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Friday, April 30, 2010

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. Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Jonathan Thompson and Jean Sexton for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, 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. Bob Pomroy does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures at a cost that barely covers his costs.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a 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.

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 Jean Sexton (Vice President of Proofreading and Product Professionalization); John Berg and Mike Incavo (Galactic Conquest Campaign); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); 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.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Devil Went Up to Star Fleet

The Devil went Up to Star Fleet.
He was looking for a soul to steal.
He was in a bind, 'cause he was way behind,
and he was willing to make a deal.
When he came across this young boy
flying a Tomcat and running it hot.
Well the Devil jumped up on a ready rack, and said,
"Boy let me tell you what.

I guess you didn't know it, but I'm a fighter pilot too.
Now if you care to take a dare, well I'll make a bet with you.
Now you fly pretty good fighter, boy, but give the Devil his due,
I'll bet a medal of gold against your soul
'cause I think I'm better than you."

The boy said, "My name's Rimmer and it might be a sin,
But I'll take your bet. You're gonna regret,
'cause I'm the best there's ever been."

Rimmer, order up you drones and load your booster packs.
'cause hell's broke loose in Star Fleet
and the Devil loads the racks.
And if you win you'll get this shiny medal made of gold,
But if you lose the Devil gets your soul. Hey!

The Devil climbed into his seat, said "I guess I'll start the fight."
And fire flew from his Stinger's tail as he roared into the night.
When he turned that rig across the bow, I heard the evil sing.
Then a band of demons climbed aboard, and rode upon his wings.

So the Devil cartwheeled,
and he fired his phaser on Rimmer's tail.
But Rimmer popped up quickly, jerked his rudders to the rails.

He launched RALADs on the fly, run boys run.
The Devil's gonna hurt when the fight is done.
Chaff clouds in the burners kicking out sparks,
Devil does your crate fly ... into parts?

So the Devil dropped his gear
because he knew that he'd been had.
He set his damaged fighter on the deck near Rimmer's pad.
And Rimmer said, "Devil, just come on back
if you ever want to fight again,
'cause I've told you twice, you son of a Kzin,
I'm the best there's ever been."

He launched RALADs on the fly, run boys run.
The Devil's gonna hurt when the fight is done.
Chaff clouds in the burners kicking out sparks,
Devil does your crate fly ... into parts?

The Devil went down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels Band

Parody copyright (c) 2010 Stephen V. Cole

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What is happening at ADB, inc.

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

Work proceeds apace on various projects. Some, of course, get more attention than others. There is (assuming outside the office submissions arrive as scheduled) absolutely no reason that Captain's Log #41 will not be released on time. Most of what I normally do for it has been done well in advance, and we had the fiction story that Scott Moellmer submitted for the last Captain's Log ready to go for this one. SVC has been busily trying to wrap up his own parts, and I am working on a few side projects that might gain a page or two.

Module R12 is taking up its own time on the schedule (as might be imagined) as are the new Federation Commander release and lots of miniatures.

We just got the quotes for countersheets, and I have to admit they were scary. We are hoping there was an error in the calculations by the company (since these are single-sided counters, but the cost was the same as for double-sided counters). So we are going to have to talk with them.

Monday will be the "company picnic", what we call the "Business Connection" gathering, and that will close the office for most of the day.

Tonight will be the office cleaning, so I will be here a while yet.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

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 pages on MySpace and Facebook exist 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.

Monday, April 26, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 18-25 April 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather was rainy all week, for the second week in a row, which (in this part of the country) is an unusual and good thing. The farm crops will be good and the local economy will do well.

The daily Spam flood dropped from 4000 to about 600 and I almost miss it. Almost.

This was the week that we released Romulan Armada, Squadron Box #27, the Pegasus miniature, and the Klingon B9 Fast Battleship miniature. It began badly (with the discovery that almost all of the Romulan Armada books were defective because the PDF ship cards got corrupted by the print drivers) but Mike Sparks noticed this after binding the first 100 books, and so Leanna and I rushed in on Sunday afternoon to fix the situation. While I was here, Jean called with a crisis that actually ended better than what we had before.

Most of my (Steve Cole's) week was busy. I worked on R12 submissions so Petrick can finish that up (and I can do the countersheets on time for them to be ready for Origins Game Fair). I did most of the remaining staff medal pages. The optimized dreadnought discussion terrified people. I finished the FLAP list for the April releases. I got some of the Communique for 10 May done. I posted the Cobra from Federation Commander War & Peace.

Our lawyer called for the annual review of everything, and everything is just fine.

We all went to the annual Miller Paper expo, which is sort of a practice for the Company Picnic (trade show) in May.

We got a shocking memo from GAMA, which for the first time has decided to go to Gencon-style unloading rules.

Petrick continued working on R12 and CL#41.

Jean continued closing in on PD FEDERATION, if only the stupid Fralli and their idiotic spark touch would just go away. The Antareans were also troublesome. Jean got me to do most of the Dread Pirate Aldo book. Jean says our page on Facebook is up to 262 fans.

Mike Sparks stayed busy shipping orders and binding books, but took time on Friday to shoot two more marketing videos.

Joel Shutts got the 10 May Hailing Frequencies done since his college finals will conflict with doing it at the normal time schedule. Joel migrated the blog to a new hosting area because the old one was shutting down. If he did it right, none of you will be able to tell.

The Contractor working on our house officially completed the project, except for a separate project to replace the windows with energy bonus types, except that the fancy flash water heater system keeps shorting out.

On 24 April, we had the pre-meeting for the annual May 1st "go to Origins Game Fair" schedule meeting. The pre-meeting set up the calendar and made a list of questions we cannot answer, such as the date the die-cutter has to have the stuff.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Steve Cole reports:

This TV show is the latest clone of the hit Project Runway franchise. As is typical of Runway and the other clones (Fashion Show, Who Are You Wearing?), a group of wannabee clothing designers is brought to a studio. Every week (on the show, about two to three days in the real world) the contestants create a new dress or other outfit for fashionable ladies, and then the outfits are presented, after which the judges vote somebody off the show.

Launch my Line is somewhat different from the others. For one, the would-be designers are professionals in other fields who always wanted to start a second career in fashion. The group includes a journalist, an architect, a jewelry designer, a nightclub disk jockey, and others.

Another change is that each contestant is paired with a real designer who really has a line of clothing, and who actually knows how to sew. (Most of the contestants do not. I must ask: if selected for such a show as this, would you not give your team an advantage by learning how to sew? Why not buy a couple of patterns and some cloth and take a shot at home and learn how long it takes to turn a pattern into a dress? Why not try the same pattern with three different fabrics and learn how they work? Why not read a book so at least you know what "cut across the bias" means? Oh well.)

Another change is that each would-be designer selects ten bolts of cloth at the start of the show, and doesn't make a run to a fabric store as part of every challenge. There is also a "trim room" full of buttons and zippers and stuff, which also has some extra cloth (but you can only get two yards of cloth per challenge). [A "yard" of fabric is three feet long, but may be from five to fifteen feet wide, depending on the kind of cloth.]

Finally, at the end, the three finalists have to create three more dresses at one flurry of activity. To help them, they don't get eliminated competitors (who would be useless in trying to sew something) but the "experts" who were paired with eliminated contestants (and who actually know how to sew). More over (and this is the really cool part) they get to make changes in (or totally replace) the seven dresses they made for the first seven challenges, then present a coherent "line" of clothes. The emphasis is on the "line" and how it all works together. In theory, a woman would buy the ten outfits and have everything she needs for any occasion (or going to work). In practice, no woman shops that way, but you get the point. When the judges select who gets eliminated, they review all of the dresses (outfits, really, since some are pants or jumpsuits or swimsuits or whatever) to see who is the most likely to produce a line that would actually sell (since the winner of the show gets their line sold on some fashion website, and nobody wants to select a popular winner who cannot actually design clothes that could be made for a reasonable cost or sold to a reasonable woman). The show is interesting because of this feature, explaining what a "line" is.

Why do I watch these things? (I mean, after Leanna made me watch a few episodes and I got hooked?) Well, part of it is that I love business shows. Part of it is that I'm a designer (ok, game designer, I'd never try to design clothes) and I like the design process, from inspiration to construction to presentation. Part of it is that being a game designer, I like figuring out how the game works, what you have to do to win it. Partly, I watch them since Leanna loves these shows and we're always stopping the DVR and comparing notes on what we think the judges will like. The biggest part of it is that I like to try to learn how things I do not understand actually work. I know that women (most of them) dress well and look good, and like most men, I remain baffled how they make it work.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

This is the new address

Greetings, this site is the new address so you do not need to wait for a redirect.


New Domain Update

From Joel Shutts

Greetings all. This site that you are now on is no different form the previous site. All that has changed is the address name. We will continue to post new blogs on this site for new updates and interesting tidbits of the day. It may seem weird but absolutly nothing has changed in regards to our posting and how we operate the site.

I am sorry if any confusion came out of this debacle.


New domain

Hey guys, this is the new webmaster Joel, we have recently changed the domain name on this site but it should not effect anything, but this is a test post to make sure

This blog has moved

This blog is now located at http://federationcommander.blogspot.com/.
You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.

For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to


Stephen V. Cole writes:

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

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

Friday, April 23, 2010


Steve Cole admits:

Yes, I used to write poetry, lots of it. I won a contest back in High School and had a poem published in a book of poems by high school students from all over the country. The poem went like this:

The Universe felt the reverberation.
The black box fell; 'twas man's decision.
To end himself; God's greatest vision.
No heavens slept, for none existed.


It didn't really have a hidden or secret meaning and I'm not really sure why no heavens existed or why they would have been asleep if they had existed. It was just a weird little thing I did and submitted, guessing (correctly) that the judges who picked such things would think it was just what they wanted.

Somewhere in my house is the only copy of my longest poem, The Song of Tnnqvi, which was ten pages. I don't remember much of it, and fondly hope that before I die I can find and read that poem again. I do remember a few snatches. Basically, God made the Earth and Satan made hell, and Satah built a tunnel from Hell to Earth so he could go and make trouble. Human warrior-monks, selected by God, built a fort right smack in front of the tunnel, so that the demons would have to fight their way out. After a heroic battle, Tnnqvi (commander of the fort) decided to counter-attack, leading his troops down the tunnel into Hell itself, to kill Schmaltz (the son and half-brother of Satan) and somehow close the tunnel. By the time Tnnqvi got to the Valley of Schmaltz (riding his horse backwards because he was confused by a blow to the head), all of his men had been killed, but so had everyone in Hell except Satan and Schmaltz, so Tnnqvi killed Schmaltz and walked all the way back to Earth, closing the tunnel with his last breath. Like I said, I can remember a couple of snatches of it...


"Charge for the Schmaltz!" he said,
then he was struck in the head,
down from behind and away.


And then, then they came back.
But not all, not all of Tnnqvi.
Missing an ear and a toe,
Causing him pain and great woe,
Trailing his blood in the snow.


Anyway, that's all I remember. When I find the manuscript, I will post it. I also wrote a lot of sappy love poetry to my high school girlfriend and one love poem to the girl I married.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Rules For Setting Up At Origins

This is Steven Petrick posting.

We here at ADB are all abuzz about the new rules that Origins is imposing on unloading and setting up booths in the exhibit hall. There are supposed to be scheduled periods for each company and allocated times for each company to get its vehicle into the parking area and get things unloaded and into the exhibit hall. We have a lot of stuff, and are an essentially two-man operation with some help (always appreciated) from the players, but this year we may actually be pleading for people to show up and help us, at least with getting the van unloaded. (We do not as yet know what loading is going to look like for departure.) Part of this is that Origins has said that the exhibit hall will not provide any carts to assist in the operations (not that that would normally have much affect on us based on past experience, but if no one has carts then everyone is going to be making more trips to occupy their booth space leading, it would seem, to more congestion and delays).

There can be little doubt that the economy is affecting Origins, and they are doing their best to remain viable, and these new rules may well be part of that, so we are not angry at them for doing what they may have to do to survive, but we are seriously concerned about the effects these rules may have on our operations.

There is also a new "meet the retailers" period scheduled on the first day, which will require SVC to be in his booth when we would normally have the "sing-along", and this may force rescheduling of the sing-along.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010



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.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Stephen V. Cole writes:

Our website is vast and full of fun, useful, and interesting documents, charts, play aids, illustrations, and other things. Most of the best stuff is found at: http://starfleetgames.com/playerresources.shtml which has lists of resources and links to other lists of resources. Take a look down the list and see if there are documents you always wanted and could never find or documents which you never knew you were looking for.

Monday, April 19, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 11-17 April 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather was rainy all week, which (in this part of the country) is an unusual and good thing.

The flood of spam continued as before, with about 4000 per day, every day, of every week, all year. Sigh.

We got the Pegasus and B9 minis and they are nice and will ship on schedule.

My (SVC's)week was calm and productive. I finished the Romulan Armada book. I did and uploaded more staff medal pages. Inspired by the BBS, I did the Star Fleet Battle Force page of CL#41.I went to the Tea Party on 15 April with 1500 of my closest friends.

Petrick stayed busy on CL#41, R12, and C3A.

Mike and Leanna stayed busy on orders and trying to build up the inventory. Leanna plans to convert FOR THE GLORY OF THE EMPIRE into our first Kindle Book.

Joel got the covers for CL#41 and Romulan Armada done and sent them to press. We got them in time on Friday. Joel continued to fight copyright pirate sites. Joel got a tour of the printing plant that did the covers.

Jean kept working on PD Federation (mostly on the Fralli, who cause major problems with the rules) and reported that our page on Facebook was up to 255 fans.

We had some visitors on Tuesday from the Amarillo Enterprise Network, who support small entrepreneurial businesses, and are old friends of ours.

I'd love to report that the house remodel project is over, but it's not. The company doing the granite vanity in the powder room backed out of the deal and another company cannot do it to next week. Even then, I'm not sure when the replacement windows will get done.

Electric power went out at 5:30 Friday, but was restored at 6:50. We used the time to go get dinner.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

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 "grow 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 eighth 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 $5 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.

There are probably more ways than this to find opponents, but unless you live in a cave somewhere, you can almost certainly find a new friend within a short while by trying these methods.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Steve Cole reports:

When airplanes were invented, most nations assigned them to the Army (or Navy if they flew over water) as they were basically just recon and bombardment systems.

Many nations went on to eventually create separate Air Force organizations, Britain being the first. The US Army did not give up the airplanes until 1948, when the US Air Force was created. There was such a stink over the Army spending money to "duplicate" things the Air Force did better (but, the Army complained, never got around to actually doing) that the Treaty of Key West (between the Army and Air Force) resulted in a ban on the Army having any armed fixed-wing aircraft (or any of the larger transports).

This led quickly to a dispute over control of aircraft, and reflects a philosophical difference. The Air Force thinks it should control all of the airplanes (grudgingly accepting that the Navy and Marines can have some for their specialized needs) so that the large "pool" of transport and bomber aircraft can be used where needed the most. More than that, the Air Force wants the "pool of money for airplanes" to be controlled by then, for the same reason. The problem is, nobody agrees with the Air Force's idea of what's the best use, and everybody but the Air Force complains that the Air Force tends to use its airplanes first for its own needs. The Army gripes that Air Force planes are bringing luxury items (e.g., better food) to Air Force bases and leaving the Army without air-delivered supplies of essentials like ammunition and medical supplies. The Army complains that Air Force-controlled airplane money goes for fighters and strategic bombers (which don't do the Army any direct good) when the Army wants the Air Force to build more tactical bombers (which do things for the Army). The Army got so fed up with asking the Air Force for air support (and not getting it) that the Army invented helicopter gunships to fill the gap. This is an old argument between centralized and decentralized asset control, but that's where the conflict stayed from 1950 to 2000.

Now, that's changing, and the Army is back at work building its own air force of armed fixed wing airplanes. It's doing this by using unmanned drones for these jobs. The Air Force wants to control all of the armed drones so they can be assigned to the most important jobs, and the Army simply doesn't trust the Air Force's judgement about which jobs are important.

The Army has zillions of drones, but most of them are little Raven drones (about the size of a hobby airplane you can buy in a toy store) and the Air Force gave up caring about those once they were satisfied that these couldn't fly high enough to get in the way of real airplanes.

Then the Army started buying bigger Shadow-200 drones, which had more endurance. The Air Force objected, but lost that fight. After all, Shadows were not "armed" aircraft and did not violate Key West.

The Air Force had evolved its Predator drone into the larger and meaner MQ1-C Sky Warrior. These can carry Hellfire missiles, the same weapon carried by Army helicopter gunships. (Air Force fighters use the much larger Maverick missile, which is too heavy for helicopters or Sky Warrior. Either is laser-guided and both were originally designed to kill tanks.) The Army quickly went to the manufacturer and bought some "old design" drones, renaming them Sky Warrior Alphas, and using them as Predator Lite drones (sometimes with a missile or two). The Air Force objected, but the Army is doing most of the fighting and dying and has gotten its way, and besides, it mostly used the Sky Warrior Alphas to fire missiles at suspected roadside bombs, which were not targets the Air Force considered sexy.

Two years ago, the Army got some prototype Sky Warriors (the real ones, not the smaller Alphas) and sent them to Iraq, and last year it got the first production Sky Warriors and those are also in Iraq. More new-production MQ-1C Sky Warriors are being bought, and some will arrive in Afghanistan in a few months. The Army is issuing contracts and budget plans to buy hundreds of Sky Warriors.

MQ-1Cs cost about $8 million each. The Air Force says the money and drones should be handed over to the Air Force so that the funds and drones can be sent to the most important places. The Air Force notes that some Army drones don't fly or attack on some days, and says if the Air Force had them, they'd be busy all the time. The Army says that the "idle" drones are, in fact, on call just in case the Army needs them, and if it needs them, it doesn't have time to wait for the Air Force to decide if the Army mission is important. And too much of the time, the Air Force decides that the Army mission doesn't matter all that much.

The Air Force fought against this in the halls of the Pentagon, but lost the fight. (The Secretary of Defense even fired some Air Force leaders who fought the hardest against the Army getting armed drones.) The Army will keep its missile-armed drones, and has assigned them to colonels commanding brigades so that no bird colonel ever has to ask somebody else for a missile-firing drone to take care of some target he wants taken care of. The Army feels that things work better in the more intense world of ground combat if the colonel has a continuing personal relationship with the guys who fly "his" drones, just as he has a continuing personal relationship with the guys who command "his" battalions, operate "his" artillery, and serve as "his" engineers, doctors, military police, scouts, and so forth.

The Air Force remains furious, seeing the power and money it has controlled since the Treaty of Key West slowly oozing out of their hands. By 2015, the Army's air force will have over 500 heavy armed drones.

Sky Warrior Alpha weighs a ton. It mostly carries sensors, and has to be jerry-rigged to carry a missile now and then on one of its two rails. (Sky Warrior Alpha isn't a Sky Warrior at all, or even a Predator, but is based on the I-Gnat ER which is the older model that the Predator evolved from.)

The real Sky Warriors that the Army is now getting weigh 1.5 tons, and carry more sensors (300 pounds internally, plus 500 pounds of sensors or missiles on four external rails). Sky Warriors can stay aloft up to 36 hours, but rarely fly that long. The Army plans to give each brigade commander (a bird colonel) a Sky Warrior company with 115 troops and 12 Sky Warriors. Army doctrine will mean that a few of the Sky Warriors are permanently assigned to the lieutenant colonels who command battalions, establishing their own long-term personal relationships.

The Air Force is skipping the Sky Warrior to buy the much larger MQ-9 Reaper, which weighs 4.7 tons and has six rails. It can carry 1,500 pounds of sensors and weapons. The Reaper is considered a true combat aircraft, and can carry air-to-air missiles, 500-pound bombs, Maverick missiles (which have more range than Hellfires, and can attack more dangerous targets). The Reaper is considered a next generation aircraft and will replace A-10s and F-16s. The Army is quite happy with the smaller and cheaper Sky Warriors, and eventually, the Air Force is just going to have to accept that the "Key West Border" is between Reaper and Sky Warrior, not between helicopters and fixed-wing attack aircraft.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Holding out for a woman

Holding out for a woman

where have all the women gone
and where are all the blondes?
where's the supple Amazon
to get my groove back on?
isn't there a woman who knows she's truly free?
late at night I toss and I turn and dream of what I need

I need a woman
I'm holding out for a woman 'til the end of the night
she's gotta be smart
and she's gotta be cute
and she's gotta be bursting with life
I need a woman
I'm holding out for a woman 'til the morning light
she's gotta be blonde
and her eyes must be blue
and her kiss must be hotter than fire

somewhere after midnight
in my darkest fantasy
somewhere just beyond my reach
is woman reaching back for me
climbing on the mountain, and running on the beach
it's gonna take a special girl who never uses bleach.

I need a woman
I'm holding out for a woman 'til the end of the night
she's gotta be smart
and she's gotta be cute
and she's gotta be bursting with life
I need a woman
I'm holding out for a woman 'til the morning light
she's gotta be blonde
and her eyes must be blue
and her kiss must be hotter than fire
I need a woman
I'm holding out for a woman 'til the end of the night

Out in the hallway where the stairs go above
Out where I always hide the key
I could wish there was someone somewhere
Seeking me.
Through the dark and the cold and the pain
And through the snow and the mud
I can feel her approach
like the fire in my blood
like a fire in my blood
like a fire in my blood
like a fire in my blood

I need a woman
I'm holding out for a woman 'til the end of the night
she's gotta be smart
and she's gotta be cute
and she's gotta be bursting with life
I need a woman
I'm holding out for a woman 'til the morning light
she's gotta be blonde
and her eyes must be blue
and her kiss must be hotter than fire.

I need a woman
I'm holding out for a woman 'til the end of the night
she's gotta be smart
and she's gotta be cute
and she's gotta be bursting with life
I need a woman
I'm holding out for a woman 'til the morning light
she's gotta be blonde
and her eyes must be blue
and she's gotta be hotter than fire

Parody copyright (c) 2010 Stephen V. Cole

Thursday, April 15, 2010

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 Communique which includes scenarios, tactics, and new ships. You can also access a database of FEDERATION COMMANDER players looking for new opponents (you!)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rules Interactions

This is Steven Petrick posting.

One of the hard parts of a large game is trying to incorporate the interactions of different rules. This problem, however, can even pop up in a relatively small and simple game, such as Space Hulk.

The Space Marines include one man equipped with a shield. This shield has the effect of allowing the Space Marine player to cancel the highest die roll made by a given genestealer in hand-to-hand combat with that Marine. That sounds simple, but what happens if that Marine faces off with the brood lord?

The brood lord is allowed to combine his two highest dice into a single roll.

So, assuming the brood lord is attempting to kill the Space Marine with the shield do you:

A.) Have the brood lord throw his three dice, say a 2, a 4, and a 6, and the Space Marine's shield cancels the 6 resulting in the brood lord scoring 6 points of damage by combining the two remaining dice, or

B.) Have the brood lord throw his three dice, say a 2, a 4, and a 6, combine the 4 and the 6 into a ten and then the Space Marine's shield cancels both of them (since they have been combined into one mighty blow and thus are a "single die") and so the brood lord scores only 2 points, or

C.)Have the brood lord throw his three dice, say a 2, a 4, and a 6, and the Space Marine's shield cancels the 6 resulting in the brood lord scoring only 4 points of damage because the 4 would have been combined with the 6 and the 2 would have been ignored normally.

The interaction between these two rules is simply not explained, allowing the rules lawyers to have a field day, and resulting in different groups getting radically different results depending on what "local ruling" prevailed.

I wish I could say that SFB is free of such problems. I do try to make it so (any new rule starts with a review of the table of contents and the question "how would this affect that?"), but I am sadly not perfect.
We do try.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Steve Cole muses:

Just thinking to myself.

I like the lead actor on HUMAN TARGET but the squirrelly guy needs to go away and be replaced by a cute female. Also, the plot device of "Oh, that, I solved that problem, you don't want to know how" needs to never be used again. If these guys always have dirt on everybody involved, there's no point in the show.

Did anybody notice that the Patriot Act was denounced by the left as the end of American freedom, but since then, all of their dire predictions were proven wrong? Not to mention that it cost the taxpayers next to nothing, was passed with almost unanimous bipartisan support, is tame compared to laws that every European country has had on the books since World War 2, and was even renewed by the Obama administration?

I rarely get to go to the movies (and rarely enjoy it when I do, I prefer to watch them on TV so I can pause, back up to see something again, etc.). I am always seeing TV ads for new movies and saddened to think that by the time the movie comes to DVD or Netflix of Amazon Download or whatever else that I won't even remember it. I wish there was a way to click a Tivo button and have it remember the movie and let me know when (years later) it's on Tivo or Amazon Download.

I could never figure out how Obamacare does and doesn't fund abortions. It's bureaucratic slight of hand, explained well by Kathleen Parker in a recent editorial. While the Hyde Amendment would supposedly stop it, Obamacare funds the community health centers through a funding path not covered by the Hyde Amendment. So now you know, your taxes will indeed pay for abortions.

I keep finding 2006 and 2007 episodes of CRIMINAL INTENT which I never saw because it was impossible to find the new episodes on the cable channels among the dozens of reruns.

Cokie Roberts (a Democrat) says that Republicans are moving in the wrong direction to get rid of Republicans who supported Obama. Hey, taking advice from Democrats is what got McCain nominated and Obama elected! (Notice how Cokie thinks bipartisan means doing what Obama wants, and ignores the bipartisan opposition to him.)

Amazon has begun putting a marker on books they sell that the publisher set the price for, making sure that the customer knows why the price is higher than Amazon would normally set.

Can anybody figure out Obama's foreign policy? He insulted Britain (our oldest and closest ally) by demanding that they negotiate the Falklands. He manufactured a crisis with Israel (about a housing project that was actually announced over two years ago, not when Biden was there). He visited China and Indonesia but snubbed India. He horrified eastern Europe by canceling the missile defense shield.

It took the US Army a year of arm-twisting, but they have managed to make the new Electronic Keel system (a sort of mini-router) standard for trucks and hummers, and to get the electronic suppliers to provide gear that plugs into it. The hummers in the field today are packed with electronics (GPS, Blue Force Tracker that tells you where all friendlies are, Warlock to jam roadside bombs, radios, sniper detectors, controls for bomb disposal robots and other robots, rear-view video cameras, video feeds from the aerial drones, and so forth). As more and more stuff was added, troops added their own laptops to access reference files and other data. This has turned the average truck or hummer dashboard into something that looks more like a bomber cockpit. The Army wanted the equipment standardized so that any soldier could jump into any truck and already know where everything was. The next step will be a head-up display helmet like fighter pilots wear, with tactical information projected on the inside of the faceplate.

The Republican Party needs to learn that support by the Tea Party Patriot movement is NOT automatic and that even the lesser of two evils is not good enough to count on Tea Party votes! It's not good enough to elect Republicans just because they are Not democrats. We need to elect people who cut spending and balance the budget.

Monday, April 12, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 4-10 April 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather this week was ok, 40s and 50s in the morning, 60s and 70s in the afternoon.

Spam continues at about 3000 per day, and that's just the one-third that get through the server-filters.

I got a bunch of stuff done this week, including writing an alert for the April releases, writing the THIS WEEK blog, creating a dozen staff medal pages, revieweing a bunch of ship proposals for R12, writing a CapLog article on capital defenses, creating Orion rank insignia, doing some work on Romulan Armada, working on the FC Andromedan rules, and working on Communique #52.

The Board approved plans for Klingon Fleet Box #3, Fed Fleet Boxes #4, #5, and #6, and four carrier group boxes.

Steven Petrick was sick most of the week, but got some work done on CL#41 and R12.

Leanna continued working on the huge mail orders. Mike continued working on orders and building the inventory. We spoke frequently with Bruce Graw, who hopes to get the Pegasus minis to us on time.

Joel continued sending warning notices to copyright pirate websites. He posted Communique #52 and sent the April Hailing Frequencies on schedule on the 10th.

Jean Sexton expects to reach Key Date on PD FED in two weeks and be able to announce a summer release.

The contractor almost finished the house remodeling, and lacks about one day of final fixes. We have that scheduled for next week. I did a bunch of repairs to the Bengal barrier this week and I'm not sure if I have the back yard fixed so they cannot get out. The hearing in my left ear is starting to come back as the wax plug dissolves. I can hear distant but distinct voices now.

Jason Siadek of Gorilla Games was driving through Texas and his car broke down. We bought him and his delightful lady friend Julianne lunch and had a nice chat.

Xander Fulton sent some hilarious de-motivation posters.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Stephen V. Cole 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 try to set it up for you! Email me at: Design@starfleetgames.com

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. The newsletter has the latest information on release schedules and company news, as well as lots of other useful content. It also has links to the new Communique, a free PDF newsletter which is full of good things for Federation Commander players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules. The newsletter also has links to the most recent Star Fleet Alerts, the press releases that tell your store when to expect new products.

Friday, April 09, 2010


Stephen V. Cole 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.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Plague Cometh, the Plague Goeth

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

This last Saturday I had a burning in the back of my throat. By late Sunday it had not yet evolved into a cough, although I had started to feel feverish. Sunday night I called SVC to say I would probably not be in Monday, but while I overslept that morning, I just did not feel sick enough to really stay home. By this time I had a cough, and could sort of feel as if I had some fluid in my lungs, but somehow did not really feel as if I was sick enough to stay down.

I have come to realize that I was indeed far sicker than I was aware.

In the 96 hours that lasted from Saturday to Tuesday evening I slept more than 58 of them. I did not eat very much in that period, and while I came into work both Wednesday and today (and indeed on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday though I stayed less than a hour on the latter two days) I found myself completely lacking in stamina. I also found it difficult to concentrate on Wednesday.

As of today, I still have a cough (and it is sort of funny, as bad as things got, I did not suffer the kind of extended coughing jags I have associated with this kind of illness in the past). But I have not coughed long enough or repeatedly enough that the muscles that control my breathing have become painfully overworked.

I kept thinking I was getting better every day I was sick, and clearly I was not, given the lack of stamina I still have today.

I do not know what this was, how or where I caught it, probably some kind of flu, but I think this has been one of the most draining illnesses I have ever had. I cannot recall sleeping that much while coughing so little.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Steve Cole reports:

The US Army and Marines are running head-on into a massive case of combat fatigue.

It's been known since World War II that the average human (or at least, the average American) starts to have mental and nervous problems after 200 days in combat. This is variously known as shell shock, post-traumatic stress disorder, soldier's heart, or combat fatigue. What it boils down to is that the soldier's ability to deal with the stress of combat is broken and cannot be repaired. Some people hit this wall earlier, and some later, but 200 is a good average.

Combat fatigue manifests itself in many ways. Usually, the soldier either freezes up, or goes a little jumpy. Neither is good, and neither is really able to function in combat without becoming a danger to their comrades.

The current War on Terror has put US soldiers and Marines through a lot of combat time, some of it more stressful than other times. Most people who have been in the military more than one tour have exceeded the 200-day barrier, and more and more are starting to show signs of it. The suicide rate has increased from 9 per 100,000 in 2001 to 23 per 100,000 in 2009. The number of troops taking anti-stress medications has reached 17 percent, and most of those are no longer able to safely function in combat. Even today, for every wounded soldier or Marine sent home from a war zone, another one is sent home too stressed out to safely function in combat, and three or four more are treated for stress in the war zone and kept with their units.

The Army and Marines have tried ways to lower the stress and extend the 200-day limit. These ways have worked, but no one knows how well or how much longer. Humans are not machines and do not fall down in rows. If seventeen percent of soldiers have exceeded the stress limit, no one knows if one more year will push that to 27 percent or 77 percent. Some troops have gone 800 days in combat (over nine years) without any sign of stress. This is all new territory, and has never happened in the history of the US. Even in World War II or the Civil War, few Americans spent more than 200 days actually being shot at. Many of the Germans, Russians, and British who spent more than 200 days in combat got wounded and taken out of combat (or were killed). Lots of them were found to be too stressed out to stay in combat, but were kept there anyway, and were killed or wounded because they were no longer effective.

Some of the things to reduce stress include air-conditioned quarters, good food, email, prompt diagnosis and treatment, and a two-week vacation in mid-tour. Recruits are screened before they are allowed to enlist, and those who the Army thinks will crack under stress are quietly told to find another career opportunity. There are also studies being made to see if someone who cracked can be healed enough (in a year or two) to send back to the war zone for another tour.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Stephen V. Cole 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.

Monday, April 05, 2010

This Week at ADB, Inc., 28 March - 3 April 2010

Steve Cole reports:

The weather was decent all week, 50s and even 60s in the mornings and reaching into the 70s by afternoon.

My own week was relatively calm. I wrote the FC rules for the Andros and got them to the playtesters. I spent way too much time updating and posting staff medal pages. I show two new product videos with Mike and he posted them on YouTube. I did a bunch of work with Jean on PD Federation. On Customer Request Wednesday, I did the Kzinti rank insignia, found reference photos of the old FC bonus cards, and posted a list of the SFBF cards. I reviewed some R12 proposals.

Petrick continued to work on R12 and CL#41. Leanna did the income taxes and continued to handle the huge number of orders. Leanna agreed to put Klingon Armada on e23 and make progress on Kindle books (which will reportedly work on the iPad). Mike Sparks was doing orders and restocking minis. Joel was hunting down copyright pirates and helping Mike get the videos edited. Jean worked on the PD FED sample characters, trying to fix the problems.

On the first Game Night of the year, Joel and I used the Genestealers to try to wipe out Steven Petrick and Mike Sparks with the Marines. We would have won if somebody had noticed that mistake we made letting Mike kill the Brood Lord. Reading the rulebook later, we claimed victory. On Thursday night, we had the party to celebrate Mike's fifth year at ADB, Inc., the success of F&E 2010, and Joel's arrival.

This week, about all that happened with the home remodel was the new kitchen cabinets were put in and stained. Progress is slow and the job that could have been finished last week is expected to be finished next week.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

ADB, Inc. Game Night, 31 March 2010: Space Hulk

Steve Cole and Steven Petrick report:

31 March, 2010: We decided to have game night because Joel (the new graphics guy) saw the SPACE HULK game and wanted to play it. We're supposed to have game night every week, but it hasn't happened this year. We asked Customer Service Director Mike Sparks to join us.

Petrick: SVC's report on game night serves as one of those examples of the fog and confusion of battle. SVC did the report and recreated (staged) the photos of the action. But as he was not originally planning to write the article, he went by memory.

Steven Petrick and Mike Sparks took the Space Marines.

Joel Shutts and I (Steve Cole) took the Gene Stealers.

Being a game company, we ignored the scenario book and made up our own scenario. Basically, I snapped together every tile I could, leaving only six in the box. The "close" part of the starship maze was connected to the "far" part by two passages. There were three ways into the close part. The mission was to retrieve two "computer cores" which the scouts had noted an hour earlier before they moved deeper into the ship and were never heard from again. Petrick and Mike had 12 Marines, including the Lieutenant-Librarian, two sergeants, the "claw guy", the Gatling gunner, the flamethrower, and six basic Marines with storm bolters and power fists. A few Genestealers had moved into the "near area" (wandering around aimlessly) and Petrick quickly killed them, sending half of his troops down the right-side corridor and leaving the other half in the "near area" to guard his left flank and escape route.

Petrick: I did not leave "half" the troops to cover the rear, but a "third" (four men). Three shooters and the flamer. SVC did not remember for sure what I had left as a rear/flank guard, and just winged it. Of the other eight men, one (when the second horde began collapsing the rear guard) did face to the rear to cover the hallway behind the main body, and at that point sort of became part of the rear guard, but he was still with the main body, just covering the now open approach into the main body's rear.

The Genestealers of "Brood #1" came in from the back left corner and divided into one team trying (in the "far area") to block the route to the computer core and the second team trying to outflank the Marines through the "near area".

Lieutenant-Librarian Petrick is convinced that attacking in SPACE HULK is all but impossible, and that the defense is supreme. Being told to attack down the corridor and seize an objective left him chanting "We are doomed" over and over.

Petrick: My observation about the dangers of getting into hand-to-hand and advancing into masses of Genestealers when you could not use ranged weapons was largely borne out when you consider:

1.) the first Genestealer horde was divided in attacking the front and rear/flank of column, and suffered very significant losses before the second horde showed up, but despite this was still able (in the forced close combat) to kill seven of the eight Marines in the main body (despite that group including literally all of the "special melee weapon" equipped Marines).

2.) The rear guard, despite having just four men, none equipped with special melee weapons, but able to employ more ranged fire, managed to defeat not only the elements of the first Genestealer horde that were originally in the area they were covering, but almost single-handedly stopped the second horde. (Almost only because we found out after the battle that the Brood Lord was immune to the flamer.)

My US Army experience leads me to ask "where are the grenade launchers which would make advancing with the Marines more plausible".

Lieutenant-Librarian Petrick had used three turns of psychic storms on the compartment held by Genestealers without much effect, killing only about three (total). He all but refused to advance, and Joel (who was fully running the Genestealers by this point, as I had shown him enough of the rules to get the job done) also refused to attack, confident that he only had to block the way to the computer core. I suggested that Petrick send Sergeant Rock (with the hammer and shield) into the compartment on a suicidal berzerker attack. Sergeant Rock killed six Genestealers before one of them cut him down.

Meanwhile, back in the "near area", Mike Sparks (who had also learned the game very quickly) had taken over the Second Squad and was holding the flank. He had (with some suggestions from Petrick) set up a three-way ambush, with three stormbolter Marines on overwatch guarding the only axis of attack. (The Genestealers could have gone further around to their left, but this would have taken a while and the Marines had also blocked that route with stormbolters and overwatch fire.) Joel had tried sending a couple of Genestealers into the kill zone with the obvious effect. I told him to build up a pack of his troops, then send one at a time into the kill zone hoping for a jammed gun. It worked, and Sergeant Mike's gun jammed. Joel sent the Genestealer into a side corridor. One Marine missed, and the second jammed. So, the critical corridor was open! The only Marine wih a working gun was blocked by a Genestealer who cleverly stopped moving and triggering overwatch fire. Joel sent the thundering herd into the gap, and brought Brood #2 up the Garbage Chutes (Petrick did not know that was possible). The attack collapsed the left flank, cutting off the Marines!

From that point, the battle ebbed and flowed.

The rest of Horde #1 launched an attack into Petrick's forward Squad and almost wiped it out; one Marine got out, beating his armored feet down the corridor where the Genestealers had been moments ago. (Joel had pulled out Horde #2 and sent them to round up and slaughter Mike's last three Marines, killing one of them quickly and leaving only the gunless claw-man and the gunless flamethrower operator.

Petrick: Which gets you back to the lessons previously learned: If you cannot mass defensive fires to hit the Genestealers repeatedly as they advance, they will get into close combat, and if they do, you are very, very dead. If you advance into melee with the Genestealers when they have lots of nearby Genestealers to charge in, you are very, very dead. This forces stalemates in that enough firepower (short range) or firepower over a long enough distance can make it very difficult for the Genestealers to advance, but if the Genestealers can mass close to the Marines but out of the line of direct fire, say around a corner, they can charge in, as Marine storm bolters jam too often on defensive overwatch for one man to hold a passageway by himself if multiple Genestealers are in position to reach him in a single turn. Thus advancing on a one man front running a Marine column into a Genestealer column is . . . well Custer had a better chance. So the advantage goes toward the side that can fight defensively. Which is why the Marines won the first couple of games so easily, they could mass firepower on Genestealers attacking on a narrow front and pretty much kill them as they came, but the set up this last time optimized the Genestealers being able to mass large numbers near the Marines and then rush into their midst. But for some last minute errors on the part of the Genestealers (before we discovered the Brood Lord was immune) they would have won the game.

Petrick had never used the flamethrower but Mike read the rules and started using it on clusters of Genestealers. (Joel had not read the flamethrower rules and did not know that Horde #2 was a huge target.) Joel sent the Brood Lord after the flamethrower, which killed the Brood Lord. This was where the game collapsed. At that point, there were three Marines and six Genestealers. One Genestealer went hand-to-hand with flamethrower man, who was down to his last shot. Petrick said "flame him" but Mike refused, winning a desperate claw-vs-powerfist battle and then using the last flamethrower shot to kill three Genestealers. The last two Genestealers were shot by Petrick's last man.

While Petrick had spent the entire game saying "We cannot win!" Mike said "Do the math, dude, we if we quit trying to get to the computer and just kill these guys, sooner or later we have killed the last of the two broods and we can pick up the computer cores in a walk." And that's what happened.

Petrick: While Mike was "doing the math", so was I when it came to that last flame shot. I thought one man retreating backwards up a corridor with our available command points had a good chance of stopping four genestealers. A better chance than the flamer guy had of winning a hand to hand fight with a genestealer and then firing his flamer, but I let Mike make that decision and it paid off.

The next morning, Mike and Petrick checked the rulebook and noticed that the Brood Lord was immune to flame weapons, and at dinner that night told Joel that, in fact, he had won since the Brood Lord had not died.

Petrick: I have, since this last action, actually read many (but not all) of the rules, and I have to say I find them somewhat poorly written to an annoying degree. For example, the Brood Lord is immune to the flamer . . . but what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that if the Brood Lord is hit by the flamer he takes no damage (clearly, yes), but can he walk through a burning area? (I would say yes, but the rule is unclear as it only says that the area is blocked). If a non-Brood-Lord is in an area targeted by a flamer, he takes possible damage when the weapon hits, and rolls on possible damage if he moves while in the affected area . . . but what about if he does not move? If he does not move while the area he is in is affected by the flamer, does he roll again to survive or not? And if he rolls again, does he roll once, or six times (once for each of his action points spent in the flaming area if he does not move)? There are other gray areas/areas where argument can occur, such as the Brood Lord's mighty strike versus the shield. The shield takes away the highest die roll, but the Brood Lord is allowed to combine his two highest die rolls into one blow. How is this interaction handled?

For pictures, see this link: http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/messages/12032/25071.html?1270240930

Saturday, April 03, 2010


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.

Friday, April 02, 2010


Tall Dark Klingon

Saturday night on Orion, Working for the GIA.
Sitting in a nest of Pirates. Brandy bottles on the way.

Incoming raider on the dock side, Full of people who are on the run.
Just about to call up the Star Fleet ships, When I heard somebody shootin' a gun.

A pair of 'ruptors made me head for the doors,
My temperature started to rise.
She was a tall, dark Klingon with a batlette,
Just a fighting and making them small.
With just one look I was a bad mess,
Cause that tall dark Klingon had it all.

I saw her heading to the dock port,
Like a tall walking big black cat.
An Orion said I hope that we're hidden well.
But I'm telling you she knew where we're at.

Well suddenly we heard the phasers, And everybody started to run,
A-jumping out of doors and port holes. Well I heard somebody shooting a gun.

Well the Captain was pinning my medals, And then she was right there at my side.
Well I told her not to run, Cause we're gonna have fun.

Well I've gotta be traitor, If I wanna hook up later.
With a tall dark Klingon with a batlette,
Just a little too much all in all.
Well, with just one look I was a bad mess,
Cause that tall dark Klingon had it all.
. . . Had it all.

Parody copyright (c) 2008 Stephen V. Cole

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Steve Cole muses:

Just thinking to himself.

The writers of CASTLE jumped the shark, detonating a bomb in detective Kate Beckett's apartment, supposedly killing her as a cliffhanger. We all know they really aren't going to kill such a popular character, so it's just annoying.

We all know that the Palestinians tell the UN and Western Europe that they want to negotiate with Israel and tell their own people that such negotiations are only a ploy to destroy Israel. So why does the US keep trying to start negotiations? More to the point, why did Obama manufacture a crisis over the housing issue? The "insulting announcement" was in fact just a zoning board function (step four in a seven-step process that has been going on for three years two years to go) which was specifically allowed in the US-Israel agreement for Israel to suspend construction?

I stumbled onto a cable television show called METERORITE MEN about two guys who hunt for fallen meteors, selling them to collectors and donating a few to science. It's a fascinating combination of science, outdoor adventure, treasure hunting, and clowning around, and well worth a TIVO search to find and watch an episode or two. I think they did about ten episodes.

Why do we park on the driveway and drive on the parkway?

China has, with no official explanation or announcement, changed the names of its armed forces. The People's Liberation Army, People's Liberation Army Navy, and People's Liberation Army Air Force are now simply the Chinese Army, Chinese Navy, and Chinese Air Force.

I got a nice fancy brochure-booklet thing from a payday loan place. They blithely admit to charging 792% (yes, nearly eight hundred percent) interest. They actually charge 10% interest per annum, but they charge a $30 fee for every $100 every fourteen days. I guess if you're desperate this would work for you, but I think it should be illegal.

In the tribal areas of Yemen (and the less civilized parts of a lot of other Moslem countries), girls are married at the age of nine and pregnant by the age of eleven. Anyone who says this is stupid is anti-Islam.

About 90% of all Email is spam. Well over half of the food aid shipped to Somalia is stolen by warlords, who feed their troops then sell the rest (often outside of Somalia) to pay for more guns and ammunition.

Funny how Democrats describe any opposition to Obama as hate speech and continue to repeat claims (long since proven false) that Tea Party rallies have shouted racial slurs, called for the murder of Obama, or spit on a liberal congressman.