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Friday, January 31, 2014


There's a point we can't measure in between trash and treasure.
There's a spark in the distance offering no resistance.
There are wars in the hexes, wounded prides where the wreck is.
Ships that rise from the ether, slaves will bow to the masters.

There on the map there are boundaries
Where they say fate will sometimes shine.
We fight for our lives, but few will survive,
Inside the hex lines.

Move a hex, take a shot, show the convoy escort what you've got.
Rise or fall, bet it all,
You might just find your fate inside those hex lines.

Move a hex, take a shot, show the convoy escort what you've got.
Rise or fall, bet it all,
You might just find your fate inside those hex lines.

(apologies to Clyde, Fisher, and Davis who wrote First & Ten)

Parody copyright (c) 2010 Stephen V. Cole

Thursday, January 30, 2014

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, January 29, 2014

When Is It Time For The Last Resort?

This is Steven Petrick posting.

War should always be the last resort.

Make no mistake about this, war is always a gamble. No matter how much the scales seem to be in your favor, when you cast the dice in Mar's arena you are risking the fate of the nation. War is to be avoided if possible, to be referred to only as "the last resort."

The question is when does it become time to resort to force.

On a very small scale an arrogant second lieutenant challenged an older sergeant to battle. The staff sergeant had every right to expect victory. His force outnumbered the lieutenant's by eight to one, had the force multiplier of an M-60 machinegun, had squad radios for communications, was familiar with the terrain over which "the conflict" would be waged, he had years of experience, and knew his soldiers. The lieutenant had been on active service barely six months, and assigned to the unit less than a month, had never been in the terrain where the conflict would be fought. On paper, the lieutenant's arrogance had placed him in a no win situation in which the sergeant's forces would quite simply overwhelm him. More than conclusively proving to the platoon that the, as sergeant had said, the lieutenant did not know what he was talking about.

Less than a half hour later the sergeant and half of his men were "dead," convincingly so that the men following the sergeant were fully aware of what had just happened. The other half of the sergeant's men decided not to engage, ending the battle. The lieutenant's force had sustained no loss.

It was an example of what a small, aggressive, and mobile force could accomplish in the face of a larger force that simply assumed it was unbeatable.

The point to the above is, again, that although the odds were undoubtedly in the sergeant's favor when you stacked everything up, the sergeant's force "lost the war." The sergeant would have been better off to have publicly derided the lieutenant's challenge rather than accept "the last resort."

The lieutenant really should not have made the challenge since the odds were, on paper, so heavily stacked against him succeeding, but should have continued attempting to earn the respect of the men by words and example, to continue talking. He risked his future as the leader of that platoon by "going to war." That he won does not mean he was right.

But that is the question.

For many diplomats and politicians "war is the last resort" means "war is never an option." If conflict results, they have failed (and will not be invited to any more diplomatic parties or have an eventual chance at a Nobel Peace Prize). So war literally is not a resort at all, and sometimes the other side picks up on this.

World War II was a disaster. And history would no doubt consider Hitler to be a great man if France had responded to the German reoccupation of the Rhineland as an act of war. The French Army was quite capable of overwhelming the then small German army, and the German Army was seriously considering removing Hitler from power if the French did react to the move into the Rhineland. France and England, however, were unwilling to risk war at that point. An entire generation had been exterminated in the trenches of "The Great War" and the leaders of those two nations were willing to do almost anything to avoid another war, even sacrificing smaller nations. Even when they finally did "go to war" after Hitler invaded Poland, they tried to avoid real war. At a time when the French and British armies were far more powerful than the German Reich, they sat on the frontiers, behind the Maginot Line, from September through May, and simply hoped that things would go away.

By avoiding the "last resort" and talking and talking, what they were trying to avoid came home to them in earnest.

War is the last resort. It is always a gamble, a throw of the dice no matter how favorable the odds may seem because war is always chaos and the unexpected and unknown are ever present.

The trick, however, is to know when it is time to resort to war, and when you are simply trying to avoid it because you believe there is always some other option.

Sometimes, there is not.

We should all, however, be glad that despite the millions of people who died under communist regimes (and the many members of our armed services who died despite the war being called "cold) we did not see the cold war go hot.

That does not mean that other wars should be avoided because "there is always some other option," because sometimes force is, indeed, the only recourse.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Steve Cole's thoughts on what he learned in Little Boy School when he was very young.
1. Open doors for girls/women. They like the attention. Offering them your hand when they have to go up or down stairs is also much appreciated. They never carry anything but their purse if your hands are empty. However, today, don't chase after a woman to open her car door for her. They think that's creepy.
2. If a woman around you changes her hairstyle or hair color, you're expected to notice and to comment favorably.
3. The guy pays for the date. Period. Maybe after dating for a while the gal cooks you dinner (which means she's paying for the groceries) but you can at least bring desert or the wine.
4. Whatever smooching you get is whatever the girl decides to give you. Accept it and be grateful. Don't push for more and don't act disappointed or you'll get less.
5. Never pull up to the curb and honk. You walk up to the door and meet her father. While he's watching, you open the car door for his daughter. Get her home on time.
6. Never marry a girl without meeting her mother. That's what you're going to be living with, so check it out.
7. You're going to spend the rest of her life with her brain, not just her body. If the brain is great, and the body is ok, then you're fine. But if the brain is not great, look elsewhere.
8. When you ask "the right girl" to marry you, you do not have a ring in your pocket. After she says yes, you go (alone) to the jewelry store, pick out several rings you can afford, then go back to the store later (with your fiancée) and let her decide which one of them she wants to wear for the rest of her life. (The concept of upgrading the ring later did not appear until well after my time as a single man.)
9. After acquiring a fiancée, you go to see her father (whom you have met before) and formally ask permission to marry her. You can do this before or after buying the ring.
10. Once you're engaged and have permission from her father and she has her ring, you show up at a meeting of her parents (and her) and they tell you what the wedding will be like and what your parents will be allowed to take care of. Your job is to agree to everything.

Monday, January 27, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 19-25 January 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a quiet week of getting back to work after everything that happened. The weather this week was not as bad, with one very cold night. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week: Star Fleet Battles Designer's Edition.

Steve Cole worked on fiction for Captain's Log #48 and started a database for SFU fiction.

Joint Venture: We got the first tests of the prototypes for the metal 2500 Kzinti DN and the new King Eagle. The rest of the ACTASF-1.2 topics were opened and Tony began posting the rest of the new rules.

Steven Petrick worked on stuff for Captain's Log #48. He also worked on a major fiction story that may go into Captain's Log #49 if certain issues can be dealt with.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics. She also started her search for her first real job (as she graduates in May).

Jean worked on Captain's Log #48 and Traveller Prime Directive, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1951 friends), managed our Twitter feed (86 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Battle Groups article, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

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.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

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

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've also added a Twitter feed which you can follow at https://twitter.com/ADBInc_Amarillo.
 Be sure to follow us for a quick look at what is going on!

We hope to see you there! For Facebook users, be sure to add us to an interest group to see all of our posts.

Friday, January 24, 2014

We Could Be Klingons

When I was working on Klingons PD20M, I felt so sorry for the Bargantines that I wrote a song for them. I hope you enjoy it. -- Jean

We Could Be Klingons (The Bargantine Song)
(to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine”)

Chorus: We could be Klingons, we could be warriors
If you would let us on your ships
We could be fearless; we could be bra-ve
Ple-ase, let us on your ships.

The other day, dears, when I was farming,
I was a Klingon, true and brave
But then somebody threw a tribble—
There are some things one can’t brave.

I’ll always be brave when I am able,
I’ll drill and drill from day to night,
I’ll practice firing my disruptor--
Don’t let foes within my sight!

Why won’t you let us be like real Klingons?
We could be warriors strong and true
We could whip Hydrans and nasty bad guys
With our ships all shiny new.

Parody copyright (c) 2010 Jean Sexton and ADB, Inc.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Luck versus Skill

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Luck is one of those things that it is almost impossible to factor into a game (much less real life). A long time ago there was an Avalon Hill board game based on the "Battle of the Bulge," and basically titled that. The "Combat Results Table" for that game included a result of "engaged." Engaged meant that the units you just used to attack with, and the enemy units you attacked, remained adjacent to each other, the defender had to attack (on his subsequent turn), and could bring up reinforcements to do so.

In one particular game I saw an opportunity to stage a limited counterattack against the Germans, delaying their advance on Bastogne.

Seemed like a good idea at the time.

The result was a series of "engaged" results. Not good.

The German player on his turn saw this as an opportunity and brought up reinforcements to launch his own counterattacks, but also use the situation to move around the flanks of my counterattack, which were more "screening" forces than real defenses, his goal being to crush my attack annihilating the formations I was using and thereby leaving me fewer forces to try to reestablish a defensive line.

Seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean if I had been him, I would pretty much have done the same thing.

The result was a series of "engaged" results.

Now I was in a quandary. The obvious thing to do was use the engaged results to "abandon" my forward units and use my newly arrived reinforcements to establish a new line closer to Bastogne.

I could not do it, and in my own turn initiated a series of counterattacks designed principally to break my forward units out of the mess, essentially a replay of my original plan (delay the German advance) although with the reinforcements a little more ambitious (the German attacks had left me with a few "flanks" to hit, with the potential that those German units would be destroyed if forced to retreat).

The result was a series of "engaged" results.

The Germans saw the situation as a potential for a big bag, and diverted more forces to the sector to initiate a new series of attacks, finding exposed flanks now on my side that they could exploit for a "American unit is destroyed if forced to retreat" result.

Once again, yes, you guessed it, a series of "engaged" results.

From one standpoint, my limited counterattack had so far been an outstanding success. The German advance was being held up (I was achieving the delay I had originally set out to gain, in spades). However, the whole situation was precariously balanced on a knife's edge. Most of my available combat power was now tied up in this battle, and the rest of my forces were inadequate to the task of holding the Germans elsewhere.

Again I was faced with the choice of abandoning the bulk of my troops in the "engaged" results and trying to cobble together a line from the scraps that remained, or finding troops to press into the battle once more.

This is where luck came in because I chose once again not to abandon my troops but to once more initiate a series of counterattacks in an effort to break them out. The luck was that in this turn I rolled very well and virtually any German unit that could be destroyed (as a result of being unable to retreat) was destroyed. German losses were, not to put too fine a point on it, devastating.

However, I looked on the situation from that point as "I have burned all of the good luck I can expect to have in this game" and became very cautious afterward.

Strangely, this view proved prescient, in that the massive depleted German forces actually did succeed in driving my forces back to the Meuse River, but were too weak to go any further (the Germans rolled well from that point, forcing my forces to retreat, but as I did not risk any counterattacks, they were unable to create any situation where if an American unit had to retreat, it would be destroyed).

To this day I still believe my original intent (the limited counterattack to delay the Germans) was valid, but I have come to believe that I seriously over committed to the action and risked everything. If I had rolled another series of engages, or if the Germans had not rolled that second series of engages, I would have "lost the Battle of the Bulge." Luck won that particular game, not skill.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Things you probably do not know about Steve Cole.

1. Steve Cole is an ordained minister. Yes, back in 1973 he sent few bucks to one of the first mail order ministries and got an ordination certificate. He has never married or buried anyone, however.

2. Steve Cole traces his family (in America) back to the Mayflower and has the records to prove he is descended from Stephen Hopkins, for whom he was named. He is descended from the British royal family (like millions of Americans and Britons), in his case from King John. Steve Cole is a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, arguably the only American title of nobility. (He ranks as a baron at European high-society parties, but he has never attended one of those.)

3. Steve's mother descends from a Dutch family that first settled in Canada but left the country when the local government burned one of their daughters as a witch.

4. Everyone knows that Steve's father was an Army colonel. Few know his mother was an Army nurse. They did not meet in the Army; the two grew up a block apart and had been together as a couple since they met at age 12.

5. Steve Cole is a crack pistol shot, scoring 243 out of 250 and being qualified to "take the shot" in a hostage situation.

6. While Steve Cole commanded a company of the Texas State Guard, he did so as a five-stripe sergeant, and was never an officer. (He graduated from ROTC during the post-Vietnam cutbacks and was released without serving, although he would have been called up as an engineer lieutenant if World War III had started by 1981.)

7. Most know that Steve Cole is a registered engineer and was in the US Army Corps of Engineers. Few know that his military specialty was repairing bomb craters in runways. Had he been called up for World War III his orders said he was to report to Stavanger, Norway.

8. Steve Cole is "not a car guy" and tends to curl up in a fetal position when his car stops working. He cannot tell one make of car from another without reading the label on the car.

9. In his family, whenever someone went to the hospital, everyone expected Steve Cole to be the one to speak with the doctors and translate what they said into English. Because Steve's mother was a nurse, any time anyone in the family goes into the hospital he takes a box of cookies to the nurses.

10. While Steve Cole is most famous for designing Star Fleet Battles and the rest of the Star Fleet Universe, he had designed over 50 published games before publishing Star Fleet Battles. Famous for "thousand-page rulebooks" most of his published games have less than a hundred pages, some as few as a single page. One of his World War II games has less than 50 words of rules! His favorite game of his own design is Prochovoka, which was later republished as Armor at Kursk.

11. Everyone knows that Steve Cole writes corny filksongs, but he has also written lots of poetry, including mushy love poems to girlfriends (and Leanna) and the epic 10-page Song of Tnnqvi (about a knight who fought his way into Hell itself to vanquish the demon Schmaltz).

12. Steve Cole cannot write in cursive script. Like all Americans, he learned how in the third grade, but in engineering school everything had to be printed (for better readability as a misread number written by an engineer can topple an entire building) and after a couple of years as an engineer he simply couldn't remember how to write in cursive script. Pity they don't teach doctors to print legibly.

13. Steve Cole knows the rules to poker and can calculate the percentage chance of a winning hand faster than anyone, but he has no clue how to bluff or how to read other players. Which means he loses every time he plays. So, he doesn't plan.

14. Most know that Steve Cole doesn't drink alcohol. More than a few think he's a recovering alcoholic, but he's not, he just doesn't like the taste and (being a control freak) doesn't want to be drunk (and has never been drunk).

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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, January 20, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 12-18 January 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of normal work. The weather this week was relatively mild, with some colder nights. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

Steve Cole remained at a very low speed as he recovered from the plague (missing two entire days of work) and had his second round of skin cancer surgery (which removed a basal tumor from  his left ear). When actually conscious, he worked on Captain's Log #48 and year-end business functions.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #48 battlegroups, Captain's Log #48 campaign update, and dragged SVC along to get their flu shots.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date, and worked hard to year-end accounting the royalties.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on Traveller Prime Directive, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1946 friends), managed our Twitter feed (85 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Captain's Log #48 and Fed Master Starship Book, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

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, January 18, 2014

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, January 17, 2014

M1A4 Club

On the BBS, when we discuss real-life or hypothetical situations that involve politics, we move them to an alternate reality called "Arth." There Steven Petrick is the ruler of a superpower named Petrovia. In a scenario set in prehistoric times, he described the history of the M1A4 Club. This was written for him and is to the tune of "Darling Clementine."

M1A4 Club

In a region, called Petrovia,
Looking for a better club,
Lived a Petrick, with his hat trick,
That’s his M1A4 Club!

Oh his lethal, oh his lethal,
Oh his lethal wooden Club.
You are upgraded and discarded,
Dreadful sorry, wooden Club.

Light it was and very leafy,
And its branches numbered nine.
Pulled the leaves off, pulled the bark off,
M1A1 was just fine!

Light it was and very handy,
But its branches numbered nine.
Cut them all off, chop some length off,
M1A2 was just fine!

Light it was and not so heavy —
Some more weight would be right fine.
Found a fat stick; handle’s not thick.
M1A3 was just fine!

Heavy was it, but quite smooth —
Stone and bone chips, found he nine.
He put each chip in the tip.
M1A4 is just fine!

Oh his lethal, oh his lethal,
Oh his lethal wooden Club.
You are upgraded and discarded,
Dreadful sorry, wooden Club.

Parody copyright (c) 2010 Jean Sexton and ADB, Inc.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rostov on Don, or Remagen?

This is Steven Petrick posting:

I played a lot of "Squad Leader" when it first came out, and picked up the various expansions as they appeared while I was still in college.

One particular day the senior players in my playing group decided to do the "Rostov Bridge" as a scenario. Their scenario envisaged a German attempt at a "coupe de main" on the bridge, which I was to defend. My orders were twofold: Keep the bridge from falling into fascist hands intact, and hold the bridge until a retreating Soviet column could reach it and cross.

I think the German players honestly thought I would let them take the bridge and hope to retake it when the other Soviet Commander and his forces reached a point where they could attack the Germans that were then on the bridge.

Did not work out that way.

The moment I considered the bridge at risk of capture, even though the other Soviet force was on the map, I blew the bridge.

In my opinion, my own forces were completely inadequate to make any attempt to retake the bridge, once it was lost, from my side, and the other Soviet force would have had to fight through the full might of the German force to even reach the bridge once it was lost. And once lost, the German engineers would defuse the explosives on the bridge, meaning it could not be destroyed even if the other Soviet column somehow managed to fight its way across.

The only way that bridge was staying up at that point was if my political commissar shot me to stop me from triggering the demolitions. Destroying the bridge was, in my opinion at that time, more important than the Soviet force trying to reach the bridge.

In a sense, it was probably closer to a replay of Remagen, except my "game" explosives worked and dropped the bridge.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

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
Want to introduce a friend to the Star Fleet  Universe? Try the free download of Introduction to the Star Fleet Universe: Prime Directive and Roleplaying found here: http://e23.sjgames.com/item.html?id=ADB8000

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, January 14, 2014


Steve Cole comments on lessons he learned from case studies at business school and on several business makeover television shows he watches.

1. One business owner said: "I've been running this place two years and he's been here an hour and he wants to tell me how to run it?" Well, here's an answer for you: "You've been losing money every month for over a year, and he's an expert who has saved over a hundred businesses from bankruptcy, so yes, he can tell you how to run this place better." This is a fairly common attitude. People, that expert is a success (he's got a TV show) and you're a failure so maybe you want to listen to him?

2. One business owner said: "You're taking my good merchandise and selling it at 50% off. You're an idiot." Well, here's the answer: "Your own bookkeeping says that these items have not sold in two years. It's time to admit that stocking them was a mistake and get the money invested in them back into the bank where we can use it."

3. One business owner said: "But these employees need jobs." The answer is: "They're lazy, they steal, they don't show up on time, they are disrespectful to you, and if they're not making you money, you don't owe them a job." Far too many businesses keep ineffective employees around just to avoid the guilt of sending them to the unemployment line. By all means, keep the good employees, but do not keep bad employees just because they need the paycheck they don't earn. The tough part is sometimes the business only needs so many good employees and some good people have to leave because the business cannot afford them.

4. Time and again, I see restaurants with gigantic menus. All of those items require food to be bought ahead of time and stored, and since some stored food goes bad before you use it, a large menu just means waste. Cut the menu down to a 25 or 30 dinners at most. Be flexible on side dishes to let the customers pick what they want, and avoid fancy stuff not everyone wants, canned and frozen food (fresh is better), and if you're using the microwave you're losing customers. For that matter, every business needs to seriously look at it's "menu" of goods and services. Get rid of the worst-selling items (unless they are absolutely necessary to sell other items). Fire sale dead inventory and put the money back to work instead of being stored on a shelf in the form of unsold product.

5. I watched an episode of On The Rocks (a show about doing a business makeover for a failing bar) and one element of the problem was that the managers were not up to the task of managing an inventory of fresh food, so they relied on more expensive (and less tasty) frozen foods from Costco. The expert came in and showed them how to do it right and how to order fresh food three times a week so it did not go bad. Within a month of the show being filmed, the bar in question was back to frozen food (obviously because the managers could not handle the mental strain of a fresh food inventory). But then, they also went back to other pre-television things (the name of the bar and those horrid smoke things).

Monday, January 13, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 5-11 January 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week in which the staff recovered from the Hideous Rotting Plague. The weather this week was very cold in the mornings but often mild in the afternoon. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were both editions (Nova and Admiral) of Romulan Armada.

Steve Cole rested and recovered, and did some work on Communique, Hailing Frequencies, the new 2425 page, the year-ahead blog, and reviewed 2500 and 2400 miniatures. Steve had skin cancer surgery (the first of two or three) which left his right arm very sore. The Tholian TK5 and DN were ready for (but not enough to fill) a master mold, but the new 2500 B10 had to be sent back to be done over.

Steven Petrick rested and recovered, proofread Communique and Hailing Frequencies, and did some work on Captain's Log #48 and new 2500 miniatures.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean struggled valiantly to stay at her desk despite the plague. She worked on Traveller Prime Directive, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1943 friends), managed our Twitter feed (85 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS and various PHP issues, managed the blog feed, proofread Hailing Frequencies and Communique, took care of customers, did a Talkshoe session when she was too sick to sit up, and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the e23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault 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. We have started offering general RPG books there as well as some of the general gaming materials that Steve Cole has written. We have started an experiment to see if there is interest in Federation Commander and Star Fleet Battles products on Wargame Vault.

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, January 11, 2014


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, January 10, 2014


There once was a lady of Klingon,
Whom, it was said, had a fling on
With a captain named Ketrick
Who she said knew a cute trick
That left her without anything on.

Copyright (c) 2010 Stephen V. Cole

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Star Fleet Universe Wallpapers

Simone Pike 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, January 08, 2014


Steve Cole reports on the company and the new year.
After the transformative year that was 2013, we're ready to rock and roll in 2014. My leg is no longer costing me work time, the joint venture is running well, Jean is firmly installed in Amarillo, and there's nothing to hold us back. Let's look at each of the product lines that make up the Star Fleet Universe. (Just remember that these products cover the next 12 months, not the next 12 days!)
CAPTAIN'S LOG: We're working on Captain's Log #48 right now (it will slide into February because the two Steves spent a week down with the plague), will put out Captain's Log #49 this summer, and have something really special in mind for the Golden Anniversary issue Captain's Log #50. Obviously, the series will go on into 2015 and beyond.
STAR FLEET BATTLES: We plan to finish up the Federation Master Starship Book. (It actually is done except for about a hundred ship drawings I have to create with Steven Petrick looking over my shoulder.) Then we'll move on to the Klingon Master Starship Book and see what else looks interesting. I suspect that Module X2 is a 2015 product.
FEDERATION & EMPIRE: This product line is, as always, driven by the need to print counters. As we're out of the Bases sheet and Sheet N+O, we must do a production run in the first quarter. That will cover Minor Empires with the Vudar, Seltorians, and LDR and we will do one other product. That might be Tactical Operations (with a lot of new ships) or we just might do a new fighter/carrier countersheet for the massively revised 2014 edition of Fighter Operations.
FEDERATION COMMANDER: We plan to take a pause from new "attack" modules and release some books, including the FC Tactics Manual and the Reference Starship Book. We're working on Borders of Madness and expect to see it in 2015.

STARLINE: We now have three miniatures lines: the classic 2400s (1/3788), the fancy 2500s (1/3125), and the multi-scale 2425s. All will get new ships this year. The 2400s will get two heavy war destroyers and the first two ships redesigned to be every bit as fancy as the 2500s. The 2500s will get the rest of the ships from ACTASF Book One (Tholian PC, DD, CA), plus new pewter versions of the unfortunate resin dreadnoughts, along with entirely new ships (Orion BR, DW, CA, BC, BCH, DN; Tholian TK5, DN). The 2425s will get the Jumbo Freighter and the long awaited gunboats. Obviously, those are just the first in what will be two dozen new ships.

STARMADA: Daniel Kast is already busy converting the empires from War & Peace to his system for the next book, which will also include a horde of new ships. At that point, he'll be caught up with what's in Federation Commander and for 2015 can start moving into the SFB material that has waited long enough.
A CALL TO ARMS: Tony Thomas is working night and day to produce the revised ACTASF Book One, fixing everything that didn't really work in the first edition. We expect this to appear first as a PDF and a few months later as a book. (This is a trick we learned from our friend Steve Jackson who says it gives him a chance to catch the last few issues.) After that, it's on to ACTASF Book Two. We have decided that whatever goes into Book Two will be what the game system needs, not just the next FC product to be converted.
PRIME DIRECTIVE: Away Team Log will appear as the first release of the year. Jean has working hard so that the Traveller Prime Directive Core Rulebook will be released no later that the early summer of 2014, after which Traveller Klingons should be easy to do. After the fourth Traveller book (in 2015) you can expect to see a new empire book and a new game system.
STAR FLEET MARINES will be supported by new scenarios in Captain's Log, but probably won't get the next installment until 2015.
FEDERATION ADMIRAL, the long-awaited campaign manual, will be released this year. It is being structured to work with any of the four tactical games.
BIG BOX GAMES: We want to move the company into fancy "big box games" done to mass market standards. That means very small (fancy and colorful) rule sheets, mounted boards, decks of cards, and plastic toys. First in line is Tribbles vs. Klingons which should see a Kickstarter sometime in February. (Those things are unbelievably complicated and we won't launch it until we're ready with the full presentation including example components, art, video, and a recipe for chocolate-chunk brownie cheesecake.) But don't think that Tribbles would be a one-time deal! We have other mass-market games waiting for their chance, including two sequels for Tribbles, Jay Waschak's Merchants of the Federation (a "train game"), the Siadek brothers' Battlestations Star Fleet, my own Klingon Rapid Assault Group, and the Starship Builder game that Jean, Steven Petrick, and I designed on napkins one evening at dinner. Obviously, those will not all appear in 2014; we have enough ideas to last until 2016 at least.
Taken in total, that's a tall order and we may not get it all done this year, but it will all get done.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Sometimes Reputation Matters More Than Skill

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Back in the 1980s I was just a staffer for ADB. I did not think much of that in terms of it having any real meaning at all. I did things for ADB that my playing group helped me with.

Within my playing group at Fort Benning, however, I was the proverbial "big fish in the small pond." I was the guy to beat, the best player.

Someone decided to throw a local gaming convention in Columbus, GA, which is the big town outside of Fort Benning. I decided to attend, but of course could not get there on the first day (Friday) until after the end of duty. Consequently I did not arrive until well after 1800 hrs.

Suffice to say, my first game did not go well. The player opposing me (it was a Klingon "civil war" with D7CTs fighting it out) managed some pretty good damage, and it was very plain to me that I had lost. My ship was too far behind the "power curve" to overcome my opponent. However, I did not want to just roll over, and adopted a pursuit course that soon saw my opponent running up against the tournament barrier.

At that point, something strange happened.

My opponent conceded.

Dumbstruck, I asked him if he was serious and really meant to concede, and he confirmed it.

I did not know it right then, I only found out about it a little later that night (after winning my second game), but my gaming group had arrived at the convention at about 1400 hrs, and had pretty much spent the intervening period between then and my arrival "warning" the other players who had never met me that I was coming. Showing them my name published in Captain's Log and my "best of issue" term paper in Nexus.

It turned out that the first kid who drew me as an opponent could literally not make himself believe that a ship that was charging in, "forcing him into the map edge," could possibly be so badly damaged as to not be able to destroy him. I was "attacking," "moving aggressively to engage," so I had to have some plan to destroy his ship, and he was out of room to maneuver because I had driven him into the map edge in my hot pursuit. He could not seem to correlate the damage he had already done to my ship with my aggressive behavior, but he knew I was this "great player who worked for ADB."

I remember the game more as a cautionary tale than one I take pride in. I won on an (in my own words) "undeserved reputation." I like to think that if I had known what was happening (as noted, I did not know what my gaming group had done until after I had won my second game of the evening) I would have encouraged him to keep playing rather than concede. As I did not understand his motivation for conceding, I accepted it at the time, and I do regret that.

It does, however, make the point of this post's title: "Sometimes reputation matters more than skill."

Monday, January 06, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 30 December 2013 - 4 January 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a quiet week. The weather this week was mild for this time of year. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

Both Steves were sick all week with some cold or flu or plague or something, and didn't get much done.

Steve Cole wrote one page of fiction, did an alert, did art for a demotivational, and rested.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #48 stuff when he could.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on projects, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1911 friends), managed our Twitter feed (83 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread a page of fiction, dealt with public relations from the change in the Mongoose deal, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

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 online discount store, or a game publishing company involves low work and high reward. It does not. If it did, a lot more people would be in this business.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

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.

Friday, January 03, 2014


1. Rid the galaxy of the Tholian menace! (the DSF)

2. Keep the peace in the Alpha Octant! (the ISC, HA! Like that'll happen!)

3. Conquer the galaxy (the Romulans, of course..)

4. The final and total extermination of the Lyrans! (the Kzintis)

5. The final and total extermination of the Kzintis! (the Lyrans)

6. "Peace" through Commerce… (the Federation)

7. Death to the Klingons! (the Hydrans)

8. Peace through Plasma!!!! (the Gorns)

9. Kill them ALL!!! (the Andros,  the Juggernauts, and the rest of the Deep Space Nasties)

And last but certainly not least (and the only one likely to happen)... 

10. It doesn't matter, either way we will find a way to profit and thrive! (the Orions!!!)

Thanks to Chris Thomas for these.

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Olympus has Fallen

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I am not in very good shape today. Some bug or other has moved in and set up light housekeeping. The odd thing is that my body is not reacting the way it normally reacts to such a circumstance. Normally when I get sick my ability to withstand cold goes out the window. I will quite literally complain about how cold it is at 70 degrees, and 50 degrees makes me claim to be on the verge of freezing to death. This time I am seem more to just be in "normal human range" for temperatures, e.g., 32 degrees is definitely cold, cold enough that I have not gone for my normal two-mile or so walk the last couple of nights, but not so cold that I have not taken out the trash. I am, however, ill, with a nagging cough, running nose, and occasional serious sneezes. What I have I do not know. I really thought I was getting over it last night, but woke to a pretty serious relapse this morning.

Beyond the above, SVC and Leanna allowed Jean and me to watch "Olympus has Fallen."

I am sure many of you have seen it and know it for a massively implausible romp, but I thought I would touch on a few things.

First we have the implausibility that our villain put together his suicide troops. Make no bones about it, virtually all of his troops were on a suicide mission, and there is no real explanation of what their motivation for this was.

Where the C-130 came from (where it launched from, how it got there, where the very skilled flight crew came from) is never explained. There is no question that the flight crew was highly trained and skilled (you do not circle a fixed point on the ground so that your guns can rake the roof of the Whitehouse without significant pilot skill, i.e., these guys were not Al Qaida wannabes who just needed to fly airliners in straight lines at buildings).

Second, you do know that not everyone who works at the White House is a trained agent, right? So one of the problems was that when you see a scene of the White House under attack from one direction, you should see a bunch of clerks and bureaucrats, to include cooks and stewards, fleeing from the White House from the other side. Or at least have a scene where the hero basically finds where they were all gathered together and killed by the villains (killing them is easier than maintaining guard on them given the villain's intentions).

Third, while the glass on the White House is armored (thus the defenders could not knock out the windows and then fire from inside the building) there were more doors than just the front entrance, and some of these should have been used as firing posts so that all of the defenders are not gathered in one tight spot where a heavy machinegun can nail them. And some of the defenders should have been maneuvering to the flanks, out of other exits to put a crossfire on the attackers.

Fourth, while I give kudos to the film for not simply having both of the first two intercepting jets have their pilots killed (one managed to eject), there was a major flaw in that the attackers at the White House had no wounded. Seriously, this was a gunbattle across the front lawn of the White House. Gunbattles will typically produce two to four wounded for every one killed. I have no problem that there were no wounded among the defenders (the attackers executed anyone who might be breathing among the defenders), but where were the wounded among the attackers? There was no scene where the wounded attackers were killing themselves, no scene where the healthy survivors among the attackers killed off their own wounded (given the suicide nature of the operation either would have made some sense), and no scene of the attackers gathering their wounded and performing first aid, or members of the attackers performing guard mount despite minor wounds.

Fifth, the larger background issue is not resolved in any way that we know of (did North Korea back down or invade South Korea?).

Sixth, as usual Hollywood is not able to those who wear uniforms or otherwise operate to provide security to Americans as "real people." Not even those in uniform on screen react to the deaths of the Navy Seals or the flight crews of the various helicopters as if they were "people." Not even the flight crew of the helicopter supposedly flying out the villains and their hostage president are worthy of any comment on their deaths. They wear uniforms and so are not really people to be cared about.

I could go on, there were so many things about this film that made no sense.

If you see, just try to accept it as a romp about the one heroic guy who makes the difference, saves a total of three lives and not much else.