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Monday, June 30, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 22-28 June 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This week was dominated by steady work on the Federation Commander Tactics Manual (FCTM); we sent the cover to press and got it back on Friday. The weather this week was hot, over 90F every day. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. We received copies today of the Japanese version of the old JagdPanther game Siege of Leningrad.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was Spellbinder.

Steve Cole worked on the FCTM, did a Star Fleet Alert, and approved two 2500-series battleships to move to prototypes.

Steven Petrick worked on the FCTM and Captain's Log #49.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates, scanned JagdPanther #8 so it will be ready, and created some graphics. She got a second part-time graphics job a mile up the street from the office, and is now a fully employed, grown-up adult Texan.

Jean worked on the FCTM, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2147 friends), managed our Twitter feed (106 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, proofread the Star Fleet Alert, managed the blog feed, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 29, 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.

Saturday, June 28, 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. 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.

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.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Staff Meeting in a Game Company Far Far Away

Marketing Director: Ok, what have you guys got coming down the pipeline that I can sell?
Game Designer #1: I have a new scenario for our strategic game Cosmos Galaxy. I call it Cosmic Climate Crisis. Due to excessive asteroid mining, a wave of ion storms erupts across the galaxy.
Marketing Director: Pass.
Game Designer #1: Okay, since that's approved, can I order cover art?
Marketing Director: I did not say "approved." I said "pass."
Game Designer #1: Pass, approved, green light, all the same. The back cover will read "Oceans rise, comets fall, and billions die." It will sell like crazy.
Marketing Director: Crazy would be the operative term, but "pass" and "approved" are still not the same. I said I was going to pass on that idea.
Game Designer #1: Pass it on to whom?
Marketing Director: To no one. It's not going to get printed. Half of our customers would get upset and stop buying our products.
Finance Director: Which half?
Marketing Director: Does it matter?
Finance Director: I guess not.
Marketing Director: What else do you guys have?
Game Designer #2: I have More Starships for Cosmos Battles Volume XXXVI.
Marketing Director: Sounds promising. What new class of starships is it built around?
Game Designer #2: The new Aggression Cruisers, which have full firepower plus an entire Marine brigade. They can conquer anything. In fact, they're named for great conquerors like Stalin, Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, Genghis Khan, and Attila the Hun.
Marketing Director: Do you really think those ship names are good for this product?
Game Designer #2: Certainly. They're historical figures who conquered vast areas and slaughtered millions of people. What could be better? The back cover will read "Kill billions of your enemies with one ship!"
Marketing Director: Again, you don't see the problem?
Game Designer #2: Do you mean that we left out Alexander the Great? We already named a Mangler-class cruiser after him three years ago. I checked the list carefully and the rest of the names have never been used before.
Marketing Director: Do you think there might be a reason why they have never been used?
Finance Director: I can think of one if you can't.
Game Designer #2: We were saving them for something good?
Marketing Director: Let's continue to save them. Find another series of names for these new ships. Who else has a new product?
Game Designer #3: I have the next book for our science fiction RPG series using the D13 game system.
Marketing Director: Now we're talking sales dollars! What's the title for the new book?
Game Designer #3: Love, Family, and Marriage in the Cosmos Universe.
Marketing Director: Interesting. How many pages is it?
Game Designer #3: The standard 144 pages, which includes 26 pages on polygamy, 28 pages on forced slave marriages, 14 pages of Satanic rituals for planet Purgatory, and 64 pages on same-sex and multi-sex marriages.
Marketing Director: Good God.
Game Designer #3: That's exactly how the same-sex marriage ceremony begins on planet Arglebargle IV.
Marketing Director: I think we need to hold that one until they resolve that court case in Oregon.
Game Designer #3: I haven't heard about a court case in Oregon.
Game Designer #1: Neither have I.
Game Designer #2: Me neither.
Finance Director: I have, and we do need to wait on anything dealing with marriage issues until it is resolved, even if that takes years. We will let you know when it's done.
Marketing Director: What else do you have?
Game Designer #1: Well, I was saving this for next year, but I have a swell module for Cosmos Galaxy. It's about a new empire that invades the galaxy and sweeps across the map.
Marketing Director: I can sell that. What's it called?
Game Designer #1: Cosmic Jihad. There is this religious movement that inspires young warriors ...
Marketing Director: Pass!
Game Designer #1: Now, by that do you mean ...?
Marketing Director: You know exactly what I mean! Now, who has a product that won't get us sued, banned, or bombed?
Game Designer #2: I have a module that is based on the idea that the head of the guy who founded that big computer company was frozen and then thawed out and he's now the disembodied computer mastermind behind a race of robot ships.
Marketing Director: This would be that computer company that has no sense of humor and sues somebody every week?
Finance Director: That's the one.
Marketing Director: Next!
Game Designer #3: Ok, I have one left in the file. This is about the Frakly race in the Cosmos Universe. They're so hideously ugly that even the Union Combine persecutes them, and allows the Kalaron Dictatorship to come into Union space to kill them. Hunting them for sport is a great ... well ... sport in the Union Combine, the Republic Empire, and the Kalaron Dictatorship.
Finance Director: Sounds like racism to me.
Marketing Director: Me too. Pass, and you know what "pass" means. Now get back to your offices and come up with something that builds the customer base rather than destroying it.
Game Designer #2: I have a special series of ships for Cosmos Battles that use limited rules so even women can play them. Ouch! Why did you hit me?
Marketing Director: Go away. Please. Just go away.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Last Editor

This is Steven Petrick posting.

SVC is moving towards the completion of the Federation Command tactics manual. Part of this involves having me run a more or less final proofread of the book as each chapter is finished.

As with any discussion of tactics, sometimes reading other people's concepts will trigger a thought and take you to something that is new, at least to you. I might soon be posting a Command Note of my own provided I do not find the idea has already been published. I cannot recall ever seeing it before, but I also regard it as quite obvious.

Also, sometimes you find a rules interpretation that is buried in someone's tactics that does not seem right. So reading the tactics manual draft has led me to perusing the rules for Federation Commander to confirm things. In at least one case to the issuing of a rules clarification in the near future.

As the various articles making up the tactics manual have been read and reread and edited multiple times, it should come as no surprise that I do not find a lot as I read them. It should also not come as a surprise that being the last and freshest set of eyes to read them I have found a few items (in at least one case I caught a sentence worded such that it completely contradicted the point being made). Editing your own prose is always difficult because you tend to see the words you "know" should be there, even when they are not. It is always easier for someone else to hit the places where, for example, a given word is used twice (an example, a case where "the the" was in a sentence). Sometimes a word is used twice in a sentence, but not side by side, it would be correct in either place (better in one than the other) but should not appear twice.

But if you have read the document over and over again, sometimes the error you just caught keeps you from noticing the next error, which might even be in the same sentence. And editing for content can often get you so focused on the content that you actually miss the content (sort of failing to see the forest for the trees). Sort of a like a reference to all ships of a given empire having phaser-1s, when it is not true (some smaller ships of that empire have no phaser-1s). Thus while the empire does use phaser-1s, it would be factually incorrect to say all ships of that empire use them.

The project is nearing completion. I have a few more chapters to read and will do my best as the final editing backstop. The result over all I will hope will be a noble accomplishment for the players of Federation Commander.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Steve Cole's thoughts on general business.

1. I was watching Shark Tank and some woman said that her business was not making money and she desperately needed cash from the sharks to keep going. Let me get this right. Your business is steadily losing money and your plan is for us to give you money that you will use to cover the losses and your living expenses until somehow your business starts to make money. Do you actually have a plan to change what you're doing into a profitable model? No? Then you don't need an investor. You need a psychiatrist.

2. Here's a scam to avoid. A local radio station calls up, wanting you to pay for "public service announcements about missing children." Never do this! While it's two steps above an outright scam, it is designed to make profit for the radio station more than find kids. (If you want to donate money to missing and exploited children, find an appropriate charity and give them the money. The radio station is basically selling you an advertising campaign that spends most of its time talking about something other than your business.)

3. Here's another scam to avoid. If you have to pay for your own trash service, expect to get a price increase every year if not every six months. After a few of those, call the company and pretend to be a new customer wanting to sign up. You may well find that the "starting" price for a "new" customer is the same you were paying years ago. At that point, tell them who you really are and demand to be given the "new customer" price before you call their competition.

4. In a lot of businesses, plans are discussed for some future event months away. Such discussions are often tentative, incomplete, and may well include casual thoughts that would never be approved by a formal process. When it's time to execute some plan discussed long ago, whatever status that plan had way back then, it needs to be reviewed again (by everyone involved) before it is executed. (This may include operations, logistics, budget, legal, marketing, and other departments.) Things may have changed, the plan may never have been finished, and people may have said things in humor that were never intended to be taken seriously.

5. A friend of mine called for help after receiving a rather "firm" phone call from a bill collector for a debt she had no connection to. After doing some research, I called the place back on her behalf since I know how bill collectors work and I can't be bullied by them. I told them she wasn't responsible for the debt and they needed to never call her again. The research I did started with the 800-number left for a return call. In two seconds on Google it turned up everything about the bill collecting company and their illegal and unethical tactics. While this prepared me for anything they might try, I did not jump straight to confrontation, but remained calm and professional. I gave them what information we had about the deadbeat (whom she had not seen in over 20 years) but refused to give them any information about my friend. (I was not surprised when the first thing they said was "We need to confirm your social security number." They were surprised when I said "no.")

Tuesday, June 24, 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.

Monday, June 23, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 15-21 June 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of great progress on the Federation Commander Tactics Manual. The weather this week was warm. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week: Federation Commander Tholian Ship Card Pack #1.

Steve Cole worked on the Federation Commander Tactics Manual, Captain's Log #49, the Starline 2500s, and took an hour to find all of the rest of the JagdPanther magazines so they can be scanned and uploaded over the next year.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #49 and began the "fresh eyes" reading of the Federation Commander Tactics Manual.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five new entries and two updates.

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 managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,140 friends), managed our Twitter feed (104 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Federation Commander Tactics Manual, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

On Peace and Solitude and Work

Jean Sexton muses:

Sundays are usually a day of rest for me. I clean up the house, I catch up on some shows (I have all of Season 2 of Once Upon a Time to watch and I need to start Grimm so that I'm up on lunch conversation), I go on lots of walks with The Wolf, and I give my mind a day off. However, when we have a big project at work, sometimes it niggles at me, even on my Sundays. This Sunday it was niggling at me enough that I wasn't really finding any peace.

So here I am at work, having finished up reviewing Petrick's editing of the Federation Commander Tactics Manual after doing some of the SVC-approved changes to the main manuscript. I can only work on Steve's computer (where the manuscript lives) when Steve isn't here. Otherwise he is doing things (using the computer) that I cannot do. I may not be as fast as he is, but every correction I can make is one he doesn't have to.

Working at ADB can be like working with your family. We love each other, but sometimes we need a break. This Sunday, there is no one here but me and The Wolf. As Wolf is snoozing, I might as well be by myself. If I want to crank up my music, I can without fear of disturbing anyone. (I like solitude, but I like some sort of noise to keep me company.) I've gotten far more done than I usually do in a similar time period during the week. No phone calls have come in (I am the primary phone answerer). People aren't trotting up and down the street, so The Wolf isn't barking at them. There are no deliveries, so The Wolf doesn't have to keep delivery people from killing us unawares (he does this by sounding his fearsome bark). In some ways, working today is more peaceful than staying home, worrying about getting the work done

And what have I gotten done? I have worked on the Federation Commander Tactics Manual.

Chapter 1 is finished.
Chapters 2-5 have had Petrick's changes (we've kept him off the project until now so he can read it with fresh eyes) reviewed from my end and the pages with changes flagged with my little colored flags so I can easily find them when it is time for me to kidnap Steve's computer. (I'm making the simple changes so he can save his time and energy for new projects and the content changes.)
[Chapter 6 is with Petrick.]
I'm now in the middle of re-reading Chapter 7, the "meat" of the book. It discusses the tactics of each empire. The "Jean stuff" has been done to the Federation and the Klingons on the main manuscript (I did the Klingons today). The Romulans are waiting for my changes to be reviewed by Steve. As soon as I finish this post, I'll tackle the Gorns and move on through the chapter. Then it will go to Petrick.

Oh yes, I also wrote this blog post. So as to use my mornings most efficiently (when Steve hasn't made it in quite yet and I can kidnap his computer), I will probably set up most of the week of blogs.

At some point one of the Steves will probably wander in. At that point I'll evaluate how I feel (if I go home now, will I let the undone work get to me?) and make a decision about heading home. But for now, I am enjoying the satisfaction of solitary work on a peaceful Sunday.

Saturday, June 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/).

Friday, June 20, 2014


Steve Cole's evil twin reflects on his role as G.O.D. of the Star Fleet Universe.

1. I worry about the health of my employees, especially the ones that roll their eyes during staff meetings when I'm explaining my plans for the company.

2. I worry about the physical well-being of my customers, but only the ones that argue with me. Or complain.

3. Someone said I should close ADB and retire to live on my savings. The problem is I don't really know what I'm going to live on for the second week.

4. Jean and Leanna said I needed to sign up for anger management classes. I told them that instead of that could they just keep people from making me angry.

5. Jean said I had to confront my demons. I said that I confronted them every night when I invited them over to play poker after which we curled up together and snuggled.

6. If I take time out of my busy day to rewrite your local campaign rules or the PBEM rules or the tournament rules, a simple "thank you" will suffice. I really do not need all of this "Who the heck asked you to butt in?" stuff.

7. I can tell if Jean or Leanna are angry by watching their hands. If they're smacking me in the head, that's a pretty good sign that they're angry.

8. Nice publishers share the design credits. Mean publishers don't credit with anyone for the ideas they stole. I find it more efficient to share the design credits and then execute the people whose ideas I stole so I don't have to share the money.

9. Jean and Leanna say I should embrace change but that instead I resist change. I pointed out that I do not resist change. What I do is stop it cold in its tracks with however much firepower that takes (and then some).

10. Successful people read every day. Failures watch TV every day. Myself? I read while watching TV every day. What does that get me?

Thursday, June 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!

Wednesday, June 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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On Guarding and Barking and Learning

Jean Sexton muses:

After experiencing Markie "Barkie" Dog Sexton's guarding, protection, and barking inclinations, we decided to all go to choose the next office dog. Wolf (then called Chaz), was a quiet little dog. He might have some chihuahua in him, we were told, but as he was one or two years old, his quiet personality was what we would get. We rejoiced at how quiet he was. He barked a couple of times, loved everyone in the office, and showed every sign of being The Perfect Office Dog.

On his second veterinarian visit, we discovered The Wolf was only six months old and was probably a purebred long-haired chihuahua. He was also slowly bonding with us all and very closely with me. As he did, he began to guard "our den," otherwise known as my office. People he knew were allowed in. Strangers were warned away with barking. It was never the frenzy barking that Markie had, but people walk outside the building frequently as there are a bar and convenience store fairly close.

Barking is fine for a dog outside in the country. I never stressed over Ralph or K'Ehleyr barking at any stranger. Who knows how many break-ins they deterred. But in an office and an apartment, it can be a distraction. The Wolf has a very high-pitched bark that carries.

In some ways it is flattering to have such a guardian. True, an assailant could dropkick him like a football, but it is Wolf's willingness to defend me that is always amazing. I can walk late at night around the apartment in the midst of the night and I fear no violence, for The Wolf is with me.

Still, The Wolf needs to learn not to bark after I tell him I have the encounter handled. I need to learn how to tell him that I have it handled. So tomorrow The Wolf and I will be getting training from a nationally accredited professional dog trainer. Our first goal is to let Wolf alert me to the situation and then be quiet when I let him know he's done his part. Our second goal is to let strangers come into the building or during walks and to greet them appropriately. Our third goal is to let him meet strange dogs without barking so enthusiastically. If we have time, our fourth goal is to teach him to pick up his toys.

This should take some time, both for lessons and for homework. The end result will be a quieter Wolf and less frazzled office mates. We have high hopes for success as The Wolf has learned "Wait," "Sit," "Stay," Dance," and "Walk with me." He's also learned a lot of behavior on his own, such as barking at Petrick earns Petrick ignoring him but a quiet bark at Steve gets Steve's attention when he's on the computer.

Learning anything requires that you first admit that you don't know how to do it, not properly. It took a bit to admit that I needed help working with Wolf. But once I admitted it, I think I am ready to learn.

Monday, June 16, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 8-14 June 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on new projects. The weather this week was not as hot as last week, but in the 80s most days. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was the Advanced Missions SSD book (in color and in black and white).

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was Captain's Log #5.

Steve Cole worked on the Federation Commander Tactics Manual, making Jean's fixes and doing some missing graphics. Steve moved his pistol target box to his office so he could practice marksmanship without getting out of his chair. Steve finished Communique #102 (with help from Steven Petrick, Jean, and the staff). Progress on the 2500s this week included resolving the stand issue (sending the B10 and Vulture to prototype), posting new ships (Slaver, Kzinti BB, and Gorn BB), and sending the BATS to prototype. He also wrote some blogs, did a three-page article for Captain's Log #49, helped a fiction author, and organized the sale of some obsolete F&E counters. The F&E soft pledge experiment worked, sending Fighter Operations 2014 into the print que for early fall. Steve used the nice weather to get a lot of exercise walking Wolf and Ramses (but not at the same time).

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #49.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five new entries, two updates, and one older entry moved to the archive.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates, finished the My Day archive page that was never finished before, created and sent out Hailing Frequencies, and did some graphics.

Jean worked on PDF uploads, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2129 friends), managed our Twitter feed (103 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Federation Commander Tactics Manual, took care of customers, took one of the Steves to a Chinese buffet, and did some marketing.

Steve Cole drove Leanna and Jean to Lubbock so they could see "Driving Miss Daisy" while Steve went to Joe's Crab Shack.

Sunday, June 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://www.warehouse23.com/products/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

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.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Steve Cole ponders the curious origins of interesting words:

1. NIMROD, a biblical name noted as mighty hunter. Today nobody remembers this, but a few generations ago the term was used to refer to anyone who who was a great hunter.

2. NOON, or 12 o'clock, or the middle of the day, or lunchtime, was originally at 3 o'clock in Greek and Roman society. (More or less, if one assumes that sunrise was always at 6 o'clock.) In that earlier time, the workday lasted for nine hours from sunrise. Then everyone ate a big lunch, napped during the heat of the afternoon, and partied ("supped") in the evening. This was known as nona hora or the ninth hour from sunrise. Nona hora eventually became noon hour and then just noon. This lasted until the 1300s and was the time of the principle meal of the day or "dinner". (After 1360, one was expected to eat lunch a little earlier and then work until dark.)

3. OMELET, a fried creation including eggs and usually other foodstuffs, originated as lamina, the Latin word for a type of small thin plate. (Laminar and laminated also come from this source.) In French this was la'lamelle and since a fried omelet looks something like a small thin plate that was what French chefs called the item. When it came into English this became l'alamelle and from there alamelle and from there omelete.

4. OSTRACIZE, to shun or ban someone who said or did something socially offensive, comes from the old Greek word ostrakon, which was a fragment of a broken pot. Because there were always broken pots laying around, ostrakons became the scratch pads of the day (as paper and papyrus were very expensive). Once a year (under the constitution of 508BC) Athens asked the assembled citizens if anyone was acquiring too much power and might overthrow the democracy. If the crowd said that this was so (no one was named) then a second meeting was scheduled for two months later. People came to the second meeting with their ballots written on an ostrakon (the only ballot done in writing); if the citizen felt no one was being a problem he cast a blank one. If a majority of the ostrakons named someone as having too much power, that person was banished for ten years as "ostrakon-cized."

5. OSCILLATE, to swing back and forth, comes from the Latin verb oscillo, which means the same thing. That word came from "os-cillo" which were small faces of Bacchus that Romans hung in grape vineyards (twirling in the wind) to scare away birds.

6. OTTOMAN, the empire that is now Turkey and the small backless sofa that was its most memorable export, came from the name of the leader (Osman) who led the warlike tribe from Persia into Turkey.

7. PAGAN, someone who is not Christian, came from the Latin words pagus (village) and pagani (anyone who did not live in a major city). Since Christianity grew most rapidly in the major cities (where the missionaries found the most people they could try to convert) the rural villagers often remained non-Christian for a century after the city dwellers converted.

8. PALACE, a large house for the ruler of a nation, comes from Palatine, the most central of Rome's seven hills and the center of its government. Augustus built a great house there that was used by several generations of emperors. As it was on the hill of Palatine, it was known as the palatium, and a few mispronunciations later that became palace.

9. PARABLE, a story that illustrates a fundamental point, come from the old Greek words "to throw" (ballo) and "beside" (para). The term para-ballo remains in the language as a type of geometric curve, but the Greeks used the term to mean "a story that compares two things" which comes to use a parable. (This is why paramilitary now means an armed force beside the military but not part of it.)

10. PALAVER, an extended conversation including much polite small talk and a few serious points, comes from palavra, the Portuguese version of parable. Portuguese traders landing in Africa used the term to refer to the long-winded conversations with African leaders, who expected to exchange much small talk before getting to the point. English traders later encountered the descendants of these African traders and leaders who expected to "hold a palaver" before any money or trade goods changed hands.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Klingon, Gorn, WYN, and Hydran Bumper Stickers

Klingon B10:

(I don't have to.)


Klingon Ship on the Hydran Border:

NOT the rear shields!
PLEASE, Not the rear shields!


Several Gorn and WYN ships:

This ship makes WIDE turns!


Hydran ship:

If you can read this, you have made a serious tactical error.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

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 are not).

The 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 products on Wargame Vault.

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 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.

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 as PDFs. Whatever your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Federation Master Star Ship Book Nears Publication

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The long awaited and eagerly demanded Federation Master Star Ship Book is nearing completion. It currently only awaits the final graphics for some of the ships, and a few design decisions on what all it will include, at which point the "publisher's notes" page can be done and a final cover created. This book strings all of the ship descriptions (for Federation ships) together end to end in rule number order, incorporates all known errata for the ship descriptions, and includes those items of information that it has been requested be included with the ship description (known names, whether the ship is a true scout or carrier or PF tender, and so on), to include what product a given ship was published in and what product its counter can be found in (covering those few cases where a counter was not in the same product the ship originally appeared in). All base hulls list the variants in their rule with the rule number, so if you are looking for the heavy fighter carrier variant of the heavy cruiser, you need only check the list under the heavy cruiser to get the rule number and then go to that rule number.

Tuesday, June 10, 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 ebook, 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:

Monday, June 09, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 1-7 June 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was an eventful week, starting with the Steves getting food poisoning on Monday, highlighted by the cattle drive on Thursday, and North Carolina weather at the end of the week. The weather this week was warm to hot, with rain over the final portion including tornado sirens on Thursday and a power outage on Friday night. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23 this week were the Gunboat Deck Plans.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were the Gunboat Deck Plans, Captain's Log #35, and the F&E ISC War rulebook.

Steve Cole worked on the Starline 2500s (we got the first six new ships from the master mold), blogs, and the Federation Commander Tactics Manual.

Steven Petrick worked on Captains Log #49 and dealt with the last few reports on the Advanced Missions SSD update and the Federation Master Starship Book.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with four new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates, sank pirates, and some graphics.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2126 friends), managed our Twitter feed (103 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread more of the Federation Commander Tactics Manual, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Wolf made his on D-Day landing on 6 June in the park across 10th Street from the office, his first visit there.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Star Fleet Universe Downloadable Art

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 art.

Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/backgrounds.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. We even have backgrounds for the iOS7 iPhone.

If 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.

Saturday, June 07, 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.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Romulan and Kzinti Bumper Stickers

Romulan BattleHawk:

If you can read this, I am in really big trouble.


Romulan King Eagle:



Kzinti Battlecruiser:

I'll bet YOU taste good on toast!


Kzinti Scatter-Pack


Thursday, June 05, 2014

Who is Right on "The 100"

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Last night's conclusion of the first half of the season finale of "The 100" had a choice between the two "leaders" of the landed teenagers.

Bellamy wanted to stay and fight.

Clarke wanted to run.

Clarke (as of the last words in the first half of the two-part episode) seems to have won out. In the final analysis, it being a TV show, whether she is right or wrong will be determined by the "needs of the plot." In the real world things are not that simple.

Clarke apparently believes that if the 100 simply leave the territory of the Grounders, the Grounders will leave them alone. She believes that if the 100 move east towards the sea they will meet another tribe led by Lincoln's friend who will allow the 100 to enter their territory and leave in peace. Clarke is at least right that the 100 cannot stay in their camp forever, as the camp cannot survive a siege. Eventually the need for food and water would force the 100 into the open to oppose the Grounders. Clarke also is now aware that the Grounders they have faced have more resources and a larger organization (the arrival of the Commander of "the Rangers" even if she has no idea how many "rangers" there are). The few words spoken revealed that Anya is only a "local" commander of some sort, and she is under a higher authority that has additional resources of manpower.

Bellamy, however, is correct that in order to survive the 100 must win the current battle and they cannot do that on "open ground" in a "fair fight." The 100 is composed of teenagers (except perhaps Bellamy), but they are people who have spent much of their lives confined. It is doubtful they are anywhere near as physically fit as the Grounders we have seen, much less possessed of the stamina of the average "combat Grounder" we have seen to date. There is virtually no chance they could outrun the Grounders if nothing was slowing them down. And something is slowing them down: Raven. Raven's wound means she either cannot walk as fast as the others, or someone will be carrying her; either means they would be moving slower. There is also the lack of woodcraft among the 100, or knowledge of the terrain, meaning their pursuers are likely to know short cuts, or the fact that a path the 100 is following will lead to a dead end. And we do not know how many horses the Grounders have, but we do know they have some. There is no question that the Grounders could easily track and overtake the 100 if they "marched out" of their "fort."

Further, the Grounders, even the "local" troops (as opposed to the newly arrived "elite" rangers) have demonstrated an adeptness at camouflage that enables them to get very close to members of the 100. They are skilled with their bows. Added to the speed and knowledge of the ground, getting past the 100 while they are on the mach and setting up an ambush is not improbable. And a marching column "in the open" is far, far easier to destroy than the same group in an entrenched defensive position.

Neither choice is very good, but with the arrival of "the rangers" it is already too late to run. The time to run was immediately after they blew the bridge, but they did not know at the time that there were more grounders, or even a direction they could run with a hope of safety (and Lincoln's friend is only a hope, not a guarantee).

Standing and fighting now at least presents the possibility that you might again give the Grounders a bloody nose and make them draw back to lick their wounds, and perhaps under cover of night (with the Grounders predisposed to believe that you are going to stand your ground after the fight because you have before) you can then make a break and push hard through the night. But that might not be possible as the battle might leave you with even more wounded that you cannot afford to carry.

Trying to run now, as Clarke wants, in the real world would simply lead to a massacre on the Grounders' terms.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


Steve Cole debunks 10 more popular myths.

1. Myth: Columbus believed the world was round when everybody else believed it was flat.

Truth: Everybody knew the world was round; the argument was about just how big it was (and how far away China was if you went west instead of east). Turns out, Columbus was the one who was wrong, and the diameter that the Greeks calculated in 300BC was right after all.

2. Myth: The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima was the most devastating single attack of World War 2.

Truth: The bomb that hit Hiroshima killed (by the most realistic estimate) 79,000 people. The one that hit Nagasaki killed far fewer. In contrast, the biggest fire-bombing raid on Tokyo killed over 100,000 and the three-day fire-bombing assault on Dresden killed 135,000. While not a "bombing raid," the Japanese "Rape of Nanking" is known to have killed at least 150,000 and perhaps as many as 300,000 people.

3. Myth: Hitler's wonder weapons would have won World War 2.

Truth: The V1 and V2 were able to hit European cities that German bombers could no longer fight their way through to, but this was not enough to have won the war. There was no one reason for the German defeat; they did a lot of things wrong and were outnumbered to start with.

4. Myth: Senator Joe McCarthy never found a communist spy inside the US government during the infamous witch hunts.

Truth: He actually found quite a few (over 50). This was proven by the Venona transcripts which became available after the fall of the USSR. But then, he didn't find them, he just reported that the government already knew where they were and didn't take steps to get rid of them.

5. Myth: Thousands of Iraqis were killed on The Highway of Death during Gulf War I (also known as the Kuwait War).

Truth: Fewer than 20 Iraqis were killed there, almost all of whom got on TV (posthumously) from multiple angles. When the aircraft attacked, the Iraqis parked, got out of their trucks, and ran for the ditches at the side of the road.

6. Myth: Nuclear winter could plunge the world into decades of sub-zero temperatures.

Truth: The study that proposed nuclear winter left a few things out of their calculations (oceans, rain, the rotation of the Earth, and sunlight, among others). Several well-documented volcanic explosions had exceeded the "Sagan threshhold" for atmospheric dust without causing extinction (although mega-volcanoes, which are about ten thousand Sagan threshholds really messed things up a few times). A study by the US National Academy of Sciences found that the real effects were a 10-degree temperature drop, that was only in the center of each continent, which would last for only two years. The same study noted many other effects which would have made post-nuclear life extremely difficult and miserable.

7. Myth: Helicopters were invincible in the Vietnam War.

Truth: Helicopters proved seriously vulnerable to ground fire and it was often impossible to use them in the hottest battles. They could, however, move troops around quickly just outside of hot battle zones.

8. Myth: US guards at Guantanamo flushed a Koran down the toilet.

Truth: The Koran was flushed by a Muslim inmate who had used it to record information of intelligence value which he did not want US guards to get.


9. Myth: The Nazis and Japanese nearly invented a nuclear bomb.

Truth: The Nazis abandoned their nuclear bomb project, believing it impossible to sustain nuclear fission. The Japanese were working on a bomb and may have been within a few months of success.

10. Myth: Sarah Palin said: "I can see Russia from my house," thereby proving she was an idiot.

Truth: She said no such thing. The line was uttered by an actress playing Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live and trying to make her look like an idiot.

Tuesday, June 03, 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.

Monday, June 02, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 25-31 May 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work. The weather this week was warm, often hot. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.
New on e23 this week was Captain's Log #35.
New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were the Federation Commander Kzinti Ship Card Pack #1, Distant Armada (both Nova and Admiral editions), and Captain's Log #35.
A staff meeting set the schedule for the rest of the year starting with the Federation Commander Tactics Manual in June. July releases will include ACTASF1.2, Captain's Log #49, and three new 2500 ships.
Steve Cole worked on the Federation Commander Tactics Manual, wrote some blogs, coordinated continued progress on the 2500s (several ships were sent to be prototyped), and did two new Federation Commander cards for Communique #102.
Steven Petrick worked on the Advanced Missions SSD book, Captain's Log #49, and the Federation Master Starship Book.
The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five new entries.
Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.
Simone did website updates and some graphics including the back cover for the Federation Commander Tactics Manual.
Jean worked on uploading PDFs for download, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2120 friends), managed our Twitter feed (99 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Federation Commander Tactics Manual, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

On Weight and Walking and The Wolf

Jean Sexton muses:

All my adult life I have struggled with my weight. Sometimes I think I simply smell good food and the calories waft into my body. I like food, to be honest. I was going to list the categories I like, but I like them all. I eat to celebrate and as I am generally a happy person, I celebrate frequently. I eat when I am sad and that generally cheers me up, leading me to celebrate. It is a vicious cycle.

I also like to cook and bake. Unfortunately, most of my recipes are inherited and are designed for a family of four, two of whom are fairly active, and there would be leftovers for another day of eating for that same family. That makes eight meals at a minimum. I was trying to make sure it wouldn't spoil, so I'd eat large portions. Others who lived in the same household would also eat even larger portions, so I thought I was doing well.

Add to that my job (and my inclination) is generally sedentary. At the library, if I were wandering around, I wasn't doing my job. At home I relaxed by reading. Once I got a home computer, I spent hours working on databases of daylilies and movies, playing SFB Galactic Conquest, and exploring the wide world of online information. I proofread things for ADB and maintained peace on the BBS.

Excess food and lack of exercise meant I gained weight, far more than was good for me. And I wasn't happy toward the end of my time in North Carolina, so my sanctuaries were my office at work and my home office at the house. Even less exercise and eating more "comfort food" added up.

When I moved to Amarillo, I promised myself that things would change. I couldn't have a cat, not easily, because the apartment door opened directly to the outside and a cat could (and would) dart out to explore. A young, healthy cat would also be able to escape at work, directly out to a busy street. However, I could get a dog. I would be forced by the apartment rules to have the right sized dog for an apartment -- no Great Danes or other large dogs with the 50-pound weight limit the apartment complex imposed.

But before I could have a dog, I had to have an apartment, not a collection of boxes that made my living space look like a room surrounded by a warehouse. It took three months (through July) to empty the storage unit of even more boxes and it had to be my highest priority as it was money added to my rent and the half-price deal for storage ended in July. By August I had cleaned out the "public" part of my home. It was time to get a dog. By October I found a dog at the Amarillo SPCA.

I started walking with my fierce little Markie. I walked him regularly, around my apartment building. Sometimes I included going around two buildings. Markie earned the nickname "The Official Pace Dog of ADB" as he was much, much faster than me and would haul me along after him. I added in one walk around the apartment complex and struggled with that walk. I'd get a stitch in my side about halfway around. Slowly I started losing a little bit of weight.

When Markie got sick and passed away, I was devastated and fell back into the "eat food and feel better" habit -- not the best idea. Still, I soon adopted a long-haired chihuahua named Chaz who quickly informed me that his name was really Wolf, he was to be referred to as "The Wolf," and I could maybe call him Wolfie en famille. We started walking around the couple of buildings and around the short block at work. Once a day I would struggle with the walk around the complex, but I noticed it was getting a little easier.

Then I noticed that some of my friends were posting how many steps they were taking each day. I felt sure I was walking a lot; not as much as they were walking, as I knew they were healthy and active, but still a lot. So I ordered a pedometer and proudly looked at my steps. With all of my walking, I was taking around 7,000 steps with fewer than 2,000 of those being aerobic. I quickly realized that without The Wolf and Markie I had been taking far fewer than 5,000 steps a day. I found out that was indeed "sedentary" and decided to try to walk 7,500 steps and then 8,000.

Now I am trying to take at least 10,000 steps a day. I don't always make it, especially if the weather is bad. (Rain makes Wolf very unhappy and I can't bring myself to make him miserable.) I find if I exercise, it lowers my appetite, thus cutting back on what I eat. The Wolf is amiable to walking with me, even if he doesn't really need to "go." I feel safe walking at night with him at my side. Slowly the pounds are going away.

It is hard work for me. I like reading and listening to music. I like working on the computer. I don't like exercising. However, I have the reason now of "The Wolf needs a walk," and that seems to be the motivation I needed. I post my steps on my page on Facebook each day so as to keep myself honest. Exercise will always be a struggle with me, I suspect. However, when The Wolf looks at me and I know he wants to go on his "Long Walk," how could I deny him that? As a result, I may never be thin, but I will be thinner and healthier. And that means that I'll be around ADB longer, and probably more productive. Happy dance!