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War and Pees -better known as the Hobby Revival

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  • Stephen Agar
    From John Colledge ... Stephen, please do me a favour by passing this on to the onelist folks. I am really pissed off with them as they are messing us about
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 24, 1999
      From John Colledge

      ------- Forwarded message follows -------
      Stephen, please do me a favour by passing this on to the onelist folks.
      I am really pissed off with them as they are messing us about like I
      don't know what.

      Revival of the Hobby
      This is in danger of turning into War and Peace so I will give you the
      main points here and you can read on at your peril! I have contacted
      Allan Gordon and as I thought, he will be delighted to do some cartoons
      for our leaflets/adverts. He needs ideas though. Two that spring to my
      mind are, one with a student flavour to it and one to emphasise the fact
      that people of all ages play board games. Perhaps if we were to decide
      who we want to target first and concentrate on those we will come up
      with a few
      really good ideas rather than several rather mediocre ones?

      Secondly, I have asked Karl Brown if he would be prepared to bung in one
      of our leaflets for a limited period when he sends games out to his
      customers, just to see if we get some feedback. No reply yet but it is
      early days. ***NEWSFLASH*** Karl has agreed and says he will be happy
      to distribute leaflets at a number of conventions as well. Thank
      goodness something positive is happening!

      I must apologise for the delay in contributing my two pence worth to
      this discussion. I think we can safely say that Onelist and JC are now
      officially at war! They have given me a website that doesn't
      exist, they have given me an e-mail address that is obviously wrong,
      (and yes I did try sending a message to it - and it doesn't work), and
      finally, I have tried contacting their "Help Desk" but they have so far
      ignored my pleas for help. Strangely enough, I do have access to the
      Archive Index, which seems rather odd to me. Does this mean any old Tom,
      Dick, or Harriet can have access to anything we might be saying? Better
      not refer to attacks on War or joint action between France and England
      then! Naaaah! Nobody would believe that even if they did come upon it!
      I'm afraid this may end up just being sent to one of you then copied to
      the rest, rather than going via Onelist. As you will hopefully see, I am
      sending it to Stephen, John H. Paul, (if I can find his e-mail
      address in among the reams of paper I have in front of me), and finally
      Chris. As far as I can see you four are the only ones to have
      contributed so far. I apologise in advance if some of this seems a bit
      disjointed and out of order. Let's start at the beginning. Since I typed
      this at work, I have come home and my young and lovely assistant has
      cracked the code, I think, but I am not holding my breath!

      I knew fine something would be missed from the letter as soon as it was
      tarted up and sent out. Ryk Downes mentioned Libraries as a good place
      to put up notices and now I think Paul has as well. I dare say several
      others will make this suggestion. I like that idea as one of the selling
      points for the hobby is its wide age range. 15-75 if not more! Speaking
      of the letter, many thanks Stephen for sending it out with SO. That has
      certainly saved a bit of time and cash. As you know, I am keen that as
      many people as possible know what we are doing. Is there any easy way
      that you can let me know which editors you have not sent the letter to?
      Can John provide a quick and easy list of all zines from MfG? If you can
      let me know who hasn't received a copy I can send one to those who have
      missed out. I take it it is the Dip orientated zines you trade with,
      though this may be a gross assumption on my part now that you have a
      sub-zine with other games in it.

      Has anyone heard anything from Danny and Tony? Are they actually keen to
      be involved in assisting? I know Danny is keen to get new Dip layers for
      Springboard because I checked, but I thought he would have wanted to
      have a bit of input to this as well. Perhaps he is still "thinking about
      it"! I hope Tony hasn't been put off his Compendium of Games because he
      now feels there is some pressure on him to get something done ASAP.
      While it would be jolly handy to have something like that to send to
      prospective hobby members, it is obviously going to take some time to
      put together. Perhaps we should be checking with both of them to see
      just what they are doing and if they actually want to be part of the
      "working party". It was rather assumed at the beginning!

      I agree with Paul about there being something special about receiving a
      zine rather than an e-mail. It's a bit like the difference between LPs
      and CDs.

      I don't like the idea of a PO box either. It would be costly, messy if
      the person in control leaves the area, and Stephen has covered several
      other good reasons for not having one.

      New members being "bewildered rather than encouraged" is a problem.
      Having said that, I have been in the hobby for 20+ years and am still
      bewildered by some of the stuff I see in zines. "Bring back the good
      letter columns". That's what I say. It is something everyone can
      contribute to straight away before they come to terms with some of the
      other things in zines. What we need to do I feel is, have a few
      questions on say, the reverse of any leaflets we do, where those making
      enquiries can give John an idea of the type of things they are
      interested in. That way, he can send out zines that are likely to appeal
      to them. It does mean that John has to know what is actually in the
      zines, but I suspect he has a fairly good idea from making up MfG
      anyway. Can I just say a big "thank you" to John for offering to send
      out the zines and run the Zine Bank. If at any stage you feel under
      pressure and any of the rest of us can help, please do say as it is
      important that we keep the service going. Mind you, anyone who has been
      involved in the hobby as long as he has is unlikely to say " Sod this
      for a game of marbles" at this late stage in the game!

      I am intrigued by the concept of a 16 page introduction to the hobby.
      How on earth can you pad out what we do to 16 pages? I think you must
      waffle on even more than I do Stephen! The 40-50% response rates are
      incredible so you must be doing something right!

      The revival of the Hobby Development Fund is pretty obvious. I don't
      have an address for Iain Bowen but I will contact the other members of
      the Manorcon Committee to see if they can let us know just how much is
      involved and how we can go about getting it back. I will also contact
      those on the Midcon Committee that I have easy access to as well. The
      SFCP gang crop up from time to time elsewhere so I will mention them
      here as well.

      I feel we should be concentrating our efforts on those people we know
      have an interest in games, namely games players. It is the first law of
      advertising, (well, as far as the Bank is concerned anyway),
      that you target your own customers first. Why should we be any
      different? If we can get games distributors to bung in one of our
      leaflets every time they send out a game, we know at least that the
      recipient should be interested in games, and more important, they are in
      a position to pass on the
      information to other games players. WORD OF MOUTH IS ALL IMPORTANT!! I
      was writing to Karl Brown of The Games Store and asked if he would be
      prepared to do this with say 3 months worth of games or 100 games,
      depending on what he could be bothered doing, but unfortunately I
      haven't heard from him yet. I thought if he scratched our backs we could
      scratch his by pointing hobby members in his direction for their new
      games. I will try the same with Theo and Pevens when I write
      to ask about the HDF. Asking games shops to put up a leaflet if they
      have a notice board, or better still hand out leaflets is a possibility.
      I suspect this is the sort of thing that would be better done during the
      run up to Christmas from the numbers point of view, however the last
      thing shop assistants probably want to do during the Christmas rush is
      stuff leaflets into customers' bags. What do you guys think your selves?
      Leaflets to games clubs in 3G sounds promising. Again, it's sticking to
      people we know will be interested in what we have to sell, and we are
      selling ourselves after all. Hopefully hobby members would be able to
      provide us with addresses of games clubs throughout the land. Damn! That
      is something we should have thought of to include in the letter.

      What's this about a surcharge for conventions? I always thought it was
      voluntary. I know I have given quite a bit more than 1 during the years
      I have attended Manorcon and I dare say many others will be in the same
      boat. There must be quite a tidy some due to us. Pause for rubbing of
      hands and doing a Shylock impression! I personally don't like the idea
      of games fees. If an editor adds 1 to help cover the cost of producing
      his/her zine, them they should charge the proper rate. That way,
      everyone pays the same. If you are in several games you may more. Also,
      I feel it would put "newbies" off. The advantage we have over the
      professional PBM hobby is, we are cheap and cheerful. Let's keep it that
      way. Apart from anything else, it is more admin for editors and I am
      sure they have enough on their plates getting their zines out the door
      without the extra hassle. I may be wrong, but i think John Marsden also
      charges games fees. In his case I think it is supposed to be a sign of
      commitment on the part of the players.

      One thing we might like to think about is, just how many people do we
      think we can cope with coming into the hobby over a short period? A
      dozen? 120?1200? OK so the 1200 was daft, but if 120 people arrive at
      one time, would we be able to cope? When I asked this eight to ten years
      ago my question
      was brushed aside as being irrelevant as they didn't think we would ever
      run the risk of not being able to cope. This may still apply. I don?t
      know,but we should probably try to monitor our success in some way.
      Firstly, so we know our efforts are actually paying off, and secondly,
      so we don't risk sinking some zines that might not be able to cope with
      more than a few extra players. As a matter of interest, does anyone have
      any idea just how many of us there are involved in the hobby? Richard
      Sharp's Dip stats quote something like 2400 from memory, but I would
      be stunned if the level was still as high as that.

      I didn't understand what was meant by "Zine Editors promoting the hobby
      ". Are we talking about editors assisting us or just passing on
      information through their zines?

      I like the idea of a Novice Package with several zines and a brief
      explanation of what we are up to.

      I have a feeling that our chance for TV coverage may have been and gone.
      Was there any feedback from the Welsh programme that covered Diplomacy
      during Midcon a couple of years ago? As for covering the whole hobby, I
      fear it would just not make good television. Writing letters, sending in
      orders, and editors pulling their hair out because of late orders, (if
      they have enough left to make it worth the effort that is), hardly gets
      the adrenalin going. Does it? The company Ricochet sounded quite
      promising a year or so ago, but they decided against Diplomacy at that
      time. Would it be worth contacting them to see if there was still the
      possibility of them including us? A general reference to the postal side
      of things with John?s name and address would be wonderful. I will
      contact Toby Harris
      to see if he has their details. The annoying thing is, I had the phone
      number of the woman who was producing the program as she phoned Denny to
      see how a "Diplomacy Widow" felt about the whole thing, and I am sure I
      chucked it out only two or three weeks ago. Annoying! Radio is certainly
      a
      better option. Hopefully the letter may trigger someone with contacts in
      the industry.

      Stephen Agar, how could you!? "Postal Boardgames Association" indeed!
      Talk about delusions of grandeur! And this was done in the name of the
      hobby was it? Naughty naughty naughty! I was spitting teeth with
      frustration when I was reading through what had been said about what we
      were going to call ourselves! Fortunately sanity prevailed in the end
      and the "ThePostal Games Hobby" was agreed on. After all, it is the name
      we have used ourselves for what, thirty years? It really was quite funny
      from a bystander's point of view.

      It is good that Nick is prepared to act as Treasurer, but please
      remember we should have a mandate for the account with several people
      able to sign just in case something untoward happens. I have seen too
      many organisations end up in a mess because they didn't think of this in
      advance and some
      silly wee lass on a counter at a Bank didn't?t think to suggest it. It
      is neither fair to the person, nor the organisation to have it set up
      with only one person.

      A Novice Package of 48 pages seems far too many to me as well, I even
      think 24 pages sounds quite a lot, especially when you consider that
      three zines and Mfg will go out as well. Is the idea that anyone showing
      further interest THEN goes back and asks for the Novice Package if they
      want it, rather than
      just diving in? This might be a better idea. Woops! I'm getting ahead of
      myself here. Hang on a second.

      Showing commitment by sending stamps or a cheque sounds OK, but might it
      not be easier if people just send a Self Addressed Envelope? A) it saves
      John a bit of work because he doesn't have to provide envelopes, address
      them or stamp them, and b) the person is still showing commitment
      because they are prepared to stump up the postage. Just a thought!

      I was a bit concerned by the thought of potential members being
      bombarded by 60/70 zines, however, if we include this on the details
      section of our leaflets/adverts people shouldn't object if their postie
      has a hernia at the front door! The postie might, mind you!

      On the Dip front Stephen, are potential Dip players being directed
      towards Danny's Springboard or is this likely to cause friction? Again,
      a question in the details section might be worth thinking about. You may
      well cover this in your Dip Details leaflet?

      I am a tad concerned about giving Ryk the job of Central Gamestart
      Service. Quite apart from the fact that he already runs three, (or is it
      four?) zines, he is running the World RR championships, he has just set
      up his own website, he is offering to put Tony's Compendium on it, and
      most important of all, he does have a wife and three girls who would
      presumably quite like to see him some time during the day! The problem
      is, he is the kind of guy that would just say "yes"! And, no, I am not
      saying this because
      TBNS is in it, as Ryk has made it clear that TBNS would go out
      regardless of whether BttDA was ready or not. I am just concerned by his
      already heavy workload. Reading ahead, I see John has suggested that who
      ever runs the gamestart lets Ryk know. This seems a better idea. Then
      who ever is prepared to run the Central Games Start just has to look up
      Ryk's website to see where there are games available. This does rather
      limit who would be able to do it mind you. This could be quite a busy
      job for someone. I would love to offer, but I am busy enough as it is at
      the moment I'm afraid. Perhaps when we win the lottery.....

      Can I show my ignorance by asking who or what Counter and
      "uk.board.games" are? A magazine that might be worth thinking about, (if
      it is still on the go) is Punch. If you think our main target audience
      is the 30-45 year old male, there are several fairly respectable
      magazines catering for this market. Man's Health and GQ spring to mind.
      I also noticed what looked like a younger version of GQ at my local John
      Menzies but I'm afraid the name escapes me. Next time you are in a paper
      shop have a look and think about which ones might appeal to your average
      hobby member. The same might apply looking at it from the magazine's
      point of view. Oups! Almost forgot something. I know Q wasn't a success
      but how about Mojo? It has a slightly older readership I suspect and
      while The Big Issue may seem daft, it is the same age group that are
      probably buying it, and our funds would be going to a good cause.

      Paul seems to be getting heated under the collar about a lack of some
      central organisation within the hobby. I guess the main reason is
      because we are a bunch of amateurs! Most of us get more than enough
      organising at work. Some of us even have to do it as part of our job and
      it is nice to get away from that sort of thing. However, the hobby as a
      whole is, I think, suffering and it is just as well that people like the
      four or five of us, are prepared to do that bit extra.

      Universities appear to be more or less at the top of everyone's list of
      potential targets. Yes? Did you know that there was a website with
      details of all Universities and colleges? As I am at work just now, I
      might for get to include the details. If I do, someone give me a verbal
      kicking! There are a lot of them. Might it be worth while splitting them
      between us and just sending leaflets to the Student?s Association? I am
      told that Student?s Union is old hat these days. I would suggest that
      the best bet is
      to send say half a dozen leaflets to each and ask them to pass them on
      to their Bridge, Chess, FRP, anything else you can think of club. If we
      can get more details, fair enough, but there is going to be a heck of a
      lot of work involved as it is. I like the idea of suggesting the hobby
      as a means of keeping in touch.
      The website address I mentioned is
      http://www.scit.wlv.ac.uk/ukinfo/uk.map.html

      I agree with Chris' opinion over the "holding them by the hand"
      approach, which why I feel it would be a good idea to ask a few
      pertinent questions on our leaflets/adverts. Obviously we would need
      something different for those magazines that charge per word! While
      Danny provides a good service for some, I have a feeling many would be
      put off by Springboard. In your Dip stuff Stephen, do you mention
      Springboard as a possible way of getting into the Dip side of things?
      While I am on the subject, are there still leaflets of some sort being
      enclosed with games of Diplomacy? I was supposed to see one once upon a
      time but it never turned up.

      I don't like the suggestion that we might attract "boring" people into
      the hobby. What may appear boring to one person could be fascinating to
      an other and vise versa. I applaud Chris' condemnation of Stephen's
      suggestion that most parts of society should not be included, however, I
      knew from what was said at the start of this campagn that he had
      probably not put himself across too well. As John says, let's get the
      bodies into the hobby, and by "the hobby" I also mean ALL of the hobby.
      Again, Chris, Stephen did agree with me on this at the beginning of the
      campagn. We have such a wide range of weird and wonderful people in the
      hobby already, a few more odd balls won't do any harm!

      As a matter of interest, who has been invited to this "lunch" date, and
      while I am at it, who was the "student male" who was shot? I do feel
      that "join the hobby or you are dead meat" is a little less than
      diplomatic! I take it was meant to be launch date? What are you hoping
      to launch? The Postal Hobby? It's been up and running for three decades!
      The "working party"? We are fore gathered, or should that be five
      gathered?

      Right! This better work this time or there is going to be bllod on the
      walls!

      ***NEWSFLASH*** I will be attending Mastercon so I will be only too
      happy to kick Mark in the sprouts on behalf of the working party! I have
      asked him if he would mind sitting down first as my left hip is killing
      me and I might well fall over if I had to take too big a swing. Enough
      of this madness!!

      --
      Stephen Agar, Brighton, UK
      www.diplomacy.co.uk
    • Stephen Agar
      ... Both good news. ... I have emailed a suggestion to fix John s problem. ... I trade with all zines (other than 100% football). I have an archive to
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 24, 1999
        >
        >From John Colledge
        >
        >
        >Revival of the Hobby
        >This is in danger of turning into War and Peace so I will give you the
        >main points here and you can read on at your peril! I have contacted
        >Allan Gordon and as I thought, he will be delighted to do some cartoons
        >for our leaflets/adverts. He needs ideas though. Two that spring to my
        >mind are, one with a student flavour to it and one to emphasise the fact
        >that people of all ages play board games. Perhaps if we were to decide
        >who we want to target first and concentrate on those we will come up
        >with a few
        >really good ideas rather than several rather mediocre ones?
        >
        >Secondly, I have asked Karl Brown if he would be prepared to bung in one
        >of our leaflets for a limited period when he sends games out to his
        >customers, just to see if we get some feedback. No reply yet but it is
        >early days. ***NEWSFLASH*** Karl has agreed and says he will be happy
        >to distribute leaflets at a number of conventions as well. Thank
        >goodness something positive is happening!

        Both good news.

        >
        > I must apologise for the delay in contributing my two pence worth to
        >this discussion. I think we can safely say that Onelist and JC are now
        >officially at war! They have given me a website that doesn't
        >exist, they have given me an e-mail address that is obviously wrong,
        >(and yes I did try sending a message to it - and it doesn't work), and
        >finally, I have tried contacting their "Help Desk" but they have so far
        >ignored my pleas for help. Strangely enough, I do have access to the
        >Archive Index, which seems rather odd to me. Does this mean any old Tom,
        >Dick, or Harriet can have access to anything we might be saying? Better
        >not refer to attacks on War or joint action between France and England
        >then! Naaaah! Nobody would believe that even if they did come upon it!
        >I'm afraid this may end up just being sent to one of you then copied to
        >the rest, rather than going via Onelist. As you will hopefully see, I am
        >sending it to Stephen, John H. Paul, (if I can find his e-mail
        >address in among the reams of paper I have in front of me), and finally
        >Chris. As far as I can see you four are the only ones to have
        >contributed so far. I apologise in advance if some of this seems a bit
        >disjointed and out of order. Let's start at the beginning. Since I typed
        >this at work, I have come home and my young and lovely assistant has
        >cracked the code, I think, but I am not holding my breath!

        I have emailed a suggestion to fix John's problem.
        >
        >I knew fine something would be missed from the letter as soon as it was
        >tarted up and sent out. Ryk Downes mentioned Libraries as a good place
        >to put up notices and now I think Paul has as well. I dare say several
        >others will make this suggestion. I like that idea as one of the selling
        >points for the hobby is its wide age range. 15-75 if not more! Speaking
        >of the letter, many thanks Stephen for sending it out with SO. That has
        >certainly saved a bit of time and cash. As you know, I am keen that as
        >many people as possible know what we are doing. Is there any easy way
        >that you can let me know which editors you have not sent the letter to?
        >Can John provide a quick and easy list of all zines from MfG? If you can
        >let me know who hasn't received a copy I can send one to those who have
        >missed out. I take it it is the Dip orientated zines you trade with,
        >though this may be a gross assumption on my part now that you have a
        >sub-zine with other games in it.

        I trade with all zines (other than 100% football). I have an archive to
        maintain! I will compare my mailing list to MfG and send the letter to
        the ones that are missing.
        >
        >Has anyone heard anything from Danny and Tony? Are they actually keen to
        >be involved in assisting? I know Danny is keen to get new Dip layers for
        >Springboard because I checked, but I thought he would have wanted to
        >have a bit of input to this as well. Perhaps he is still "thinking about
        >it"! I hope Tony hasn't been put off his Compendium of Games because he
        >now feels there is some pressure on him to get something done ASAP.
        >While it would be jolly handy to have something like that to send to
        >prospective hobby members, it is obviously going to take some time to
        >put together. Perhaps we should be checking with both of them to see
        >just what they are doing and if they actually want to be part of the
        >"working party". It was rather assumed at the beginning!
        >

        They are both on email so I will add them to the ukpbm list myself and
        they can remove themselves if they wish.

        >I agree with Paul about there being something special about receiving a
        >zine rather than an e-mail. It's a bit like the difference between LPs
        >and CDs.
        >
        >I don't like the idea of a PO box either. It would be costly, messy if
        >the person in control leaves the area, and Stephen has covered several
        >other good reasons for not having one.
        >
        >New members being "bewildered rather than encouraged" is a problem.
        >Having said that, I have been in the hobby for 20+ years and am still
        >bewildered by some of the stuff I see in zines. "Bring back the good
        >letter columns". That's what I say. It is something everyone can
        >contribute to straight away before they come to terms with some of the
        >other things in zines. What we need to do I feel is, have a few
        >questions on say, the reverse of any leaflets we do, where those making
        >enquiries can give John an idea of the type of things they are
        >interested in. That way, he can send out zines that are likely to appeal
        >to them. It does mean that John has to know what is actually in the
        >zines, but I suspect he has a fairly good idea from making up MfG
        >anyway. Can I just say a big "thank you" to John for offering to send
        >out the zines and run the Zine Bank. If at any stage you feel under
        >pressure and any of the rest of us can help, please do say as it is
        >important that we keep the service going. Mind you, anyone who has been
        >involved in the hobby as long as he has is unlikely to say " Sod this
        >for a game of marbles" at this late stage in the game!
        >
        >I am intrigued by the concept of a 16 page introduction to the hobby.
        >How on earth can you pad out what we do to 16 pages? I think you must
        >waffle on even more than I do Stephen! The 40-50% response rates are
        >incredible so you must be doing something right!

        I will post a copy to any of you who wants to see one - it is Dip
        orientated, but not exclusively. Alan Parr helped me write some of it.
        >
        >The revival of the Hobby Development Fund is pretty obvious. I don't
        >have an address for Iain Bowen but I will contact the other members of
        >the Manorcon Committee to see if they can let us know just how much is
        >involved and how we can go about getting it back. I will also contact
        >those on the Midcon Committee that I have easy access to as well. The
        >SFCP gang crop up from time to time elsewhere so I will mention them
        >here as well.
        >

        email Iain at alaric@...

        >I feel we should be concentrating our efforts on those people we know
        >have an interest in games, namely games players. It is the first law of
        >advertising, (well, as far as the Bank is concerned anyway),
        >that you target your own customers first. Why should we be any
        >different? If we can get games distributors to bung in one of our
        >leaflets every time they send out a game, we know at least that the
        >recipient should be interested in games, and more important, they are in
        >a position to pass on the
        >information to other games players. WORD OF MOUTH IS ALL IMPORTANT!! I
        >was writing to Karl Brown of The Games Store and asked if he would be
        >prepared to do this with say 3 months worth of games or 100 games,
        >depending on what he could be bothered doing, but unfortunately I
        >haven't heard from him yet. I thought if he scratched our backs we could
        >scratch his by pointing hobby members in his direction for their new
        >games. I will try the same with Theo and Pevens when I write
        >to ask about the HDF. Asking games shops to put up a leaflet if they
        >have a notice board, or better still hand out leaflets is a possibility.
        >I suspect this is the sort of thing that would be better done during the
        >run up to Christmas from the numbers point of view, however the last
        >thing shop assistants probably want to do during the Christmas rush is
        >stuff leaflets into customers' bags. What do you guys think your selves?
        >Leaflets to games clubs in 3G sounds promising. Again, it's sticking to
        >people we know will be interested in what we have to sell, and we are
        >selling ourselves after all. Hopefully hobby members would be able to
        >provide us with addresses of games clubs throughout the land. Damn! That
        >is something we should have thought of to include in the letter.
        >
        > What's this about a surcharge for conventions? I always thought it was
        >voluntary. I know I have given quite a bit more than 1 during the years
        >I have attended Manorcon and I dare say many others will be in the same
        >boat. There must be quite a tidy some due to us. Pause for rubbing of
        >hands and doing a Shylock impression!

        Both cons stopped soliciting donations on the registration form when the
        HDF folded. The question is more whether we can get them reinstated.

        I personally don't like the idea
        >of games fees. If an editor adds 1 to help cover the cost of producing
        >his/her zine, them they should charge the proper rate. That way,
        >everyone pays the same. If you are in several games you may more. Also,
        >I feel it would put "newbies" off. The advantage we have over the
        >professional PBM hobby is, we are cheap and cheerful. Let's keep it
        that
        >way. Apart from anything else, it is more admin for editors and I am
        >sure they have enough on their plates getting their zines out the door
        >without the extra hassle. I may be wrong, but i think John Marsden also
        >charges games fees. In his case I think it is supposed to be a sign of
        >commitment on the part of the players.
        >
        > One thing we might like to think about is, just how many people do we
        >think we can cope with coming into the hobby over a short period? A
        >dozen? 120?1200? OK so the 1200 was daft, but if 120 people arrive at
        >one time, would we be able to cope? When I asked this eight to ten years
        >ago my question
        >was brushed aside as being irrelevant as they didn't think we would ever
        >run the risk of not being able to cope. This may still apply. I don?t
        >know,but we should probably try to monitor our success in some way.
        >Firstly, so we know our efforts are actually paying off, and secondly,
        >so we don't risk sinking some zines that might not be able to cope with
        >more than a few extra players. As a matter of interest, does anyone have
        >any idea just how many of us there are involved in the hobby? Richard
        >Sharp's Dip stats quote something like 2400 from memory, but I would
        >be stunned if the level was still as high as that.
        >

        Active Dip players is more like 300 these days - say 500ish for the
        mainstream pbm boardgames hobby + even more who only see soccer zines.

        >I didn't understand what was meant by "Zine Editors promoting the hobby
        >". Are we talking about editors assisting us or just passing on
        >information through their zines?
        >
        >I like the idea of a Novice Package with several zines and a brief
        >explanation of what we are up to.
        >
        >I have a feeling that our chance for TV coverage may have been and gone.
        >Was there any feedback from the Welsh programme that covered Diplomacy
        >during Midcon a couple of years ago? As for covering the whole hobby, I
        >fear it would just not make good television. Writing letters, sending in
        >orders, and editors pulling their hair out because of late orders, (if
        >they have enough left to make it worth the effort that is), hardly gets
        >the adrenalin going. Does it? The company Ricochet sounded quite
        >promising a year or so ago, but they decided against Diplomacy at that
        >time. Would it be worth contacting them to see if there was still the
        >possibility of them including us? A general reference to the postal side
        >of things with John?s name and address would be wonderful. I will
        >contact Toby Harris
        >to see if he has their details. The annoying thing is, I had the phone
        >number of the woman who was producing the program as she phoned Denny to
        >see how a "Diplomacy Widow" felt about the whole thing, and I am sure I
        >chucked it out only two or three weeks ago. Annoying! Radio is certainly
        >a
        >better option. Hopefully the letter may trigger someone with contacts in
        >the industry.
        >
        >Stephen Agar, how could you!? "Postal Boardgames Association" indeed!
        >Talk about delusions of grandeur! And this was done in the name of the
        >hobby was it? Naughty naughty naughty! I was spitting teeth with
        >frustration when I was reading through what had been said about what we
        >were going to call ourselves! Fortunately sanity prevailed in the end
        >and the "ThePostal Games Hobby" was agreed on. After all, it is the name
        >we have used ourselves for what, thirty years? It really was quite funny
        >from a bystander's point of view.
        >
        >It is good that Nick is prepared to act as Treasurer, but please
        >remember we should have a mandate for the account with several people
        >able to sign just in case something untoward happens. I have seen too
        >many organisations end up in a mess because they didn't think of this in
        >advance and some
        >silly wee lass on a counter at a Bank didn't?t think to suggest it. It
        >is neither fair to the person, nor the organisation to have it set up
        >with only one person.
        >
        >A Novice Package of 48 pages seems far too many to me as well, I even
        >think 24 pages sounds quite a lot, especially when you consider that
        >three zines and Mfg will go out as well. Is the idea that anyone showing
        >further interest THEN goes back and asks for the Novice Package if they
        >want it, rather than
        >just diving in? This might be a better idea. Woops! I'm getting ahead of
        >myself here. Hang on a second.
        >
        >Showing commitment by sending stamps or a cheque sounds OK, but might it
        >not be easier if people just send a Self Addressed Envelope? A) it saves
        >John a bit of work because he doesn't have to provide envelopes, address
        >them or stamp them, and b) the person is still showing commitment
        >because they are prepared to stump up the postage. Just a thought!
        >

        I can tell you from experience that it doesn't help asking for a sae as
        (1) not many people have unused C4 envelopes at home (and we will need
        one that big) and (2) not many people have 39p or 48p (?) stamps to put
        on them. To get the latter people would have to go to a PO counter -
        which is a disincentive to write - whereas 4 x 26p are available from
        just about everywhere these days - supermarkets, newsagents etc.. Most
        of the sae's I got were binned as being too small and with only a first
        weight step stamp on them (and i couldn't be bothered to steam them
        off).

        >I was a bit concerned by the thought of potential members being
        >bombarded by 60/70 zines, however, if we include this on the details
        >section of our leaflets/adverts people shouldn't object if their postie
        >has a hernia at the front door! The postie might, mind you!
        >
        >On the Dip front Stephen, are potential Dip players being directed
        >towards Danny's Springboard or is this likely to cause friction? Again,
        >a question in the details section might be worth thinking about. You may
        >well cover this in your Dip Details leaflet?

        I think Dip players should be given the option of choosing for
        themselves! Springboard is an option, a CGS is an option, subscribing to
        any zine they hear of is an option. I would just put the options to them
        in a neutral fashion.
        >
        >I am a tad concerned about giving Ryk the job of Central Gamestart
        >Service. Quite apart from the fact that he already runs three, (or is it
        >four?) zines, he is running the World RR championships, he has just set
        >up his own website, he is offering to put Tony's Compendium on it, and
        >most important of all, he does have a wife and three girls who would
        >presumably quite like to see him some time during the day! The problem
        >is, he is the kind of guy that would just say "yes"! And, no, I am not
        >saying this because
        >TBNS is in it, as Ryk has made it clear that TBNS would go out
        >regardless of whether BttDA was ready or not. I am just concerned by his
        >already heavy workload. Reading ahead, I see John has suggested that who
        >ever runs the gamestart lets Ryk know. This seems a better idea. Then
        >who ever is prepared to run the Central Games Start just has to look up
        >Ryk's website to see where there are games available. This does rather
        >limit who would be able to do it mind you. This could be quite a busy
        >job for someone. I would love to offer, but I am busy enough as it is at
        >the moment I'm afraid. Perhaps when we win the lottery.....
        >

        Do we really need a CGS other than for, maybe, Diplomacy? Wouldn't it be
        enough to tell people where the game openings are? I think Dip is
        different because it needs 7 people and we would be in a position to get
        lots of games going by filling lots of half filled lists in different
        zines. If any other pbm games would be helped in this way, then we could
        have a cgs for them too - but I can't think of any off-hand.

        >Can I show my ignorance by asking who or what Counter and
        >"uk.board.games" are? A magazine that might be worth thinking about, (if
        >it is still on the go) is Punch. If you think our main target audience
        >is the 30-45 year old male, there are several fairly respectable
        >magazines catering for this market. Man's Health and GQ spring to mind.
        >I also noticed what looked like a younger version of GQ at my local John
        >Menzies but I'm afraid the name escapes me. Next time you are in a paper
        >shop have a look and think about which ones might appeal to your average
        >hobby member. The same might apply looking at it from the magazine's
        >point of view. Oups! Almost forgot something. I know Q wasn't a success
        >but how about Mojo? It has a slightly older readership I suspect and
        >while The Big Issue may seem daft, it is the same age group that are
        >probably buying it, and our funds would be going to a good cause.

        Worth thinking about - but Punch is very expensive for ads.
        >
        >Paul seems to be getting heated under the collar about a lack of some
        >central organisation within the hobby. I guess the main reason is
        >because we are a bunch of amateurs! Most of us get more than enough
        >organising at work. Some of us even have to do it as part of our job and
        >it is nice to get away from that sort of thing. However, the hobby as a
        >whole is, I think, suffering and it is just as well that people like the
        >four or five of us, are prepared to do that bit extra.
        >
        >Universities appear to be more or less at the top of everyone's list of
        >potential targets. Yes? Did you know that there was a website with
        >details of all Universities and colleges? As I am at work just now, I
        >might for get to include the details. If I do, someone give me a verbal
        >kicking! There are a lot of them. Might it be worth while splitting them
        >between us and just sending leaflets to the Student?s Association? I am
        >told that Student?s Union is old hat these days. I would suggest that
        >the best bet is
        >to send say half a dozen leaflets to each and ask them to pass them on
        >to their Bridge, Chess, FRP, anything else you can think of club. If we
        >can get more details, fair enough, but there is going to be a heck of a
        >lot of work involved as it is. I like the idea of suggesting the hobby
        >as a means of keeping in touch.
        >The website address I mentioned is
        >http://www.scit.wlv.ac.uk/ukinfo/uk.map.html
        >
        >I agree with Chris' opinion over the "holding them by the hand"
        >approach, which why I feel it would be a good idea to ask a few
        >pertinent questions on our leaflets/adverts. Obviously we would need
        >something different for those magazines that charge per word! While
        >Danny provides a good service for some, I have a feeling many would be
        >put off by Springboard. In your Dip stuff Stephen, do you mention
        >Springboard as a possible way of getting into the Dip side of things?

        Yes. Danny gets equal billing.

        >While I am on the subject, are there still leaflets of some sort being
        >enclosed with games of Diplomacy? I was supposed to see one once upon a
        >time but it never turned up.

        There are now - but only as of very recently. they only refer people to
        Danny.

        >As a matter of interest, who has been invited to this "lunch" date, and
        >while I am at it, who was the "student male" who was shot? I do feel
        >that "join the hobby or you are dead meat" is a little less than
        >diplomatic! I take it was meant to be launch date? What are you hoping
        >to launch? The Postal Hobby? It's been up and running for three decades!
        >The "working party"? We are fore gathered, or should that be five
        >gathered?
        >
        >Right! This better work this time or there is going to be bllod on the
        >walls!
        >
        >***NEWSFLASH*** I will be attending Mastercon so I will be only too
        >happy to kick Mark in the sprouts on behalf of the working party! I have
        >asked him if he would mind sitting down first as my left hip is killing
        >me and I might well fall over if I had to take too big a swing. Enough
        >of this madness!!
        >

        I was planning to attend - but don't intend to now as I have spent a lot
        of time out of the country recently and I don't think it is fair on
        Esme. Perhaps we could get a state of the hobby meeting organised for
        ManorCon?

        --
        Stephen Agar, Brighton, UK
        www.diplomacy.co.uk
      • Wightman, Mark, WIGHTMM
        Stephen Agar wrote the bits with John Colledge wrote the bits with ... And what will said leaflet say? ... Me too. ... maintain! I will compare my
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 25, 1999
          Stephen Agar wrote the bits with >
          John Colledge wrote the bits with >>

          >>Secondly, I have asked Karl Brown if he would be prepared to bung in one
          >>of our leaflets for a limited period when he sends games out to his
          >>customers, just to see if we get some feedback. No reply yet but it is
          >>early days. ***NEWSFLASH*** Karl has agreed and says he will be happy
          >>to distribute leaflets at a number of conventions as well. Thank
          >>goodness something positive is happening!

          >Both good news.

          And what will said leaflet say?

          >>[snip Onelist proble]

          >I have emailed a suggestion to fix John's problem.

          Me too.


          >>I knew fine something would be missed from the letter as soon as it was
          >>tarted up and sent out. Ryk Downes mentioned Libraries as a good place
          >>to put up notices and now I think Paul has as well. I dare say several
          >>others will make this suggestion. I like that idea as one of the selling
          >>points for the hobby is its wide age range. 15-75 if not more! Speaking
          >>of the letter, many thanks Stephen for sending it out with SO. That has
          >>certainly saved a bit of time and cash. As you know, I am keen that as
          >>many people as possible know what we are doing. Is there any easy way
          >>that you can let me know which editors you have not sent the letter to?
          >>Can John provide a quick and easy list of all zines from MfG? If you can
          >>let me know who hasn't received a copy I can send one to those who have
          >>missed out. I take it it is the Dip orientated zines you trade with,
          >>though this may be a gross assumption on my part now that you have a
          >>sub-zine with other games in it.

          >I trade with all zines (other than 100% football). I have an archive to
          maintain! I will compare my mailing list to MfG and send the letter to
          the ones that are missing.

          Well, that is an improvement. At least now the rest of the hobby gets a
          chance to contribute.

          >>Has anyone heard anything from Danny and Tony? [snip]

          >They are both on email so I will add them to the ukpbm list myself and
          they can remove themselves if they wish.

          Adding people to a mailing list is incredibly bad form, even if they don't
          object afterwards.

          >>I am intrigued by the concept of a 16 page introduction to the hobby.
          >>How on earth can you pad out what we do to 16 pages? I think you must
          >>waffle on even more than I do Stephen! The 40-50% response rates are
          >>incredible so you must be doing something right!

          >I will post a copy to any of you who wants to see one - it is Dip
          orientated, but not exclusively. Alan Parr helped me write some of it.

          Yes, please.

          >>The revival of the Hobby Development Fund is pretty obvious. I don't
          >>have an address for Iain Bowen but I will contact the other members of
          >>the Manorcon Committee to see if they can let us know just how much is
          >>involved and how we can go about getting it back. I will also contact
          >>those on the Midcon Committee that I have easy access to as well. The
          >>SFCP gang crop up from time to time elsewhere so I will mention them
          >>here as well.

          Is it that obvious? I agree, to do all the things you and the others propose
          will require some dosh, but is blagging the HDF the right way of going about
          it. The original cotributors may be a little upset.

          >>On the Dip front Stephen, are potential Dip players being directed
          >>towards Danny's Springboard or is this likely to cause friction? Again,
          >>a question in the details section might be worth thinking about. You may
          >>well cover this in your Dip Details leaflet?

          >I think Dip players should be given the option of choosing for
          themselves! Springboard is an option, a CGS is an option, subscribing to
          any zine they hear of is an option. I would just put the options to them
          in a neutral fashion.

          So, you send them a MFG then. Otherwise how do you decide which 'zines get a
          mention (or to provide a sample) and which don't? I think you have mentioned
          not liking the novice 'zine approach before, Stephen, so I guess that's why
          you want a change.

          >>[snip - John's concerns that Ryk is too busy]

          >Do we really need a CGS other than for, maybe, Diplomacy? Wouldn't it be
          enough to tell people where the game openings are? I think Dip is
          different because it needs 7 people and we would be in a position to get
          lots of games going by filling lots of half filled lists in different
          zines. If any other pbm games would be helped in this way, then we could
          have a cgs for them too - but I can't think of any off-hand.

          As I have said in other posts I think a CGS is a bad idea. You are all
          talking like one is being set up, isn't it still at the suggestion stage?

          >>Can I show my ignorance by asking who or what Counter and
          >>"uk.board.games" are?

          uk.board.games is a newsgroup where people can post messages to other
          people with similar interests. Signal to Noise ratios are poor, but then you
          probably think that of this list now I have joined :-)

          Counter is a board-games review and discussion 'zine. It has a large
          circulation and is amateur. It even looks like a 'zine until you see the
          3.00 price tag :-(

          >>Paul seems to be getting heated under the collar about a lack of some
          >>central organisation within the hobby. I guess the main reason is
          >>because we are a bunch of amateurs! Most of us get more than enough
          >>organising at work. Some of us even have to do it as part of our job and
          >>it is nice to get away from that sort of thing. However, the hobby as a
          >>whole is, I think, suffering and it is just as well that people like the
          >>four or five of us, are prepared to do that bit extra.

          Hmm . . . and I'm getting heated under the collar about adding organisation.

          >***NEWSFLASH*** I will be attending Mastercon so I will be only too
          >happy to kick Mark in the sprouts on behalf of the working party! I have
          >asked him if he would mind sitting down first as my left hip is killing
          >me and I might well fall over if I had to take too big a swing. Enough
          >of this madness!!

          Don't worry, John. I will lie down and take my whacks like a man.

          Mark Wightman
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