Personally, I am a big fan
of play by e-mail (PBEM) Diplomacy games. I have always preferred them
to the various judges. I think play by e-mail allows for much more creativity
and flexibility by both the Game Masters and the players. The ability
for press, analysis and commentary to come out simultaneously with an
adjudication is a great addition to any gaming experience. There are
minimal reliability issues with PBEM, since all that is needed are private
e-mail accounts. There is no judge program to go down.
Of course, in the increasingly
mechanized world, games on the various judges are often easier to find
and join than games in a non-judge PBEM community. What kinds of opportunities
are available to play PBEM Diplomacy games? I recently went through
the record of three different English language PBEM communities that
I am familiar with: Cat23, the Diplomatic Corp, and DipWorld. Each has
a navigable archive of game results. I compiled data on all 2006 game
starts in those three communities.
I cut my teeth in the Cat23
back in 2000 and 2001 when I first started playing games of Diplomacy
on line. Because of that personal history, I still have a strong affinity
for this forum, despite the gradual decline in the number of games and
players within it. This community uses a number of list serves, one
for new game announcements, and others for season by season result postings.
Looking over the thirteen game starts from 2006 in the Cat23 community,
this is what we have…
The Diplomatic Corp
is a newer PBEM community. If there is one drawback to this community
it is that all of their postings are on one list serve. Thus to get
the new game announcements, one must also wade through the season by
season results postings and other game specific broadcasts. Reviewing
the eighteen game starts from 2006 in the Diplomatic Corp community,
It is safe to say that
DipWorld is the most active of
the three communities that I researched for this study. Thirty four
games were started in this community in 2006. Besides the use of a single
list serve, similar to the Diplomatic Corp, the club also has a well
maintained, user friendly and attractive website. It is quite easy to
scour the results of archives games. In fact, I have already recommended
this community to one Dip Pouch author who likes to research and write
‘zine articles on variants. There is no better place to start such
a project than by looking at the archived results of the variant one
is interested in. Here are the thirty four DipWorld community game starts
So what are enthusiasts playing
in our hobby? It appears that standard Diplomacy is still the
“standard” for most players. (Ha! I want to thank my team of gag
writers for that clever line.) Over 60% of the games in each of the
three communities studied were games of standard Diplomacy.
As far as variants are concerned,
the ones that were played multiple times within these three communities
in the year 2006 were
Colonial Diplomacy, Hundred,
South America 5.1.
One note for those review the charts above, the game of the Conquest
of the Americas variant was a single game that was cross registered
in all three communities to create a high profile for the play test.
Let’s also take a moment
and the timing of game starts in each of the three communities throughout
the year 2006…
(Game starts by month in the Cat23, Diplomatic Corp and DipWorld communities)
OK, so a word of caution… the spike in the DipWorld game starts in January 2006 reflect ten game starts of standard Diplomacy games with a ten year maximum for an annual tournament. Generally, new game starts are pretty consistent throughout the year in each of the three communities. The only real decline appears to be in November and December. This is not a surprising observation. With the upcoming Holiday Season often requiring deadline extensions while players are on vacations and prioritizing time with family and friends, it is understandable for GMs to wait until after the New Year to begin a new game.
Admittedly, this is just a small sample of the numerous PBEM communities out there in our hobby. I chose these three because they are all Anglophone communities with which I was familiar and could navigate within to obtain the relevant information. I’m certain there are French and German and Spanish (etc.) language PBEM communities, as well as other English language communities. Hopefully other readers and contributors, who are familiar with these other communities, can do a similar treatment about further opportunities for PBEM play.
If you wish to e-mail feedback on this article to the author, and clicking on the envelope above does not work for you, feel free to use the "Dear DP..." mail interface.