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Dune PBEM

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09 Jul 2009 17:52 #34351 by mjl1783
Replied by mjl1783 on topic Dune PBEM
Questions:

1. Should we consider a reasonable time limit during the bid phase before you're assumed to have passed?

2. How are we going to do the simultaneous combat reveals?

3. Which version of the alliance rules are we using? 2 player limit, or the more-players-more-strongholds option?

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09 Jul 2009 18:50 #34354 by Not Sure
Replied by Not Sure on topic Dune PBEM
1. I think bidding is going to be the slowest part of the game. We're transatlantic as well, which won't speed things up. 24 hours to respond? Do we want to enforce strict bidding in turn order, or be lax about it? Lax would be faster, but I'd guess it will drive prices higher.

2. The Vassal mod seems to handle that, by allowing face-down placements and dummy cards. That's probably going to require a bit of back-n-forth, though. Or we could forward the orders to the next uninvolved person to reveal.

3. I'm thinking limited to 2-players-at-4-strongholds, based on the ruleset Matt linked to.

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09 Jul 2009 19:18 #34359 by mjl1783
Replied by mjl1783 on topic Dune PBEM
1. I think bidding is going to be the slowest part of the game. We're transatlantic as well, which won't speed things up. 24 hours to respond? Do we want to enforce strict bidding in turn order, or be lax about it? Lax would be faster, but I'd guess it will drive prices higher.

The bidding's going to be a real bitch. I don't have enough experience with the game to know how lax bidding would affect it. I imagine people are going to want to see what the Atreidies player does when making their bids.

2. The Vassal mod seems to handle that, by allowing face-down placements and dummy cards. That's probably going to require a bit of back-n-forth, though. Or we could forward the orders to the next uninvolved person to reveal.

I'm not sure the mod allows you to reveal battle plans that aren't yours, which is a problem. Unless we want this thing to take years to play, it'd probably be a good idea to log both your planning and your reveal, and send it along to the next player to do the same. This will give one participant an opportunity to peek at the other guy's stuff when he sets up his own plan.

3. I'm thinking limited to 2-players-at-4-strongholds, based on the ruleset Matt linked to.

The ruleset he linked to has both. I don't have a preference, but we should decide on one or the other before we start.

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09 Jul 2009 20:40 #34365 by Not Sure
Replied by Not Sure on topic Dune PBEM
mjl1783 wrote:

The bidding's going to be a real bitch. I don't have enough experience with the game to know how lax bidding would affect it. I imagine people are going to want to see what the Atreidies player does when making their bids.

Totally agree. Having drawn a spice-poor faction, it'll be interesting to see how it works out. I'm happy to hear other people's opinions. Since I may be on vacation for the first bidding round, my bidding is going to be pretty fixed.

2. The Vassal mod seems to handle that, by allowing face-down placements and dummy cards. That's probably going to require a bit of back-n-forth, though. Or we could forward the orders to the next uninvolved person to reveal.

I'm not sure the mod allows you to reveal battle plans that aren't yours, which is a problem. Unless we want this thing to take years to play, it'd probably be a good idea to log both your planning and your reveal, and send it along to the next player to do the same. This will give one participant an opportunity to peek at the other guy's stuff when he sets up his own plan.

True. In a game as treacherous as Dune, I'd prefer some accountability in battles. With VASSAL and no GM, I think the quickest (but still slow) way is to have the aggressor lock-in their plan face-down, then send a logfile. The defender can put their plan in face-up, then send out a logfile. Third step, aggressor flips their plan and resolves battle. Defender can then call traitor, if necessary. We'd all have to be careful with stepping the logfiles, though.

Bleah. The idea of sending the combat plans to an uninvolved player sounds better and better. We'd still have to have a step where you display treachery cards, though.

3. I'm thinking limited to 2-players-at-4-strongholds, based on the ruleset Matt linked to.

The ruleset he linked to has both. I don't have a preference, but we should decide on one or the other before we start.


Agreed.

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09 Jul 2009 20:46 #34366 by TheDukester
Replied by TheDukester on topic Dune PBEM
Have y'all considered play-by-forums? I've had great success with this; a group of about eight longtime CE Online players got together two years ago to give it a shot, and we've completed 11 games (plus a goofy Bizarro World game that I'm hoping to soon forget).

The basic premise: use free forums software, have one person be a non-playing administrator, use basic software to make the map, etc., set acceptable time limits for folks to log in and post a move, blah, blah, blah.

Here's our site: you should be able to lurk and see how we do things. We're on hiatus now — players on long vacations, general burnout, etc.

dune.seanwt.co.uk/

If you poke around, you'll see how we do the maps, keep everyone focused, etc. Our most recent development was to separate all chit-chat, your-momma's, and other non-game stuff into separate discussion threads, keeping the actual game threads as clean as possible.

Anyway, it's just a thought. I'm not much of a PBEM fan, as I've never seen it work that well. YMMV, of course.

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09 Jul 2009 21:26 #34370 by mjl1783
Replied by mjl1783 on topic Dune PBEM
True. In a game as treacherous as Dune, I'd prefer some accountability in battles. With VASSAL and no GM, I think the quickest (but still slow) way is to have the aggressor lock-in their plan face-down, then send a logfile. The defender can put their plan in face-up, then send out a logfile. Third step, aggressor flips their plan and resolves battle.

What's stopping the agressor from switching his battle plan after he sees the defender's, and then start the log? Nobody'd know. If we send them to an uninvolved party, how are we going to stop them from colluding with one of the combatants?

Look, if any of us decide to cheat, there's nothing anyone can really do about it. I think we're just going to have to trust each other no matter what we do.

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09 Jul 2009 22:01 #34371 by Not Sure
Replied by Not Sure on topic Dune PBEM
Yeah, VASSAL's logginess only goes so far, I guess.

The uninvolved party at least means we'd need two colluding cheaters instead of one, and a good chance that anyone who suggests it would be outed. We're not playing for a shiny new car or anything, so I'm not that concerned. I mostly just wanted to limit the casual temptation to peek at plans.

The only foolproof solution is to rustle up a GM, but I'm not sure that's really necessary. I'm sure we can work out an acceptable protocol that's not too demanding.

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10 Jul 2009 04:00 #34396 by Matt Thrower
Replied by Matt Thrower on topic Dune PBEM
As regards Alliances, I was planning on sticking to the "suggested" house rule of 2-player alliances only, needing 4 strongholds for a win.

I wasn't planning on doing anything to police battles - just rely on honour. But if you guys would like to have a backup system how about this: when a battle starts, each player involved mails their battle plan to all players in the game not involved in the attack. There's then a 24 hour delay, and logfiles are sent out (to demonstrate that each player actually has the cards and leaders they claim to have). Slow things down, but should promote honesty. I'm still easy just trusting each other.

One other thing I should note is that Dune has open table diplomacy, so all deals should be in the main email/forum ring please. Remember that in Dune once deals are agreed, they are binding.

I'm interested in the idea of doing play-by-forum if we have an experienced player who recommends it - but I guess it needs a GM. We can always move things to the forum if the email chain doesn't work and we find a GM.

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10 Jul 2009 07:04 #34408 by mjl1783
Replied by mjl1783 on topic Dune PBEM
I think, for the sake of saving time, we ought to just employ the honor system as much as possible. I know that the Harkonnens can certainly be trusted.

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10 Jul 2009 10:25 #34428 by Dr. Mabuse
Replied by Dr. Mabuse on topic Dune PBEM

As regards Alliances, I was planning on sticking to the "suggested" house rule of 2-player alliances only, needing 4 strongholds for a win.

I agree.

mjl1783 wrote:

I think, for the sake of saving time, we ought to just employ the honor system as much as possible. I know that the Harkonnens can certainly be trusted.

I agree with this too.

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10 Jul 2009 11:09 #34436 by Not Sure
Replied by Not Sure on topic Dune PBEM
mjl1783 wrote:

I know that the Harkonnens can certainly be trusted.


This quote may be the funniest thing I see all day, and has already made the game worthwhile.

Alright, honor system it is. I'm not really a hyper-paranoid guy, I was just sort of thinking about it as a puzzle. Let's not trade game time for iffy security, though.

Matt, did you have any thoughts about the bidding questions? Duke, how did your forum group handle that timesink? I can't tell from the forum, as it appears to be blind bidding, but there are some comments that made it seem like it wasn't.

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10 Jul 2009 11:59 - 10 Jul 2009 12:05 #34452 by TheDukester
Replied by TheDukester on topic Dune PBEM
Not Sure wrote:

Duke, how did your forum group handle that timesink?

It evolved, actually.

For the first maybe three or four games, we'd agree on a time and then meet with an IM service (we used everything from Meebo to Gabbly to G-mail). Once everybody was settled down, the admin would say "Okay, first card: Guild, you open the bidding" or whatever. We eventually got so that we could cut down on the chatter and do it in less than 10 minutes. We once did a whole round of six cards in five minutes.

There was always the problem of different time zones, players with commitments, etc., so we eventually morphed it into written bidding orders (we called them "schemas"). These worked surprisingly well and kept the game moving better. Each player would submit bidding instructions to the admin, who would then compile them to determine who won each card.

What's great is that we turned the schemas into sort of an art form. We started off with just "Bid no higher than 3 on card #2" or whatever, but in our last few games we were writing things like, "For card #2, increase bid by 1 up to a maximum of 5; however, if Atreides bids 3 or more, increase max bid to 7." And that's a calm example; we have one player who writes bidding orders that are like algebra.

But it works, believe it or not. As long as they are legal bids, the admin can figure it out.
Last edit: 10 Jul 2009 12:05 by TheDukester.

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10 Jul 2009 12:04 #34454 by TheDukester
Replied by TheDukester on topic Dune PBEM
I should note that, to be fair, we did get pretty good at running our Dune games, but it took time and practice.

Our first game was bad: 48 days to complete nine turns. I almost quit at one point; I didn't think there would be a second game.

But we worked at it, tried different rules (alliances, strongholds, etc.), got everyone to agree to cut down on the chatter and to check in at least once per day (this is key), and we eventually settled on a pretty good core group of seven serious players. By the end, we could run one full turn and open bidding on a second turn all in one day.

My point: try to be patient for this first game, no matter what format you decide to go with. It's hard to get everyone on the same page when you first start out.

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10 Jul 2009 12:33 #34464 by Dr. Mabuse
Replied by Dr. Mabuse on topic Dune PBEM
TheDukester wrote:

I should note that, to be fair, we did get pretty good at running our Dune games, but it took time and practice.

Our first game was bad: 48 days to complete nine turns. I almost quit at one point; I didn't think there would be a second game.

But we worked at it, tried different rules (alliances, strongholds, etc.), got everyone to agree to cut down on the chatter and to check in at least once per day (this is key), and we eventually settled on a pretty good core group of seven serious players. By the end, we could run one full turn and open bidding on a second turn all in one day.

My point: try to be patient for this first game, no matter what format you decide to go with. It's hard to get everyone on the same page when you first start out.

Excellent advice and noted. Any other tips would be most appreciated.

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10 Jul 2009 12:49 #34467 by southernman
Replied by southernman on topic Dune PBEM
For bidding and maybe some of the other stuff how about using a shared spreadsheet in Google documents like we are doing in the Battlestar Galactica forum game some of us are in.
Haven't got time (10 mins) to type one up now but here is one we were going to try and use in the attempt at Borderlands pbem
Google spreadsheet
We could simply just have each person type their name and their bid or pass. Since we all go in order it will be easy to see who is next (as long as you refresh the webpage) and when it has finished, plus any additional stuff.

Then we could look at doing it for any other parts of the game.

Then there is the NOTES tab in the vassal module itself which could hold information.
    - I was going to type our names, player names, and email in turn order in the PUBLIC tab.
    - And the talk of combat makes me think that the DELAYED tab could be used to record your battle plans (as I have only looked at it quickly) it seems to timestamp it so the two battle participants could reveal what they typed when the battle starts to confirm their battle plans haven't changed - or even use it instead of the battle wheels.

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