leading to a home page at some stage in the future, with good support for players, like the example of the Diplomacy Pouch.

I personally have only played the boardgame, never the postal version, but I thought I might be able to change that when I got online. Imagine my disappointment then on discovering as you said that most of the sites only dealt with 18XX and that the Rivercity site had not been updated for a couple of years. It was a welcome relief to come to your pages and find what you had written.

So if you can find the time to write back I would be grateful, and please tell me who organises postal/e-mail RR games, when they start and so on as I would like to start playing again.

((I'm still working on the FAQ itself - just one more paragraph to go, but I want to show it to some other people (Tony Robbins, the official R.R. statistician, Conrad von Metzke and also David Watts of course). However, I've sent you the relevent part of the proto-FAQ. Places to play R.R. by e-mail are: ))

Tony Robbins, @compuserve.com writes :

Thanks for sending a copy of 'Railway Rivals on the Web'. I agree with your premise, and would gladly help in some way; I wish I could add lots of other sites to your list but, as you rightly point out, they just aren't out there. I did stumble across the Scandinavian (but only Norway and Sweden) version of Mission from God, Anders Bjorkelid's Fansinlistan, at:


though, for RR, this only told me that games were running in Per Westling's Lepanto 4ever, which I knew already - but an interesting listing, maybe there's more out there?

((Thanks - I've included this link in the draft.

Would you have any objections if I included your article in the next Devolution, to give it even wider circulation?

((No problems at all. Actually, I've made quite a bit of progress so far and I've sent a draft so far to you for comments. I've also converted the stats you sent out in Feb to a basic web page to go out with the FAQ ; however, if you'd rather put this on your own web page (I believe Compuserve still offer free space for home pages?), let me know. In fact, I think it might actually look better if there was a seperate RR stats website and an RR FAQ site - makes it look less like a one-horse town, as it were.))

John Colledge, @dial.pipex.com, writes :

And now a few words about Chuck! In 1952, he not only became heir apparent, Prince Charles automatically became Duke of Cornwall under a charter of King Edward III dating back to 1337, which gave that title to the Sovereign's eldest son. He also became, in the Scottish Peerage, Duke of Rothesay, (you may recall Lady Di making some remark to the Press about her courting a Mr. Rothesay), Earl of Carrick and Baron Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland. He was created Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester in 1958. So he's a busy lad is our Chuck!

Steve Emmert, @city.virginia-beach.va.us, writes :

Your reply to Mark Nelson's question about the Queen's voting rights reminded me of another British governmental issue I have wondered about for some time. If you can answer it, I'll be grateful.

I know that the real power in Britain is the House of Commons, with the House of Lords serving as an appellate court (I think). The royalty is regarded (at least on this side of the Atlantic) as a figurehead. Obviously, things didn't start that way, and I've wondered when that all changed. The simplistic answer is to go back to Mean Old King John and the Magna Carta. But I think that's too early; my concept of British history is that the monarchs still had a much stronger hand in British policies in later years than they do nowadays.

Is it the Act of Settlement? While George III is still scorned over here, two centuries after he last did anything naughty to Americans, it seems to me that his power was sharply curtailed as compared with, say, Henry VII and Henry VIII. (If the American colonists had a right to be offended, I think the proper subject of their ire was Parliament, not the king, since it's my conception that by the Eighteenth Century, Parliament was more or less running the show.)

The short version of the question is: When did Britain become the republic (in all but name) it is today, as compared with the strong monarchy we saw in centuries past?

((This question deserves a much longer answer than I have the time to give it here, and would probably make a very good thesis for someone. I think it's fair to say that the decline of royal power was a gradual process, although that's not to say that there weren't some significant milestones along the way.))

((Let's start with the 17th century. I would tend to regard the Commonwealth period (1649-1660) as an abberation ; it proved nothing except that if the King annoyed the politicians enough, they would find extra-legal ways of removing him. Of course, the fact that I've never really enjoyed studying the English Civil War might have something to do with this conclusion. However, I would attatch more significance to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the Bill of Rights that followed it. For the first time, the monarch's powers - and who that monarch should actually be - were laid down in statute law rather than common law.))

((When it comes to the American Revolution, I don't think you can necessarily absolve George III of all responsibility. The pattern of politics at the time was that there were factions in Parliament broadly in favour (Tories) and against (Whigs) the King's choice of prime minister, Lord North. But most Members of Parliament were "Country Party," basically well-disposed to the King's ministers, but more concerned than anything to keep tax (and especially the Land Tax) down. Thus, in the run up to 1776, they were supportive of efforts to "make the colonists pay for their own defence" (the counter-argument to "no taxation without representation."). However, as the war dragged on and became more and more costly, they turned against Lord North's ministry, until in 1782, the King was forced to bring Lord Rockingham, leader of the Whigs, into the government. This probably marked the first time a King was forced to appoint a government he did not want. So, to an extent, the American Revolution helped cause the reduction in royal power, although later the madness of King George (now a major motion picture) probably contributed as much to this.))

((Even in the 20th century, there are examples of the exercise of royal power. In 1931, the Labour Government had decided to resign rather than cut unemployment benefit as recommended by the Bank of England. Ramsey Macdonald, the Prime Minister, was persuaded not to resign along with the rest of the government, but to head up an all-party coalition, splitting the Labour Party in the process and ensuring his own place in the Labour movement's history as a "class traitor." There is a great deal of evidence that the key individual in persuading Macdonald to stay on was King George V, who felt that avoiding a General Election at a time of such severe economic crisis was strongly in the national interest.))

((The monarchy could still have a significant role today in the event of a coalition or minority government. There are certain circumstances where constitutional experts like Lord Blake feel that the monarch would be entitled to refuse the request of the Prime Minister to call an early general election.))

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