Chess by mail has been around for years. It certainly changes the style and tempo of the game. The same is true for playing wargames by mail. The main requirement is that you have a place where you can leave the games set up, although this is not absolutely necessary since the main means of communicating in a play-by-mail game requires that you record the location of each playing piece each turn. For this reason, most of the games played by mail are fairly small ones with a small number of playing pieces on the map at any one time. Thus, it would be possible to put the game away after each turn. Most players, however, tend to leave them set up someplace on a piece of plywood or something so they can be stuck off somewhere out of harm's way. Some gamers even build racks with shelves on them (24 by 36 inches per board) and store a dozen or more games "in play" at any given time. To find opponents we suggest you get in touch with AHIKS (Avalon Hill International Kriegspiel Society, and it IS international), a long-term organization of play-by-mail players, or the Avalon Hill General which provides free ads for subscribers for the purposes of getting by-mail opponents. For AHIKS current
address, write The Avalon Hill Game Company and they'll probably be able to help you out.
Oh, by the way, about two percent of wargamers (according to several decades of surveys) indulge in play by mail, but these tend to be a very active and interesting two percent. It's a group worth getting involved with, especially now that it's growing through the use of computers to transmit game moves and other information.
Static Team Play
Twenty years ago, wargaming and gamers were rather young. There weren't too many gamers who owned a house or had the room to set up any game, especially a large one, for any length of time and just leave it there. Over the past twenty years, a more and more common phenomenon has been the emergence of small groups of gamers, usually no more than half a dozen, among whom one has a house with a room large enough to put a game and leave it set up. The gamer group then gets together, usually about once a week for three to five hours, and plays the game. Depending upon the game they might get through four or five turns or perhaps only one. They will play in teams. This is particularly attractive with the larger games that lend themselves to teams on each side. Playing this way there is no pressure to finish the game, and under these conditions the large games really come into their own and can be quite enjoyable as you manipulate such a large simulation at your own pace.
This type of team play was also used during the development of these larger games. While working on one of the first multi-map games (War in the East: three standard 22- by 34-inch maps and hundreds of playing pieces), we had only four players and we didn't want to keep two of them idle while the other two made their move. So we divided the eastern front in Russia into four sectors. Each player was given a sector on each side. In other words, each player had a Russian sector and a German sector. The sectors were set up in such a way that no player was facing "himself" on the other side. We then began play. As soon as people would finish playing their Russian side (they might have to wait for the other "Russian" players to finish) they would switch over and immediately begin playing the German side. Play went on without interruption. Granted, the tempo of play intensified a bit for the individual since he no longer could depend upon the "break" when the "other side" made its move. Generally, every hour or so we would take a 10- or 15-minute break to just stop and stare at what we had done. Meanwhile, there were usually opportunities for shorter breaks as not all players on a side finished at once.
This form of team play in general has many advantages. It brings players together on a social basis. It does not pit them together on a one-on-one contest (which often has some unpleasant competitive aspects to it) and allows the larger games (which continue in popularity despite
their size) to be played to a conclusion. The results are, I have found, a compelling advantage to be able to watch a large game unfold week by week. It's quite an experience.
How to Play Without an Opponent
How to Get into Gaming Painlessly
Table of Contents
Chapter 2 Table of Contents