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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Playing Star Fleet Universe Games Long Distance

Playing games by email or by post is an alternative to playing face-to-face. While there are a few differences (i.e., your opponent isn't sitting across the table from you), it is the same game.

When playing Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander using the Play-by-Email (PBEM) system you and your opponent submit your orders for the turn to a moderator via email. The moderator then processes them, and sends a "SitRep" (Situation Report) to the players via email. You receive the results, write up your next set of orders, and then submit your orders once again. The process is repeated until the game is completed. Sounds simple? That's because it IS! It'll take a little getting used to (after all, what doesn't?), but once you've got the hang of it, you'll be lobbing photon torpedoes (or whatever your weapon of choice is) at opponents from all over the world.

Every FC or SFB PBEM game has at least three participants: two or more players and one moderator. The moderator's purpose is to accept orders from the players and carry them out, reporting the results of those orders to all players. While (s)he is not a player, the moderator fulfills a very important role in the game. Good moderators and good players make for a good, enjoyable game. Moderating a game is also an excellent way to learn more about the game's rules.

Prime Directive games can be played by posting on the Forum. The GM of the game gets players, approves their characters, then sets up situations for the characters to face. It takes a bit longer because the players are not sitting around the table, but it also allows people who are spread out across the world to play.

Players of all our games are expanding the frontiers of playing long distance. Some are trying chat, some are adding webcams to that, many are trying out VOIP so as to get close to a face-to-face experience.

While there are some disadvantages to playing long distance (it does take longer to finish a game), there are advantages as well. You can play against people in other parts of the world (how often do you get to Australia, anyway?), you can play multiple games at once, and you can have large multi-player games (without worrying about running out of chips and soda).

For more information about playing long distance, drop in on the Forum (http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2) or BBS (http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Lights! Cameras! The SFU Hits YouTube!

Ever wished you could take a peek inside a shrink-wrapped box or look behind the pretty covers of a book? Then these videos are for you.

The brainchild of Mike Sparks, our YouTube videos are of three types. The first is about a specific product line and you can hear Steve Cole (yes, he is the talking hands in our videos) discuss the products that are in one of the different games. The second kind is what ADB, Inc. has released in a particular month. These are a great way to catch up quickly on the new items.

It is the third kind that let's you see what is in the box. A boxed game such as Federation & Empire is taken out of the box item by item so that you can see what's in there. From rulebook, to charts, to maps, to counters, each item is shown and discussed. It's a lot of information to pack into a short clip, but SVC and Mike manage it.

Check out our channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames and be sure to bring the popcorn!

Friday, September 19, 2014



Jean: Good morning. Did you have a good weekend?

SVC: Yes, Leanna and I went to see the university ballet troupe doing Swan Lake in the park.

Jean: Is that the troupe known as The Fantastics?

SVC: Yes. They just did the one lake scene. The college girls danced in formation in the middle of the gazebo while some junior high school prodigy half their size danced around the outside edge, just
in front of the audience.

Jean: Was it an enjoyable experience?

SVC: It was until I crossed my legs and accidentally tripped the light Fantastic.


Jean: Good morning.

SVC: What comes after 75?

Jean: Seventy-six?

SVC: That's the spirit!


Jean: Good morning. Where did you and Petrick go after we all had dinner last night?

SVC: We went cow-tipping.

Jean: Is that where you grab the feet of a cow on one side and tip him over? My grandfather did that to a cow when I was a toddler so that I could pet her. Where did you go?

SVC: We drove 40 miles west on country roads looking for a cow by itself, then drove 30 miles back toward town before we found a rare Schleswig-Holstein cow alone in a field. She tipped over quite nicely!

Jean: That was quite a drive.

SVC: Yes, we had to go a long, long way to tip a "rarie."


Jean: Good morning.

SVC: Leanna and I won't be in tomorrow until after lunch.

Jean: What's up?

SVC: We have to go to the memorial service for my old high school and college friend, Frank Jack Caution. His real name was Franklin John but we all called him Frank Jack.

Jean: He was your age?

SVC: Yes, and my weight. He died suddenly of a heart attack, at a traffic light with his wife in the car with him. Janet is just devastated and in shock.

Jean: That's terrible!

SVC: It won't be a traditional service. She had him cremated and tomorrow we'll throw Caution to the winds.


Jean: Good morning.

SVC: What comes after 35?

Jean: (suspicious) a joke? (pause) OK, thirty-six?

SVC: What comes after 48?

Jean: Forty-nine?

SVC: What comes after sixty-three?

Jean: Sixty-four?

SVC: Well, I always knew you were a square.


Jean: Good morning.

SVC: The computer game deal went through!

Jean: What computer game deal?

SVC: Never mind that. We invested the money in buying 30% of the best soccer team in the Philippines. They were about to fold, but with our investment, they have the World Cup in the bag!

Jean: Oh really?

SVC: Our share includes the US merchandise rights, so get busy with Simone creating a line of products and a marketing campaign to sell them.

Jean: What's the name of the team?

SVC: The Manilla Envelopes!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hydran Master Starship Book Insights

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The good news on the Hydran Master Starship Book is that so far there have been very, very few reports from the reviewers on any problems. Most have been relatively small things easily corrected.

Today I finally got to finish going through a file or items that Ken Kazinski has been collecting for a while on the Hydrans (I will admit that the scary thing is that so far I think Ken has only submitted one item on the draft, all the other items were things he had picked up over the years) and made the few changes that were relevant.

One of those changes was to the Hydran Mule and reflects that Star Fleet Battles is a big game. The Mule is the Hydran light tactical transport, and is covered as a light tactical transport under Annex #3A. Not many people use that annex much, but when we updated the Module R3 SSD last the Mule's SSD was corrected to reflect that Annex #3A says all light tactical transports can carry two "pod weights."

Well, the Hydrans only have pallets, and all of their pallets, whether cargo, carrier, combat, or whatever are the same weight. But what if the Hydrans captured someone else's double weight pod and wanted to haul it to the rear? Annex #3A says a light tactical transport can do that. (Anyone can use a tug to haul anyone else's pods or pallets, you just cannot operate them, but you might collect them waiting on that day when you capture one of their tugs and then convert the whole mess to your own technology.)

When we did the updated Hydran Mule SSD we included a movement cost 1.33 chart for purposes of dragging double weight pods, but had not changed the ship description at the time for that possibility. Now it has been changed.

Another thing that is currently in the book, but that has not yet been blessed by SVC is a change to the Hydran Stinger-X. Even I had noticed long and long ago that it was odd that there was no electronic warfare variant of the Stinger-X. Why did Stinger-2s operating from a non-X Ranger (or from a Ranger-X for that matter) have better electronic warfare capabilities than Stinger-Xs? A Stinger-X maxes out (if not in range of its "carrier") at (pick one) three ECM and three ECCM, or two ECM and four ECCM, or four ECM and two ECCM. This is because they have the normal two built-in points of ECCM and of ECM and a built-in electronic warfare pod giving them what amounts to two "swing" points. A Squadron of Stingers operating from a Ranger can have (assuming no extra electronic warfare pods carried by any fighter) Six ECM and two ECCM, or five ECM and three ECCM, or four ECM and four ECCM, or three ECM and five ECCM, or two ECM and six ECCM. This is because they will have a Stinger-E with two built-in pods able to lend to the whole squadron.

It was suggested that Stinger-Xs might reflect their advanced technology by allowing them to use the electronic warfare fighter rules of heavy fighters (R1.F7A). This allows one fighter in a given squadron to be an EWF, at the expense of some deck crew actions (adding an extra EW pod and the EWF software). It only really matters for three reasons. One is if you are sending the fighters on a more or less independent strike away from your "carrier." Another is that sometimes even on an X-ship you need the power that would normally go to generating points to lend to the fighters for other purposes. And, finally, sometimes you are short on EW pods to load onto the fighters (because they had to drop them earlier in the battle) and having one fighter be able to loan to the others helps keep the EW situation fluid.

Well, that is it for today, I hope to have something more to say next time!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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.

Monday, September 15, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 7-13 September 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress on many fronts. The weather this week was cooler, with rain and some days actually cold enough for a sweater. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week were the Federation Commander Tactics Manual and the Star Fleet Battles Module R2 SSD book in both color and the original black and white.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms Star Fleet 1.2 (finishing the initial layout of the first seven chapters), the Captain's Log Index upgrade, the SFU Encyclopedia, and other projects. He finished Communique and Hailing Frequencies.

Steven Petrick worked on the Hydran Master Starship Book and Captain's Log #50 (battle groups and scenarios). He also proofread the two newsletters.

The Starline 2500 project made a step forward with the posting of the new jumbo freighter CGIs.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five new entries and two updates.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date. We sold out of F&E sheet J.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates, sank almost 300 pirates, and did some graphics.

Jean worked on Hailing Frequencies and Communique, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2155 friends), managed our Twitter feed (121 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread A Call to Arms Star Fleet, took care of customers, and did some marketing.