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Friday, August 22, 2014

101 Ways to Kill the B10, Part 7

61. Assign Ross Perot as navigator since he doesn't know where he's going.

62. Tell the captain that the B10 CAN land on planets. Even on gas giants.

63. Challenge the captain to a game of "chicken" without mentioning that you are on a planet.

64. Part it in New Your City without "the Klub", and it should be up on blocks with the engines missing in 24 hours.

65. Forget to allocate energy for life support.

66. Open the spacecocks and let the vacuum in.

67. Tell the Romulans and Orions it can see cloaked ships.

68. Get it wet. The rivets put in by penal workers will rust.

69. Fit it with eight R-torps; the shock will take care of things.

70. Tell the captain to run it through a supernova to clean the space barnacles off the hull.

c. 1994, Amarillo Design Bureau, from Captain's Log #16

Thursday, August 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/).

Wednesday, August 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!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

And so the Grenade Went Down the Barrel

This is Steven Petrick posting.

In "Walking Dead" a tank was used to attack the prison. This tank was supposedly destroyed by throwing a grenade down the cannon barrel.

I thought, and said at the time, that this was extremely unlikely. That if it were possible I would have encountered numerous accounts of tanks being taken out in that manner. Further, since the tank concerned was an M-60 with a rifled, as opposed to a smooth bore, cannon, this seemed even less likely.

Turns out that there is a recorded instance of a tank being taken out by a grenade down the barrel. It happened during the "Battle of the Bulge."

Now, I will acknowledge this account, but I am also going to point out that the method in this case more or less overcame my primary resistance to this concept: getting the grenade to go all the way down the barrel despite the friction of such a move tending to work against the grenade traveling far enough to fall out of the breech. It was not, in the actual event as recorded, one man "throwing" a grenade down the barrel. It was one man holding a grenade while another swung the but of his rifle to "bat" the grenade down the barrel.

Even so, the problem with the account is a lot of things are missing.

Getting an American World War II era "pineapple" grenade past the "muzzle brake" on a Tiger, Panther, Mark IV, or even a StG-III or -III/IV is going to present a problem.

Maybe the grenade in question was a captured German stick grenade (potato-masher), which would let he first man lay it in the muzzle with the stick protruding for the second man to hit it?

The account says "tank," but the teller makes note that the average American soldier in that period called anything with tracks and a main gun a "tank." So it might have been a Hetzer that was attacked (no muzzle brake, and certainly a shorter barrel to get the grenade down).

So, I am left with the concept that a "tank" was in fact destroyed by a grenade being sent down its cannon barrel and (apparently) through the open breach into the body of vehicle.

But I do not know exactly how it happened. There is no apparently precise record of what the vehicle actually was, much less what grenade was used.

Still, the men that did the job had a heck of a lot of courage.

Monday, August 18, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 10-16 August 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week we finished the Federation Master Starship Book and the Captain's Log #49 large print edition. The weather this week was hot. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was Captain's Log #6.
        

Steve Cole worked mostly on the Federation Master Starship Book and Captain's Log #49 large print edition. When those were finished he came down with a cold and went to bed for a couple of days. As part of finishing the Captain's Log #49 large print edition,  he created an on-disk archive of clipart so he could quickly find art of an empire and size/proportions needed. He also found  moment to edit a three-page Gorn story into Captain's Log #50.
  

Steven Petrick worked on the Federation Master Starship Book and started the Captain's Log #50 battle group articles.
 

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five new entries. We got the 2500 Orion CR back into stock so now all ships are on hand.
    

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.
   

Mike bound books, kept orders going out, and rebuilt the inventory.
     

Simone did website updates (including most of the individual pages for the Wall of Honor) and some graphics.
    

Jean worked on the Platinum Hat tournament, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2198 friends), managed our Twitter feed (113 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Federation Master Starship Book, arranged some art for the Captain's Log #49 large print edition, took care of customers, and did an awful lot of marketing.

Sunday, August 17, 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.

Saturday, August 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.