A friend, fan of this multiplayer card driven game published by GMT, asked me when I was talking about my current Here I Stand pbem game this question:
"Why there is many people playing by email this game? I can't understand it! The game has many interaction among players: response cards, interception, combat cards, and do on."
First, I guessed it is because is more easy to find pbem players than real players for a multiface game. That is correct, but there is players that can usually play it on board and also are still playing by email HiS. Because it suits fine for pbem? I don't think so.
Well, the game is very popular among consim players and it is high rated in the BGG. But there is many games also very popular and with high ratings and they don't get so many people involved in playing by email. What is the answer then?
My guess is the high asymmetric among powers in this game. You need at least three games to get experienced in every aspect of the rulebook. France, Spain and England are colonizing New Word; Protestants and Papacy has a religious struggle; and finally, Turks has the piracy rolls. And even then, every power has unique features that don't share with others powers.
So, after complete the first game, the six players are wanting more, and they agree to play again but changing sides. After finish the second game, perhaps one of the players drop, but inmediately the gap is filled with a new player. For him, is his first HiS game but after a month of play he is going to want more game experience and will look for five players to create his own pbem game. And we have return to the beginning again...
The same happens with games like World in Flames, but it is another story. How many games of HiS are being pbem played? Only in ACTS there is created 34 games right now. What a success!