In Praise of Our Volunteers
The adventure game (wargame+roleplaying game) industry is a small
one, and there isn't the kind of money inside of it that other
industries have. The industry consists of creative game designers
willing to work 60 hours a week for half the pay they could command
outside the game industry, all because they get to BE game designers.
at that, the only way the game industry survives is by the hard labor
of unpaid volunteers who (for honor, glory, and rarely some free games)
provide no end of valuable services to game publishers.
Mike West answers rules questions on Federation Commander.
Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire,
Jonathan Thompson for Prime Directive PD20
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
to pay the server costs. Tenneshington Decals does made-to-order
decals for our Starline miniatures and is run by two of our fans: Will
McCammon and Tony Thomas.
Federation & Empire
would not exist without Chuck Strong (a retired real-world colonel from
Space Command) in charge of the overall game system. He keeps his
staff (Mike Curtis, Ryan Opel, Scott Tenhoff, Thomas Mathews, and Stew
Frazier) busy moving projects forward.
would get done on any of our games except for the Playtest Battle Labs
run by Scott Moellmer in Colorado and by Mike Curtis and Tony Thomas in
Tennessee. And all of the other playtesters are invaluable to us.
have other staffers and volunteers who do specific things (and
sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including John Berg,
Howard Bampton, and Mike Incavo (Galactic Conquest
Kast (Klingon Armada
); and John Sickels, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, Mike West, James Kerr, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive
Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each
one of them. Sometimes our volunteers become part of our staff; Jean
Sexton started out as a volunteer proofreader.
to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month,
by email or BBS or Forum or our page on Facebook, contribute in some way
to the company and its product line. They may report a glitch in an
existing product, playtest a product in development, suggest a new
product, point out something another company is doing what we may want
to take a look at emulating, look up a rules reference for another
player, report on somebody who using our property improperly, comment
on a posted draft of a new rule, or simply ask a question nobody else
ever dared to ask.
Many years ago, we began awarding
medals, ribbons, and other "decorations" to staffers and others who
contributed to each product, and some other projects. These awards not
only recognize those who contributed to the various projects, but
encouraged others to begin making their contributions to future
projects. We have created the Wall of Honor at http://starfleetgames.com/ArtGallery/Wall%20of%20Honor.shtml
This is a tribute to over 30 years of volunteer work. We hope you visit
it to say thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts.
Andromedan Bumper Stickers
On an Andromedan Terminator:
Hit me with your best shot!
On an Andromedan Intruder:
That which does not kill us, merely fills our panels.
On an Andromedan Conquistador:
If you can read this, look behind you.
On just about every Andromedan ship:
T-Bombs on board
The History Channel Does Yet Another Disservice to its Viewers
This is Steven Petrick posting.
I have an interest in history. I acquired it at an early age and have often indulged it. Yes, it has a decidedly military as opposed to political bent. The last King of England I have any interest in was George II, because he was the last one to personally lead troops into battle (or at least command on the field). So much so that when one of my college professors (who detested the military) decided to put me in my place he asked "who was the king of England in World War II," to which I responded "King? England had a king?" I know it is political and economic factors that largely drive conflict, and I probably should know more about those factors than I do, but I am, honestly, just a simple infantryman. A tool of the "powers that be" in my own country that goes where I am told to go and fights who I am told to fight pursuant to my oath to the Constitution of the United States of America.
So you would think the "History Channel" would be something that I watch avidly, eager to learn new things.
The "History Channel" is one of life's great disappointments. I shudder to think how many people may be influenced by its inaccurate and often slanted views. Ignoring the slant, how can a show professing to be about the "leaders" of World War II make claims such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt personally designed the American plan for the Battle of Midway? How can it cavalierly claim that George Patton conquered Italy in six weeks? How can it claim to be showing us the character of Winston Churchill and totally ignore the fact that the man served before World War I, both in the Mahdi uprising in Sudan and in the Boer War? How can they show Macarthur escaping from the Philippines and not let us know that, unlike a lot of military men, his family had been with him during the battle and escaped with him from the Philippines? And how can they fail to explain why the Philippines Army Air Forces were caught on the ground by the Japanese despite the hours of warning that Pearl Harbor had been attacked?
One wonders if McChrystal and Powell and the others would have lent their names to this show had they seen the final product before it was aired?
I suppose it would be better that the History Channel continue doing shows like "Vikings" (where they are merely "politically correct" and changing things mostly in keeping with that in addition to telling a story) rather than try to do real history. It seems to me that whenever the "History Channel" does real history, it is a mockery and travesty and massive disservice to its viewers.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #190
Steve Cole's thoughts on the war
going on behind the scenes during World War II. It seems all of
the allies distrusted each other, most of them were out for their own
post-war benefits, and most of them hated each other.
1. The Americans did not trust the
British (who wanted to use US troops to secure the British political
position in Greece and Yugoslavia). The British wanted to invade the
Balkans to keep Stalin from grabbing them and hinted that the US was
not taking seriously the threat posed by a post-war Stalin.
2. Stalin and the Russians were convinced
that the British and Americans planned for the Russians and Germans to
bleed each other white and then the British would walk in and take
over all of Europe. Stalin was as concerned over how much of Europe he
got to grab and keep when the war was over as he was with fighting the
British considered the Americans to be "colonial amateurs playing
at war." The Americans considered the British to be afraid to
fight (because of the massive losses suffered in World War I).
Americans spoke often that "the British will fight to the last
American." The Americans felt that Montgomery would never attack
anything until he had built up so much power that he could not lose,
but then, they also blame him for being rash in Market-Garden. The
British wanted to keep fighting in Italy but the US considered the
capture of Rome on 5 June 1944 to be the logical end of an Italian
campaign that should have never been started. Whenever the Americans
complained that the British weren't attacking enough, the British
response was that the stupid Americans just didn't understand how
4. The British
hated Free French Leader de Gaulle (who used everything the British
gave him to fight the French communists instead of the German Nazis).
The French underground (which the Germans only barely noticed) spent
most of its time fighting itself (de Gaullists vs. Communists). De Gaulle
appointed himself President of France (with no legal authority
whatsoever) and demanded that the Allies announce that fact to the
French people on D-Day. The British and Americans instead announced
that France could pick its own leader once it was free. At one point, de Gaulle's airplane was sabotaged (acid on the control rods) while
on a British airfield and he always believed that the British tried to
kill him. Probably, they did.
5. The Canadians are suspicious that Churchill threw
away thousands of Canadian lives at Dieppe just to convince the
Americans that invading France in 1942 or 1943 was a really dumb idea.
Frankly, it would have been a really dumb idea to invade then.
6. Army Chief of Staff
Marshal and Army Pacific commander MacArthur had hated each other
since before World War I. During World War I, Marshal tried (and
failed) to have MacArthur's division disbanded for replacements.
Later in World War II, Marshal began to side with MacArthur against
the Navy and Admiral King.
7. The US Army and
Navy hated and distrusted each other. The Navy wanted a Pacific-first
strategy, preferring to let Germany burn itself out while the US
crushed Japan. The Army thought that the Navy was spending too much
money on obsolete technology (battleships) and wanted to use Army
divisions to seize islands so that Army aircraft could protect the
Navy. During 1943 and the first half of 1944, the Army continually
tried to get the Navy's fleet of landing craft moved from the
Pacific to England for use in D-Day, and the Navy hid them to prevent
this as without the landing craft there was nothing much they could do
8. US Navy chief Admiral King (in Washington) hated MacArthur
and did everything possible to cut off or steal any supplies crossing
the Navy-controlled Pacific to reach MacArthur in Australia. The Navy
invaded Guadalcanal partly because it was in MacArthur's territory
and they wanted to push the dividing line a few hundred miles (or even
better push MacArthur out of the Pacific entirely). The Navy decided
that the way to advance was to grab Japanese fortress islands (at
ferocious cost in Marine lives) so they could use the existing
Japanese air bases. MacArthur and the Army thought the best plan was
to bombard Japanese air bases and the land on some unoccupied nearby
real estate and build a new airbase, leaving the Japanese base to
starve. Both plans worked; MacArthur's cost far less
9. The British and American bomber force commanders felt that
Overlord was not necessary and that Germany would surrender as soon as
the strategic bombing campaign could get some clear weather. The
British and American Army people thought that strategic bombing was
largely ineffective and cost too much money and too many lives, and
that it would have been better to spend the money on more ground
troops. After the war we found out that strategic bombing had little
military effect and that German production of war material actually
increased. The Germans didn't have fuel problems until the Russians
overran their oil supply.
10. The two Chinese leaders (Mao and
Chiang) hated, feared, and distrusted each other. Both did everything
they could to keep their troops away from the Japanese. Chiang
gathered up huge amounts of US weapons and ammunition, but stockpiled
it for future use against Mao rather than attacking the Japanese. The
Japanese were perfectly content to ignore China, launching a major
operation there only when forced to capture American airfields in
China in order to protect Taiwan and Japan.
Got Any Marketing Ideas?
ADB, Inc., is always interested in great marketing ideas, ways and
places to sell our products, as well as new products to sell. Our page
on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf
exists to put our products in front of other groups of potential
customers. You will find us on Twitter as ADBInc_Amarillo.
We also are releasing YouTube videos that show what you'll
find in "the box" and our latest releases. You can catch our videos on
our channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames
tried a lot of things that didn't work (Google Pay per Click,
full-color ads in trade journals) and a lot of things that did work
(banners on gamer websites, Star Fleet Alerts) and are always looking
for new ideas. If you have any, send them to us at
Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and we'll think them over.
This Week at ADB, Inc., 18-24 May 2014
Steve Cole reports:
This was a week of steady work and some preliminary decisions
about the schedule. The weather this week was warm. The spam storm
mostly remained at something under 200 per day.
New on Warehouse 23
this week: Color SSDs for Star Fleet Battles: Module C3A.
New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was
Star Fleet Battles: Module C3A - The Andromedan Threat File divided into the Rulebook, B&W SSDs, and color SSDs.
Steve Cole worked on the Federation
Commander Tactics Manual, reviewed new Starline 2500 miniatures, and managed the progress of
the 2500s at the mold company.
worked on the monster article for Captain's Log #49 and the Advanced Missions SSD
The Starlist Update Project moved forward
with 6 new entries, 5 updates, and 3 older entries moved to the
Leanna kept orders and
accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
Jean worked on Traveller Prime Directive and the Advanced
Missions SSD book, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,115
friends), managed our Twitter feed (98 followers), commanded the
Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, dealt with
some pirates on Ebay, managed the blog feed, proofread more of the Federation Commander Tactics Manual, took
care of customers, and did some marketing.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #189
Steve Cole ponders various
thoughts that came to mind.
1. On cop shows (and other action shows) you
eventually see the bad guy grab someone (usually an attractive woman)
and hold a gun to her head (or a knife to her throat) and order the
good guy to put his gun down and kick it away, which the good guy does
because he's, well, the good guy. In the real world, people who
carry guns are taught to never put the gun down in such a situation.
That gives the bad guy the opportunity to kill both of you. Instead,
you tell the bad guy: "Hurt her, you die. Try to take her with
you, you die. Stand here until I get tired of humoring you, you die.
The only way you leave here alive is to surrender."
2. It gets better. Most cops and a lot of soldiers are
very good shots. When I was in the State Guard (the lowest of the low
of police and military organizations) my pistol score was so high (243
out of 250) that I was authorized to "take the shot" in a
hostage situation. In real life, the cop doesn't give up his gun,
and doesn't even make dramatic speeches like the one above. He
simply aims very carefully and shoots the bad guy in the head.
(Lieutenant Provenza did that on Major Crimes a few weeks ago and I
stood up to cheer.) That's the best chance of survival for all of
the innocents and the bad guy already forfeited his chance to survive
when he pointed a weapon at an innocent person. I can say that anyone
who holds a gun to my wife's head is going to get a bullet in his
brain, and I have absolute confidence that he'll die before his
finger gets the message to pull the trigger.
3. While I love astronomy, the big bang confuses
me (as it does astronomers). The big bang theory is that the universe
originated at a single point and expanded; it's now several times as
big as the 27.4 billion light years we can see, which is why it looks
the same in every direction (i.e., no obvious center of the original
explosion). I heard another theory on TV which made a lot more sense,
that two of those really thin dimensions which only physicists
understand ran into each other 13.7 billion years ago and caused the
instant creation of hydrogen atoms over the entire infinite billions
of light years of the universe. Those then coalesced into clouds and
the clouds into stars and the stars burned out and exploded and formed
more clouds that turned into more stars.
4. I have been the
smartest person in the room enough times to know how cool an ego boost
that situation is. On the other hand, the smartest person in the room
cannot learn anything (since he knows more than the others) and will
ultimately be held responsible for whatever goes wrong (since, after
all, they were counting on the smartest person in the room to let them
know what was about to go wrong).
5. If I were on HELL'S
KITCHEN and my team won a fun day with Chef Ramsay, when we got back
I'd jump in and help the losing team prep the kitchens for the
dinner service. This would keep me busy, make me feel better, earn me
some friends on the other team, and allow me to be sure that our
kitchen was prepped correctly.
Join us on Facebook and Twitter
ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now up and running, and we’re finding
a lot of new faces who haven’t been around the BBS or Forum. We have
pictures up of ADB, Inc. staff, links to many of our videos, snippets of
information, and interaction with our fans. Jean Sexton is the main
voice you will hear on our page on Facebook. If she doesn’t know an
answer, she’ll ask one of the Steves and ferry the answer back.
that is left is for you to "like" the page for Amarillo Design Bureau,
Inc. if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf
people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps
our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to
keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood
of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day,
checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something
important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries,
plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has
discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.
We've also added a Twitter feed which you can follow at https://twitter.com/ADBInc_Amarillo.
Be sure to follow us for a quick look at what is going on!
We hope to see you there! For Facebook users, be sure to add us to an interest group to see all of our posts.
The Galactic Phone Booth
Just a few ...
Q: How do you get 30 Feds into a telephone booth?
A: Tell them there's a new life form to talk to.
Q: How do you get 30 Klingons into a telephone booth?
A: Tell them it's Earth.
Q: How do you get 30 Romulans into a telephone booth?
A: Install a cloak on it.
Q: How do you get 30 Gorns into a telephone booth?
A: You don't. You don't even try.
Q: How do you get 30 Lyrans into a telephone booth?
A: Tell them there are 30 Kzintis in it.
Q: How do you get 30 Seltorians into a telephone booth?
A: Tell them there is a Tholian hiding inside.
Q: How do you get 30 Frax into a telephone booth?
A: Don't build the booth. Only imagine one.
From Captain's Log #12,
The Dog is Learning
This is Steven Petrick posting.
Sometimes with pets it is a question of who is training whom.
Jean's dog has learned that if he is being ignored, he can "make noises" to get attention. These start with low groans, to whines, to minor barks, to major barking fits until he gets attention.
I tend to frustrate him, because I refuse to respond to his "vocal" demands for attention. But if he bumps me, i.e., jumps up and puts his paws on my leg when I am not otherwise paying attention to him, then he gets rewarded with notice, pats on the head and petting.
I still, however, will not give him any treats. He has never gotten anything to eat (at least from me) inside my office or from my hand. He has pretty much come to accept that I am not going to give him snacks, but on the other hand he seems to think I am pretty good at petting.
He and I are having an argument about his tendency to "mouth," that is mock bite. I am trying to get him to understand that for me at least this is bad behavior and will not be rewarded. The trick is making him understand that when I withdraw my hand it is not "a game," which is his current attitude as Jean and Simone let him play the "mouth game."
While the dog is still not happy at being separated from people, he has demonstrated a willingness to be separated during lunch as long as he is not locked in carrier, but allowed the run of Jean's office. He still gets very excited when Jean comes back from lunch and releases him back into the larger building, but first he has to make sure Jean knows how glad he is not to have been abandoned permanently.
He is very definitely comfortable with the six people in the office he was frequent contact with, but with Simone getting a new job outside the office, we will be looking for a replacement for her, and the dog may have more trouble adjusting to a completely new person as a constant companion among the six people he knows almost daily.
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.
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.
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
For more information about playing long distance, drop in on the Forum (http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2
) or BBS (http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/
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.
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!
This Week at ADB, Inc., 11-17 May 2014
Steve Cole reports:
another week of steady work. The weather this week was warm, often
very hot. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per
day. The annual company picnic held on 15 May was great fun for the
New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was
Captain's Log #4.
worked on the Federation Commander Tactics Manual and is in the last chapter; he
also wrote some blogs. Bruce Graw reported that eight ships had gone
into ADB Master Mold 2501. Paul Franz reports that 106 third
generation SSDs are now on SFBOL.
Steven Petrick worked on
the Advanced Missions SSD book and the battle groups for Captain's Log #49. No
progress was made on the Federation Master Starship Book because Steve Cole was busy with the
Federation Commander Tactics Manual and could not work on art. We got a massive shipment of Starline 2400
production and both Steves took much of two days checking it in and
approving quality control.
Update Project moved forward with 9 new entries, 5 updates, and 2 old
listings move to the archives. The posting of archived names on the
BBS resulted in several new entries and updates being done.
Leanna kept orders and
accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
Jean worked on Traveller Prime Directive, managed our page
on Facebook (which is up to 2106 friends), managed our Twitter feed
(98 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam
assault on the BBS, dealt with a wave of people illegally using our
photos on Ebay, managed the blog feed, proofread much of the Federation Commander
Tactics Manual, took care of customers, and did some marketing.
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).
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
THE WOLF BLOG: SPRING 2014
Steve Cole reports:
have been going to Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary about once a year since
sometime in early 2007 (and twice a year for the last few years).
Usually I go with Leanna; once I went with Steven Petrick; twice I went
with larger groups. This year (May 2014) was the first time I went by
myself (and the first time I had driven that far by myself in 35
I enjoy spending time with the
wolves and supporting the sanctuary. Many people don't understand
what wildlife sanctuaries are and why they exist, so let me explain.
Lots of people think it would be fun to own a wild animal as a pet.
There are plenty of unscrupulous breeders who will sell you a baby
tiger, wolf, or whatever else you want, knowing full well that in a
year or two you will realize that wild animals make awful pets and
have a problem on your hands. (Guess what, the breeder won't take
the pet back as they can only sell the cute baby animals.) There are
more "pet" tigers in Texas than in there are in the wild on
the entire planet. Most of these pets end up being put down, turned
loose in the wild (with tragic results), or kept in small pens and fed
insufficient food. Those owners with some morality eventually try to
find one of the dozen or so sanctuaries that will accept the pet
animals and give them a permanent home. Since it takes about $2000 to
keep a wolf for a year (tigers cost more) the sanctuaries can only
take the animals they have space to house and money to feed.
Sanctuaries are always having fund raising events, and always turning
down requests to take an animal. (Most shelters have strict rules,
such as they won't take an animal from someone who is breeding more
animals. Sometimes the DEA will pay a sanctuary to take an animal
confiscated from a drug dealer, or a circus will pay a sanctuary to
take a retired performing tiger.
Our first few
trips to Wild Spirit (we have been to other sanctuaries as well) were
during trips to Las Vegas for vacations or trade shows. Once we found
out about the fund raising parties, we started going then. WSWS has
four of these a year, and I go to two of them (in May when each wolf
gets a basket of food, and in October when they get a pumpkin full of
meat). Once I found out what was going on, I started bringing organ
meat (heart, liver, kidney) to put into the baskets or pumpkins. The
wolves love organ meat because they never get it unless I bring it,
and anyway it's 1/3 the price of steak. For the last couple of
years, I have been part of the program, giving lectures on wolf diet
and behavior as "Chef Steve."
This year, Leanna didn't want to go, and (rather
than accept Steven Petrick's offer to go along and do the driving) I
decided to go on my own. A seven-hour drive (each way) by myself would
give me time to clear my head and think about what to do with the rest
of my life. (I decided to keep doing pretty much what I have been
doing.) I booked a room at a bed and breakfast about a hundred yards
from the sanctuary and planned to stay for three days. (Usually I get
there just before the party starts and spend most of the day cutting
meat and feeding wolves, then leave before the party ends.) This time
I was determined to work with the staff and learn more about wolves.
(I had one college course on predators 40 years ago and have read a
few books and websites about the subject.)
I was greeted warmly on Friday
afternoon by Crystal (the #2 ranking person at the sanctuary). I spent
that day with her and with Joey (one of the volunteers). Crystal let
me help take Kota (the 130-pound king wolf) from his normal pen to another
one (so a tour group could take photos of his mate, Duchess.) [I
should note here that WSWS never breeds or sells animals. The males
are all fixed upon arrival. The animals cannot be released into the
wild as they are captive bred, have no mother-taught hunting skills,
and will approach humans expecting to be taken care of.] Thus began my
first lesson that "every instinct you have about wolves is
wrong." I have petted several of the "ambassador"
wolves before, but Kota is not that friendly and cannot be allowed
near crowds. His handler (Crystal) could control him with just me
around. She invited me to pet him (which I did) but I started to
scratch him all over and did something he didn't like so he growled
at me. Fearing he was about to bite my hand, I instinctively raised my
hands above my shoulders. Unfortunately, wolves think this means
"I am a grizzly bear; we shall now fight to the death."
Crystal had him under control and Kota (to his credit) looked at me
with eyes that said "Dude, you have no idea what you just did, so
I'm not going to kill you for the mistake." Later, I got to
spend more time with Kota and he came to tolerate me very
I had some time with Ramon, the head of maintenance, who is
sort of the handyman for the sanctuary. (Which is pretty big, housing
as it does 60 wolves, four dingoes, five singing dogs, one fox, and
three coyotes. There are numerous buildings and the animals are in
pretty big pens. It takes over an hour to hike all the way from the
office to the farthest pen and back.) I have (for the last five trips)
taken not just organ meat but tools of various types. Ramon had sent
me a list, and of course I took him about three times as much stuff as
was on the list. He was very happy.
During the visit I saw many of
the previous gifts Leanna and I have taken being used, from a
carpenter's level to the water bottles most of the staff carried
Saturday morning I spent the day with
various members of the staff, including Rae (the nutritionist who set
me up a nice carving station so I could cut the meat), Meredith (head
of enrichment), Ramon (who was construction an addition to one of the
buildings), Joey (who is from North Carolina), and some of the other
volunteers (Mikhail from Sweden, Holly from England, Chloe from Wales,
Amber from Australia, and two very pretty girls whose names I never
heard). WSWS has a program where students in animal and wildlife
management intern at the sanctuary, and many volunteers spend time
During the day, I
learned that everyone who works there (even the highest-ranking
people) have certain animals assigned to their care. Every day begins
at 8am with these people taking white buckets to the pens to clean up
the poop. Everyone is supposed to be done with that by 9am because at
9:30 everyone is back at the same pens with orange buckets of meat to
feed the animals. (You do not want to be inside a pen with two wolves
when they see the wolves in the next pen given meat. They get pretty
enthusiastic about feeding time.) After this is over, one unlucky
volunteer has to clean out all of the buckets with bleach and take the
poop to a pit on the far end of the property. (The sanctuary owns an
adjacent campground where many people stay overnight.)
In the afternoon,
several of the volunteers conducted tours for people who had come to
see the wolves. I tagged along, adding my comments to the various wolf
stories. I know a lot about wolves since I have been going there
longer than any of the volunteers.
Late in the day,
word came that Leyton (the big boss) was arriving at the camp from a
trip to another sanctuary (in Indiana) where he had picked up the
first three coyotes to join the WSWS menagerie. I hiked up the hill
(when I really wanted to take a nap; I am not in the best of shape in
the first place, my broken knee was swollen, and the altitude was
killing me) to the coyote pens. (I learned that the various species
cannot be kept in adjoining pens because diseases that one species
ignores as deadly to another. There is a ten-foot gap between pens
with different species.) I was able to help this operation in three
ways: my multi-tool wire cutter solved a problem, I provided some of
the meat for the first meal of the new arrivals, and I became the
default "still" photographer as the other three were taking
video. Leyton was concerned that the coyotes would not want to eat
during the stress of the trip. He threw them a few pieces of chicken,
which they ate with gusto. (They would not get close to him as he was
not familiar.) At my suggestion, Leyton went back down the hill to the
Wolf Kitchen to get some of the heart and liver I had brought. This
turned out to be the first red meat that the coyotes had ever had in
their entire lives. After sniffing the first piece he threw to them,
they came right up to him and put their noses into the bowl. Leyton
dumped the meat on the ground and backed up, not out of fear but to
avoid stressing them. They ate the offerings with extreme enthusiasm.
I had a chance to have a nice long chat with Leyton, who treats me
like a brother. (We both have food allergies that make dining in
unfamiliar restaurants a life and death casino.)
The day included my two
mistakes, and the early-afternoon event is worth it's own mea culpa.
I had for years been trying to convince the WSWS staff that everything
has to be marketing and they should charge tour groups extra for the
privilege of throwing food to the wolves. I asked permission to take
four of the rib bones I had brought up the hill and give them to Kota
and Duchess in front of a current tour group. This was granted and Rae
even got the bones out of the cooler room for me. So I staggered up
the hill on my bad knee and walked right up behind the tour group.
Someone saw me coming and the whole group turned around to see me,
passing the excited word "He's got bones!" What I did not
know was the Joey (who was the guide for that tour) was inside the pen
with the two wolves across the path from Kota and Duchess. Remember
what I said about not wanting to be in a cage with two wolves when two
other wolves were getting food? Joey quickly extricated himself from
the pen without getting hurt, but his two wolves were very jumpy. (It
should have been arranged for me to wait out of sight while someone
warned Joey of an off-the-schedule event.) The point of four bones was
that Kota steals Duchess's food and we all figured that we'd have
to give him three for Duchess to get one. I quickly made a deal with
Joey. I gave him two of the bones for his wolves in exchange for him
opening a remote gate that moved Kota into a separate sub-pen from
Duchess. That way, Kota would only get one bone and Duchess could chew
her bone in peace. Then came my second mistake. After I fed Kota a
bone, I called out "Is there a young lady who would like to give
this bone to Duchess?" Most of the women (of all ages) raised
their hands and I gave the bone to the first teenage girl who reached
me. I didn't think a bit about the fact that I was handing someone a
piece of raw meat; neither did the teenage girl. (Handling raw meat is
one of those "go wash your hands now" things.) Joey, caught
up in the moment, gave his two bones to a teenage boy and girl and
allowed them to feed the wolves. Crystal heard of this and told us
both that it was really very un-cool to hand a tourist raw meat in a
time and place that there was no way for them to wash their hands with
soap. She also told me that they had (following my suggestion) already
begun having "feeding tours" at a different time of the day
(and a higher price), so there was no real need for me to prove to
them that tourists wanted to feed the wolves themselves. (These
feeding tours involve rubber gloves. The point is to protect the
tourist from the meat, not the wolf from the tourist.)
I should take a moment to mention a man who became my good
friend, Frank Blackmoon. He runs (and built) the Trading Post across
the road and the B&B lodge behind it. That Trading Post is the
only hardware store within 50 miles and does steady business from the
people who enjoy living that far off the grid. His B&B is
primarily filled with people visiting WSWS or visiting their relatives
in the area. Frank exemplifies the very best of Small Business
America; he saw a market and filled a need!
came, the day of the big fundraiser itself. They had a special treat
for me, to thank me for all the meat and tools, which was a private
meeting with Zoerro, the wolf who is the official mascot of the
University of New Mexico. Unfortunately, nobody realized just how much
blood I had spilled on the ground in front of the Wolf Kitchen when I
was cutting meat the day before, and I was sitting on a chair in the
middle of that. Zoerro came up to the area and became very shy and
agitated. He was convinced that he had accidentally stumbled into the
killing ground of another pack of wolves, and that I was the alpha
male of that pack. Zoerro genuinely feared that I would kill him just
for being there!
After that, I
helped pack the gift baskets, which contain a lot of things that the
wolves are not otherwise given to eat (goldfish crackers, Raman
noodles), just because it gives them something different. The staff
let me add the raw liver and heart to each basket. (I thought this a
great honor but the real reason was so nobody else had to wash their
hands three times in boiling water as I had to afterward.)
The crowd gathered at 12:30
and I got to give my Chef Steve speech (which I cut short because of
the 40mph wind). Then the wolves were given their baskets. I didn't
see most of that as I was having a very bad time with my swollen knee
and what the altitude was doing to my heart. I did see Kota get his
basket (and for some reason, he wasn't interested in the heart
despite having eaten the last several with great enthusiasm).
I walked down the hill
intending to wait for the tour's last stop (Romeo the fox) but
noticed that my deadline to leave had arrived. I had to leave then or
not get home that night, and to wait for all the friends I wanted to
say goodbye to would mean that I would have to stop halfway home and
make it back to Amarillo sometime Monday. So I found someone (Amber as
it turned out) and explained to her that I had to leave "right
now" and proceeded to drive home (into a constant 45mph headwind,
dirt storm, and tumbleweed stampede).
My goal for the trip was to learn as much as I can, and I want to thank the whole WSWS crew for being so patient in answering my questions. While I take them a lot of stuff I am far from their biggest donor and I'm sure I pushed towards the limits of their patience. Thanks to Leyton for sitting down after a 30-hour drive and teaching me the ins and outs of moving animals across the country. Thanks to Georgia for chatting with me about the coyotes when she would rather have been chatting with her husband. Thanks to Crystal for letting me meet Kota and to Rory for trying to let me meet Zoerro. Thanks to Ramon for reminding me what it was like to be a very young project director trying to get a lot done with not very much in the way of tools or materials. Thanks to Meredith for discussing enrichment with me, and to Dawn for our hilarious conversation about what it takes to run a non-profit page on Facebook. Thanks to the interns and volunteers (Joey, Mikhail, Holly, Chloe, and the two young women whose names I never heard) for chatting with me about their experiences. Thanks especially to Rae who, on her busiest day of the year, explained to me not just what went into a basket for each wolf but why it went in there in the order it went. She also taught me that if five pounds of meat is the right amount, adding a few more pounds was most definitely not "simply swell."
All told, it was a fantastic
experience. I learned ten times as much about how to handle wolves in
the three days I was there than I have ever learned during one of the
DAY ONE: The Untold Story, Part 3 of 3
Computer Support, USS Texas
"Commo room, anybody up
there?" the technician asked over the intercom.
"Sure," the night commo tech asked.
"Listen, our email
bandwidth just maxed out. What are you doing up there?"
the commo tech answered. "I was downloading Season Seventy-Four
of The Walking Dead."
"Nah, that's not it," the
computer technician said. "This is outgoing stuff. Enough
bandwidth to send our entire database halfway across the Federation.
Who's using that much email?"
"Let me check," the commo tech
answered. "Ok, looks like it's that new ensign, Korak or
something. You know, the guy who showed up without orders last week. I
guess he's talking to every office he can find trying to figure out
where his orders are."
blame him for that," the computer technician said. "At least
he's doing it in the middle of the night when we're not
Remote Warning Station K42, Klingon Border
"What's this?" the
lieutenant asked, gesturing to a small crate on the table in the
conference room/dining hall.
if I know," the ensign answered. "The chief petty officer
said it wasn't on the supply manifest and I thought I'd ask you
before we opened it."
"This came with the regular shipment
this morning?" the lieutenant asked. The remote stations along
this stretch of the Klingon border were supplied by a contractor using
an old Free Trader. He won the bid at the contract offering six months
"Indeed," the ensign,
second-in-command of the tiny station said. "The rest of the
stuff is the standard package, a month of food, the standard
allocation of spare parts, and whatever parts we special ordered. The
chief petty officer signed for the shipment but this box isn't on
the manifest. That guy is always so sloppy with his paperwork. At
least this time he was a week early instead of a week late."
"What the..." the lieutenant said as
he opened the crate. He pulled out a bottle of champagne. "Lobster, pate de foie gras, quiche... some admiral is wondering
where this is!"
"Let's eat!" the ensign said, keying the
"A toast," the lieutenant said to the assembled
crew. "To a continuation of the peace." During dinner, a few
remarked that the food tasted funny, and then everyone got
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
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 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
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 downloadable art for your computer and iPhone 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
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.
One of the Worst War Movies ever
This is Steven Petrick posting.
Recently I watched "The Nun and the Sergeant." A film made in 1962 and set during the Korean War. A Sergeant is being sent behind enemy lines to blow up a tunnel. After arriving by helicopter, the pick up a nun and seven teenage/young adult Korean school girls.
Got all that?
Oh, yes, the "Marine" patrol consists of 12 guys with large white "P" on their uniforms. You see, except for the Sergeant and his South Korean sidekick, they are all the dregs of the Brig. Not because the Marine Corps told the Sergeant to take them, but because the Sergeant does not want to lose any more "good men."
This film is about an hour and 15 minutes long, and has no pay off and some ridiculous "resolutions."
All of this is not the worst of it.
Here is a patrol behind enemy lines on a "raid mission," and one of the men SINGS? While walking around behind enemy lines, one of the men is singing!
And we have this nun and her girls, so the Sergeant puts them in the order of march behind all of his men but for his one man "rear security." And, somehow, one of the girls "wanders off" and they are not aware of until the Sergeant decides to take a break? So the Sergeant and the nun have to go looking for the girl?
You do not even really know what happens by the end.
Did the Sergeant die? Did all of his men die? Did the nun die? You do not know. There is definitely an explosion that appears to be the tunnel blowing up, but that is about it.
You only know for certain that five of the school girls survived. You do not even know for sure if the cowardly Marine found his courage (sure, you see him start down the hill with the others, but still he could have backed up at any time after that in the firefight, but the firefight is now shown, only the reckless charge down hill starting).
Unless you want to see "How Not To Operate Behind Enemy Lines," if you ever get a chance to see this film, DON'T.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #188
Steve Cole explains how new
miniatures are created.
The management system I use
(which works when I don't forget to use it) is to have a combined
list of every new miniature for 2400, 2425, 2450, and 2500 and where
it is in the process. These steps go from design to CGI that was
posted on the BBS to a CGI that was sent to prototype to a prototype
on my desk to masters on my desk to production pieces for sale in our
warehouse. It's not a straight path as many things have to be done
more than once, some things can only be done in batches, and with a
lot of different ships in the process of creation it's hard to keep
track of them all any other way.
These steps are
complicated, and most of them are not under my control. As manager,
all I can do is to keep track of who is doing what and remind them to
move along with the project. Things happen, people get busy, and
things that take a day or two for somebody to finish might wait a week
or two before that somebody has time to work on them. You'd think
that perfectly competent grownups would move along without guidance,
but they have questions, issues, problems, and interruptions. The
reality is that if you don't remind them every week, sometimes
something gets stalled for weeks. (This is why Jean reminds ME every
week to go through the minis list and see who needs a push, or help,
or questions answered, or whatever.)
minis days (unless I am really busy when I might skip one Tuesday in a
given month, but even that is dangerous) and I go over each miniature
and have a chat with whoever is doing the next step. Tuesday is not
the only day I do things related to minis; but it IS the day that
nothing I can do is left not done. I might not do quality control on a
new shipment the day it arrives, but I do not leave the building
Tuesday without doing it. I might not post a new CGI the day Sandrine
emails it to me, but I don't leave the building Tuesday until it is
posted. Now, the reality is that some things I could do are not done.
I COULD send preliminary data and drawings on 40 or 50 ships to the
sculptors, but the reality is that they can't work on more than two
or three at a time and so there's no point in my stacking up stuff
in their in-boxes.
The steps are complex. First, we pick a
ship we want to do. This might be a 2500 being rescaled for 2400s
(e.g., the Klingon D7K), an existing 2400 being done over for 2500s
(e.g, the Orion CA), an entirely new ship done for both 2400 and 2500
(e.g., Klingon HF5 heavy war destroyer), or a ship being done for the
multi-scale 2425s (e.g., the jumbo freighter).
I send drawings and (a 2400 sample if there is one) to the sculptor
(usually Sandrine at Mongoose, sometimes Will at Seattle). Sometimes I
wait weeks for the CGI sculptor to do their thing, which is where that
"gently remind them to move forward" thing comes into
The sculptor works up a
CGI and emails it to me. I check it (and perhaps direct changes), then
Steve Petrick checks it (and perhaps directs changes), then it goes on
the BBS and Facebook for a week or two of public comment. I then
collect the public comments on the next Tuesday and send them to the
sculptor, who fixes any issues. Sometimes that leads to another round
of checks and posting, while other times I can approve the CGI to go
to prototype. A given ship might go through one round of public
comment or as many as five or six.
Mongoose sends CGI-ships to be made into plastic
prototypes in batches, so sometimes a CGI-ship that is ready has to
wait weeks for some friends to go along on the trip.
prototypes land on Matthew's desk. If he approves them, they go to
ADB and if we approve them (Jean photographs them and puts them up on our page on Facebook), they go to
Bruce at the casting house. You would think if the CGI were good the
prototype would be, but this is not the case. All too often, phasers
on the CGI are missing on the prototype. If that happens, we might do
the prototype over or we might have a sculptor add the phasers to the
masters. Bruce might stop a prototype because he thinks it won't
cast well. Just because a prototype is made doesn't mean we don't
have to go back and do it over.
Then a number of prototypes are put into a master mold. Here
is another chance for delay. If there are not enough prototypes to
fill a master mold, then perfectly good prototypes will sit waiting
for some friends to join them. There is no way to work "batches"
through the system because one ship might have six rounds of public
comment while another has one. Ships move forward when they move
forward, not when it's their turn. A fast-moving ship might get
produced before a problematic ship goes to prototype.
The master mold is then spun a dozen times to produce
metal masters, one or two of which is sent to ADB. At this point,
anything could happen. We might approve it (and let Jean photograph
it). We might have the masters worked over by a master modeler such as
Tony Thomas, who might fix a full set or might just create one
"correct" one which goes back into a master mold. We might
tell Mongoose to do the prototype over again. We might decide not to
do the ship at all. Or something else might happen.
If the masters are approved, then a set of
them (usually eight) goes into a production mold. (In some cases, it
takes two or three production molds to make one ship, since it
doesn't work to cast pieces of very different sizes in the same mold.)
Assuming that all of this works, the production mold arrives at the
casting house and a few spins are made, and a few samples are sent to
ADB. Assuming we approve those, we give one or two of them to an
artist to paint for the shopping cart, let Jean take some photos, and
order a production batch from Bruce. Once the production batch
arrives, it is run through the Quality Control Committee and those
that pass are put into inventory. Jean then photographs them and
announces them as ready for sale.
Sometimes, even at this last
step, we may come to the conclusion that the ship won't work. The
problem is that at every step the model changes a little. The master
is just a tiny bit smaller and thinner than the prototype, and the
production ships are tiny bit smaller than that. (The CGI is designed
to allow for this, but it's hard to guess just how much is enough.)
What was a perfectly strong Kzinti wing on a CGI may be so thin in the
production model that you cannot put it in a box without bending it or
breaking it. When that happens, we might to back to the masters and
have Tony Thomas thicken the thin parts or add missing parts we
didn't notice were missing. Then we do a new production mold.
Sometimes, we have no choice but to go all the way back to the CGI and
thicken the parts most likely to bend, then do a new prototype, which
goes into the next available master mold, and so on.
As you can see, it's a
multi-step process, and every step may have to be done over several
times (or might work the first time). Just keeping track of everything
and what stage it is in is a management chore. Sooner or later, a
production batch of a new ship arrives at the warehouse and is
officially released. It is impossible to predict when a given ship
will appear because it is impossible to predict what will happen at
each step. The point of managing the system is to keep enough things
moving forward that a steady flow of new items is
This Week at ADB, Inc., 4-10 May 2014
Steve Cole reports:
This was a
quiet week of steady work. The weather this week was nice. The spam
storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.
New on Warehouse 23 this week was the Lesser Magellanic Cloud Federation Commander playtest pack. The Federation Commander Omega playtest book was updated.
New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this
week were the Federation Commander Lesser Magellanic Cloud Playtest Pack, Federation Commander Omega Playtest Rulebook, and the Federation & Empire Compendium.
Steve Cole worked on the Federation Commander Tactics Manual, art for
the Federation Master Starship Book, and prototypes for the 2500s. (Nine prototypes were sent to
Bruce, who already has four. We will discuss how many master molds
that fills.) Steve went on the semi-annual pilgrimage to Wild Spirit
Wolf Sanctuary (the first time he went alone), spending three days
Steven Petrick worked on
battle groups for Captain's Log #49, the Advanced Missions SSD book update, the Federation
Master Starship Book, and checking 2500 prototypes.
Update Project moved forward with four new entries, eight updates, and 26
people moved to the archive.
Leanna kept orders and accounting up
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
Jean celebrated the completion of her
first year in Amarillo. She worked on Hailing Frequencies, managed our page on
Facebook (which is up to 2097 friends), managed our Twitter feed (99
followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam
assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Communique #101, took care of
customers, and did some marketing
We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products
as PDFs by way of the Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG,
and Wargame Vault
websites. So far on Warehouse 23, 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
way Warehouse 23 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).
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 are also listing Federation Commander
, Federation & Empire,
and Star Fleet Battles
on Wargame Vault.
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 Prime Directive
products. We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale through the various venders. From here
you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.
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 as PDFs. Whatever
your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.
HAILING FREQUENCIES and COMMUNIQUE Released
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 a new ship, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.
You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies
at this link:
DAY ONE: The Untold Story, Part 2 of 3
Battle Station K3, Commo Room
"Hey, boss, you wanna look at this?" the
commo tech asked.
"Let me see it,"
the supervisor said.
From: Border Outpost K62@Starfelet.com
To: All stations in sector K2
Re: Defense Plans File
Hey, guys, I accidentally deleted the defense plan file, and the boss
is holding an inspection in an hour. Can somebody send me a copy?
"Sure, send it to him,"
the supervisor said. "I spent a year on one of those outposts.
It's pretty miserable. I feel for the guy."
"Sending it now,
boss," the commo tech said. "I hope he gets it in
it priority," the supervisor said.
Starbase 15, Personnel Center
"Do you have the fleet
payroll files completed yet?" the head of Third Fleet humanoid
"I just got them in from Pay.Kom," her
assistant said. "I gotta say, and not for the first time, that
your decision to hire those guys was inspired. They do virtually all
our work for us, and at a fraction of the cost."
"That's the thing about
the free market," the head of HR said. "Somebody will find a
smarter way to do it, and they can underbid the market. They're
saving us, what, 60 percent of the cost of doing it
"Yeah, at least that," her
assistant said. "We've fired just about all of our employees,
except those friends of yours who cash their paychecks and never show
up for work."
consultants," the head of HR said. "They're the ones who
advised us to farm out the work."
"Who would have ever thought that a
colony planet right smack on the Klingon border would host a
galaxy-class IT company able to process everything so efficiently?"
the assistant asked. "They must have an incredibly low pay scale
for computer technicians. Yeah, here's the file all right.
Promotions, assignments, transfers, they have every single member of
the Third Fleet right down to the lowest recruit. They know where
everybody is, what ship or base they're on, everything. They even
keep track of where to forward the pay credits when a ship moves from
one sector to another. These guys work very hard."
the police payrolls?" the head of HR asked.
"Their file is here, too," her assistant
said. "Convincing the police to let you handle their payroll was
"We did it for half the cost," the head of HR
replied. "And Pay.Kom does it for half of that. That's
why you have a triple-A-class apartment on the starbase instead of the
C-class room with bunk beds that your position actually
"Now that the files are
in," her assistant asked, "can I take the rest of the day
off? I took the liberty of scheduling a couples massage with my
girlfriend for this afternoon."
"Have a good
time," the head of HR replied.
Simone Pike writes:
Many do not know that we have a page where you can download backgrounds and covers for Facebook with Star Fleet Universe
Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/backgrounds.shtml
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. We even have backgrounds for the iOS7 iPhone.
there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to
see turned into downloadable art, please feel free to contact us at
graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.
Some Thoughts on an Old Movie
This is Steven Petrick posting.
As has often been noted, I tend to watch a lot of old movies because of Tivo. It gives me the option to easily record them and view them later. Having majored in History (albeit with a decided bent to things military) I find it interesting to look at the films in the eras in which they were crafted. The way things are presented.
Recently I watched a 1959 film titled "The Angry Hills." I thought it would be about the Greek resistance after the Germans and Italians occupied the country. And it sort of was (although the only attempt at armed resistance ends in disaster, massacre, and atrocity).
While the main thrust of the film is the transmission of a list of Greek patriots to the allies, a list of Greeks who are willing to "collaborate" with the occupiers and be seen as traitors so that they can gather information for the allies, it is really about something else.
Yes, the main character evolves, from not caring or wanting the responsibility, to being motivated by the sacrifices of others to deliver the list if he can.
His foe evolves as well.
His foe is a Gestapo man. And, oh yea he is a villain. He is the one that orders that the Greeks who attempted to raid a munitions dump are all killed rather than taken prisoner. He is the one that sees that the orders for reprisals against the villages the men came from are carried out.
Yet he is also the one who understands that force and violence are not always the correct answer. He is the one who reins in his Greek Collaborator who is eager to beat another Greek for information and gets the information by using a little psychology.
In the end, he fails and the hero escapes with the list.
But rather than lashing out at those around him, at the person who betrayed him, he shows compassion and urges her (she turns out to be his ex-wife, and while he had stated he was willing to kill "their" children to complete his assigned task, to do his duty, on learning she has betrayed him so that they may escape with the hero while she is sacrificing herself for their children) to leave. To not be near him when his superiors arrive to deal with his failure. A trace of humanity and admission that he did still love her and their children.
He could certainly have had her arrested and interrogated immediately to determine who had helped the hero and their children escape, but he does not lash out.
Still, the film fails in one major sense (in my view) because near the end a character comes out of the woodwork. Someone the woman apparently knows but has not been anywhere else in the film, and suddenly is the key man who arranges the hero's and the children's escape. And even he says he does not know why except that he is doing something different than he normally would. At one point saying,to the Greek Collaborator he is holding prisoner to keep him from warning the Gestapo man of what is going on after the Collaborator asks if he can save him, that he does not even know if he will be able to save himself for getting involved.
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.
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?
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.
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.