If you are used to playing on the tabletop, the process of playing a game over E-mail may seem cumbersome at first. However, once you get used to it, it's quite natural, and not as clumsy as it seems. This document only covers playing with V_Map or JV_Map. The process will be different with other utilities.
One opponent creates the VMP file with JV_Map or V_Map, and places his counters on the file. He writes the VMP file out, and E-mails it to the second opponent.
The second opponent reads that VMP file into his utility, places his counters, writes out the VMP file, and sends it back to the first opponent. At this point, the game goes into normal play.
The player whose turn it is first makes sure that he's looking at the latest VMP file, either one he wrote himself or that was sent to him by his opponent. He moves as many of his pieces as he can until his turn is over, until he requires the results of the dice to decide what further moves he wants to make, or until he requires input from the other player. At this point, he writes out the VMP file, and sends it as an E-mail attachment to his opponent, along with any other instructions, notes, or wanton chatter in the body of the E-mail message.
If it is the end of the player's turn, go to step 8.
If input from the opponent is required, the player whose turn it is waits for an E-mail message back from his opponent.
If any rolls of the dice are required, the player whose turn it is performs them, for instance, by submitted E-mail to the the www.pbm.com dice server.
The player whose turn it is makes the changes to the game board (removing destroyed units, etc.) that result from the rolls of the dice. He writes out a VMP file and sends it in E-mail to his opponent.
Repeat steps 3-7 until the current player's turn is over.
It is now the other players turn. He should perform steps 3-8.
To avoid confusion, it is a good idea each time you write out a VMP file to give it a new name, a name which hasn't been used yet in this game. One way to do that is to append a 3-digit number to the end of the VMP file. For example, a game of GEV might start with a VMP file named "gev000.vmp". The next time somebody writes out and mails a VMP file, he would call it "gev001.vmp". The next after that, "gev002.vmp", and so forth. That way, you always know what is the latest file, and you can be sure that you and your opponent are looking at the same VMP file when you are talking about the same filename.
Note that you don't just mail a VMP file at the end of each turn. You may mail several VMP files within one player's turn.
Obviously, the turn sequence above isn't intended to be a way of describing how you run all games, although it is general enough that the play of most games can be described by it. You may need to modify it as appropriate. For instance, in a game of GEV, if an overrun occurs, there may be several effective mini-turns back and forth between the two players, even though according of the rules of the game it's still within one player's "turn". Some games have rules that will require special procedures to be agreed upon by the two opponents before the game starts.
There may be cases where play can be sped up when one player gives "standing orders" that allow the other player to skip step 5. As an example, in a game of Compact Combat, one player may hold and action and declare that, "If my character is attacked, I will perform a Defend action; the skill I will defend with has a rating of xxx."
Unlike a tabletop game, a PBEM game is rarely something to which you will devote your full undivided attention! When you are stuck on step 5 above, or when it's your opponent's turn, minutes, hours, days, or weeks could elapse while your opponent thinks about his move, takes coffee breaks, takes a shower, goes to work for the day, or goes abroad on vacation. A game that might take an hour to play in person might last an hour, an evening, a few days, or even months. This may sound wasteful, but it's not, because during the game you too are free to think about other things, get coffee, take a show, go to work for the day, or go abroad on vacation. A PBEM game is something that you have going on in the background, which every so often you pay attention to in order to make your move.
Last updated 2001-January-19
This page is copyright 2000 by Robert A. Knop Jr. (firstname.lastname@example.org).