Octopus's Garden

Issue Fifty-Three

23rd December 2000

Current Issue
Back Issues
Other stuff
Last issue
Next issue
Search site


HELLO, good evening and welcome to issue 53 of Octopus's Garden, the subzeen with its very own game-end statements. 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@diplom.org. The message 'unsubscribe tap' sent to the same address will get you off the mailing list.


Rip Gooch, Canada :

Work on the Canada RR map proceeds slowly. Main snag: figuring out how to get my laser printer to handle sheets 17 feet long and 6 inches wide. Hey, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas :o)

((Inkjet printers are usually better at banners - I have seen people using banner paper to waste a whole print cartridge producing "Happy 40th Birthday" banners. However, the print quality of inkjet will hardly do justice to your usual high standard of draghtsmanship.))

Mike Barno, USA :

((In response to "TSR-BOURBON: Mike, I don't really see a need to have these discussions in public, and am disappointed that you insisted on doing so, but, given that this is your choice..."))

No, actually do NOT prefer this, and only made any mention of it in press at all because I was spazzed by a problem with somebody else in an unrelated gaming forum. And I only mentioned a game-strategy reason for declining an offer, without mentioning the disagreement that temporarily arose between us as a result of that other problem.

The other deal was in a fantasy-football league, no big deal to me (one of a dozen different postal/e-mail games I play) but an obsession for some of its other players. I had encouraged others to jack up the price in any trade with the league's leader, since he was trying to make a deal. When injuries made me need a trade, and other medium and weak teams couldn't help me, I traded Steve McNair to the leader for Emmitt Smith. One of the other players completely went off, sending mass e-mails around the league denouncing me and my ethics. Another said I "must be sleeping with" the leader. All because Smith is probably closer to the end of his career than McNair; never mind that McNair's stats are much worse under this league's scoring system than Smith's.

So, having been accused of foul gaming for making an even trade with the leader, I was jumpy when this game's leader tried to continue the balanced trading of XRPs that we'd been doing since the races began. For the final round I was offered a deal that went to great lengths to be "equal", to the point that we both would be doing longer runs that might allow a third entrant to beat us both. I counter-offered a simpler deal that would run us both on a shorter route, more likely to earn race winnings. The leader declined because, although it would help TSR (leading with the final races to go), it would be likely to help me (in last place at that point) more. So, unable to win and unable to find a mutually agreeable deal without risking somebody else having a tantrum like the one in the football game, I called off that XRP discussion and accepted fifth place. I was edgy enough over the football problem, fresh in my mind at that time, that I probably came across more upset than I was in the last messages with Andrew. The press indicates they came across that way.

I do NOT now have any problem with the sportsmanship of Andrew or anyone else in this game, and I hope on the whole everybody had fun. I thank Peter for running the game, and I'll play again sometime, but probably not the next one.

((See below for my comments on the XRPs in this game.))

So long, and thanks for all the fish...

RR Number : RR 1702 TK Round 0 : OG 38 Date : June 1999
Game name : "John C. Breckinridge" Round 1 : OG 40 Date : August 1999
Game : Railway Rivals Map TK Round 12 : OG 52 Date : November 2000
g.m. : Peter Sullivan Game-end : OG 53 Date : December 2000
BOURBON (Barno's Old Unreliable Railway Bordering On Nothing), violet :
Mike Barno, USA.
BLUES (Blue Locomotives Using Electric Steam), blue :
Berry Renken, The Netherlands (to Round 6), Eric Brosius, USA (from Round 7).
REDNECK (Rebel Engines Departing Now, Eventually Conquering Kentucky), red :
Neil Hopkins, UK.
CUDZU (Countryside Under Developmental Zoning Unctions), green :
Richard Weiss, USA.
TSR (Tennessee Sleepy Railways), orange :
Andrew Glynn, UK.
  Start 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
BOURBON Nashville 20 20 32 40 37 41 47 58 82 108 159 209 232
BLUES Knoxville 20 26 32 32 29 33 44 63 111 148 177 228 285
REDNECK Hopkinsville 20 44 51 51 59 51 53 77 107 141 174 202 253
CUDZU Morristown 20 26 38 38 58 78 80 141 161 185 222 235 258
TSR Rockwood 20 26 25 37 37 37 34 70 106 160 210 267 303

GENEVA (Peter Sullivan) :

American state maps for Railway Rivals often date from the mini-RR boom in the late 1980s when Games Workshop sold it as a boxed product in the USA. I believe the original version of this map dates from then, although it appears to have been subsequently revised to use dice rolls (36) rather than playing cards (52) for the towns. Like most state maps, it is fairly easy to run - not too many hills (taken to its logical extreme on Iowa), and no foreign borders to worry about.

One exceptional feature of this game was the extensive use of XRPs (Exchange of Running Powers), almost entirely instigated by Andrew. XRPs are usually a fairly small part of the postal game, usually involving two players in the same run, where they realise that by XRPing they might get both first and second place for a partnership total of 30 points, whereas a joint run can't garner them more than 20. My impression as an observer was that most of the XRPs were pretty much even - some favoured Andrew, some his counterparty - but that all of them were better than doing nothing. As such, it is wholly appropriate that Andrew should win, based both on spotting the XRP possibilities and doing the legwork in negotiating to set them up. My only surprise was that the other players didn't start to use XRP tactics against Andrew at any stage.

There was a mix-up on the final race which wasn't detected until the runs had been published. The way I normally generate races is to do them all before the game-start, according to the criteria in the house rules. This includes keeping the sectoring correct, making sure each town occurs once in rounds 7-9 and once in rounds 10-12, once as a start and once as a destination. I also at that stage check that all races have a minimum race length of 6. Note that, as I do this before any track has been built, I am working purely on theoretical race length - I don't care if the track is ever likely to get built. Obviously, in this case, I messed up. All I can assume is that I mis-read the state names, and checked Virginia - Ashland, but missed West Virginia - Ashland. To resolve the issue, I fixed the runs. I was not prepared to just void the race, as per the face-to-face rules, as the whole point of my pre-game checks is to ensure that we get 42 runnable races. My room for manoeuvre was limited by the fact that we were in Round 12, so any fixes have to be within that round. So, I decided to swap the destinations around to create legal races.

The start options for 5 players on this map are "Start any town," which I dutifully did. This ended up with a crush in the south-east corner with three players starting there (Rockwood, Knoxville and Morristown). My initial thoughts were that this was unbalanced and over-crowded, but given the rubric I felt unable to intervene. In the event, these three players finished first, second and third. Railway Rivals may be a harsh mistress, but she also has a wicked sense of humour...

And, for the moment, that's all they wrote. There are no new waiting lists at this time. My work situation at the moment continues to be hectic. I hope that things will calm down a bit in the spring or summer of next year, in which case watch this space then for further announcements.


Search this site powered by FreeFind