PBM Mailbox

Here’s another extra large portion of PBM news ’n’ views. This month Brendon Kavanagh tries out a new weapon, gives us some hints on Starglobe and the Forum goes football crazy.


The Weapon is a science fiction based wargame designed by the US gaming company, 4 Sight, and moderated in the UK by Harrow Postal Games (of, er, Harrow) under a very strict licensing deal. A game for up to 15 players, The Weapon is one of the most complex games to be mentioned within these pages so far.

The player is ruler of a technological world which has recently discovered hyperspace travel, opening routes to the distant worlds for the first ever time. You must use your squadrons of starships to explore and conquer game space, mapped out as a 20 by 20 grid of hexes. Hexes may be empty, dangerously cloudy, or occupied by worlds.


Worlds have several game functions: some produce rare crystals required to construct and operate THE WEAPON (a very gruesome device), some produce economic output, and others can be mined for minerals. Worlds are a very important part of this game, since its points system is partially based on the worlds you own (and for how long you have held them). Thus, worlds must be defended by your Star Troopers while they produce goods for trade and cash for your coffers.


All players start the game with a small squadron of vessels, but as the game progresses you may design and construct more, and more, and more.


The somewhat bland object of The Weapon is to amass as many points as possible before the game ends. Games last for between 15 and 30 turns, so you never quite know how much time you have left to raid all those planets within fighter range... As well as for holding worlds, points are gained by destroying enemy starships in combat. Incidentally, you lose points if you lose any ships in battle!


To play The Weapon, you must (as in all games) utilise your limited resources to their maximum potential. Basically, you must discover, conquer and defend new worlds, maintain economic growth within your empire, produce crystals for use in THE WEAPON, develop your combat and navigational expertise (ie. fight and move about!), establish trade routes to your benefit, and engage in diplomacy.

The more successful The Weapon players have amassed points by working together in small alliances, called treaties. Treaties can be very beneficial but they are also risky: a treaty means that your automatic defences will trust someone who may not necessarily be all too trustworthy...


In play, the game is VERY strategic and exceedingly fast moving. You are deeply engrossed in the game within three turns. Being something of an advanced hybrid of Capitol and Vorcon Wars, The Weapon requires a lot of careful diplomacy to enjoy while if your battle strategies are poor then you won’t have too many worlds to be diplomatic over!

If you have never played (or won) a strategic game then I doubt you would enjoy playing THE WEAPON. However, very strong strategic aspects will appeal to readers of Frontline, and any experienced PBMers vaguely interested.


The Weapon is quite a low priced game, for its type. As a special offer to CRASH readers, Jim Gibson of HPG has agreed to reduce startup prices. The rule book will cost £1.00 instead of the usual £1.50. A set up and one free turn will cost £4.00 rather than £5.00 and the cost of the first five paid turns has been halved to £1.00 each.

Each turn thereafter costs the usual £2.00, the game being played on a 14 day turnaround. Be sure to mention CRASH in all correspondence!

I strongly recommend you to buy the rule book before you set up in The Weapon, as it is a fairly complex creation (in monosyllabic terms, it’s HARD). If you are grasped by what you read, play. If not then pass the book onto a friend.

Part of the order shoot for THE WEAPON...

... and a section of the turn printout received at Chateau Kavanagh as a result of playing THE WEAPON


StarGlobe is a bemusing concept game to any PBMer, and the questions asked are invariably the same — mainly because the all knowing GMs chose not to provide a rulebook, instead opting for 150 ‘information modules’ collected at a rate of one per turn!!! So, to help those of you who are finding yourselves floating about aimlessly in the dark void, here are some useful snippets of advice (collected after many pounds worth of confusion):

  1. Always remember that StarGlobe is a game designed so that you can use your imagination to do whatever you like (nice theory) so instead of asking ‘Can I...’, try it! You shall soon discover if you can or not, or whether or not you lose your entire starship to a vast explosion...
  2. For players with high communications scores there exists a facility called Tight Beam broadcasting (direct, ship to ship or ship to colony communications), so to gain the score of 12 points needed to gain this ability broadcast as many messages as possible while you are close to other ships — you gain 0.1 points per message received.
  3. To gain expertise without fighting anybody, you may run combat simulations aboard your ship. Simply send a proposal scenario to the GMs and await the results.
  4. A pointless but entertaining pastime is to switch the ship’s computer to BARDIC or SERVILE mode and chat with it... great fun, believe me.
  5. Always remember that there are two important entities at MONDE: The Lord, and Prior, Main Computer. If you choose to be a pirate (ie. against the Lord Of Monde), try not to break Ancient Law ’cos this will not impress Prior. Later on in the game, Prior becomes a useful source of information so don’t get on the wrong side of ‘it’.
  6. An easy way to gain Pirate points (and a nasty reputation) is to use your supply of Interstellar Nuclear Missiles to destroy loyalist colonies and signal beacons. Be careful, however, not to annoy Prior.
  7. Hiding your starship and Orbital Factories within Asteroid Belts is very useful strategically. This allows you to fire two rounds of missiles against an enemy vessel before it sees you and returns fire, while your factories may remain hidden from danger.
  8. To gain Empire Building points, claim as many star systems as possible and colonise any colonisable planet you see (NB: even non-terran worlds can be colonised if your colony is given food and shelter).
  9. An effective trick to play on a sworn enemy is to establish a colony equipped only with some crew and a bomb — should your foe attempt to capture the colony, his invasion force will be badly damaged by the bomb and you will gain game points for the deed.
  10. Another fun activity for those with bombs and cargo ships spare is to send a booby trapped cargo ship to a neighbouring star — when someone tries to capture it... BOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!


Some useful tips for KJC GamesIt’s a Crime!, submitted by CRASH readers Graham Cowe, Darren Hutchison, and Kevin Pack. Two free turns on their way to you!:

  1. Blocks consisting of retail, warehouses, entertainment and offices bring in higher incomes than those with apartments and schools
  2. Firebombing and robbing gain you more notoriety than mugging
  3. Don’t attempt action against police-controlled blocks — you lose too many men!
  4. The first person to attain 40 blocks or 1000 in notoriety gets eight free turns
  5. At first, uncontrolled blocks with low defence levels normally only need a few gang members to take control
  6. Make as much cash as possible and buy shotguns and machine guns to use against other gangs
  7. Once your turf consists of more than six blocks, try using 20% of your gang, per turn, to enlist new members
  8. ‘Acting Tough’ is a very rewarding order, bringing in new members, cash and notoriety
  9. Always attack the toughest blocks FIRST on your turn sheet — this way your punks and pros get to use their machine guns etc
  10. Always try to keep your turf condensed — a disorganised array of turf is difficult to defend

If you have any PBM Hints’n’Tips then please send them to the PBM MAILBOX. All pearls of wisdom are of use!



Ever since I was asked about PBM football, I have received a number of letters on the subject. So, without further ado, here are a few for your information...


Dear Brendon
It’s nice to see ‘minority’ interests such as strategy gaming being featured on Crash, since it is certain that many of your readers could possibly gain great enjoyment from these games.

In your August issue, John Kelly expressed an interest in postal Football gaming. Several such games are in fanzines and there is quite a variety available. Most games involve many players who have teams in large postal leagues. I’ve not yet seen an amateur computer moderated football game, but I doubt that running such a game on a 48K Spectrum would be any trouble: memory requirements are low, although processing time may be quite long. The main problem with these games is getting the large number of players to get their orders to the GM in time — leagues must work to strict deadlines.

To sum up, I suggest your readers try to get involved with amateur postal football gaming.
Brain Duguid

I quite agree: anyone fancy turning their Spectrum into a microchip Anfield?

Dear Brendon
Just a short note to let your readers know that here in Scotland, myself and some friends have been running a postal football game for over a year. Our game features the league, the Cup, the European Cup, Cup Winners Cup, and the UEFA Cup. The players manage their teams: buying/selling players, managing finance, running fan clubs and so on. All we charge is £1 to start up, followed by 50p per week of the season. Send me an SAE if you would like any more details.
J E Duffy

Worth a try if you are interested in this form of PBMing — it’s encouraging to see that the game has already been run successfully for over a year, so it shouldn’t suddenly collapse due to GM confusion.

Dear Brendon
As a regular reader to CRASH magazine I was recently surprised to read about the PBM profiles. My reason for sending you this letter is that I am presently setting up a postal football league with two divisions of ten teams. I noticed in Issue 31 that some people were enquiring about football games. Although there is a charge to players this is to cover the cost of trophies and administration forms. The only charge is the cost of the zine which has to be copied and sent to players (the game-report). I myself play in a number of postal leagues and it is strictly a hobby and non-profitable.

I would appreciate it if you could use my address for prospective CRASH readers who may be interested in joining a postal Soccer League. However I should point out that these ‘United’ leagues are very popular and often have waiting lists of up to ten people. As you will read in my rules I’m looking for twenty people so hopefully I may be able to help some of those budding football managers out. (I would just like to say that these trophies for the winners make it more realistic and very enjoyable to participate in). Anyone interested in the league should write to me.
John T F Hooley

Much effort seems to have been put into the design of this game: good luck, John! Oh yes, and if you do write to John, don’ t forget to tell him you read about the game in CRASH.