Games for the geographically- and temporally-dispersed
September 26, 2010 3:27 PM   Subscribe

What games can I play with my geographically- and temporally-dispersed friends?

Gaming has always been one of the central components of my friendship with some of my oldest friends - but we've become scattered across space and time lately, and it makes coordinating gaming time hard. What awesome games can accommodate non-simultaneous play?

The only turn-based game we've ever played as a group was Axis & Allies, but we definitely like strategy. I personally would prefer something that encourages communication among players - diplomacy, scheming, and backstabbing would be excellent.

I know Civ and Diplomacy will come up, so if that's what you're here to mention, I'd really appreciate it if you'd give some more detail about how you play, how long it takes, what scenarios are the most fun, which version/implementation has worked best for you, etc.

posted by McBearclaw to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Neptune's Pride, it's a turn-based, asynchronous space strategy game, somewhat in the mold of Risk. It's free to try, you only need to play if you want to run your own game.
posted by Oktober at 3:31 PM on September 26, 2010

Solium Infernum is supposed to be good, although my friends and I haven't been able to try it yet.
posted by Scattercat at 3:32 PM on September 26, 2010

Worth reading if you're interested in Solium Infernum: The Complete Gameboys From Hell over at Rock Paper Shotgun. I'm never going to play the game, but I loved reading through the narratives of the different players.
posted by mikeweeney at 3:50 PM on September 26, 2010

The first two things that came to my mind were Nomic and Diplomacy, but then I'm a right bastard when it comes to games.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 3:52 PM on September 26, 2010

Wow, way to RTFQ, me. My best online Diplomacy experience was with a transoceanic (US & UK) group, 1 turn per 3 days, lots of backchannel emailing, and a GM who was both funny and kind of mean. I think we were using custom map-rendering software that he'd written, though, which isn't much help to you.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 4:04 PM on September 26, 2010

You might try checking out online sites that allow non-simultaneous play.

Conquer Club works well for my busy & dispersed friends for casual gaming. It's basically Risk with dozens of other maps, and variations of game play (fog of war, assassin games, various spoils rules, etc). Each player has 24 hours to take their turn. The rules of the site say no secret alliances, but if you're only playing with your group of friends, then (IMO) no harm, no foul. If one of you springs for a paid subscription, that person can make private games and invite everyone to the game. Otherwise, just have everyone online at the same time to log onto a new game to avoid strangers from joining.
posted by Gori Girl at 4:10 PM on September 26, 2010

You are me a few years ago. With a gaming group that had formerly been all living in one city and was subsequently scattered across three continents in four time zones, I was looking for something we could play online. I considered all the boardgames we had played over the years and thought one that might lend itself well to an online game was Mayfair's Road to the White House, an underrated political game about trying to secure the presidential nomination of the [unnamed] political party. There is minimal luck involved, the turns in the game are a week (which is about as fast as one can realistically expect people to submit moves), so we played it in real time from early February to mid-June. When one plays it face to face, there is sometimes an amount of decision-making that can be a little daunting. The downside to it is that because there is some hidden information involved, one person has to act as moderator and so does not actually play (me, in this case).

I initially figured this would be a way for the four players to play against one another, but then I decided to throw it open to others... the primaries ended up with seventeen candidates fighting it for the nomination.

It has become a semi-annual tradition since then: so many people elbow their way into this thing that when I ran it this spring, I ran two games simultaneously, one for the Democrats and one for the GOP.

It works pretty well, in my finding. Memail me if you know the game and want a copy of the PBEM rules.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:49 PM on September 26, 2010

Mafia/werewolf is more fun than you would ever think. It's pure strategy and you could run it all with email if you wanted.
posted by wayland at 7:06 PM on September 26, 2010

I played global conflict with my cousin. Usually we didn't play each other, but competed in the rankings.
posted by mearls at 7:36 PM on September 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Civilization IV still lets you play games by email.
posted by strixus at 12:06 AM on September 27, 2010

Seconding Neptune's Pride, it's terrific - I work for a games and tech website and we played it among the staff (geeks) and we all then went off and played it with our less geeky friends. It works through the browser, has very simple rules and doesn't reward twitch/reflex playing, so it's a very level playing field.

It's a bit of self promotion as this article is on the site I work for, but this piece really nails what's so great about the game.
posted by Sifter at 6:21 AM on September 27, 2010

Civ IV does let you play games by email, but speaking as someone involved in one right now, the beginning of the game is boring as all get-out. If there's a way you can arrange for the players to be available and online for a day or two to get the boring stuff out of the way as fast as possible before getting to the not-boring bits, do it.

It would be ideal if it were possible to play an online game for a while, then switch to email, but maybe finding a scenario that's already set up would help.

I just got Civ V, but haven't played a network or email game yet, so I don't know how gameplay goes for that.
posted by telophase at 10:27 AM on September 27, 2010

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