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To Win Just Once magazine

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Les Petites Bêtes Soyeuses

Swiggers games club

Turn-based games / play by mail
Elmers End
Way Station

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Play-by-Mail/turn-based games

Games run and published by Pevans

I publish a number of games, run on a correspondence basis, in my magazine, To Win Just Once. Chief of these is Les Petites Bêtes Soyeuses, which has its own section on this website. Below is more about the other games: The Bonking Game, Easy Money, Fictionary Dictionary, Railway Rivals, Star Trader, Trophy Hunter and Wits & Wagers. Some of these games are open to all readers of TWJO; you'll need to subscribe to TWJO to play in the others.

The Bonking Game

The name goes back to more innocent times and the game has also appeared under other titles. Each turn, each player bonks (= nominates) one other recipient of the magazine. Those who are bonked enough times in a turn are out of the game and then can't bonk anyone else. Last man standing wins.

As I no longer publish a list of subscribers in each TWJO, this game wouldn't work any more.

Easy Money

Easy Money was devised by Chris Boote and was run in 2005-2006 and again in 2010. It is played over a set number of turns (12 in this case) with the winner being the person with the most money (not including the value of shares) at the end of the game.

There are four tradable stocks (red, blue, green, yellow) plus a fifth, black, which can be bought, but not sold. Players start with 100p money and one of each tradable stock. Each turn, each player bids to buy or sell a number of shares in one tradable stock. If a player's bid doesn't work, they end up buying a black share. At the end of the turn, the prices are modified by the net of the number bought and sold. Players are out of the game if they own four black stocks. They are also out if they have no money and no tradable stocks.

Bids are sent to Pevans by the deadline. He collates the bids and calculates the results. The bids, shareholdings and money of all players, together with the share prices and the next deadline are published in each issue of TWJO.

Fictionary Dictionary

You will probably know this game. Each issue I put up a couple of obscure words. Anybody who wants to participate writes in with fictional definitions for the words. I publish these, anonymously. Everybody votes for their favourite definition (a vote for your own definition is ignored).

Players score points according to how many people choose their definition. (Usually the definitions include the correct one and players get points for spotting it. However, it's too easy to look words up in a dictionary, so I've left this out.) The winner is the player with the most points at the end.

Railway Rivals

Railway Rivals is a board game about building railway lines and racing trains. Players start with a map that shows towns and natural obstacles (hills/mountains, rivers and so on). They connect the towns into their railway networks, drawing on the map with felt pens or crayons. Then they race trains between pairs of towns (drawn at random) by rolling dice. They score points for connecting towns and winning races and the player with the most points wins when all the races have been completed.

This classic game was designed by David Watts and won the prestigious Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) prize in Germany under its German title, Dampfross. Games Workshop published a boxed version of the game in the late Eighties, but the main source has been David's own imprint, Rostherne Games, which has produced dozens of maps for the game. Railway Rivals has been played by mail from the beginning, with David Watts running and playing in many games. The postal game is a bit more organised and takes 12 turns: six for building railways and six for racing trains. The player with the most points still wins.

We currently have two games in progress, our 15th and 16th: Freshford and Elmers End.

Star Trader

Star Trader (not to be confused with Star Traders, a board game published by Steve Jackson Games) was published by SPI back in the early 1980s as an issue game in their SF/F games magazine, Ares. The core of the game is about buying, selling and transporting commodities across a group of star systems. Under the science fiction theme it has an interesting supply/demand mechanism for changing prices. There are rules for factory production, sabotage, piracy, smuggling and lots of other details. Some of our games use an expanded version with 8 star systems for up to 12 players, which Mike Dommett created (the published version had 6 star systems and accommodated 6 players). Our eleventh game, Way Station, is well under way, but extra players can be ftted in if they want to get to grips with the game.

Trophy Hunter

Devised by Tom Fyfe of Hunky Monkey Games (as "Great White Hunter"), this is essentially a variation of Battleships. The 20 x 20 grid represents an African safari park where a population explosion means animals must be culled. The players are trophy hunters brought in to do this. Each turn they nominate two squares to take pot-shots at (the second is only used if the first misses). Hitting something scores points - if several players hit the same square they share the points. An animal is dead when all its squares have been hit. When the board is clear (or after a set number of turns), the player with the most points wins.

Wits & Wagers

Designed by Dominic Crapuchettes, Wits & Wagers is published by North Star Games and I have used it in TWJO with their permission. It’s one of the very few trivia games that I give house room to because it’s not just about being the biggest know-it-all.

Each round a question is posed that has a number as its answer. Players’ answers are sorted and given different odds. The middle number gets odds of 1:1, those either side of it 2:1, then 3:1 and 4:1 with the final categories being 5:1 that the answer is larger/smaller than anything else.

Players now bet on one (or two, in the last round) answer, staking up to 10 each round – except the last where they can go all-in – from their funds (80 to start with). The correct answer pays out at its stated odds with a 10 bonus for those who gave the correct answer in the first place (whether or not they bet on it). After seven rounds, the player with the most money wins.