Duncan Richer

Imperial Nomic


The Infrequent Ackan

 1 (28/11/1997)

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 3 (10/12/1997)

 4a (18/12/1997)

 5 (6/1/1998)

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 7 (17/1/1998)

 8 (31/1/1998)

 9 (7/2/1998)

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 11 (21/2/1998)

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 15 (20/3/1998)

 16 (28/3/1998)

 17 (4/4/1998)

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19 (18/4/1998)

20 (25/4/1998)

21 (2/5/1998)



Volume 1, Issue 22

May 13, 1998

This issue's slogan:
"Yes, it's late. I told you it was Infrequent."

In this issue:

  1. Editorial
  2. Our First Letters Column
  3. Apologies and Retractions.
  4. Poll Question #7 Results
  5. More Ackanomic News
  6. The Way We Were
  7. Party Chess Report
  8. Sub-Game Summary
  9. Advertisement



Where's the Rant?

Normally here I can find something decent to rant about, some controversial topic. About the only thing I can find is Party Chess, something which no doubt is not of interest to every player. Still, given the relative consensus that has emerged recently, it is the best I can do.

The last week has seen some momentous happenings in the game of Party Chess (for more information, see the Party Chess column later in this issue). However, it has also seen intense debate over the future of Party Chess.

Recent amendments have seen an emphasis placed on Checkmate, in such a way that the value of Paratroop Otzma Cards has significantly increased. The relatively low value of Tactical Retreat cards, meanwhile, is unchanged. Perhaps a compensatory balance needs to be struck, with an increase in the power of the Tactical Retreat?

At the same time, the relative values of pieces are under question. The Swingers appear reasonably split between Tornado-haters and Tornado-keepers (who are generally the owners surprise surprise), and are also disagreeing about the need for pieces such as the Loyalist, the Demon and the Jester. However, not much mention has yet been made of the Kamikaze, the piece whose devastating radius of attack was directly responsible for the sudden end to the first game of Party Chess (see report).

As it stands, Party Chess is an extremely interesting game. The recent destabilisation of the rules will no doubt lead to a new equilibrium being reached some time in the near future. We can only hope that that new stable point (or even strange attractor) is still an interesting game.


Our First Letters Column

Dear Ackan,

I read with interest your article on "the scam" a few issues ago and feel moved to offer my own opinions on the matter. One issue which I feel has been neglected is a definition of "the scam". What is it? What isn't a scam? These are not easy questions to answer but I shall do my best to answer them.

A scam is an attempt to use 1 or more rules in a manner they were not intended to be used to gain a personal advantage.

Examples of a scam would therefore Wayne's attempt to raise his score to the magic number using permissibility of the unprohibited, or the attempt by the church of banna to gain thousands of A$ using iconoclasm and the Crazy French Scotsman rule. What then does not constitute a scam? Other than the obvious this question can best be answered through examples. Paradox wins are not scams; they use the rules as they were designed to be used (the only possible exception to this was when /dev/joe repeated one of Malenkai's paradoxes (cycle 4)). I would also argue that Malenkai's Frankenstein Monster win was not a scam The rules were clear that a win could be gained in that manner and it was equally clear that there was no suitable sentence in the rules. Creating such a sentence is, as I look at it, no more of a scam than winning a cycle through anti voting (e.g. cycle 2). I would also argue, although this is not as cut and dried, that the original Act of Justice was not necessarily a scam since Malenkai did not do it for personal gain, rather for the well-being of Ackanomic. How many cycles of Ackanomic have therefore been won by scams? The answer is, by my definition, just two. Cycles 12 and 16 were both scams. And that's out of 18 cycles. Only 11%. Is it really necessary therefore to make scamming more difficult? True, other scams have succeeded (Malenkai's Pulse laser/military laser/thargoids one for example) but these have been limited in scope. This small amount of scamming seems appropriate to me and so I see no reason for the repealing of harfy rules such as the Frankenstein monster to reduce successful scams from their already low levels.


[Signature looking squiggle]

(The Gingham Wearer).


The Ackan Responds:

Dear Gingham Wearer,

A scam on its own may well be fun and harfy. However, there are many players who put a lot of effort into winning in non-scam ways. To have their efforts wiped out by simple scams is no doubt disappointing. While the Frankenstein Monster rules may be worth keeping, we should not simply allow scams because they have not been successful in the past. The ethos behind scamming is to take advantage of quirks in the rules that others have overlooked or been unable to take advantage of. When the scam is in plain daylight, its fun diminishes rapidly.


The Editor (and the sub-editors too, oh yes.)

Letters to the Ackan are always welcome. We will publish contributors within reason, because our aim is to provide Ackans with a comprehensive news and opinions service. This includes opinions contradicting the paper, so feel free to criticise editorial comments.

If you want your opinions heard, or letters published, please send them to dcr24@cam.ac.uk.

Send a stamped self-addressed email to the address listed above, marked "Acka: Ackan" and we'll do our best to get back to you.

Have another good Ackan week - banna willing we'll be back next week.

Editor, The Infrequent Ackan 


Apologies and Retractions

The Ackan yet again has nothing to apologise for this week. This makes an unbelievable two issues in a row without a single retraction. While this personal best has many sub-editors at the Ackan celebrating, it is hoped they do not over-indulge too much.

If you think you have found an error in the Ackan, point it out! My shotgun is getting a littl erusty, and the sub-editors are starting to become a little complacent.

The Ackan heartily apologises for any damage or difficulties caused by the omission of such errors and/or omissions.


Poll Question Results

Question Number 7 was issued last week, asking you who you would want to be the next President of Ackanomia. The mid-term opinion poll produced a surprising result, as follows:

There was no clear mandate for the next President! Two votes were received in support of /dev/joe, but there were also two votes in support of Phoebe. Attempts have been made in the past to encourage the wise Steel Flea to run for President. No doubt eir wisdom would stand Acka in good stead for eight weeks. However, such attempts were, unfortunately, unsuccessful. Maybe this time, with significant popular support, Phoebe will relent and provide the Ackan population with a real alternative for President.

Other candidates who received direct support were Malenkai, The Gingham Wearer and JT. The question of who will run in the next Presidential election is eagerly anticipated. With Acka's first past the post voting system, the choice of candidature can have a serious impact on the final result. The risk of vote splitting is high, and some strategic voting may be required if a truly majority choice is to be achieved.

Fortunately, last time the result was not simply due to a quirk in the system, but was a true reflection of majority opinions.

The randomly determined Trinket for the week goes to Hubert! No transactions take place within this paper - the actual details will be organised separately.

Remember, your opinion does matter to us here at the Ackan (but we of course reserve the right to ignore opinions which are obviously based on malice and/or sheer stupidity :-)) Hopefully next issue we'll be back with another question designed to spark some Ackan controversy.

It costs very little of your time to enter, and there's always the chance of that Trinket, so please respond to the Great Infrequent Ackan Poll Competition!



More Ackanomic News

Stripey Stuff

The debacle of a ceremony involving Slakko has spread since the last issue. Alfvaen once again intervened to perform a Stripe Ceremony, but this time erroneously claimed that everyone was there watching. However, it later transpired that no-one else, not even The Gingham Wearer, the recipient of a Silver Stripe for reaching BCR 30, was present. Alfvaen then attempted to hawk videos of the "ceremony" to the general public.

A number of gullible people were interested in these, however, most upstanding Ackan citizens were too wary to have a part of such chicanery. Holograms or not, I never saw the ceremony, and I still wonder how The Gingham Wearer got hold of the Silver Stripe when e wasn't present at his own ceremony.

Also this week, Alfvaen himself received a Silver Stripe for reaching 120. Only Malenkai has reached such heady heights before, but it will take a long, long while before Alfvaen can compete with Malenkai on equal proposing terms. Still, given Alfvaen's unprecedented personal streak of over 25 consecutive accepted proposals, e is getting there as fast as e can.

Is E Real, or Just a Figment?

Ackans have become increasingly concerned this week at visitations of the Elder Malenkai, now claiming to be known as saaremaa. While e appears very real, there is legal doubt as to eir existence. While some attempts have been made at fixing the situation, it still has yet to be determined whether Malenkai successfully re-registered as a player, after all. It could well be that Acka is suffering from an attack of mass hallucination - which is suprisingly common for such a well-balanced community.

Auction Market Round-Up

Some interesting auctions have happened (and not happened) this week. It was revealed that the supposed auction for the Ackan Reserve Financial seat was never held, due to a flaw in the articles of establishment of that seat. While JT bid A$80, fortunately e did not lose any cash, merely looking a little foolish for eir bid on some empty air.

In other auctions, a Pulse Laser was bought by its creator at a knockdown price of A$100, and an EBS was obtained by Koxvolio for A$110, cheap at twice the price. Rumours are starting of an Otzma Card auction series coming, but as yet these have not been confirmed.


Map Movements

Vulcan Headquarters underwent a quantum reaction during the past week, spontaneously moving itself one kaa East. When asked about the origins of this reaction, resident know-it-all Professor A.L. Extreb simply replied that the Headquarters obviously felt as if it was no longer near the edge of Acka.

"With too much urban development happening lately, the Headquarters were becoming hedged in by player homes and player-owned land. The so-called spontaneous reaction was simply the Rules reasserting their control over the location of the building. It is a perfectly natural phenomenon."

The joining of a new player further exacerbated this situation - welcome to Tom Kitten, who was sworn in as an Acka Citizen last week. We hope your stay in Acka is a long and prosperous one. Warm wishes also go out to UglyBigNose, the previous holder of the "Newest Ackan" award.

Financial Follies

Part of the Financial Reform package has passed, and we should soon be seeing the fruits of this as a new Ackan Reserve Board Member is elected. Due to an unfortunate technical error, the appointment of the third board member will be delayed slightly, but it is hoped that some business can be conducted while only two members are available.

The remainder of the main body of Stock reform is still up for debate. Odds are that this proposal will pass, restricting sales of existing stocks to the Treasury until such time as more stocks enter circulation. Known speculators have been selling their stock in advance of this deadline, seeing a 10% potential loss of investment as worthwhile insurance against being unable to retrieve their investment at a later date.

The stock market continues to trend upwards, helped by an unbelievably long Chrome Streak which ended only very recently. This has led to calls for an increase in the N value, the amount by which the positivity index falls for each NO vote on a rejected proposal. However, when 16 proposals in a row get accepted, it is unlikely that we can expect the stock market to fall, or even stay relatively steady.

The Infrequent Ackan Stock Indicator Tip for the week is: New investors BUY BUY BUY. Current proposal acceptance rates are close to a record, suggesting that the N value is almost irrelevant in determining the long-term trend of the market. Long term gains are still there to be made.



The Way We Were

This time last year in Acka, discussions centred around the number of supposedly vacant Functional Offices (also referred to at the time as Overseers). With Alfvaen still an exuberant newbie, there was some additional pressure to get these offices filled, and quick! However, the status of all players was thrown into doubt by a Quorum Crisis of severe proportions.

A potential scam was possible, but its discussion was not really started until it was almost too late to carry out anyway.


This was a time before Puppet Heads (an invention of Alfvaen designed to produce a more survivable crisis, no doubt). The penalty at that time for abstaining on a quorum-shy proposal was to be put on vacation for a 2 day minimum period. A series of failures led to a cascading reduction in voters, to the point where only /dev/joe was able to cast a valid vote. (E could therefore have tried to become dictator if e had been quick). Fortunately, the short time period of the vacations meant that no harm was done, apart from the failure of a few additional proposals. What a week it was, one year ago!





Party Chess Report

This week the unbelievable has happened. After a period of well over one and a half years, someone has finally won a Game of Party Chess! Slakko became the winner on Monday with a surprising double Checkmate Paratroop play. The powerful nature of the kamikaZe piece in Paratroop situations was previously a matter of conjecture - but this instance showed that there was probably something wrong in the way the rules have been working together.

The week leading up to the final Checkmate was one of, if not the most, tumultuous that the game had seen. It started off in the tail-end of the debate over the validity of dropping in a piece to interpose in a Check. The anti-Placement players won the day, with The Gingham Wearer's proposal being adopted.

However, this proposal had more than just that one effect. It also introduced the concept of Checkmate as distinct from Check, thereby enabling the game to be further speeded up through instantaneous surrenders (but only, of course, when no other move was capable of removing a player from Check). Another restriction on Checked players was also imposed - Checkmate was based on whether there was a single Atomic Play, not just any Play, which could remove the King from check.

As it turned out, the two of these changes were crucial in the week's moves. Since Stabber's Knives had been introduced last year, only 4 had been awarded, during a total of 3 Surrenders. However, the new amendments made obtaining Checkmates a significantly easier process.

Hubert and The Gingham Wearer were the first players to take advantage of this opportunity, using it to Checkmate /dev/joe. This gave The Gingham Wearer the opportunity to grab the Game, with one further Checkmate.

J. M. Bear then provided some excitement with a very fast Checkmate of Attila the Pun. At this stage, 7 Knives were in play, between 8 Swingers. The game could be won as soon as the 9th Knife was in existence.

Koxvolio joined the fray with eir first Knife early on Monday the 11th. This was the first use of a Paratroop card to effect a Checkmate, and required the play's results to be made public very quickly, in order to prevent a Go Fish. The immediate nature of Checkmates made Paratroop Cards that much more valuable, as this forced Surrender showed.


Finally, on Monday evening, Slakko used eir own Paratroop Card in a similar play. This time the victims were J. M. Bear and Hubert, as the kamikaZe just had enough space to check them both, while being uncapturable and unblockable. The double forced surrender saw Slakko catch TGW just in time (tying the game at 3 on the 9th Knife), and then take the lead with a fourth Knife to win.

Party Chess is not just about winning, though, it is also about taking part. The long game and its awards of Swingpoints have a significant impact on Acka in general. So the Infrequent Ackan hereby presents nominal non-entity awards to people in the following categories:

The "I'll create my own Party just to be a Swinger award" goes jointly to Slakko, The Gingham Wearer (who both did it) and Koxvolio (who suggested it later).

The "Hi there, nice to meet *OUCH*" award for Most Aggressive Newbie goes to J. M. Bear for eir stabbing of Attila the Pun.

The "I'm supposed to be playing?" award goes to Red Barn the Elder for admitting e did not know how to play the game, despite at one stage being second for most Swingpoints.

The "Heinz 57" award goes to /dev/joe, for needing to purchase new Party Chess Pieces while e had over 10 different types of pieces off-board. /dev/joe also gets the "Bluffer's Choice" award for best unresolved threat, claiming that Slakko should "consider all your pieces mine".

The "Rip van Winkle" award goes to Karma, for being the first player to be removed as a Swinger automatically for making default Pass plays.

The "Greed is Good" award goes to The Gingham Wearer for top weight under the current weighting scheme. Eir record of 133 achieved using double promotion of Demons is unlikely to be bettered for a long time.

Finally, the "Party Chess - we don't need no steenking Party Chess" award goes to the original members of MetaMorph, who failed for a number of months to provide a Swinger.

We hope that you have enjoyed the first game of Party Chess, and look forward to your interest in subsequent games. As always, the Ackan will be there to report on all the moves that exist, and all the internal politics of the Swingers. With 8 players currently attempting to scramble back onto the board, no doubt some diplomacy will be needed.





Sub Game Summary

Every week - every subgame going.

Abstract Crescent

The first game of Abstract Crescent has completed since the last issue. /dev/joe managed to win the game, with a standard play of 1 serendipitously converted into a winning one by H*bert's play of 2.

A big thank you to everyone who played Abstract Crescent. The play test helped to isolate some bugs in the ruleset (at least as far as I was concerned), and these were ironed out for most of the play. I hope that it will become one of Acka's regular game pantheon.


Game 1 still appears to be heading rather more backwards than forwards. Will /dev/joe, else...if and The Gingham Wearer spot the answer? Will they need clues, and if so, how many?

Game 2 of Eleusis has a rather successful Prophet in Ayla. Does she really know the Truth, or have we just seen some good luck so far? Only time will tell, of course, but in Acka the speed of Eleusis play means that rather a lot of time may be required.


Round 5 has confirmed what many people have suspected: the game is very likely to be over within a single cycle of rounds. If JT continues to guess the definition, then we could have a game won by a player who failed to make a single vote.

Meanwhile, the rest of us proles battled to deal with the definition of the word "spital" in Hubert's round. Only one player guessed it correctly, so Hubert was just shy of picking up 2 points to stay competitive with JT. Meanwhile, the other players engaged in a rather large amount of unintentional reciprocal voting, leading to a large number of single point distributions.

Speaking of distributions, the current distribution of the score in Fictionary is somewhat lopsided to say the least. After 5 Rounds, two players are over 10 points, while only two others even have 3 points to their name. A very interesting phenomenon - one wonders whether it is just a statistical artifact.


Two players down, six more victims still to be chosen in the current game of Ghost. Vynd was the first player, unfortunate to be stuck between playing schlock and testing its existence in the Dictionary - a carefully baited trap from which there was no escape.

In the second round, Pandora was very unfortunate to just submit eir turn too late. The poor performance of eir company mail server is no doubt to blame, but the rules of Acka can regrettably offer no compensation at this stage. We hope that future eliminations will not be for such unfortunate reasons.


The Wrangler, K 2, has started what looks like the largest Grab-a-Donkey game on record! With a potential 34 lariateers (although that figure seems certain to drop to 32 or less), there should be a number of fun rounds of rip-roarin' action coming your way real soon.



Pure Skill

The first two games of Pure Skill are well underway, with Game 2 beyond a doubt regarding the end result. Alfvaen has befuddled and flummoxed his way to a commanding lead, with only two small cards left to scrap over and the other players lost for cards. A well deserved win will no doubt be had in short time, but unfortunately for Alfvaen it will come without a Jade Grapefruit in compensation.

Game 1 meanwhile, progresses at a somewhat slower pace (most likely also due to mail server problems). The final result is far from clear, but this one may well provide more interesting fare for the game watcher.

Word Un-Association 

JT's befuddling attempts succeeded in limiting the damage to single points. Unfortunately for JT, practically everyone managed to grab one, when Hubert provided the appropriate definition. A rare instance of the letter of the game managing to avoid getting in the way of the spirit.

An interesting link will now be needed to bring llano back to the realm of hopefully more common words. Stay tuned for more late-breaking Word Un-Association news.


Shock! Horror! Excitement! The current YORL game has acquired another loose end - yes, Attila the Pun has mercilessly worked the Quirpele of Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis into the YORL game, giving all of our spell checkers a headache. This dreadful one-eyed one-horned creature is still after Sam/Romeo, so hopefully we will get to see a bit more of it, even if only its demise, in some future card play.



Duel Summary

The Spades Duel between Hubert and Goldenmean grinds on and on. Still in Round 5, we are again waiting on Goldenmean, who defaulted back on Thursday. Given that it has taken two and a half months to get this far, we could well be seeing the first ever six-month Duel, provided none of its combatants go on Holiday first. 

Also in progress is the first ever YORL Duel, with the proven talents of The Gingham Wearer up against the newbie duellist in Koxvolio. The two-bench no-holds-barred tale should make for an interesting linguistic wrestle.



The Ackan is still looking for more interviews. If you have yet to respond to the Ackan call for interviews, and have held a public office in Acka for at least one month continuously at any stage in Acka's history, then the staff of the Infrequent Ackan would like to hear from you. Just email us at dcr24@cam.ac.uk with the keywords "Acka: Ackan" and say you would like to do an interview. That's all. If you are accepted (which, let's face it, is still pretty likely at this stage) then someone from the Ackan will be around to contact you shortly.








The Infrequent Ackan, first to you with Ackan news.

Copyright © Duncan Richer writing under the pseudonym of "Slakko", 13th May 1998.

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