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Issue #2 - Nazareth Speaks! - Tony (aka Nazareth)
Nazareth Speaks!
Tony (aka Nazareth)
Several things I like about PBM, many have already been mentioned, but here’s my three.
1) Politics.   Yep, having played many games, but especially open ended power games, the political game within the game just took the game and enjoyment to another level for me.  I love the politics of the game, regardless of game design.

2) Meet and Greets.  Loved to get together on a weekend, unfortunately not often, at a local hotel and talk gaming, have dinner, do some sight-seeing with a few gaming friends.   Perhaps 5 or 6 of us and some coming from Texas to Nashville.  Also I’d have the opportunity to meet several at gaming conventions.  Loved putting a face to my gaming friends, allies and adversaries.

3) Special actions. First experience with SA’s was with Tribes of Crane back in 1977. I was hooked. It adds so much more depth and further personalizes your position within the game regardless of outcome. I believe games that allow SA’s, where they are appropriate, probably do better in holding their player base over time. Of course, many games by their design aren’t set-up for that. To each their own.

While I’ve push my dementia temporarily aside, a few other thoughts come to mind.
One, I really like opened ended power games among others, but I have a soft spot for historical games such as Paths to Glory and Renaissance.   

Of course Steve Jackson’s comment about the death of PBM made in 1985 was a little premature. IMO, it was just hitting its peak and would still be strong for at least for another 10 years or so before starting to see the beginnings of a decline. Just like the man on the corner holding the sign, ‘the end is near’, eventually he’ll get it right, but for now we’re still waiting for Jackson’s prophecy. If it’s dying, it’s a slow death, admitting that the old man isn’t as healthy as he once was.

With respect to Terry Cale’s comment on the lack of visibility being the reason for underestimating PBM. I’m not sure what more could have been done during those years considering the budgets of PBM companies. I picked up a flyer off the counter at Brookhurst Hobbies in 1977 advertising S&S’s Tribes of Crane. First time I was exposed to PBM and wasn’t sure I wanted to continually pay for turns week after week when I had a board game I only paid for once and could play as often as I liked.

However, once started, it was like a bag of Lays, couldn’t do just one. I’m drifting here. The point is I first saw a flyer, then several PBM magazines came and went and a couple hung around. Then I saw PBM booths at conventions and the ‘Industry’ even organized a PBM Association in an effort stimulate growth. So if there was a lack of visibility, it wasn’t for the lack of effort. Not sure how much more could have been done. We can argue with the results, but not the effort.

PBM like historical miniature war gaming (HMG) is a niche. HMG is also seeing a decline and at HMG conventions you will see a predominance of older players and occasionally a few younger players brought into the hobby by dad or granddad.
Unlike HMG, I’m guessing very few older PBMer’s are bringing younger players into the hobby. Soon, we may not even qualify as a niche, but what a run, huh!

Tony aka Nazareth

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