The Fire When Ready Group Player Email Variant

FWR Main PBeM Emporium

This variant envisions a multiplayer concept for Metagaming's FIRE WHEN READY game.   Players will need the FWR game and the Cyberboard PBeM utility available from the Play By Email Emporium

Roles and Terms:

Before you read the variant itself, it would be beneficial to understand a few terms and roles used in this variant.

Fleet Commander:  Designates a Flagship, gives orders to Squadron Commanders and his own squadron if applicable.  For example, Admiral Dewey at Manila Bay.

Squadron Commander: Commands a logical grouping of ships.   For example, the destroyer squadron, the torpedo boat group, or the second Cruiser group.

Flagship: The Ship where the Fleet Commander issues orders from.  This is designated by the Command marker (see below).  If a Flagship sinks, the Fleet Commander has a chance to move his flag to another ship (see below).

Signalling: A crucial method of transmitting information from Fleet Commanders to Squadron Commanders, using Signal Flags and the Message Boards in the Fire When Ready cyberboard gamebox.

Signal Flags: Unlike real semaphore flags, which convey single letters or terms, the FWR gamebox flags convey concepts.  I thought about adding real semaphore signals but discarded the idea as being too cumbersome.  Refer to the table below for a detailed description of what each flag means.  Note that these are used in a sequence on the message board and the total message is read on each line as a combination of these concepts.  For a good visual example of how to use a message board, refer to the graphic on the main FWR PBeM page.

Full Speed Full Speed Ahead
Reduce Speed Reduce Speed to...
Same Speed Same Speed or Steady Speed
Full Reverse Full Reverse
Group Engage Group Engage or Move to
Rotate Rotate (turn in Direction..)
Fire Primary Fire Primary Weapon
Fire Secondary Fire Secondary Weapon
Torpedo Torpedo
Target (next turn) Target (next turn)
Engage Group Engage this Group
Engage Ship Engage this Single Ship
Disengage Disengage (Run Away!)
...the Enemy ...the Enemy
numbers Handy numbers (for ship IDs, etc)
multiple targets "And" (multiple targets)
Ship type flags (D, T, B, C) Ship type flags (D, T, B, C)
National Command Command Markers (German, Spanish, etc.)
Squadron Commander Squadron Commander Marker (red and blue)

Add more flags at your convenience or discretion.

The Multiplayer Command Variant

This variant is for multiple players.  Conceptually, three or more can play but it is optimized for four to six players.  NOTE: this variant requires the use of simultaneous movement and should use the Cyberboard method.  One of the Fleet Commanders or a disinterested third party should be the referee that processes the turns into a master game file.


Select any of the FWR scenarios, or build your own.  Assign sides to players.

One Player is designated the Fleet Admiral for either the red or blue sides.

Assign ships to remaining players on both sides.  Refer to these groups of ships by a logical label, such as "the Destroyer Squadron", "Cruiser Squadron 1", or "Strike Force Alpha"... be inventive.

The Fleet Commander can get a group of ships besides his own flagship-- though he doesn't have to.  Experience shows that the Fleet Commander likes to shoot at enemy ships, too!

Populate the Ship status boards with ship chart markers and fill out their information with the proper markers.  Be sure to designate the flagship with the Command marker (the national flag marker) and the squadron commanders with either red or blue flags (see the example graphic on the main FWR Pbem Page)

When the ship markers are moved on the game map, they are also given appropriate command markers and squadron pennants.  See the graphic on the main page for an illustration.  Since the command markers and squdron pennants are markers, not counters, they can be used many times.

The Fleet Commander then emails the players on his side his instructions for how and when they should enter the board.  This represents the Fleet Commander's battle briefing and should be used to convey his idea of how the ensuing battle should be fought.   NOTE: this is the last email message he sends directly to the players.  Any further game related communications MUST take place using signalling flags.  The most he can do is send a message bugging on of his subordinates to send in his moves, and nothing more.

Each player processes a turn normally as for simultaneous moves.  The GMV files are processed into the master game file as for a normal FWR game.

BETWEEN EVERY TURN, Each Fleet Commander fills out his message board.  The message boards represent orders to Squadron Commanders.  The F.C. fills out the message board as per the example on the FWR main page-- he cannot send any more messages than he has space for on the message board.  Given the timescale and visibility and signalling technology of the period, the 7 lines of the message board represent the maximum possible information the Fleet Commander could convey in a turn-- usually more than enough!

NOTE that this procedure creates a Command Interphase between regular turns where JUST the Fleet Commanders "move" (though all they are moving is signal flags on the message board).  Think of it like this:

  1. Game Turn
  2. Command Interphase
  3. Next Game Turn
  4. Next Command Interphase... etc.

The F.C. that is processing the game turns handles the Command interphase just like a regular turn.

The Squadron Leaders receive their orders and try to carry them out to the best of their ability.  If the F.C. signals ENGAGE GROUP ENEMY DESTROYERS PLUS TARGET ENEMY FLAGSHIP FOR NEXT TURN, the Squadron Leader cannot decide to take out the torpedo boats instead.

Otherwise, combat is processed normally.

Flag Commanders may transfer their flags to other ships at any time during the game.   The process is as follows:

  1. Move the new flagship next to the old one.
  2. Do not move either ship the next turn.
  3. At the end of this ensuing turn, place the Command marker on the new ship.

During the flag transfer process, the Squadron Commanders must attempt to continue performing  the last orders given by the flag, even if they don't make any sense.

The Flag Commander is destroyed (killed) if the ship he is on (represented by the Command marker) is destroyed or blown up suddenly.  When this happens, the training level of the dead flag commander's entire command is reduced by one, for the remainder of the game.

As an optional rule, roll 1d6.  If you get a 1 or a 6, the Flag Commander survives, but it takes TWO turns to transfer his flag to the nearest ship (even if it is a torpedo boat).