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Thursday, January 31, 2008

The end of January

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Today marks the end of the first month of the new year. It has been a busy time for us here at ADB, with lots of projects gaining some traction. That is understandable, we have a lot of ground to make up, both for the time we have lost to "family matters" and to be prepared to occupy a new building when it is constructed. (This latter means trying to somehow get ahead of the crush so that we have a cushion of time when we can do little "game development work" as we move.)

It is truly surprising that this first month has passed so quickly. It hardly seems as if 31 days has passed, and yet they have. So fast it makes 2009 seem right around the corner already.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

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.

Even 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. Nick Blank does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Andy Palmer for Prime Directive d20, Gary Plana for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, and Mike Filsinger for STAR FLEET BATTLES.

Frank Brooks runs the Play-by-Email system as a volunteer. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the On-Line game system (for SFB and FC) to pay the server costs.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Jeff Laikind in charge of the overall game system and the Ship Information Tables, or without Chuck Strong (a real-world colonel from Space Command) keeping the scenarios updated and coherent.

Very little 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.

We have other staffers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including Scott Tenhoff, and Chris Fant (the F&E staff); Jean Sexton (Director of Proofreading and Product Professionalization); John Berg (Galactic Conquest Campaign); and John Sickels, Matthew Francois, Jonathan Thompson, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by Email or BBS or Forum, 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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

My Fourth Jump

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

For want of anything else occurring to me, my fourth jump.

As I have previously noted, something of interest (well, at least to me) happened on each of my jumps. On this particular jump I "did something wrong(tm)". It was not something I noticed in the moments between exiting the door of the aircraft and feeling the opening shock of the parachute deploying, which was sort of odd. Surely I should have noticed something in my inner ear.

What I did notice was that after the opening shock I could not go into the "let up" position. My neck was pinned down. I could twist my head from side to side, but I could not raise it.

As I twisted my head around, I could see that I was descending somewhat faster than the other jumpers, i.e., I was lower than people who had jumped ahead of me and behind me.

At this juncture I reached up behind my neck to try to determine by feel what was back there.

Take a piece of string, put a small weight at each end and suspend it from the middle. Now, grab the two weights and spin them. Notice how the string wraps around itself? That was my risers.

It was now apparent that when I exited the aircraft I had not adopted a "good body position". Apparently I had left an elbow sticking out rather that tucked up tight to my side. The airflow over that elbow had spun me like a top (as noted, curious that my inner ear did not detect this) twisting my risers like that string. With the risers all twisted up like that, the canopy was not as open as it should have been, resulting in its having a reduced bite in the atmosphere, meaning that it was not catching as much air as it should to slow my descent.

All this I could rapidly assemble from the training I had had to that point.

One might assume that the reaction would be one of panic. I was still over 1,000 feet in the air, falling faster than was safe, with the full knowledge that something had gone wrong. My training had failed.

Thing was, the training did not fail.

This specific circumstance (twisted risers) had been covered in the training. Like so many other "what to do if this happens", like "if you are going to land in water, if you are going to land in trees, if you are going to hit power lines, if . . ." there was a prescribed remedy to the problem. So, having identified the problem, my left arm grabbed my left side risers, my right arm grabbed the right side risers, and as they tried to pull the twisted risers apart my legs began pumping as if I were riding a bicycle or running in place. In short order this activity caused the risers to back spin out of their twist and allowed the parachute to fully deploy.

At that point I continued on as if nothing untoward had happened (looking around for fellow jumpers and making sure I would land cleanly in the drop zone). I did, however, take a moment to think to myself how marvelously effective the training I had received was in that when a problem arose, the solution to it was immediately apparent, requiring no "moment of confusion" or hesitation. The only problem here had been my own mistake in not having that elbow tucked in (a diagnosis of what had caused the problem), something I rectified on my next jump.

I was overall very impressed with the Airborne School's training program simply because, for me, I always knew what to do, and was quite capable of trusting the equipment and my own judgment of whether or not all was well based on that training.

Of course, that fifth jump still wound up being more than a little strange, but that will have to wait for another time.

Monday, January 28, 2008

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. We are developing a line of non-game products (calendars, paperback books, ship books, plus Cafe Press). We have an Amazon store (not to make money so much as to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers), and the MySpace page exists for that reason as well. We 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.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Dream of Starships

Jean Sexton Writes:

Over the course of these two days, we remember that space travel is not routine and that people have given their lives to allow us to explore that frontier.

On January 27, 1967, three astronauts died in a flash fire while in a test craft sitting on the ground. I remember the mourning, then. The entire nation was shocked at the loss. Astronauts weren't supposed to die on the ground. How could this have happened?

The three astronauts were Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chaffee.

On January 28, 1986, it was just before lunch and I was checking the filing in the card catalog when a student came in and said, "The shuttle blew up." I thought he was joking, but quickly found out it was true. The entire campus was in shock. Shuttle launches had become nearly routine, however this one got heavy media coverage because there was going to be an ordinary teacher heading into space.

The crew consisted of Francis R. "Dick" Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith A. Resnik, Ronald E. McNair, Ellison S. Onizuka, Gregory B. Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.

President Reagan said that evening, "We don't hide our space program. We don't keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That's the way freedom is, and we wouldn't change it for a minute. We'll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue."

He was right. We did, and we do.

Gus Grissom said in 1965, "If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life."

Take a moment in your busy lives to remember the brave men and women who have sacrificed their lives in the quest to explore space. Remember the men and women who risk their lives each time that there is a flight.

For we, too, dream of starships.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fiction and Taking Things For Granted

This is Steven Petrick posting.

You are writing a fiction story set in an imagined future. Your main characters have reached a small ship that is badly damaged, but if they can fix it, it will take them to the space station orbiting the next planet over. As most of your characters provide security, your technician repairs the engine to a minimal level. Your characters all climb aboard, activate the controls, and scan the engine instruments, determining that the ship can climb out of the planet's gravity well. They then take off, heading for the next planet over.

What is missing from the above?

Obviously lots of things that the characters should be asking.

Does the ship have enough fuel for the trip for example. Kind of embarrassing to get 500 feet above ground level and run out of gas.

Even if the fuel is sufficient, did any check to make sure the damage to the ship is not such that it will fall apart on lift off?

Even if you got past those two hurdles, did any check the control systems to make sure that once you make that first lift off, the vehicle will actually fly where you want it too?

Given that you are flying through space, confirming that the life support system works might be a good idea.

Most of those can be handled by having someone simply comment that they have checked the craft, and if they can repair this little problem it will be fully serviceable, at least serviceable enough to get them where they need to go. But there should at least be a statement to that effect, unless your plot line involves some failure on the part of the characters not to look. For example the next scene will have them stranded in space in a ship that has run out of gas, or finding them crossing the "point of no return" and only then realizing that the only way they will make it to the station is if one of them takes a long walk through a short airlock, and that one has to do it in the next three minutes.

The general point is that your characters must actually LIVE in the story you are telling. They need to show some knowledge of what they are doing as part of the background. It is not enough to say that George can operate the ship, George must pass a judgment on whether or not he thinks the ship will get them there. At minimum, he needs to say something about checking the ship out. You do not have to read a long pre-flight list and bore your readers, but you do have to indicate people doing aspects of the reality in which they live. So having a character ask George: "If we fix the engine, can this thing get us to Brantley Station?" George should not respond "Sure", he should respond, "I have checked, and if Mbenga can fix the engine, it should get us there." Or he could say "Let me check it out." and then later have in the scene he can interject saying the ship can make it, and perhaps adding a lot of caveats and ifs if that is needed as part of the story.

That does not mean that once George says that that you cannot have him miss something for plot development: "I checked the fuel, there was enough. We must have a fuel leak!"

But always remember where your characters are and have them deal with their reality. Little things like starting on a seven week journey and just mentioning that they have the appropriate supplies and transport not just for themselves, but the supplies. It is always odd to read about a part of three adventures going on a long trip, just them and their three horses, but they have a large tent, a small cook stove, are dining fresh apples and . . . where are they carrying all of that and how about some oats for the horses?

Friday, January 25, 2008


We just got the last issue of Comics & Games Retailer, a trade journal for stores. That is they say, the last print issue. They are changing to a web zine to cut costs.

When we started this company back in January 1999, we were told to ask to get on the free mailing list for C&GB since it would make it easier for us to keep up on the industry. It's divided into sections (Games, Comics, Anime, etc.) and full of articles about how a retail store can survive and take advantage of the ever changing market. The magazine was originally quite big. Advertising, full page color ads by medium to small game companies, paid for those huge issues and high profile names writing columns, but about a year ago, the game companies (other than the few super-big ones) stopped buying advertising. (They finally figured out what we figured out years ago: advertising to retailers doesn't produce orders from wholesalers). That is why Games Quarterly Magazine died, and why C&GR got smaller and smaller and finally is eliminating the expensive paper and postage and going to the web.

The web is where the modern wargamer and roleplayer are found. The web is where they are reached with news of exciting new products. Retailers order what their customers ask for, not what the glitzy full-page full-color ads tell them (and beg them to believe) is going to be hot.

I have a notoriously bad attitude about marketing. I just don't see it doing as much good as the budgets should be doing. Marketing people are all about ad buys, exposure, impressions, but never ever about sales, about dollars coming in the door, about new customers buying the product. I get calls all the time from people in and out of the industry selling advertising, and they talk about how many impressions I'm getting but never want to talk about how many sales I will get. I see people on the industry sales list saying "we got no money from our last ad" and being told by ad salesmen "You have to spend money on advertising even if you cannot track any returns, keep spending and someday you will see a return, keep spending because people see your ads and will buy later" and I wonder just what is going on. If you have to spend $100 in advertising for every $60 game you sell, should you be in this business at all?

I wonder about spam. The theory is that you wouldn't be getting spam if the companies sending it were not getting at least some customers. I guess if a spammer make $100 per customer and sends 50 million Emails he doesn't need that many people to buy his stuff to break even. But some of the spam I see makes me cry, it is so badly written (apparently by people who do not speak English). I have begun to seriously wonder if companies buying 50-million spam barrages are really getting their money back in sales, or if they are just being scammed by advertising salesmen who tell them that they need to spend on advertising until they get a return, no matter how much money it takes.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Graphics Director Matt Cooper writes:

As the graphics (on the website and in the products) continue to improve here at ADB, Inc., I am learning about new things every day. It seems that I drive SVC crazy because I do my list of things to do before he is ready to give me another list, so your help in finding things for me to do would be appreciated.

We have merged the two websites. The combined site now has a new front page, site map, and index, making it a lot harder to use. You are welcome to comment on my changes, but more importantly, please suggest changes, and check the changes I make.

Here is my e-mail: graphics@StarFleetGames.com or you can comment on either forum.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Study War No More, I Think Not

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

There is a belief prevalent in civilized societies that it is possible to "study war no more", and that if you force your own people to not study war, why you will have peace. After all, if you are not studying war, your neighbors will see that you are not a threat and will themselves abandon the study of war. So all that is necessary to have a peaceful world is for us to stop studying war. Unilaterally disarm, and all will follow our example.

Does not work because, like crime, the greatest invitation to a visit by rude neighbors is to be seen has having something desirable and no means to retain possession.

Much like the local police forces (city police, county sheriff, etc.), the military stands watch. You do not want to try to create a police force to come deal with a street gang rampaging through your neighborhood, you want the police to be able to deploy the riot squad NOW. And to be effective, they have to have the equipment and training in advance.

If you do not protect your wealth, sooner or later someone will decide that you do not really need it, or that he has the level of force needed to take it from you. That applies whether you are walking down your own home street and are confronted by a mugger, or if you are a country and with insufficient military force to dissuade your neighbors.

Yes, we have good relations with our neighbors . . . TODAY. Tomorrow is, however, an unknown land. Tomorrow may bring a more radical leadership to either of our neighbors and they may decide to "correct the errors of history".

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Maintain or Perish

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

Redundancy surrounds us all our lives, often unseen. It is multiple redundancies that enable most of use to get through our day to day lives worried about relatively minor personal things rather than "the larger picture".

Thing is that increasingly our elected leaders have been using the redundancy of the system to "make points".

A lot of our recent problems with power shortfalls have to do with political decisions to make creating additional power stations difficult. None of these decisions halted the growing demand for power. The result was the redundant back ups in the system increasingly had to be put on line simply to handle what was regarded as "the normal load". Keeping the systems constantly on-line increasingly moved maintenance from a norm to an "emergency response" level. Which meant repairs increasingly are done only as much as needed to immediately get the system back up, not really fix the problem.

This not something just affecting power systems.

The infrastructure maintenance budget at all levels has been tapped to meet other needs, with necessary maintenance being deferred. The result is when maintenance can be done, it is often more expensive than it had been done continuously, resulting in greater shortfall of the maintenance budget.

So our infrastructure is gradually crumbling around us.

The power grid and our infrastructure need to be a major effort, but you will notice that even with the recent bridge collapse, the problems with our infrastructure are not being addressed in the campaign for the highest office in the land.

So the problem continues to grow, and the failure to maintain properly now will lead to greater costs, both monetary and in lives, down the road.

Monday, January 21, 2008



Playing FEDERATION COMMANDER by Email 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.

The basic gist of the FEDERATION COMMANDER Play-by-Email (PBEM) system is that 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 FEDERATION COMMANDER 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 of FEDERATION COMMANDER. Moderating a FEDERATION COMMANDER PBEM game is also an excellent way to learn more about the FEDERATION COMMANDER rules.

While there are some disadvantages to PBEM (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 FEDERATION COMMANDER PBEM, please visit the Play-by-Email section of ADB, Inc.'s website at www.StarFleetGames.com/pbemgames and we will be happy to help you.

Sunday, January 20, 2008



We have posted on our website a PDF download describing how Captain's Log #36 came to be. Here the inside story from Publisher Steve Cole, Editor Steve Petrick, and Proofreader Jean Sexton. Find out who is in charge of each section, and how they pull it together. Find out why some articles end up in a given issue and some do not. Find hidden clues to the submissions (the ones you haven't sent in yet) that are most likely to be published in Captain's Log #37.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Most people who read this blog do not know about the other blog, which Steve Cole (company president and chief of design, and head of the Fed Commander and F&E Departments) posts every day on our Discus BBS. That blog lists, in tedious detail, just about everything going on at ADB, Inc. Progress on individual projects, Email in and out, deals made, things done. Check it out sometime.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How to Find Opponents

STEVE COLE WRITES: Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four wargamers 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, and works much better, and you have a lot of ways to do it. For best results, do all of them.

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-in's every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out of somebody near you has signed in.

You can go to the forum and find the area where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations and let people know you'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.)

Feel free to go to your local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of FEDERATION COMMANDER (or any of our games) and "grown your own" opponents. If anybody already plays the game you demo, they'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.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to our Legacy site and look for the button that says Player Resources. Under that menu is a link for Starlist. 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 five thousand 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 your 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.

The original website has a bulletin board system and the 8th item on the main menu is "seeking opponents". 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.

Many of those on Starlist and StarFleetGames.com/discus will be players of STAR FLEET BATTLES, but most of those can be convinced to play FEDERATION COMMANDER. Indeed, over half of the names on Starlist are people who quit playing STAR FLEET BATTLES for lack of opponents (or because SFB was too complex for them or their opponents) and most of those are ready recruits for the faster cleaner FEDERATION COMMANDER game system.

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see the links list on our site).

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 cards who got Emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online and play FEDERATION COMMANDER on-line with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $4 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.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


STEVE COLE REPORTS: Halo 3 has sold more copies (4.1 million) than Hannah Montana (2.6 million). By that measure, games are more popular than music, but there are many factors. Everybody likes music and has at least a CD or two in their home; very few people (less than 2%) play hard-core games (wargames, RPGs, cards, clicks). A larger percentage have played stuff like Monopoly, which aren't really "games" in the sense that the adventure game industry sees games. Then compare those computer game sales to wargames, where 10,000 units sold is an incredible once-in-a-lifetime smash hit, and the 700,000 units of SFB sold over 28 years make it one of the top five wargames of all time. (A few RPGs sell better, most don't. Two card games sell better, most lose money.) For as long as I have been a gamer, it has been hell finding other games. In my college ROTC unit of more than 100 post-adolescent boys with an interest in the military, three played wargames. In my college dorm with six hundred people, the wargame club could only reach a total attendance of ten if the four gamers I knew in Amarillo drove 120 miles for a game weekend, and so far as I could tell, no other dorm had a wargame club. There just aren't that many of us willing to study a situation, take a risk, and make a decision. Perhaps that is the real reason why so many game players (compared to the denizens of any other hobby) try to go into the game business?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008



There was lots of chatter on the industry Email lists last week about a new website that opened up with hundreds of free but illegal PDFs of products from a lot of manufacturers (including WOTC and ADB), some of which are de-watermarked copies of PDFs sold by manufacturers and some of which are scanned copies. GAMA was contacted and promptly had the US Secret Service shutting down the site and prosecuting the site owner, who faces thousands of dollars in fines and a year in prison.

The various arguments about passing around PDFs are garbage.

"He might buy something else someday" is silly; why would he buy book #2 if he got book #1 for free and can get book #2 the same way? Worse, the publisher never did book #2 because of poor revenue from book #1.

"He wouldn't have bought it anyway" is also rubbish; a guy with a thousand free but illegal PDFs would probably have bought at least some of those if he could not get them free.

"It's free publicity for publisher" is silly since the publisher isn't getting any revenue and anyone who sees the free but illegal copy is more likely to search for a free but illegal copy of the sequel than go buy a legal copy.

Walmart has taught the world that only morons pay full price, and this has bled over into the "why pay for what you can steal when stealing is easy, without risk, and without penalty"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Free stuff for FEDERATION COMMANDER players!

STEVE COLE WRITES: 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). Go to www.StarFleetGames.com/fc and you will find a lot of stuff you can download. Some of those downloads include:

o The free First Missions packet (demo version of FEDERATION COMMANDER).

o Turn gauges and firing arcs for the tabletop rules.

o Sample Ship Cards.

o Wallpapers of game covers.

o Frequently asked questions.

o Information for retailers.

o The original theatrical trailer (ok, not that, but it WAS the original flyer handed out at trade shows).

o Notes from the game designer (Steve Cole) on what parts of the older game STAR FLEET BATTLES we decided to include in FEDERATION COMMANDER.

But that's just a start. If you join the Commander's Circle, which is free, you can download the monthly Communiqué which includes scenarios, tactics, and new ships. You can also access a database of FEDERATION COMMANDER players looking for new opponents (you!).

Monday, January 14, 2008


Today we released three major new products:

Captain's Log #36
Our journal with new play-value materials for all of our product lines.
SFB: 14 new ships and 5 new scenarios, plus tactics and database.
FC: 7 new ships and 3 new scenarios, plus tactics and the new tournament rules.
F&E: A new scenario you can play in one sitting, and a revised rule 530 Heavy Fighters
And much more!
Stock number 5736; Retail price $18.95

Line of Battle
Nine battleship cards and three scenarios for Federation Commander.
Stock number 4007; Retail price $19.95

Border Box 6
Nine massive battleship miniatures and a starbase.
Stock number 4406; Retail price $99.95

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Captain's Log and Other Products Move Forward

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Captain's Log #36 is running through the print engines. We have not had any problems getting the quantities we need to meet orders. We have a sufficient stock of Federation Commander: Line of Battle to meet orders also, and Border Box #6 has been packed and is ready to ship.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Graphics Director Matthew Cooper writes:

Have you ever heard of Cafe Press? Cafe Press is a website where you can open up a free online shop and promote products on your website. Cafe Press creates and sells products with designs provided by various companies. So upon learning about Cafe Press, Leanna set up an account and we have uploaded several designs for T-shirts, coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, mousepads, etc.

See www.CafePress.com/starfleetuniv for these items. And take a look at our new I-heart-Klingons T-shirt!

If you have any questions or comments or would like to see something on Cafe Press, let me know and I will set it up for you! Email me at: graphics@StarFleetGames.com

Friday, January 11, 2008


Steve Cole observes: The United States was originally a relatively weak central government created by 13 sovereign nations for their mutual convenience (to run the post office, military, and passport office). The 14th Amendment changed that, making it a strong central government. You didn't know that? A little constitutional history might shed some light.

When England granted us independence, it did not do so to the United States, but to each of the 13 colonies, making them each a separate sovereign nation. England had no legal right to create one country out of 13, and left that to the 13 to figure that out for themselves, assuming they would form a single country but kind of hoping maybe they would not. The very weak Articles of Confederation (used during the Revolution and for a few years afterwards) were unworkable, as the resulting "nation" was more a grab bag than a united whole. It just didn't work.

The Constitutional Convention changed that, creating one of the greatest documents produced by human civilization. It's also pretty vague and muddled in its original form. While every attempt to include language about a strong central government or a perpetual union was rejected, the resulting document was pretty much everything to everybody. Those who wanted a strong central government (mostly in the North) thought that they had obviously obtained it. Those who wanted a weak central government (mostly in the South) thought they, just as obviously, got the limited central government they wanted.

The states did not surrender their sovereignty to the Union; they delegated a strictly limited set of duties and authorities: run the Post Office, run the Army (any real combat force would be composed mostly of state militia which the governors might or might not provide depending on what they thought of the war in question), run the Navy, collect import-export duties (for all practical purposes the only income for the Feds), regulate interstate trade, conduct foreign policy (but declaring war and making treaties was reserved to the states represented in Congress), and enforce the limited number of Federal laws it would take to do all of that. So far, so good.

After the Civil War, the North (which had total control over the legislature since it decided which Southerners got to sit in it, if any) decided that the original Constitution had been too weak. (Just personally, I agree with them.) They came up with the 14th Amendment (which, just personally, I support). This did a whole bunch of stuff. For one thing, it changed people from being citizens of the 37 individual states to being citizens of the United States, a concept that (technically) had not previously existed. It gave the Federal courts the right to review and change state laws. It banned anyone who fought or worked for the Confederacy from voting or holding office. (This was actually illegal, since Article 1 Section 9 prohibits ex-post-facto laws. On the other hand, it seems pretty obvious even without the 14th Amendment that "rebellion" has an action with consequences, but there was nothing in the Constitution which said: "If you take part in a rebellion, you lose your right to vote or hold office." Clearly, this should have been in the original; an oversight, I'm sure. This consequence of rebellion was added by the 14th Amendment, in a way that technically could not be applied to the Confederacy, but only to subsequent rebellions.) Basically, the 14th Amendment transferred a ton of power from the states to the Feds. It converted the nation from a Federal Union of separate states to a unified nation with 37 sub-regional administrative districts. Worse, it put the Feds (not the states) in charge of deciding if the Feds had taken too much power away from the states. (Look what THAT led to over the next 140 years.)

The Amendment was submitted for ratification. Southern legislatures (full of Confederates) had already ratified the 13th Amendment (ending slavery), but rejected the 14th. (So, the Civil War was fought over what: slavery or states rights? But I digress.) When it was all over, 22 states voted yes (it took 28 to pass), 12 voted no, and 3 didn't vote. (One of them, Mississippi, voted "no" but the letter did not get to Washington on time. Remember that part about running the Post Office? But I digress.)

The Northern-controlled Congress would not have this. (Of course, they had not been all that upset when Lincoln ignored the Constitution and jailed 50,000 American citizens without trial or access to the courts. I wonder, were these Southern sympathizers sent to Guantanamo?) They quickly declared that the Southern legislatures which had been legitimate enough to ratify the 13th Amendment were illegitimate and had no right to even vote on the 14th Amendment. (Did that invalidate their ratification of the 13th Amendment? Apparently not, but I digress.) Congress then declared that the Southern states were no longer legitimate states with their own governments (it put them under martial law). This amounted to kicking out of the Union the very states that had been told at gunpoint that they could not leave, but (again) I digress. Congress further said that the Southern states could not have their own local governments back until they ratified the 14th Amendment (which Amendment, by the way, illegally disenfranchised the vast majority of the voters of those states by creating a penalty after the crime had been committed). Forcing a state to ratify an amendment is obviously (not to mention, actually) illegal and the ratification by the 11 ex-Confederate states were and still are invalid and void, but they still counted and the 14th Amendment changed the Constitution forever (even if it actually didn't since the 14th Amendment actually never passed, but I digress). Three Northern states, seeing what was going on, rescinded their ratification of the 14th Amendment (most of the data I provide above about what was really in the 14th Amendment comes from New Jersey's rather firmly-worded resolution rescinding their ratification) but Congress said states had no right to change their mind (a matter that is still in some dispute and has come up in some later amendment debates). Thus, the 14th Amendment became part of the Constitution despite being rejected by 16 of the 37 states and approved by 19. I must not have paid attention in Engineering School as I didn't know that 19-to-16 was a three-fourths majority. I learn something new every day.

And, since that time, the power has continued to steadily shift to the Federal government, which has yet to say "we have too much power". Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe some of the states would misbehave if they had more power (making it hard for minorities to vote). Decide for yourself if that is a good or bad thing.

But if you ever wondered if the Founding Fathers intended to construct the government we now have, the answer is no, they did not, but then, maybe they would have if they had seen the future. I'm not sure if the Constitution of 1860 could have won World War II. It is interesting that the Democrats ran against Lincoln in 1864 demanding that the Constitution which Lincoln had ignored, violated, suspended, and otherwise subverted be put back the way it was before he took off (not changed by the 14th Amendment). But frankly, and this from a guy from Texas, I support what Lincoln did (no matter how illegal). His job was to win the war and clean up the Constitutional mess later.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Captain's Log #36 Progress Report

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

We worked until almost 2300 hours last night, and this morning have still more reports on it to try to eliminate errors.

The biggest problem right now is the covers. We sent them to press last night (a bundle of four different covers as it is not economical to do only one cover in a print run), and what the printing company got (we have to do the color covers off-site) was unusable. Naturally this was found AFTER the people (Matt Cooper and Leanna) who could fix the problem had left for the day. Eventually we had to have both of them come back to the office before we could resend the files. The files were sent, but when SVC and I left last night neither of us checked to see if they had transmitted properly, and this morning we found one of the covers was "hanging fire". It has now been sent, but we do not right now know if they all got there in enough time for the Printing company to assemble the job, run it, and get the finished product back to us in time for us to get Captain's Log out on schedule.

That does not mean that we are not going to push any less hard to finish it on time, but the cover situation has the real potential, right now, to impose a shipping delay.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Graphics Director Matt Cooper writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download FEDERATION COMMANDER wallpaper.

Klingon Border, Romulan Border, Klingon Attack, and Romulan Attack are currently available in the following sizes : 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024.


If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into wallpaper, please feel free to write me at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and I will get it set up for you.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


This product will be in stores by 20 January 2007.

Web of Deceit by Randy O. Green............2
Class History: Hydran Dreadnoughts............23
Snapshot: The Anti-Piracy Initiative............24
Snapshot: Further Duties of Importance............25
Snapshot: An Understanding............26
Snapshot: Omega's Lost Futures............27
Development History: Heavy Superiority Fighters............28
Romulan Snipe Frigate Deck Plans............29

Communications Center............33
Other News............34
After Action Reports............34
Command the Future: New Products............35
Input Guide: Capitalization by Jean Sexton............36
Starline 2400 Miniatures: New Ships............37
Ask Admiral Growler by Mike Filsinger............38
Ten Questions............42
Worst Career Choices............43
To Kill a Mockingdrone............43
A Galaxy of Abba............44

Command Notes............45
Federation Commander On Line and PBEM............46
Scenario (8C7) Race Against Time............47
Scenario (8C8) Treasure Ship............48
Scenario (8C9) My Brother, My Enemy............49
Basic Battleship Tactics by Commodore Patrick J Doyle............50
Federation Commander Tournament Rules............53
New Ships for Federation Commander............113

SL259 Ambush in the Rocks by Randy O. Green............54
SL260 Web of Deceit by Randy O. Green............55
SL261 Border Attack by Jeremy Gray............57
SL262 Assault on Precinct 13 by John Sickels............59
SL263 Housekeeping by Scott Moellmer............62

Monster Special Rules: SM8 Igenous............63
Brothers of the Anarchist XVI: Federation and Kzinti............66
Update: Campaign Rules............67

Patrol Victory at Origins 2007 by Fleet Captain Bill Schoeller............70
Tactical Primers: by Scott Moellmer & Ken Lin............74
Fog of War: Game 5 After Action Report............75
Term Papers............78

Starfleet Command............80
Star Fleet Battle Force: Battleships!............80
Prime Directive Role-Playing Universe............81
Star Fleet Warlord by Paul Franz............81
Playing SFB By E-Mail by Frank Brooks............81
Star Fleet Battles On-Line by Paul Franz............82
Galactic Conquest: by Jean Sexton............83

Project Update............84
New Ships: Ship Information Table............85
Rules Update: 530 Heavy Fighters............86
Scenario 6EW: The Eagle Spreads its Wings by Roger D. Morgan............88
Tactical Notes............93
Questions & Answers by Nick Blank............96

Shipyard Report; New Ships for Star Fleet Battles............99
Master Ship Chart............100
SFB SSD: Klingon D6L............101
SFB SSD: Klingon C10V............102
SFB SSD: Romulan K4 FCR............103
SFB SSD: Romulan SkyHawk FCR............104
SFB SSD: Romulan ViperHawk............105
SFB SSD: Romulan KRU............106
SFB SSD: Kzinti DDS............107
SFB SSD: Gorn BDD FCR............108
SFB SSD: Hydran PIG............109
SFB SSD: Hydran D7HX............110
SFB SSD: Lyran JagdPanther-X............111
SFB SSD: Federation CLX............112
FC Ship Cards: Gorn Command Destroyer............113
FC Ship Cards: Lyran War Cruiser Leader............114
FC Ship Cards: Kzinti Medium Command Cruiser............115
FC Ship Cards: Federation Light Command Cruiser............116
FC Ship Cards: Klingon War Cruiser Leader............117
FC Fleet Scale Ship Cards: Tholian CWL and WYN CWL............118
Hybrid Ship Card: WYN CWL............119
Hybrid Ship Card: Tholian CWL............120

Monday, January 07, 2008

Captain's Log

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Today we finally got the complete draft of the latest issue of Captain's Log done. While the issue is not finished, we are down to just proof reading (which sometimes causes things to be added by ourselves) and dealing with the reports from our staffers.

There are "edit marks" all through the book (and each of us will probably re-read everything before final publication to try to catch every last typo that we can), and they will probably take us (together with the final reports) another couple of hours to finish up.

At this juncture, there seems to be no reason why this issue will not go to press and start shipping on time.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


I constantly see things on industry mailing lists and in my Email where people want advice on entering the game business. The best advice I have is my free book which you can find at www.starfleetgames.com/book as a nice multi-chapter PDF.

In one recent case, an individual wrote to say: "I just lost my job and have decided to be a game designer for a living. I need a stable income of $4,000 a month. How long would it take me to get there? Three months? Six?"

I laughed and cried at the same time. For one thing, I don't make $4,000 a month now and I've been in the industry 28 years. (A few years I have made that much, barely, but not in the current market.) The sad fact is that except for the lucky three or four, game designers won't ever make that much. Worse, you probably cannot make a living as an independent game designer at all, since game publishing companies were (99% of the time) created to publish the owner's games because no other company would publish them.

In another case from some time ago (I'm going to blur some facts here so that nobody can tell who I'm talking about), a young game enthusiast decided to quit his day job and focus his full time efforts on game design and publishing. His wife said that she would allow this only if he "brought home" a paycheck of a defined amount each month. He had some money from an inheritance which was separate property and his wife allowed that he could use this. Well, he went through the nest egg, borrowed money from savings without telling his wife, maxed out the credit card he got for the business, and then got two more cards (those offers in the mail) without telling his wife and maxed them out. All the time (his company last 18 months and did a dozen products) he was "bringing home" the required paycheck. His company was making a profit beyond expenses, but not enough to cover the paycheck, but the paycheck continued because (a) his wife insisted and (b) he was sure he would start making more sales any time. One of the credit cards was a $5,000 cash advance spent on advertising (which produced few if any new sales). Every month, he wrote that paycheck but came up short elsewhere. He had established credit with the printers and with the companies that sold him advertising pages so he ended up deeply in debt to the printer and to advertising publishers. Worse, his first product (which sold well enough) ran out of print, but it was going to cost $20K to reprint it and the dwindling rate of sales (nowhere near as good as it had been 18 months earlier) would not support the debt load, but he "had" to reprint it to avoid looking like a company on the way out. Finally, with no more places to borrow money and creditors threatening legal action, he took the case to his wife for a home equity loan. She, of course, had no clue that his company was $40K in debt (for which he as personally liable) or that most of the family savings account was gone. It's a wonder she didn't kill him or leave him, but she did force him out of the game business immediately. He sold out for what he could get and applied that money to the debts. Moral of the story, if you are married, make your wife a part of every business decision and do not keep secrets from her about family money.

In another case (actually, there are four or five of these I have seen, all about the same), an enthusiastic game designer who knew nothing about the industry but was sure his game was the next big thing got a home equity loan, printed thousands of copies of his game, and THEN (and only then) asked other game companies how to contact stores and wholesalers to sell his game. He had no clue what size the market was (few games sell over a couple of thousand copies) or who the wholesalers were or what it would take to get them to buy (some now demand that you pay them $500 for advertising before they will carry your game) or even what the discount structure was (which meant that his cost per game was fairly close to the 40% of the retail price he had printed on the games). Moral of the story, learn as much as you can about the industry before you spend a dime getting into it. GO READ MY BOOK FIRST.

I see lots of gamers who think that running a retail store, and on-line discount store, or a game publishing company involves low work and high reward. It does not. If it did, a lot more people would be in this business.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

My Second Jump

This is Steven Petrick Reporting.

Some of you have read of my first jump and are aware that I, along with the other members of my jump class, were told that if we could not make ourselves jump, that all we needed to do was tell the jumpmaster. He would then just move us to the side to clear the door for the rest of the stick to make their exits.

I had opportunity to observe this in action on my second jump, and it was true, sort of.

One of the things the instructors mentioned as we headed into jump week was that there is a tendency for some percentage of Jump Students to "balk" on the second jump, rather than the first. (Hardly anyone who makes the first two jumps will balk on the remaining three unless there is some other overriding factor.) There is some debate about why this is, mostly along the line that "you really do not know what you are doing the first time, the second time it really registers that you are jumping off a literal cliff with a 1,000 plus foot straight vertical drop".

I was not one of those who had that particular problem. I fell neatly into that majority category of having done it once, having no problem with repeating the matter however many more times it was going to be necessary to do so in the remainder of my life (even though it requires considerable grasp of my fear of heights).

But on this jump, one of my fellow cadets did have a problem, and all of us, in that particular planeload, got to observe the fact that the blackhats had not lied to us. The cadet was, indeed, moved "to the side", thus clearing the door so that the rest of us could jump.

Of course, they had not exactly been completely truthful either.

The cadet in question was indeed "moved to the side".

The "outside" of the aircraft to be precise.

They had to physically force him from the plane, but they did. In this particular cadet's case, it was a push (delivered by five blackhats) that he needed. Having gotten past that second jump, he went on to graduate, making the final three jumps of his own volition.

I have been told that this no longer happens in jump school, as there is just too much risk of injury to a jumper forced out of an aircraft's side door in this manner.

But I will admit that while I did not need the extra encouragement myself, I did resolve NOT to need it any time in the future.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Steve Cole reports: I see these articles in TV guide every week, asking some celebrity what he watches on TV, so I guess you are all seriously fascinated by what I watch on TV. Here goes, in alphabetical order:

BIG SHOTS: Want to love the show but I'm on episode 3 with the rest on Tivo reserve for the writer's strike.

BIONIC WOMAN: Love the new take on Jamie Summers.

BONES: A major favorite. Love the woman, and of course the vampire guy.

BOSTON LEGAL: Watching Shatner clown around is too good to miss. Denny Crane! Never lost a case! Used to command my own starship!

CAVEMEN: Seriously clever comedy.

CHUCK: We tivoed this but didn't watch it until the writer's strike, then watched all the episodes to date in a marathon and grew to love it. Chuck himself is just background; the real story is the two spies.

CSI MIAMI: I will watch Emily Proctor and Caine play chess any time.

CSI NEW YORK: Love Gary and Montana, but the rest of this bunch could be the next victims for all I care about them.

CSI VEGAS: Always the best of the CSI bunch. We miss Jorja.

DIRTY SEXY MONEY: Love watching people who handle money by the pallet.
EUREKA: I wish it was on more often.

FLASH GORDON: Yet another remake of scooby do. We need to see that cop fellow join the team for some muscle not to mention some brains. We had this on Tivo reserve and marathoned it after we finished Chuck. Not sure which of the Tivo reserve shows will fill our empty evenings next.

GREY'S ANATOMY: Our favorite show. We watched the first three seasons on disk over a month, then the first half of season four on TIvo and then... nothing. I need my Grey back! Can you just mail me the DVD for season four? Now?

HEROES: I don't need to explain this one, right?

HOTEL BABYLON: A fun British import, but I mostly watched it for Tamzin. Now that she's leaving I'm not sure I will check in next year.

JOURNEYMAN: We tivoed this for reserve during the writer's strike but found it unwatchable and deleted all the episodes without watching them (other than half of the first episode).

KID NATION: I want to hire Sophia to work for ADB. She's the most grown-up kid I have ever seen.

KITCHEN NIGHTMARES: People tell me I'm just like Gordon Ramsay. I don't see it, but I love the show anyway.

LAS VEGAS: Filler.

MOONLIGHT: A seriously unique take on vampires and a beautiful love story.

NCIS: We named two of our printers KATE and PAULA for women on this show, and "gibbs" is now a verb Leanna applies to my head all the time.

PRIVATE PRACTICE: Wanted seriously to love the show, turned it off after 15 minutes of drek.

REAPER: Waiting unwatched in Tivo. If the writer's strike ends, I might never watch it.

SAMANTHA WHO: A seriously clever bit of comedy, with a unique premise.

SHARK: I like James woods and I would watch 7 of 9 read a phone book. Okay TV.

SMALLVILLE: Leanna's favorite show. I have to be dragged to watch it but always enjoy it.

STARGATE ATLANTIS: I don't care much for it but keep watching. Been on too long.

SURVIVOR: This thing has been on too long but I cannot stop watching.

THE HILLS: Just how screwed up can the lives of young people get?

THE SHIELD: You mean we only get a few episodes to "wind up" the story? I want three more years of this.

TORCHWOOD: I want to love it, but the ten episodes on Tivo are reserve for the writer's strike.

ULTIMATE FORCE: A British import as good as the SHIELD.

WITHOUT A TRACE: Love the people, the show is less than interesting.

WOMENS' MURDER CLUB: Definitely in the top five.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Many people do not know that you can play FEDERATION COMMANDER on-line in real time against live opponents.

Eight years ago, www.SFBonline.com was created to provide players of STAR FLEET BATTLES with an on-line gaming experience. It was a smash hit as hundreds of gamers joined the battles. Tournaments and other competitions, plus general opening gaming, have gone on around the clock since then.

This successful operation has now been expanded to include FEDERATION COMMANDER!

Now you can play with real live human (not to mention Klingon, Romulan, Kzinti, Gorn, Tholian, Orion, and other) opponents all over the world in real time 24 hours a day! The computer automates many functions and acts as a friendly assistant for mundane chores.

For the modest subscription fee of less than $4 a month, you have access to all of the ships in the FEDERATION COMMANDER game system as well as new ships still in playtest and development. The Java Runtime system is compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems.

Never worry about a lack of opponents. Never worry about opponents who don't show up for games day because of silly reasons like family reunions or their own weddings. Don't be cut off from your regular gaming group while on vacations or business trips.

Even better, you can join in on-line tournaments and campaigns, and your victories will add up to a higher and higher average score!

The system also allows you to chat with friends, taunt your enemies, and watch other players fight their own savage battles. (Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else's?) This "observer" system allows players of either game to learn the ins and outs of the other game before deciding to invest time and money in it.

So come to www.SFBonline.com right away. You can even fly the Federation CA or Klingon D7 as a free trial, or watch any game in play. Legendary SFB aces and new FEDERATION COMMANDER aces strut their stuff in combat arenas all the time, and you can learn from the best.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Things to have by habit

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

One of the things that escapes many of us in this day and age is that we are always just one bad choice, and maybe not one in our own power, away from disaster.

We as humans have spread to many areas where, quite frankly, we do not belong.

By this I mean that we could not survive in these areas but for the fact of five pounds of matter located behind and above our eyes is able to manipulate an opposable thumb. From this we have master fire, make our own claws out of stone, and later various metals, torn the hides off of other (and often tougher) animals to keep our own fragile forms warm in the cold, before we learned to weave plant fibers to accomplish the same thing and . . . well that list goes on.

So you may be out driving in your high tech car, or in a plane or some other conveyance, and find yourself suddenly in the middle of nowhere afoot in the middle of a blizzard. Your shattered means of conveyance did its high tech job and kept you alive during the disaster that put you in this strait, but it will not shelter you now with its cabin torn open to the elements.

Sure, you can reach for the cell phone, but even if you have service in this disaster, that may just mean that you have someone to talk to as you slowly succumb to the elements.

The point to all of this?

Remember that you are fragile (however the human animal is frequently shockingly resilient), and take a little time to make preparations.

This does not have to be an all consuming passion, just a few little things that you may never need are useful to make a habit of sticking in your pockets.

Consider seatbelts. These have enabled many people to survive accidents, but in a very small number of cases what they do is allow you to survive that initial crash, only to drown or be burned alive because the buckle has jammed and you cannot get it to release. That alone should be reason enough to carry a small pocketknife and keep it someplace on your person where you can access it readily. After all, it may not be your own life you save by cutting away that belt, it could be your wife or child whose belt is jammed as the flames lick closer.

And remember that freezing to death scenario? Even if you do not smoke, make it a point to carry a lighter. Maybe even keep it in a plastic baggy. When you are in the middle of nowhere being able to start a fire to keep yourself alive could be all that is between you and death.

This is nothing to be paranoid about, and the odds are you will never ever need this or a number of other small things you might make it a habit to carry around (a pocket knife can include a few other tools that might be useful in a disaster).

That five pounds behind your eyes has a far better chance of keeping you and others with you alive if you just invest a little foresight in having tools for it to work with.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Grey's Anatomy

Steve Cole Reports: Sometime during the third season of this show (which we had never watched), Tivo accidentally recorded an episode, and Leanna and I watched it and fell in love with the characters and the writing. So, last summer, we rented the disks for seasons one and two. When season four started, we banked those on Tivo and waited for the Season 3 disks, which came out earlier this month. When the writer's strike slowed up the flow of new shows, we rented Season 3. Last night we watched episodes 13-20, and tonight we will watch the last of season 3 and start on the banked season 4. If you aren't watching this show, go rent the Season 1 disks and you'll fall in love with it, too. It is typical television, about relationships between people who don't know how to handle relationships. Couples who break up over stupid fights, get drunk and sleep with other people, then try to put their relationship back together. Couples including somebody who is already married (but unofficially separated). Couples who rat each other out on professional ethics. Couples who get married but cannot decide if they are really in love. Couples including a guy who cannot keep his pants zipped up. Leanna and I love the show, but are SO very glad that our relationship is not screwed up like these people. We met, got engaged, got married, moved in together after we got married, and stayed faithful to this day (just over 30 years). Neither of us have been drunk since we got married. No fight has lasted more than a few hours. As I said, SO very happy we're not screwed up like the lovely, interesting, endearing people on Grey's Anatomy.