Chess is a historic example for a play-by-mail board game. The game known as correspondence chess even kept the greatest figures of history entertained. A match was said to be played between King Henry I of England and King Louis VI of France in the early 12th century. Also Voltaire and Frederick the Great were engaged in play-by-mail chess during their time. In 1943, the FBI allegedly suspected Humphrey Bogart to be sending secret enemy codes to correspondence chess players overseas.
Today, eMail and websites make play-by-mail games quicker and more convenient than ever before. However, eMails play only a minor role. However, play-by-mail remains a fun way to find fun games to play online throughout the day, without devoting too much time to it. Besides, you don’t have to be online at the same time your match partner is. Here is a small selection of online games.
The SoundChess website is the link between you and your partner. Either one of you can set up the game and make the first move. With each move you can also include a message to your partner. The site shows the current board and provides some resources on possible chess openings.
After you made your first move, you will see the history of exchanged messages on the very right of the site.
Here a hub for play-by-mail games, including Backgammon, Halma, Checkers, Jamble, and many more. There are 13 standard games, and dozens of variations to many of the games. To play, you must sign up.
You can get into a game in several different ways. You can start a new game and post it to the waiting room. You can also go directly to the waiting room and see which games are seeking a partner. A screenshot of the waiting room is posted below. The time limit refers to the time each player has to complete one move. The minimum is 3 days.
If you already know who will be your partner (they must be registered), you can start a match with a specific player.
Finally, you can be auto-matched for up to 5 different games of any type and at the same time.
Communication happens through ItsYourTurn‘s internal mailbox. However, notifications of new messages are sent to your eMail. All games and standings are listed on the game status page.
For my example I picked Halma. All moves are recorded and shown below the board. With each new move you can add a message for your opponent.
With the free account you can play up to 20 games at once and make 15 moves per day.
Phoenix is an incredibly complex play-by-mail strategy game.
Due to its complexity, the game has a very steep learning curve. However, sufficient material and an active community is available to guide players through each step. If you don’t mind reading and communicating with other players through forums, this game is for you.
After signing up and defining your mission preferences in a short questionnaire, you start out with your own ship. Head over to > Turns > Access and access your ship. It will then appear under > Turns.
To get familiar with your ship, its options, and available orders you should start a training session. Carefully read the mission, then head over to > Orders and give the first orders, so your ship takes off and heads to its first destination.
My mission was to dock in Balmoral on the planet Shiloh and issue a special action applying for the job as courier for the reserach labs of EEM Balmoral.
After making your orders you have to wait for the mission to progress.
When you play games via email you hardly ever know your partner personally and you cannot control how fast the game will progress. The advantage is that you can sit down and continue with your moves whenever you have time.
Have you ever played games via mail? Let us know in comments!
Image credits: lusi