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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In Praise of Our Volunteers

The adventure game (wargame+roleplaying game) industry is a small one, and there isn't the kind of money inside of it that other industries have. The industry consists of creative game designers willing to work 60 hours a week for half the pay they could command outside the game industry, all because they get to BE game designers.

Even at that, the only way the game industry survives is by the hard labor of unpaid volunteers who (for honor, glory, and rarely some free games) provide no end of valuable services to game publishers.

Mike West answers rules questions on Federation Commander. Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Jonathan Thompson for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, Jean Sexton 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 Lucky Coleman (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.

Monday, September 29, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 21-27 September 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on multiple projects. The weather this week was pleasant, about 80F every day with clouds many days. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23 this week JagdPanther #9.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame vault this week were both JagdPanther #9 and Star Fleet Battles Designer's Edition Expansion #3.

Steve Cole worked on the A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2 project (sending the 30-page core rules pack to the staff on Saturday). Steve continued to walk Wolf and Ramses regularly, gaining strength in his battered knee, and Leanna forced him to rest on Sunday.

Steven Petrick worked on the Hydran Master Starship Book, Captain's Log #50, the ACTASF 1.2 project, the Hydrans vs. Borak campaign, and other things.

The 2500 project moved slowly forward, with promises that a new prototype company would deliver "soon" and further CGIs on the jumbo and heavy freighters. If the new prototype company does what two others failed to do for the last three months, we could see some new ships on the cart in November or December.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two new entries and an update.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on ACTASF 1.2, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2266 friends), managed our Twitter feed (124 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread some of the Hydran Master Starship Book, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

On Work and Priorities and Play

Jean Sexton muses:

It seems that everyone has "work to do." Note that "work" is not the same as a "job." Once upon a time I was asked, "What sort of work is appropriate for a librarian?" I answered, "Whatever needs to be done in the library." It was a small library and there were times when I pushed chairs under tables, shelved books, or made sure the books on the shelf were actually in order. None of those tasks required a master's degree, but they were ones that needed to be done. "Work" is something you feel must be done.

Apparently this applies to dogs as well. If they are not assigned "work," they will find work to do and it may not be appreciated by their humans. A friend had a dog which decided his "work" was to eat my friend's furniture. The dog was much happier when he relocated to the country where he guarded the house from anything walking by and demolished his toys (and no longer ate sofas).

Wolf has found himself work which is guarding ADB from passersby. We are working to encourage him to let us know by a quick bark. Then we can praise him and thank him for his diligence. He doesn't have to continue to alert us. Wolf's other work is much quieter. He patrols the building to see that everyone is where he or she belongs. If he senses the person is stressed, he demands to be petted. Everyone benefits.

My work has always seemed to make things be "right." As a cataloger, that meant the item had subjects to help people find it and a call number that was a good match. Now this covers proofreading and editing. Marketing seems to flow from it (if you have something good, people should know about it). It helps with getting ebooks up as it involves making a schedule of releases and then following up with marketing. It helps with customer service as I want things to be right between our fans and the company.

The problem is balancing all of those aspects. That is when I am glad that Steve Cole runs the company. He tells me what has priority and then I can focus on that. This week it was to really work on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet. That was harder for me to proofread because we want people who play ACTA to feel that this is merely a variation of the game they know and love. So you won't see rule numbers. The few chapters are short. Power exists, but you don't find yourself tracking it. Most of the effort seems to go into measuring movement and distance to target (oh, and making enemy ships get blown up). It is its own game, not "ADB re-imagines Star Fleet Battles."

My next assignment is the Hydran Master Starship Book. There I try to make sure that everything is kept uniform. I crosscheck rule numbers. I try to keep everything from being capitalized -- after all we write about seeing the frigate in the harbor, not the "Frigate." It promises to be a fun book and a great reference for the players.

Finally, part of our life must include play. The Steves enjoy teasing me. I think sometimes that they are trying to find out the limits of what I will believe. They tease me about TV show episodes I haven't seen yet (and I believed them when they told me the main character in Forever had come back in World War II as a soldier in four different nationalities). They play word games. They plot elaborate pranks (and they will improvise at the drop of a hat). In short, they behave as I think two elder brothers would act.

Here Wolf has a part as well. He throws himself into his own play so thoroughly joyfully that he makes us all laugh.  I also think he has given Steve Cole's health a boost. Steve walks him thrice a week after lunch. Steve's formerly broken leg doesn't pain him the way it did earlier. Steve's endurance has improved. And if the Wolf has any say in the matter, Steve will be with us a long, long time.

So my days at ADB include work and play, prioritized appropriately. I find I am comfortable there and happy. I wish you all happiness in your life and work.

Saturday, September 27, 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, September 26, 2014


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Continuing Operations

This is Steven Petrick posting.

There have been surprisingly (at least to me) few reports on the Hydran Master Starship Book, so it seems to be heading towards a smooth launch date. The page count has held steady, even so while I originally envisioned keeping the Stinger-X where it appeared in the "rulebook sequence," i.e., as the last ship description in the Module X1 rulebook before the first entry for the Module X1R rulebook, I have now decided to move it to more or less to "rule sequence," that is to say to say it now appears as the last entry in the Hydran advanced technology ships.

I have also been doing my bit on the A Call to Arms: Star Fleet rulebook revision, having been allowed to read the draft (just the rules) looking for problems. I think over all the book is much improved over the earlier version. It is still a very simple and slimmed down set of rules allowing for large battles to be quickly fought and resolved.

I have been frequently interrupted to check orders and products being packed for shipment, which always breaks my chain of thought.

One of the advantages of "The Early Years" is that there are not a lot of small attrition units. While shuttles exist, they are mostly unarmed and there are no fighters or fast patrol ships. Planetary defenses do not include defense satellites in this period. This can make a relatively large scenario relatively easy to play. I have completed a scenario about the Hydran attack on Borax, the homeworld of the Borak Star League found in Module E3. While there are a lot of ships, there are no fighters so it is very much a slugging match. Because this is a home planet, however much in the Early Years and an empire itself not long in space, the planetary defenses are not all that strong, and the only "attrition" units are a force of early security skiffs to support the ground bases and the defending Borak Star League ships. The Hydran attack is, however, further hampered by the historical fact that at the time of this attack all of their early dreadnoughts and early command cruisers had been destroyed by the Klingons and Lyrans, and with the home shipyard destroyed, they had no means to replace them.

Still, the unique circumstances that existed between the Hydrans and Borak allow for some additional elements of surprise.

I would note that it should be obvious that historically there would have been a lot of merchant ships in the system, but as these are almost entirely unarmed merchant ships, the scenario is simplified by noting that both sides would have ignored them as targets.

Well, that is it for today, I need to get back to examining the A Call to Arms: Star Fleet rulebook.

Wednesday, September 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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Steve Cole's thoughts on ADB and the future of the Star Fleet Universe.

1. One day last June, Simone, Jean, and I were looking over JagdPanther #7 (a magazine I published in 1974) which Simone was to scan so Jean could upload it to the PDF stores. Jean took great delight (and great pain at the same time) pointing out my rather silly spelling, formatting, and punctuation mistakes. (I actually hyphenated the word "rules" at one point. Ok, it was a fanzine, but I was a 23-year-old college senior and you'd have thought that I'd have known better.) Simone found the graphics laughable. I told Simone that 40 years from that day, she would be showing some of her 2014 work to a 23-year-old intern who would be laughing at how primitive it was compared to 3D holograms that sang and danced.

2. As we were finishing the Federation Commander Tactics Manual, somebody asked me what percentage of the book was new and what percentage had been printed before. I had no idea, and also noted that some articles were reprints, some where new, and some were older material rewritten to one extent or another, so it would be hard to calculate a percentage anyway. But the original question brought up an underlying concept, that of publishing stuff more than once. To an extent, it's inevitable. We often print articles in Captain's Log not even thinking that there might be a future book where that article should also appear. When we do the new book, we have a choice of reprinting the articles (often updating them), leaving gaps in the coverage of the new book, or writing entirely new articles that cover the same subjects. (No matter how those new articles are written, they're more or less reprints, as they cover the same ground.) We cannot do Captain's Log without tactics articles, and when we later do a major tactics book, it would be folly to do anything other than gather up the previous material and include it. If nothing else, we make it more convenient to reference as it is all in one place.

3. Something that causes no end of confusion is that every project involves multiple steps, and some people are involved in more than one step. So, on a given day, does Jean (for example) proofread a second draft, check the changes on a third draft of an earlier chapter, or (when SVC is not here) go get on his computer and MAKE changes to the fourth draft of an earlier chapter? Take the Federation Commander Tactics Manual, a project that was a single flow of work (from a single author to press). Patrick Doyle sent the files. Steve Cole laid them out, one article at a time, making a bunch of typography change (punctuation, capitalization, bold, italics, etc.) and some editing and clarifying and expanding as he went. Whenever he finished a chapter, he gave it to Jean, who proofread it (the first time). Then Steve Cole (when he was not doing the layout on a later chapter) made the Jean Round One fixes to a chapter (or even just a few pages) that Jean had proofread once. Then Jean had to compare the "first draft mark-ups" to the second "fixed" draft and see if the changes got made correctly. Doing so, she discovered that there were so many things wrong with the original draft that SVC and she had missed that she had to add a second round of proofreading, marking changes, and marking previous fixes that had been missed or done wrong. Then SVC made those changes and Jean checked them (or, sometimes, Jean made those changes and SVC checked them). At that point, the finished "third draft" went to Steven Petrick for "blind reading" which means that having never seen the document before, he has "fresh eyes" and catches things nobody else caught. Jean checked his marks, SVC made the changes, then put the "Petrick marks third draft" into a stack. Note that SVC or Jean might simultaneously have different chapters of three different drafts on their desk. Picking which to do first is a challenge, and the usual choice is whatever will give anyone without something to do pages to work on. (While all of that was going on, lots of other things were happening, mostly to do with the creation and insertion of art. There were also things like suddenly noticing some bylines had dashes, others had dashes and spaces, and others had nothing. All of that had to be marked and standardized.) Finally, the "finished" draft is printed out and the three principle designers (SVC, Steven Petrick, and Jean) sit down with the "third draft that Petrick marked on and SVC fixed" and checked the changes. Every problem found means SVC gets up, goes to his office, fixes it, and prints a replacement page. Once that is done, we keep paging through the book for an hour or two, looking for problems. At some point, we check every picture to make sure it's not accidentally on the wrong layer covering up text. At another point, we check every title (and every byline, and lots of other things) to be sure they are consistently formatted. Again, every thing we find means SVC gets up and goes and prints a fixed page. Then the chapters are turned into PDFs, stitched together, and a whole book is printed. Now, we start over, with the three principles turning through the book for an hour or two, looking for things missed earlier, and looking for anything that went wrong in the PDF process. (Sometimes fonts go a little wonky, or graphics print wrong, or something else.) Again, every time we find something, SVC gets up and goes and fixes it but now he has to produce a PDF replacement page and insert that into the stitched-together PDF. Finally, it's all done, and we start printing and binding. Then somebody notices something we never saw. Stop the presses! The page has to be fixed, a replacement PDF created and inserted, and replacement pages hand inserted into any unbound books on the assembly line.

Monday, September 22, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 14-20 September 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress on several projects. The weather this week was cool and cloudy, with rain most days. While this happens every year on the week of the Tri-State Fair, Jean enjoyed the "North Carolina weather." The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was Captain's Log #7.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2. He completed layout and editing through chapter 7. (Jean proofread through chapter 5 and her fixes were made.) He took a moment to send two Federation Commmander cards to be reprinted, to write some blogs, and to work on other projects. Stephen and Leanna took off a day to celebrate their 37th wedding anniversary.

Steven Petrick worked on scenarios and battle groups for Captain's Log #50 and on the Hydran Master Starship Book.

The Starline 2500 project remained dead in space for lack of prototypes from the UK. The heavy freighter CGIs were posted for public comment.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory. Both Steves helped Mike check a huge shipment of incoming miniatures.

Simone did website updates and archived a lot of old BBS messages into a special web page.

Jean worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2262 friends), managed our Twitter feed (122 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread part of the Hydran Master Starship Book, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, September 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/).

Saturday, September 20, 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!

Friday, September 19, 2014



Jean: Good morning. Did you have a good weekend?

SVC: Yes, Leanna and I went to see the university ballet troupe doing Swan Lake in the park.

Jean: Is that the troupe known as The Fantastics?

SVC: Yes. They just did the one lake scene. The college girls danced in formation in the middle of the gazebo while some junior high school prodigy half their size danced around the outside edge, just
in front of the audience.

Jean: Was it an enjoyable experience?

SVC: It was until I crossed my legs and accidentally tripped the light Fantastic.


Jean: Good morning.

SVC: What comes after 75?

Jean: Seventy-six?

SVC: That's the spirit!


Jean: Good morning. Where did you and Petrick go after we all had dinner last night?

SVC: We went cow-tipping.

Jean: Is that where you grab the feet of a cow on one side and tip him over? My grandfather did that to a cow when I was a toddler so that I could pet her. Where did you go?

SVC: We drove 40 miles west on country roads looking for a cow by itself, then drove 30 miles back toward town before we found a rare Schleswig-Holstein cow alone in a field. She tipped over quite nicely!

Jean: That was quite a drive.

SVC: Yes, we had to go a long, long way to tip a "rarie."


Jean: Good morning.

SVC: Leanna and I won't be in tomorrow until after lunch.

Jean: What's up?

SVC: We have to go to the memorial service for my old high school and college friend, Frank Jack Caution. His real name was Franklin John but we all called him Frank Jack.

Jean: He was your age?

SVC: Yes, and my weight. He died suddenly of a heart attack, at a traffic light with his wife in the car with him. Janet is just devastated and in shock.

Jean: That's terrible!

SVC: It won't be a traditional service. She had him cremated and tomorrow we'll throw Caution to the winds.


Jean: Good morning.

SVC: What comes after 35?

Jean: (suspicious) a joke? (pause) OK, thirty-six?

SVC: What comes after 48?

Jean: Forty-nine?

SVC: What comes after sixty-three?

Jean: Sixty-four?

SVC: Well, I always knew you were a square.


Jean: Good morning.

SVC: The computer game deal went through!

Jean: What computer game deal?

SVC: Never mind that. We invested the money in buying 30% of the best soccer team in the Philippines. They were about to fold, but with our investment, they have the World Cup in the bag!

Jean: Oh really?

SVC: Our share includes the US merchandise rights, so get busy with Simone creating a line of products and a marketing campaign to sell them.

Jean: What's the name of the team?

SVC: The Manilla Envelopes!


Thursday, September 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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hydran Master Starship Book Insights

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The good news on the Hydran Master Starship Book is that so far there have been very, very few reports from the reviewers on any problems. Most have been relatively small things easily corrected.

Today I finally got to finish going through a file or items that Ken Kazinski has been collecting for a while on the Hydrans (I will admit that the scary thing is that so far I think Ken has only submitted one item on the draft, all the other items were things he had picked up over the years) and made the few changes that were relevant.

One of those changes was to the Hydran Mule and reflects that Star Fleet Battles is a big game. The Mule is the Hydran light tactical transport, and is covered as a light tactical transport under Annex #3A. Not many people use that annex much, but when we updated the Module R3 SSD last the Mule's SSD was corrected to reflect that Annex #3A says all light tactical transports can carry two "pod weights."

Well, the Hydrans only have pallets, and all of their pallets, whether cargo, carrier, combat, or whatever are the same weight. But what if the Hydrans captured someone else's double weight pod and wanted to haul it to the rear? Annex #3A says a light tactical transport can do that. (Anyone can use a tug to haul anyone else's pods or pallets, you just cannot operate them, but you might collect them waiting on that day when you capture one of their tugs and then convert the whole mess to your own technology.)

When we did the updated Hydran Mule SSD we included a movement cost 1.33 chart for purposes of dragging double weight pods, but had not changed the ship description at the time for that possibility. Now it has been changed.

Another thing that is currently in the book, but that has not yet been blessed by SVC is a change to the Hydran Stinger-X. Even I had noticed long and long ago that it was odd that there was no electronic warfare variant of the Stinger-X. Why did Stinger-2s operating from a non-X Ranger (or from a Ranger-X for that matter) have better electronic warfare capabilities than Stinger-Xs? A Stinger-X maxes out (if not in range of its "carrier") at (pick one) three ECM and three ECCM, or two ECM and four ECCM, or four ECM and two ECCM. This is because they have the normal two built-in points of ECCM and of ECM and a built-in electronic warfare pod giving them what amounts to two "swing" points. A Squadron of Stingers operating from a Ranger can have (assuming no extra electronic warfare pods carried by any fighter) Six ECM and two ECCM, or five ECM and three ECCM, or four ECM and four ECCM, or three ECM and five ECCM, or two ECM and six ECCM. This is because they will have a Stinger-E with two built-in pods able to lend to the whole squadron.

It was suggested that Stinger-Xs might reflect their advanced technology by allowing them to use the electronic warfare fighter rules of heavy fighters (R1.F7A). This allows one fighter in a given squadron to be an EWF, at the expense of some deck crew actions (adding an extra EW pod and the EWF software). It only really matters for three reasons. One is if you are sending the fighters on a more or less independent strike away from your "carrier." Another is that sometimes even on an X-ship you need the power that would normally go to generating points to lend to the fighters for other purposes. And, finally, sometimes you are short on EW pods to load onto the fighters (because they had to drop them earlier in the battle) and having one fighter be able to loan to the others helps keep the EW situation fluid.

Well, that is it for today, I hope to have something more to say next time!

Tuesday, September 16, 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.

Monday, September 15, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 7-13 September 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress on many fronts. The weather this week was cooler, with rain and some days actually cold enough for a sweater. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week were the Federation Commander Tactics Manual and the Star Fleet Battles Module R2 SSD book in both color and the original black and white.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms Star Fleet 1.2 (finishing the initial layout of the first seven chapters), the Captain's Log Index upgrade, the SFU Encyclopedia, and other projects. He finished Communique and Hailing Frequencies.

Steven Petrick worked on the Hydran Master Starship Book and Captain's Log #50 (battle groups and scenarios). He also proofread the two newsletters.

The Starline 2500 project made a step forward with the posting of the new jumbo freighter CGIs.

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

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date. We sold out of F&E sheet J.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates, sank almost 300 pirates, and did some graphics.

Jean worked on Hailing Frequencies and Communique, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2155 friends), managed our Twitter feed (121 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread A Call to Arms Star Fleet, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Steve Cole lists the ten dumbest reasons to open a business.

10. It sounds like fun.

9. How hard could it be?

8. I want to be famous!

7. I want a place to hang out all day and play on the computer and get paid for it.

6. I want something easy and profitable to do during my retirement years.

5. I need a place to invest all of my money that will pay me more interest than the bank.

4. I can get the supplies for my hobby at a discount.

3. If that guy on TV can do it, so can I because I watched every episode. Who needs actual experience?

2. Interviewing new employees will be a great way to meet interesting people I can date.

1. I am tired of working my rear end off so that somebody else can live the high life. I want to have the easy job, sitting in the office counting the profit.

Saturday, September 13, 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.

Friday, September 12, 2014

101 Ways to Kill the B10, Part 10

91. Assign it to the studio for "KDSF Blue."

92. Tell the Federation it is not politically correct.

93. Tell the Lyrans it is a Kzinti ship.

94. Tell the Kzintis that the Klingons are going to send it to the Lyrans to copy.

95. Tell the Seltorians the Tholians are using it.

96. Tell the Tholians the Seltorians are using it.

97. Wreck the shuttles so it cannot launch a wild weasel.

98. Tell the French it belongs to Greenpeace.

99. Hire Tim "the Toolman" Taylor as chief engineer.

100. Replace the central computer with a 486.

101. Dare it to do three HETs in a row.

c. 1994, Amarillo Design Bureau, from Captain's Log #16.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hydran Master Starship Book Update

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Work on the Hydran Master Starship Book continues apace.

All of the graphics have been completed, but not inserted.

All of the carrier and escort data tables have been checked for "explosions" and re-edited and re-sized as needed (one of the annoying things about the program is that there is a tendency for these tables to look perfectly fine on the computer screen, and then "blow up" with extra "tabs" and spaces suddenly causing escorts to jump into the fighter column, and fighters to jump into the escorts column). These will have to be checked again and again as reports are made that affect them (putting in a missing comma, or deleting an excess comma, can cause them to explode again).

All published information on the Hydrans in Captain's Log has been integrated.

As always, this being a newer book than the Federation book that preceded it, new concepts are introduced (a "survey ship variant" that appeared in Captain's Log has been moved from the "ships in Captain's Log" section to be with its primary survey ship and a note to this fact left in the "ships in Captain's Log" section for example). We are considering doing the same with the X-Ship that was in Captain's Log (moving it to the end of the X-ships section), but as of now have simply added a note at the end of the X-ships section mentioning that this other X-ship can be found in the "ships in Captain's Log" section.

So far the checkers have not found many items needing adjustment/correction, but all items have been dealt with.

Wednesday, September 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:

Tuesday, September 09, 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.

Monday, September 08, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 31 August - 6 September 2014

Steve Cole reports: 

This was the second full week of work on A Call to Arms Star Fleet 1.2. The weather this week was somewhat cooler, with rain on the weekend. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

Steve Cole worked on ACTASF1.2, the Wall of Honor (which was finally finished), ship diagrams for the Hydran Master Starship Book, the article for the book being done by MIT, blogs, the new decal vendor contract, and other projects.

Steven Petrick worked on the Hydran Master Starship Book and Captain's Log #50.

The 2500 project remained dead in the water waiting for the prototype company (now 10 weeks late).

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with 10 new entries and 2 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 worked on Wall of Honor pages, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2213 friends), managed our Twitter feed (119 followers), commanded the Rangers, found enough pirates to earn two gold medals and 24 honor bars (catapulting her to the top pirate hunter of all time), dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Captain's Log Index, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

On Choices and Life and Games

Jean Sexton muses:

We all make choices in our daily life. Do I go here for lunch or there? Do I pack my lunch in? It is oxymoronic, but even not choosing is a choice. Some choices have long-term consequences. Sadly I choose years ago to not exercise and to eat whatever I wanted.

New choices can be made. I chose to get a dog so I would have to walk. I chose to get a pedometer to measure just how much I was walking. I chose to not stop at 5,000 steps per day, but to struggle for 10,000 steps. I feel like my choices are paying off. This month I walked the 0.3 miles to the office and paid my rent. When I first moved to Amarillo, the office was closer (0.1 miles), but I needed to drive there and back.

I know these are still baby steps and many people will roll their eyes at being proud of such a short walk. For me, it is a sign that I am taking charge of my life. So much of my life I have drifted along, letting the eddies take me where they would. When I moved to Amarillo, I needed to have some time to think about who I am and who I wanted to be. I need to now act on those thoughts and start changing what I don't like. So I am now trying to reach out and meet some of my neighbors.

What does this have to do with gaming? Maybe you need to reach out beyond your comfort zone. Try a new Alpha Octant empire to see how their ships fly. An expert on the Alphas? Try the Omega Octant or one of the newer empires in the Alpha Octant; the Nicozians, the Borak, the Peladine, or the "modern" Carnivons and Paravians. Live dangerously and face off against "what might have been" Andromedans. Make a choice and try something new. It can be exhilarating.

Saturday, September 06, 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, September 05, 2014

101 Ways to Kill the B10, Part 9

81. Play Barry Manilow on the intercom and watch the crew fall asleep.

82. Play hard rock on the intercom and it will shake apart.

83. Win three tournaments with it and let the judges know.

84. Take the "do not touch" sign off of the self-destruct switch.

85. Tell the captain you can disarm the wild SWAC before he pulls it into the bay.

86. Use it as the flagship of the attack on Tholia.

87. Use it as the flagship of the attack on the WYNs.

88. Assign Dr. Kevorkian as the chief medical officer.

89. Park it between two Tholians near a web caster.

90. Convert the security stations into bowling alleys.

c. 1994, Amarillo Design Bureau, from Captain's Log #16.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

A Hydran Master Starship Book

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I had meant to keep this secret for a little while longer, but as SVC has published the fact that I am working on it in his daily files, I will take this opportunity to let you all know.

The first Master Starship Book done was actually the Hydrans, done as a prototype to see what it would take. Since that prototype appeared, there have been a lot of changes and additions to how we are going to do these, as was seen in the Federation Master Starship Book. Since much of the work (assembling most of the ship descriptions) had already been done, I have added the missing ones and gone through the book to add the missing material that was developed for the Federation Master Starship Book. The draft is currently out of the office being checked by a select group, and we do not intend to actually release the book until October at the earliest.

One of the delays in getting the Federation book out was the ship graphics, but we have a working system now, and have actually completed all of the regular graphics as of today.

This book will actually be smaller overall (tentatively less than 110 pages) even though it includes all of the same information. Some of the general ships that were not included in the Federation book are included in the Hydran book because the way the Hydrans operate means there are some differences that had to be accounted for (those Hydran Stingers).

This book does incorporate material that appeared in Captain's Log, to include a better integration of the various Hydran fighters that have appeared there.

The book is not finished, and we are taking this next month (September) to finish the polishing.

Wednesday, September 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.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


Steve Cole's thoughts on Operation Market Garden:

This was a battle in September 1944. The general idea was to drop three divisions of paratroopers in the Netherlands to grab a series of bridges, then quickly roll a column of tanks up the road, moving past the surprised Germans to cross the Rhine at Arnhem and reach a point where Montgomery could dash to Berlin and win the war. The operation failed, a division of British paratroops was all but wiped out, and the Allies ended up with a blame game that has never ended. The only gain was a very narrow piece of land that went nowhere but was surrounded on three sides by Germans. What went wrong?

1. The whole idea of the dash to Berlin was not workable. The Allies had already proven just how far their supply lines could go (not that far), the Germans were unlikely to ignore the rapidly moving British tanks since nothing would be guarding their flanks, and it was very unlikely that those tanks would just roll into a major enemy city like they had in the friendlier streets of Paris. The whole operation (even if one assumes that Montgomery would accept the American idea for a shorter attack that just captured the Ruhr industrial zone) was badly planned.

2. The airplanes that would drop the paratroops and haul the gliders had been hauling supplies for weeks, and had not been able to practice formation flying. That meant that all flying had to be done in daylight, and the distance meant that each plane could only make one flight per day. The airborne divisions needed two flights (or more) to get all of their troops on the ground, meaning that only half of the paratroops could land on the first day. That meant that not all of the key objectives could be captured on the first day, and some of them became much harder to capture after the Germans figured out that something was up and started guarding everything. But even a second trip would have landed eight hours after the first, and the Germans would surely have not been idle in those hours. In the end, the plan was too ambitious, and landing a carpet of paratroops 60 miles through the German lines was too much for the available forces. (The original plan by Montgomery would have landed small groups of paratroops on top of key objectives. The problem was that the Germans would have quickly wiped out such small groups that could not support each other.) The only real way to make the plan work was for the ground offensive to start a week or two earlier and drive halfway to Arnhem before the drop.

3. The supply situation did not support a major offensive. Indeed, the British ground troops of XII, VIII, and XXX corps which were expected to drive 60 miles to the Rhine had very few supplies on hand when it started. The Allied supply situation was in a crisis because no ports had been captured and opened for shipping, meaning that most supplies still arrived over the beaches of Normandy and had to be trucked to the front. (A truck actually burned more fuel getting to the front than it could carry, meaning that one group of trucks had to carry fuel to forward stockpiles so that another group could carry ammunition and food to the troops.) The allies had left six divisions behind to use all of their trucks to haul supplies for other divisions. After the plan failed, the British would complain for decades that Patton had stolen supplies that would have made the difference, but in fact, the British actually did receive all of the supplies they calculated they needed. The Americans would complain that Eisenhower had told Montgomery to clear the Scheldt estuary first and then launch Market-Garden, orders Montgomery interpreted with great flexibility.

4. The plan was based on the assumption that the Germans were on the verge of surrender and collapse. Given what happened between Operation Cobra (25 July) and the first week of September, that was not an unreasonable assumption. The German western front had collapsed and their troops had run for the German border. The Russians had annihilated a third of the German forces on the Russian front between 22 June and early September. Just one more push, the theory went, and Germany would collapse. But the Germans were far more resilient than that, and had somehow managed to put together a defensive line in the West. (It helped the Germans that the British had twice allowed huge groups of German troops and equipment to escape traps, one at Falaise and the other at the Scheldt). Once the paratroops started landing, the Germans were able to call up huge numbers of Luftwaffe, Navy, police, reserve, training, and other troops and throw them into a ragged defense line. (These troops weren't that great, but against the lightly armed paratroops they did well enough for a few days.) Three key German armored units (9th SS, 10th SS, and 107th Panzer) were able to launch smashing counterattacks.
 5. The British tanks were supposed to reach Armhem sometime on D+3 or D+4 but actually reached the Rhine (at a different spot) only on D+9. There are no end of reasons why this happened. The American view that the British were just never in a hurry to attack is at least partly justified. (During all of World War II, British troops never displayed the sense of urgency that American troops sometimes did, and that German troops always did.) Some of the delay is attributed to the problems of shoving a major offensive up a single road surrounded by swampy land on both sides. Some of the delay was caused by stiffer than expected German defenses and counterattacks (although many British and American staff officers predicted that would happen and were ignored). The key point came when the 82nd Airborne launched a heroic river assault crossing in canvas boats. They captured the key bridge, but the British troops crossed the bridge and immediately stopped for the night. (The Americans and Germans in such a situation would have attacked immediately, no matter the odds or cost, and broken through the Arnhem.) The Germans (no fools at war) used the time to move more troops into position to block the British advance.

As with all military failures, there was no one single reason. Turning a blind eye to the two German tank divisions detected at Arnhem, expecting a German collapse, not enough paratroops to grab all of the bridges at once, and a slow-moving relief operation all contributed to a magnificent disaster that many predicted before it began.

Monday, September 01, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 24-30 August 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on several projects. The weather this week was hot, with occasional cooling rain. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. We all took a day off; Leanna, Jean, and Steven Petrick used theirs to drive to Oklahoma City and see The Phantom of the Opera.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was SFB Designer's Edition Expansion #2.

Steve Cole worked on ACTASF 1.2, ships for the Hydran Master Starship Book, the Wall of Honor update, and the last parts of the Captain's Log #49 FLAP List. He also stumbled into a pirate's lair and reported 161 violations to Steve Jackson Games, his first actual pirate kills.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50 and the Hydran Master Starship Book.

The 2500 project remained stalled by the failure of the prototype company in UK to deliver the next batch of prototypes.

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 and some graphics.

Jean worked on the shopping cart link crisis (which was fixed Friday), managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2207 friends), managed our Twitter feed (117 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread a few pages of the Captain's Log Index and the Wall of Honor pages, took care of customers, and did some marketing.