twilight imperium PBEM anyone?

Thanks for the info, jpsuchecki, as well as for offering to be the GM!

I would love having you as a GM, particularly since you are one of the developers of the module (right?). Assuming nobody objects, should we make that official? Are you happy with my PBF rules as written? Does having a GM warrant revieving our decisions about the game logistics, i.e. using vlog files and using this forum to share them?

Regarding race selection and board, my vote is to use the official rules (i.e. fully random selection, and either players make the board or use an official preset board). I like random race selection for two reasons: (a) I’m not all that experienced and giving players more choice always favors the more experienced players, though this effect may be slight (b) I would like to see the less popular races at least once. I like the player-made board because I would like to get more experience with it (almost all my face-to-face games involved a premade board due to time pressure.)

PS Just for future reference, do you have plans to make the distant suns playable without a GM? (As well as anything else that is currently not playable w/o the GM, if anything)

hey rbelikov, jpsuchecki tuned me into the this thread. Distant Suns are currently playable. The only catch is that whomever places the DS has to be the one to flip it. You could play with open DS. One of the variants I’ve seen before is that each player is given a set number of DS counters and then places them face up on the board one at a time in clockwise/turn order. Version 1.03 has bug fixes in place and I even re-ordered the neutral planets deck so that it’s in alphabetical order. Unless significant bugs are found in the near future, the next release should be version 1.1 and be 8 players with pre-made maps for the “Fall of the Empire” scenario in place. If anyone hasn’t done so I suggest that you read the help document (Help Menu, Shards Module Help file). Also if someone has something they think would be a significant addition to the module, please let me know.

Alright a quick vote by me:

  1. vote for random race pick
  2. vote for GM made Map
  3. vote for GM (just for the heck of it xD ) ← no actually I am really happy someone volunteers, thank you.
  4. vote for vote on home system


  1. agreed with rbelikov and his reasons
  2. safes a lot of time
  3. since race pick is random, and we dont build the map, (if we would do it that way) everyone should have the chance to pick the spot you want

Just to make this Thread readable:
How about you create a Poll using Google Docs for example. Everyone can vote and you can put up the results. Might be even quicker.


Thanks a lot jpsuchecki for volunteering to GM!

As far as options go, I’d say we shouldn’t make things more complicated than we need to. GM sets up the rules for everyone to see. I’m pretty much fine with anything, although I’d say we leave out Political Intrigue for now and see how quickly we manage to finish the game. Then we can play another one with all options. :slight_smile:

In fact, I’d be happy to volunteer as a GM for a second parallel game, so jpsuchecki can take part in one as well. Anybody mind?

jpsuchecki - GM
AbsoluteZero - timezone ?
rbelikov - timezone: USA
Richard (TunaDude) - timezone: Australia
Shaun (shaunm) - timezone: Germany
Zilfalon (Zilfalon) - timezone: Germany

So we just need one more for a full game!

Possibly interested:
StrangeTim ?
Adrian (Tretiak)
Danny (Danny Peeters)
Jason (ThaTsRight)
John (jpozsr)
Dario (falcondp)
Jake (Otterjets)

I live on the west coast of USA - PST time zone.

I just thought of two things to consider:

a) How are battles going to be done? If we have to wait for every player to do a single combat round this could drag on forever, which is especially boring for all not involved in the fight.

Suggestion 1: Have a GM do the whole battle considering conditional orders by both players (i.e. “I will take my casualties in the following order: …”, “I will retreat, if …”, “I will play Action card XY if …”).

Suggestion 2: Both players “meet” (Skype, Chat, Forum) at a specified time to do the whole battle in real time.

b) How are various Action cards handled, which can be played outside of combat, specifically during another player’s turn or during the Strategy phase, affecting the active players action? Could this be done by conditional orders sent to the GM in advance as well?

EDIT: Just noted that there seems to be a time limit on whether you can edit your own postings, so I can’t add in your time zone AbsoluteZero.

I agree with Shaun, well we talked about it earlier today :smiley:
And he would be well suited for a second GM btw.

But one thing about the Action cards: I guess you can throw them in, AFTER someone made his turn. GM gets to do the outcome, and sends it back to the former Player who has to redo his turn?!? I dunno…I just noticed this sounds to complicated…

a) the GM rolls the dice. In most cases the order of losses is obvious - when it isn’t the GM and involved players need to coordinate.

b) I’m pretty sure the standard is you have 24 hours to use any abilities/ACs in response to actions that are out of turn. If you don’t speak up in time it’s too late. If something does change, yes, the game goes back to accommodate the action.

If the action is something you can anticipate coming you can and should always try to say it in advance. For example, you when you pass you might also send a message to the GM indicating you want to take some specific action at the start of the status or strategy phase.

There are also other little things you can do to help speed up the game. For example, when someone activates a strategy card you can wait for your turn to come up if it’s strategically important to know what someone else who would go before you does or you want to delay them seeing what you do, but if it isn’t important to you, you can go ahead and go out of turn to speed things up. For example, let’s say you have tech and someone activates leadership - you could wait for everyone to say if they are going to use the secondary or not, but in many cases it is not strategically significant for you to wait, and you could go ahead and buy your CCs right away.

It is a little complicated, but it’s very rare that there is a sizable impact on the flow of the game. And it’s not like we are playing checkers - just like a face to face game, it can be complicated and will take a long time.

When the ti3wiki site was still up, I GMed as well as played a few pbf games.

All the things Zilfalon and Shaun brought up are valid concerns in the game. (Which I would like to play a game too)

Vassal offers things the ti3wiki site never offered. Since it is possible to play the game in real time,
complicated things such as battles can be done that way.

If that is not possible such things has .vlog or log files will record ever move that is done by a player. (Vassal offers an undue button as well that will log when something is undone.)

The log documents everything. If you move something even an cm, it will log it. I understand that sometimes mistakes are made. (I would be worried if you never made one.)

PPBM or PBF games are long. Expect up to 6 months of playtime. Some can take up to a year. We all know that TI3
can take up to 6hours a game and in most cases longer. Imagine giving a player 24hrs to make 1 turn. As
Such I think turns should be limited to 24hours. (This is standard on most ppbm/pbf games. with a extension
on weekends.)

As far as political Intrigue goes, I’m personally a fan of it. It is the only thing in the game where I would offer an extension of time limit. How I have done this in the past was 24hours time limit for all players to submit their representatives (and if playing a spy sending the GM a personal message on who they were targeting) with the second 24hrs taking care of the bargaining, promissory notes and voting. Voting is always done left from the speaker, with the speaker going last.

Sending a GM private messages to give orders for future moves should be encouraged. When I would do battles on the ti3wiki forums, I got pre-orders and kill orders all the time before the actual battle took place.

As far as the rules that rbelikov has proposed, the only ones I object to are:
Space mines
facilities (mostly because I don’t like them)
Voice of the council (which just offers an unnecessary complication)
tactical retreats (because they make the battle system more complicated)
sabotage runs (because they make the battle system more complicated)

I also suggest that before we start everyone gets on vassal at the same time to make sure everyone knows the program and whats going on.

Wanted to make a quick note on how strategy cards are done.

Typically you state your playing them and then say what your doing when playing them. If someone wants secondary, they have until there text turn to state they are playing secondary. It must be the first thing they do. This has never caused problems in the past.

Sounds reasonable to me.
I think we got ourselfes a good GM who is willing to sacrifice some time for us =) appreciate that!

With so much effort you all put into this, this is going to be just fine.

Just the thing with “all to be online at the same time” might be a bit complicated, since some of us go to bed while the other gets out of it…while Shaun and me are having working hours at that time. Well maybe we can figure something out and we all can actually work that out too.

Perhaps the GM could send all the players an email with instructions on them (i.e Move units here and there, select action cards etc), just to know that everyone is comfortable with using vassal. Apart from that I’m OK to give up my Saturdays in the meantime.

I agree about encouraging posting future orders to the GM, not something I actually gave some thought to.

Thanks again for volunteering to GM jpsuchecki. I’m not 100% confident with the rules of the game (only played a few games IRL with noobies), but hopefully over the course of a few months I’ll be able to run one myself and get you involved.

Edit: I think this was raised before, but I also propose the GM selects our races.

Looks like we’re still at 5 checked-in players and the others are being silent?

Jpsuchecki, aside from the ability to cheat, is there anything preventing you from being a player in our game (as well as GMing it)?

All right, 24h to interrupt with Action cards sounds like a good idea! I would also say we generally take secondaries in arbitrary order. I’d say it only really matters for Diplomacy II and Production in some cases, but as a rule of thumb I’d say execute secondaries whenever you’re on the forum, and change later (same as Action cards within 24h) in case another player’s action really mattered.

Ok, I’d be willing to include Political Intrigue, becomes offline I’m also a big fan. :slight_smile: Gives a lot more flair to the races. You’re objecting to Space Mines, jpsuchecki? How come? Playing without them might disfavor some of the defensive races focussing on cruisers. But, never mind, you’re the GM. :slight_smile: I don’t really care about facilities. They don’t have such a large impact anyhow. I agree about the rest.

My main concern is regarding galaxy setup: I don’t really mind whether all players set up together or the GM does it beforehand, but I’m strongly in favor of Home Systems asymmetrically spread out through the galaxy. I really hate the standard setup, because it creates a strong feeling of “my part of the board”, whereas asymmetrical layouts tremendously promote the diplomatic aspects of the game, allowing for tons of additional player interaction.

By the way, this would also allow for a 5 player game without the need of the clumsy adjustments to the galaxy. At the same time however, I wouldn’t mind if jpsuchecki also took part as a player.

Finally, I’ll sum up the rules again (please correct me):

a. Strategy cards:
all white, with Trade III and Assembly II.

b. Objective options:
No Voice of the Council
Preliminary objectives

c. Tile variations:
Territorial distant suns
The final frontier
Wormhole nexus
Custodians of Mecatol Rex

d. Player abilities:
Race-Specific techs
Shock troops
No Space mines
No Facilities
Mechanized units

e. Battle options:
No tactical retreats
No sabotage runs

FOR Space Mines
AGAINST Distant Sun (makes the game to random and may favor some)
AGAINST Final Frontier (same reason)

← My Vote.

Race selection: I would suggest the GM randomly gives each player 2 or 3 Races to choose from.

Thanks to everyone for thoughts on rules and options. Let me summarize the disputed ones below. I propose that we do a vote on these with the GM having the power of veto. I apologize if I missed anybody’s previous vote on these, please vote or re-vote.

Race selection according to rules as written (i.e. fully random)
YES: 3 (Rus, Zilfalon, Tuna Dude)
NO: 0?

Rules as written (player-built map): 1 (Rus)
preset map: 1(Zilfalon)

Type of map:
official FFG (symmertic): 1 (Rus)
asymetric: 1 (Shaunm)

Seating order:
based on time zones or people’s schedules to optimize efficiency: 1 (Rus)
random: 0?

Territorial Distant suns:
YES: 1 (Rus)
NO: 1 (Zilfalon)

Final Frontier:
YES: 1 (Rus)
NO: (Zilfalon)

The options below are being objected to by our GM. Jpsuchecki, please clarify whether your objection constitutes a formal veto or if it is merely a strong recommendation.

Voice of the Council
YES: 1 (Rus)
NO: 0

Space Mines
YES: 2 (Rus, Zilfalon)
NO: 0

YES: 1 (Rus)
NO: 0

Tactical retreats
YES: 1 (Rus)
NO: 0

Sabotage runs
YES: 1 (Rus)
NO: 0

My reasons for some of my votes:

Player-built map: this may be a rare chance to try it for me. It may take some time to build it, but I would actually prefer to take it easy for the next several weeks.

Symmetric map: I feel like the asymetry has a lot of potential to disbalance the game, especially with random races. Also, as a beginner, I feel like I have some grasp on the strategies on the base map but am not yet prepared to wrap my mind around the strategies on an asymetric map.

Voice of the council: Makes influence more interesting, and comes up only rarely anyway
Space mines: rare chance to try
Facilities: rare chance to try
Tactical retreats: I have found this to be incredibly useful
Sabotage runs: very unlikely to happen anyway. Also, the one time that it does happen will be one of the most memorable TI3 experiences I think.

I’m not strongly opposed to space mines, because I don’t typically use them. This is mostly because I play with a group of people who haven’t been playing the game nearly as long as I have, and when I do use them it gives me a strong advantage.
In my opinion, Space Mines clearly favor a stronger player who not only remembers they are there, but knows how to use them to his or her advantage. Some of you have expressed being somewhat new to the game. However if people are up to the task, I think it would be a good edition to the game. (Most of the things I address draw from my personal experience.)

Secondaries normally take place starting from the left of the person playing the strategy card. The only time this would really matter is when drawing cards or playing diplomacy 2. Since vassal is sposta to shuffle the cards each time one is drawn, I don’t think drawing a card really matters, but we can address diplomacy 2 concerns as they come.

Though I would like to play a game, I don’t think I should play in the same game as a GM. Even if we eliminated DS and FF counters, there would still be many situations, political intrigue, action cards, etc where having a neutral player would come in handy. It seems like every time I play a situation comes up that the rulebook or the errata doesn’t cover. A GM would be the ultimate say so on the rule book.

Speaking of the rule book, I suggest that all players spend some time getting familiar with it and the errata which can be found online. (Make sure you check the one that has the new Shards editions at the end.) The rules are vast. And I’m sure at least one of you is playing with house rules. A house rule is typically a rule that is not in the rule book. You may not even be aware you playing with one. For example, I have always played that tech planets give you the tech reduction. When I GMed my first game, I learned that according to page 24 of the first rule book, they only give you the tech bonus if the planet is not exhausted. (However I think this is a stupid rule, and still play with the house rule among 3 others.)

I still think Distant Suns and Final Frontier counters should be used. Planets are the heart and soul of the game. The mystery of invading a planet should not just be you putting your 1 guy on a planet to take it. Also the randomness of the DS and FF counters are one of those things that both newbies and experts will have to face on equal footing. In the Shattered Empire expansion, they suggested the idea of High Risk and low risk tiles. The new module includes two separate tiles for the planets. Typically, how this is done is the high risk (such as radiation) is only found on the inner two rings of the board. I’ve even played it where only high risk planets were the tech advance planets. (Which logically makes more sense, because if the planet was technologically advance they would offer more help or more resistance.)

Anyway, I’m hoping we are about ready to start the game. Remember it is your game, I will be guiding you along the way.

Type of map:

Seating order:
Timezone efficient

FOR Facilities (dont see why not, makes not a real difference, I guess)
AGAINST Voice of the Council (more complication, and in the end, no VP Leader will get it anyway, screw that)
AGAINST Sabotage Runs

I have voted before or I dont care about the Rest.

Shaun and me played the Tech reduction by the rulebook, if we have house rules, he should know best. And: OH YEAH we use to have a lot of discussion about the rules, so the errata is very handy :smiley:

The final frontier rule and the distant sun are things I have never played, because Shaun said they might make it really random and may favor some players. Personally I would sort of want to play with them, but I am kinda hesitant about the outcome. but maybe thats the thrill…