INTRODUCING PLAY BY MAIL GAMING

This page last updated: May 19, 2012. and seldom needs changing.

PLEASE CLICKHERE for age restrictions for our games.

THE YEAR OF THE BUFFALO!
The following special will be available all during the year 2010. In 1970 I started moderating/refereeing the first commercial play by mail game: Nuclear Destruction. I charged ten cents per turn (this was when postage was 8 cents!). In celebration of our 40th Anniversary, I am going to offer everyone ONE game of Nuclear Destruction for the 1970 price of ten cents per turn. Likewise when we first offered Starweb in 1975, it was one dollar per turn, so I am also offering one game of Starweb for one dollar per turn. (Note: this is if we can send your results to you via email. If you want them sent postally, there will be an additional 50 cents per turn charge to pay for the postage and the envelope. Also you still pay the $5 'setup fee' at the beginning.) You can find the rules to Nuclear Destruction and the rules to Starweb here on our website. Be sure and mention that you are signing up for the anniversary special.

If you haven't played a play-by-mail (pbm) game before, you are in for a truly different and exciting experience. The concept is simple: each player interacts with the game (and with the other players) by sending written instructions for each turn to the game company. The company processes the turns, reports the results back to the players, and generally acts as moderator, guide, and referee.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: There are games out there where a person is acting as the game referee in either a "hand moderated" or "partially hand moderated" game. In ALL our games, the computer makes all the decisions about your game. We do nothing but process the orders you give us. Thus you don't have to "suck up" to the gamemaster or worry about another customer being "favored".)

Your position or role in the game will vary according to the game setting. Thus, depending on the kind of game, you might be a feudal baron, starship captain, dictator of a galactic empire, general of a conquering army, a powerful wizard, or crafty leader of a great conspiracy to take over the world!

Flying Buffalo Inc. has been moderating multi-player pbm games since 1970. We are the first company to begin commercially refereeing pbm games, and of course have been doing it the longest: We provide the games, the opponents, and results and recognition of the winners through a rating system published in Flying Buffalo Quarterly, our official pbm gaming magazine. Our computers calculate combat results, keep track of production, make sure all moves are legal, and create an individual printout showing you what happened last turn and what you see or have discovered about the game and the other players. You play against 6 to 30 other players, depending on the game. You are not competing against the computer, nor do you have to have a computer of your own.

Everything in our play by mail catalog is on this website, but if you would like to download a pdf copy of our catalog, click Here.

HOW TO START:

If you'd like to play in one of our pbm games, first obtain a copy of the rules to the game you want to play. You can't be sure that a specific game is right for you until you read the rules. PLEASE do not try to sign up for a game and get a copy of the rules at the same time. Rules are NOT provided with the first turn of the game. If you can't decide which game you want from the information given here, you can buy a package of all the rules to all our pbm games. Just order "all the pbm rules". There is a discount from the individual price, and you will get all the different rules that are on hand at the time we receive your order. The price for this is $8.00. To buy the rules, go to the Flying Buffalo Store.
Or you can pay for it through paypal by clicking this button.
You can also order a CD that has all the rules on it. The cost of that is only $5.

Game Signup Button

You can also download a pdf of our "house rules" here which explain how we do things here, and how we handle certain problems that often crop up.

When you decide which game or games you want to play, you can sign up here. You can sign up for as many games as you have time for or can afford. Please note that we do charge a fee to play our games. Our full-time job, 40 hours a week, is processing game turns for players in a professional manner, answering questions, etc. If you think there is something wrong with paying a professional a reasonable fee to referee your game for you, please look elsewhere.

We accept Mastercard, VISA, American Express, and DISCOVER, and we accept phone-in credit card payments and game requests. Our phone number is (480) 945-6917.

You can also pay us with Paypal, by sending a payment to postmaster at flyingbuffalo dot com or going to our payments page.

When you contact us, we will need:

  • 1. Your first and last name, and middle initial (please print clearly.) You can use whatever name you like for playing games, but we would prefer to have your real, full name if possible to make it easier to keep all the people with similar names separate. (You can, of course, sign up using a pseudonym, but that can create problems with the postal service, especially if you change your address.)
  • 2. Your address, including zip code, and including the 9 digit zip if possible. (Don't forget your apartment #.)
  • 3. If you have played one of our games before, give your FBI account number. If you don't remember it, just mention that you have played before and we'll look it up, even if it was ten years ago.
  • 4. Please specify which game and which speed you are requesting.
  • If you sign up by email, and give us an email address, we will assume you want to send and receive your turns by email. You can send in any turn of any game (even if it's not specifically an email game) by email, and you can ask us to send your results for any game by email. Or you can ask us to send the results by postal mail. There is an extra charge for postal results mailed overseas, and there is an extra charge if you want your turn results sent BOTH by postal mail and email.

    We can arrange to charge a fixed fee to your credit card at certain intervals, but we do not "bill you" for turns or fees. All turn fees are to be paid in advance. Prices are subject to change at any time without notice, although we will generally try to give plenty of notice, and usually do not change the fees of games that are in progress. Please notice that the turn fee covers the entire turn. We have no "special action" fees or "battle report" charges.

    If you are joining an "indefinite length" game (see Types of Games) which has no beginning or end, we will put you in an ongoing game as soon as we can. We will try to get you into a game within 5 to 10 days, but sometimes you may have to wait until the next "cycle" of that particular game. If you are joining a "fixed length" game, you will have to wait until the next game starts. We can't put you in a game until we have enough players to fill the game. Some games we start every two weeks, but occasionally there may be a 6 or 8 week wait, especially if you have picked a variant that isn't very popular. (If you ask for a "slow" game, for instance, you may have to wait three or four months before we have enough players. We hate that, but there's nothing we can do but wait until enough players sign up.)

    We will post the current number of players on the waiting list here under Game Openings which should give you a rough idea of when your game might start. When we have enough players from around the country (or the world) who want to play the game you requested, we will send you a special printed form ( your "turn sheet") for your moves, and a computer printout showing your starting position. You'll know you are in a game when this first turn arrives. For regular games, you have about two weeks from the date we mailed your material to you to return your game moves to us. After the due date, we enter all the turns received into our computer and mail you the results. You can send us your turns by email, and for most of the games, we can send you the results back by email, but we still recommend a game with two weeks between due dates. This gives you time to negotiate with your allies and enemies, and perhaps have a "real life" in between turns! When the game is over, you gain or lose points in our rating system which is published in our magazine.

    NEW INFO:Since the above was written, email and The Web have become more ubiquitous and there are some services which we can offer at no extra charge.
    (1) For Starweb, Battle Plan, and WWBP we provide an "order echo". If you send in your orders by email, on the date the game is due, we will email you a message listing the orders you have submitted, along with any errors. Games are generally processed on the day AFTER the due date, so you will have until the next morning to correct any errors. (We recommend sending the entire turn in again, with the corrections made, rather than trying to ask us to correct specific orders.) If you have not submitted orders for that turn, but we have been sending your results by email, we will send you an email on that day reminding you that no orders have been received. (2) If you are receiving your orders by email, we can (for no extra charge) send your results to TWO email addresses simultaneously. (In case you are worried that one might not get through, or so you can have your printout at both work and home, or whatever.) (3) Because of spam and other problems, email has become somewhat unreliable. We send a receipt back for EVERY game turn we receive by email. If you don't get a receipt within 24 hours, send your turn again. But just to be safe you could get yourself a free, web-based email account if you don't have one already. (In addition to whatever account you currently use.) Tell us the email address AND YOUR PASSWORD. Then whenever you send us a turn, send a CC to that email address. If we have such an address on file for you, and your turn is not here on the due date, we will look in that mailbox to see if it is there. And of course, after you send your turn, you can look in that mailbox to see that it was received ok. As it is web-based, you can check it anywhere in the world where you have internet access. Also if you like, we can send a copy of your turn results to that email address. (some examples of free web-based email are yahoo.com, iwon.com, hotmail.com, gmail.com)


    PRIVATE GAMES:

    If you and your friends would like to play a game where you are the only players, read our Private Games page. We can even 'personalize' a game.

    TYPES OF PBM GAMES:

    Some PBM games are run entirely by hand, and some are "computer assisted" (a computer is used to calculate combat, or for text editing or just for printing out the results.) All of Flying Buffalo's games are completely computer-run for accuracy (computers generally do not make mistakes, although admittedly the operators sometimes do), speed (we have over a hundred games running and hundreds of customers and can handle as many as care to sign up), and fairness (you don't have a human referee looking at your turn and deciding what happens - the computer treats everyone exactly equal.)

    I will rate each of the games in this list using the following three categories: