RANDOM THOUGHTS #205
Steve Cole's thoughts on
Operation Market Garden:
5. The British tanks were supposed to reach Armhem sometime on
D+3 or D+4 but actually reached the Rhine (at a different spot) only
on D+9. There are no end of reasons why this happened. The American
view that the British were just never in a hurry to attack is at least
partly justified. (During all of World War II, British troops never
displayed the sense of urgency that American troops sometimes did, and
that German troops always did.) Some of the delay is attributed to the
problems of shoving a major offensive up a single road surrounded by
swampy land on both sides. Some of the delay was caused by stiffer
than expected German defenses and counterattacks (although many
British and American staff officers predicted that would happen and
were ignored). The key point came when the 82nd Airborne launched a
heroic river assault crossing in canvas boats. They captured the key
bridge, but the British troops crossed the bridge and immediately
stopped for the night. (The Americans and Germans in such a situation
would have attacked immediately, no matter the odds or cost, and
broken through the Arnhem.) The Germans (no fools at war) used the
time to move more troops into position to block the British
This was a battle
in September 1944. The general idea was to drop three divisions of
paratroopers in the Netherlands to grab a series of bridges, then
quickly roll a column of tanks up the road, moving past the surprised
Germans to cross the Rhine at Arnhem and reach a point where
Montgomery could dash to Berlin and win the war. The operation failed,
a division of British paratroops was all but wiped out, and the Allies
ended up with a blame game that has never ended. The only gain was a
very narrow piece of land that went nowhere but was surrounded on
three sides by Germans. What went wrong?
1. The whole idea of the dash to Berlin was not
workable. The Allies had already proven just how far their supply
lines could go (not that far), the Germans were unlikely to ignore the
rapidly moving British tanks since nothing would be guarding their
flanks, and it was very unlikely that those tanks would just roll into
a major enemy city like they had in the friendlier streets of Paris.
The whole operation (even if one assumes that Montgomery would accept
the American idea for a shorter attack that just captured the Ruhr
industrial zone) was badly planned.
2. The airplanes that would drop the
paratroops and haul the gliders had been hauling supplies for weeks,
and had not been able to practice formation flying. That meant that
all flying had to be done in daylight, and the distance meant that
each plane could only make one flight per day. The airborne divisions
needed two flights (or more) to get all of their troops on the ground,
meaning that only half of the paratroops could land on the first day.
That meant that not all of the key objectives could be captured on the
first day, and some of them became much harder to capture after the
Germans figured out that something was up and started guarding
everything. But even a second trip would have landed eight hours after
the first, and the Germans would surely have not been idle in those
hours. In the end, the plan was too ambitious, and landing a carpet of
paratroops 60 miles through the German lines was too much for the
available forces. (The original plan by Montgomery would have landed
small groups of paratroops on top of key objectives. The problem was
that the Germans would have quickly wiped out such small groups that
could not support each other.) The only real way to make the plan work
was for the ground offensive to start a week or two earlier and drive
halfway to Arnhem before the drop.
supply situation did not support a major offensive. Indeed, the
British ground troops of XII, VIII, and XXX corps which were expected
to drive 60 miles to the Rhine had very few supplies on hand when it
started. The Allied supply situation was in a crisis because no ports
had been captured and opened for shipping, meaning that most supplies
still arrived over the beaches of Normandy and had to be trucked to
the front. (A truck actually burned more fuel getting to the front
than it could carry, meaning that one group of trucks had to carry
fuel to forward stockpiles so that another group could carry
ammunition and food to the troops.) The allies had left six divisions
behind to use all of their trucks to haul supplies for other
divisions. After the plan failed, the British would complain for
decades that Patton had stolen supplies that would have made the
difference, but in fact, the British actually did receive all of the
supplies they calculated they needed. The Americans would complain
that Eisenhower had told Montgomery to clear the Scheldt estuary first
and then launch Market-Garden, orders Montgomery interpreted with
4. The plan was based on the assumption
that the Germans were on the verge of surrender and collapse. Given
what happened between Operation Cobra (25 July) and the first week of
September, that was not an unreasonable assumption. The German western
front had collapsed and their troops had run for the German border.
The Russians had annihilated a third of the German forces on the
Russian front between 22 June and early September. Just one more push,
the theory went, and Germany would collapse. But the Germans were far
more resilient than that, and had somehow managed to put together a
defensive line in the West. (It helped the Germans that the British
had twice allowed huge groups of German troops and equipment to escape
traps, one at Falaise and the other at the Scheldt). Once the
paratroops started landing, the Germans were able to call up huge
numbers of Luftwaffe, Navy, police, reserve, training, and other
troops and throw them into a ragged defense line. (These troops
weren't that great, but against the lightly armed paratroops they did
well enough for a few days.) Three key German armored units (9th SS,
10th SS, and 107th Panzer) were able to launch smashing counterattacks.
As with all military failures, there was no one single
reason. Turning a blind eye to the two German tank divisions detected
at Arnhem, expecting a German collapse, not enough paratroops to grab
all of the bridges at once, and a slow-moving relief operation all
contributed to a magnificent disaster that many predicted before it
This Week at ADB, Inc., 24-30 August 2014
Steve Cole reports:
This was a week of steady
work on several projects. The weather this week was hot, with
occasional cooling rain. The spam storm mostly remained at something
under 200 per day. We all took a day off; Leanna, Jean, and Steven
Petrick used theirs to drive to Oklahoma City and see The Phantom of the
New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this
week was SFB Designer's Edition Expansion #2.
Steve Cole worked on
ACTASF 1.2, ships for the Hydran Master Starship Book, the Wall of
Honor update, and the last parts of the Captain's Log #49 FLAP List. He also
stumbled into a pirate's lair and reported 161 violations to Steve
Jackson Games, his first actual pirate kills.
Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50 and the Hydran Master Starship Book.
The 2500 project
remained stalled by the failure of the prototype company in UK to
deliver the next batch of prototypes.
Update Project moved forward with four new entries.
orders and accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
Jean worked on the shopping cart link
crisis (which was fixed Friday), managed our page on Facebook (which
is up to 2207 friends), managed our Twitter feed (117 followers),
commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the
BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread a few pages of the Captain's
Log Index and the Wall of Honor pages, took care of customers, and did
On Teeth and Colds and Work
Jean Sexton muses:
In a small, closely knit company so many things affect the workflow. All it takes is a nudge and the schedule goes off-track, never to recover. All that can be done is to issue a new schedule.
For ADB, colds are our bane. So often we put on a huge push to get a product done, working 12-hour days with no day off. This type of schedule wears down the immune system, making us ripe to catch whatever is out there. Colds are easily transmitted from person to person before any real symptoms occur. They make focusing on anything complicated difficult. When Steve Cole gets a cold, all of his products are delayed by a week. What is worse is that we don't catch the cold simultaneously. This time, Steve got it. He gave it to Leanna. Leanna and/or Steve passed it on to me. Steve didn't do a lot of work needing my proofreading while he was sick. Now he is feeling better and his work needs checking; my brain is not sure if "P" comes before "M" at this point (unless I sing the alphabet song). The net result is the product is delayed two weeks, not one.
Another nudge to the schedule is when something outside the company goes wrong. When the prototype machine breaks, then there are no prototypes. No prototypes means no master molds. No master molds means no master minis to be approved. No approved master minis means no production of minis. No production of minis means no sales of those new minis. Say goodbye to the fall minis release schedule. The minis will come out, just not when we planned.
Smaller nudges happen, too. Wolf Dog Sexton was scheduled to have his baby teeth pulled by his veterinarian. (This happens when the baby teeth don't come out on their own.) Everyone in the office cares about The Wolf, so we remained on tenterhooks waiting to hear the results. I lost part of a day getting him from surgery (only partly alleviated by coming in early after dropping him off). Luckily it was a "cold day" when I couldn't focus as well. The only saving grace is that it inspired this blog post.(Yes, Wolf is fine now and is his usual self, just minus a baby tooth and an adult tooth that came in wrong and would give him trouble.)
In a larger business, most of the time Person A can do enough of the essential part of Person B's job so that things don't get dreadfully behind. In a small business where part of what must be done is creative work, that doesn't happen as well. No one knows what is in Steve's mind to create. No one here seems able to handle the social media that I do daily. So some things just get "behinder."
So please forgive us if the fall schedule drops a bit behind our predictions. The cold plague took its toll on us.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
101 Ways to Kill the B10, Part 8
71. Tell the Organians it is designed to attack someone. It doesn't really matter who you tell them is the target
72. Put it in the defense budget and let Congress vote on it.
73. [Skipped as it was tres political.]
74. Tell Congress it is an "assault weapon."
75. Tell the Klingons it is scheduled to be converted into a Galactic Peace Monument and they'll kill it themselves.
76. Add a high-resolution camera and send it to Mars.
77. Go mano-a-mano with a Juggernaut.
78. Put it in orbit around Jupiter with an obelisk.
79. Upgrade the computer to Windows 3.1; it will crash.
80. Name Roseanne Karr as morale officer.
c. 1994, Amarillo Design Bureau, from Captain's Log #16.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #204
Steve Cole's further thoughts on
the zombie apocalypse. Given the recent outbreak of
super-Ebola, it's clear that the viral revenge of Gaia is only a
matter of time.
1. How you survive the first phase depends
on how fast the apocalypse happens and how many people survive. If
it's fairly slow (say, a month) then when it reaches the worst stage
you're screwed. The grocery stores are all empty and the food
production and shipment system shut down long before now. If it's
very fast, then the stores (gun stores, food stores, any stores) are
full of stuff. If the number of living people is small, you can just
go to a Wal-Mart or Sam's Club, lock the doors, kill the zombies
inside, and hang out with months of food until something happens. If a
significant number of people are still alive (and it will be the
gun-carrying ones who are still alive on the third day) then you may
have to fight for supplies, which could be really bad, so spend those
days barricading your Wal-Mart fortress.
2. Say you find a building. You have several choices
as to what to do. Ignoring it is easy; just move on. Looting it is
worth time if it looks like it was occupied at some point. For a very
quick look, check the kitchen (food), bathrooms (medicine), and the
master bedroom (guns). Doing this is done on the fly, and any attempt
to barricade or defend the building is minimal. Post a lookout if you
can spare someone. A more deliberate search, taking two or more hours,
includes every cabinet, drawer, closet, maybe extending to the
basement or attic. This requires an effort to barricade and defend the
place as you'll be here long enough to attract zombies. The next
choice is to use it as an overnight camp. This involves an hour or
more of defense work, thinking in layers, such as a second line of
defense if the zombies break into one entry. Don't forget an escape
route. Staying the night is not just a good night's sleep and some
quiet campfire conversation; search the place thoroughly, including
vents and any hiding places. The final option is to use the building
as a temporary base camp, staying several days while you loot nearby
buildings. The secure base camp gives you a place to stockpile what
you find, sort through it, and eat what you cannot carry. You might
even stash the rest of it for a possible return visit, but you're
probably not going to come back. In that case, you might still want to
leave the building as a secure haven, clearly placing the food or
whatever else there is in open view, leaving a few notes about what
nearby houses you already looted, and securing the entries in ways
humans can easily enter but zombies cannot. You might even spray paint
something like "safe house" on the outside.
3. It seems to me that one
issue in the Zombie Apocalypse is going to be keeping track of the
date. This can be important since you want to know when winter is
coming. More to the point, if you leave notes for others you could say
"We were here on October 3rd 2016 and went to South Podunk"
so that others know if they can follow and join you. With no
electronics, you're down to marking dates in a diary and even
writing down enough notes that you can tell one day from another and
be sure you didn't skip or double mark a day. The question is
whether anyone reading your messages was accurate in keeping track of
the days. Knowing you went west two days ago is one thing, but reading
that someone left on a date that is inaccurate is less useful.
4. Much is written about the best
weapons for the zombie war. Besides the obvious (one each: assault
rifle, pistol, machete, big knife) you may find yourself without
weapons due to some situation. The easiest thing to find is some sort
of club, which might work if you don't have to face more than one
zombie at a time. The easiest real weapon to find is a knife. While a
good combat knife is preferable, any big kitchen knife is better than
nothing. Absent a firearm, several strong knives with blades of a few
inches or more will at least give you a fighting chance. When you get
time, make a spear. You need a piece of wood maybe four or five feet
long and at least an inch in diameter. Hardwood is preferable, and
shovel handles can be swell. Shape it to a point with your knife. (You
can "fire harden" the spear point by holding it over a flame
then scraping away anything charred or burned.) That gives you
something that can penetrate a skull, keep a zombie a bit farther out
of reach, and use two hands to extract if it gets stuck. If you only
have one knife, make some extras by sharpening stakes (a foot long)
and using them first. Driven by both hands, they will penetrate a
zombie skull, or you can aim for the eye sockets.
5. Consider making a pistol lanyard from parachute cord or
good string. I know it makes you look like a sissy but this is the
apocalypse and being able to drop an empty pistol (that stays attached
to your body when you run away) in order to grab your knife has a
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
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.