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Tuesday, December 01, 2015


Steve Cole's thoughts on the many ways that World War II could have taken a very different direction during 1938-40.

1938, June, Germans drop Plan-Z: The Germans had planned to build a balanced navy to challenge the British by 1947. If they had abandoned all heavy ship production and instead concentrated on U-boats, they could have had 200 ocean-going boats in September 1939 instead of only 60. With that number in service, Britain's lifeline from America and its colonies could reasonably have been severed, forcing the British out of the war by 1941. Hitler could then have focused entirely on Russia, defeating it in December 1941, and then fought World War III with the US in 1955.

1939, August, competent German postal clerks: The Germans accidentally mailed an Enigma code machine to Poland weeks before the war started. Before the Poles gave it back, two telephone engineers examined it (taking notes and photos, which were sent to Britain). Without this, Bletchley Park might have never broken the German codes (and could not possibly have before 1943, and may never have as it was only the promise of quick success that got funding from Churchill). Without that, ULTRA would not exist and all of those German secrets would have stayed secret. The British would have lost the Battle of the Atlantic, the British Army would have been trapped before they reached Dunkirk, Montgomery would not have won Alamein, the Salerno landing would have been destroyed, and D-Day would have been far more risky. Any one of those could have resulted in an Axis victory or a negotiated peace leaving Hitler in power.

1939, September, France invades Germany: Given the minimal defenses the Germans had on their western border, a French offensive would have quickly driven to the Rhine river and beyond. Little could save Poland (which in two weeks was reduced to a besieged city of Warsaw) but the French could have brought the war to a quick conclusion (had they actually envisioned and prepared for an attack in advance for a reaction to a German attack on Poland).

1940, May, the British Army is destroyed: Before the heroic evacuation at Dunkirk, Guderian and his three panzer divisions stood on the Aa canal, closer to Dunkirk than the British. (It is a historical fact that an intercepted Ultra message convinced the British commander in the field that he needed to run for Dunkirk immediately. The loss of Ultra would have destroyed the British Army.) The German high command was terrified that Guderian was "out on a limb" and didn't want him to be destroyed, so they ordered him to stop. Years later, some generals from Berlin insisted that they secretly wished he would ignore his orders, grab Dunkirk, and destroy the British Army rather than let it escape. (To be fair, nobody knew that escape was even possible.) This would have caused the fall of Churchill and the British would have accepted a separate peace. With no African or Balkan campaigns to mess up his plans, and with no need to leave large garrisons in France and Norway, Hitler would have conquered Russia. The US would never have had a reason to get into WWII, but a US-vs.-German WWIII might have happened in the 1950s.

1940, November, an anti-British president is elected by the US: Without US support, Britain would have had no choice but to end the war on whatever terms it could get, leaving Hitler with the additional forces he needed to take Moscow in December 1941 and win the war. Again, a scenario for a 1950s World War III between the US and Germany seems plausible.

Monday, November 30, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 22-28 November 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week of Thanksgiving and the following ice storm. That made it a shorter week than normal as the police asked everyone to stay off the roads on Friday and Saturday and ADB's personnel complied.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was Star Fleet Times #31-#35. It was already available in Warehouse 23 and as a paper reprint.

Steve Cole spent time recuperating from his successful surgery, but did make it into the office to check his email. He appreciates all the good wishes and reminds you to see a doctor if you haven't in a couple of years.

Steven Petrick worked on updating SFB Module C2 and did more work on Captain's Log #51 and the Romulan Master Starship Book.\

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date. She also worked with Jean about some of the more challenging orders.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt inventory, and helped Jean with orders.

Jean processed some of the easier orders, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,889 friends), managed our Twitter feed (167 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS and Forum, uploaded PDFs, managed the blog feed, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

In Praise of Our Volunteers

The adventure game (wargame+roleplaying game) industry is a small one, and there isn't the kind of money inside of it that other industries have. The industry consists of creative game designers willing to work 60 hours a week for half the pay they could command outside the game industry, all because they get to BE game designers.

Even at that, the only way the game industry survives is by the hard labor of unpaid volunteers who (for honor, glory, and rarely some free games) provide no end of valuable services to game publishers.

Mike West answers rules questions on Federation Commander. Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Jonathan Thompson for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, Jean Sexton for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, and Andy Vancil for Star Fleet Battles.

Frank Brooks runs the play-by-email system as a volunteer. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the online game system (for SFB and FC) to pay the server costs. Tenneshington Decals does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures and is run by two of our fans: Will McCammon and Tony Thomas.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a retired real-world colonel from Space Command) in charge of the overall game system. He keeps his staff (Mike Curtis, Ryan Opel, Scott Tenhoff, Thomas Mathews, and Stew Frazier) busy moving projects forward.

Very little would get done on any of our games except for the Playtest Battle Labs run by Scott Moellmer in Colorado and by Mike Curtis and Tony Thomas in Tennessee. And all of the other playtesters are invaluable to us.

We have other staffers and volunteers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including John Berg, Howard Bampton, and Lucky Coleman (Galactic Conquest campaign); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); and John Sickels, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, Mike West, James Kerr, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them. Sometimes our volunteers become part of our staff; Jean Sexton started out as a volunteer proofreader.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by email or BBS or Forum or our page on Facebook, contribute in some way to the company and its product line. They may report a glitch in an existing product, playtest a product in development, suggest a new product, point out something another company is doing what we may want to take a look at emulating, look up a rules reference for another player, report on somebody who using our property improperly, comment on a posted draft of a new rule, or simply ask a question nobody else ever dared to ask.

Many years ago, we began awarding medals, ribbons, and other "decorations" to staffers and others who contributed to each product, and some other projects. These awards not only recognize those who contributed to the various projects, but encouraged others to begin making their contributions to future projects. We have created the Wall of Honor at http://starfleetgames.com/ArtGallery/Wall%20of%20Honor.shtml. This is a tribute to over 30 years of volunteer work. We hope you visit it to say thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Got Any Marketing Ideas?

ADB, Inc., is always interested in great marketing ideas, ways and places to sell our products, as well as new products to sell. Our page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf) exists to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers. You will find us on Twitter as ADBInc_Amarillo. We also are releasing YouTube videos that show what you'll find in "the box" and our latest releases. You can catch our videos on our channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames.

We tried a lot of things that didn't work (Google Pay per Click, full-color ads in trade journals) and a lot of things that did work (banners on gamer websites, Star Fleet Alerts) and are always looking for new ideas. If you have any, send them to us at Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and we'll think them over.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Allocating Energy

Mike Bennett writes:

When you lose a shield to enemy fire, don’t use all of your energy on the next turn to regenerate it.

If you use all of your energy to regenerate your shield, you won’t have enough to move or fire weapons.

If you don’t have enough to move or fire weapons, you’ll be a sitting duck.

If you’re a sitting duck, the enemy will take you apart piece by piece.

If you’re taken apart piece by piece, you won’t be able to defeat your enemy.

If you can’t defeat your enemy, you’ll lose the game.

Don’t lose the game. Save some energy for movement and weapons.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

We at ADB, Inc. are taking the day off to spend time with friends and family. We wish you and yours a
 wonderful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Take Charge of Your Health

Steve Cole writes:

Steve Cole is fine. Let's start there before any of the rest of this upsets anyone. Fine means cured, full recovery in progress, no problems. Now, as for what happened.

Last Friday a brilliant surgeon removed my left kidney which had a big tumor. This kind of cancer is self-contained and non-invasive (at least it would have been for another year) so there is no follow up, no radiation, and no chemotherapy. I'm done, cured, back to a normal life. Home and safe.

I did not mention this earlier because I knew that it was a simple procedure with odds of success at 100%. Easy fix. I wasn't worried and you didn't need to worry either. If I seemed distracted in the last few weeks, this was why. (Unlike TV doctors who schedule your surgery for the third commercial, real world cancers wait several weeks for a surgical appointment.)

I am telling you now because ADB, Inc. has always been totally honest and transparent, and because just maybe it will inspire a few of you who don't currently take care of your health to see a doctor regularly and keep track of your blood pressure and blood sugar. My blood pressure had been stable for a decade when I noticed a sudden climb that steadied at a higher number. When it didn't go away, I asked my doctor to check into it, and a few specialists and tests later they found a tumor the size of a tennis ball (which was causing my blood pressure to rise).

I am going to take the four-day holiday weekend to rest and let a few places heal. It hurts when I laugh -- but not even enough to take pain pills. I will be fine. See you all Monday.