THE Third British Play by Mail convention will be held on February 20 at the Porchester Centre in London. It will include game launches, competitions, live role-playing demonstrations, SF/fantasy stalls, a swap shop (bring any complete board games, D&D pieces, ORIGINAL software etc to sell or swap), lectures, a bar and myself. As ever, the last two features will be found quite close together...
Most major PBM companies will be attending the convention, and there are always a fair few newcomers there.
The convention is always worth visiting, with many bargains to be grabbed and players to meet. It’s a good idea to wear a badge to say who you are in whatever game you play.
One of the major displays at the convention will probably be the launch of Standard Games’s first PBM game (the company is well known for its successful board games). David Norton of Standard Games says a PBM version of Dark Blades is imminent, and though Standard Games’s designers haven’t yet perfected the version to be marketed, Norton hopes the display at the convention will give a good idea of Dark Blades.
Dark Blades is a fantasy game for up to 100 players where the players are split first into races and then character types. There are two types of race and two types of character; in both cases the choice is the player’s.
Each player is set several quests to complete before going for the big one — a quest to find a mystical object. The first player to complete all the quests and to find the object wins the game. Players interact as the game progresses — there’ll be more details next issue, I hope.
Rumour has it that problems with the software governing Phoenix Games’s Megalomania, one of the most enjoyable games of 1987, have been overcome (famous last words!) and that Game Three is soon to be launched.
Meanwhile, the man responsible for the Megalomania idea, Andrew Dodd, has another game up his sleeve — to be run separately from the Phoenix house. It’s called The Order Of Chaos and Dodd’s idea is a novel one.
You, the player, are a World Shaper. Bible-readers will know Genesis, and that’s basically the book of the game. Against all sorts of demonic opposition and irritation you must shape the River Of Life to ‘create a suitable environment for Civilisation’. It’s a cracking idea (interestingly paralleled by Ocean’s new Atari ST/Amiga game Eco), so more details after the official launch.
Harrow Postal Games (moderator of The Weapon) has recently launched a new game, The Omega Victor. This is another game of interstellar (well, interplanetary according to the rulebook) diplomacy and wargaming. The player’s goal is simply survival: you are one of 20 planetary rulers wishing to control all the planets of the Omega cluster. In the beginning you have a homeworld, a few flagships and some starfighters. And away you go.
The company claims The Omega Victor is simple but fun to play, and it looks interesting though maybe not very different from a handful of other games. It’s cheap, too — only 50p per turn for British players. Harrow Postal Games’s manager, Jim Gibson, will attend the convention with more information.
The Porchester Centre is just up the road from Royal Oak underground station (near Paddington on the Metropolitan line).
Doors at the Third British Play By Mail Convention open at 10.30am and will close at about 5.00pm.
Tickets cost £2 at the door or £1.50 if bought in advance.
NOVA PRODUCTIONS, which runs Conquest, is promising two new games for the summer. Ancient Empires and Conquest Of The Stars are being imported from the USA by Nova Productions, which has made a deal for the UK rights with the games’ American owners, Schubel And Son Inc.
Ancient Empires is an established American game for 40 players set on a mythical planet. Players rule empires which, while producing some goods, are still dependent upon each other for survival. Trade is necessary, but war and blockades are not uncommon. The game seems to have some interesting military, naval and economic features, so I await the rulebook with bated breath.
Conquest Of The Stars is, as Nova honestly admits, ‘the usual type of space PBM game’. 60 players battle it out over the same galaxy with a multitude of spacecraft and military units fighting over the ever-popular ultimate fuel source etc etc. There’s a promise of alien life forms as well. If Conquest Of The Stars is priced low it could be in fierce competition with other new budget games, such as Eclipse and The Omega Victor.
There’s a new idea from Blitzkrieg Games — a comic-book superhero PBM game, Destructor. The multicoloured rulebook for this imaginative new hand-moderated launch details pages and pages of superpowers, body parts, terrain types and so on.
And for sports fanatics there’s a new American-football PBM game which looks like a good simulation, though it’s not as cheap as some other amateur games. Write to SEP Games.
AMATEUR SPORT games are the subject of Top Of The Pile, an easy-to-read fanzine offering a fair few positions in football and motor-racing games, among others. It’s on its third issue: for a copy send an SAE to Dave Brennan.
Also on its third issue, PBM Scroll is 16 pages in a new A5 format. The price hike to £1 is a bit too much, but it’s worth a look — contact John Woods.