Duncan Richer

Imperial Nomic


The Infrequent Ackan

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Volume 1, Issue 19

April 18, 1998

This issue's slogan:
"Fair and Accurate Except When Electioneering"

In this issue:

  1. Editorial
  2. Apologies and Retractions.
  3. Poll Question #6
  4. More Ackanomic News
  5. The Hubert Interview
  6. Party Chess Report
  7. Sub-Game Summary
  8. Advertisement





This week: The Scam, an Ackan Tradition

Ackanomic is a game of Rules, and many would have it that "Rules are made to be broken". Well, in Acka we have ways to deal with those who break the Rules, so that is obviously not the case. Rather, in Acka Rules are made to be bent into torturous streams of twisted yet self-consistent logic. Hence the attraction of the Scam.

Ackanomic has a long history of Scams, arguably dating back to the original and only Act of Justice. Some may dispute this as a scam, but the undeniable fact is that a Rule was used in a method other than its intended way to deny a player an otherwise earned win. Robert Sevin was forced to unretract retracted proposals, simply because e was President.

Since then many scams have arisen, mostly through the roving eye of Malenkai, although many others have also stamped their name on a Scam. Scams bring life to part of Acka. While some deal with proposals and rule changes, and others pore over CFJs, the scammers sit back, reading the ruleset and looking for those unlikely combinations which spell gold.

We may not always like their behaviour, especially when they need to repeatedly try a tactic again to get it to work, but they do an important job. Scammers find the loopholes, and force us to fix them. Each loophole fixed is another potentially repeatable rule flaw eliminated. So each scam that succeeds leads to better law. What better way could there be to improve a law than to find its greatest weakness and push beyond where Hooke's Law will go?

Give the Scammers their fair due, but at the same time do not make it too easy for them. It is a tough job they have chosen by choice - it is not ours to make it easier. Scambait is best removed from the rules once its true nature becomes obvious. That is why I would suggest Beldin's Pants be scrapped or neutered, and possibly the same with the Frankenstein Monster. The Editor hereby rests his case.

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 apologises for not making a mistake worthy of retraction last week. The fact checker, after having been bought back from the Financial Paper run by else...if, obviously did eir job well, and has been promoted to Chief Sub-Editor. How long do you think e will last? :-)

No shootings this week at the Ackan - and all my employees breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Do you want to make a name for yourself on the Infrequent Ackan Wall of Sub-Editor Killers? If so, then find a factual error in this paper and ask us to retract it - that always works for me!

The Ackan heartily apologises for any damage or difficulties caused by these errors and/or omissions.


Poll Question

Question Number 6, coming right up:

6. What do you think of The Infrequent Ackan's new Web multi-column layout (with smaller text for more sensible column sizes)?

(a) - There's a World Wide Web now?
(b) - I'd rather read the paper version.
(c) - It's nothing special.
(d) - Nice effort!

The minimal guaranteed reward remains in place - one lucky reply will be chosen to receive a Trinket of guaranteed minimum value A$5. It's not much, but if it gets a response it's worth every Ackapenny (even though they may be indivisible).

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 :-))

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

Stripe Ceremony Update

In yet another week without a full-time President, the Stripe Ceremony focus was once again firmly on Tamson House. Alfvaen, as ProConsul, continued eir role of handing out medals to those whose Blue Cross Rank has merited it.

The lucky recipient, for the second week running, was Slakko, who fortuitously rose to a Blue Cross Rank of 71, despite having had only two proposals passed since receiving a Gold Stripe (note: figures correct at time of ceremony). He put his good fortune down to "being the right President at the right time. It's always the right time for Slakko - hey, is the campaign still going?"

The Ackan's tip for Future Stripe Recipient to watch is The Gingham Wearer. With a continuing heavy presence in the proposal queue, his recent rise to a Blue Cross Rank of 19 puts him closest to a Blue Cross of the current non-holders. Be ready for a new President (or even an old one) to organise a Blue Cross Ceremony some time in this coming week.

Ackanomic Overwhelmed by New Player Influx

A new contingent of new players entered Ackanomic this week. At a grand citizenship ceremony on the Town Hall steps, each new player was granted A$900 and their own kaa of land. Nameless Ackanomic minions also constructed a formless house for each player, and it is hoped that the form of these houses will soon be described. When the minions were thanked for their efforts in providing the housing, they danced with glee, and were promptly led away by the Caped Crusader. (Minions cannot afford to purchase such fine Garments as Wool Sweaters).

The Infrequent Ackan welcomes Ayla, J. M. Bear and Pandora to Acka, and hopes that their stays will be pleasant, long and full of harf.

Continuing High Prices for Gadgets

The unbelievably high prices being paid for Gadgets in Ackanomic have continued to skyrocket. On the back of last week's record A$341 for a Good Ballot Stuffer, bidding for a Plunky Monkey Wrench and a Pyraic Frobnotzer have been fast and furious. Bids for the Frobnotzer have also exceeded A$300, and it is wondered what kind of ludicrous price will eventually be reached. The last Frobnotzer to be auctioned, by contrast, fetched a price under A$150. Is the influx of new players contributing to this price surge by inflating the economy? Or is it just a regular outburst of Gadget Fever?


Ackan Wilds Shrink

Another effect of this week's crop of new players was the previously unseen phenomenon of Wilds Shrinkage. It had been postulated for some time that, under extreme conditions of urban expansion, the Wilds of Ackanomia would actually shrink to enable the expansion of the Ackan city. However, such shrinkage had not previously been seen.

Ackan researchers were delighted to have their theories confirmed. Some are now working on a theory of River Dynamics, which states that even the Acka River may be diverted from its current course if present trends of urban expansion continue.

In the meantime, the Wilds shrinkage has increased the amount of urban land currently unoccupied and easily available for purchase. Will we see another round of land purchase, as gripped Acka in past weeks? Or will the threat of the loss of more of Acka's endangered Wilds led environmentally-sound Ackans to boycott further land purchase?

Financial Follies

The Activity Index was set for a big gain on Friday, as a dull Thursday activity performance saw the index fall by almost a point. Meanwhile, Positivity has continued its slow but steady growth, continuing to mark the Stock Exchange as the best short-term source of equity gains. Long term investors are generally pleased with their returns, currently working out at approximately 324 350% per annum (assuming compounding at current return rates).

Those not playing the equity market have deplored these "paper gains", claiming they are fraudulent and attempts to realise them will no doubt see the market crash. Plans are still being put in place to curb such market failures, with the addition of more Board Members to the Ackan Reserve for stability.

However, it is felt that these reforms will need to await the ratification of the proposed introduction of trading commissions and other market reforms. Some speculators have denounced these as "taking away our Museum win ... oops, I mean livelihood", while others have welcomed them as a new type of system for them to try to beat.

The Infrequent Ackan Stock Indicator Tip for the week is: Buy if you can. Continuing trends suggest that proposal acceptances will outstrip rejections sufficiently to average out to long-term gains. Planned changes may reduce or eliminate these gains, so now is still the time to buy.



The Hubert Interview

Back to the pattern as normal, this week The Infrequent Ackan brings you our exclusive interview with Hubert. Thanks to Hubert for co-operating with the Ackan. A note for readers: this was conducted before the recent Presidential election results were known. Hubert is just one of a lengthy list of Ackan celebrities The Infrequent Ackan has already interviewed.

IA: This issue we're here with Hubert, the DeeJay to discuss his life and times in Acka. Hubert, thanks for joining us.

Not a problem. Thanks for the invite.

IA: You took the unusual step of changing your name on an apparently permanent basis. Your original motives are well understood, but do you intend to remain Hubert forever?

I rather like it, as a matter of fact. With Alfvaen's treasure and two others spawned by it still around, there's some incentive for me to remain Hubert. Also, my namesake Slagothor (a friend's cat) passed away recently, so I would feel less than reverent if I were to change back.

IA: As the first DeeJay, you've certainly had Acka swinging to some mellow tunes. Were you glad that you were able to carry out the duties of the office you've just created?

Absolutely. I love listening to the music of the ASS, and I'm happy it's received as strong a response as it has, with five different players so far spending money to hear their favorite tunes. (Or to not hear their least favorite tunes, as the case may be.) I am hoping that as some more Esoteric Songs are created, the music will change more frequently and become more popular. I'm working on a few Esoteric Songs that can be bought like Mundane ones, but at a higher price.

IA: Are there any particular favourite songs of yours we can look forward to hearing on the Ackanomic Sound System in the near future?

Not really; I tend to play songs that I feel are appropriate in some way to the current situation rather than those I simply like or have stuck in my head. For example, "Against the Wind" when the scam win Alfvaen and I attempted to push through was thwarted. Of course, now that I'm no longer DeeJay, I'll have to pay to do so. To get back to the question, since my favorite songs tend not to apply to the game state in any way, probably not.

IA: You've now been involved with a Duel against Goldenmean for months now. Are you getting sick of the fighting, or do you still consider it a matter of honour that the Duel be completed?


Well, yes and yes. I am really and truly sick of it, but considering the Good Guys are only one misplay away from winning, we might as well keep on going. I don't intend to give in, but I do hope that when next Thursday rolls around and Nyarlathotep gives me a win, that will be the Game chosen to finally end. I suppose this game is simply a somewhat-too-lengthy comment on the inappropriateness of long card games to play-by-e-mail adaptation.

IA: What, in your opinion, is the Harfiest bit of play you have seen since you joined Acka?

Hmm. That's rather difficult. There have been so many actions that have made me laugh uproariously (the finished Blueprint for Valaraukar, for example, or Guy Fawkes' pseudo-Challenge to The Gingham Wearer) and others that I considered harfy because of their audacity (CnH's proposal to have the Ruleset revert to 100,000 characters on our birthday, or TGW's to include the entire Ruleset in the Literature List) or because of the amount of time that must have gone into them (K 2's palindromic proposal, various other scam attempts) that it would be tough for me to pick any single one.

IA: And what is the favourite of all the proposals you have submitted?

I would have to go for my original Stoned proposal. Yes, it was blasphemous; yes, it was unwieldy; yes, it was complicated, but it was, IMHO, damned funny. Since its second death by retraction, I don't think it'll be rising again, as it were. However, anyone who wishes to plagiarize the basic precept for emself is more than welcome.

IA: Would you be willing to tell us who you intend to vote for in the upcoming Presidental election?

That's a tough one. On the one hand, we have Slakko, our last President, who didn't screw things up last term and has promised not to do so again this term. On the other hand, there's /dev/joe, one of the oldest, most upstanding Ackan citizens around, a former President, and dual Cycle winner. On the other hand, The Gingham Wearer has proved eir commitment to Acka time and again, even if e is a Klingon. On the fourth hand (using the interviewer's for emphasis) there's K 2, the Dark Knight, the Caped Crusader, the Murray Veil(?), fighting crime strenuously throughout the land. And on the last hand (the gripping hand, as it were), IdiotBoy, an Elder. If I hadn't done so in the Inventor election already, I'd just vote BAA!. As is, I think I'll keep my vote secret until such time as I know what it is.

IA: Hubert, thank you for your time.

As I said, not a problem. Thank _you_.





Party Chess Report

Free For All as New Records Set

A Free For All began this Tuesday, with the astounding sight of no less than eight Swingers becoming involved within two days. This unbelievable rate of change saw Koxvolio become the newest Swinger with non-zero Weight, and, even more impressively, the first instance of a board containing pieces from eight different Swingers.

A big goof on the part of the Chess-Umpire saw false check alarms late in the week, as Guy Fawkes and /dev/joe were initially told they were in Check. Later examination (after severe prodding from Guy Fawkes) saw these notifications reversed. Not even a Spreadsheet, it seems, can save Slakko from himself.

Swinger weights are currently not a big issue, as the Free For All tends to even out weight differences, and the next Swingpoint Monday is not until the 27th. Stabber's Knives are also on hold, barring exceptional circumstances, as the Free For All bars all forms of King Capture.

So who is most likely to take the next Stabber's Knife, and who is most likely to have been the Stabbee? The Infrequent Ackan has investigated this most important question and developed an elaborate hypothesis to explain it. We've narrowed it down to 56 possibilities, excluding the unbelievably silly impossibilities of self check.

No, seriously - here are the most likely combinations as far as we at the Ackan can tell.

Number 1: Hubert stabs The Gingham Wearer. Hubert is just under 50 weight, a good working weight which still allows triple plays outside of Free For Alls. Lying with a high two figure weight, The Gingham Wearer is vulnerable to being pushed over 100 and into the Atomic Play Only Zone. The extra two APs per round should make a checkmate easy, given the existing proximity of Hubert's pieces to the Klingon King.

Number 2: Hubert stabs Slakko. Similar reasoning, but Slakko's heavy use of Cantors makes blocking all of his King's escape routes more difficult.

Number 3: Guy Fawkes stabs Niccolo. Guy also has a low weight, possibly too low for a decent attack at this stage. His Copycat could prove useful in taking out some of the Tarzan's Tree House pieces, especially with the help of Slakko's SPAM Tornado. The triple move combination could again be the key factor.

So remember folks, high weight does not mean high probability of survival. The bigger they get, the faster they fall.


Sub Game Summary

Every week - every subgame going.

Abstract Crescent

Abstract Crescent remains in the danger zone, with three players theoretically capable of producing a one round win (while in practice only two are likely to do so). Hubert and /dev/joe are both within striking distance, while Alfvaen is just on the borderline, needing a bonus 14 (where no-one else plays) to actually win.

Moves have again shrunk on average, as the last round saw four attempted first turn wins. Obviously only one of them could be successful - this time it was IdiotBoy, who scored eir first points of the game, a big 12. This saw em move into fourth place, but still well behind the top trio (although given the current close nature of the chosen numbers in this game, the gap could be quite easily caught up in a single round).

If you're not currently playing Abstract Crescent, and you want to be, then as Umpire I'm still accepting submissions from people who want to play. I'll be inserting them into the rolling congruences as soon as possible after I receive them, provided the game is not over first. So come and play Abstract Crescent! You'll be pleasantly surprised.


The first ever games of Eleusis are starting up, with Game 1 having been underway a couple of days, while Game 2 is revving up for some large multiplayer action. This double playtest should cover a large amount of ground regarding the extensibility and flexibility of the game - the most thorough early playtesting of any subgame except possibly Ye Olde Rusty Lantern.

Game 1, as refereed by newbie JT, is off to a flying start, with six legitimate plays to no incorrect plays so far recorded. Hubert, the Deus, is remarkably surprised about this turn of affairs - no doubt e was hoping that the guessers would not cotton on to his crafty scheme too quickly.



Game 3 of Fictionary is continuing at a very slow pace. We are still in Round 2, with the final voting almost complete, but results not yet posted. We sincerely hope that the game's speed picks up somewhat, to maintain a high level of interest, and hopefully a large number of players.

The good guessing of the Bluffers continues, as for the second round running the word picked was not completely unknown. This time, "nullah" only garnered one correct response, and hence voting has finally been enabled. At this early stage it is far too soon to spot scoring trends, so we'll wait until next week at least before commenting further.


Viruses looks dangerously close to heading for a conclusion. /dev/joe has stormed back into the Viruscount lead from a position thought to be of doubtful value. Now on 8 Viruspoints, /dev/joe is within striking distance of the magical 10 points needed for a win.

breadbox and two-star are still poised to strike a blow against /dev/joe however, with the Viruscounts at the top of the table very close indeed. Meanwhile, The Gingham Wearer, now only a joint Viruspoint leader, bides his time towards the bottom of the Viruscount league. Will he be able to strike, or will a winner emerge first.

Slakko, on the bottom of the ladder, has put in a particularly inept performance. Each small attempt to improve his Viruscount has been short-lived, and has failed to deliver anything like the necessary count to garner a point. After his initial fast start, Slakko has proved the most disappointing of these long-term Virus players.

Word Un-Association 

Four rounds in and Game 2 scores lie tight at the top of the table. About the only thing apparently certain this game is rufus' failure to play. The other linkers have swung wildly between genius and incompetance, with no-one yet managing to get a stranglehold on the scoring. Perhaps the only significant pattern to emerge will be that there is no really significant pattern to be found. Stay tuned for more late-breaking Word Un-Association news.


What story are we telling here exactly? The Bards' Tale has undergone a metamorphosis of a Hofstadterian nature. While once we thought we were looking at the story, apparently now we are looking at the story of the story. What is worse, our original story's storyteller apparently lies dead, so how can the original story itself be ended?

Loose ends abound, but so do cards for our Bards to use. We hope that /dev/joe will have some more cards available soon, to add to a drastically depleted deck. Otherwise, mere interrupts alone could see the tale end lamely without a winner. And that, dear friends, is something that YORL could well do without.

Cheer on Hubert and the other Bards as they attempt to complete the tale. Plenty of loose ends to be tied up, provided we can actually get back to Sam (Romeo Sam, not the other Sam - boy is this confusing!)

Duel Summary

This week also saw a rash of duelling break out amongst Ackans sick to death of each other's Yorkshire references, Klingon forgeries, and suchlike. The Gingham Wearer and Slakko fought the first ever drawn Duel, leaving honour somewhat unsatisfied. Single-Capture Go is increasingly looking to be marginalised as a Duel choice.

Meanwhile, The Gingham Wearer won a Ghost duel. Perhaps his attempts at Duelling are aimed at fulfilling a certain little Agenda Hat, but who knows?

The third Duel for the week is a Viruses duel, so /dev/joe has graciously agreed to be the Umpire. Joe Java and else...if are through Round 1, with an unexpected tie game meaning that 1 round still leaves 0 Viruspoints. We hope the scoring rate increases in future rounds.



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.








Late-breaking news: Slakko re-elected President! More next week.

The Infrequent Ackan, first to you with Ackan news.

Copyright © Duncan Richer writing under the pseudonym of "Slakko", and Eric Plumb as "Hubert", 18th April 1998.

Check us out on the web, at http://dcr24.quns.cam.ac.uk/Nomic/Acka/infrequent.html