Octopus's Garden Issue Thirty-Seven

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HELLO, good evening and welcome to issue 37 of Octopus's Garden, the subzeen with its very own gamestart. 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.


If you want in on the last slot for the TK list, contact me at octopus@manorcon.demon.co.uk.

I will also be looking for stand-bys for both the above games, but we'll get the lists filled first before we worry about that. Houserules are on the web at http://www.manorcon.demon.co.uk/octopus/rr.html, but are pretty much standard British rules (20/10 scoring, enter 4 from 7 races), except I use stand-bys. We won't bother with gamefees or deposits for either of these games.


((Last time I mentioned all-night supermarkets, an Americanism that appears to be spreading in Britain:))

Berry Renken writes :

I'd LOVE it if we had that here. Please invade the Netherlands and have your laws be our laws. Except for your pub laws please, having them close at the ridiculously early hour of 1 AM instills in the British a feeling they've GOT to drink fast because soon they're not going to have any anymore!

((Not sure where you get 1 a.m. from. Closing time for "pubs" (public houses) is still 11 p.m., although you now get 20 minutes "drinking up time" instead of 10 minutes. Private clubs can stay open until 2 a.m., and hotels until they get tired of serving.))

11 PM?? This explains why the English drink so fast, they expect to be kicked out any minute! Many pub crawlers here haven't even STARTED yet at 11 PM. My father doesn't believe there is NO place you can go to in all of London at 4 AM, for instance. Nor do I for that matter, what are you supposed to do at 4 AM then?

((Go home and sober up? ))

((I know that railway stations are exempt from licensing laws, but none of them will be open at that time of the morning. Your only other opportunity is probably the other side of passport control at Heathrow airport.))

((On my Bus Boss scoring comments last time, Berry writes:))

You're only regarding the race section there, it goes deeper than that. With BB scoring and entering any amount of races you wish, from round 1 on you attempt to build a network covering all of the map, or as much of it as possible. There's no "depriving rivals of points", there's cutting them off from building a more complete network than you have. The whole objective is different. And this is what I'm used to, since it's what Conrad applies and he taught me the game.

((I shall have to try a game under Bus Boss rules sometime, but probably first as a player rather than as a g.m.))

I have an opening on the map of India, in case you're interested.

((I'll pass at the moment - I need all my time to keep up with my own deadlines!))

Richard Gooch writes :

I'm probably far too late! Jim sent me a bundle of TAPs but they took an age to arrive here in Thunder Bay. Then for two days the Internet server's been down due to foul weather (Norlink sucks!). Anyhoo : the Tyne Tees map looks tantalising. I've never seen it and I hail from Newcastle (sort of - long story). If I can't get on the list I'd still like to get the instructions or whatever. I understand now that the likes of me have ceased to provide their services for drafting new maps it's strictly do-it-yerself. True? Leapfrog ain't my fave, but I have to start again somewhere! It's been 10 years since I drew a tentative green line through hexes. The palms are sweaty with anticipation ...

((Rostherne games has now been sold, and is owned by Spire Games in Norwich. They have all of David's remaining stock of official maps. However, David Watts is continuing to develop trial maps (I have to hand a Macedonia map, dated April 1999). More details are avaliable in the Railway Rivals FAQ. I've never used Leapfrog rules before, but with 4 players on a hilly map I thought I'd better try it.))

Richard Weiss writes:

I'm a veritable old fart in the hobby for both Dip and RR. My last "ever" game of Dip is about to end in The Abyssinian Prince (Columbus Chill). I still play RR, however. Mostly in Conrad's zine. I've never played RR against either him or Mike Barno (one of my all-time faves), so would actually like to sign up for both games. I may have a T-K map, or is it the same as on Dampfrog? If it is, then I have that map, although a paper map would be so wonderful, please send it with the Tyne-Lee. I will have to go on line to find out about Leap-Frog, never having played it, but well familar with games that used that style.

((Don't worry, I will send you a copy of both maps. Based on other g.m.s' experiences, I have always sent the players a copy of the map rather than let them "source" one themselves. Firstly, it makes sure that we all have the same version. Secondly, it stops people saying that they have a copy of the map, when in fact what they mean is that their maiden aunt in Boise, Idaho, has a copy of the map that they might be able to borrow a copy of the next time they go over to feed the pet budgie, or similar.))

I am also pretty well connected e-tronically and would be an agreeable standbye for any RR game you need someone in.

Mike Barno refers to the Guam map, and you refer to the relative variation in deciding what is a hill hex. I designed the Guam map, have never played an official game on it, and would be delighted to do so, including sending you enough maps so that you could send it to others. I don't have a program that would allow me to fix the couple of simple bugs in the map - do you have a hex map embedded somewhere you could email me?

((I've never seen a hex-mapper program, although I'm aware such beasties do exist, mainly in the context of hex wargames. Can anyone recommend one that is especially suitable for large hex grids like RR? Most (all?) Railway Rivals maps are hand-drawn, with the standard of draftsmanship varying from the technical-drawing-professionalism of the likes of Rip Gooch to the sloppy amateurism of - well - most of the rest of us, with David Watts' own trial maps usually somewhere in between.))

In reply to the scoring methodologies - I don't like Bus Boss because it favors those who build so as to exclude others, or up narrow ravines, fjords, etc. I do like entering all the races possible in one round. I believe that rewards good rail design in the early stages and aggresive use of early race round building opportunities. I also think that favors those who go with the general odds and hinders those with "luck" in the draw of the races. Which leads to a general question which reflects my ignorance of your rules in bus boss - do you sector the races each round (i.e., is there always one race from 1-6, one from 1-5, etc. during the entire sequence, or is it strictly random draw? I know Conrad follows the most strict interpretation of the rules in that regard and that tends to minimize luck and having a perfect network in a small geographic sector.

((I run fairly strict sectoring schemes, which are outlined in the postal rules. To be honest, sectoring on playing-card maps (where the 52 towns are designated by playing cards) doesn't have much impact, as the sectors (=suits) are so large. Organising the races by sector works much better on dice-roll maps (where the 36 or 42 towns are designated by 2d6), with only 6 towns per sector. From memory, I seemed to remember that the original TK map was numbered with playing cards, but the version we are using isn't.))

And you like press. Great. I'm off the caboose in writing, so be careful. Do you take grey and black press (ambiguous authors)?

((I notice that this isn't covered in the postal rules, which are based on David Watts' own postal rules. By extension of my old Diplomacy postal rules, I would guess that company names are reserved datelines, whilst Geneva is a reserved dateline for the g.m.. Other than that, press may carry any dateline. I guess this counts as black with grey tinges.))

In reply to the variants on Dip: Fog-o-War is my favorite variant, especially in not varying the map. Phil Reynolds deserves tons of credit for that. Perestroika in it's many variants is a wonderful conceptual game. Nuclear Yuppie Evil Empire is so much fun, like Snowball Fighting. War in North America is a good map and lots of fun without a guaranteed bad spot discovered to date, although Will has shifted the design subtley each time.

((Diplomacy variants, ah, don't get me started on diplomacy variants...))

Round -- "William Rufus de Vane King"

Railway Rivals Map TT (Leapfrog)

You all now have a copy of the map. As you are all old hands at this, all of you have already sent me company names and colour preferences. You all start Newcastle, as per the map rubric. Rolls for Round One : 3, 4, 3. Could you all let me have Round One orders by FRIDAY, 16th JULY, 1999 to Peter Sullivan, octopus@manorcon.demon.co.uk

I promised you some map clarifications, so here they are. This is a black and white copy of what was originally a partially coloured map. The only point where this affects play is where the rivers (blue) change into impassable estuaries (red). Based on my copy of the map, and what I can remember of the original colour version, the river rulings for this game are as follows :

River Last estuary (illegal) First river (legal)
Coquet (none) L44-Amble
Wansbeck L50-L51 L50-K51
Blyth L51-Blyth K52-Blyth
Tyne H56-Gateshead Newcastle-Gateshead
Wear (none) L59-Sunderland
Tees K72-K73 Stockton-K73

In addition, the following builds across unnamed estuaries are illegal : L47-L48 ; N68-West Hartlepool ; M70-M71.


GOOCH: Now that I see the map, I understand that you have been gradually migrating up (down?) the River Wear. Now you're at the mouth. What is next, sailing out into the discharge and settling in Rotterdam?

GENEVA: Well, the new house (which should be ready in 2 weeks) is actually a tad west of here. That should be the end of my wanderings for at least the next ten years or so. Temporary moves even further west cannot be ruled out, however.

TURN: Until September of last year I lived in hex F56 where my mother and brother still reside. I've previously lived in hexes H57, K57, G56 and G57. My first ex-wife lives in hex E44, soon to move to C46. My second ex-wife lives in hex I52 (approx). It is a surprise to see Bedlington missing from any railway map. The home of Sir Daniel Gooch - the one who made Brunel's broad gauge pipe dream into a practical reality. No relation! My sister lives in hex F58. Enough background? I'd tell you the hex with the most spectacular hill-scape in England but it's masked by the running grid.

GENEVA: Is this the broad gauge (as used by Great Western Railway) as opposed to standard gauge (as used by all the other railway companies)? I seem to remember that broad gauge was insisted on by Brunel, as it was technically superior to standard gauge (you could run double-decker trains, for a start, which were too "top-heavy" to run on standard gauge). However, the fact that all the other companies used standard gauge meant that eventually all the broad gauge had to be taken up and replaced, in order to ensure compatability. The19th century's own version of the VHS vs. Betamax wars, I guess.

TURN: In a nutshell, yes. Brunel's idea was sound (much as it is generally agreed that Betamax was a far better system than VHS). Unfortunately, Brunel took so long trying to find power units strong enough to haul his extra-heavy wagons that the standard gauge was too well established by the time Gooch came along with his Iron Dukes.

TURN: Oops - forgot the most important bit! Pat (present and final wife) was born in hex M68. That completes the family connections.

GOOCH: Special note: If ALL THREE of the colours red, orange and yellow are used, I resign. I have a dark orange pen that will pass for red, and a bright yellow pen that can be construed as 'warm orange,' but I cannot manage to differentiate all three.

GENEVA: You are safe for the moment. But you could always buy some new pens... I thought one of the advantages of being an R.R. player was that it gave you a good excuse to buy those multi-pen sets of felt tips (24 for 1, or whatever) which are normally off-limits for anyone over the age of 11 (in street credibility terms, albeit not in terms of outright prohibition).

TURN: My wife Pat was beside me when I opened your envelope. Judging by her reaction, I don't think she'll be joining any games any time soon. I'm used to the blank looks by now!

GENEVA: Oh dear, another hobby grass widow... Actually, completed R.R. games - at least of the colour maps - can make cheap and cheerful posters, as I discovered in my student days.

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