In Praise of Our Volunteers
The adventure game (wargame+roleplaying game) industry is a small
one, and there isn't the kind of money inside of it that other
industries have. The industry consists of creative game designers
willing to work 60 hours a week for half the pay they could command
outside the game industry, all because they get to BE game designers.
at that, the only way the game industry survives is by the hard labor
of unpaid volunteers who (for honor, glory, and rarely some free games)
provide no end of valuable services to game publishers.
Mike West answers rules questions on Federation Commander.
Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire,
Jonathan Thompson for Prime Directive PD20
Gary Plana for GURPS Prime Directive,
Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force,
and Andy Vancil for Star Fleet Battles.
Frank Brooks runs the play-by-email system as a volunteer. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the online game system (for SFB
to pay the server costs. Tenneshington Decals does made-to-order
decals for our Starline miniatures and is run by two of our fans: Will
McCammon and Tony Thomas.
Federation & Empire
would not exist without Chuck Strong (a retired real-world colonel from
Space Command) in charge of the overall game system. He keeps his
staff (Mike Curtis, Ryan Opel, Scott Tenhoff, Thomas Mathews, and Stew
Frazier) busy moving projects forward.
would get done on any of our games except for the Playtest Battle Labs
run by Scott Moellmer in Colorado and by Mike Curtis and Tony Thomas in
Tennessee. And all of the other playtesters are invaluable to us.
have other staffers and volunteers who do specific things (and
sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including John Berg,
Howard Bampton, and Mike Incavo (Galactic Conquest
Kast (Klingon Armada
); and John Sickels, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, Mike West, James Kerr, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive
Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each
one of them. Sometimes our volunteers become part of our staff; Jean
Sexton started out as a volunteer proofreader.
to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month,
by email or BBS or Forum or our page on Facebook, contribute in some way
to the company and its product line. They may report a glitch in an
existing product, playtest a product in development, suggest a new
product, point out something another company is doing what we may want
to take a look at emulating, look up a rules reference for another
player, report on somebody who using our property improperly, comment
on a posted draft of a new rule, or simply ask a question nobody else
ever dared to ask.
Many years ago, we began awarding
medals, ribbons, and other "decorations" to staffers and others who
contributed to each product, and some other projects. These awards not
only recognize those who contributed to the various projects, but
encouraged others to begin making their contributions to future
projects. We have created the Wall of Honor at http://starfleetgames.com/ArtGallery/Wall%20of%20Honor.shtml
This is a tribute to over 30 years of volunteer work. We hope you visit
it to say thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts.
Got Any Marketing Ideas?
ADB, Inc., is always interested in great marketing ideas, ways and
places to sell our products, as well as new products to sell. Our page
on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf
exists to put our products in front of other groups of potential
customers. You will find us on Twitter as ADBInc_Amarillo.
We also are releasing YouTube videos that show what you'll
find in "the box" and our latest releases. You can catch our videos on
our channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames
tried a lot of things that didn't work (Google Pay per Click,
full-color ads in trade journals) and a lot of things that did work
(banners on gamer websites, Star Fleet Alerts) and are always looking
for new ideas. If you have any, send them to us at
Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and we'll think them over.
This Week at ADB, Inc., 20-26 April 2014
Steve Cole reports:
a week of steady progress. The weather this week was warm, once
reaching 80F. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200
per day. Our website hit the bandwidth limit (again) so we upgraded to
the highest available service package and our own dedicated
Steve Cole, Steven Petrick, and Mike Sparks took part
of two days to help rebuild the Ramses Barrier on SVC's back fence,
keeping the neighborhood poodles safe.
New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week:
the fifth historical scenario for Battlewagon.
Steve Cole worked on art
for Federation Master Starship Book, fiction (a short story for Captain's Log #49 and what
may be a future cover story), blogs, and minis production.
Steven Petrick worked on the Federation Master Starship
Book and the Advanced Missions SSD book (finished and being
The Starlist Update Project moved forward
with six new entries. Simone sent out 156 emails, resulting in nine updates
and 98 non-contact entries move to archives.
Leanna kept orders and accounting up to
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
Jean worked on fiction, managed our page
on Facebook (which is up to 2088 friends), managed our Twitter feed
(97 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam
assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Advanced Missions SSD book and Federation Commander Tactics
Manual, took care of customers, and did some marketing.
OPERATION FETCH: 26 April-4 May 2013
Steve Cole writes:
Plans for this mission (to rescue Jean from North Carolina and
bring her to Texas) had been in the works for at least three years.
Looking back, the whole idea seems insane, and only Divine Fortune
brought all three of the expedition members to Amarillo safely.
The problem was Jean's unpredictable
ex-boyfriend who would have tried to stop her from leaving if he had
known about it. Everything had to be done in secret and in a way that
he would not notice. (He kept close tabs on Jean, meaning we could do
nothing he might notice until it was too late for him to intervene.)
What that meant, however, was that once the plans were locked in
(during January) they could not be changed, no matter what happened.
Steve Cole broke his leg in February and spent the entire expedition
on crutches while Steven Petrick was in a knee brace due to a sports
injury in April. Frankly, neither of the Steves had any business going
on the trip, but it had to happen when it was scheduled, or it might
not happen at all.
APRIL: Jean worked her last day at the library, although the
ex-boyfriend thought she would keep working for several more days. After work, Jean drove three hours to visit her
mother, keeping out of the way of the ex-boyfriend. The
two Steves left Amarillo headed east in a rental car. It started
raining when they passed Oklahoma City and rained for a week; they
reached Little Rock, Arkansas, for the night.
SATURDAY 27 APRIL: The two Steves
drove across Arkansas and Tennessee, then turned south across the tail
of North Carolina and entered South Carolina. It was pouring rain the
entire day. They had lunch with SFU staffers Tony Thomas and his
lovely wife Evey near Nashville.
APRIL: Jean spent the day with her mother. The two Steves toured the
battlefields at Cowpens and King's Mountain in a pouring rain, then
drove on to meet Jean for dinner in Lumberton, North Carolina.
MONDAY 29 APRIL:
Once the ex-boyfriend was on his way to work, the two Steves surveyed
Jean's house and storage lockers to calculate the size of truck that
was needed. It rained on and off for much of the day.
TUESDAY 30 APRIL:
It had been planned for Jean to take the Steves to see the USS North
Carolina, but the trip had to be abandoned due to their leg injuries.
They did turn in the rental car and pick up the biggest rental truck
WEDNESDAY 1 MAY: Jean, the two
Steves, two of Jean's local friends, and two SFU friends (Howard
Bampton and Chris Sanchez) emptied Jean's storage lockers into the
truck. A secret plan made sure that the ex-boyfriend did not have the
chance to make a surprise random inspection of the storage lockers. It
rained and/or sprinkled on and off; the loading crew had to stack up
stuff by the door of the storage building and dash to the truck
whenever they saw the sun. Meanwhile, back in Amarillo, Leanna
officially rented Jean's apartment and picked up the keys.
THURSDAY 2 MAY: This was D-Day for Jean. The two
Steves, Chris, Howard, and two local friends arrived at Jean's house
and spent eight furious hours loading everything she wanted to take
with her into the truck. They left just minutes before the
ex-boyfriend got off of work. (They left behind a map marked with the
wrong route back to Amarillo.) Mercifully, there were only a few
sprinkles and showers now and then during the day, but it did start
raining that evening. After hours of driving in dark and rain, the
truck and Jean's car reached a motel in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Meanwhile, back in Amarillo, Mike Sparks moved dozens of boxes of
stuff Jean had shipped ahead over to Jean's apartment.
FRIDAY 3 MAY: Awakening to a decent hotel
breakfast, the three members of the expedition drove north for two
hours to Knoxville, then turned west on I-40. (Conveniently, this
highway continued from Knoxville all the way to Amarillo.) They had
lunch with Mike Curtis, Tony Thomas, and Evey near Nashville. It
rained during alternate hours. Steve Cole drove the truck for one hour
to give Steven Petrick a break, but everyone agreed that (despite his
previous experience with even larger trucks) his injured leg made it
too dangerous for him to drive this one. This condemned Steven Petrick
to drive the truck all the way home. Home base was notified that we
might not get home until Sunday, a day later than scheduled, due to
the inability to rotate drivers. Steve Cole spent the trip as the
navigator and communications officer in Jean's car. (Jean did not
let him drive because of his injured leg. In retaliation, Steve
assigned Jean the radio call sign "Swamp Rat" which she found
amusing.) The plan had been to drive to Little Rock, but the
expedition had to stop an hour early due to exhaustion. After trying
two hotels that were full, an exasperated Jean sprang for the cost of
an expensive hotel rather than sleep in the car or drive another hour.
We expected as we went to sleep that we could not possibly reach
Amarillo on schedule Saturday night.
SATURDAY 4 MAY: The expedition arose to more rain but a
wonderful free hotel breakfast. Steve Cole voted to stay there for the
day to rest and give the rain a chance to stop, but the other two
insisted on pressing on. They drove west across Arkansas and Oklahoma,
finally reaching clear skies at Oklahoma City. This (and a lunch
break) brightened everyone's outlook considerably, and they decided
to press onward. After another hour-long meal break, they were only
three hours from Amarillo and (brains addled by food and exhaustion)
decided to "go for broke." They reached Steve Cole's house
safely at 11pm.
MAY: A glorious clear sky awakened the travelers, who took the truck
up to Jean's apartment to help her officially move in.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #187
Steve Cole ponders a few things most
people did not know about World War II.
1. There were over 50,000 Indian
soldiers (of the British Army, who got taken prisoner in the early
going) who enlisted in the German and Japanese armies. The Indians
were so serious about getting rid of the British that they went that
far. There were two units of Indians in the German SS that fought in
France, but the British made sure they were kept out of the news.
(About 100 of them were parachuted into Iran by German aircraft in an
effort to infiltrate to India.) Fortunately, the Germans never formed
them into a unified Indian-SS division or they'd be hard to keep out
of the history books. (There are dozens of books about the SS
divisions but very few about the dozen or so independent units.) Most
of the British-Indian troops who surrendered at Singapore joined the
Japanese Army (reinforced by thousands of civilians of Indian heritage
in Japanese-held areas of Indo-China) and fought in Malaya right up
until 1945. These were all handed over to the British, who had planned
massive show trials and executions for the traitors, but in the end
the British realized that their time in India was over. Knowing that
they could never again trust Indian soldiers, they just forgot the
whole thing and released them.
2. The Germans had
problems keeping their tank strength up to what they wanted for many
reasons, combat losses and the bombing of factories being well known.
What is not realized is that the Germans starved the spare parts
system to build new tanks, and did not field a tank recovery vehicle
until 1944. They would have had to reduce tank production to make the
number of spare parts needed, but would have had more tanks in the
field because of it. The Americans were constantly repairing their
Shermans, some of which were knocked out by German fire five or six
3. The Germans spent the
modern equivalent of $180 million making a movie about the Titanic,
with a script that blamed the sinking on greedy British business
people who wanted to make a fast crossing to manipulate the stock
market. When finished, the war was going so badly that Goebbels would
not allow the film to be shown in Germany as it was too depressing to
watch ships sink (as most of the German Navy was on the bottom by
then). The movie was shown in Germany in 1950 and was a smash hit.
people believe the myth that Polish cavalry charged German tanks. A
few people who have actually read some history books know that the
Polish cavalry repeatedly charged German infantry, but only once
(after hacking up the infantry unit) accidentally ran into some
armored cars which shot up the cavalry with machineguns. Few know that
the day after this unique incident the Germans parked a few tanks
around the dead cavalrymen and horses and brought in foreign
journalists to show them the staged scene, and their reporting sparked
5. The infamous Nazi Salute did not come from
ancient Rome. (There is no evidence that the Romans even had
saluting.) It came from an American named Bellamy who thought it a
smart way to say the pledge of allegiance (and Americans did it that
way from 1890 into the 1920s). The original Bellamy Salute started
with the hand over the heart, but as the pledge went on, the hand
would be extended out and up to end in the position of the Nazi
Salute. An American fascist took the salute with him when he went to
Italian in 1920, and Mussolini saw it (when fascists in Trieste
rioted) and adopted it as the "Roman Salute" for his fascist
party. Hitler copied Mussolini. Hollywood heard about it and used it
in Roman epic movies in the 1920s and 1930s but dropped it (replacing
it in movies about Rome with the right fist over the heart) during
World War II and since then.
6. Rene Duchez was a French interior
decorator hired to redecorate the offices of the German Organization
Todt in Caen. These offices were responsible for all fortification
construction in Normandy. One day, Rene saw a map detailing all of the
fortifications, stole it, and handed it off to the French resistance,
who spirited the map to England. The British assumed that the Germans
would realize the maps were gone and change the plans, but instead,
the German engineers just printed up a new set of maps and kept going
on the original plan. Admitting that they had mislaid the maps would
have caused uncomfortable questions from the Gestapo.
Ten Things the Romulans Won't Tell You
1. The cloaking device isn't all that good.
It's not a perfect camouflage system, and you can still hit us. Even if you cannot deal devastating blows with those photons, you can get enough hits that we cannot stay "down there" all that long. We just use it to reload and to get away. Sneaking into trouble, yeah, right, we do that, sure we do. Seriously, every minute we spend under cloak is one of helpless terror.
2. We're more afraid of each other than of you.
The Great House system means that every ship is like a corporation with a lot of minority stockholders maneuvering to build a majority and throw the other stockholders (officers) overboard. Literally. When you Feds talk about a rival stabbing you in the back, you're talking figuratively, right?
3. We don't like the Klingons all that much.
They were going to conquer us, they sold us their junky old ships instead of the new ones we thought we were paying for, and they're arrogant jerks who think charging into the teeth of a photon salvo is the epitome of military strategy. And they smell.
4. We think we're civilians, not soldiers.
The way the great houses work is that we're more concerned about money, expressed in terms of controlling planets, resources, ships, and businesses, than we are about military careers. To be successful in a great house, you need to have spent two or three decades in uniform, but we're on those ships to build our resumes, not to spend our whole lives there. Remember, we live a long time and most of us have three full careers (war, business, politics) in the span of our lifetimes, not just the one you have.
5. Big plasma, yeah, but...
Those torpedoes are really cool when they hit something, but have you ever noticed that most of them don't hit anything? They may scare you away or push you off to one flank, but actually hitting a ship that isn't trying to close in on us? Fagedabodit.
6. The Inter-Stellar Concordium scares us.
You just can't talk with those guys. I mean, they think we're crazy and that's no way to start a negotiation. They have those big mean ships and they always show up in whole fleets.
7. Tholians? What Tholians?
You mean there is another empire on that border? Hmm... we'll have to remember to send some ships to check that out. Right after we learn to stop annoying the Gorns.
8. We're the real Vulcans.
Thousands of years ago, our perfectly nice species was torn asunder by those self-righteous, arrogant, religious whackos who thought that "logic" was the be-all and end-all. Yeah, those guys, the ones who have sex once every seven years. Is there any wonder why we left? I mean, really, they told you that they threw us out? You want to compare the forests and oceans of Romulus to that desert wasteland those nutballs call home?
9. Fighters and gunboats are perfect for getting rid of inconvenient relatives and hangers-on.
The casualty and survival rates on those things are atrocious, and no scion of a great house would be caught dead in one. Actually, most of the pilots and crews of those things are eventually caught dead in them. But not us great house sons and daughters. Nope, we're not that stupid. We do run a lottery promising any peasant who survives 20 missions that they'll get membership in a great house. Nobody has ever collected that bet.
10. We do in fact hate you Feds, and we fear your money.
Those decades when the Orions were looting our Empire and you pretended you didn't know, yeah, those decades, that still rankles us. We're even more afraid that some of the great houses are already secretly owned by Federation investors and maneuvering to force other great houses to sell out.
Join us on Facebook and Twitter
ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now up and running, and we’re finding
a lot of new faces who haven’t been around the BBS or Forum. We have
pictures up of ADB, Inc. staff, links to many of our videos, snippets of
information, and interaction with our fans. Jean Sexton is the main
voice you will hear on our page on Facebook. If she doesn’t know an
answer, she’ll ask one of the Steves and ferry the answer back.
that is left is for you to "like" the page for Amarillo Design Bureau,
Inc. if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf
people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps
our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to
keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood
of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day,
checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something
important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries,
plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has
discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.
We've also added a Twitter feed which you can follow at https://twitter.com/ADBInc_Amarillo.
Be sure to follow us for a quick look at what is going on!
We hope to see you there! For Facebook users, be sure to add us to an interest group to see all of our posts.
A TRIP, A BOOK, AND MURPHY
This is Steven Petrick posting.
Leanna and Jean decided to go see a play, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." The play, however, was in Oklahoma City. I had no interest in the play, but offered to do the driving as, frankly, I kind of enjoy driving for the most part, and am largely familiar with the route, it being part of the route we normally take when we go to Origins.
As I did not intend to see the play, I opted to bring a book along that I would peruse while the ladies were at the play, one of several I have read of late on the Normandy landings. To make certain I would not forget the book, I tossed it in the back of Leanna's car, the vehicle selected for the trip, the evening before the trip.
The day of the trip we all piled into Leanna's car, while SVC remained behind to babysit the dog. It was a pleasant day for a drive, with clear skies and not very high temperatures. We made quite good time, and with the exception of having to find the correct exit (the only thing not specifically noted) had no trouble finding the convention center. Leanna, in point of fact, made it a point to hand me the directions at our lunch stop so that I had time to commit them to memory (there were not a lot of them) rather than having her or Jean try to read them to me as I drove.
This capped off the first leg of a relatively uneventful trip (well, it turned out that the originally selected spot for lunch was out of business, and we missed the exit for it in any case, and circling back proved an adventure as the west bound on ramp was also closed when we tried to turn back). We had, as it turned out, started early enough on our trip that this did not impose an impossible delay.
Having arrived and found parking, the ladies were ready to head in and I went to the rear of the car to get my book . . . which was not there.
The evening before Leanna saw the book and (since SVC and I have very similar reading habits) thought it was one of SVC's books and took it out of the car and left it on the counter at her home. So I was now left with nothing to really occupy my time while I was waiting.
This was a case of "Murphy's law," but I am well acquainted with Mrs. Murphy's darling little boy in my life, and have over time come to the attitude that "if the world will not end as a result" I take such things in good humor. I could not help but laugh at the situation.
Leanna and Jean enjoyed their show, but could not help discussing what I was going to do. Leanna thought I would read the newspaper, which I had tossed in the car for her to read on the trip. The paper arrives so late in the day now that I seldom have time to read it before heading to work, so I had not read it that morning. However, I rarely read the whole paper as I have almost no interest in sports or human interest stories. Leanna was right that I did read more of the paper than I would normally in an effort to keep my brain occupied; even so, the paper did not take up a lot of the time (and even in this emergency I could not make myself read the sports section). Jean thought I would take a catnap, and as it happens was also correct in that I reclined the driver's seat, opened the driver's side window and dozed for a bit.
All the above, however, still left hours to kill. Experience has taught me that my brain is not a safe place to wander around in, so I do normally try to keep it occupied (driving, working, reading, watching television, anything other than just thinking). You really, really, do not want to know what goes on in my mind when it is more or less completely taken off the leash. It tends to go exploring questions and concepts that are not for polite, or even civilized, society.
Eventually I had to go for a walk to find "facilities" and discovered that about a fourth of the convention center is surrounded by "police operations." I discovered this when a police car stopped next to me, and out of habit I stopped, wondering what the officer wanted. This was another case of Murphy, as the officer wanted nothing to do with me, but was heading into a building, but because I had stopped to look at him, he wondered what I wanted. A short conversation soon resolved the non-verbal miscommunication and directed me to where I could find facilities after a short walk.
After I got back to the car, I began noticing people moving to parked cars elsewhere in the location, although not right where I was parked, and even so deduced that the play was over. A short while later Leanna called and confirmed the end of the play and that it would take them a while to catch an elevator down from the fourth floor, so I engaged in a little traffic control while I waited. Things worked out well as most of the vehicle traffic had cleared from the parking area by the time they got to me, and we were easily able to get back on the move and regain the main artery home.
We did have a few traffic incidents on the trip (a pick up truck apparently had its passenger side front wheel come off the rim, and at one point a tractor trailer pulled into the passing lane we were in necessitating coming down on the brakes a little harder than I liked, among a few other things), but over all the actual driving was uneventful and we were soon back in Amarillo where Jean was reunited with her dog and Leanna with SVC and I was on my way home.
Playing Star Fleet Universe Games Long Distance
Playing games by email or by post is an alternative to playing
face-to-face. While there are a few differences (i.e., your opponent
isn't sitting across the table from you), it is the same game.
When playing Star Fleet Battles
or Federation Commander
using the Play-by-Email (PBEM) system you and your opponent submit your
orders for the turn to a moderator via email. The moderator then
processes them, and sends a "SitRep" (Situation Report) to the players
via email. You receive the results, write up your next set of orders,
and then submit your orders once again. The process is repeated until
the game is completed. Sounds simple? That's because it IS! It'll take a
little getting used to (after all, what doesn't?), but once you've got
the hang of it, you'll be lobbing photon torpedoes (or whatever your
weapon of choice is) at opponents from all over the world.
PBEM game has at least three participants: two or more players and one
moderator. The moderator's purpose is to accept orders from the players
and carry them out, reporting the results of those orders to all
players. While (s)he is not a player, the moderator fulfills a very
important role in the game. Good moderators and good players make for a
good, enjoyable game. Moderating a game is also an excellent way to
learn more about the game's rules.
games can be played by posting on the Forum. The GM of the game gets
players, approves their characters, then sets up situations for the
characters to face. It takes a bit longer because the players are not
sitting around the table, but it also allows people who are spread out
across the world to play.
Players of all our games are
expanding the frontiers of playing long distance. Some are trying chat,
some are adding webcams to that, many are trying out VOIP so as to get
close to a face-to-face experience.
While there are
some disadvantages to playing long distance (it does take longer to
finish a game), there are advantages as well. You can play against
people in other parts of the world (how often do you get to Australia,
anyway?), you can play multiple games at once, and you can have large
multi-player games (without worrying about running out of chips and
For more information about playing long distance, drop in on the Forum (http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2
) or BBS (http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/
This Week at ADB, Inc., 13-19 April 2014
Steve Cole reports:
This was the week
that we announced the new price structure for the Starline 2500 miniatures (and made them mail-order only). The weather this week was cold to
start but warmed up by midweek. The spam storm mostly remained at
something under 200 per day.
New on Warehouse 23 this week: SFB Module T with colorized SSDs.
New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week: F&E Chart Book,
Battlewagon Article #4, SFB Module T (rulebook, colorized SSDs, and B&W SSDs), and Federation Commander Klingon Ship Card Pack #1.
Steve Cole worked on the Federation Commander Tactics
Manual, art for the Federation Master Starship Book (35 ships, plus some color ones for
Facebook), blogs, and six WYN cards for FCOL. He started replacing
the last of the metal Ramses Barrier with wooden planks. After
speaking with Bruce Graw, Steve assigned Gary Carney to create the
lost empires of the Omega Sector. He had a bit of excitement on
Tuesday, helping to direct traffic around a bad highway accident,
using his old State Guard training.
Petrick worked on the Federation Master Starship Book (adding art) and the
Advanced Missions SSD book. He assigned battle pairs for the battle groups scenario for Captain's Log #49.
The Starlist Update Project moved forward with
150 older entries sent emails, of which about 90 were moved to
archives and about 10 sent updated information. Twelve new entries
Leanna kept orders and accounting up
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates, finished the
Wall of Honor, and did some graphics.
Jean worked on the Starline 2500 price change thing,
managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2077 friends), managed
our Twitter feed (97 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the
continuing spam assault on the BBS (deleting 4 spambots), managed the
blog feed, proofread Federation Commander Tactics Manual, took care of customers, sunk a pirate, and
did some marketing. She also won the poetry contest at UNCP which she managed for 14 years.
Ever wished you could take a peek inside a shrink-wrapped box or look
behind the pretty covers of a book? Then these videos are for you.
brainchild of Mike Sparks, our YouTube videos are of three types. The
first is about a specific product line and you can hear Steve Cole (yes,
he is the talking hands in our videos) discuss the products that are in
one of the different games. The second kind is what ADB, Inc. has
released in a particular month. These are a great way to catch up
quickly on the new items.
It is the third kind that let's you see what is in the box. A boxed game such as Federation & Empire
is taken out of the box item by item so that you can see what's in
there. From rulebook, to charts, to maps, to counters, each item is
shown and discussed. It's a lot of information to pack into a short
clip, but SVC and Mike manage it.
Check out our channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames
and be sure to bring the popcorn!
How to Find New Opponents
Steve Cole writes:
Many gamers are looking for new
opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe
four war gamers in Amarillo that I knew, but there must have been more
as the one store that carried Avalon Hill games (then the only wargames)
would sell one or two now and then that my friends and I knew we didn't
buy. Funny, it never once occurred to us to ask the store manager to
give our phone numbers to the other guys. When I was in college, SPI
(then the second wargame company and rapidly becoming larger and more
innovative than Avalon Hill) had an opponent wanted list. I sent in my
dollar to get it, and found only one person (of the 20 on the list) who
was within 120 miles; the first and last person on the list were each
450 miles away (in opposite directions).
the concept of contacting other gamers has had decades to mature, works
much better, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For best results,
you should do all of them.
If you play Federation Commander,
then you can go to the Commander's Circle and enter your data (as much
or as little as you are comfortable with) and perhaps find opponents
near you. We are gaining new sign-ins every day, and since it's free you
can try it every month or two and find out if somebody nearby has
signed in. http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/
Primarily for Federation Commander
players, the Forum has a topic where local stores and groups post
announcements and invitations. Players can let other players know
they're around. How silly would you feel if you found out that the guy
who you've been arguing with on the forum for years actually lives in
your town. (That HAS happened.) http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2
can to go to a local store and ask them to let you post a notice
looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of your favorite
game(s) and "grow your own" opponents. If a person already plays the
game you are demoing, he'll doubtless drop by just to swap phone
Many towns have community bulletin boards on
the local cable company's "home" channel. These are variously free or
cost just a couple of dollars. It's hit-and-miss, but you could get
lucky. (When I commanded Company C of the 1-39 MPs, I gained a dozen new
recruits in a year that came from cable TV.) You could also buy a cheap
want ad in the newspaper or the free advertising newspaper (American's
Want Ads or whatever yours is called) found in quickie marts. There is
also Craigslist, but you should use the normal caution you would for
meeting a stranger.
The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to http://starfleetgames.com/starlist.shtml
Enter your data in the form, and you'll get a list of local players
back. (This may take a day or two as it is done by hand.) Starlist is
the most effective hunt for new players because the database has some
5,000 players in it, far more than all of the other sources combined.
The only drawback is that Starlist works with full information (name and
address) and those who are seriously concerned about identity theft
often find this uncomfortable. In all reality, however, Starlist would
not give an identity thief any more information than a local phone book
would, and if that's enough for those criminals to operate, they would
be vastly more likely to use the phone book than to request a copy of
You can find opponents for all of our games on our BBS. Go to http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/
and you'll see "Seeking Opponents" on the main menu. You can post a
notice there (and search the previous postings). Again, you can post as
much or as little information as you are comfortable with.
Friends of our page on Facebook can post to see who is out there. Not a friend? Become one here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf
With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see http://www.starfleetgames.com/links.shtml
there is a game convention within driving distance, it's worth a trip
to see if you might find someone who is also within driving distance. If
there is a game club in your home town or a store with a gaming area,
go there and set up the game and wait for somebody to ask what it is.
(Even better, take a friend who will play the game with you so you won't
be bored.) If there is a Star Trek club in your home town, show them Federation Commander
or Star Fleet Battle Force
There are people who have printed a card with the logo of one of our
games and their email address and left these in the windows of their
cars who got emails from other gamers in their home towns who were
You can go always go to SFB Online (http://www.sfbonline.com/index.jsp
) and play Star Fleet Battles
and Federation Commander
online with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum
of $5 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.
are probably more ways than this to find opponents, but unless you live
in a cave somewhere, you can almost certainly find a new friend within a
short while by trying these methods.
Ten Things the Klingons Won't Tell You
1. We're scared most of the time.
Oh, we manage our fear and we perform despite it, but we are afraid of a lot of things, mostly being destroyed by enemies on multiple sides. The Klingon Empire is small and has no room to expand, and those Kzintis want to eat us! You think we got kicked out of the Hydran Kingdom but we think that the Hydrans stole five of our provinces! And remember that the Federation stole about 10% of our Empire with that "border treaty" that you wrote and we never signed. We live in constant fear of someone biting off another chunk of our territory.
2. Our civilians hate us.
They know that tons of money is spent on the military and they realize that soldiers hardly live like kings, but they also know that if we'd just sell the whole Empire to the Federation that the Empire's civilians would have a higher standard of living and we could still be soldiers flying starships. We really don't want to be Feds, even if our civilians do. That's why they hate us.
3. We really don't like drones all that much.
They're kind of a necessary evil, since the ships don't generate as much power as more weapons would need. We mostly use drones to kill some of those Kzinti drones (and they're a wash against Fed drones). The problem with drones is that you have to launch them from short range in front of the enemy, and that's exactly where a photon-armed ship wants us to be!
4. We actually understand accounting.
Ok, it's loads of fun to watch a Klingon emperor throw an accounting PADD over his shoulder in disgust and we're actually kind of happy about you thinking that happens. But really, our military officers have university degrees, and that includes several classes in accounting. Fuel costs money, as do repairs, spare parts, and ammunition, and any officer who doesn't understand how money works isn't going to have much of a career.
5. We are not alcoholics.
We like it when you guys think we're drunk all the time, as you don't take us seriously while we maneuver for the kill. Your trivideo guys are always showing Klingons drinking until we fall down. Ok, we do that now and then, on special occasions, when there's no enemy in range and guards are posted. Your Star Fleet officers do the same thing and make sure you never know.
6. We don't fight duels very often.
Klingon sports are rough and often involve a small amount of bloodshed. Your military officers are always playing racquetball and volleyball and soccer, and our officers play our own sports. Our rough-and-tumble sports often look like vicious battles to non-Klingons, and that's often misinterpreted.
7. Nobody wants to be assigned to an SFG ship.
That's what's called a suicide mission. Ok, we have this really cool weapon that freezes your ships, but to use it, we have to come to a complete stop (in front of ships with photons!) and then after we freeze you we cannot do anything to you.
8. Maulers aren't for what you think they are for.
Ok, sure, the mauler is a really big cannon, but the point of the ships is those huge batteries. These are great for bashing our way through minefields and winning tractor auctions.
9. We wish fighters and PFs had never been invented.
The casualty rates are astronomical and we need a lot more officers for those things than for starships. Our enlisted men laugh as the officers fly off to die in the wild black yonder.
10. We don't hate you Feds; we fear your money.
We really have no grudge against you guys, well, other than that territory you stole. We hate the Tholians and fear the Kzintis and don't like Hydrans. We're mostly afraid that with your economy you'll just buy us in a hostile takeover.
FLASH, no bang?
This is Steven Petrick posting.
I have not been able to walk as regularly as I had been. Some of this is conditions and timing, but some of it is sheer laziness. If I can once get into "PT Uniform" my inner drill sergeant will make me do the trip, but of late making me get into "PT Uniform" is becoming harder and harder.
Even so, I do get in some walks. And sometimes things happen on the walks.
On one particular walk I was heading West on the final "outbound" leg (the path takes me West, then South, then the longest leg of East, followed by North, then West again, South again, and finally East again to get to the apartment complex). As I started up the slight incline I was suddenly hit in the eyes by a brilliant flash of white light from above and to my immediate front. There are no "artificial" light sources in that direction normally, and my brain immediately jumped to the conclusion of "aerial explosion." There was no "bang," at least not immediately associated with the flash, which meant the explosion was a considerable distance away. It was however a very large and very bright flash.
As I was beginning to wonder what was going on, all in the space of a few seconds and perhaps one or two more steps, my eyes rose to the sky to ascertain what was going on (possibilities included an aircraft exploding, or piece of space debris breaking up in the atmosphere, or some odd form of ball lightning) I learned why the flash had not been accompanied by a bang, and any bang would be a long time in coming.
I would imagine that photons impacting the moon's surface would be considered as exploding before they rebounded off and headed towards Earth, but even if you could hear photon impacts on Earth itself, you would not hear them through the void of space from the moon.
That brilliant flash was simply the Sun's light reflected off of a full moon. The rotation of the Earth, the Moon's orbital movement, and my direction of march combined with the slight upward incline of my path at that point had resulted in the brim of my cap rising just enough to catch the bottom edge of the moonlight.
It was a rather embarrassing moment for an old Infantryman to discover just how out of touch I had become with my surroundings. I was utterly unaware that the Moon was full as I set out on my walk. I used to be much more in tune with what went on around me, after all, in my job specialty my life could have very well depended on it.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #186
Steve Cole's thoughts on
ADB and the future of the SFU.
1. One constant problem around this place is that
there are too many jobs chasing too few people, and not enough money
to hire new people. Getting Jean was supposed to help, but she seems
fully busy and the only part of my job she took off of my list of too
many jobs were jobs I wasn't doing anyway, so I'm just as busy as
I ever was.
2. One aspect of too few people is that constant delay
of small but worthwhile projects that just get lost in the cluster.
Between doing what it takes to keep the company going and producing
entire new products, these smaller projects just never happen. That
makes the very creative people who sent them in very upset that they
aren't getting any love. It also means some things that are entirely
internal also aren't getting done. These are not the "very
small" projects where somebody wants something and I take ten
minutes and do it; those are one-time things that just get done. I
started calling these things quangos (which is a British term meaning
something entirely different and unrelated) but finally decided to
call them SmaPros, SnapRows, or Small Projects. Looking over the list
of things on this list I see an very interesting APP somebody sent in
that I never had time to look at (it ran afoul of the lack of a device
that could run it, but Jean put it on her Xoom), finding the files for
JagdPanther #7, getting the damaged drywall fixed in the back room,
and about 30 other things.
3. Jean argued with me
for a year over how much to upload to DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault.
I wanted to stick mostly if not only to Warehouse 23 because is has lower fees
and is run by a friend of mine. Sometime in February, Jean finally won
the argument, and has now started uploading an existing item from Warehouse 23
onto DTRPG/WV every week.
4. As the article in Captain's Log #48 says, we want to improve
Starlist, which is our opponent locator service. We know that many of
the entries on the list are no longer valid because people move or
find new interests, but as there is no way to know which are and which
are not valid, we don't delete anything. (Besides, we use it as a
master address list in case we need to track down somebody who
submitted something a decade ago that we finally got around to using.)
The plan to "improve" the list is twofold: reduce the number
of obsolete entries and increase the number of valid entries. To
reduce the obsolete ones, we have four initiatives. First, we moved
everybody from before 2000 to a separate archive list. Second, we
cross-check the entries from one state every day (unless we're busy)
to identify and remove duplicate entries. Third, we have started to
email the people with entries from 2000-2004 to see if they are still
valid. It will take months to complete that step, but it does turn
some old entries into new ones, removes dead email addresses, and
removes some people who are no longer interested. Fourth, we are
offering a campaign ribbon to anyone who will contact 20 people on
their local list and report which entries are valid or not. To add
more new entries, we made the Starlist form on the website easier to
use, Jean advertises Starlist every month, and Leanna added an
"Add me to Starlist" button to the shopping cart. Nobody
gets on Starlist without asking to be on it and providing their own
5. In late
March, Shawn Hantke (who has done a lot of nice things for us
regarding PDFs) sent in a surprise new product: SFB SSDs colorized in
the Fed Commander pattern. We debated whether to sell this on the
download sites. The primary objection was "Will it make people
demand that we do all of the SSDs this way?" Well, maybe it will,
but people have been asking for that for a long time anyway, and
Shawn's tournament project will show us whether anybody will really
buy these things. If only a few buy them, we know to divert Shawn's
energy in other directions. If a hundred buy them, we do indeed need
to offer more products this way.
6. On the same day that Shawn sent in that project, Gary
Carney sent in the Federation Commander Magellanic Playtest Pack. Gary is the
"all things non-Alpha" guy and previously did the FC Omega
Playtest Pack" which has sold 100 copies so far. We told him to make a few
fixes and we'd upload it ASAP. Gary had a reputation for being a
pest but has turned into a real staffer of great value to the company.
We had to take time to teach him how to do things, such as marking any
new material he created in the middle of a larger product so we could
identify and review it before it became an official part of the
7. Steven Petrick
finished the Federation Master Starship Book but has been waiting for me to
do the art. One night at dinner we kicked around ideas for how to do
this more efficiently than the way we tried to do it earlier, and hit
upon one that may work (to do the ships it batches of the base hull
type; I will print out a sheet of the stock hull and Steven P will mark
what greebles to change for each variant). Meanwhile, somebody asked
if it would include X-ships and Y-ships. We debated this for some
time, but finally decided that the book (which currently does not
include those) needs to be finished and marketed to see if it paid the
cost of two months of Steven Petrick design time and a month of me
doing graphics. We need to prove the books will sell before letting
them get bigger.
Free Stuff for Star Fleet Universe Players!
Steve Cole writes:
We have a lot of free stuff on
our website. Let me point you to some of the most popular things. Doing
this in alphabetical order we start with Federation & Empire.
They have play aids and countersheet graphics here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#FNE
Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of the Federation Commander
game (well, enough of the game to play a few battles). First Missions
will give you enough of the game that you can try it out. Go here to download it: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/first-missions.shtml
that's just a start. Commander's Circle has lots of free resources such
as various formats of the Master Ship Chart, Ship Cards, the current
and back issues of Communique
, scenarios, and playtest rules. If you register, then you can find other Federation Commander
players can find a treasure trove of play aids, including medals,
insignia, maps, the timeline, and lots of other goodies to spice up a
game. These can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#PD
Want to introduce a friend to the Star Fleet Universe? Try the free download of Introduction to the Star Fleet Universe: Prime Directive and Roleplaying
Star Fleet Battle Force
has new cards and play aids as well. These are located here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#SFBF
Star Fleet Battles
players have the Cadet Training Manual
and Cadet Training Handbook
. These were done as a way to get players into the complicated Star Fleet Battles
game system. You can download them for free here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/CadetTraining.shtml
Also available on the same webpage are lots of SSDs for the game.
We have downloadable art for your computer and iPhone so you can show your SFU
pride. Those are here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml
Don't forget Hailing Frequencies
, our free monthly newsletter. Covering all our games, you can read back issues here: http://www.federationcommander.com/Newsletter/past.html
Don't forget to sign up to get the link delivered straight to your email box each month. You can "opt in" here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml
are many historical documents which are available for download. Maps,
deck plans, assorted graphics, and much, much more can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/historicaldownloads.shtml
Browse our master index to find all sorts of interesting information: http://www.starfleetgames.com/masterindex.shtml
As you can see, you could spend days browsing. We hope you enjoy what you find.
This Week at ADB, Inc., 6-12 April 2014
Steve Cole reports:
This was a
week of steady work. The weather this week was mild. The spam storm
mostly remained at something under 200 per day.
New on Warehouse 23 this week: Battlewagon Article #3: Battlewagon Scenario - The Last Sortie of the Yamato.
New on DriveThruRPG and Wargame Vault this week: Battlewagon Article #3: Battlewagon Scenario - The Last Sortie of the Yamato.
Steve Cole never had a
chance to work on his primary task (Federation Commander Tactics Manual) due to demands for
secondary projects. He worked on a minor deal to release an app,
production issues with 2500s, art for the Master Starship Book, fiction, repairs to
the fence at his house, and finished the Wall of Honor update.
Steven Petrick worked on the Advanced
Missions SSD book update (finishing the Gorns) and inserted dozens of
pieces of new art into the Federation Master Starship Book.
The Starlist Update Project continued to move
Leanna kept orders and
accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
graphics. She took over emailing old Starlist entries to verify their
Jean worked on Traveller Prime Directive, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2062 friends),
managed our Twitter feed (97 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt
with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed,
proofread Wall of Honor pages, took care of customers, and did some
marketing. Jean won the poetry contest at the Mary Livermore Library at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She ran the contest for 14 years and previously was barred from entering because she did manage it.
My Typical Day at ADB, Inc.
Wolf Dog Sexton tells Jean to write:
My day at work starts when I escort Mom to her car. It is very important that she not be attacked, so I stay alert for any stray cats or birds that might hurt her. When we get to the car, I watch while she puts all the junk in the car and then I get into the car carrier.
When we get to work, Mom lets me out of the car carrier and I escort her into the building. (The Steves say she should always be escorted by one of the gentlemen of ADB, so I take this seriously.) When we go into the building, we sometimes have to hurry and turn off the alarm system; other times we just have to go into the office.
Once in the office, I must watch for the arrival of the rest of the pack. When each person comes in, I carefully check to make sure no imposter slips in. I do this when I get patted or talked to. I'm restricted to the office until all of the pack is in the building.
Once everyone is here, I have to go and check to make sure each person is where he or she belongs. They should also be at work and work is feeding me kibble treats when I need them. Each person has his or her responsibility.
Steve Cole is responsible for enrichment activities. Helicopter Dog, Anteater Tongue, and Dig for Food are part of his duties. Sometimes he works on The White Box, but when he forgets his duties, I remind him by bouncing his leg. If that doesn't work, I am forced to become increasingly vocal. I think he is coming along well in his training.
Steven Petrick is excused from kibble treats, but carries me back to the front when I am tired. He gives the most excellent chest rubs, though, so he is good.
Leanna Cole makes me dance for kibble treats, but that is fine because she picks me up and holds me. Sometimes she is on The White Box, but bouncing her always works.
Mike Sparks pats me. Sometimes he forgets and I have to remind him, but that's okay. His kingdom has a shut door, but I'm smart and understand I cannot go in there. Besides, there's a gate and I can't get over it.
Simone Pike has a job and it is to play with me. She hides her hands and I have to bark to make her give them back. I am working on teaching her to fetch my toys when I want them. I think she is smart and will learn which one I want over time.
Anyway, I have to go back and forth a lot to make sure everyone is working appropriately. When I take a break, I sleep in my bed in a chair beside Mom. Sometimes I watch people go by through her window. Sometimes a stray dog wanders by and I tell them that the position of watch dog is taken.
I also have perimeter patrol about three times a day. I make sure that graffiti is noticed, wandering dogs are told to move on, holes in fences are reported, and that Mom gets her exercise.
It is hard to be at work with Mom sometimes. She does
embarrassing things like brush my ears in public. But she also walks me
as does almost anyone else if Mom isn't available.
The only part of the day that I really hate is L U N C H time because I have to be apart from my pack. I wasn't sure when they would return, but I am learning that they will always come back. I then do my happy dance to make them laugh.
I do announce when the postal delivery person and the UPS person are here. They bring things and people need to know that stuff arrived. I am working on not announcing their arrival quite so long.
At the end of the day I escort Mom and a Steve to Mom's car and go back Home. My ADB duties are not done until she gets into Home and we get to go on the Long Walk when I inspect the outer perimeter of Home -- a half-mile walk.
As you can read, my day is very busy. I stay at it, even though I am only eight months old. I wouldn't trade staying at the apartment by myself with going to work and being with my pack. Besides, I make my Mom laugh and that is my highest calling.
We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products
as PDFs by way of the Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG,
and Wargame Vault
websites. So far on Warehouse 23, we
have released a lot of stuff for Federation Commander,
including the Revision Six Reference Rulebook
, the 72 ships from Federation Commander Briefing #2
(divided into six packs of 12 ships and a separate rules pack), and
more than a dozen Ship Card Packs. Our ebook PDFs are in color and high
resolution. PDFs of most books are searchable (older Captain’s Logs
way Warehouse 23 works, once you buy a product, you can download it again for no
cost if you lose it or if we upload a revised version of that edition.
Thus, the people who bought Reference Rulebook Revision 5
were able to obtain Reference Rulebook Revision 6
for free (and to download it again when we discovered we had accidentally left out rule 4S).
Our Prime Directive PD20 Modern
books are sold as ebooks exclusively through DriveThru RPG. We have
started offering general RPG books there as well as some of the general
gaming materials that Steve Cole has written. We are also listing Federation Commander
, Federation & Empire,
and Star Fleet Battles
on Wargame Vault.
must note that these products are copyrighted and are not to be
uploaded or passed around to your friends. Doing so is piracy, a
criminal act, and may result in us deciding not to offer any more PDF
products. We have already uploaded many Starmada, Star Fleet Battles, Federation & Empire,
and Prime Directive
products. We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale through the various venders. From here
you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.
check them out! Many people like the fact they can search our
rulebooks for a keyword and find everything that pertains to that issue.
Others like the fact they can carry around multiple books on one
device. Some Ship Cards are available exclusively as PDFs. Whatever
your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.
STAR FLEET TERMS
PART THREE OF THREE
Kitchen Sink: A term used to
describe extensive support from the logistics section which never
Kzinti-Backflip: What happens when the higher commander
keeps changing his mind in mid-battle.
Let's Rock: Term given by Star Fleet
commodores on trivideo (but not real people) when ordering the final
attack to begin.
Picture: Explain the current tactical situation to visiting
political dignitaries in a way that convinces them that all is under
control and their wishes are being fulfilled.
Percussive Engineering: The fine art of smacking a
million-credit piece of technology in a final effort to get it to
Police up the
Battlespace: After defeating most of the enemy forces in a given
area, sending in the police to arrest any enemy starships still
operating there. Meanwhile, the actual fleet elements can go rest,
refuel, resupply, and hold a victory party.
Pound the Dilithium Out Of: Used
when briefing visiting political dignitaries, it means somewhat more
than disrupt and somewhat less than totally destroy.
Run and Gun: To
fly past the enemy while firing lots of weapons, although not getting
close enough to get them to actually come out of their deployment area
and fight, since actually fighting is a very dangerous and
career-risking move. The maneuver usually fools visiting political
dignitaries into thinking that you did something very effective and
devastating to the enemy.
Scapegoat: Someone high enough in rank to reasonably be
assigned the blame for some failure but low enough in rank that he
cannot protect himself from the accusation.
Seagull: A higher commander who swoops
in, makes a lot of noise, and leaves everything messy.
Selfcon: When a starship captain
realizes that his fleet commander is an idiot and attaches his ship to
Shoot: A term that once meant to fire a
weapon and now means to transmit a message to someone.
Sweep: Maneuvering the squadron through
the battle space in a way that looks impressive but actually avoids
running into any inconvenient enemies.
Deployment of forces in a way that makes the enemy think we may attack
something of theirs.
Tugload: An undefined but
very large quantity, with no particular relation to what a fleet
transport tug will actually carry, for example: "A tugload of
Klingons crossed the border."
Zippin-de-do-dah: Maneuvering your
squadron past the Critical Locality fast enough that the enemy
cannot engage you, thereby satisfying the orders from higher
headquarters to "control" a locality that is actually
irrelevant to the overall situation.
(c) 2014 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.
Of Floods and Warnings
This is Steven Petrick posting:
Monday morning I awoke and went to the bathroom to shave. When I finished shaving I looked down casually for some unknown reason and saw that the edge of the bathmat closest to the sink was wet. I thought nothing of this, believing that it was simply some water that had somehow gone from the sink to the floor while I was splashing water on my face in preparation for lathering up to shave.
Thus I total missed, or at least failed to interpret, this ominous sign of impending disaster.
I went to work and did not return home until well after 2000 hours. I did not visit my bathroom until near midnight in preparation for going to bed.
The edge of my bathmat was still wet.
In face, all four edges of the bathmat were wet.
Not just wet, but thoroughly and completely soaked.
Examination of the underside of the sink revealed that water was leaking from one of the pipes.
Immediate action would normally dictate hitting the water shutoff, but those are frozen (have been for years, and reporting it through three different owners of the apartment complex never got anyone to come out and fix them). It probably would not have done any real good in this case anyway, as examination seemed to indicate that the leak was in fact the water shut off valve itself.
So I cleaned everything out from under the sink and inserted a bucket. I then called management.
I have noted before that the system used to manage my apartment complex is that there is an owner, who owns four of five (maybe six or more) apartment complexes, and maintains just one office to manage them all. So there is no on site manager whose door you can knock on. I made the phone call, and the person on the other end of the line took my name, address, and phone number and assured me that maintenance would be contacted. So at different parts of the night I dumped water from the bucket, and in the morning contacted the office and sat down to await maintenance.
I waited for maintenance all day Tuesday.
I spoke with one of my fellow tenants and he noted that he had once had to wait three days for maintenance to show up to deal with a leak in his bathtub. But then, the lead in the bathtub was after all contained in the bathtub. Mine was not, and was getting worse. (Take your pick on whether it was slowly getting worse, or rapidly getting worse, it is dependent on point of view.)
By this time the leak had "spread". There were now multiple leaks in the system, and no one bucket could be put in place to catch them all, and it was impossible to use multiple buckets because their round edges would always keep one of the drips from going into a bucket, and all of the leaks were worse. (I really need some square buckets, but I had none and no real idea where to find some that I could in fact secure in time to do any good.)
I was beginning to wonder when a pipe joint would just suddenly completely separate.
I called the number again, and this time was advised "We are just an answering service, you will have to call the office at 0800 hours to report the problem."
A full day wasted while things got worse. Gallons of water poured down the toilet, and now another night to spend tending my dying sink, and the many leaks continued to get worse. There was always water on the floor as the bucket filled, and mopping could not keep ahead of it.
Dawn of the third day arrived, and shortly after 0800 I called the office. Maintenance arrived somewhere near 0900. The guy did his best, but we had a new problem. He was unfamiliar with the apartments and did not know where the main water shutoff was. Naturally, he did not ask me as he set off for what used to be the manager's office (back when we had a live in one in the 1990s) in search of it. He moved quickly, so I was unable to restrain him when he headed in the wrong direction. By the time I caught up with him, he was on his cellphone to the guy who coordinated the maintenance and the two of them were trying to figure out where the water shut off was, looking in the laundry room for it. I was able to say, politely and calmly, that the water shut off was in the alleyway behind the apartment complex located in the middle of the length of the complex. I was not believed until I walked with him back there and showed it to him. Just at that moment the head of maintenance called to tell the actual maintenance guy that they had been unable to determine where the water shut off was, and he responded "I have found it, the tenant knew where it was."
I knew where it was because I got along well with the second set of owners and had helped them deal with water issues before and they had told me where the water shut off was because they trusted me to turn off all the water to the complex if it was necessary. (This was after an incident in which a water pipe to a washing machine in the laundry room had blown out and I was the tenant who reported it and tried to help.)
In any case, the pipes have now been replaced, and my bathroom sink is back in operation, and while the flood waters have receded, the flood damage is still being dealt with.
All because I missed that first little warning on Monday morning. If I had bothered to look under my sink then and report the leaking pipe bright and early that day . . .
Simone Pike writes:
Many do not know that we have a page where you can download backgrounds and covers for Facebook with Star Fleet Universe
Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/backgrounds.shtml
monitors, small monitors, we have something for nearly everyone. 800 x
600, 1024 x 768, 1680 x 1050, even 2560 x1600. If you need a different
size, we'll see what we can do to fill that desire. We even have backgrounds for the iOS7 iPhone.
there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to
see turned into downloadable art, please feel free to contact us at
graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.
RANDOM THOUGHTS #185
Steve Cole's thoughts on the
1. I have a lot of trouble understanding how the Army
could have been overrun in the defense of the CDC building in Atlanta
(in THE WALKING DEAD). Zombies (at least in that show) are incredibly
easy to kill, just shoot them in the head. To be sure, head shots are
hard at battlefield ranges, but zombie war ranges are as close as you
want them to be (since zombies aren't carrying guns). Any soldier
can make a head shot at 10 meters and most at 20 or 30 meters. So long
as you don't panic, the only way for a hundred armed soldiers to be
overrun by zombies is to run out of ammunition while surrounded. Okay,
maybe that's what happened. At least that would explain why Rick &
Crew didn't gather up dozens of M16s and M4s as they passed through
problem with killing zombies is not killing them (that's the easy
part). The problem is getting the zombie to first walk to the place
where you want to leave the body, since gathering bodies, hauling them
off, and burning or burying them, has got to be intensely dangerous
(or at least icky). It's stupidly simple to walk up to a chain-link
fence and stab a zombie in the brain, but then what? You have a
rotting, stinking corpse next to your fence. Worse, if not hauled
away, the bodies become a ramp other zombies might use to climb over
the fence. Seems to me that the solution is to use Army five-ton
trucks with a squad of soldiers in the back of each one. When the
zombies crowd the fence, you lure them away from the gate (easy
enough) and then the trucks drive outside the fence. Once outside, you
go slow enough for the zombies to follow you for a half a mile or so,
then park the trucks where you have clear lines of fire. (That part is
tricky, but not overly so.) Once the pack of zombies is half a mile
from the fence, circle around so that you can fire into the pack
without having your homestead down range.
3. How do you win the zombie war? Well, first, you
survive until the zombies are all gone. The trick is, what is the
modality for their departure? Will they all just rot after a few
months or years? Will they freeze, allowing you to stack them
somewhere convenient and chainsaw their skulls? How do you kill
zombies on a mass scale? There actually IS more than enough ammunition
in the country to shoot every zombie (if you don't waste a lot of
ammo) but you might actually burn out your rifles. (Not a problem,
there are plenty of rifles.) The problem is not the countryside; the
problem is the major cities where a hundred thousand (or a million)
zombies are wandering around looking for something to react to.
4. Your best
bet to handle a huge number of zombies (100,000 or more) is going to
be to set up firing ranges and disposal areas and use vehicles or
helicopters to lure "some" of the zombies into the killing
zone. This will have to be repeated (a lot of times) before you even
notice the numbers starting to fall.
problem with barrier defenses is that when you're talking about
defending habitation areas you need a lot of barrier, too many miles
of it to build around anything bigger than a very small village. The
first thing to realize is you cannot defend farmland (too much of it
is needed) so you'll have to settle for defending the housing area
and using patrols and outposts to detect any zombies that wander into
the outer farming area. Then a patrol can go out and kill them. The
best barrier (i.e., the only practical barrier) against zombies is
distance. Set up your defensive bastion ten or more miles from any
town of 100,000 (and correspondingly further from cities of a million
or more). Set up a continual series of patrols (it takes too many
people to do outposts) around the farmland to detect any zombies then
lure and shoot any of them that try to cross the "dead
line." Zombies don't move that fast, maybe one or two miles per
hour assuming they have some reason to keep moving and don't just go
into a random wander (which effectively keeps them in the same few
acres). Remote cameras could replace scarce humans if you can get
electricity working to them.
This Week at ADB, Inc., 30 March - 5 April 2014
Steve Cole reports:
a week of changing plans, as the scheduled work on new products was
delayed by needed work on other projects. The weather this week was
mild. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.
Our April Fool's joke about new rules for all games using percentile
dice got a huge reaction (some even took it seriously!).
New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were
the Star Fleet Battles Electronic Master Rulebook and Federation Commander Federation Ship Card Pack #1. Jean
continued to work with Warehouse 23 to fix the various problems caused when
they merged their two stores.
Steve Cole was supposed to lay out the Federation Commander
Tactics Manual this week, but it never happened. Instead, a lot of
other things got done. A massive breakthrough on the Starline 2500s saw six
ships (two of them 2400s) go to prototype, two new ships get posted,
and progress on three sets of masters being fixed by the master
modeller. Steve managed to transition the final stage of the Starlist
project (contacting everyone on it, oldest entries first) to Simone.
Steve did a lot of art for the Federation Master Starship Book (12 CLs, 16
DDs, 14 DWs, 18 FFs). Steve finished the updates for the individual
pages of the Wall of Honor and did about a third of the multi-person
pages. Steve finished the Captain's Log #48 FLAP list, including the Federation Commander Reference
Scenario List and Reference Ship Chart, the Text Catalog, and the
Index of Captain's Log. He also finished Communique #100 10 days early so
that it could go out with the Century Series joke charts. Steve
survived minor skin cancer surgery that left a three-inch scar on his
Steven Petrick worked on
the Advanced Missions SSD book update and the Federation Master Starship
Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.
Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the
Simone did website updates and some
Jean was scheduled to work on Traveller
Prime Directive all week, but ended up fixing a lot of messes on the internet,
including categories on DriveThru RPG, product listings on Warehouse 23, and
product info files on BoardGame Geek. Beyond that, she managed our page on
Facebook (which is up to 2048 friends), managed our Twitter feed (98
followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam
assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread updates for the
Wall of Honor, took care of customers, and did some marketing.
The Starlist Update
Project moved forward with all 50 states cross-checked, about 75
duplicate or obsolete entries deleted, 23 new entries, and 50 emails
sent to older entries.
sent in an updated Omega Federation Commander Playtest Pack and a new Magellanic Federation Commander Playtest Pack; Shawn Hantke sent in some color SSD packs for Star Fleet Battles. All
of these will be uploaded to the PDF download sites as soon as we
Steve Cole writes:
I constantly see things on industry mailing
lists and in my Email where people want advice on entering the game
business. The best advice I have is my free book which you can find at
www.StarFleetGames.com/book as a nice multi-chapter PDF.
one recent case, an individual wrote to say: "I just lost my job and
have decided to be a game designer for a living. I need a stable income
of $4,000 a month. How long would it take me to get there? Three months?
I laughed and cried at the same time. For one
thing, I don't make $4,000 a month now and I've been in the industry
over 30 years. (A few years I have made that much, barely, but not in
the current market.) The sad fact is that except for the lucky three or
four, game designers won't ever make that much. Worse, you probably
cannot make a living as an independent game designer at all, since game
publishing companies were (99% of the time) created to publish the
owner's games because no other company would publish them.
another case from some time ago (I'm going to blur some facts here so
that nobody can tell who I'm talking about), a young game enthusiast
decided to quit his day job and focus his full time efforts on game
design and publishing. His wife said that she would allow this only if
he "brought home" a paycheck of a defined amount each month. He had some
money from an inheritance which was separate property and his wife
allowed that he could use this. Well, he went through the nest egg,
borrowed money from savings without telling his wife, maxed out the
credit card he got for the business, and then got two more cards (those
offers in the mail) without telling his wife and maxed them out. All the
time (his company lasted 18 months and did a dozen products) he was
"bringing home" the required paycheck. His company was making a profit
beyond expenses, but not enough to cover the paycheck, but the paycheck
continued because (a) his wife insisted and (b) he was sure he would
start making more sales any time. One of the credit cards was a $5,000
cash advance spent on advertising (which produced few if any new sales).
Every month, he wrote that paycheck but came up short elsewhere. He had
established credit with the printers and with the companies that sold
him advertising pages so he ended up deeply in debt to the printer and
to advertising publishers. Worse, his first product (which sold well
enough) ran out of print, but it was going to cost $20K to reprint it
and the dwindling rate of sales (nowhere near as good as it had been 18
months earlier) would not support the debt load, but he "had" to reprint
it to avoid looking like a company on the way out. Finally, with no
more places to borrow money and creditors threatening legal action, he
took the case to his wife for a home equity loan. She, of course, had no
clue that his company was $40K in debt (for which he was personally
liable) or that most of the family savings account was gone. It's a
wonder she didn't kill him or leave him, but she did force him out of
the game business immediately. He sold out for what he could get and
applied that money to the debts. Moral of the story, if you are married,
make your wife a part of every business decision and do not keep
secrets from her about family money.
In another case
(actually, there are four or five of these I have seen, all about the
same), an enthusiastic game designer who knew nothing about the industry
but was sure his game was the next big thing got a home equity loan,
printed thousands of copies of his game, and THEN (and only then) asked
other game companies how to contact stores and wholesalers to sell his
game. He had no clue what size the market was (few games sell over a
couple of thousand copies) or who the wholesalers were or what it would
take to get them to buy (some now demand that you pay them $500 for
advertising before they will carry your game) or even what the discount
structure was (which meant that his cost per game was fairly close to
the 40% of the retail price he had printed on the games). Moral of the
story, learn as much as you can about the industry before you spend a
dime getting into it. GO READ MY BOOK FIRST.
I see lots
of gamers who think that running a retail store, and online discount
store, or a game publishing company involves low work and high reward.
It does not. If it did, a lot more people would be in this business.