John Moser’s Pax Britannica Site
This site is dedicated to the e-mail play of Pax Britannica, a game by designer Greg Costikyan that simulates the Age of Imperialism, from 1880 until the outbreak of the Great War. The premise is fairly straightforward—each player controls one of the world’s great powers in 1880, and the goal is to try to build an overseas empire without bringing on a world war. There can be wars, of course; the trick is to keep them limited in scope. As soon as a war breaks out involving four or more European powers, it’s all over—and everybody loses.
Originally issued by the now-defunct Victory Games in 1986, Pax Britannica is unfortunately long out of print. However, it lives on in the hearts of its fans, and is one of the relatively few games that lends itself extremely well to e-mail play. In fact, arguably it is better played by e-mail than face-to-face, particularly since there exist online so many helpful utilities that makes things like administration much easier. I recommend the following:
Pax Britannica Rules: Mark O’English has helpfully put the entire rulebook online, incorporating the addenda and rules clarifications offered by the designer in 1993.
Britannica Improved: Official
changes and clarifications to the rules made by Greg Costikyan
in 1993. Most of these are incorporated
in the online rulebook mentioned above, but note here the rules for “
Play-by-Mail Rules: Official rules put out by Greg Costikyan himself.
House Rules: Like most GMs, I have few house rules that I expect players in my games to follow. I like keeping them to a bare minimum, mostly for the matter of closing loopholes in the official rules. Going much beyond that, I’ve found, results in diminishing marginal returns.
Play-by-Mail Game Turn Sequence: This is something I’ve put together, incorporating all of the game’s charts and tables.
Player Information Sheet: Compiled by Brian Rapp, it contains just about anything that anyone would need to know, data-wise, for the game—including the starting positions for each power.
Income and Victory Point Calculator: There are several spreadsheets available that will compute income and victory points, but I think this one is the best.
For the more ambitious, there are a few utilities that allow the entire game to be put into computer format. None of these offers AI, so it’s not possible to play against the computer (if any software companies are reading this, I’d rush out to buy a real Pax Britannica computer game), but they do allow you to keep track of an e-mail game, exactly as if you had the game set up in your living room, but without taking up valuable space.
Aide-de-Camp II: More commonly known as ADC-2, this is the oldest, and probably the best, but it isn’t cheap. Created by HPS Simulations, it’s extremely versatile and fairly easy to use, and since it’s been around for a while a lot of gamesets have been created for it. There is one available for Pax Britannica, designed by yours truly. You can find it here.
CyberBoard: Designed by Dale Larson, this seems like a very good rival to ADC-2, and has the virtue of being available free of charge (Dale appreciates donations, though). A gentleman named Bob Soule has designed a gameset for CyberBoard, and you can find download it right here.
I am currently running one e-mail game, PAX HINDOOSTAN. Previous games that I’ve judged in recent
months include PAX
TURCOMANIA and PAX TANGANYIKA. I’ve also recently played (and won, I might
In case you’re interested, here I am, der Spielmeister, John Moser: