Magnus and I went ahead with our plans to try Small World via the Internet last night. We used Vassal and, just like the arc of countless stories went from initial fumblings into a promising run before encountering a problem that was eventually solved by putting a new spin on the original approach.
I managed to connect up to the Vassal server and create a room for the game and Magnus joined me. After a couple of turns (which took a long time because I was trying to teach the game and interface as we went) we noticed another person had entered the room. The control to kick them out didn’t work but fortunately they responded to a polite request to not fiddle with the counters; in return we moved our discussion from a private thread into an area they could observe. They ended up leaving anyway shortly afterwards and I was able to lock the room to prevent any more disturbances.
Further on, we hit another problem when the Vassal server went down half way through round seven. I saved the game and we tried setting up a peer to peer connection but, obviously well protected by a firewall somewhere along the pipe, couldn’t get that to work. That was the story’s bleakest moment; a bit more reading through the manual and we decided to try completing the game by email and that has been working well.
For the email version, you get your copy of the program to log all your moves and then send the resulting log file to the next player, who reviews it (to check that you didn’t make any mistakes with the rules) and then records their own turn. If anything, this works better than direct play on the server; I think there was a degree of lag between one of us moving a piece and the other seeing it, which made server-based gaming run very slowly.
The only problem now is that we on the final move and, unless Magnus finds some way of leaking points into my pool, he has scored a victory!