Payola (rm86)

by Manus Hand and John Woolley

1. Introduction

1.1 Scope

Payola Diplomacy is played on a normal Diplomacy board, using the standard Diplomacy rules except as amended herein.

The Payola concept is also easily applied to other games; application of Payola to other Diplomacy variants is discussed in Section 6 of these rules.

1.2 Deviations

The modifications that are made to the standard game are summarized below:

  1. The play of the game cannot be accomplished without a GameMaster.
  2. Each player has a bank account, the balance of which is maintained and adjusted by the GameMaster. Rules regarding these accounts are contained in Section 2 of these rules.
  3. Rather than giving orders for each of their units, the players use the monies in their accounts at each turn to offer bribes to the various units on the board. These bribes will be used to determine the order that shall be issued by each unit — each unit will always issue the order for which it was offered the most money, regardless of the origin of the bribe(s) for this order. Rules regarding bribes are given in Section 3 of these rules.
  4. To assist in determining the order that will be issued to a player’s unit in case of a high-bid tie, each player also maintains an “acceptance list.” Rules regarding acceptance lists are given in Section 4 of these rules.
  5. The GameMaster will issue all movement phase orders (for all units) after determining these orders (from the bribes offered by all players). Rules governing these determinations are contained in Section 5 of these rules. Note, however, that each player shall have complete and solitary control of his units and their orders during retreat and adjustment phases.

2. Accounts

2.1 Income

Before every Spring movement phase, each power on the board receives — added to its bank account — a number of “silver pieces” (abbreviated AgP). This income is termed “taxes” received from each owned supply center, and the total amount of this income is therefore based on the number of supply centers controlled by the power. On the principle that beaurocratic overhead costs rise as government expands, the total net tax income is a simple decreasing sequence: the first supply center owned by a power will generate an income of 17 silver pieces, the second will add 16 silver pieces, the third will add 15, the fourth 14, etc., etc. The table below shows the annual tax revenue received by powers of each size:

Supply Center Count123456789
Annual Tax Income17334862758798108117
Supply Center Count1011121314151617 
Annual Tax Income125132138143147150152153

Thus, at the beginning of the game, every power starts off with a bank balance of 48 silver pieces, except Russia, which starts with 62. This money is disbursed to the players by the GameMaster.

2.2 Expenditures

Before each movement phase, each power may offer money in the form of bribes to any or all of the units on the board. The GameMaster determines (from all offers made to each unit, and using the methods specified in these rules) what order each unit will issue, and the GameMaster is then responsible for issuing all these orders. All powers who offered money for any order that is issued will have the offered amount subtracted from their account at that time. 

2.3 Transfers

Players may transfer any amount of money from their account into the account of any other player, including that of any eliminated player, by requesting of the GameMaster that such a transfer be made. 

2.4 Elimination

Eliminated players (that is, players owning no supply centers) may continue to use any money remaining in their account to influence the remainder of the game, but if an eliminated player resigns his position, any money remaining in his treasury is forefeited. 

2.5 Administration

The GameMaster shall be responsible for accurately maintaining the balance of each power’s account, making it available to its owning player on request, and reporting it to that player every time it changes.

No information concerning account balance or account activity shall be revealed by the GameMaster to any player other than the owner of the account.

3. Offers

3.1 Offer Sheets

During a movement phase, rather than submitting the order to be issued for each of their own units, each player submits a single “offer sheet.” An “offer sheet” contains a series of bribe offers, each of which is made to a specific single unit and given on a separate line of text. An offer consists, in order, of:

  1. Optionally, a repetition count. This is a positive number — followed by an asterisk (*) — that indicates how many times in succession the offer will be repeated. Repetition is a convenient shorthand to assist a player in scaled offer reduction.
  2. A bribe amount. This is any non-negative number (including zero), of whole silver pieces. Note, however, that if the bribe is being offered to a unit that is not owned by the offering player, the bribe amount must be positive (in other words, zero silver piece offers to foreign units are disallowed).
  3. Optionally, a plateau amount to be used for this bribe. As discussed in Rule 5.5, offers made by the players may need to be reduced automatically to avoid overexpenditure. However, a bribe may be set to reduce no lower than a specific plateau amount, and then to remain a that amount as long as possible (decreasing again, eventually to zero if need be, only when all bribes have reached their plateau and overexpenditure still exists). This is done by giving a pound sign (#) followed by the plateau amount. If no pound sign is given in a bribe, the plateau amount to which it will reduce is zero. If a pound sign is given with no amount following it, the plateau amount is the same as the bribe amount (no reductions until all bids reach their plateau).
  4. A single character indicating the type of the offer. The six valid offer types (each is described in full in Rule 3.2) are designated using the colon (:), ampersand (&), at-sign (@), exclamation point (!), greater-than (>), and dollar-sign ($) characters. If the character is a dollar-sign, the offer ends at this point; otherwise, it continues.
  5. The unit — any unit, of any nationality, anywhere on the board — to which the bribe is being offered.
  6. A valid, legal order that could be issued to that unit.
  7. Optionally, a vertical bar (|) character, followed by another order (only the order part, not a repetition of the unit description) that could be issued to that unit. There is no limit to the number of orders that may thus be listed in a single offer but no two of these orders may be identical.
3.2 Offer Types

Based on the character appearing after the bribe amount in an offer (see Rule 3.1, item 4), the offer is one of the six “offer types.” These types are described below.Direct Bribedirect bribe offer is recognized by the appearance of a colon character after the bribe amount in an offer. A direct bribe offer is a promise to pay the bribe amount if (and only if) the unit in the offer issues the order (or any one of the orders, if a vertical bar appears in the offer) that is mentioned in the offer.Negative Bribenegative bribe offer is recognized by the appearance of an exclamation point character after the bribe amount in an offer. A negative bribe offer is converted by the GameMaster into a zero silver piece direct bribe offer for the unit for HOLD. Additionally, the negative bribe offer constitutes a promise to pay the indicated bribe amount if the unit issues any order that is not the order (or, if vertical bars are used, any order that is not any of the orders) mentioned in the offer.Move Bribemove bribe offer is recognized by the appearance of a greater-than character after the bribe amount in an offer. A move bribe offer is converted into a direct bribe offer for the unit to perform the order (or orders) given in the move bribe offer. Additionally, the move bribe offer constitutes a promise to pay the indicated bribe amount if the unit issues any move order (that is, any order that is not a HOLD, SUPPORT, or CONVOY) that is not mentioned in the offer.Hold Bribehold bribe offer is recognized by the appearance of an at-sign character after the bribe amount in an offer. A hold bribe offer is converted into a direct bribe offer for the unit to perform the order (or orders) given in the hold bribe offer. Additionally, the hold bribe offer constitutes a promise to pay the indicated bribe amount if the unit issues any non-move order (that is, any HOLD, SUPPORT, or CONVOY order) that is not mentioned in the offer.Gift Bribegift bribe offer is recognized by the appearance of an ampersand after the bribe amount in an offer. A gift bribe offer is converted into a direct bribe offer to perform the order (or orders) given in the gift bribe offer. Additionally, the gift bribe offer constitutes a promise to pay the indicated bribe amount if the unit issues any order (any order at all) not mentioned in the offer.Savings Requestsavings request is not a bribe, but it appears in the player’s offer list. It is recognized by the appearance of a dollar-sign after the monetary amount in an offer. The function of a savings request (which contains nothing more than the amount and the dollar-sign character) is to cause the given number of silver pieces in the player’s treasury to be “held back” in savings, and not to be made available for use in any bribes. Basically, the sum total of all savings requests in a player’s offer sheet will be the guaranteed minimum balance in the player’s treasury after all bribes have been paid. 

3.3 Multiple Offers and Orders

A player may make any number of different offers to each unit in an offer sheet.

Using the vertical bar to separate them, any number of orders to the same unit may be given in a single offer. In all but negative bribe offers, such multiple orders are virtually equivalent to each order after the first appearing by itself, in sequence, as a separate direct bribe offer. In the case of negative bribe offers, multiple orders separated by vertical bars impose further restrictions on the promise to pay — to wit, if any of the listed orders is issued, the bribe will not be paid.

3.4 Offers Required

Each non-eliminated player must submit an offer sheet containing at least one offer before the GameMaster will determine and process orders.

If, for any specific movement phase, a player does not issue any offer to one of his own units, a zero silver piece direct bribe offer from that player for the unit to HOLD is entered for that player by the GameMaster before processing offers.

3.5 Publication

At the conclusion of the game, the GameMaster shall make available to all players every offer made by all players at every turn. Until that time, the GameMaster shall not reveal any data concerning any player’s offers to any other player. 

4. Acceptance Lists

4.1 Acceptability of Different Currency

In addition to “offer sheets,” the GameMaster will also maintain a separate “acceptance list” for each player. An acceptance list is simply an ordered list of every power in the game (including the power submitting the list, and including any eliminated powers).

If ever a player’s unit would receive the same amount of money for issuing any one of two or more different orders, and no other order would pay as much, the player’s acceptance list is consulted to decide which order the unit will issue. The use of acceptance lists to make this determination is described in full in Section 5 of these rules.

A power specifies its acceptance list to the GameMaster on a single line of text containing the word “ACCEPT” followed by the single-character abbreviations, in any order of the player’s choosing, for each of every power in the game (including any eliminated powers).

The first power listed in an acceptance list is the power which — in the eyes of all units owned by the power submitting the list — is considered to offer the most preferred currency. Subsequent powers in the acceptance list are considered to offer less and less preferred currency, descending in preference until the final power listed (which is deemed to hold the currency least preferred by the units that are owned by the list submitter).

4.2 Acceptance Lists Required

An acceptance list must be submitted to the GameMaster before the first movement phase of the game is processed, and it can then be updated at any time.

A power’s acceptance list remains unchanged and “in force” for all movement phases after its submission to the GameMaster, until such time as the player submits another acceptance list, which shall then completely replace the earlier list.

The acceptance lists for eliminated powers are ignored and unused.

 5. Orders

5.1 Determination by Total Bribes

When all offer sheets have been submitted, all non-direct bribe offers are converted by the GameMaster to direct bribe offers as described in Rule 3.2. The direct bribe offers then are used to form the complete list of the different orders from which each unit can choose. All money offered by all players for each of these separate orders — including any money offered in negative bribe offers for which the order meets the stated requirements — is then totalled, giving the total bribe for each order. If, of the potential orders for a given unit, the total bribe for one of these is higher than the total bribe for any and every single one of the others, this is the order that the unit will issue.

5.2 Determination by Acceptance Rank

If no single order has a higher total bribe amount than do any of the other potential orders for that unit, the decision as to which of those orders involved in the tie will be issued for the unit is made using the acceptance list of the power that owns the unit in question. The bribe offered by the power that, among all those powers to have submitted offers for the competing orders, is listed earliest in this acceptance list, will be accepted; that is, the order for which that power offered a bribe will be issued. 

5.3 Determination by Sequence

If the earliest power (in acceptance list order) that offered a bribe to a unit in competing orders has offered a bribe for two or more of these competing offers, the order that will be issued is the order that, among these, appeared earliest in this power’s offer sheet (note that each negative bribe offer is considered to appear immediately below the direct bribe offer to HOLD that is “built” from this offer, as described in Rule 3.2). 

5.4 Determination by Further Acceptance Rank

If two or more competing orders have (as the earliest listed offer submitted by the power described in Rule 5.3) the samenegative bribe offer, then the next power down the unit’s acceptance list that offered to contribute to any of the orders under consideration is consulted. Using this other power, Rules 5.2 and 5.3 are applied again (as would be this current rule if necessary; that is, if the situation described herein is true for the newly considered power as well, a power even further down the acceptance list must be consulted). This procedure does guarantee that a unique order will be chosen. 

5.5 Overexpenditures

The amount a player can offer is not limited by his account balance. However, player expenditures are. Once the order for every unit is determined (using the process described in Rules 5.1 through 5.4), the total expenditure for each player is calculated. If any player would pay more money than he currently has available in his account (honoring any savings request he has made), every single one of the offers made by each such “would-be-overdrawn” player is reduced by a single silver piece. (However, note that bribes with specified plateau amounts are not reduced beyond that amount unless it is the case that every bribe has already reached its plateau and overexpenditure still exists.) After these reductions, all the units that were subjects of these offers “re-decide” all over again which order each will issue. If the same situation occurs again, this procedure is repeated (subtracting yet another silver piece from the offers of such player or players), until no player would end up with a negative balance.

Note that although all of a player’s bribe offers are subject to reduction when the player is in this situation, any savings requests that were listed in the player’s offer sheet are not reduced.

5.6 Balance Adjustments

When orders are determined, all money offered for each order being issued is subtracted from the accounts of those players who offered money for that order. Money offered for orders that are not issued stays in the players’ bank accounts. 

5.7 Information Revealed

When orders are issued, the GameMaster shall report the following information to each player:

  1. the order to be issued by each of the player’s own units,
  2. the amount of the total bribe (nothing, however, about the origin or origins of the funds) that was accepted by each of the player’s own units,
  3. a list of the orders for which the player had an accepted bribe (including the amount of each such bribe),
  4. the total amount of money expended by the player, and finally,
  5. the new balance in the player’s account.

6.  Application to Map Variants

The Payola system is easily applied to map variants such as Loeb-9, Youngstown, Colonial, etc., etc. The only necessary modification to the rules is that the amount of tax income per supply center is adjusted so that the amount gained from the first center is one silver piece fewer than the number of supply centers that is the variant’s victory criteria, and subsequent centers then follow the same “one silver piece less tax” pattern.