by Richard Hucknall
With Filibuster having folded recently, and with John Marsden unlikely to be doing anything about re-housing this particular game as he knows what has been going on, I suppose it’s time that the hobby learned just what this infamous game was all about. I was one of the people instrumental in setting up the game so I suppose I should put the record straight.
For those readers who have never heard of this particular game, I should explain that it featured seven rather ‘strange’ individuals, some of which wrote even stranger letters to Filibuster’s editor Adrien Baird. The game itself also had some odd moves,plus an attempted convoy from Smy to StP via fleets of almost every player. It fizzled out with virtually every country in anarchy.
The story behind the game began at one of the Red Lion Hobbymeets that used to be hold in Nottingham every month. Clive Booth suggested that we set up a hoax game with seven players playing under false names and using accommodation addresses, and have some fun at the expense of an established editor. We decided that it wouldn’t be fair to involve a new editor, or to involve anyone who believed they were playing in a genuine game. Adrien Baird and Filibuster were selected, mainly so that Clive could invent a character with which to perplex Adrian. My task was to ensure that Adrian accepted the CGS game that I offered him. Having learned to lie convincingly over the phone (a spin-off of playing Diplomacy for eight years) I succeeded in selling the game to Adrian and so the stage was set.
Five other conspirators were roped in; Tom Tweedy, John Lee,Dave Pollard and two more that I cannot recall, and Clive set the ball rolling with issue 1 of a mini-zine entitled Ooh you are awful. The idea was that one player would decide on the moves for each of the players, and send a copy to each player so that he could write out his orders and send them on to Adrien. Several ideas were mooted; the convoy from Smy to StP being one,Russia growing rapidly to 17 centres and then being knocked down to 1 centre,everyone handing over their units to a certain player during one season,everyone NMRing at the same time, and so on. The following season another player would decide on the moves,and the rota would continue as long as the game continued.
Initially the hoax began well, but unfortunately it started to fall apart after a few seasons and it soon became apparent that something strange was happening. The first problem was that not enough thought was put into the moves,and often units were misordered or left unordered. There was no overall policy and the game took on the appearance of a horse designed by a committee. The final failure was the Smy to StP convoy that failed due to an NMR.
The second problem was that Clive Booth really did overplay his character. OK, so Clive wanted some fun at Adrien’s expense,but to invent a six and a half foot semi-literate West Indian from Ilkeston who was in trouble with the police and asked questions so silly that novices don’t normally ask them, did tend to give the game away. To give him the name of Rufus Kinton didn’t help either. Perhaps the funniest moment was when Rufus intimated that he and his friends’ steel band might descend on Adrien and Co. during a houseboat con in Ashby. Overall Rufus was just too ridiculous to believe in.
Eventually Adrien smelled a rat,so naturally he phoned me and I pleaded ignorance and that if the game was a hoax then, some genuine players were being hoodwinked as this game included my brother-in-law. (I didn’t tell him that my brother-in-law was my alias, and that the address was my accommodation address.) It seemed that my ability to tell lies was still pretty good as I’m confident I convinced Adrien that I too had been fooled if the game was a hoax.
It was shortly after that that the convoy failed and then the game began to fall apart quite rapidly. Most players lost interest (myself included) and the majority of the countries went into anarchy.
As a hoax, the idea was excellent. Unfortunately, not enough thought or effort went into the scheme, which was disappointing. I hope Adrien will not be offended at what has happened – if he had turned the game down originally I could be apologising to Pete Birks now. I doubt if this kind of hoax will ever be repeated – it’s so difficult to set up,and just as difficult to maintain. Once again – sorry, Adrien.
Reprinted from Fall of Eagles 67 (Feb 82)