RANDOM THOUGHTS #225
Steve Cole ponders 10 more ways
that World War II might have turned out very differently. (See Random
Thoughts #213 for the first 10 and #217 for the second 10.)
1. The US might never have developed
a nuclear bomb. Maybe they (like the Germans) decided it was
impossible? Maybe they were still trying to get it to work and ran out
of time? Anyway, an invasion of Japan (given the lessons of Okinawa)
would have been a very expensive undertaking with at least a million
dead American soldiers and sailors. And that invasion only envisioned
capturing 1/3 of Kyushu and the area around Tokyo, assuming that this
alone would force the Japanese to surrender. Given the Japanese
mindset, that is just not all that certain. The US might have found
that the invasion of Kyushu was so expensive (in lives) that no
invasion of Tokyo followed. They might have captured Tokyo at such a
terrible price that there would have been no will to spend another
million lives capturing the rest of the country.
2. There were so many attempts
to assassinate Hitler that any of them could have had a major impact,
but all of them would have been resolved in two ways. Himmler would
have taken power in a bloody internal battle and fought to the end
like Hitler did. Alternatively, relatively sane generals might have
taken power and tried to negotiate a peace. The German fantasy of
peace with the US and Britain so they could keep fighting Russia
wasn't likely to happen, nor was it likely that the Russians would
have agreed to any result that left Germany intact. FDR had already
declared the goal was "unconditional surrender" which to the
Germans meant that Germany would cease to exist as a nation.
3. Stalin might not have
purged his military during 1937-39 and had a competent officer corps
to keep his Army from falling apart during the first weeks of the
4. FDR might
have been less friendly to Russia. Justly criticized for being soft on
communism, FDR had the idea that if we treated Joe Stalin nicely and
shipped him as much aid as we could that he would stop murdering his
own people and give up plans to occupy half of Europe. (This policy
has never worked toward any of the communist dictatorships.) FDR might
have held back on aid and let the Germans and Russians kill as many of
each other as possible, then agreed to British plans to invade the
Balkans and keep the Russians out of Eastern Europe. FDR could have
put conditions on aid to Russia (such as allowing freedom of religion
or promising an independent Poland) but refused to do so.
5. Stalin might have believed everyone who kept
telling him that Hitler would attack in 1941. Stalin was so anxious to
avoid (or at least delay) a war with Germany that he forbade any
preparation for it out of fear it would provoke one.
6. Stalin might have left the
pre-1939 border defenses (pillboxes, bunkers, and other defensive
lines) intact, rather than ordering them blown up or dismantled. This
would have provided a stronger second defense line against Operation
7. The British could have been more aggressive.
While Montgomery is often criticized for his lack of aggression, it
was actually not his fault. British government policy was to hold down
British casualties (by taking more time to assemble supplies and
bombard the Germans with artillery) and British units simply never
displayed the kind of aggressive tactics that the Germans, Russians,
and Americans used (with the sole exception of O'Conner's
brilliant African operation). The failure of the British Army and
Montgomery to take Caen on D-Day, to close the Argentan-Falaise gap,
to close the German escape routes from the Scheldt Estuary, and to
rescue the paratroops at Arnhem are all examples of a lack of
aggression that ended up costing more casualties than they saved.
Montgomery's crossing of the Rhine in 1945 was grossly overproduced;
the Americans had already crossed the Rhine on the run at several
8. Stalin might have not been such a paranoid maniac and not
murdered most of his own generals in 1937-1939, giving his army
competent leadership during the first six months of the German
9. Hitler might have gambled by
concentrating his offensive during the initial invasion of Russia in
the northern half of the front, leaving the southern half to follow
along as it could. Without the diversion of Guderian's tanks to the
south to trap a huge number of Russian troops, the Germans might have
reached and taken Moscow and Leningrad before the Russian troops in
the south could have been redeployed.
10. Hitler might have stripped other
theaters to concentrate more firepower for the initial invasion of
Russia. He just didn't have enough troops. Faced with a choice (July
1941) of grabbing Moscow or encircling the southern half of the
Russian Army, he simply lacked "one more field army" that
could have allowed him to do both. When he made the final push for
Moscow (September 1941) he had to strip units from the Leningrad front
(leaving that city uncaptured) when one extra field army would have
done the trick. There were plenty of divisions doing more or less
nothing on occupation duty in France and other countries.
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.
This Week at ADB, Inc., 22-28 March 2015
Steve Cole reports:
This was the week we
began printing Captain's Log #50 and laying plans for the next projects. The
weather this week was warm often over 70F. The spam storm mostly
remained at something under 200 per day. We had a staff meeting on
Wednesday to review how much progress had been made on various
projects and assigned priorities for the week. Later, the design team
met to take the first look at content for Captain's Log #51. We did release another
20 pound-o-ships bags, which sold briskly.
Steve Cole worked on the
Captain's Log #50 FLAP list, Star Fleet Alert, and Captain's Log #50 Supplemental File. He added Captain's Log #27 and Captain's Log #50
to the history book, and quality checked a shipment of Starline 2400 Federation DWs.
Steven Petrick worked on the Klingon
Master Starship Book and quality checked a shipment of Starline 2400 Federation DWs.
The 2500 project continues to
wait for production molds that are three months late.
Update Project moved forward with three new entries and three
Leanna kept orders and
accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
inventory, and quality checked a shipment of Starline 2400 Federation DWs..
Simone did website updates and some graphics.
Jean worked on the Kindle version of
For the Glory of the Empire (almost ready for upload!), updated
ACTASF ship roster cards (Klingons, Civilians, Romulans), managed our page
on Facebook (which is up to 2,561 friends), managed our Twitter feed
(136 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam
assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Captain's Log #50 Supplemental File and some
advertising, took care of customers, and did some
On Writing and Proofreading and Marketing
Jean Sexton muses:
My job at ADB is different than the job that others in the company have. My work spans all phases of a product's life. Let me tell you about it.
As we start a new product I am often involved. For these meetings I wear my marketing hat. I ask myself, "Who will buy this? Who are we aiming for and can that be broadened? How can we add 'zing' and make it more exciting?" This sometimes worries the Steves. Will I ask them to toss out perfectly good (but too thematic or of limited appeal) ships? Will I tell them I need more excitement in a story? Will I barely restrain my eyes from rolling and pronounce their carefully laid plans as "boring"?
Then comes the creation of the item. I sometimes have a writing assignment. I have a confession to make. Writing doesn't come easily to me. I struggle not to sound pedantic. God help me if I must write dialogue as my characters would all sound alike. My creative writing is limited to Olivette Roche "research." I have to confess that is easy. I write something I know would have the Steves wincing. If they howl in anguish, it is perfect. Olivette is the right character for me -- she hasn't really got a creative bone in her body. She steals ideas from the past and writes them. She sees a situation involving the Federation and anyone, then believes that the "anyone" is in the right, especially if they are Klingons. Since I am writing a synopsis of a trivideo, book, or story, what is totally improbable to impossible gets blithely ignored and incorporated as part of a "good story."
Then comes the proofreading stage. Ah me, that is some of the most thankless work I do. The Steves hate capitalizing and de-capitalizing words. Before I came, no one cared if it were "Come to the Bridge" in the first paragraph and "The captain walked on the bridge" in the second. I have heard, "Jean, the guys know what we mean," until recently. To me, an edited book should never draw attention to the editing. You should never notice it, because what you are reading is right. If we write "The Gron ships are at SW-I and 21 hexes from the base," then you wonder if we meant 21 or 12.
The problem with proofreading is it takes a while. I might notice "Gron," but not see SW and see it as wrong until I read a couple more scenarios and ask "What is the difference between SW-I and WS-I?" Since I moved to Amarillo, I have insisted on seeing the "fixes." When I lived in North Carolina, I would check the new product when it came in, then wince as the "fix" to the problem wasn't. If "Bridge" became "vridge," that was a cringe-worthy error. I have had to learn that "perfect is the enemy of good enough" and turn things loose lest I proofread them to death and you never get them.
Once the item is released, the design team can rest on its laurels. I can take off my writing and proofreading hats. But what is this I see before me? It is the marketing hat! I need to build the buzz and keep it going until the item is available. I need to keep it simmering as people buy it and report how much they like it. It is a delicate balance to make people aware but not sound pushy and turn them off. I have to be aware of the rules of the various forums so as not to break them with commercialism.
In the midst of all that, I need to keep "housekeeping tasks" going. Just because we are working on an item doesn't mean that social media comes to a stop. Spammers certainly don't take a break. Customers have questions. Older books need to go up as PDFs (and they need marketing). All of those are part of my job.
Then just as I think the coast is clear come the clarion words, "Jean, we're having a meeting to discuss the next book. Come tell us what you think about it." And we are off to the races!
There is one thing I can say about my job -- there is never a dull moment!
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.
WHAT TO DO ON A DATE
Here is what you can expect on a date with a suitable member of any of the SFB species.
Federation: Make First Contact.
Klingon: Go dancing. Saber dancing.
Romulan: Attend the submarine races.
Kzintis: Heavy petting.
Gorn: First attend the ballet, then just hold you close.
Tholian: Attend a Rock Concert.
Orions: They will steal your heart.
Hydrans: Just want to hold you close.
Lyrans: Heavy petting.
WYNs: Stay home and watch the house. Burglars, you know.
ISC: Attend an anti-war rally.
Seltorian: Attend a Beatles concert.
Thanks to Mark Kuyper, Timothy Steeves-Walton, Andy Palmer, Sandy Hemenway. This originally appeared in Captain's Log #20.
(c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.
This is Steven Petrick posting.
When did going to the movies become so hard?
I looked up recently, and noticed that several movies was interested in seeing have come to the theaters, and gone, and I did not go. Not even to the $2.00 theater to see them.
Does not sound like much, until you consider that not only have I not seen the latest "Night at the Museum" film, but it was too difficult to go see "The Battle of the Five Armies" and the conclusion of "The Hunger Games" even though I had seen all of the previous movies in those series.
It is not like it is any harder to get to the main movie theater here in Amarillo (I drive right by it every morning on the way to the office, and every evening on my way home). The experience has just become something I am no longer willing to endure.
I honestly do not think I will go to see the next "Star Trek" film, much less the next iteration of the "Star Wars" series.
I would much rather go to my own home and read a book or watch something on TV.