SDG How-To

This page is intended to become over time a "place of first contact." The place where new people can come to learn how things work here at SDG. As the creator, I find it difficult to be objective enough to intuitively know what is unclear or difficult (else I would change it!) Feel free to post your ideas and experiences here and, if you feel up to it, feel free to format this page in whatever way you think would be best. Once it reaches some critical mass, I will link it to the welcome emails when people join. Remember, you are always welcome to contact me if you have questions or concerns!

Keeping Current

I cannot stress enough how valuable it is to check the forum. Any news regarding new games, new features, or planned outages will be announced there. If you have questions regarding a game or general feedback regarding the site, this is a fine place to voice your thoughts. The wiki is also an active part of the community, where you can find strategy articles and info on game variants. Don't hesitate to edit pages and ask questions! To login, simply use your existing SDG username and password. The bugs and feedback pages are likely of most interest. You can also monitor the todo list to see if something you wish to suggest is already in the works. The wiki also sports an RSS feed if you prefer. The "Waiting Room" also links to an RSS feed of new challenges, so you don't have to constantly monitor the Waiting Room if you don't want to.

How Do I Start a Game?

Once you login you will find yourself at your personal "Home" page. From here you can access your private mailbox, edit your profile information (including passwords and email addresses) and monitor your current games. Your overall ratings are also found at the bottom. Along the top you will find the main menu. Click on the Active Challenges link to go to the "Waiting Room." Once there you will see a list of all the games currently available. Under some of the game titles you will see the challenges themselves. The first column lists the names of the players currently interested in playing the game. The second column shows the speed of the game. This is important. If you are unable to play within the specified time limit, your opponents will have the option of continuing the game without you. The next column lists the variants that have been selected for this game. The wiki pages for the individual games will list what variants are currently available and what they mean. Following that is a Notes field which is a free-form text area for challengers to use. If there is something particular the challenger wanted to say, you will find it here. Finally, and most importantly, you will find the "Join Game" link. If you wish to become a participant in a particular game, simply click this link. It's that simple! If you are the last person to join, then the game will start immediately. Otherwise, you will see your name appear in the left-hand column along with the number of people still required for the game to start. (If you change your mind, you can click the "Leave Game" link to bow out.) Once sufficient players have joined, you will be notified by email that the game has begun and it will appear on your Home page.

If there's a game you want to play but there are no existing challenges, you can start one. Simply click on the "New Challenge" link next to the game's name. At the next screen you simply select how many players you want, select your variants (if any), enter an optional note and set your time limit. You will then be taken back to the "Waiting Room" where you will now see your challenge displayed. Once sufficient players accept, you will receive an email announcing the start of the game and it will appear on your Home page.


Kibitzing is the act of watching other people play and even joining in the conversation. SDG accommodates this and it is perfectly acceptable. The Games In Progress page lists all the games currently being played. The names of the players, variants, and start dates are all there. New users are encouraged to watch how games play and ask questions if they're not sure how something works. The players here are very friendly and are happy to help you find your way around.

Private Messages

At the top of your Home page you will see a box labeled "Private Messages." The SDG system itself never reveals users' email addresses. If you wish to contact a particular player, you can do so by clicking on the link "No Unread Messages" (unless of course you have messages, in which case the link will tell you how many unread messages you have). From there you can compose a new message or read any messages that have been sent to you. Alternately, you can click on the user's name anywhere it appears on the site (while playing a game, Games In Progress page, etc…) to see their profile. The Private Messages link then transforms to "Send this user a private message" which takes you directly to the new message screen. Any messages you send are saved in your SENT folder. You will notice that some messages in your SENT folder may be in boldface. This means the recipient has not yet read the message. Once they do so, the link will go back to normal. (Note: Deleting messages from your SENT folder does not delete the messages from the recipient's mailbox. It is safe to clear out unread messages from your SENT folder.) If ever you receive a message that is inappropriate in some way, you can flag that message as outlined at the bottom of the Read Message screen and an administrator will have a look.

Game Notebooks

Each gameboard now has a place for you to enter notes specific to that game. These notes are visible only to you and have no bearing whatsoever on the gameplay itself. Its intent is to help you track long-term strategy in games that may take weeks to complete. Each notebook is unique to that particular game number.

Forced Scores

This is a method to track players who tend to leave games they join unfinished. Your Forced Score is calculated by first taking the total number of your forced surrenders less the number of regularly completed games since the date of your last forced surrender. Currently, forced surrenders do not expire, but that may change. When issuing a challenge you can now specify a maximum Forced Score threshold. Players with a score that exceeds this threshold cannot join. This restriction is intended to help with games that do not tolerate early withdrawls well such as BTT and Homeworlds.
It is hoped that it will be used somewhat sparingly so as to not totally exclude players who just have a run of bad luck.

Direct Challenges

A system of direct challenges has finally been implemented. This allows you to directly challenge one or more individuals to a game. The people you challenge will receive an email (or PM) alert and be given the opportunity to accept or decline the challenge. Should it be declined, the issuer will also receive an email saying so.

At this time it is not possible to disable receipt of direct challenges. Notifications of a direct challenge also cannot be fully disabled. If you have email notification disabled but PM notification on, then the alert will go strictly to your PM box. However, if both email and PM notifications are disabled, you will still receive the
alert via email.


Ladders are for groups of fans of a specific game to be able to continually compete with each other. If you join the ladder for a game, you start at the bottom. You can challenge someone up to 5 rungs higher than you. If you win, you move to their place, pushing them and all below them down one run.

On many SDG pages, the menu at the top includes a link "Ladders" to the page with more detailed information.

This link will show a number in parentheses (e.g. "Ladders (3)") for the number of ladders in which you are signed up but aren't currently playing a ladder challenge game. This is a useful reminder that you could go challenge someone in that ladder.

Note there is an occasional bug with ladder challenges which can cause the challenge to disappear at the end of the day. In that case, you can simply challenge someone again. See [].

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