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Originally conceived as a short-term meeting in 1994 to discuss the quadrant five semantic problem, negotiations between the political wing of CAMREC and the conservative faction of the IMCS soon became so protracted – and heated – that eventually nearly all aspects of the rules came up for discussion. The fact that Mrs Trellis's memory is not what it used to be rendered her little more than a figurehead in these discussions, with the result that the two sides were forced to actually talk to each other more than they were used to. The very thought of amending Chalk Farm '84 in any way caused several wildcat strikes by the more militant members of CAMREC, including some of the younger generation under the banner of the Fifth Quadranters. This action led to seven critical token shortages, four serious derailments, nineteen incidents of leaves on the line and even, in one case, a proposal to move the site of the talks to Dollis Hill.

Happily, this terrible prospect came to nothing, and six years later the new ruleset was finally released. Typically, it immediately came under fire from the less contented members on both sides, but so far there has been no actual violence (although a couple of suspect packages left by dissidents have been seized and defused, and on one occasion no less a man than Ould had to be forcibly restrained from ramming his five-pronged fFlanger up the nose of one of his own particularly recalcitrant backbenchers – who prefers to remain anonymous.)

Among the new features in the game are a new concept of how line velocity and positioning work in the realms of quantum physics (naturally based on the work of Trellis and Grossman), which has led to several important discoveries in the field of stable pickerings. The addition of the Jubilee and Docklands extensions as full parts of the London Underground without needing to be placed in a special temporary quadrant five necessitated a major rebalancing and reweighting of stations, but fortunately things became much easier once the condition that none of the new stations be magenta was dropped. This change did require corresponding adjustments in the game of Baker Street (something which both parties were reluctant to do), adjustments which in their turn particularly affected conditions on the Piccadilly and District lines. The idea of five rather than four divisions was preserved in a more acceptable form by using a central area exempted from quadrant conditions, and the original quadrant definitions were largely reinstated. Outside the central zone, the quandrant boundaries are now almost exactly restored to their original Chalk Farm '84 positions.

(The famous argument between Ould and the IMCS extremist backbenchers was largely over the semantic question of whether to call the central area 'quadrant zero', which would of course have been unacceptable. Had this measure been adopted, certain long-established game formulae would have broken down due to division-by-zero errors, and much of the Mipplington convention would have been rendered worthless.)

Among smaller changes, Aldgate East and Aldgate? were swapped in colour (they are now respectively green? and puce?), the spin differential between Dollis Hill and Neasden? was increased by three degrees per second, and bridges are now wild if the freem? count is sufficiently high. Thanks to the snood-freem quasi-equivalence concept, this is liable to be more frequent when line velocity is also high – but fortunately it will also be less relevant for exactly the same reason. Various other adjustments of a generally small nature were made in similar vein. The actual Finsbury Option itself, after which the Amendments of 1988 were named, was accepted without reservation as a piece of simple good sense.

Unfortunately, the ruleset did not prove to be a success at first. It was amazing that the moderate wing of CAMREC had ever accepted it in the first place, for all of Ould's diplomatic skills: the organisation split immediately, and the hardliners came back to power. The actual ruleset was revealed to have major problems: initially, only minor ones showed, but by the time of the second pack of amendments (2001), it was revealed – the hard way – that patching the minor problems had resulted in the return of the infamous Mornington Crescent loop, a cure which was self-evidently worse than the disease. A hastily-released third set of amendments, then a fourth and fifth, have made it approximately playable, but the IMCS's credibility took a major downturn.

Part of the problem is alleged to have been the IMCS's insistence on planning for the future, even at the expense of the present situation. The Finsbury Option amendments had been delayed by over a year by the change in plans over where the Jubilee Line Extension was to be built, and quadrant five had had to be introduced as a temporary measure, along with spin decay. It has been alleged – probably with a great deal of accuracy – that the IMCS had been relying not only on the full opening of the Jubilee, Docklands and East London Line extensions, but also on integration with above-ground networks that are supposed to have included the Croydon Tramlink. (In fact, the Docklands extension only came considerably later, barely in time to rescue the fourth amendments, and the planned ELL extension is still not yet built, and may also be re-routed.) In fact, to this day, if the Tramlink is included as part of the network and cut off before play begins by means of a blocked understrile, it gets rid of 90% of the annoying extra loops, quantum-tunnelling effects, and consequent pickering instabilities.

As a result, instead of waiting for yet more amendments, the IMCS has now turned to considering an entire rewrite of the ruleset as a cure for the problems. Great things are promised (albeit nothing specific): but then, great things were promised with HP2K … and CAMREC are writing their own proposed ruleset, aided by a couple of high-profile IMCS defectors.


Update: As of Easter 2007, an early draft of the [Euston 2008]? ruleset has been made available via the members' section of the [IMCS website]. This is now under review and evaluation.


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Last edited April 7, 2007 11:58 am by Simons Mith (diff)