about the universe forum commander Shop Now Commanders Circle
Product List FAQs home Links Contact Us

Friday, May 31, 2013

Answers to the Top 10 Questions that a Starship Captain Never Wants to Ask, Q9

9. "You're using the SFG to keep the vegetables fresh?"

Well, since we can only move at 0.5c with them on and it will take 4321 years to reach Klinshai, we needed to keep them fresh.

David Kass
(c) 2002 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, May 30, 2013

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 for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, Gary Plana for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, and Andy Vancil for Star Fleet Battles.

Frank Brooks runs the play-by-email system as a volunteer. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the online game system (for SFB and FC) to pay the server costs. Tenneshington Decals does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures and is run by two of our fans: Will McCammon and Tony Thomas.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a retired real-world colonel from Space Command) in charge of the overall game system. He keeps his staff (Mike Curtis, Ryan Opel, Scott Tenhoff, Thomas Mathews, and Stew Frazier) busy moving projects forward.

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 and volunteers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including John Berg, Howard Bampton, and Mike Incavo (Galactic Conquest Campaign); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); and John Sickels, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, Mike West, James Kerr, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them. Sometimes our volunteers become part of our staff; Jean Sexton started out as a volunteer proofreader.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by email or BBS or Forum or our page on Facebook, contribute in some way to the company and its product line. They may report a glitch in an existing product, playtest a product in development, suggest a new product, point out something another company is doing what we may want to take a look at emulating, look up a rules reference for another player, report on somebody who using our property improperly, comment on a posted draft of a new rule, or simply ask a question nobody else ever dared to ask.

Many years ago, we began awarding medals, ribbons, and other "decorations" to staffers and others who contributed to each product, and some other projects. These awards not only recognize those who contributed to the various projects, but encouraged others to begin making their contributions to future projects. We have created the Wall of Honor at http://starfleetgames.com/ArtGallery/Wall%20of%20Honor.shtml. This is a tribute to over 30 years of volunteer work. We hope you visit it to say thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Recovery Continues

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Well, the title has double meaning.

We are finally to the point where I can work on SSDs again, which means some progress should be made soon on Module C6. I think the first priority is going to be to try to do the various weapons rules over (lost in the crash), which is one of the hardest parts. With the systems working,  however slowly (a lot of copy and retitle and post into new computer), progress should be made to completion.

The other meaning?

Well, as you know if you have been watching my posts my left leg went bad, again. It had been bad for a while before last June. But back then there was enough recovery that I was able to start walking on it regularly, branching out to additional exercises. I really felt I was doing quite well this past December. Sometime in January my left leg was (for want of a better term) corrupted again, in many ways worse than before. Over the past few weeks (having survived Operation Fetch) it has finally started to get a little better. I am sometimes able to get into a car without having to physically pick my leg up with my own hands and put it in the car. Small victories. I am unsure how much better it will get. I would like to start walking again for exercise, but right now I am very much daunted by the task facing me of walking from the Red Roof Inn to the gaming area at Origins for several days in a row. I do not imagine it will be a walk I can make without stopping to rest. At least the pain levels have gone down to the point where they no longer keep me distracted from other tasks, but my ability to balance on my legs is not what it once was.

I may be using the elevators this year, especially if the escalators are off, as climbing up and down stairs is just asking for a fall, especially if I am carrying anything.

Whatever happens, I am looking forward to seeing old friends and acquaintances at Origins this year, and know that I did missing seeing you all last year.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Got Any Marketing Ideas?

ADB, Inc., is always interested in great marketing ideas, ways and places to sell our products, as well as new products to sell. Our page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf) exists to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers. We also are releasing YouTube videos that show what you'll find in "the box" and our latest releases. You can catch our videos on our channel here:

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, May 27, 2013

This Week at ADB, Inc., 19-25 May 2013

Steve Cole reports:

This was an intense week of work on Captain's Log #47 and was Jean's first real week at work. The weather this week was cool. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on e23 this week was Valkenburg Castle.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #47. Steve began physical therapy to strengthen his now-healed leg and became a much happier person.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #47.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date. Leanna and Jean attended a musical at the local theater on Sunday, leaving the Steves happy they didn't have to go.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

We officially began the search to replace Joel at the graphics desk, but it could take weeks or months for that to happen.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1597 friends), proofread Captain's Log #47, and did some marketing.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

On Freedom and Memorial Day and Remembrance

Jean Sexton muses:

For Americans, Memorial Day weekend is upon us. For many, it is a three-day weekend, time for hanging out with family and friends, for grilling out, and for maybe going on a short vacation. But before throwing that steak on the grill, take a moment and think about why you are free to do so.

If it were not for the people who fought in the American Revolutionary War, this nation might not exist in the same form it does today. Certainly that is true of the Civil War. Without our participation in World Wars I and II, Europe would certainly look different and who knows where the changes would have stopped. Each day, brave men and women are ready to defend freedom, some dying so that we may continue to enjoy the freedoms we have.

While we celebrate with our families and friends, let's take a moment to remember those who are no longer able to celebrate with the ones they love. Remember those who gave their lives for their country. They deserve to be remembered. It is the very least we can do.

Enjoy your holiday. Play games with your friends and family. Cook out. Watch the races. But while you do so, spare a thought for the patriots who have died and for those who now stand in harm's way. And at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow on Memorial Day, pause for the National Moment of Remembrance and recognize their sacrifice.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Join us on Facebook

ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now up and running, and we’re finding a lot of new faces who haven’t been around the BBS or Forum. We have pictures up of ADB, Inc. staff, links to many of our videos, snippets of information, and interaction with our fans. Jean Sexton is the main voice you will hear on our page on Facebook. If she doesn’t know an answer, she’ll ask one of the Steves and ferry the answer back.

All that is left is for you to "like" the page for Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf.

Many people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day, checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries, plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.

We hope to see you there! Be sure to add us to an interest group to see all of our posts.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Answers to the Top 10 Questions that a Starship Captain Never Wants to Ask, Q8

8. What do you mean "you're not sure" whether you launched the real or the pseudo plasma torpedoes?

Sir, does it make a difference? I thought both were designed to chase the pesky Gorn away while we engaged the cloaking device. Didn't you read the manufacturer's latest disclaimers?

David Kass
(c) 2002 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Working in Amarillo

Jean Sexton reports:

What can I write? The last three weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. I'm still sorting things out; let me give you a glimpse into my world of juggling balls.

My new office isn't finished being set up. I don't have all the storage space that I had when I worked in the library and I have combined my home office with my personal stuff from my old work office. That meant that I was bringing a dowry of office supplies: pens, pencils, markers, sticky notes, note pads, printer supplies, paper, and much, much more. It overflowed the storage closet! I now have a rainbow colored storage cart that holds my supplies, all neatly organized.

I'm still short one desk and should be able to get it on Friday. That will let me have a Mac in the office.

My bookcases are still missing books; I'll start bringing in some of those books when they show up as I unpack. I use them on a regular basis to answer questions, including my own.

And of course I've shown up to work at one of the busiest times of the year -- prepping for Origins and getting new things out. I feel sometimes like a juggler trying to keep too many balls in the air. I have to proofread and make sure all the corrections get made. I'm also contributing a bit more in the way of writing and suggestions. We are moving along with Captain's Log #47 and I can tell you there are a lot of good articles and a whopper of a story.

One of the balls in the air is moving into the apartment. I have so many fragile things that the boxes they are packed into don't fit in the apartment. As I unpack, the area taken up shrinks. Still it is a time-consuming process.

I've had to set aside one ball until after Origins. The Traveller Prime Directive ball proved one ball too many as we try to get products out prior to Origins and to plan how to pack the van full of SFU goodness without leaving me behind or mounting me as a hood ornament.I'll be able to give it full attention after Origins.

I can tell you that one of the joys of being here is working with the people at ADB. Everyone is so helpful both professionally and personally. It can be a challenge to get everything done, but it's a challenge that I'll be able to meet.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Best Laid Plans ...

This is Steven Petrick posting.

One of the things about any operation is planning and preparation. Going to get Jean was complicated in part by the fact that both SVC and I had disabled left legs. So I did some planning.

I do not normally use sleep aids. For Operation Fetch I purchased a package of “Nydol” and took two of the tablets each night of the operation before going to bed in hopes of getting more sleep. This was in addition to a number of other medications (something for “restless legs” as a great deal of the delay in healing seemed to be tied to my left leg “jumping” in the middle of the night in a desperate attempt to bend “sideways,” sometimes with renewed pain levels that even if had managed to fall asleep I would be awakened).  In addition I took a few pain meds (never more than the prescribed doses).

I have to say that over all I was not overly impressed with any of the medications. I could not say that the pain medications really did anything to dampen the pain as far as I could tell, but then by that time I might not have been able to recognize a reduction in the level of pain. (I am still taking Ibuprophen however.)  I do not know if the “restless leg” medication ever had an effect, but I have noted of late that my leg “jumps” a lot less than it was, although the knee is utterly unreliable, although I have dropped the restless leg med as ineffective. SVC is of the opinion that I should just stay off the leg, but I have found that if I want to sleep at all I have to “take my leg for a walk” before going to bed. That is to say I walk around the circumference of the apartment complex before I turn in and my leg seems to settle down for most of the night. Without the walk, the leg seems to keep kicking and make it difficult, if not down right impossible, to sleep. (During the recent “wolf” excursion I wound up walking the length of the hotel’s internal hallway in the middle of the night to settle my leg.) I have also found that while my left leg and foot seem to actually get “worse” if I apply a heating pad, soaking in hot water seems to acceptable (as if the leg is no longer really a part of me but has a “life of its own”).

The main point, however,  is the “Nydol.”

The “Nydol” was to help make sure I was as rested as possible by aiding my sleep. I took the recommended dose of two tablets every night of the operation, and the result was, near as I am able to judge, no effect whatsoever. During the whole of the operation I averaged at most two hours of sleep each night. For a week before we started the drive back I was sleep deprived to an unacceptable degree, even though each night I went to bed tired and desperately in need of sleep and, yes, I took the two tablets of “Nydol.”

Having the “Nydol” was part of my “planning and preparation,” and I suppose it is possible that without it I would not even have gotten the two hours a night I did get. (Seems unlikely, as I would finally pass out somewhere near dawn, hours after I had taken the tablets.)

I knew getting in the truck that I would have to hand it over to SVC in short order. It never really came to that however. Do not get me wrong. I was monitoring my own condition constantly while driving the truck, looking for a loss of concentration or any other sign that I was no longer in condition to keep driving. However, other than an occasional “yawning jag” and a period in the second day where I began feeling ill, I remained alert. That period when I was feeling ill (it was shortly after lunch on our way to Oklahoma City) I had decided I was going to have to turn the truck over to SVC at the next gas stop. After visiting the restroom at the gas station the problem resolved itself and I was able to carry on and never even mentioned to SVC at the time that I would have to turn the truck over to him.

I had planned, knowing I would have to drive the truck at least part of the time, to make sure I got enough sleep so that I would begin each day driving it (after the first) rested and ready. Thus my adoption of a “Nydol” regimen for the trip. I doubt I will ever try to use “Nydol” again as it had no noticeable effect. As it is, I am grateful that my body responded to the need to drive the truck, but I never want to start a long trip as exhausted as I was when this one began. As it was, I could not even drive the car all the way to the hotel on the wolf trip a few days later as I was still that exhausted.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Playing Star Fleet Universe Games Long Distance

Playing games by email or by post is an alternative to playing face-to-face. While there are a few differences (i.e., your opponent isn't sitting across the table from you), it is the same game.

When playing Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander using the Play-by-Email (PBEM) system you and your opponent submit your orders for the turn to a moderator via email. The moderator then processes them, and sends a "SitRep" (Situation Report) to the players via email. You receive the results, write up your next set of orders, and then submit your orders once again. The process is repeated until the game is completed. Sounds simple? That's because it IS! It'll take a little getting used to (after all, what doesn't?), but once you've got the hang of it, you'll be lobbing photon torpedoes (or whatever your weapon of choice is) at opponents from all over the world.

Every FC or SFB PBEM game has at least three participants: two or more players and one moderator. The moderator's purpose is to accept orders from the players and carry them out, reporting the results of those orders to all players. While (s)he is not a player, the moderator fulfills a very important role in the game. Good moderators and good players make for a good, enjoyable game. Moderating a game is also an excellent way to learn more about the game's rules.

Prime Directive games can be played by posting on the Forum. The GM of the game gets players, approves their characters, then sets up situations for the characters to face. It takes a bit longer because the players are not sitting around the table, but it also allows people who are spread out across the world to play.

Players of all our games are expanding the frontiers of playing long distance. Some are trying chat, some are adding webcams to that, many are trying out VOIP so as to get close to a face-to-face experience.

While there are some disadvantages to playing long distance (it does take longer to finish a game), there are advantages as well. You can play against people in other parts of the world (how often do you get to Australia, anyway?), you can play multiple games at once, and you can have large multi-player games (without worrying about running out of chips and soda).

For more information about playing long distance, drop in on the Forum (http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2) or BBS (http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/).

Monday, May 20, 2013

This Week at ADB, Inc., 12-18 May 2013

Steve Cole reports:

This was an intense week, as the Steves worked on Captain's Log #47 and Jean tried to get her office and apartment into workable condition. The weather this week was warm. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. The annual company picnic was on 16 May as everyone attended the Business Connection trade show.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #47.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #47.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel worked on Hailing Frequencies for May.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,597 friends), proofread Hailing Frequencies for May, and did some marketing, but mostly worked on Captain's Log #47 as well as on her office and apartment.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lights! Cameras! The SFU Hits YouTube!

Ever wished you could take a peek inside a shrink-wrapped box or look behind the pretty covers of a book? Then these videos are for you.

The brainchild of Mike Sparks, our YouTube videos are of three types. The first is about a specific product line and you can hear Steve Cole (yes, he is the talking hands in our videos) discuss the products that are in one of the different games. The second kind is what ADB, Inc. has released in a particular month. These are a great way to catch up quickly on the new items.

It is the third kind that let's you see what is in the box. A boxed game such as Federation & Empire is taken out of the box item by item so that you can see what's in there. From rulebook, to charts, to maps, to counters, each item is shown and discussed. It's a lot of information to pack into a short clip, but SVC and Mike manage it.

Check out our channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames and be sure to bring the popcorn!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

How to Find New Opponents

Steve Cole writes:

Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four war gamers in Amarillo that I knew, but there must have been more as the one store that carried Avalon Hill games (then the only wargames) would sell one or two now and then that my friends and I knew we didn't buy. Funny, it never once occurred to us to ask the store manager to give our phone numbers to the other guys. When I was in college, SPI (then the second wargame company and rapidly becoming larger and more innovative than Avalon Hill) had an opponent wanted list. I sent in my dollar to get it, and found only one person (of the 20 on the list) who was within 120 miles; the first and last person on the list were each 450 miles away (in opposite directions).

These days, the concept of contacting other gamers has had decades to mature, works much better, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For best results, you should do all of them.

If you play Federation Commander, then you can go to the Commander's Circle and enter your data (as much or as little as you are comfortable with) and perhaps find opponents near you. We are gaining new sign-ins every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out if somebody nearby has signed in. http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/

Primarily for Federation Commander players, the Forum has a topic where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations. Players can let other players know they're around. How silly would you feel if you found out that the guy who you've been arguing with on the forum for years actually lives in your town. (That HAS happened.) http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2

You can to go to a local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of your favorite game(s) and "grow your own" opponents. If a person already plays the game you are demoing, he'll doubtless drop by just to swap phone numbers.

Many towns have community bulletin boards on the local cable company's "home" channel. These are variously free or cost just a couple of dollars. It's hit-and-miss, but you could get lucky. (When I commanded Company C of the 1-39 MPs, I gained a dozen new recruits in a year that came from cable TV.) You could also buy a cheap want ad in the newspaper or the free advertising newspaper (American's Want Ads or whatever yours is called) found in quickie marts. There is also Craigslist, but you should use the normal caution you would for meeting a stranger.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to http://starfleetgames.com/starlist.shtml. Enter your data in the form, and you'll get a list of local players back. (This may take a day or two as it is done by hand.) Starlist is the most effective hunt for new players because the database has some 5,000 players in it, far more than all of the other sources combined. The only drawback is that Starlist works with full information (name and address) and those who are seriously concerned about identity theft often find this uncomfortable. In all reality, however, Starlist would not give an identity thief any more information than a local phone book would, and if that's enough for those criminals to operate, they would be vastly more likely to use the phone book than to request a copy of Starlist.

You can find opponents for all of our games on our BBS. Go to http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/ and you'll see "Seeking Opponents" on the main menu. You can post a notice there (and search the previous postings). Again, you can post as much or as little information as you are comfortable with.

Friends of our page on Facebook can post to see who is out there. Not a friend? Become one here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see http://www.starfleetgames.com/links.shtml for suggestions).

If there is a game convention within driving distance, it's worth a trip to see if you might find someone who is also within driving distance. If there is a game club in your home town or a store with a gaming area, go there and set up the game and wait for somebody to ask what it is. (Even better, take a friend who will play the game with you so you won't be bored.) If there is a Star Trek club in your home town, show them Federation Commander or Star Fleet Battle Force. There are people who have printed a card with the logo of one of our games and their email address and left these in the windows of their cars who got emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online (http://www.sfbonline.com/index.jsp) and play Star Fleet Battles and Federation Commander online with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $5 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.

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

Friday, May 17, 2013

Answers to the Top 10 Questions that a Starship Captain Never Wants to Ask, Q7

7. If you're not using the UIM to aim the disruptors, what are you using it for?

To aim the drones. Isn't that why it was installed?

David Kass
(c) 2002 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself that Jean wants him to do a blog about the company.

1. We own three big Kyocera print engines (and a fourth, smaller one). We like that because these industrial-size print engines (from the $7K version to the $100K Docutech) all tend to break down when used at maximum rate for a day or two. If you put all your money into one big print engine, then when it's down, you're down. Having four, we're never down. If one breaks down, we just turn it off and keep going with the others, and call the Kyocera dealer at the start of the next business day. Every single time I have consulted with another company about setting up a print plant, the chosen vendor (Kyocera, Cannon, Xerox, whoever) tries to get the game company to buy one big box instead of three or four small ones. I patiently explain (to the game company and to the vendor) just how stupid this is. The bloody things break down (with something a technician can fix in an hour), and it's better to have a second, third, and fourth machine. It's also more cost effective. Our four Kyoceras (which cost us less than $25,000 total) run rings around even a $100,000 Docutech machine.

2. The utility infielder in a game publishing company is the company president. Having built the company from nothing, the president of the company once did everything by himself. Pretty much everything this company does is something I learned how to do a long time ago, and (except in the case of accounting where Leanna told me I was all wet, and that web design stuff that confuses me) something I taught everyone else how to do. So when we had a bit of a crisis getting all those new products out on the same day last January, I was the guy who filled in for anyone else who wasn't available.  While Leanna was doing invoices, I added the new products to the shopping cart. While Mike was packing orders, I was shrinkwrapping products. While Joel was uploading shopping cart photos, I was packing Reinforcements Attack. 

3. I wonder if anybody out there understands how this business (or any business) runs if they haven't run a business. There are lots of categories of things to do, and it's hard to balance them. Some of them are "get to it as fast as you can" and there is a list of those and when not doing anything else I go to the top of that list for my work. Some things magically appear on the list from time to time and go right to the #1 spot. Some of those are predictable (e.g., Communique that has to be done before the 7th of any given month so the staff can report before it goes out on the 10th) while others are less so (I got a set of ACTASF cards from Matthew and had promised him that whenever he sent a set I would drop anything other than an emergency to check the cards right away and fire the required fixes back to him; those cards get this treatment because they've been delayed too long and because we need the fixed cards to get the revised rulebook out). Some new items that show up get to start their march to the top of the list from a higher or lower spot (e.g., a possible big money deal for a project goes to the highest part of the list). That, unfortunately, means everything else goes down a notch. Then there are the fires that blow up or break out. Recently, something that should have been a simple yes/no decision ended up being a major multi-hour project involving phone calls to outside parties. That kicked other things off that day's schedule. (I had promised one guy on Thursday afternoon that his thing was now #1 on the list and would obviously get done on Friday. Then a fire broke out Friday noon and pushed his thing to Saturday.) Other things happen.

4. A big drive-engine to my work schedule is my email (and to a lesser extent, the BBS and Forum). Every morning, I walk in here to find (after de-spamming the in-box) anywhere from four to ten real emails that actually require more than a one-word answer (yes, no, sure, whatever, laugh, etc.). The BBS and Forum produce similar "items that should be attended to". Some of those go away with one or two minutes of thought and reply, or looking something up. Others take longer. Some take so long that they don't get done that day, and become line items on the to-do list, or just get lost altogether. (Still in the in-box, they get found on "sweeps" where I go looking for things I can delete easily. When I find one of these forgotten projects, I re-direct it to myself which puts it at the top of the in-box where it gets another chance.)

5. Then there is the Visitation of the Great Dragon. This is when something happens that is so big it totally wipes out the schedule. Even routine stuff gets delayed, the to-do list gets all but forgotten, and promises get broken. Mostly this is the last week or two of finishing a new product. In Jan 2013 I found myself spending hours working on the packing line or the shrinkwrap machine, which of course pushed my "to do" list back a few days. During Jean's December visit, she had priority over my time and I got to go look at routine or to-do items only when she had nothing for me to do.

6. In a small business (and ours in no exception) everybody has more than one job, but being human, they tend to spend most of their time on one job, pretty much ignore the job they hate the most, and dabble in the others. For example, I hate doing marketing and my failure to do it right causes sales to suffer. (Jean will take that over in May. She likes doing marketing.) So, I started a practice of several times a week taking a scratch pad to work. I assigned everybody a "priority task for after lunch" to make sure at least something gets done on the jobs they hate the most. Leanna, buried in orders, uploaded Fed ePack #2 (after having it for a week and having sent nothing to e23 for a month) only because of the priority task system. I made it a point to walk around right after lunch and remind everyone of their priority task, and to go back in mid-afternoon to check on those who had yet to report their task having been done. It's called Leadership, which is one of my "other jobs" that I don't do very often.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Free Stuff for Star Fleet Universe Players!

Steve Cole writes:

We have a lot of free stuff on our website. Let me point you to some of the most popular things. Doing this in alphabetical order we start with Federation & Empire. They have play aids and countersheet graphics here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#FNE

Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of the Federation Commander game (well, enough of the game to play a few battles). First Missions will give you enough of the game that you can try it out. Go here to download it: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/first-missions.shtml

But that's just a start. Commander's Circle has lots of free resources such as various formats of the Master Ship Chart, Ship Cards, the current and back issues of Communique, scenarios, and playtest rules. If you register, then you can find other Federation Commander players.

Prime Directive players can find a treasure trove of play aids, including medals, insignia, maps, the timeline, and lots of other goodies to spice up a game. These can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#PD

Star Fleet Battle Force
has new cards and play aids as well. These are located here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#SFBF

Star Fleet Battles
players have the Cadet Training Manual and Cadet Training Handbook. These were done as a way to get players into the complicated Star Fleet Battles game system. You can download them for free here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/CadetTraining.shtml Also available on the same webpage are lots of SSDs for the game.

We have wallpaper for your computer so you can show your SFU pride. Those are here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml

Don't forget Hailing Frequencies, our free monthly newsletter. Covering all our games, you can read back issues here: http://www.federationcommander.com/Newsletter/past.html Don't forget to sign up to get the link delivered straight to your email box each month. You can "opt in" here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml

There are many historical documents which are available for download. Maps, deck plans, assorted graphics, and much, much more can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/historicaldownloads.shtml

Browse our master index to find all sorts of interesting information: http://www.starfleetgames.com/masterindex.shtml

As you can see, you could spend days browsing. We hope you enjoy what you find.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Products, the Future, and Jean

Steve Cole reports: 

We're in a situation in which we need to "transition the company" into a new form for the future. We need to be doing games with "four pages of rules, a mounted board, a deck of cards, and some toys" if we want to thrive in the current market. That transition will not be a mere flip of a switch, but will involve considerable effort. We have to learn new skills on many levels. We need to start immediately on new projects such as TRIBBLES VS. KLINGONS.

But Murphy's Laws include one particularly haunting one: Whatever has to be done immediately, something else has to be done first.

And the first thing I had to do was get Jean Sexton moved to Amarillo. It was the worst possible time, given Origins staring us in the face and my broken leg, but it had to be done now for Jean's safety (not to mention her mental health and general well-being). She was in a situation that was not just toxic but dangerous, and she had to leave there as soon as she finished her 30 years and her retirement kicked in. She could not leave earlier and needed to leave as soon as she could.

It would be great if moving her was over when we got back to Amarillo with her and a huge U-Haul truck full of her lifetime accumulation of everything you can imagine, but there was more to it. We had to get a new office built (which was still not quite finished when she got here) and trying to add new phone lines revealed the collapsing state of the Civil War-era phone system in the building we bought. So, time and money had to be spent on a new phone system (something we have known for years had to be done). Even that was not all of it it, as we have to help her get everything into her new apartment and sorted out so she can live there. As anyone who has moved knows, the first day in your new home has a lot more to do with stacks of boxes than it does with throwing a housewarming party. She cannot empty a given box because she cannot get to the place where stuff needs to be put away because of other boxes stacked in front of it. So, we pitched in (as much as she would allow) to move boxes around to clear a few square feet of floor space. She then began processing boxes on the edge of the empty spot. If something could be put away (in a closet or cabinet) it was. Otherwise, the box had to go to the far side of the empty spot. Everything put away was a victory, and the empty spot got bigger every day as she worked through it. (She couldn't even sleep in her new apartment for almost two weeks because there was nowhere to set up her bed. Leanna made our guest room available for as long as she needed it.) Every now and then she found something that the moving crew loaded that should have been left behind, and that item has to be returned to its proper owner in a tense exchange with an unhappy ex-boyfriend for something of Jean's that the packing crew accidentally left behind.

Carl von Clausewitz (the greatest military theorist of all time) said that you should never change anything, but if you do, you should not be afraid to change everything. So, Jean's arrival means a lot of things will change. She will take over answering the telephone from Steven Petrick, the Rangers from Steve Cole, the e23 program from Leanna, and convention support and customer support from Mike Sparks. We bought an answering machine, so from now on during meetings the phone will go to voice mail so that we don't have four people doing nothing while the fifth takes a phone call. We will be hiring one or two new employees (one to help Mike with inventory and orders, another eventually to replace Joel Shutts, our graphics director who went to his first grown-up job last week).

Origins is looming. It's only 29 days away as I write this, and none of the new products are ready. Captain's Log #47 is the highest priority, and that (at least) will get done. We've become experts at doing those and in two or three weeks we'll be printing copies. That doesn't leave a lot of time for anything else. The Federation Master Starship Book will be released, at least in an interim form. It's done except for art and whatever reports show up, but reports show up every day (and more will show up once it's released). I've decided that whatever state it's in a few days before the trip is what will be on sale (at the show and on the cart) and will be frozen for at least six months or maybe a year. If we keep fixing trivial details on the Federation book, the Klingon book won't ever get started. The amount of work that will take the Federation MSSB from 90% to 99% finished would take the Klingon MSSB from 0% to 90%. SFB Module C6 (Paravians and Carnivons) was derailed by the fatal crash of Steven Petrick's computer. That is being replaced, but even so, doing and checking 120 SSDs in 29 days is going to be a severe challenge, especially given that Captain's Log #47 is in line ahead of it. I have not officially given up all hope of finishing it, but reality is biting. In theory, the Federation Commander Tactics Manual only needs page layout, as Patrick Doyle has written all of it. In theory, once Captain's Log #47 is finished, I'll jump into the FCTM and whip it into shape quickly. Well, everybody needs to have a theory. Speaking of theories, Ken Burnside says he can whip up an SFU version of Squadron Strike, but I suspect that only happens in time for Origins if we allow him to take universe-violating liberties with the database that have gotten us into trouble with other joint ventures. That won't be allowed, and whether Ken can produce a viable product in the time available is not known.
And even if work on those products must begin immediately, other things must be done first. Old friends visited for one day, and since one of them is working on a vital part of Traveller Prime Directive and we can get a lot more done at a table than over the phone, we have to take advantage of a rare and unplanned visit. The spring trip to Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary was 11-12 May and had been scheduled for so long that we could not cancel it. The annual company picnic (a local trade show where we get enough free office supplies and chocolate to last a year) will wipe out one day of this week. For some strange reason, the other 10,000 people going to the show don't care if that is inconvenient for our schedule. We managed to upload something to e23 during Operation Fetch and the week before, but nothing was ready for the next week. Jean is going to push hard to get at least a couple of items (that I did two months ago) checked so they can be uploaded. When she finishes checking them, it will take me most of a productive day to make her corrections. Oh well.

After Origins, we get to the real future. TRIBBLES VS. KLINGONS needs overseas production (which I have no idea how to do) and a Kickstarter launch (which ADB has never done and could not be done until Jean was here to manage it). Traveller Prime Directive won't need Kickstarter but still needs to be finished. (The space combat system has never been finalized, players want to be the television deck crew and rules must be written for that, and of course 12 sets of deck plans must be done (half of which exist in some form). It's one of three planned joint venture lines with Mongoose. The other two are the Starline 2500 series miniatures (we have told Mongoose not to send us any new ships to review until every ship from Book One is on the market) and the ACTASF rulebook (which was done in such a rush that major revisions must be made before it can become an online PDF or a second book can be published). It remains to be seen if the rules problems in ACTASF and the production problems with the 2500s have fatally wounded those product lines. We're basically going to have to reboot them to make them the success they should have been. We have several more games with a few pages of rules, a deck of cards, and some toys in our future, including Merchants of the Federation (with Jay Waschak of VBAM) and Battlestations Star Fleet (with the Siadek brothers of Gorilla Games). The components of TRIBBLES VS. KLINGONS will give us a start on KRAG (Klingon Rapid Assault Group), the inside-the-ship man-to-man combat system. There are new card games and dice games out there, as well as (you guessed it) STAR FLEET MARINES VS. ZOMBIES.

The future does not by any means include abandoning the existing product lines. Over the next two years, SFB will get X2, F&E will get Minor Empires, FC will get X-ships and go beyond the Borders of Madness, Star Fleet Marines will get a third (armored cavalry) and fourth (monsters) module, new RPG books (Orion Pirates, Feline Empires, Gorns) and new game engines will be done, the long-awaited expansion deck for SFBF will happen, Starmada needs another couple of books, and more Starline 2400-series miniatures will be done. Those won't be the only products released for existing lines.

We hope you will come with us to this exciting future.

Monday, May 13, 2013

This Week at ADB, Inc., 5-11 May 2013

Steve Cole reports:

This was Jean's first week in Amarillo, although reality dictated that she spend most of the time unpacking, getting utilities connected, and getting her office organized. (Everyone spent a chunk of their time helping her get this done.) The weather this week was mild. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

On Friday we were visited by Garth and Celestia Getgen (two of our graphic designers) and they joined us on the annual company team-building retreat to Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary.

Steve Cole worked on catching up from trip backlog, getting Communique and Hailing Frequencies done, writing blogs, getting the Origins events straightened out,

Steve Petrick worked on catching up from trip backlog, the Federation Master Starship Book, rules questions, and Module C6.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel got Communique uploaded remotely, but communications issues delayed Hailing Frequencies.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,587 friends), proofread Communique, Hailing Frequencies, and blogs; and did some marketing.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the e23 and DriveThru RPG websites. So far on e23, we have released a lot of stuff for Federation Commander, including the Revision Six Reference Rulebook, the 72 ships from Federation Commander Briefing #2 (divided into six packs of 12 ships and a separate rules pack), and more than a dozen Ship Card Packs. Our ebook PDFs are in color and high resolution. PDFs of most books are searchable (older Captain’s Logs are not).

The way e23 works, once you buy a product, you can download it again for no cost if you lose it or if we upload a revised version of that edition. Thus, the people who bought Reference Rulebook Revision 5 were able to obtain Reference Rulebook Revision 6 for free (and to download it again when we discovered we had accidentally left out rule 4S).

We must note that these products are copyrighted and are not to be uploaded or passed around to your friends. Doing so is piracy, a criminal act, and may result in us deciding not to offer any more PDF products. We have already uploaded many Starmada, Star Fleet Battles, Federation & Empire, and GURPS Prime Directive products We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale on e23. From here you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.

Our Prime Directive PD20 Modern books are sold as ebooks exclusively through DriveThru RPG.

So check them out! Many people like the fact they can search our rulebooks for a keyword and find everything that pertains to that issue. Others like the fact they can carry around multiple books on one device. Some Ship Cards are available exclusively through e23. Whatever your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. Hailing Frequencies has the latest company information and covers all of our games. You'll find news on the latest releases both in print and e23, information on the company, and even serialized fiction. Hailing Frequencies also has links to the latest Star Fleet Alerts, which are press releases about new products and when they will be available for order. From Hailing Frequencies, you can link to Federation Commander specific news in the latest 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.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Answers to the Top 10 Questions that a Starship Captain Never Wants to Ask, Q6

6. "What do you mean 'he went to the bathroom'?"

Sir, I didn't say the Tractor Chief left his post. The warning labels didn't say the system was vulnerable to leaks ...

David Kass
(c) 2002 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Star Fleet Universe Wallpapers

Joel Shutts writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download wallpaper with Star Fleet Universe art.

Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml

Big monitors, small monitors, we have something for nearly everyone. 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1680 x 1050, even 2560 x1600. If you need a different size, we'll see what we can do to fill that desire.

If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into wallpaper, please feel free to contact us at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Truck

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I know some of our customers are truck drivers, and drive trucks far larger than the one I have just recently returned to the rental agency, but driving such a vehicle is not something I do normally.

We were fortunate that over time, at least since ADB, Inc. was founded, I have been required to drive such vehicles a few times before. The knowledge gained in those earlier operations is part of what made this operation a success.

I can compare the first time I had to drive such a truck to this iteration. The very first time, with absolutely no prior experience or any training short of driving smaller vehicles, I almost had an accident in the first five feet I drove it (turned too soon and almost ran the side of the truck into an adjacent truck, but spotted that I was about to do so in the driver's side view mirror and stopped in time). When the long haul began, I swore to myself I would not pass anyone for fear of not being able to determine when I would be able to move back into the right-hand lane. And I kept Mike Sparks with me in the cab just so he could watch the right rear of the truck when I needed confirmation. By the time we finished that run I was passing vehicles (amazing what having people going 10 miles per hour below the speed limit can do to motivate you to pass them) with some confidence.

There were some interim iterations where I gained even more skill and confidence over the intervening years before this, even if there were years between each such event, finally, leading to this where I was able to change lanes with literally smooth confidence, had no problems dealing with the fact that I was driving a truck and the operation of the truck required a reduced amount of my total attention that I was able to easily access and respond to radio calls from the lead vehicle, initiate my own conversations, assess road conditions, keep braking distance, and all of this even in heavy rain. I also demonstrated a relatively dainty maneuvering ability, completing a three-point 180 turn in a small space with no additional backing and filling, and maneuvering with ease through at least one area which SVC advised me was "tight." (I actually wondered what he meant, thinking all the while I was moving through it that there would be some narrower or more crowded point as I had what to me seemed to be plenty of room.) I had no problem assessing when and where I needed to begin a turn (while driving forward) to be able to make any corner without running the risk of hitting something (except when I was trying to get parked to pick up Jean's stuff, in which ground guides were required). By the time I had to turn the truck in, I was also able to back with confidence, actually backing the truck into place for its final unloading at Jean's new home with no ground guide despite having to make a 90 degree turn as part of doing so.

Do I think I am an expert truck driver?


But I know I do have a level of skill and comfort doing so. While I will always approach driving such a vehicle with trepidation (it takes a while with the long breaks in between iterations for the previous training to recycle to the front), I know I can do this because I have. And after a day's driving to again become acquainted with the appropriate driving habits I am capable of driving such a vehicle safely. And, yes, allowing braking distance is important as a surprising number of people will pulling into that space as if the truck can stop in the same space as a car, which will require you to back off from them. On more than one occasion I found myself nearly standing on the brakes because of other drivers, but I always had the space to do it in the end, so there were no accidents.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

This Week at ADB, Inc., 28 April - 4 May 2013

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week of Operation Fetch, the mission to rescue Jean from her former home and a bad situation there. The mission was successful and Jean arrived in Amarillo late at night on Saturday, 4 May. The weather this week was nice in Amarillo but it rained every day on the two Steves as they drove across six states to Jean. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on e23 this week was Captain's Log #28.

Steve Cole and Steven Petrick drove to North Carolina, loaded everything Jean owned into a rented truck (and Jean had more stuff than Imelda Marcos). Steven Petrick drove the truck back to Amarillo while Jean drove her car and Steve Cole navigated, operated the radio, and complained that his broken leg hurt. Special thanks to Howard Bampton and Chris Sanchez who drove to Jean's house to help load the truck.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel finished his final week at ADB: he did website updates, sent press releases, sank pirates, and helped Mike. Joel will, for a few months, work for us via remote connection.

Jean mostly packed her stuff and drove. She also managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1,586 friends).

Monday, May 06, 2013

Jean in Amarillo

Steve Cole reports:

Whenever I finish a product I insist on finishing the FLAP list of items to close the product before moving on. I really need a FLAP list for Jean. We need her to go to work right away, but before that, we had to unload her stuff, get her apartment set up, get her utilities turned on, get the construction of her office finished, and help her find her way around a new city.

What will Jean do? Well, she's marketing director, head of RPGs, "WebMom," social media maven, and the proofreader. She's also another top-notch worker who can handle an endless variety of special projects. She will keep track of the schedule and the "balls in the air" list.

It's easy to think of Jean as the solution to every problem. She cannot fix everything but things should improve. Fewer things will get forgotten or left not done. She's a winning lottery ticket, but even those have limits and can be abused, and lots of lottery winners go bankrupt.

Just don't assume that she will do everything immediately.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

How Not to Get into the Game Business

Steve Cole writes:
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 over 30 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 lasted 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 was 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, May 04, 2013


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about the curious origins of interesting words:
1. LADY, which today means any well-behaved woman and a century ago meant a woman of the higher classes, began as the hlaefdige, or breadmaker. It evolved through several steps: levedi in 1240, levdi in 1320, ladi in 1380, and finally lady in 1500.
2. LARVA, the worm that becomes a full-sized insect, is the Latin word for mask, as it was believed that caterpillars contained (masked) a complete butterfly.
3. LEECH, a blood-sucking worm (or a person who lives off the wealth of another) is the Old English word for doctor, who used blood-sucking words in his medical practice.
4. LEGEND, and old tale with a kernel of truth but with much added material, began as the Latin term for "something you need to read." It moved into its current use (although it is still sometimes used as an alternate to caption) by way of a book published around 1290 called Legenda Sanctorum or Lives of the Saints. As later books containing stories of saints were far more fanciful than the first book, the term legend came to mean an embellished version of the real story.
5. LETHARGY, or drowsiness, comes from the Greek Lethe, a river in Hades. Any soul entering the dark realm drank from the river and forgot everything, including any pain or sorrow, and their past lives, sometimes allowing the soul to be reincarnated. Greek doctors applied the term Lethe-argy to a sickness that caused drowsiness.
 6. LETHAL, or deadly, comes from the Roman extension of the Greek myth for Lethargy. The Romans reasoned that total forgetfulness came only with death, and so created the word lethalis to mean deadly.
7. LIBEL, a published lie, and LIBRARY, a collection of books, both come from the Latin word Liber, which was the inner bark of a tree and often used as a substitute for paper in the ancient world. Liber quickly became the word for book. Libellus was a small book or any published work smaller than a book. Librarus was a collection of books.
8. LIBERTINE, a person of loose morals and wild behavior, comes from Libertinus, the Roman word for a slave who had been freed and (in the exuberance of freedom) ignored all social customs and moral laws.
9. LIVERY, meaning a uniform or colors denoting the affiliation to a nobleman or later a corporation, comes from the old French word livree which meant the rations and other allowances given to a servant or retainer. In time, rations came to be a matter of course and the term livery (which came to England with the Norman invaders) meant the uniform. Today, the term is (rarely) applied to the uniforms worn by hotel employees, or to the paint schemes of airliners or steamships or taxicabs.
10. LORD, meaning a nobleman in charge of some area or castle, began as the Old English hlaefwaerd or "Keeper of the loaf." This term was a formal way of saying "head of the household" since he would be in charge of distributing the just-baked bread. It went through a similar evolution to the term Lady (above): hlaford, laford, leverd, louerd, and finally lorde.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Answers to the Top 10 Questions that a Starship Captain Never Wants to Ask, Q5

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

Sir, the pilots and engineers got into a bit of a disagreement over who required more training and more bravery, so in order to prove who it was, the two groups dared each other to exchange jobs for this battle.

David Kass
(c) 2002 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Play Online

Many people do not know that you can play either Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander online in real time against live opponents.

Ten 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. It since 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 $6 a month per game system, you have access to most of the ships in the Star Fleet Battles/Federation Commander game systems 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 online 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.

We continue to develop Federation & Empire for an online environment and have playtesters working out the kinks. We'll let you know as soon as it is ready to release.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Federation Master Starship Book

Steven Petrick writes:

The Federation file of the Master Starship Book is nearing completion. All of the ship descriptions (excluding those from the Early Years and Advanced Technology eras) have been strung end to end and in order.

All known ship names have been included after each ship description, all known errata has been included, and the fighter and escort tables have been incorporated with each carrier. 

Tweaks have been added, i.e., every scout (ship with special sensors) notes that it is a scout, and the exceptions (currently only the Police Flagship and survey cruisers) from any scout rules have been noted.

Refit lines have been included, and that means that the Federation BCF (among the other Federation ships armed with plasma-F torpedoes) has a refit line (sabot refit and carronade refit). (Other Federation battlecruisers do not have refit lines, of course, as no standard refit currently applies to them except the advanced shuttle refit, and that is at no cost.)

The commando ships all include a note that their landing force is in fact included in their BPV (except in the case of the Star Liner Pod and the new use of the VIP transport frigate where the troops add to the unit’s BPV).

Ships able to use large numbers of type-III drones are noted.

SVC is working on graphics so that each ship will have its appropriate picture following its ship description.

A decision was taken that all ships (except “Anarchist” ships) that had been published in Captain’s Log to date will be included, and they have been, again in rule number order. This of course excludes ships that appeared in an issue of Captain’s Log and were later formally published. This also included the various fighters (such as the F-104 and F-101) and bombers (such as the B-36 and B-47) that appeared in Captain’s Log.

In addition to a more standardized layout for the ship descriptions, there were some minor edits to fix problems that have shown up over time. The ship description for the Federation Dreadnought (R2.2) now notes that it was in effect the Federation “Early Dreadnought.”