Pyrrhic Victory (Review)

Edited by Mike Allaway

by Stephen Agar

For fun I had a scan through my old copies of Pigmy for a review of Pyrrhic Victory.  All I could find was a mention back in May 1978 around the time when PV was launched, which noted that PV had come in for a lot of unnecessary flak and that Mike had difficulty getting players to commit themselves to playing Diplomacy.  Plus ├ža change. 

Despite a five year break, Mike is now up to issue 92 and shows no sign of fatigue.  Irrespective of this record of long service PV suffered from a very low showing in this year’s zine poll, which I feel just goes to show how unjust the whole exercise is.  PV came 32nd out of 34 zines.  I cannot comment on whether or not the 31 zines above PV in the zine poll are better or not, but I do believe that PV should not be judged on this basis in isolation as PV accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish and therefore on its own terms is a success.  Why we bother to extrapolate the zine poll results to all the qualifying zines is a mystery to me – I would have thought that a top ten or so would be sufficient.  Some of the zines that do quite well receive so few actual votes that I think that it all looks a bit suspicious and/or odd.  However, I digress. 

Pyrrhic Victory has the atmosphere of a laid-back Friday night in your local with the lads, a small and friendly group of people talking about sport, drinking, politics and life in general.  OK, Mike is not your young super-enthusiastic, “I’ll get this in the post by 10.45am on the saturday morning after the deadline or commit suicide” type.  He would be the first to admit that he is a bit relaxed about PV.  A one week turnaround may not be unusual – but if you are a relaxed player, into rugby, cricket, alcohol and sounding off against the government then that may not matter to you. 

The zine is A4, stapled top right hand corner.  There is a different cover for each issue and the format of the zine is usually a page or two of chat, a couple of pages of letters and five or six pages of games (all Diplomacy or Diplomacy related).  I particularly like the way that Mike interposes a letter from one subscriber with his own comments and any other relevant comments from other subscribers so that the letters column is not so much a series of letters and Mike’s replies, but more like a conversation between several people.  I am not a sporty person (a more unfit example of the male of the species for my age may be hard to find), so I cannot say that much of the chat interests me when it dwells on sport – but it may interest you. 

If PV sounds attractive to you then drop Mike a line, enclose a stamp and ask for a sample copy.  It may be your cup of tea (or pint of bitter). 

Reprinted from Spring Offensive 1