How to set up an 18xx game using BOARD18

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So you and your friends have decided to play an 18xx game via email. And you have also decided to use BOARD18 for this game. So how to begin? This page contains step by step instructions for setting up this game. These instructions assume that you will be using Google services to support your game. This is definitely not the only way to set up a PBEM game.

Things that you need to do before hand

Before you get started setting up the game:

  1. Make sure that a game box for the game that you want to play exists on the BOARD18 web server that you intend to use.
  2. Make sure that each player has created a player ID on the BOARD18 web server that you intend to use.
  3. Make sure that each player has an account on Google and that you know their account email addresses.
  4. Find a spread sheet template to use.
  5. I recommend that you read the most recent Board18 Player's Guide

About spreadsheet templates

You need a spreadsheet to keep tabs of the trains, money, share certificates and etc. in your game. Spread sheet templates can be found for most 18xx games and there are a lot of places to find these templates. The template must be specific to the game that you wish to play and should contain only the SR1 tab. [Though some more automated sheets have a SR1 and a more fully automated OR1 sheet.] Be careful when selecting a template, some are better than others. Here are some possible sources:

  1. The BOARD18 folder of spreadsheet templates
  2. A spreadsheet tab from a past game that you have finished playing.
  3. Board Game Geek Be careful, some of these may have errors.

The BOARD18 folder of spreadsheet templates contains many templates from many sources. I recommend using a "dream spreadsheet" if one is available.The 00-DreamSheets file in this folder explains the concept behind dream spreadsheets and contains a list of the ones that exist in the folder.

Determining player order

Not being face to face, The normal methods for determining player order are hard to apply. Fortunately, there exists a great site that can easy solve this problem.

Go to www.random.org/lists and you will see a list randomizer. Then enter the player's names in the box (one per line) and press the randomize button.

You will be presented with a randomized list that will look something like this.
List Randomizer

There were 4 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

Bob
Charley
Abraham
Dan
Timestamp: 2015-10-13 01:21:33 UTC, IP: 108.239.60.106
 

Some 18xx games require other randomization as part of their setup. The www.random.org web site can also be of help with these things.

Creating the BOARD18 game session

Selecting "Make New Game" from the board18Main page will bring up the board18New page.
This page contains a form that can be used to create a new BOARD18 game session.
The instructions shown here explain in detail how to use this form to create a game.

Creating the spreadsheet

Note 1: These procedures assume that you have a Google account. If you don't then please create one. It is a useful thing to have.

Note 2: The Spreadsheet Templates folder on Google contains a number of Google Docs files. The names of these files all begin with a "0" so that they will all sort to the start of the folder. There is a general file called 00-Dreamsheets which contains more information on Dream Spreadsheets. Other files exist that are associated with specific spreadsheet templates.

Using a dream spreadsheet template

Follow these steps to create a dream spreadsheet on Google Drive:

  1. Locate the Dream Spreadsheet template in the Spreadsheet Templates folder on Google.
  2. Right click on the line for this file and select Make A Copy.
  3. The template will be copied to your Google Drive account.
  4. Rename the the sheet to be consistent with the name of the BOARD18 game session for your game.
  5. Enter the names of the players in column A of the spreadsheet.
  6. Give all players update access to the sheet. Use their Email addresses for this.
  7. Make note of the URL for this spread sheet. You will use it in the custom footer text of the mail group and in the Useful Links menu on BOARD18.
  8. Read this note about Authorization before using this spreadsheet.
  9. Check if a Doc file exists for this spreadsheet template and if it does then please read it.

Using any other spreadsheet template

Follow these steps to create a non-dream spreadsheet on Google Drive:

  1. Locate the Dream Spreadsheet template in the Spreadsheet Templates folder on Google.
  2. Right click on the line for this file and select Make A Copy.
  3. The template will be copied to your Google Drive account.
  4. Rename the the sheet to be consistent with the name of the BOARD18 game session for your game.
  5. Enter the names of the players in column A of the spreadsheet and do any other required initialization.
  6. If necessary, clean the tab up by removing from it all field content except the formulas and labels.
  7. Give all players update access to the sheet. Use their Email addresses for this.
  8. Make note of the URL for this spread sheet. You will use it in the custom footer text of the mail group and in the Useful Links menu on BOARD18.

More about spreadsheets

If you are already familiar with spreadsheets then you can skip this section.

A spreadsheet is an application that deals with data in a tabular format. The spreadsheet displays data as cells organized in rows and columns. Each cell of the spreadsheet may contain either a number, some text or the results of a formula that automatically calculates and displays a value based on the contents of other cells.

Spreadsheet users may adjust any stored value and observe the effects on calculated values. To use a spreadsheet for a game:

  1. Use a separate spreadsheet tab for each stock or operating round.
  2. For Dream Spreadsheets, press the newTab button to create a new tab at the end of each round. No other action should be required.
  3. For other Spreadsheets, use the duplicate and rename commands to create a new tab at the end of each round and copy the ending values from the previous tab to the starting values for the new tab.
  4. Never type a value directly over a built in formula. If you change the right cell(s) the formula will produce the correct result.
  5. If you think that there is something wrong with the spreadsheet then consult an experienced player. Most are willing to help a newbie.

Creating the game log

Follow these steps to create a game log on Google Drive:

  1. Create an empty Google Docs document in your account. This document will become the game log.
  2. Make sure the name of the log is consistent with the name of the BOARD18 game session.
  3. Give all players update access to the log. (Use their Email addresses for this.)
  4. Make note of the URL for this log to use in the custom footer text of the group and in the Useful Links menu on BOARD18.
  5. If you want you can put some initial text in this log. See the example below.
  6. It is convenient to create the log text for each new round on a new page at the start of the log document.
 
== List Randomizer ==
There were 4 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

Bob
Charley
Abraham
Dan
Timestamp: 2015-10-13 01:21:33 UTC, IP: 108.239.60.106

== A list of privates to be bid on ==
.
.
.

== Private auction results ==
Bob has ...
Charley has ...
Abraham has ...
Dan has ...

== Private auction ==
Bob
Charley
Abraham
Dan

Creating the mail list

This is the most "easy to screw up" part of this procedure. If you wish to use some other way of communicating between players then you can skip this step.

  1. Create a new Google group in your account. You can also use an existing group that you previously used for game that is over now.
  2. If necessary, delete old players.
  3. Use "Direct add members" to add each new player to the group:
    1. Enter each player's email address on a seperate line.
    2. Enter a welcome message mentioning the game.
    3. Under "Email subscription options" select "All Email".
    4. Save changes.
  4. In the left margin select "Settings" and "Email options" and add custom footer text that looks likeThe example below.
  5. Set "Post replies" to "To the entire group".
  6. Save changes.
  7. In the left margin select "Information" and "General Information".
  8. Change or enter (if nessary) "Group name", "Group email address" and "Group description".
  9. Check both boxes under "Posting options".
  10. Save changes.
Game log is at https://docs.google.com/document/d/((Insert document address for log))/edit

Spread sheet is at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/((Insert document address for spread sheet))/edit

Game board is at http://dev2.board18.org/