The 10 Commandments of PBM Play

By Dan Roper

I. Thou shalt not ascribe thy opponent's success to luck (even if it is): If you play WarGames long enough you'll experience every possible level of fortune possible and so will your opponents. It is never good form to suggest that your opponent's success is attributable to luck. Even if he rolls four successive 6's on key 1:1 attacks just smile and congratulate him on a game well played. Unless he is inexperienced he knows when he has had the benefit of lady luck's favor but any comment from you to that effect will be perceived as whining.

II. Thou shalt not concede (especially if you begin with the initiative): Quite often a game reaches the point where further resistance seems futile. You're taking a drubbing, it isn't any fun, and you'd like to move on to another game and a fresh start. But your opponent has worked long and hard to achieve his position and a concession on your part robs him of the pleasures associated with completing a victory (and quite possibly robs you of the plea sure of nursing a wounded country much further than you ever thought possible). This is especially so when you start with the side with the initiative. You have run amuck for several years while your opponent has had to take a licking and bide his time. He will not appreciate it if you concede in mid-game just because the other player has the initiative and it is obvious that you won't win a decisive victory. Give your opponent a chance to enjoy the fruits of his labors. See the game through.

III. Thou shalt not disappear: If it's going to take you 37 days to decide whether or not to intercept your opponent's sea supply to Tripoli, tell him! Do not simply "disappear" for long periods without alerting him. Sometimes a disappearing opponent is the product of his recognition that his position is hopeless combined with a reluctance to actually confront that fact. If you're losing, don't simply disappear from the radar screen. Either concede or, preferably, tough it out and finish the game.

IV. Thou shalt make allowances for novices: Many WarGame rules are far too complex for anybody to absorb merely by reading. It takes experience and learning from mistakes to catch on to many of the game's nuances. Unless you're in a tournament or ladder play, it's often a nice gesture to allow them to correct an oversight. One time in A3R my Allied opponent had a spy ring in Turkey in 1942 or '43. I failed to allocate any DPs there and my opponent graciously said "Hey, if you leave Turkey vacant, I can allocate X number of DPs and automatically activate her as an Allied minor ally." I thanked my opponent (whom I now hold in high esteem), rescued Turkey from the peril, and still got my tail end whipped.

V. Thou shall not be condescending to novices: There is a fine line between being sportsmanlike to a novice and being condescending. Telling your opponent that his Axis troop deployment is faulty but that you'll satisfy yourself with capturing Paris rather than taking the Ruhr and Berlin isn't the sportsman way to do it. It would be better to either point out the "glaring weakness" a turn earlier so that he might correct it or, alternatively, to keep quiet and administer the drubbing. If you invade Bremen and exploit to Berlin and Ruhr it's a lesson he'll never forget.

VI. Thou shalt not accuse your opponent of cheating: If an opponent announces in Winter 1939 that the Axis has researched jets or that a dice roll on a key 1:1 attack was a 1 when it was actually a 5, never, never, never sugges t that your opponent is underhanded or cheating. In my experience mistakes always result from a misunderstanding (or complete lack of knowledge) of rules or by simple oversight. In one instance my opponent misread an Irony Games dice roller email message "Roll 1: 5,4,5,6,1,3,2" as a "1". It was a simple mistake. And I've made enough misinterpretations of the rules to warrant a "Top 100 Rules Gaffs" posting. No matter how egregious the situation your opponent made a mistake and did not cheat.

VII. Thou shalt not use profanity: Ninety-four percent of polite society still frowns upon the use of profanity. It is the height of arrogance to assume that your opponent (or anybody within hearing in face-to-face competition) doesn't mind the use of profanity. Profanity in front of minors is unpardonable and ought to result in immediate expulsion from tournament play. Do not use profanity unless you're in a private setting in which there is absolutely no possibility that it can be overheard. Better yet, just never use profanity.

IIX. Thou Shalt not solicit "detailed" advice from others: It is unsportsmanlike to solicit detailed advice on your game from others. While posting a general question ("what type of research projects are best for the Russians", "is an Allied double turn in 1939 a good idea", "my opponent has captured Rome in 1939 - is there any way for me to win now?") is fine; sending your "board" to a more experienced player for detailed advice is absolutely bad form.

IX. Thou shalt be grateful for thy opponent: Whether you win or lose and no matter how sloppy or mistake-filled your opponent's play, remain courteous and thank him for the pleasure of the competition.

X. Thou shalt maintain thy sense of humor: This is not real war and in the ultimate scheme of things it doesn't matter whether you win or lose. It's a game. Enjoy. I still don't understand the player who gave up A3R after suffering successive 4,6 rolls on crucial 2:1 attacks. If 2:1 attacks were sure things then the Battle of Chancellorsville would have been a Yankee victory. Roll with the punches and await the pleasant if rare times when the planets align and your well-thought out strategy and the dice cooperate. And when you see postings like "can I use commodes to invade Bushire?" you are permitted to laugh out loud.}