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Federation Commander: Klingon Border» Forums » Variants

Subject: my long winded pitch for playing PBEM.. rss

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Craig Truesdell
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The first viewpoint to take is to NOT view PBEM as slow face to face game. PBEM gaming is different for several reasons:

There will be much more time to plan your strategy for the scenario, this will make the game much more interesting and require less time to execute your moves. This can be a new and very rewarding experience.

Take a chance to play larger scenarios using bigger ships. Taking on large scenarios in a face to face game is risky. Things get complicated, people get distracted, people have to go home, and so the game just ends. Most people just pick short small scenarios so they know they can finish it. The extra effort to manage a larger scenario is not much more than playing a small scenario and not recommended. Save the small scenarios for face to face play. Pick a challenging scenario you would never play face to face.

Take the challenge and play with the “advanced and optional rules”. In many naval games, people ditch the fuel rules because it is just too time consuming for face to face play. In PBEM, it is a simple thing to deal with the extra record keeping. I played a naval game (Relief of Wake Island) and adding the fuel rules open up a whole other dimension. I had to plan my tanker routes, manage task force speed, arrival times, refueling times, etc., much more like the real thing (yes I know it is still just a game).

Too Much Information: In a moderated game, fog of war is a real and easily managed. This creates real tension in a game as you never really know what is out there especially if the scenario has some flexibility. Play “Sink the Bismarck” with a referee PBEM style, the game will seem more than fast enough to you.

Meet gamers from outside you area and all over the world. I have met really interesting people through PBEM all over the world.

It does not prevent you from playing Face to Face as you can fit the PBEM time anywhere in your schedule. (I mean really, would it hurt to watch 1 less cat video a night?) And it will make you a better face to face gamer.

The best analogy I can come up with non-game related is listening to books on CD. You can certainly read faster than you can listen and the CDs cost more. However, you can listen to the CD while stuck in traffic and you know you will finish the book. I have partially read many books but I have always completed any book on CD that I have bought. Although I will say I almost rear ended someone listening to "The Martian".

For SFB/FC, the payoff is there, simple fun face to face games can turn into slow not fun PBEM games but the depth in SFB/FC rewards preparation and time invested. Taking the time to prepare, read the rules (what is a Tholian web anyway and how do I use it?), and plan your strategy can take the PBEM experience to a level not easily matched by face to face gaming.
At the very least, it is worth at least trying it once with an open mind. If you pick a small scenario and compare it to face to face play, it will seem slow and maybe dull but look at the possibilities it opens up. Play squadron scale next time in a larger more complicated scenario. You will have time to prepare and plan your moves, look up specific rules while you are in the game (how do I do a marine raid again?), and play potentially with a real fog of war. How many chances do you have to do that?

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Scott Smith
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What format would you suggest? Is there something already in place? I know about the online play but haven't actually looked into it... I'm thinking thats "real time". I've played many PBM games through the '80s and early '90s and recall the suspense of planning and waiting for the return packet. They were mostly world domination and operational level games so I'm not sure how well that would transfer to a tactical game. I'd be willing to give it a shot, though.
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Craig Truesdell
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We are currently using excel files stored on Dropbox. Vassal would be preferred but no module exists. It is moderated and we are using the "fast play rules" posted in the variants section here. I am posting our game progress in the play by forum section. Players preplot their moves 1 impulse at a time which is a compromise for faster play. After I have experience. We can try more reactive Plotting strategies.
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Craig Truesdell
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I did order Federation Space which does have a VASSAL module for it so at least some people must play PBEM with it. Not sure I am ready for Federation & Empire yet.

After my first game moderating a FC game, I will know more but so far, a PBEM game of FC should be no more of an issue than any other game once some adjustments are made.

 
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Craig Truesdell
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We just finished turn 1 posted on the play by forum section. Check it out when you have time, it has been fun and we are already learning how to improve the PBEM experience.
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Craig Truesdell
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Here is a look at the end of Turn 1 with a little help from a different game...whistle

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