Saturday, April 8, 2017

State of Gaming: Play-by-Mail

I have been very busy.  Real life events are drastically cutting into gaming time.  I would love to have 3-4 hour chunks of time to dedication to a board game or an rpg session.  Instead, I am getting 15 minute chunks of time sandwiched between frantic activity and exhaustion.  I began some play-by-mail games in order to get my gaming fix while real life devours my time and energy.  They work well because in my 15 minute chunks of free time I can prepare my turns, send them off, and then all I have to do is wait for my turn results to arrive.  I am currently playing two games and I signed up for a third.

"Your play-by-mail turn has arrived!"

Duel2 is a game of gladiator combat run by Reality Simulations.  In the game you have a stable of five gladiators in a fantasy world.  There are elves, orcs, and other fantasy races but magic and spells do not factor into the gameplay.  Each turn you pick one to five of your gladiators that you wish to fight.  You arm them and pick their fighting strategy.  You can also challenge warriors and avoid challenges, which adds some strategy to the game.  Each turn you receive a print-out describing the fights.

I like the game.  It is simple and fun.  I have graduated from the newbie arena and am currently fighting in Aruak City.  I plan to write up a review of this game soon.  If you are new to play-by-mail Duel2 is a a great game to start with.

Hyborian War

Hyborian War is a war game that is also run by Reality Simulations.  As the name suggests it takes place during the Hyborian Age created by Robert E. Howard.  Each player controls a kingdom, and you have the choice of playing a large, medium, or small kingdom.  I am currently ruling Punt, a small kingdom.  This game is a grand simulation.  You engage in diplomacy, spying, and warfare.  When battles occur you decide how to line up your troops, what strategy to use, and what spells to cast.

The big draw for this game is that it takes place in the world of Conan.  According to the rules Conan wanders around the map and can show up in your kingdom.  The game is a good low-fantasy wargame.  I have the found the rules to be a tad confusing but I am having fun with the game.  If you sign up to play I recommend the site  It has forums for people playing Hyborian War and is full of advice and strategy tips.  You will need to register for an account to view anything.


Starweb is a science fiction exploration/wargame run by Flying Buffalo.  I have read the rules and signed up for a game.  That brings me to one of the downsides of play-by-mail, waiting for games to start.  It can take months for companies to have enough players sign up before they can start a game.  I encourage anyone reading this to try a play-by-mail game if only for the reason that we can get some games started faster!

Starweb is a game in which space travel takes place through a series of warp gates.  You spend your time exploring gates, taking over planets, and battling and trading with other players.  There are different roles, for example you can play a race of killer robots or a group of religious fanatics a la Dune.  There is an interesting game mechanic where each player bids a certain number of points at the beginning of the game.  Those numbers are averaged and then the game's stopping point is set from that average.  When the game starts I will post more about my experience with it.

I have been happy with my play-by-mail experiences.  If you want to learn more about the state of play-by-mail gaming check out the following resources:

Suspense and Decision