about the universe forum commander Shop Now Commanders Circle
Product List FAQs home Links Contact Us

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How to Find New Opponents

Steve Cole writes:

Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four war gamers in Amarillo that I knew, but there must have been more as the one store that carried Avalon Hill games (then the only wargames) would sell one or two now and then that my friends and I knew we didn't buy. Funny, it never once occurred to us to ask the store manager to give our phone numbers to the other guys. When I was in college, SPI (then the second wargame company and rapidly becoming larger and more innovative than Avalon Hill) had an opponent wanted list. I sent in my dollar to get it, and found only one person (of the 20 on the list) who was within 120 miles; the first and last person on the list were each 450 miles away (in opposite directions).

These days, the concept of contacting other gamers has had decades to mature, works much better, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For best results, you should do all of them.

If you play Federation Commander, then you can go to the Commander's Circle and enter your data (as much or as little as you are comfortable with) and perhaps find opponents near you. We are gaining new sign-ins every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out if somebody nearby has signed in. http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/

Primarily for Federation Commander players, the Forum has a topic where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations. Players can let other players know they're around. How silly would you feel if you found out that the guy who you've been arguing with on the forum for years actually lives in your town. (That HAS happened.) http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2

You can to go to a local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of your favorite game(s) and "grow your own" opponents. If a person already plays the game you are demoing, he'll doubtless drop by just to swap phone numbers.

Many towns have community bulletin boards on the local cable company's "home" channel. These are variously free or cost just a couple of dollars. It's hit-and-miss, but you could get lucky. (When I commanded Company C of the 1-39 MPs, I gained a dozen new recruits in a year that came from cable TV.) You could also buy a cheap want ad in the newspaper or the free advertising newspaper (American's Want Ads or whatever yours is called) found in quickie marts. There is also Craigslist, but you should use the normal caution you would for meeting a stranger.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to http://starfleetgames.com/starlist.shtml. Enter your data in the form, and you'll get a list of local players back. (This may take a day or two as it is done by hand.) Starlist is the most effective hunt for new players because the database has some 5,000 players in it, far more than all of the other sources combined. The only drawback is that Starlist works with full information (name and address) and those who are seriously concerned about identity theft often find this uncomfortable. In all reality, however, Starlist would not give an identity thief any more information than a local phone book would, and if that's enough for those criminals to operate, they would be vastly more likely to use the phone book than to request a copy of Starlist.

You can find opponents for all of our games on our BBS. Go to http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/ and you'll see "Seeking Opponents" on the main menu. You can post a notice there (and search the previous postings). Again, you can post as much or as little information as you are comfortable with.

Friends of our page on Facebook can post to see who is out there. Not a friend? Become one here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see http://www.starfleetgames.com/links.shtml for suggestions).

If there is a game convention within driving distance, it's worth a trip to see if you might find someone who is also within driving distance. If there is a game club in your home town or a store with a gaming area, go there and set up the game and wait for somebody to ask what it is. (Even better, take a friend who will play the game with you so you won't be bored.) If there is a Star Trek club in your home town, show them Federation Commander or Star Fleet Battle Force. There are people who have printed a card with the logo of one of our games and their email address and left these in the windows of their cars who got emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online (http://www.sfbonline.com/index.jsp) and play Star Fleet Battles and Federation Commander online with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $5 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.

There are probably more ways than this to find opponents, but unless you live in a cave somewhere, you can almost certainly find a new friend within a short while by trying these methods.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Steve Cole's thoughts on military history:

1. On June 1, 1940, thousands of British, French, Polish, and Norwegian troops held the Norwegian city of Narvik, the port from which 50% of Germany's iron ore was loaded. (No irion, no steel; no steel, no tanks.) The German troops in the area had been defeated and pushed back along the railway line to Sweden. Even after France surrendered, there would have been nothing Germany could do to take back the port, and it would have taken a year or two to build new rail lines in Sweden to move the iron ore to Baltic ports. Then, suddenly, the British pulled their troops (and the Poles) out, abandoning the port to the Germans. World War II might have ended much sooner if Germany had only half as much steel to build weapons.

2. Before World War II, Japanese children were taught that civilization began in the mountains of central Japan (not in India or Mesopotamia). Soldiers of the divine emperor had, the children were taught, spread out across all of Asia and Europe, turning hunter-gathers into civilized people who farmed the land and built cities. (Attila and the Huns were said to have been ethnic Japanese and one of the divine emperor's armies. Japanese teachers were vague on the date all this happened since none of their historical data points held together.) Plague (centuries after Attila) caused the collapse of the far-flung Japanese empire and the Japanese of World War II were only restoring what was the Emperor's territory by historical right.

3. In late 1941 and early 1942, the US Navy was able to read only bits and pieces of Japanese coded messages, but this included the address block that said who sent the message and for whom it was intended. This "traffic analysis" provided a wealth of data on where the Japanese would make their big push. The codebreakers (Magic) were able to tell Admiral Nimitz that the Japanese fleet had moved into the Indian Ocean, giving the American aircraft carriers under Admiral Halsey a chance to launch some nuisance raids on Japanese islands closer to Hawaii. After the first raid, the codebreakers noticed that the Japanese radio bases became very active, and the codebreakers gained a valuable "map" of all of the Japanese bases (and their radio addresses). Nimitz and Halsey were only too happy to "poke" the Japanese base network, generating more copies of Japanese messages Thanks to these raids, they had a lot of messages (which they knew were about the US attacks) which allowed them to crack the code in time to prepare for the Battle of Midway.

Monday, January 16, 2017

This Week at ADB, Inc., 8-14 January 2017

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on current projects. We released Hailing Frequencies and Communique on schedule on the 10th. The weather this week was cold, with snow and ice on Saturday.

 The Starlist Update Project moved forward with 9 new entries and 3 updates.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #52, Communique, Hailing Frequencies, blogs (four sent to Jean's file), graphics for Jean's Prime Directive PD20 Modern Supplement project, and other projects. He received his new Nissan Rogue and spent a day figuring out what all the buttons did.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #52, the two newsletters, the Lyran Master Starship Book, quality control of assembly and shipping, and the LDR Master Starship Book.

 Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

 Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

 Simone did website updates, worked on Hailing Frequencies, and worked on some graphics.

Jean worked on the Prime Directive PD20 Modern Supplement, managed our page on Facebook (which exceeded 3,500 friends this week at 3,519), managed our Twitter feed (209 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Lyran Master Starship Book, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Free Stuff for Star Fleet Universe Players!

Steve Cole writes:

We have a lot of free stuff on our website. Let me point you to some of the most popular things. Doing this in alphabetical order we start with Federation & Empire. They have play aids and countersheet graphics here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#FNE

Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of the Federation Commander game (well, enough of the game to play a few battles). First Missions will give you enough of the game that you can try it out. Go here to download it: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/first-missions.shtml

But that's just a start. Commander's Circle has lots of free resources such as various formats of the Master Ship Chart, Ship Cards, the current and back issues of Communique, scenarios, and playtest rules. If you register, then you can find other Federation Commander players.

Prime Directive players can find a treasure trove of play aids, including medals, insignia, maps, the timeline, and lots of other goodies to spice up a game. These can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#PD

Want to introduce a friend to the Star Fleet  Universe? Try the free download of Introduction to the Star Fleet Universe: Prime Directive and Roleplaying found here:http://www.warehouse23.com/products/introduction-to-the-star-fleet-universe-prime-directive-and-roleplaying

Star Fleet Battle Force
has new cards and play aids as well. These are located here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#SFBF

Star Fleet Battles
players have the Cadet Training Manual and Cadet Training Handbook. These were done as a way to get players into the complicated Star Fleet Battles game system. You can download them for free here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/CadetTraining.shtml Also available on the same webpage are lots of SSDs for the game.

We have downloadable art for your computer and iPhone so you can show your SFU pride. Those are here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml

Don't forget Hailing Frequencies, our free monthly newsletter. Covering all our games, you can read back issues here: http://www.federationcommander.com/Newsletter/past.html Don't forget to sign up to get the link delivered straight to your email box each month. You can "opt in" here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml

There are many historical documents which are available for download. Maps, deck plans, assorted graphics, and much, much more can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/historicaldownloads.shtml

Browse our master index to find all sorts of interesting information: http://www.starfleetgames.com/masterindex.shtml

As you can see, you could spend days browsing. We hope you enjoy what you find.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


Steve Cole's thoughts on the game industry in general and on ADB in particular.

1. I often have people offer to do something for ADB, some kind of research or rules writing or indexing or something. Sometimes, the answer is that it would take more time to check what they did than to just do it myself. (An example here are the Ship Information Tables for F&E, which I refuse to allow the staff to edit or maintain because I would never be able to tell if they changed something and I know those guys and they want to change things I do not want them changing, like the conversion costs of escorts.) The response to my comment is often "Then if you can do it faster than checking the one I did, go do it, now." But the problem is that there are only so many hours in the day and I already evaluated the priorities and decided that something else is more important.

2. Recently, someone noted a minor one-character typo in an FC ship in an E-pack. He modified the PDF and sent me the revised ship for me to share. I appreciate the enthusiasm but it's always less time for me to fix it myself than to check to see if someone else fixed it correctly. That's just the nature of the beast. Because, some years ago, one person tried to sneak his personal "improvements" into the ship when "fixing" one minor item, we cannot release to the customers any "official" ship done outside unless we check every single character and box. That's a couple of hours of work compared to a minute to fix the typo and spin up a new PDF. It's a darn shame that one person so many years ago created this mess but the months I spent fixing that problem aren't an experience that I can risk repeating. So if you see a mistake in a published PDF (or any published Federation Commander ship) let me know and I'll fix it. The same thing applies to any official document, from an F&E SIT to the SFB Sequence of Play. We need to fix the master archive file not use a file someone else modified. The fix won't appear until the next reprint or reload, but it will get taken care of.

3. Recently, we were working on Captain's Log #52, and I turned to the new tactical papers for one of our games. One of these was marked "part one of three" and I asked Steven Petrick where the other two parts were. He said they had never been sent in. I told him to contact the author and get them, as I would not print a "part one" of anything without having the entire thing in hand. There are several reasons for this, but mostly we want to be sure we can finish what we start. As it happened, the paper was found to contain many flaws, and the only email address for the author was invalid. As no one had heard from him for 18 months, we had no choice but to put his paper into the reserve file. The way it is written it need the other two parts, and it cannot be turned into a stand alone article as the whole thing sets up the situation for part two. This applies to everything. We cannot start something unless we know we can finish it. If we're doing it then finishing it is just a matter of managing the "to do list", but something that depends on an outside author must be "controlled" (i.e., finished) before it starts.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Answers to the Top 10 Questions that a Starship Captain Never Wants to Ask, Q6

6. "What do you mean 'he went to the bathroom'?"

Sir, I didn't say the Tractor Chief left his post. The warning labels didn't say the system was vulnerable to leaks ...

David Kass
(c) 2002 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the  Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault websites. So far on Warehouse 23, we have released a lot of stuff for Federation Commander, including the Revision Six Reference Rulebook, the 72 ships from Federation Commander Briefing #2 (divided into six packs of 12 ships and a separate rules pack), and more than a dozen Ship Card Packs. Our ebook PDFs are in color and high resolution. PDFs of most books are searchable (older Captain’s Logs are not).

The way Warehouse 23 works, once you buy a product, you can download it again for no cost if you lose it or if we upload a revised version of that edition. Thus, the people who bought Reference Rulebook Revision 5 were able to obtain Reference Rulebook Revision 6 for free (and to download it again when we discovered we had accidentally left out rule 4S).

Our Prime Directive PD20 Modern books are sold as ebooks exclusively through DriveThru RPG. We have started offering general RPG books there as well as some of the general gaming materials that Steve Cole has written. We are also listing Federation Commander, Federation & Empire, and Star Fleet Battles products on Wargame Vault.

We are expanding into Kindle books through Amazon. Our first book, For the Glory of the Empire, was released there recently; more will follow. 

We must note that these products are copyrighted and are not to be uploaded or passed around to your friends. Doing so is piracy, a criminal act, and may result in us deciding not to offer any more PDF products. We have already uploaded many Starmada, Star Fleet Battles, Federation & Empire, and Prime Directive products. We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale through the various venders. From here you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.

So check them out! Many people like the fact they can search our rulebooks for a keyword and find everything that pertains to that issue. Others like the fact they can carry around multiple books on one device. Some ship cards are available exclusively as PDFs. Whatever your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.