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Topic: Play By Mail Games! Have you ever played them?

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Turbo_Genesis_64

1. Posted:

Long before on-line video games, there was another form of gaming that connected gamers from all over the world: Play By Mail Games!

Amazingly, these game are still around today. How it works is you submit your turn by mail or email as does the other players in your game. Then the PBM company acts a referee and has a computer process the turns and then sends the players the results of the previous turn and then sends you a personalized copy. If you love strategy video games like Military Madness you will loves these.

I just got into these games in 2005, and I must say that I can't imagine my gaming life without them, they are very addictive and flexible to even the busiest gamers schedule.

I have only played PBM games from a company called Flying Buffalo and they have been in business since 1970. Yes, there are turn fees, usually, between $2.50 to $4.50 per turn depending on the game, but that's cheap and worth it. I really enjoy a space combat game called Starweb. Lots of diplomacy and warfare between the 15 players

Anyways, I was wondering if any other people on this forum plays PBM or has played it in the past? Share your thoughts and memories on this niche pastime.

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sirgrim

2. Posted:

I'm pretty sure that's how Brawl works.

sirgrim

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Turbo_Genesis_64

3. Posted:

Thanks for the first comment sirgrim! Can you enlighten me more about this Brawl game? I haven't heard of it.

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Adam

4. Posted:

Haha, when Super Smash Brothers Brawl gets particularly laggy, you might as well play it by mail!

I've never played by snail mail, but I always wanted to as a kid. Just never knew anyone to play with that way.

However, I've done the act same thing over email twice while playing Dune, probably my favorite strategy game (ignoring chess and such). Afterwards I ran a forum for a few years where we posted our moves to a thread, and I'd update with a map image every so often to make sure everyone was on the same page.

The downside of this kind of play is one person has to act as host and be in control of all the secret and random information since the game isn't a "perfect information" game like chess or Diplomacy. But we took turns hosting, and it was an absolute blast. I miss playing on that forum.

What games do you play by mail, Turbo?

Come on, friends,
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Turbo_Genesis_64

5. Posted:

That's a cool story Adam! I could see you enjoying PBM.

Anyways, I only play by e-mail, but I have played the following PBMs from Flying Buffalo:

Starweb (sci-fi war game)
Heroic Fantasy (sword & scorcery maze game)
Galactic Conflict. (sci-fi war game)
Nuclear Destruction (nuke war game)

Flying Buffalo's customer service is second to none! Also, you can play a free trial game of Starweb (turns can be sent by e-mail, thankfully). It's worth it. I did it. If you are on the fence about playing a commercial PBM I would try Starweb because it's the most popular and award winning PBM out there. Starweb has enthralled gamers since 1976! The game is timeless.

Also, be aware that most of the PBM games are text based. Personally, I love the old school flavor of these games.

Edited on by Turbo_Genesis_64

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Adam

6. Posted:

I'd never bother paying for the service. If you can find someone to play with, you can just as easily email each other on your own. I'll have to look up those games though. I'm always looking for new board and tabletop games.

Dune is an old game, too, early 80s or late 70s, I forget. It's made by the same people who made Cosmic Encounter, which is my single favorite game, board game or otherwise, of all time. Fortunately, I don't have to resort to PBeM for it since they've made a nice (though greatly simplified) Flash version. It is sort of the Mario Kart of board games. Lots of randomness, but good players will find ways to adapt to the flow.

Edited on by Adam

Come on, friends,
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The_Fox

7. Posted:

Holy S**t! Those are still around!? I was sure that the internet would have killed them off. I never played them, but flipping through my cousins old gaming mags (from the early 90's) I remember seeing adds for them.

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Turbo_Genesis_64

8. Posted:

weirdadam wrote:

I'd never bother paying for the service. If you can find someone to play with, you can just as easily email each other on your own. I'll have to look up those games though. I'm always looking for new board and tabletop games.

Dune is an old game, too, early 80s or late 70s, I forget. It's made by the same people who made Cosmic Encounter, which is my single favorite game, board game or otherwise, of all time. Fortunately, I don't have to resort to PBeM for it since they've made a nice (though greatly simplified) Flash version. It is sort of the Mario Kart of board games. Lots of randomness, but good players will find ways to adapt to the flow.

The Flying Buffalo games I play are only Play By Mail (e-mail) Games. There isn't board game versions of their games it would be too complex. Also. their games are copyrighted so the only way you can play Starweb is via Flying Buffalo.

I know there are other PBM companies out there. There is company that has a bunch of cool Lord of the Ring games, but I've never played them.

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Turbo_Genesis_64

9. Posted:

The+Fox wrote:

Holy S**t! Those are still around!? I was sure that the internet would have killed them off. I never played them, but flipping through my cousins old gaming mags (from the early 90's) I remember seeing adds for them.

Likewise, the first time I heard about Starweb was in an add for it in some Commodore magazine in the late 80s or early 90s. My older brother had a friend who in the 90s played a bunch of PBM games. And I always thought it sounded cool. I like the idea of writing to people from all over the USA or world and planning your moves together and battling.

Fast forward to one night in 2005, I was curious if PBMs are still around so I Goggled it and I was pleasantly surprised they are still around and new games are usually starting every few weeks or so. And the games themselves can last a year or even longer. A few of the titles are never ending.

The internet never killed these games off because most player just play them by e-mail now.

Check out these links:

http://www.flyingbuffalo.com/starweb.htm

http://www.flyingbuffalo.com/waiting.htm

http://www.flyingbuffalo.com/pbm.htm

Edited on by Turbo_Genesis_64

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Adam

10. Posted:

Ohh, I had no idea they were PBeM exclusives. That's odd.

Ever since we switched over to playing by forum, I decided never to go back to e-mail. It's too slow and disorganized in comparison. It might be better for these games, but I'm just not fond of the pay by turn concept.

We played Axis and Allies and some chess variants I designed, too, which were quite fun.

Come on, friends,
To the bear arcades again.

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Turbo_Genesis_64

11. Posted:

weirdadam wrote:

Ohh, I had no idea they were PBeM exclusives. That's odd.

Ever since we switched over to playing by forum, I decided never to go back to e-mail. It's too slow and disorganized in comparison. It might be better for these games, but I'm just not fond of the pay by turn concept.

We played Axis and Allies and some chess variants I designed, too, which were quite fun.

At first, I also didn't like the idea you have to pay to play these games.

So I just signed up for the free trial game of Starweb as it only last like 12 turns and I found out I love these games! And overall, it's cheap entertainment and I've met some great people over the years. It's still way cheaper playing these games than playing World of Warcraft and I guarantee it's more fun too.

Edited on by Turbo_Genesis_64

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Adam

12. Posted:

Yea, I don't play WoW for the same reason... though it's also helpful that the game is extremely dull! :P

Come on, friends,
To the bear arcades again.

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Turbo_Genesis_64

13. Posted:

This is the best explanation ever for playing PBM; it's from their rulebook for "Lizards":

"The hardest thing to describe about PBM gaming is the intensity of the experience. You start out wondering why any sensible person would pay good money every month just to play a game, and within weeks you are haunting your mailbox waiting for your next turn."

"When you are under attack , or you have just sent off a tricky maneuver, and you are waiting to see what happened, the suspense is tremendous. Will you survive? Will your plan work? Where's that darn postman?"

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Burning_Spear

14. Posted:

I used to play Strat-o-Matic baseball by mail, before the computer version was created.

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Turbo_Genesis_64

15. Posted:

Burning+Spear wrote:

I used to play Strat-o-Matic baseball by mail, before the computer version was created.

Finally, someone has played by mail! Did you play with a friend or was it like a fan club?

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Burning_Spear

16. Posted:

Turbo+Genesis+64 wrote:

Burning+Spear wrote:

I used to play Strat-o-Matic baseball by mail, before the computer version was created.

Finally, someone has played by mail! Did you play with a friend or was it like a fan club?

Well, to be clear, I played face-to-face, both with friends and in leagues. But, back in the '80s, before the game was computerized, I was also in play-by-mail leagues with guys from around the country, most of whom I had never met. You would create elaborate instruction sheets to govern as many in-game managerial decisions as possible and send them to the home team's coach. He would play the game using your instructions. I was in one or two baseball leagues and a hockey league. Awesome stuff. Dare I say SOM is still my first love, even though I'm more into video games at the moment.

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Turbo_Genesis_64

17. Posted:

So was this SOM free to play by mail?

I'm not really a big sports fan, but I did look Strat-o-Matic up on Amazon after reading about it here and the reviews really did rave about. it Some people said you don't even have to be a massive baseball fan to enjoy it! So thanks for bringing it up in this forum. You never know, maybe someday I will play it. I'm a sucker for old school games.

Edited on by Turbo_Genesis_64

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Ravage

18. Posted:

Civ 4 has a PBM option for multiplayer too. I used that when I had dial-up. :P

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Turbo_Genesis_64

19. Posted:

Thanks Ravage for the comment! Was there a turn fee? And did you prefer any aspect of playing it by mail or was it only done by necessity?

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