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Friday, June 24, 2016

The Top 10 Questions a Captain Never Wants to Ask during a Battle, pt. 1

Thanks to Geoff Chard.

1. If you didn't put the drones in the scatterpack, where did you put them?

2. You loaded the photons with WHAT instead of antimatter?

3. Why is the cook leading the Marines?

4. You did WHAT to the warp engines?

5. If the pilots are still on the ship, who is flying the fighters?

Captain's Log #18 (c) 1999, Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Coming of the Exterminator

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I lost most of today because I needed to be at my apartment for the pest control visit.

I know there is little likelihood that the pest control person or the apartment manager would abscond with anything from my apartment. But the fact is that I am responsible for my own property, and I need to be the one who makes sure the door is secured. Particularly since some of the property is capable of misuse. That is a minimum level of security, i.e., at least someone has to violate the locks. At it is I sometimes speak to my neighbors about security violations (the guy in #10 bothers me as he has on several occasions gone to sleep with his door standing open; he insists that he closed it but the door sometimes fails to latch).

So I had to standby until it came the turn of my apartment for the pest control visit.

The visit only lasts a few minutes. Perhaps 10, maybe 15. For that I was waiting from 0900 hrs until almost 1400 hrs.

Tonight, when I get home, I have the joy of moving all of my furnishings back against the wall (and of course I spent a good part of last night moving all of my furnishings away from the wall in preparation for this visit).

You would think that mine would be one of the first apartments visited, being #3, but the process starts from the neighboring complex, and actually counts down rather than up. So mine is one of the last three in the complex I am in that gets a visit.

Well, it is done for another year. But the upshot is that the day has been almost totally used up by this annual rite.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Steve Cole ponders the curious origins of interesting words:

1. REEFER, a heavy coat of medium length, comes from the old days of sail ships. Midshipmen (cadets hoping to become officers) were given the dangerous duty of working the highest sails as a test of character. (Every sailor knew that every officer had "taken in the reefs" of the top sails as a young man and thus as brave, steady, and physically fit.) Officers wore a long coat which was impractical for reefing sales. Sailors wore a short peacoat (named from the Dutch word pij which means wool.) Midshipmen wore "reefing jackets" which were longer than pea coats and shorter than officer coats.

2. REMORA, a fish that attaches itself to boats or sharks by means of a suction cup on its head, comes from the Latin word for "delayer" because ancient mariners thought these fish slowed down their sailboats.

3. REMORSE, the feeling of regret we have when we did something bad or stupid that turned out negatively, comes to us from the Latin remordeo, which means "to bite again."

4. REQUIEM, a song or dirge for the dead, typical funeral music, comes from the Latin word for "rest." It is the first word of the Roman Catholic prayer for the dead: "Rest eternal give to them oh Lord."

5. RETALIATE, to strike back against someone who injured you, comes from the Latin "re" (again) and talis (back). It was originally used in the sense "The same to you, jerk!" in response to a verbal insult. It later became a legal term meaning "to give back what was taken" which meant to punish someone according to the injury he caused. (If you stole something, you had to give back the same value. If you injured someone, you were given a similar injury. If you killed someone, then you were killed.) When it first came into English about 1650 it was used to mean "To give you what you gave me" but in the sense of business or trade (yielding the word "retail").

6. REYNARD is simply a name, and would not even be on this list except for how it came to be. Sometime around 1100 it was made up as the name of a fox in a book of simple tales of animals similar to Aesop's Fables or Uncle Remus. No one today uses Reynard to refer to a fox, although it may be why the name was chosen for a rather clever and unpredictable police captain on a current television show. This entry would not even be here except to note that the bear in the stories was named Bruin, an ape in one story was named Moneke, and the lion was named Nobel, three name-words that the unknown author made up for his stories. Bruin is now an alternative word for bear, monkey is a generic term for the lesser cousins of true apes, and noble has become a descriptive adjective which certainly applies to lions among many others.

7. RHUBARB, a theoretically edible plant sometimes baked in pies with lots of sugar, was known to the ancient Greeks as rha. It grew along the Volga which the Greeks considered barbarian lands, and was known as rha barbar.

8. RIGMAROLE, which today means a jumble of unconnected things that one has to go through to get the relatively simply thing you actually want. It began in the 1300s as the "ragman", a list of tasks that the foreman or sergeant needed to assign to his workers or soldiers. Once the boss wrote on the list who had been assigned each job, it became the ragman roll.

9. RIVAL, someone who competes with us for the same object or resource, comes from the Latin rivus or river. Two men who lived on the same stream were called rivalis and it was expected that they would always be arguing about how to share the use of the water. The term easily came to the current meaning. Any two men who argued about sharing any resource were thus "rivalii" in Latin and rivals in English.

10. ROAD, a pathway between two villages wide enough for a wagon, comes to us from the same place as "rode," that is, to ride a horse or wagon. Both words were in Old English as "rad" or rather, were the same word. In time, the English took to spelling it separately as "road" and "rode" to denote what he was doing and where he was doing it. In Scotland, the word was pronounced and later spelled as "raid" but had the same meaning. The trick was that Scotland didn't have a lot of horses and anyone riding a horse down the road was probably a foreigner (or a local nobleman) who had come into the country to steal things (or collect taxes). Thus, the same Old English word "rad" is now three words. Actually, four, since "inroad" meaning "to push into someone else's territory" comes from the same place.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

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/).

Monday, June 20, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 12-18 June 2016

Steve Cole reports: 

This was a week of steady progress. The weather this week was hot.

 New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was the Federation Commander: Romulan Ship Card Pack #3.


Steve Cole worked on Federation Admiral (first pass reached page 78), art for the Romulan Master Starship Book, images for SFBOL3G, a new fiction lead story ("the Andro story"),and a new fiction short story ("the ISC story"); wrote a blog; and discussed ISC minis with Metal Express.

Steven Petrick worked on the SFB Module C2 update, the Romulan Master Starship Book, and Captain's Log #52 (monster, battle groups) and proofread the Darwin story.

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

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates, shopping cart fixes, and finished the Wall of Honor update.

ean worked on the shopping cart transition, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,128 friends), managed our Twitter feed (193 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Federation Admiral and a fiction story, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

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, June 18, 2016

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.