Ab Initio Games & Software Simulations

Interactive Sports, Historical & Sci-Fi Games

Over Thirty Years of Online & Postal Play - since 1986

House Rules

These are the full set of house rules for Ab Initio Games. You'll find much of it on other pages as well, sometimes in more detail, but we think it's a good idea to have all the essential information in one place in case you want to find something.

Introduction

Turn Credits

UK Payments

Overseas Players

European Payments

USA Payments

Canadian Payments

Australian Payments

Other Currencies

Sending Cash

Costs and Discounts

Emailed Reports

Emailing Orders

Introductions

Errors

Sending Orders

Receiving Results

Guaranteed Delivery

Late Orders

Postal Strikes

Replacement Rulebooks

Missing Turns

Problems and Questions

Player Communications

Hotline

Faxing Orders

Fax Quality

Fax Deadlines

Returning Players

Cartels and Multiple Positions

 

Introduction  These are the ďhouse rulesĒ for Ab Initio Games. Many of them will be fairly obvious but theyíre all laid out so you know what to expect from me, and also how to behave. My general rule of thumb is to treat everyone the same and be fair to everyone, but inconsiderate players, either towards the GM or to other players wonít be tolerated. The GMís decision is final and is made in the best interests of the majority of players and the fair running of the game concerned. I wonít engage in arguments with players, as profit margins in play-by-mail (PBM) games are too tight to spend excessive time on an awkward minority. They find themselves ejected from games and not allowed to rejoin!

Turn Credits  As in all PBM games you are required to pay for turns in advance. The number of turns you have paid ahead is shown on your game report. One turn credit is deducted for each turn you play. Turns that have not been paid for will be played but will not usually be mailed (sometimes I may send the first unpaid turn, as players often forget to send payment - but donít rely on this - thereís no reason why I should send a turn you havenít paid for). In all games youíll see tenths of credits (or ďpart-creditsĒ) reported. These are used to pay for extra listings, faxs, extra email reports, replacement rulebooks and so forth. Payments should normally be made for full numbers of credits, in the amounts shown on reports.

UK Payments  Payments should be made by cheque or postal order and made out to "Ab Initio Games", unless otherwise specified. You cannot send payment by credit card. If you send an amount that is not an exact multiple of the turnfee (or discount offer) then part credits will be issued. If you are in more than one game of the same type then you may split payments between them.

Overseas Players   We welcome overseas players, though youíll usually need to be able to receive results via email and send them in via email or fax because of the slower postage times involved in air mail (Europe is usually OK, but North America air mail takes 4-7 days).

European Payments   Payment in Euros can be sent but must be made out to "SSI Limited" regardless of whatever is usual for that game. To convert U.K. turnfee rates into Euros simply multiply by 1.8 (or double and take off 10%, it's the same result). i.e. for every £1.00 Sterling you need to pay 1.8 Euros). This rate includes our costs for currency conversion and bank charges. Game results sent by air mail to Europe do incur an extra 10% charge per turn to cover the extra cost of the postage, but not of course emailed results.

USA Payments   Payment in U.S. Dollars can be made with our credit card facility via the active website (www.softsim.co.uk). To use this you'll already need to be registered with us and have a userid. Ask for more details. To convert U.K. turnfee rates into U.S. Dollars simply multiply by 1.8 (or double and take off 10%, it's the same result). i.e. for every £1.00 Sterling you need to pay US $1.80). This rate includes our costs for currency conversion and bank charges. Game results sent by air mail to the U.S.A. do incur an extra 40% charge per turn to cover the extra cost of the postage (as well as typically taking 4-7 days to arrive), but not of course emailed results.

Canadian Payments   Payment in Canadian Dollars should be made direct to me. To convert U.K. turnfee rates into Canadian Dollars simply multiply by 2.7 (or treble and take off 10%, it's the same result). i.e. for every £1.00 Sterling you need to pay CDN $2.70). This rate includes our costs for currency conversion and bank charges. Game results sent by air mail to Canada do incur an extra 40% charge per turn to cover the extra cost of the postage (as well as typically taking 4-7 days to arrive), but not of course emailed results.

Other Currencies   If you need to pay in other currencies you can do so, but note this will be much more expensive than paying in sterling. Quite simply I cash your payment, for which my bank make a deduction for bank charges (usually £4.00) and I simply allocate you credits according to the Sterling amount they credit me with (essentially you to pay for the bank charges). It is usually cheaper for you to convert the money yourself.

Sending Cash  I strongly recommend you donít send any cash, particularly coins. If you send cash and it doesnít arrive you wonít get your credits, and coins sent through the post frequently fail to arrive.

Costs and Discounts  The cost of each turn depends on how many you pay for at once. Turnfees are shown on game reports. In some games you cannot buy less than four turns at a time because of the cost of processing each payment. As a general rule of thumb the more turns you buy at once the cheaper they are. In addition if you run two teams in the same game (e.g. two Gameplan teams, two Raceplan teams) then any time you buy ten or more credits you can claim a free bonus credit. This does not apply if you are in two different games (e.g. one Gameplan and one Raceplan).

Emailed Reports   All games now offer you the option of receiving reports by email. If youíd like to receive results by email then you can try the printing program and sample reports at www.sidetracks.co.uk/DownloadsPage.html. Once youíve got that working send me your email address and I can start sending reports to you via email instead of by post. Alternatively you may wish to have reports sent to you by email and post, but in this case you will be charged an extra 0.2 credit per turn for having the duplicates sent.

There isnít any difference in the cost of receiving orders by post or email. While sending emailed results saves us postage and printing costs we do have other costs to recoup from the development of emailed results, and where we make savings we generally try to pass these onto players in the form of keeping turnfees unchanged. Turnfee rises have been few and far between over the last ten years for these reasons.

Emailing Orders   Many of our games now offer you the chance to submit orders via email using our active website (recommended if you can do it), and weíre adding to the list all of the time. If you want more information about submitting orders via email, please ask for details. Game reports normally show whether that game is currently set up for submission of orders via the active website.

Introducing New Players  If you introduce someone new to our games then you are entitled to four free turn credits when they sign up to play. Get the new player to mention your name on their application (this bonus does not apply to startups under free offers). This offer applies to new customers (not existing customers playing a different game) and is restricted to genuine customers who join the game and keep playing (to stop the of rogue who makes up a bogus mate who pays £5.00 to join in order to claim a bundle of free credits).

Errors  Mistakes cannot usually be corrected, and games cannot be rerun. If you spot an error then you should inform me  immediately, as there is a free turn credit for spotting an uncorrected error and compensation may be made for adverse effects on your position. Errors must be notified as soon as possible (itís much easier to fix something if you tell me straight away, so I can if necessary notify other players - donít wait until just before the next turn is due and expect me to be able to sort something out).

Sending Orders  If possible, submit orders via the active website. If you post orders, I strongly recommend you send orders by first class mail, and allow three days for orders to arrive. My estimation is that 80% of first class mail is delivered next day, 98% within two days and 99.5% within three days. If you allow less than three days for orders to arrive you run the risk of the GPO letting you down. I strongly recommend you donít use second class mail at all - itís simply too unreliable and not worth saving a few pence for the risk of your orders not arriving.

Receiving Results  Turns are normally processed on the day of the deadline and sent out by first class post. Occasionally turns will be run a day late, usually because of problems in the office or because I take the odd day off (football or cricket last minute - which I consider as offsetting the fact I work 51 weeks a year - my week off being at Christmas when the post dies anyway) but usually Iíll be able to warn you in advance. If things are running late Iíll normally post a note on the website Ė click on the Latest News link.

You can normally expect postal results the day after the deadline (if things run on time and the post isnít slow reaching you). However, please wait four days before worrying that results havenít arrived (then call me to find out whatís going on). Please donít call me the day after the deadline ďto see if they ran on timeĒ - the answer is either no (Iím running behind and trying to catch up, so answering such phone calls isnít very helpful) or yes (and the Royal Mail has let you down). Either way calling doesnít help to get the results to you any quicker. Wait the four days then ring me!  Emailed results normally come through within hours, but please wait 24 hours before reporting them missing Ė even emails can be delayed.

Guaranteed Delivery  Please do not send orders by guaranteed/special delivery as I wonít accept them. First because I work from home guaranteed delivery usually means the postman wants a signature at 7am in the morning, when Iíd rather be asleep. Second if he does arrive at a more civilised time and Iím not here to sign for a letter then heíll take away the letter again and require me to collect it. Either way it causes much more work and hassle for me un-necessarily. You ought to be organised enough to be able to send your orders in plenty of time, and if not you can always fall back on faxing orders in an emergency (for details see overleaf).

Late Orders  In some games if you miss a deadline then your previous set of orders (already stored inside the computer) are used instead. In others there is a computer routine to write orders for you. If your orders arrive late then they will be set aside and used only if no new instructions arrive before the next deadline.

Postal Strikes  In the case of a major postal strike, any deadlines falling after the start of the strike will be reset when the strike is over. Any turns due shortly before the strike will be held back until after the end of the strike. Unfortunately no special arrangements are made for minor and local strikes, otherwise weíd never be able to run anything. Hopefully we can cope with local strikes via fax and email.

Replacement Rulebooks   If you need a replacement rulebook for any game then just ask for a copy. The cost is normally 0.2 credits per rulebook sent (for games with more than one rulebook the cost is per rulebook).

Missing Turns  Game reports are kept only until the following deadline. If you miss a turn (by running out of credits or through mail getting lost) then you will need to act promptly in order to get the missing game report. If your results havenít turned up four days after the deadline then ring.

Problems and Questions   If you arenít sure about something to do with your game please ask, but please follow a few ground rules. First make sure youíve checked in the rules - if you ask something thatís clearly in the rules Iíll simply tell you to read the rules. Second make sure your question is clear - if I donít know what youíre question is I canít answer it. The third is please put your question down on a separate sheet of paper - questions on the backs of turnsheets are easy to miss and itís much easier for you to read the answer if itís alongside youíre original question.

Player Communications  In our sports games it is our policy not to publish players' addresses, but you may send messages to other players via the GM (umpire) to be forwarded with game reports. Messages should be on postcards or index cards, clearly labelled with the league name or number, your name and team, and the name and team of the player you intend the message to go to. Inappropriate messages (anything likely to cause offence) will not be forwarded. Player newsletters (by players, for players, one for each league) are encouraged. In other games where player interaction is important to the game an address list may be provided. It is common, but entirely optional, in these games to exchange phone numbers or email addresses in the public messages section.

Hotline  The phone hotline for problems and questions (please note that you cannot ring in orders Ė if I let one person do so everyone would want to and this simply isnít practical) is available from 10am to 7pm Monday to Friday. Please donít call outside these hours. Whilst I do work from home I like to switch off from work, so please restrict calls to ďoffice hoursĒ. The number is 020-8325-2448. There is an answerphone on this number if you need to leave a message, but please donít ask me to call you back - if Iím not here and you need me youíll need to call again. Alternatively email me on danny@pbmsports.com. Please ensure itís a genuine query Ė if you just want to phone up and moan because you lost youíll get short shrift! Find a cat or something else to take out your frustration!

Faxing Orders  You have the option of sending your orders by fax, and I now have a fax machine in the office (so please try to ensure you send orders at a sensible time of day - I donít really want my fax machine chirping away or running out of paper and wanting attention at 3am in the morning). The fax number is 020-8249-1819. Use of the fax facilities is open to all players but itís intended to be there for those playing from abroad and those needing it as a last minute emergency option. There is a cost for receiving faxes (line rental, printing costs, etc) and I pass this cost onto you. The charge is 0.1 credit per page received (so avoid sending cover notes and so forth).

Fax Quality  The quality of faxes is often poor, generally because the fax is overused (mainly by people who have no need to use it at all). Thereís nothing I can do if I canít read your fax, so my advice is to not use it unless you really have to. You should take extra care with writing your orders if they are to be faxed, and use clear bold lettering (black is best, red will be better than blue). Take extra care to mind your O's and D's.

Fax Deadlines  Faxed orders must be sent by 9am the day of the deadline. If your orders arenít there at that time then theyíll probably miss the deadline (I start running games as soon after 9am as possible, to ensure the results are back in the post to you the same day). Donít ring me to ask if Iíll wait for you to fax orders in later in the day, I wonít Ė thatís not fair on everyone else. The bottom line is if you wait until the last minute you arenít being very smart, and you shouldnít be surprised if something goes wrong.

Returning Players  If you stop playing in a particular game/league and wish to return at a later date, then I normally will only allow you to rejoin your existing team (assuming they are available). Youíll normally also be charged a credit for being reinstated (because of the extra work involved). This only applies to players returning Ė new customers normally get their startup free as part of the startup package.

Cartels and Multiple Positions  If we think players are working together in games where they shouldnít, or one player is operating more than one position in the same game then weíll eject them. Quickly and permanently. Itís rare people try and do it, and we deal with them swiftly.

This section might look scary, but in our games it rarely happens because we make sure the games are designed to prevent it, and we monitor them carefully. If you want a game thatís run properly and fairly then you can rely on us to do so.

 

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For more information please contact: Danny McConnell, 82 Scotts Lane, Bromley, Kent, BR2 0LX, United Kingdom. Email: danny@pbmsports.com

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