After many months of writing for CRASH, Brendon Kavanagh has had to give up the pressure-filled job of PBM writer. So without further ado, it’s over to IAN LACEY (whose credentials for the post stretch way past the M25). Can Ian handle the deadlines?
THE MORE ASTUTE of you will notice that I am not called Brendan, and I don’t drive a car (and if I did I wouldn’t crash it quite as often)! So without a whisk from the wind I’ll get on with this month’s look at the world of Play By Mail...
Alchemist’s Guild are expanding. They currently run Macedon, a game of biblical conquest which is now running smoothly after a few bugs. In addition Alchemist’s Guild run Revenge Of The Many Legged Man Eating Mutant Tiger Hounds From Outer Space (the unforgettably titled game first mentioned in Issue 56). They are now looking for new GMs to help moderate Macedon, and to moderate their new game Jetball. Anybody interested in doing this, or wanting more information about the games, should write to Tony Ashcroft. To GM you should have access to an Amstrad 1652, or be able to get to Kidlington, Oxford regularly.
Project Basilisk, the people who brought you Trolls Bottom and more recently Creephouse, are to launch another new game. This one is a serious science-fiction, computer-moderated PBM putting you in the place of a commander of two of the ground ships which give their names to the title, Battlecrabs. You play in a game with 500 other players (this is their biggest venture yet!) all of whom are on the same side. Your objective is to overrun the subversive Zarg city. Project Basilisk tell me that it is a little behind schedule at the moment but should be out by the time you read this. For more news on this, a free start up pack for Creephouse or Battlecrabs, or for a copy of their newsletter (send 80p) write to Project Basilisk.
The Laboratory have recently undergone a change of name and are now trading under the title of The Games Laboratory. The changes have not been merely superficial, however. At the third PBM convention they launched Magelords Of Dorm (a fantasy wargame) as a sister to Further Into Fantasy. Now they have been joined by Warren Saull of WOZ Games, and have started up two more games; Streetwise and Homebase Alpha.
Streetwise puts you in the place of a detective in 1950s New York. As to Homebase Alpha, well your guess is as good as mine, as they told me nothing of this!
All Crisis fans will be pleased to know that the new version of Crisis should be launched at the Northern PBM Convention. The game is a lot more complex than its predecessor with many more features, when all current games have wound down there will just be the new version. No longer merely a ‘beginners’ wargame’, Crisis will be an excellent game combining all the best pieces of the original with new difficulties and innovations. Amongst the pieces added are paratroopers, professional spies, sabotage, NPC countries that play as players (instead of sitting tight, they now try and branch out into neighbouring countries), continent domination, radiation levels and new turncards (à la It’s A Crime and Trolls Bottom). The new rule book promises to be good, being typeset with professional artwork (trendy). I’m in the lucky position of playtesting the game, and things can get extremely complicated. An unmissable game when it’s released. Get along to the Northern PBM Con’ and be among the first to sample conquering the World Crisis II-style.
A new games company, living not too far away from me, has just been launched. The game they’re kicking off with (excuse the pun) a soccer management simulation, called The Grimsdale Super League. And even if you’re not a great fan of soccer games (or Grimsdale — Ed) I think you should still give this one a go as it’s one of the best of its kind. The game is entirely computer-moderated on a Spectrum backed-up by some powerful hardware. This means accurate, unbiased and fast responses. The rule book isn’t particularly inspiring, but serves its purpose well enough. After filling in your squad sheet (making players’ names, equipping your stadium etc) and returning it, winging its way back comes your squad reference sheet for that week and a team selection sheet for the next game. In addition to this, on each subsequent turn you get a list of players available for transfer and a report on how the rest of the league fared that week. The game is actually a converted version of a multiplayer computer game called Soccerman, written by the designer and GM of TGSL, Paul Dean. Paul is a talented programmer and I can assure you that the program runs with a minimum of errors. The game compares favourably in price to other professional PBMs with turns at £1.30 and a starting package at £4 (cheques/POs to Grimsdale Games).
That’s all for this month. Until next time, fingers crossed that the postal strikes stop... (since that’s where his pay cheque is — Ed).