With Boardgamegeek being the international melting pot that it is, it stands to reason that it would be almost impossible to get together for a game with many of the people I enjoy here on the site (though I have managed to game with some of them face 2 face!)... so what better way to enjoy gaming together than a Play by Forum format. It's one of many logical extensions of the old play by mail format that was popular for chess and other traditional board games.
I think Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game was the first game that I became aware of in the Play by Forum format... the popularity of this game grew very rapidly, to the point where there were endless waiting lists to get in on a game. I didn't get involved to begin with as I wasn't sure how enjoyable the game would in this format, but a friend asked me to take over his position while he was away.. (he knew I had played the game and that I would be on BGG often enough to keep the game moving). despite it being late in the game, I had a blast and subsequently signed up to play a full game.
Board image from my current Shadow Hunters PBF
I then started to think what other games would work in a PBF format, and at that time there was a lot of interest, amongst some of my geekbuddies, in Shadow Hunters, so I set about crafting a Shadow Hunters PBF game, and in November 2009 the first game got under way. It was a lot of fun for me to moderate a hidden role game like this... seeing what everyone did and said, having all the information... and the players seemed to enjoy the game in this format too... certainly everyone who played was keen to sign up for the next one, and we picked up a few other players too.
With subsequent games that I moderated, I was able to refine the format a little bit.. using a graphics package (The GIMP) to quickly generate snapshots of the board... and a googledocs spreadsheet to track details such as characters and teams.. and to randomise cards in each of the decks.
I ran 3 games of Shadow Hunters before taking a break.. by which time Jeff (aka Teriyaki Donuts) had offered to take over moderation so that I would get a chance to actually play... he brought his own style to the game, and came up with a few ideas that I would later incorporate into my next game e.g. BGG avatars on the snapshots instead of boring coloured markers. It was a lot of fun to play, but I got killed off fairly early on (no doubt payback for the previous games I had moderated).
Board image from my Saboteur PBF
I was still on the search for games that would work in a PBF format, and at some point I suggested Saboteur (no surprises what type of games I enjoy!)... A number of my geekbuddies were interested, so again I set up a PBF game and used my forte for manipulating board snapshots to come up with what I thought was a pretty decent PBF game. However it played a little differently than it does face to face... mainly because the game relies so much on table talk, that the players were having to do via posting in the forum.
Meanwhile Jonathan (Mr KSensei) had suggested trying Betrayal at House on the Hill as a PBF game, and he offered to moderate it. I had a lot of fun playing this, but compared to Shadow Hunters and Saboteur, it looked like a lot work to moderate... particularly since there are 3 levels to the board, all of which expand quite a bit in the early stages of the game.
After a long break, during which time I became a father, I felt the urge to run another Shadow Hunters game, and quickly found 8 willing
victims players. This started in February 2011, and is currently ongoing.I'm also already committed to running another one when this finishes, as my wife expressed interest and was disappointed there was no space this time round.
So what of my future in PBF games... well I would like to continue to moderate the occasional Shadow Hunters game... I'm also on the lookout for other games I can have a crack at moderating... For some time I've fancied giving Red November a go, and recently I've thought RoboRally might work.. it would be a change of pace from the hidden role games, but apparently does work as a play by mail game, so should fit the PBF model. Chris (boltongeordie) has also offered to moderate a game of The Resistance, which a number of us are keen to try.