Starweb is a play-by-mail game of strategy and diplomacy invented in 1976 by Rick Loomis. It is likely the longest lived play-by-mail game that started life in that medium. It remains a popular game at Flying Buffalo.[citation needed]


Played for points, Starweb is primarily a hidden movement wargame. Six different types of players (Empire Builder, Merchant, Berserker, Apostle, Pirate, and Artifact Collector) gain points in different ways; nevertheless, most victories come from taking something away from somebody else.

Players write down their orders using an arcane command language, which is then entered into the Starweb computer program and the orders calculated simultaneously. The results are then printed and mailed back to the players. In recent years the system has moved to e-mail. Scoring rules differ based on the character class. The game ends when any player reaches a score determined (but not revealed to the players) at the beginning of the game.

One interesting concept in the game is the idea of "artifacts", a number of which are randomly scattered around the game map during setup. The artifacts have certain point values for each class, but the Artifact Collector gains considerably more points for holding collections of them in a single place. One of the artifacts, The Black Box, has a random effect which is not revealed to the players.

Starweb uses the term "Berserker" with permission of Fred Saberhagen; Saberhagen returned the favor by using a fictionalized Starweb game as a backdrop for his novel Octagon (1981).[1]

Publication historyEdit

When players expressed an interest in PBM in a science-fiction setting, Flying Buffalo released Starweb as its second PBM game.[1]:35


Jay Reese reviewed Starweb in The Space Gamer No. 11.[2] Reese concluded that "If you can get past the early errors and discouragement, you will find that Starweb can be a fascinating game."[2]

Chris Harvey reviewed Starweb for White Dwarf #19, and stated that "So if you like what you've read, then save up your pennies, cross those empty evenings off your diary and jump into the new hobby of CM PMB."[3]

Paul S. Person reviewed Starweb in The Space Gamer No. 29.[4] Person commented that "Starweb is a smoothly-run game (3-4 weeks for the slow version) which emphasizes diplomacy at the expense of detail. It is recommended for those who like galactic empire themes and who would like a game with lots of hidden intelligence."[4]

In the April 1983 edition of Dragon (Issue 72), Michael Gray stated "This is Flying Buffalo’s science fiction play-by-mail game of conquest, trade, exploration and diplomacy. And it's nothing short of a masterpiece!"[5]

The game has won a number of awards over the years (including the 1984 Charles S. Roberts Award for Best Play-by-Mail Game,[6] the 2000 and 2003 Origins Awards for Best Play-by-Mail Game,[7][8] and the 1997 Origins Award for Best Ongoing Play-by-Mail Game,[9] and the 2006 Origins Award for Play By Mail Game of the Year[10]).

In 1999 Pyramid magazine named Starweb as one of the Millennium's Best Games. Editor Scott Haring said "Starweb is the king of [play-by-mail games] -- the industry's most popular and longest running. ... Beautifully balanced, with a design so well-polished it gleams."[11]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  2. ^ a b Reese, Jay (April 1977 - May 1977 - June 1977). "Reviews". The Space Gamer. Metagaming (11): 35–36. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Harvey, Chris (June–July 1980). "Starweb ... The Final Frontier?". White Dwarf. Games Workshop (19): 26.
  4. ^ a b Person, Paul S. (July 1980). "Capsule Reviews". The Space Gamer. Steve Jackson Games (29): 30.
  5. ^ Gray, Michael (April 1983). "The PBM scene: Facts you can use when YOU choose what game to play". Dragon. TSR, Inc. (72): 32, 34.
  6. ^ "Charles Roberts Award Winners (1984)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2008-04-15. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  7. ^ "Origins Award Winners (2000)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2008-04-15. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  8. ^ "Origins Award Winners (2003)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Retrieved 2008-02-18.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Origins Award Winners (1997)". Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design. Archived from the original on 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  10. ^ "33rd Annual Origins Award Winners". Archived from the original on August 28, 2007.
  11. ^ Haring, Scott D. (1999-12-24). "Second Sight: The Millennium's Best "Other" Game and The Millennium's Most Influential Person". Pyramid (Online). Steve Jackson Games. Retrieved 2008-02-16.


  • Buckell, Graham (Winter 1983). "Superweb". Flagship magazine. No. 1. p. 11.
  • Rodin, Larry; Townsend, Jim (May–June 1987). "The Impact of the "Everyone" Revolution on SW-975". Paper Mayhem. No. 24. pp. 39–48.

External linksEdit