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Subject: my first PBEM rss

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Rob Johnson
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I'll be starting up my first PBEM game in a couple of days, against an incredibly experienced opponent.

I need some pointers about proper etiquette, general style of play, anything at all to help me get started. PBEM is the only way to game for me from now on: I/we live in the woods so deep they call us Jackpine Savages.

I'm ashamed to reveal that after 33 years of board wargaming, not once has a session ever been anything but FTF. Hopefully my opponent will walk me through the mechanics, but I really don't want to try this man's patience. Uh-uh.

The nature of the game demands a handy PC at the tableside, as moves are not pre-plotted-though I just realized they very well could be. And this move style would actually fit the game better. War in the Ice is fought in the vast waste of Antarctica and recon is nearly nil except by satellite, so 'praps we could work in pre-plot to save time? By-the-rules dictate individual unit/stack is move/countermove.

Any helpful stuff would get alot of appreciation!
 
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Jeff Thompson
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One thing I tend to do is have two voices. I have a friendly chatty voice that does some narration and basic chit chat. Then I have the game voice that is mostly modifiers and actions.

Since you play FtF, I'll assume you can do the chit chat thing.

When in the game voice be consistent and concise.

For example, in an ASL PBeM game, I might want to take a shot in Prep Fire at a unit in a Woods Hex with smoke in between and a leader directing the fire of a HMG.

35H1@4J5: MMG: 4FP +1woods +3smoke -2leader
... dice roll...
2,3
PTC, ROF
... dice roll...
5,4
squad pins
35H1@4J5: MMG ROF: 4FP +1woods +3smoke -2leader
... dice roll...
5,6
NA

It's terse, and consistent. I've listed all the modifiers and identified them. If my opponent sees that the smoke is actually a +2 smoke instead, he can correct me because he knows exactly what I'm doing.

I've played other games PBeM, mostly CDG types, and the two voices work equally well there too.

Also notice above that in the series of the 3 die rolls, one of them would normally be made by my opponent (if you don't know ASL, it was the 2nd roll). To speed up the game I made the roll for him. This is the case in many games. Finding ways to put more action in each segment is an important way to keep the game moving.

Obviously there are going to be disputes about modifiers or legal plays. If you see something coming up in the future and are not sure about a rule, ask early, not after you have spent 2 weeks sending mails back and forth.

Picture the following exchange in a FtF game...

You: "I move this unit here..."
Opp: "Wait, I believe in this circumstance, rule 4.13 states that the road is not open and you do not have enough MP to make the move as a Forest Hex."
You: "Yes I see. But two turns ago I applied dogsleds to this unit. Perhaps I forgot to mark them."
Opp: "Yes, now I remember. So you can enter the Forest Hex."
You: "Yes, so the dogsleds give me a reduction in MP expenditure."
Opp: "Ah, but you still don't have enough, you are still .5 MP short."
You: "Rats. This is true, I've miscalculated. Ok, let's see. I'll move here instead."

Ok, how long does that take in FtF (including looking up 4.13)? Probably about 3 minutes. Now imagine 1 mailing a day. That's a week. So you can see the importance of keeping up with the details. If you had remembered to put the dog sled counter on there in the first place...

These things are going to happen, so don't get discouraged. Just learn from them and move on. No big deal. PBeM games can take a while.

Obviously you both are committed to a long time of gaming. Neither of you want it to end prematurely or badly. It is best to make concessions and be ready to compromise. (If you are married, you know what I mean.)

As far as preplotting things, there are times when you can react to your opponent. In this case you don't want to tip your hand. So for example in ASL, I might send a movement of a dozen units and say, "If you leave Residual Fire Power, please stop and send me back the results." Perhaps after a single unit, this trigger will happen and he'll send back the mail with 1 unit moved and 11 unmoved. Now I can continue from the point of action as my opponent sees it. Because of the ResFP, I might move differently. But I still want to move a few more units than I think I can just in case he has some other plan and holds his fire. But I also don't want to move all 30 units every time, that gets tedious.

I've not played War in the Ice before. But I hope these tips help you out.
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Rob Johnson
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Thanks for that insight- excellent thinking!
 
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