The King is
Dead, Long Live the King.
by Rod Walker
From Diplomacy World #1
Perfect Peter Sullivan)
Every dog had its day and in the case of La Guerre, it was one of Buddy Tretick's ideas. Like all his stuff, it was at the time a half-baked answer to a non-existent problem, but with a little tinkering, it's not a bad sort of thing.
The idea I'm talking about we will call the Tretick Standby System. May as well give credit... and all that. Anyway, Buddy had this half-cracked notion that the minute a GM asks a stand-by player to send in orders for some guy who might be dropped, he becomes privy to all sorts of secret information and what not. And therefore, he can't stand-by for any other country in that game. Ever. Yeah... well, how much a stand-by might learn of vital importance from this one hopeful stint and trying to become a replacement player is pretty moot. So forget that.
For most of us, a stand-by list consists of any people -- usually not too many -- available for the job, in priority order. But there is another way of running that railroad, and if you have enough people, you can do it. So many people volunteered to do stand-by in the revived Erehwon that, taking them at their word, I have decided to try this method.
Under the Tretick System, there are 7 stand-by players (with more than 7, the extra people are on a priority waiting list). Each stand-by is assigned to a specific country and may replace for that country only. (In my version, these stand-bys are assigned on the basis of preference lists they submit *after* they see who's playing each country.)
This system would tend to be a bit complex, with stand-bys replacing players and substitutes replacing stand-bys, but once you get the hang of it, bookkeeping won't be too much of a problem. However, you will need a lot of people to run it this way. Large-circulation zines can do it, I suspect.
The reason I like the system is the potential it has for improving the game. There is nothing preventing a stand-by from submitting orders and General Orders for his country. He can even write the regular players and negotiate if he wishes, and perhaps even coordinate with the guy he might replace. If the stand-by takes an active interest, there would never be a missed season for his country; he and the regular player *could* play as a team (but they don't have to).
The result could be a vastly improved game, in which more people have a greater interest in what is going on. This will be particularly true of the stand-by players. Each will have a definite concern for his country, instead of being relegated to sitting around waiting for... he's not quite sure what. (I will admit that some stand-by players will lose interest if their countries start going down the tubes, but that happens with regular players too, so why worry about it?)
Of course, each GM will have his own frills to add to the system. I intend to try it out, and hope that some other GMs will too. Naturally, I'd like comments and maybe suggestions for making the machinery creak along more smoothly. Who knows, maybe yet the name of Tretick will be the object in this hobby of something besides (admittedly deserved) excoriation.