From all of us at Amarillo Design Bureau to all of you who enjoy Halloween!
May your ships go "Boo!" and forget the "m" part of "boom"!
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.
My Own Worst Enemy
This is Steven Petrick posting.
Wargames enable us to replay a situation over and over again, as long as it amuses us. In most cases the principle variable, even if you are trying a new "strategy," is the randomness of the roll of a die, or dice. Few games do much to create a "fog of war," and most allow you to watch the unfolding of the enemy's operations with a high degree of intelligence. That is to say the abilities of any given enemy combat unit are known. This applies whether the game is a high order strategic game such as "War in Europe," or a low level tactical game such as "Sniper," or whether the game pits cruisers and destroyers against opposing cruisers and destroyers in "Iron Bottom Sound" or "Star Fleet Battles," or Sopwith Camels against Fokker D-7s in "Richtofen's War."
We go into any of those knowing much of what our own forces and the enemy's forces are capable of, the only real variable being the randomness of the die.
Does not mean we lack the ability to surprise our opponent by doing something "unexpected" or finding a "wrinkle in the rules" to exploit.
We are, however, often blind to one critical opponent: Ourselves.
If you have a run of victories you can become complacent, and complacency can lead to disaster.
One game that was published by the old "Simulations Publication Incorporated" was titled "Tank." Each game piece was a single tank and the "simultaneous movement" plotting system was used. One of the scenarios pitted a force of 22 Sherman tanks against a smaller force of Tiger tanks in mixed terrain. I was well aware of the history of such encounters, and the expected my Shermans to take heavy losses, but the first several times my opponent and I played the scenario my Shermans easily overwhelmed and destroyed his Tigers. Sadly for me, it became fixed in my mind that my Shermans would always destroy his Tigers, obviously the game was "broken."
What I was failing to allow for was that my opponent had been making a tactical mistake based on the Tiger's reputed invulnerability to Shermans, the result being that he had kept advancing his Tigers expecting to crush my Shermans with his heavy guns while my shells bounced off his armor. The result being that my Shermans were swarming his Tigers because of the closure rate.
My opponent finally figured out the flaw in his reasoning, and in one of the last games we played, instead of advancing with his Tigers, he turned to his left (my right) instead of boring in for the kill. This might not have been overly disastrous (I will never know as we never had another opportunity to play the scenario before we parted ways into the real world on our graduation). Unfortunately, I "knew" that my Shermans would swarm his Tigers and destroy them. The problem was that this time the Tigers were sitting back at range and not closing, and my Shermans were quickly reduced to so many piles of scrap. Not all of them. I no longer remember what my total losses were, but I did come to realization that my confidence in victory (because I had always won before) was seriously misplaced, and at some point broke off the attack and retreated my remaining Shermans from the map. I did not attack to my total destruction, but I know I lost heavily.
I was beaten, however, less by my opponent than by my own self delusion. My Shermans had always beaten the Tigers in this scenario before, and therefore would do so again by swarming them as they had before. My overconfidence due to my previous successes against this opponent and these tanks with this force several times previously blinded me to how dangerous the Tiger tanks really were, and my cardboard subordinates paid for my Hubris. I was my own worst enemy.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #211
Steve Cole's thoughts on
surprising and little known parts of military history.
1. During World War II, the US Army created the Army
Special Training Program. Over 160,000 smart young men (IQs over 120)
were sent to college at Army expense to learn engineering, languages,
medicine, or dentistry. They wore uniforms, took 24 hours of classes a
week, and were paid as privates. They were supposed to earn a
four-year degree and an officer's commission in 18 months. (The
program was, in part, intended to keep land grant colleges from going
bankrupt for a lack of students.) In early 1944, the Army decided that
the program would take too long, was a luxury they could not afford,
and that manpower was desperately needed, so most of these men were
transferred straight to the infantry and were added to new divisions
being formed. This worked out well since the infantry usually got only
the men no other branch of the Army wanted.
2. Everybody has heard of
ULTRA, the British code-breaking program that read the Nazi's radio
messages. What few know is that the Germans broke the US diplomatic
code, which the US military attache in London used to radio home all
of the British war plans from November 1941 to July 1942. This German
breakthrough was based on the Italian theft of the US code from the US
embassy in Rome. (The Italians refused to give the code to the Germans
but told them enough about the messages that the Germans could break
it for themselves.) This leak (as bad as ULTRA) stopped when an
Australian commando team raided an Italian base and brought home proof
that the Italians had broken the US "black" code. It was
3. In the final days of July, 1945,
the Japanese had assembled 60 twin-engine bombers and 600 commandos
for Operation Sword. This was to be a one-way suicide mission to
attack the US bases for B29 bombers in Guam, Saipan, and Tinian. The
theory was to crash land on the bases, at which point the commandos
would rush out with machine-guns, grenades, and firebombs to cause as
much damage as they could. The mission was continually delayed (by
weather or by US attacks on their base) with one of the final dates
set for a time when the Enola Gay was sitting on the runway with the
Little Boy atomic bomb inside.
4. Lieutenant Akamutsu was
Japan's King of Aces, with 250 confirmed kills of US aircraft. A
functional alcoholic, Akamatsu flew every mission while drunk. Maybe
Ulysses Grant really was onto something?
5. Captain Bligh
was not a seagoing tyrant, but an effective British naval officer
dealing with a crew that was lazy and wanted to stay in Tahiti where
the weather and girls were warm. When the mutiny happened, most of the
crew sided with Bligh. The mutineers set him and 18 others adrift in a
boat, which Bligh navigated 6,700 miles to safety over 47 days.
Exonerated by a court, Bligh served with distinction, commanding 11
other ships and retiring as a three-star admiral.
This Week at ADB, Inc., 19-25 October 2014
Steve Cole reports:
This was a week of steady work
on several projects. The weather this week was cool, but passed 80F at
the end. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per
New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault: Federation Commander: Briefing #1.
Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2 (finishing the first
draft of the ship section), support work and graphics for the Federation Master Starship Book r1 and Hydran Master Starship Book, ship art for SFBOL 3G and quality control on a
new load of map panels. Steve spent the weekend at the Wild Spirit
Wolf Sanctuary as he does every year.
Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50, the
Hydran Master Starship Book (almost finished!), and revisions to the Federation Master Starship Book.
The Starline 2500 project
is waiting for the arrival of Master Mold #2 with the new ships
The Starlist Update Project
moved forward with two new entries.
Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
Jean worked on the new Galactic Conquest
edition, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2305 friends),
managed our Twitter feed (123 followers), commanded the Rangers,
dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog
feed, proofread the Hydran Master Starship Book and A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2, took care of customers, and
did some marketing.
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.
Join us on Facebook and Twitter
ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now up and running, and we’re finding
a lot of new faces who haven’t been around the BBS or Forum. We have
pictures up of ADB, Inc. staff, links to many of our videos, snippets of
information, and interaction with our fans. Jean Sexton is the main
voice you will hear on our page on Facebook. If she doesn’t know an
answer, she’ll ask one of the Steves and ferry the answer back.
that is left is for you to "like" the page for Amarillo Design Bureau,
Inc. if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf
people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps
our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to
keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood
of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day,
checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something
important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries,
plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has
discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.
We've also added a Twitter feed which you can follow at https://twitter.com/ADBInc_Amarillo.
Be sure to follow us for a quick look at what is going on!
We hope to see you there! For Facebook users, be sure to add us to an interest group to see all of our posts.