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Monday, April 20, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 12-18 April 2015

Steve Cole reports: This was the week we scheduled for work on the upcoming Federation & Empire expansions. The weather this week was mild. The spam storm remained at something under 200 per day.
  

New on Warehouse 23 this week JagdPanther #13.
   

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Book 1.2E, revised ACTASF ship roster packs for the Gorns, Kzintis, and Orions, and JagdPanther #13.
       

Steve Cole worked on the four F&E countersheets, uploaded a revised Gorn and Tholian SIT, and did the first draft on the the Minor Empires rulebook. He finished ACTASF-1.2E. He continued his exercise program, walking 4.5 total miles with Drillmaster Wolf. He did the first nine pictures (out of 150) for Petrick's Klingon Master Starship Book and finished the individual pages for the Wall of Honor.
 

Steven Petrick worked on the Klingon Master Starship Book and elements of Captain's Log #51.
  

The Starline 2500 project continues to wait for production molds that are months late. The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two new entries. SFBOL reports that 1/4 of all ship descriptions are now 3G.
       

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.
   

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.
   

Simone did website updates and some graphics.
   

Jean worked on PDF uploads, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,580 friends), managed our Twitter feed (145 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread a draft of Minor Empires for F&E and various ACTASF ship roster card packs, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

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!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

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.

Friday, April 17, 2015

NEW COMMANDER'S OPTIONS, part 3

Weasel 0.01
Wild Weasel 0.75
Rabid Weasel 0.00
Legendary Accountant (fixes EAF errors) 10.00
Tractor 0.50
John Deere Tractor 7.00
Red Self-Destruct Button 0.01
Safety Catch for Red Button 9.99
Flashing Lights and Siren 0.10
Motion Simulator for Bridge 1.00
Appeal to Game Designer for Rules Change 25.00
Rules Lawyer to Argue for You 15.00

-- Originated by Mark Kuyper; additional suggestions by: Jeremy B. Williams,
Steven Petrick, David Crew, Maik Hennebach, Eric Stork, Andrew Harding, F.
Michael Miller, Tom Carroll, found in Captain's Log #20.

(c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Where Does Command Presence Come From

This is Steven Petrick posting.

There is something called "command presence." You often find this in reading about famous people in military history, although it also seems to apply in other realms, such as business and politics. It is one of those things that some people simply seem to have, and in some cases some people can be taught to have it, or at least to act as if someone in authority over them has it.

I am myself unsure what exactly it is, and on any given day I would not consider myself to have it, but there are those odd moments when it would seem that I (to borrow a phrase) "stepped up."

You can find in out blogs a discussion of a time when I and two friends were accosted by nine gentlemen who sought redress of the economic imbalance by transferring the contents of our pockets to their pockets. In the press of that moment, I seemed to have some "command presence." I will not revisit it here.

In another case I was put in charge of a firing range for machineguns in Korea. It was early Summer and conditions were already very dry. Thus as part of the range a detachment had to be set down behind the impact berm to deal with any brush fires that a tracer round might set.

At one point at the end of a round of firing I noted that a .50 tracer had rebounded off the berm and flown to the left, landing among the brush on the hillside and igniting a fire. So I casually picked up the radio handset, contacted the detachment and asked the Sergeant in charge if he thought they could handle the fire. The Sergeant assured me that he could. Still, as officer in charge I decided to send reinforcements.

Having dispatched the reinforcements I turned my attention to machinegun that had jammed in this last round of firing, no longer concerned about the fire. The Sergeant had assured me the fire could be dealt with, and with the reinforcements all should be well.

Of course, it was not.

While I was preoccupied with trying to figure out what was wrong with the weapon one of the other soldiers tapped me on the shoulder saying "sir." I looked up inquiringly, and he simply pointed in the direction of the hillside, which I now noted was a mass of flames.

Things happened very quickly from that point. I was aware that if the fire crested the hill, it would sweep down on the South Korean village on the other side. In short order I attempted radio contact with the Sergeant in charge of the fire detail, and got no response, ordered someone to contact the fire department on post, call company to alert the commander to the situation (he would then call battalion if he thought it necessary), divided my current "command" into a new detachment to go fight the fire and a security detachment to remain with the guns and the ammunition, led them to the truck and was charging towards the fire. A fast choice having been made as to where "I" needed to be to place my "command influence." The critical tasks being to protect the guns from theft (it would be bad to put out the fire only to find someone had seen all the soldiers leave the guns sitting on the range and steal them, unlikely but possible, which was why I needed a detachment to secure them), or take charge of fighting the fire. I decided the latter was the critical element (that South Korea village, if hit by a wall of fire started by U.S. soldiers, would be making a lot of damage claims, not to mention people who might be injured or even killed). That fear of the fire reaching the village was why I could not wait for the fire truck to arrive.

Driving forward we passed the vehicle that had been taken by the first detachment, obviously where they had stopped and dismounted, but there was no one in sight, and still no radio contact with the initial force.

Getting as close to the flames as we could, I dismounted my new force and led them in a wild rush up the side of the hill. This worked better than I could have hoped as the men wound up spread out behind me in a "fighting line" on the flank of the fire. This allowed me to call on the men to start fighting the fire, blocking it from spreading further, and one man had passed me and was trying to stop its final advance to the top of the hill.

Things got desperate for a bit. Then out of the smoke and encroaching dark a voice, one of my soldiers, cried out that it was hopeless and we should get out.

From somewhere I found the voice to call out, telling my men to stand their ground that we almost had it under control. Almost immediately after that the wind blew what seemed a solid sheet of flame into my face (did not quite burn me, but it got very warm), knocking me back for a second, but I pushed back in, and then it was over. Suddenly the fire was out all along the line.

The "Command Presence." In the midst of this, with one man suddenly fanning incipient panic and calling for a retreat, the group as a whole held their ground because I had ordered them too. They could not see me (I could not see them, so I am pretty sure they could not see me). I was, at that juncture, just a voice and a tone of command. They all stayed that extra minute on the line that stopped the fire because the officer had commanded it be done in the face of a real, remorseless, and unfeeling enemy.

Did the command presence come from me, or from their having been trained to obey?

The fire truck arrived after the fire had been put out and stayed to suppress hotspots to keep the fire from reigniting, and I made contact with my two missing detachment who, fortunately for me, had all been on the fire's opposite flank as it had been advancing up the side of the hill, so we had hit both its flanks simultaneously.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

RANDOM THOUGHTS #228

Steve Cole's thoughts on business in America.

1. If the only source of information about something is the guy trying to sell it to you, stop and check somewhere else.

2. If a salesman you do not know says that the contract has to be signed today, and you cannot have until tomorrow to think about it, tell him "no thanks."
     

3. Never, ever, sign a contract with a person or company until you have spent 10 minutes trying to find them on Google.
 

4. A major hailstorm will damage every roof in town, resulting in an influx of out-of-town roofing contractors. Deal with the established in-town contractors because you will be able find them a year later when the roof leaks.
      

5. If a contractor you have never dealt with offers to repair the damage for less than the insurance settlement, leaving you with cash in your pocket, find another contractor. If on the other hand he offers to do the job for the exact number on the insurance adjuster report, make sure he didn't leave off some expensive item that really needs to be fixed.
    

6. If you have some service contractor who has raised your rate every year, call him up and say you are a new customer and ask him what his rate is. If it's lower than you are paying, demand that your rate be reduced to that number.
        

7. If someone you have a contract with says that the contract must now be modified (in his favor) because of new government regulations, check things out first. Ask friends who also use this contractor and friends who use another contractor, ask the government, run the situation past Google, and insist on time to look into it. If the contractor continues to insist in your acceptance of a contract modification in his favor, tell him you will have to rebid the entire contract and are getting quotes from his competitors.
     

8. If you sell a major asset to someone you don't know (at least not very well) in exchange for future payments, figure out what happens if he doesn't pay. Does he have anything the courts can seize for you to pay the bill? If he offers you collateral (say a piece of real estate) get an attorney and a title company to file a lien on the collateral and find out if the buyer actually owns the property, if it is worth the amount you will be owed, and does it already have liens from someone else?
       

9. Someone asks to borrow money from you saying that he is good for the debt because he has some asset, tell him to bring the asset to you for safe keeping (and make sure it is actually his asset) before loaning the money, and by all means, put everything in writing and make him sign it. And seriously, are you a bank? Why are you loaning money to flaky people? For that matter, why are you loaning money to anyone who isn't a blood relative. (If they're good for the money, a bank or credit card company will make the loan.)
  

10. Never sign a contract for something you weren't looking for on the day it was presented to you by a high-pressure salesman you have never met before.