Newbee to PBEM - a guide


In love with Rei Ayanami
Nov 16, 2001
Fontainebleau FRANCE
This thread's aim is to provide help in entering the PBEM world. A kind of mini-guide.

I got the idea since I get numerous questions (which is normal) while starting a PBEM and rathe than answer all the different questions different people can ask (which becomes tedious after a while) I thought it might be worth getting a FAQ guide for everybody.

This guide is open for discussion. I have tried to gather many infos and ideas from PBEM administrators, communities, problems encountered during PBEM play, etc... but if you want to add something (or correct something maybe), please do so. I already got some input from other people (mostly Akots,Rubberjello and Eric_A ).

I feel like newbees should be able as well to post here about themselves, what their preferences are (scenarios, epic, ....) so that they can be contacted and don't just have to be "ready" when openings appear (new PBEM organized).

And of course they can still ask questions in this thread if they cannot find the answer.

So I hope it is useful and answers most questions people can have about what IMHO is one of the best ways to enjoy Civ.

1. What is it ?

2. Can I play PBEMs ?

3. How do I start ?

4. The different sorts of PBEMs.

5. How do I play it ?

6. Tips, exploits...

7. Other sources of informations

8. Other ideas


In love with Rei Ayanami
Nov 16, 2001
Fontainebleau FRANCE
PBEM stands for Play By E-Mail games. That means you can play Civ3 against human opponents without having to
worry about setting up a multiplayer game with lags, droppers, disconnections,....

What is good ? :)

To play against human opponents which is much more challenging than the AI and more interesting.
This is especially true where the AI does not do too good (use of armies or naval power for instance) or where the engine is limited in some ways (diplomacy, trade,...) whereas a human is both more flexible and fairer (well,
THAT is not always true lol).
Since I started PBEMs, my PBEM/standard Civ ratio has reached 5 to 1. That should be a proof it is attractive, at least for some players.

What is bad ? :(

Well, as in any multiplayer game, you depend on the assiduity of your fellow players who sometimes prove not too reliable. But it is much easier than in MP to replace a player.
It is slow. Depending on the number of human players (from 2 to eight), their speed in getting, playing and sending the game, holidays,... one turn can take a while. If some people lag then the PBEM slows down, sometimes
to a point where it falls into oblivion. On average, 1 PBEM out of 2 dies. You must both realize that and make your best so that it does not happen in the PBEM(s) you are playing in !

That's why the administrator of the game has to make sure the game is going, all players are still in, to find a replacement if necessary, etc... but these are the two only shortcomings I know of.

Exemple : One PBEM based upon the scenario Meso-America took 100 days to finish (by victory at turn 88; there
could have been more) with 3 human players.


In love with Rei Ayanami
Nov 16, 2001
Fontainebleau FRANCE
You need to have Civilization and PTW or C3C (much more used than PTW) and if possible the latest patch. Most of
your would-be partner-players have the latest version of the game and of the patch so it is much easier to find
opponents if you have them too.

Do you have internet access that you can check at least once a day ? That is absolutely necessary. Imagine you
check every other day in a PBEM with 6 human players. If everybody did the same and even if the game is played
as soon as actually received, one turn could take 12 days.

Do you have the will and motivation ?

This is the most important question. Starting a PBEM often seems like fun but then some people realize the
length and commitment of a PBEM and drop out, either slowing (until a replacement is found) or destroying the
PBEM. Nobody forces you to play a PBEM and anyway you could choose a short one to play if you feel like you
don't have the time so if you sign in for a PBEM, be sure to understand it can last for a loooooonnnnnng time
and requires some commitment to check your mails, play and send the save, etc... Imagine you have played 20
turns of a PBEM and someone drops without warning: you would think like you really wasted a lot of your time
and energy so be considerate and don't do that. If you want or need to quit warn the others, try to find a
replacement and make the change as smooth as possible.
Besides, your responsibility for keeping the PBEM moving along does not end when you send off your turn. It only ends
when you get a "GPS" from the person you sent it to ----- This can be critical to keeping a pbem moving!


In love with Rei Ayanami
Nov 16, 2001
Fontainebleau FRANCE
The easiest way is to check the new threads. A good idea could be to subscribe to this thread
( where, normally !, all new PBEM games are listed.
Not everybody does that though so the surest way (albeit requiring more time) is to check regularly the
sub-forum dedicated to PBEMs where each new thread is often a new PBEM.

Since PBEM are slow, many players play in actually a few different ones at the same time. Nevertheless, few
new PBEMs are started (at least officially) every month so it is important to stay tuned to the new ones
starting so to be able to sign in before it is full, especially since the most favored ones are the ones with
few players (less risk of a drop out and overall faster gameplay).

Another solution is to check if an ongoing PBEM needs a replacement for one player. There is a thread dedicated
to that ( It is interesting for both you and the other
players since you are often in direct action immediately and you enable the PBEM to continue. That way you can
get a "good" reputation to be invited or accepted in a new starting PBEM.

Reputation : this could cover many different topics. One part is the way a player handles his or her PBEM
commitments (speed vs unexplained delays, dropping out,...). The other part is about your behavior in-game. For
instance some people consider me evil because I don't always respect my treaties. As a newbee your commitment reputation
is zero most of the time (except if you are invited as a friend by an experienced PBEM player) so some PBEMs might not
want you straight away and might prefer you to prove yourselves with other newbees or as a replacement player first.
Whatever the case you will see some special restricted PBEMs made by a special group or based on invitations. Get
yourself known as reliable is usually what it takes to enter that kind of game.

Once you have seen a game has openings, sign in (usualy in the game-thread or by PM AND give the administrator of the
game your e-mail (by PM rather than in the thread to avoid spam-spider robots. The administrator of the game will tell
you OK or not and either he will attribute you a civ or you can state your preferences.


In love with Rei Ayanami
Nov 16, 2001
Fontainebleau FRANCE
There are many kinds of PBEMs. So be careful when you select one that it fits your tastes.

- the classic Epic; it is like the standard civ game but with a maximum of 8 civs and by mail.
Subcategories are preferences in some features, notably the map for instance archipelago or pangea maps.

- Modified Epic; some rules are modified to emphasize some special aspects of the game. The modifications can be either
in the biq file or agreed on by humans who have to abide by these rules by themeselves.
For instance : Always war games, alliance with the first civ you encounter (by sheer luck), starting with 2 civs, new units,...
Be careful to learn about the modifications before playing as the gameplay might change drastically.

- Scenarios : these have three main interests :
* they are usually shorter or a lot shorter than the epic games
* the civs are preplaced and more often than not have already a partly developed infrastructure and knowledge of others, which
put you right into the action, thus avoiding the long tedious turns at the beginning of an epic.
* they can have an appeal for the people interested in a particular era, area or topic (WWII, Medieval Europe, Rome,...)
On the other hand, they can be really unbalanced to reflect the situation at a given time whereas epic or modified epics are
fairly balanced (the difference being the starting terrain).

At CFC most of the recent PBEMs are scenario-based and especially Conquests-based (so you need C3C to play them) because the
Conquests are well-known and don't require the downloading of files but some other well-tested and bug-free scenario are played as well. WWII Europe, WWI, USCW for instance. In these cases the administrator will indicate what files to download. It is
advised to download and try the scenario by yourselve to make sure it is working then to confirm.

For some infos about what is played here (roughly and focusing only on the games that actually show here) on the 21 of September :

- Conquests : 18
Mesopotamia : 1
Rise of Rome : 7
Middle-Ages : 1
MesoAmerica : 1
Age of Discovery : 2
Sengoku : 1
Napoleonic : 2
WWII Pacific : 3 (including one inter-site challenge)

- Other scenarios : 4
WWI : 1
WWII Europe : 2
US Civil War : 1

- Epic : 17
(including many variations : always war, alliances, archipelago,...).


In love with Rei Ayanami
Nov 16, 2001
Fontainebleau FRANCE
The principle is always the same.

You get the e-mails of everybody then the player before you sends you a save (his turn). You have to load it, play it then
send your save to the next player in the rooster (the order can change if a civ is destroyed or retired).

IMPORTANT : When you finish playing your turn, what you must do is press enter to end the turn which in turn asks you if you want to save (click yes).
NEVER save using save from the menu, always end the turn with "enter" or "space".

PBEM saves can be password-protected. The first time you play your turn it prompts your for a password. Leave it blank and
your saves are not protected, type in a password and they are protected. Nevertheless as with all passwords keep it written
somewhere and if possible send it to the administator who can store it (in case you forget it or you need to be replaced).

After that it depends along the wills of the different players or of the administrator of the game.
Since many players play in more than one PBEM, they need to have a way of identifying clearly the different saves they get,
so usually a SAVE has to be named using the name of the PBEM, the date (provided automatically by Civ3) or the turn number or
a combination of them, ex name + turn number or as for the PBEMs I have organized name + date.

As a newbee it is extremely unlikely you will have to start a game yourself so getting the save, loading it, playing it
then sending it are the typical process you will follow. Try to have a short way to reach the save when you play the game
so that it should not take you too much time to load.

You can use all the mails you have to practice e-mail diplomacy for all that cannot be done through the Civ3 diplomatic
exchange page or to prepare for a deal (cf. tips).

In addition, once you have played and sent your turn to the player after you, send a message to the player who sent you
your turn (before you) telling him that you got it, played it and sent it (often written GPS). That makes it possible to know
the game is running and, in case, where it stalled because a file was not received.
You can also post that in the PBEM thread sometimes to show everybody where the game is. Some administrators can ask you to
do so fairly regularly.


In love with Rei Ayanami
Nov 16, 2001
Fontainebleau FRANCE
Tips :

- use a password but not too hard a one (in case you are replaced) and easy to locate or remember if you forget it.

- if you joined one and enjoy the concept but think your turn does not come often enough, nothing prevents you from joining other PBEMs. However, it can happen you get all turns at once or must go for some time or get a heavier workload,.... then you can get "drowned" with PBEMs. So don't sign in for too many or you might be a cause of delay.

- diplomacy among humans is complicated using the diplo page in Civ3 because unlike with the AI opponents, propositions have to come back and forth between the human players so it is much better to agree on a deal by e-mail then propose exactly your part sometimes even checking accept immediately (if both sides agree on the process) so that your transfer is an immediate gift and if the other player does the same you will get your part of the bargain immediately as well.

- Treachery : well, that depends on players so it might not be a bad idea to ask your fellow players what they think about it.
Ongoing peace, war, MPP aggreements IMHO can be broken as happened often in real life. But some people are extremely angry against that. For them a 20-turn agreement HAS TO be respected, no matter what.

- Try avoiding using the Go to action or automatic move. Because these moves happen right at the end of your turn which makes it impossible for you to move them the following turn and which gives often to your opponents (especially in case of war) the impression you had double-move which is technically true even if you did not actually cheat. Double-move one turn and zero the following one, except the effect appears on the first turn so it is not balanced.

- It is a good idea to actually "Quit Game" and "Start" a new Civ session if you have been playing a solo game whenever a new pbem turn comes into your mailbox and you want to load it. Otherwise you may get some really screwy things happening. They supposedly fixed this bug in 1.22, but it still exists in PTW 1.27.

Exploits : some things should not be done. It is the PBEM etiquette.

- You are not supposed to practice diplomacy before you have actually met in-game. The same way you should not exchange things you should not be able to exchange if you haven't reached the proper tech (ex : map exchange). On the other hand allowing someone in your territory without a proper ROP is OK, ROP will have a move effect on units so it is something specific.

- You are not allowed to reload if the "dice" went wrong on you. Of course sometimes if you have a crash or forgot to do something it can be used but it is better to limit that and to replay in the same order as you did the first time. Thant + the option "preserve the random seed" which is often chosen should make the turn have the same results. Note : reloading can be seen.

- Don't use any cheats. If you want to use them, do that by playing alone. If you want to confront human opponents, that's for comparing yourself with others fairly otherwise there is no point. This is a good motive for immediate exclusion (probably from the entire community).


In love with Rei Ayanami
Nov 16, 2001
Fontainebleau FRANCE
You can use these sets of rules, exploits, ... for informations or for reference (like we will play this game using Aggie's rules or Heihojin's rules

- At CFC, Heihojin has posted a pretty clear list of commitment requirements that is worth taking a look at.
Just ignore the PBEM it refers to and read what is general :
Heihojin's set of rules

- At Apolyton, PBEM players have encountered many issues, exploits, strategies, etc...
and made a very comprehensive list of it and of what was allowed or not, a kind of guide to : PBEM-etiquette

- Multi-site demogame rule

- Aggie's set of rules


In love with Rei Ayanami
Nov 16, 2001
Fontainebleau FRANCE
- Constellation order : no, that remark by Yakodi does not refer to any occult behavior. It means that the order of play is important because players are often scattered around the world plus they can play at different hours.
So when setting up a game it can be useful to take into account hours of play and timezones (usually reference GMT). Correctly done this can dramatically increase the speed of a game.


Aug 5, 2003
Moscow-Houston, Russia-USA
First of all, I want to say big thanks to Loulong for his efforts in organizing PBEM community and attracting new players to the games. :goodjob:

There are a few variations of standard PBEM rules for games with human players only or with human players with AI games.

For the human player only games, the Multi-Site DemoGame rules seems to be the best for current C3C patch 1.22 but they are mostly applicable to 1.15. These rules are very strick and leave almost no loopholes. The complete ruleset can be found at CDG website

Below is quoted only what is applicable to simple PBEM:

In-Game Glitches/Bugs/Exploits
1.1 - Double-Duty Exploit
Description: No player is permitted to 'allow' the capture of their bombardment or workers with the intent of executing a double-duty exploit.

Definition: Two or more players capturing and recapturing non-combat units (Including bombardment units) with the intent to use them against a third party team simultaneously.

Purpose: To prevent two or more teams from sharing units and their abilities in the same turn for multiple turns.

1.2 - Resource Sharing Exploit
Description: No player is permitted to share a single resource through the use of the Resource Sharing Exploit.

Definition: Two players gifting and regifting a resource as well as cancelling it allow two teams to get use of the same resource that wouldn't be otherwise possible.

Purpose: A resource is to be used by one team per turn, no exceptions.

1.3 - Leader Sacrifices
Description: No player is permitted to barter, gift, or otherwise allow another team to kill-off any of its units with the intent of creating a leader for either team.

Definition: A player creating weak units or sending its out-of-date units after another team with the intent of helping that team create a leader.

Purpose: To prevent great leaders from appearing between two allied players abusing the game system

1.4 - Worker Sacrifices
Description: No player is permitted to barter, gift, or otherwise allow another team to kill-off any of its units using those units with the capture ability with the intent of creating a worker for either team.

Definition: A player creating weak units or sending its out-of-date units after another team with the intent of helping that team create workers.

Purpose: To prevent workers from appearing between two allied players abusing the game system.

1.5 - War Happiness
Description: No player is permitted to declare war on anyone with the intent of generating some happiness amongst its populace.

Definition: A player declaring war on another just to invoke a little extra happiness.

Purpose: To prevent this 'feature' from being exploited and retain the spirit of the game.

1.6 - Invalid Map Trading
Description: No player is permitted to barter, gift, or otherwise trade any sort of map, whether it be a screen shot, minimap, hand drawing, or any other 'picture' of the in-game map, mini-map, or embassy screenshot before the requisite tech is discovered. Verbal/text descriptions are allowed, but coordinates are not.

Definition: A player creating screen shots, drawings, or other depictions of any part of the in-game map before the requisite tech has been discovered.

Purpose: To prevent the use of outside game elements to break the spirit of the game by allowing maps to be traded before they are allowed in-game.

1.7 - Exchange of Contact
Description: No player is permitted to barter, gift, or otherwise trade any sort of contact information until the requisite tech is discovered. A simple statement to team 'Z' that you live next to team 'Y' is allowable so long as no transactions are made or brokered between the two.

Definition: A player trading anything for any location or contact information before allowed in-game.

Purpose: To prevent the use of outside game elements to break the spirit of the game by allowing contact and location information to be traded before they are allowed in-game.

1.8 Enjoining Teams
Description: No player is permitted to barter, gift, or otherwise trade multiple cities with the intent of joining player to destroy another player and keep both players alive to survive to the end.

Definition: A player trading one or more cities to another player for the purpose of either granting that player an advantage (premature contact with another civ, map information, etc.), or denying an aggressor the right of conquest.

Trading and or gifiting cities is permitted, but each transaction shall be reviewed by the administrators of the game. If a specific transaction is considered to be in violation of the spirit of this law, then the traded/gifted cities may be forcibly returned to their original owner(s) or simply abandoned at the sole discretion of the administrators.

As a general rule, the administrators will consider city gifts/trades that are temporary in nature (ie. only a few turns in duration) and those given/traded for the purpose of granting a player an advantage (premature contact, map information, etc.) or to deny another player the right of conquest to be against the spirit of this law.

Purpose: To prevent the use of outside game elements to break the spirit of the game by allowing contact and location information to be traded before they are allowed in-game or to unfairly prevent a conquering civ from taking your cities.

1.9 - Improper Use of Military Great Leaders
Description: No player may use a Military Great Leader to rush a Great Wonder. (not applicable to C3C)

Purpose: To prevent Military Great Leaders from being used in a manner inconsistent with their original purpose at the beginning of the game.

Metagame Tricks

2.1 - Reloading
Description: No player is allowed to reload the game with the intent of altering the outcome of any event, combat, or other in-game result.

Definition: Someone reloading the game when something happens that they don't like and wish to change. Playing the turn in a different order to alter the outcome of said happenings.

Purpose: To prevent a player from replaying a turn until the most optimum outcome is achieved or otherwise increasing their odds of winning.

2.2 - Save Manipulation
Description: No player is permitted to use the PBEM savegames or other files to obtain information or alter any in-game element. This includes monitoring or altering memory while the game is loaded. Using MapStat is also prohibbited.

Definition: An individual scanning or monitoring loaded files into memory or altering a file can obtain location information and more, they can even alter in game data.

Purpose: To prevent the use of outside game elements to break the spirit of the game by allowing someone to outright cheat.

2.3 - Zoomed Loading
Description: No player is permitted to have their settings set to have the game zoomed out when loading a PBEM savegame.

Definition: Loading the game when zoomed out can reveal information that you would not otherwise have access to.

Purpose: To prevent the gathering of information against the spirit of the game.

2.4 - Misleading through Renaming
Description: No player is permitted to rename a unit or city with the intent of misleading or confusing opponents.

Definition: Cities can be renamed to names of tech or sums of gold or anything else in an effort to not trade what that opponent agreed to. Units can be renamed to other units and appear to be something else entirely.

Purpose: To prevent the misleading or confusion of another player through malicious use of in-game features.

Game Mechanics tricks

3.1 - Fortifying a boat/passenger
Description: Similar to 3.1, except now addressing sea vessels. The sea vessel also would enjoy increased visibility during the next turn. A player can move the vessels the full allotment of movement points then “wake” the passengers and give them then “Fortify all” command which fortifies the sea vessel as well. It is allowed to use the “Fortify All” command on a vessel or a stack of vessels that has movement points left before the command was issued.

Definition: A player may get the effect of a sea vessel being fortified prior to an attack when that vessel should have not have been able to fortify itself because it had no movement points to do so.

Purpose: To prevent the illegal use of having increased visibility.

3.2 - Hitting F1/back-forward to change production
Description: It is possible to use F1 to go into city views and change production or rush items before a city has been reached in the pre-turn production queue.

Definition: This can result in tech-enabled units and Wonders being completed the very turn the tech is researched, or production to be changed in response to an enemy's actions (like Walls if a stack moves toward a specific city and not another).

Purpose: To prevent the unfair allocation of resources not intended to be used in a certain way on the previous turn and keep gameplay flowing within the spirit of the game.

3.3 - Hitting F1/back-forward for double tile usage
Description: It is possible to use F1 to go into city views and use the Forward/Back buttons to change the work force allocations before a city has been reached in the pre-turn production queue so that a tile can be used to used by 2 or more different cities in the same turn. .

Definition: This can result in the possibility of a bonus tile being “shared” by 2 or more cities.

Purpose: To prevent the unfair allocation of resources.

3.4 - Using GoTo/Auto-Explore/Auto-Workers to get extra movement
Description: The last team in the turn order can issue the “GoTo” command, and have a unit move twice before the next turn begins. This is very strong in war-time. Every Civ has that option, that's why it is stipulated that no one use go-to. Note: This does not provide an extra turn of movement, but rather advances the timing of that movement (ie. 2 moves in turn 1, and 0 moves in the final turn of the task). Similar results can be achieved with auto-explore and auto-workers.

Definition: This can result in the last player to play in a given turn, the ability to move their units twice before another player could move in between

Exception: Automation of worker tasks (roading, mining, irrigating, etc.) is permitted. Stack & individual unit movement that concludes within territory currently (when order is given, not when units arrive) visible (ie. not unexplored and not in the fog of war) is permitted. Automated moves are subject to administrator oversight. Contested moves that result in an unfair advantage (ie. arriving at a location before another team that would have arrived first, but wasn't using automated movement; reinforcing a poorly defended city or location; etc.) will remain a violation of this rule.

3.5 - Chaining naval transports to quickly move land units across water
Description: It is possible to wake a land unit at sea, and transfer it from one transport to another. Given enough ships, a chain can be created to instantaneously move units across bodies of water (by ending in port).

Verdict: This is to be allowed.

3.6 - Teleporting units gifting cities
Description: A player can instantaneously transport units from any city back to their capital by simply gifting it to another player. This results in very weird strategy.

Definition: This can result in a Civ’s units being transported out of harms way or to a new war front.

Purpose: To prevent the unfair movement of units; especially during war time.

3.7 Accepting a Peace Treaty from a Civ then immediately declaring war
Description: A player at war with another can accept the latter's Peace Treaty, then declare war afterward in order to eliminate War Weariness from that player. This results in a huge advantage if the peace-seeking player is not aware of the trick.

Definition: This can result in a player’s properly acquired War Weariness being shut off and the possibility for the other player to suffer from it should they redeclare war.

Purpose: To prevent unfairly using the games mechanics to negate or reverse the effects of War Weariness,

3.8 - Staying at war to upkeep War Weariness but not actual fighting
Description: Being kept at war by a player with the intent of inflicting War Weariness, and the penalties that are associated with it.

Definition: This can result in a player’s War Weariness being applied and worsened when the team no longer wishes or is able to wage war against the other.

Purpose: To prevent unfairly using the games mechanics to increase, exaggerate, or prolong the effects of War Weariness when waging war is not a reasonable option as determined by the game staff.

Reputation and Honor System

4.1 - Official Treaties
All in-game treaties can be submitted to the game admin for an official record. All players in the treaty must confirm the exact wording with the game admin for the treaty to be officially recorded.

4.2 - Distribution of Treaties
All offial treaties will kept private. The only exception to this is where a player in a treaty asks the game admin to send a copy of the treaty to another player.

4.3 - Fairness Pledge
Every player must agree to the fairness pledge before the game starts:

“I pledge to compete fairly and within the rules of the game. I pledge to adhere not only to the written rules, but also to the unwritten, spirit of the rules. I understand that failure to live up to this pledge may result in penalties for me.”

4.4 - Battle Log
Description: For all combats, players must submit a log of what units attacked, retreated, died, won, etc. from each battle on that turn to the team they attacked. This includes the capture of units and cities.


5.1 - Addition of Newly Discovered Exploits
5.1.1 - Authority
The players agree to abide by the rulings of the game admin should a new, previously unknown bug/exploit appear in the game.
5.1.2 - Disclosure Requirements
Every player has to control its own actions and to look for bugs or game mechanics which could be defined as a bug or exploit. When a player finds such a mechanism (which may or may not known by other players), they are compelled to bring this to the attention of the game admin immediately.

The game admin will be responsible for resolving the issue amongst the concerned parties, or in the case of a potential new exploit, the admins will be responsible for facilitating a discussion (while preserving the anonymity of the identifying player) and a vote on the issue.


Aug 5, 2003
Moscow-Houston, Russia-USA
In general, ruleset is a matter of preference and can be discussed and agreed by all players before the game starts. As for me, I would never play a PBEM with Heihojin's ruleset. But it is a matter of personal preference.

I'd also like to put here a reference to Aggie's PBEM ruleset. This ruleset is preferred IMHO when a game involves AI.

Just in case quoting Aggie's ruleset here:

Banned Tactics

"Phony Peace Treaty": Making Peace Treaties without having the intention to stay at peace, just to get cheap techs, cities or money.

"Palace Jump"; Jumping the palace by disbanding the capital. Rushing a palace or building it brick by brick is OK.

"Mass troop jumping": When you give away a city to another tribe, all the troops from that city are transported to your capital. This can be exploited. Especialy in scenarios where you need to take an important city (for example a possible 20K city) and after that want to get your troops home safely. It is OK to give away a city with up to two defenders in it.

"RoP Rape": Using Right of Passage to move whole armies into attack position.

"Throwaway Cities": It is possible to go everywhere by settling, moving a setter one tile further in, abandoning the old city, founding a new one, etc...etc... A city shouldn't be abandoned in the same turn as it is settled.

"Resource Piracy": Sitting on resources or deny a civ access to a tile inside the borders of the rival while at peace.

"Seed Corn": It is not allowed to buy the LAST TWO workers from the AI before 1000 BC.

"Negative cash research": The penalty of negative cash is only one unit. So there are cases where this can be worthwile. Science spending must be lowered when the cash would go below zero.

"Great Library slingshot": When you capture the Great Library city before you have Education and keep it one turn, you will get ALL the technologies known by at least two other tribes. You can get from the Middle Ages into the Modern Age with this tactic. The Great Library slingshot is not a valid tactic in my SG's. You are allowed to capture the Great Library city as one of a number of cities to weaken the owner. But it can't be a campaign to capture this city alone, hold it for a turn and then abandon it.

Things that I didn't name but are in the spirit of what I mention above I would like to have discussed.

PBEM features

"Scientific Great Leader"
I would like to disable the SGL in my PBEM's, because it can greatly imbalance the game with a few early lucky breaks.

"Statue of Zeus"
More difficult, but I would like to make arrangements about the SoZ.

"A deal is a deal"
I expect that the players stick to a deal they make with the other player.

"Military Alliances"
I would like to allow MA's. But with the restriction that a player can only have a MA with another civ vs a third civ once every 20 turns. MA's with more than one opponent are fine, as long as they are not renewed before the original deal would have ended (after 20 turns).

Greece has an MA with France vs Babylon. After 5 turns France and Babylon make peace. Greece may only get another MA with France vs Babylon 15 turns later. This also implies that France and Babylon may get a MA vs Greece on the turn they make peace. But this is the end of the MA ping pong for the following 15 turns.

"Mutual Protection Pact"
I have no problem with them.

"Battle Reports"
We give each other battle reports when at war with each other.


Wiseguy in Training
Jun 6, 2004
West Lorne, Ontario
There is one other exploit I stumbled on by accident in a chat with another player. I got the impression that he hadn't thought of that one either. It's dirty pool, and I don't think it should be allowed. Basically, you move all your troops out of a city on a border, let an opponent take it, then they desert the city so you can retake it. It racks up the victory points in bgames where that is allowed...

Random fan

May 7, 2004
Akots... I may be still new to Civ3 PBEMs, but in my multiplayer expierience I learned one important thing: If you can't enforce the rule never declare it.(= make public an exploit it forbids). What you posted here is a handbook of a civ3 cheater :rolleyes: ...


Aug 5, 2003
Moscow-Houston, Russia-USA
Random fan said:
... If you can't enforce the rule never declare it.(= make public an exploit it forbids). What you posted here is a handbook of a civ3 cheater :rolleyes: ...

:lol: Enforcing these rules is very easy once you have the admin password to the game. Just check the thread at CDZ about Skyfish story and extensive analysis by Kemal as one of many examples of cheating exposed. This was particularly bad case because it involved editing of the save files. Still it was rather easily revealed. :)

Finding inconsistencies is easy even in multiplayer game with lots of human players. The question is how seriously do you treat the game, are your opponents trustworthy and don't cheat, and are you willing to analyze the game after it is finished.

Well, since people mostly play PBEM here at CFC for pure fun, not caring about these things and bluntly trusting your opponents is a good idea especially if you have played a few games with them already and have not noticed anything unusual or suspicious.

However, if you are more serious, looking for a challenging game and want to dedicate some time to its analysis, keeping all the saves and having spoilers is a good idea. I'm keeping all the saves I received and send, for example, but still have not written a single spoiler (which is very bad). Same goes for the MSDG or CDZ ladder games.


Jul 1, 2004
i'm sorry if this is a really stupid question...

but my friend and i recently started our first PBEM game. we're at the third turn of the game now. when i'm at the screen that says 'enter password for persia' (that's me), if i enter something that isn't my password, it says 'invalid password'. ok, so far, so good.

but if i leave it blank and click enter, it then goes to the screen 'enter a password for persia', like they were asking me for a password for the first time. then if i leave that blank too and click enter, then i can continue with my turn. which means i could access my turn without knowing my password, which means my friend could do the same.

so what did we do wrong?


Aug 5, 2003
Moscow-Houston, Russia-USA
Did you patch your C3C to version 1.22?

Another thing if you left the admin password for the game blank, the game might assume you are entering the blank admin password and allows you to set a new password for your civ. It is actually a good idea to let a third party (another friend) to enter the admin password and the passwords for both players and play the first turn. You then may feel completely safe since it will not be possible for your friend to do anything "wrong". But with some people, you sure can trust they will be completely honest and will not do this "wrong" thingy. :)

Chill Bill

Aug 26, 2005
Liverpool, UK
Thanks so much for this thread! I've been searching for an introduction to PBEM Civ III in English with minimal jargon for a couple of weeks now and was close to tearing my hair out. Glad I found this site too.

I will make sure I'm fully prepared before I sign up for a game too, hadn't realised how long these games can take and the problems associated with others dropping out. Still keen to get involved though.

Thanks again to all contributors.
Jul 7, 2004
I am new to PBEM, and I am interested in joining or starting an epic game. However, I want to make sure that I have a good understanding of how things work before I jump in.

I understand the rules and I am experienced at playing Civ3. I am also willing to play often (once or twice a day). However, I am still not sure on a couple of points. First, in all of the game threads, players post with "GPS", the turn number, and a player name. What does this mean? I assume that emails are made directly between players, as I do not see saves posted.

In addition, what sort of communication is allowed outside of the game between players? Should I make occasional spoiler posts after the fact? How are deals made with non AI civs?

Thanks in advance!


In love with Rei Ayanami
Nov 16, 2001
Fontainebleau FRANCE
GPS is basically an acronym for Got it, Played it and Sent it (actually I might have been the first one to use it ;) ). Indeed this is only to keep all players informed in the thread (as tracking) while the save is sent by e-mail.
The name "usually" means GPS(ent to) XXX.

E-mail is standard for diplomacy as well so at the launching of a PBEM all players should receive the e-mail of all the other players.
So communication is done that way, but is only allowed between civs that are actually in contact within the game.
Spoilers can be fun but are up to you. Some use them (and trust the other players), others don't use them.
Deals with Ai civs can vary along the different types of games played. Sometimes there are some Iron rules decided before the beginning (usually in scenarios), sometimes deals with AI are free (as in most epic games).

Hope that helps and welcome in this community !
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