PBM Mailbox

Welcome to the first 3-D Mailbox — well, some of it’s 3-D. Regular readers of the column may (or may not!) be surprised to learn that I have had yet another bump in my car. This time the back end has been smashed in — by a (so-called) friend!

Meanwhile, on the PBM front methinks I have just died in Megalomania. Roll on Game Three...



CIVILISATIONS is run from London by its designer, Anthony White, who has created an interstellar economy within his Amstrad computer. A new player starts the game with a set amount of the stellar currency and a means of transport (which incurs running expenses...) to go from one planet to another.

You create a game character for yourself and further your character’s aims using the available worlds and their own economies. Basically, you must remain both financially solvent and alive (there’s no sense in being rich if you’re going to get killed!)

The game is run in an open-ended fashion with turns made as often as possible.

An interesting feature of Civilisations is the use of the legal system. Do anything wrong in this game and you end up being tried for your crime by a selection of your fellow players!

For more information, write to Anthony White. Further developments will be awaited with interest.


IN DUBIOUS BATTLE is the first product of Pandem Games, based in Northern Ireland. It’s another of the unusual games launched recently, because instead of having one game environment, In Dubious Battle has two: The World (consisting at the start of the game of about 500 countries, with 100 nations of primitive tribes, nomads and farmers) and Elysium, a world of the gods inhabited by deities and deityesses. The player is one of these deities, albeit a fairly minor one at first — the object of the game is to become what the rulebook terms the ‘Allfather’ of the gods. This happens when at least 75% of the other gods (players or not) become subservient to you. It’s not an easy task.

The two environments interact as the players go about their godly duties. They must gain power by making The World’s mortals worship them, give them the odd sacrifice etc. The more worshippers you have, the more powerful your god is. Here the game becomes a little like the real world.

Different gods represent different aspects of life (there are gods of war, peace, love, fruit machines etc) and thus followers of one may well dislike worshippers of another. This may cause nations supporting you to battle with the supporters of another god — but war can reduce your godly power, so take care who you convert!

Battles are possible in Elysium itself. Gods can recruit demons and other lesser immortals to do dirty deeds to other players, such as knocking them out of the game. But take care as you grow in power within your own world; they certainly aren’t all angels up there!

In Dubious Battle has an interesting concept, and a glance at the excellent rulebook reveals that there’s more to It than first meets the eye. I’d recommend you read the book thoroughly before deciding whether or not to play: it can be bought for £1.50 from Pandem Games.


PANGEA is a hand-moderated fantasy role-playing game launched by the Surrey based Anvil Games in July. The authors have created a mystical world for your game character’s adventures, and the marvellous rulebook is full of history: stories of ancient heroes, the wars they fought, the races they encountered, the deities they bumped into, but rarely the diseases they caught.

It’s not only stories, though — there’s a fascinating Who’s Who? of the nine gods, plus eleven pages about the races of Pangea. Their habits, descriptions, localities, physical stature, virility, it’s nearly all there! Besides the races there are character classes such as assassins, priests, rangers, rogues, warriors and warlocks; other features include guilds, various types of magic, methods of combat and so on.

You must design your character and set yourself a quest; there’s a character-creation folder which could take the best part of a weekend to complete! If you enjoy FRP games then take a look at Pangea. It’s very well-presented and the startup package has a lot to offer. Send an SAE for details to Anvil Games.


NEW ORDER could well prove to be THE game for sci-fi buffs, though without perseverance it could also prove to be the most irritating game for sci-fi buffs. New Order was designed in America and has been brought over the Atlantic under franchise to Jade Games. Like so many other games of its ilk, New Order puts you in charge of a planet-bound civilisation which discover hyperspace technology. Which race will dominate the space in which you live — your own, or an alien one? Here we go again... The answer is ‘neither one nor the other’ — only war will dominate such a situation.

I think the designers KNOW they have a goody here — the best features are listed on the front of the rulebook. They include: a 3-D playing area with 9,000 sectors; 200 star systems and 700 planets per game; detailed UFO, combat, colony, trade and atomics messages to survey alien activity around you; updated reports on all your forces on each turn; a complex combat-system design which lets you play about with both offence and defence; and an accurate damage indicator, detailing exactly what percentage of your ship has been destroyed.

Technological research is available to improve your game advantage in whatever field you choose, and five classes of starship are at your disposal in this game where trading and diplomacy take a crucial role. The object is to command your civilisation’s economy, defence, social trends and alliances and thus become the most powerful ruler in the game.

New Order could be a viable alternative to sitting on the StarGlobe waiting list. Unlike games such as Shattered World, New Order is far from empty — I found the 68-page rulebook an interesting and involving read.

It’s computer-moderated and uses the deadline system (ten, 15 or 20 days). There’s a lot to do each turn (the orders form is divided into 18 sections!), though at £2.50 a turn you certainly pay for it.

New Order will take a lot of playing to get right. It’s good value for money, if you’ve got the time. Still interested? The rulebook costs £2.50 from Jade Games.


MANY READERS have suggested PBM Mailbox launch its own game. And here’s what I’ve come up with...

In conjunction with Jade Games, two special games of The Chronicles Of The Knights Of Avalon will be run exclusively for CRASH. The player with the highest score at the end of 25 turns wins a superb prize — a special-edition hand-built stone castle! No, I’m not joking. But I feel I should make it clear that this castle will only be about ten cubic feet big. The castle is a display piece, the sort of thing wargamers place on a sideboard in the sitting room for decoration.

The Chronicles Of The Knights Of Avalon is a relatively low-priced game: startup is free and each turn costs only 70p. It has been designed for 100 players with a ten-day deadline/turnaround, and Jade claims you needn’t even read the rulebook to play!

The theme of this game is (according to the accompanying booklet) ‘diplomacy, skill and strategy’. You play a knight of Avalon, the legendary land of King Arthur, and you must use your supporting armies and religion (plus a hint of diplomatic skill) to explore Avalon, meet its people, and conquer its provinces.

As you grow in strength and fame your character builds up game points. After the first three rounds the player (or players) with the highest score in each round will have one free turn credited to their game account.

After 25 turns all the scores will be compared. If there is an outright winner, he or she will have the castle — their very own Camelot! If not, then the game will continue till one person holds the highest score.

Remember that The Chronicles Of The Knights Of Avalon was designed to last for at least 50 turns. Once 25 turns are over (in approximately a year) the game will continue as a normal game, so hang in there!

Please note that Jade Games and not CRASH is running the competition and games! Progress in the two games will be followed closely in PBM Mailbox, with a list of the top ten players printed each month.

This map shows Avalon, which can be divided into 50,400 squares. You can clearly see the 504 provinces, each being 50 miles square... it’s quite an area to control, let alone attempt to conquer! Up-to-date maps of your provinces are shown on the turnsheet, followed by inventories of what’s in the area. Don’t forget that though there will be about 100 players in the game, everyone starts with only one province. This leaves 404 spare provinces to compete for... good luck!