How to Play Forum Games

Information, rules, and tips for newcomers, aspiring GMs, and variant designers.

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How to Play Forum Games

Postby joe92 » 16 Feb 2018, 14:05

How to Play Forum Games

From time to time I get asked by new players for good practises on playing forum games. I've lost what I usually send but have been wanting to write out a forum post to explain it anyway as it may double as something to show any potentially interested players that while it might look daunting at first, the forum is an easy tool to use for Diplomacy variants. There are just 4 main points to cover to get you going.

This is a just an introductory guide for dummies about the mechanics of playing forum games, and it's written largely from my point of view. You will need to have an understanding of the strategy involved in diplomacy and your own ability of negotiation to be able to play. And if you are looking at playing some of the more complex variants you will need to have proven you are not a quitter. But believe me, it's worth that small amount of effort. The variants played in the forum are a lot of fun.

1. How do you send in your orders?
In forum games there is no point and click technology for you to use. You need to write out your orders and send them as a private forum message to whoever is running the game, called a GM. Some of the more complex games have 2 GM's to ensure that the behind the scenes functionality of the game is not abused. If a game has 2 GM's you simply send your orders to both at the same time.

When you send your orders be sure to compose your title in a clear manner showing what the message contains and always start with the name of the variant. What I recommend is something like:
[variant]: [power] [phase]
E.g. Heptarchy: Northumbria Spring 651

The reason you need the variant name is for message filtering explained below.

2. How do you communicate with other players?
Same as how you send in your orders, you use the forum's private messaging system. To keep on top of messages it is important that you title them in a clear manner. It will help you a lot. A message title of "Plans for the first year" might work on the main site with the automatic filtering, but in the forum it puts the extra onus on you to remember exactly which power those messages are going to (and the same on whoever received it). You will begin to lose track of things. I recommend following a similar title style to that above:
[variant]: [your power] - [their power]
E.g. Heptarchy: Northumbria - Mercia

When starting negotiations between multiple players it becomes a bit more difficult to add all the powers to the title. There's limited space. If you can think of a thematic name for the communications it will help (e.g. "The Corners Trio"). If not, simply "The Trio" or something will suffice to get it going. Maybe one of the recipients will think of a name. Always include the variant name.

NB: Some third party tools may be used for communications. For example, Slack is currently being used for the Tournament Through Time hosted by NoPunIn10Did.

3. Message Folders for Better Organisation
Once you start playing it becomes much easier to manage your games by creating folders specific to the game or games you are in. For example, at present my folders look like so:
folder_management.png (7.17 KiB) Viewed 2623 times

To add a folder click the link at the bottom, "Rules, folders & settings". From there find the section, "Add folder:", type in the variant name as the folder name and click to add.
add_folder.png (2.28 KiB) Viewed 2623 times

When you finish a game you can delete the folder from the same panel you added it. The procedure is self-explanatory.

4. Message Filtering
All GM's use message filtering which is why you need to add the variant name to the title. Take advantage of them as well to manage your games. Here are my defined rules for the folders shown above:
message_filtering.png (9.51 KiB) Viewed 2623 times

Every incoming message is checked against the rules you define, in the order you define them, and if a match is found then it will be automatically placed into the relevant folder. If a match is found against rule 1 it will not proceed to check any of the other rules.

At the bottom of the above snippet, you can see how to add the rules. This is all part of the "Rules, folders & settings" as before. There are 4 steps to adding a rule.
1. Select the "If" parameter. Choose "Subject" and click next.
2. Select the "match" parameter. Choose "is like" and click next.
3. Enter the string it will match against. Type in the variant name and click next.
4. Select what do with a match. From the drop down choose the option to place into the folder you have created for this variant.

You may wish to create more than 1 rule for a game to cover an abbreviation people are likely to use. Though often you can be clever about the rule and avoid that. If you spotted it, rule 5 above is actually superfluous. Anything matching Hep would also match anything matching Heptarchy. It doesn't need to be in there. Nor does the rule being created in the Add Rule section. Anything matching Emerge would match anything matching Emergence.

Bonus: Quick Editing Tips
Using the Alt button on Windows/Linux machines provides a speedy shortcut for editing text in the forums. No idea what the relevant shortcut is on Apple.
Alt + B = Bold
Alt + I = Italic
Alt + U = Underline
Alt + Q = Quote
Alt + W = URL
Alt + P = Image Link
Alt + L = Unordered List
Alt + O = Ordered List (You will have to add 1, a or i to specify whether it's numeric, alphabetical or roman numeral)
Alt + Y = List point
Alt + C = Code Block

Alt + H = Go to Forum Home Page
Alt + S = Submit Message (be careful on that one, you don't want to send it early!)
Alt + K = Save as Draft
Alt + X = Log out of the Forum

Sadly there doesn't appear to be a shortcut for Preview.

And that's it! We're not talking rocket science. This is an easy to use tool. Enjoy playing forum games!
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Re: How to Play Forum Games

Postby TTBen » 16 Feb 2018, 15:23

Good thoughts and something I’m interested in down the road but for now I’m working on being a better full communication player before biting off an even bigger challenge such as this
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Re: How to Play Forum Games

Postby Don Juan of Austria » 16 Feb 2018, 15:59

Excellent! This is/will be a great place to refer "aspiring" PBF players to.
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Re: How to Play Forum Games

Postby ColonelApricot » 17 Feb 2018, 04:58

And it doesn't hurt to remind them that PbF games are FREE! Don't need Premium membership (actually I'm premium but I mostly prefer Forum games myself).

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