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Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

From all of us at Amarillo Design Bureau to all of you who enjoy Halloween!

May your ships go "Boo!" and forget the "m" part of "boom"!

Thursday, October 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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Own Worst Enemy

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Wargames enable us to replay a situation over and over again, as long as it amuses us. In most cases the principle variable, even if you are trying a new "strategy," is the randomness of the roll of a die, or dice. Few games do much to create a "fog of war," and most allow you to watch the unfolding of the enemy's operations with a high degree of intelligence. That is to say the abilities of any given enemy combat unit are known. This applies whether the game is a high order strategic game such as "War in Europe," or a low level tactical game such as "Sniper," or whether the game pits cruisers and destroyers against opposing cruisers and destroyers in "Iron Bottom Sound" or "Star Fleet Battles," or Sopwith Camels against Fokker D-7s in "Richtofen's War."

We go into any of those knowing much of what our own forces and the enemy's forces are capable of, the only real variable being the randomness of the die.

Does not mean we lack the ability to surprise our opponent by doing something "unexpected" or finding a "wrinkle in the rules" to exploit.

We are, however, often blind to one critical opponent: Ourselves.

If you have a run of victories you can become complacent, and complacency can lead to disaster.

One game that was published by the old "Simulations Publication Incorporated" was titled "Tank." Each game piece was a single tank and the "simultaneous movement" plotting system was used. One of the scenarios pitted a force of 22 Sherman tanks against a smaller force of Tiger tanks in mixed terrain. I was well aware of the history of such encounters, and the expected my Shermans to take heavy losses, but the first several times my opponent and I played the scenario my Shermans easily overwhelmed and destroyed his Tigers. Sadly for me, it became fixed in my mind that my Shermans would always destroy his Tigers, obviously the game was "broken."

What I was failing to allow for was that my opponent had been making a tactical mistake based on the Tiger's reputed invulnerability to Shermans, the result being that he had kept advancing his Tigers expecting to crush my Shermans with his heavy guns while my shells bounced off his armor. The result being that my Shermans were swarming his Tigers because of the closure rate.

My opponent finally figured out the flaw in his reasoning, and in one of the last games we played, instead of advancing with his Tigers, he turned to his left (my right) instead of boring in for the kill. This might not have been overly disastrous (I will never know as we never had another opportunity to play the scenario before we parted ways into the real world on our graduation). Unfortunately, I "knew" that my Shermans would swarm his Tigers and destroy them. The problem was that this time the Tigers were sitting back at range and not closing, and my Shermans were quickly reduced to so many piles of scrap. Not all of them. I no longer remember what my total losses were, but I did come to realization that my confidence in victory (because I had always won before) was seriously misplaced, and at some point broke off the attack and retreated my remaining Shermans from the map. I did not attack to my total destruction, but I know I lost heavily.

I was beaten, however, less by my opponent than by my own self delusion. My Shermans had always beaten the Tigers in this scenario before, and therefore would do so again by swarming them as they had before. My overconfidence due to my previous successes against this opponent and these tanks with this force several times previously blinded me to how dangerous the Tiger tanks really were, and my cardboard subordinates paid for my Hubris. I was my own worst enemy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Steve Cole's thoughts on surprising and little known parts of military history.

1. During World War II, the US Army created the Army Special Training Program. Over 160,000 smart young men (IQs over 120) were sent to college at Army expense to learn engineering, languages, medicine, or dentistry. They wore uniforms, took 24 hours of classes a week, and were paid as privates. They were supposed to earn a four-year degree and an officer's commission in 18 months. (The program was, in part, intended to keep land grant colleges from going bankrupt for a lack of students.) In early 1944, the Army decided that the program would take too long, was a luxury they could not afford, and that manpower was desperately needed, so most of these men were transferred straight to the infantry and were added to new divisions being formed. This worked out well since the infantry usually got only the men no other branch of the Army wanted.

2. Everybody has heard of ULTRA, the British code-breaking program that read the Nazi's radio messages. What few know is that the Germans broke the US diplomatic code, which the US military attache in London used to radio home all of the British war plans from November 1941 to July 1942. This German breakthrough was based on the Italian theft of the US code from the US embassy in Rome. (The Italians refused to give the code to the Germans but told them enough about the messages that the Germans could break it for themselves.) This leak (as bad as ULTRA) stopped when an Australian commando team raided an Italian base and brought home proof that the Italians had broken the US "black" code. It was changed immediately.

3. In the final days of July, 1945, the Japanese had assembled 60 twin-engine bombers and 600 commandos for Operation Sword. This was to be a one-way suicide mission to attack the US bases for B29 bombers in Guam, Saipan, and Tinian. The theory was to crash land on the bases, at which point the commandos would rush out with machine-guns, grenades, and firebombs to cause as much damage as they could. The mission was continually delayed (by weather or by US attacks on their base) with one of the final dates set for a time when the Enola Gay was sitting on the runway with the Little Boy atomic bomb inside.

4. Lieutenant Akamutsu was Japan's King of Aces, with 250 confirmed kills of US aircraft. A functional alcoholic, Akamatsu flew every mission while drunk. Maybe Ulysses Grant really was onto something?

5. Captain Bligh was not a seagoing tyrant, but an effective British naval officer dealing with a crew that was lazy and wanted to stay in Tahiti where the weather and girls were warm. When the mutiny happened, most of the crew sided with Bligh. The mutineers set him and 18 others adrift in a boat, which Bligh navigated 6,700 miles to safety over 47 days. Exonerated by a court, Bligh served with distinction, commanding 11 other ships and retiring as a three-star admiral.

Monday, October 27, 2014

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

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on several projects. The weather this week was cool, but passed 80F at the end. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault: Federation Commander: Briefing #1.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2 (finishing the first draft of the ship section), support work and graphics for the Federation Master Starship Book r1 and Hydran Master Starship Book, ship art for SFBOL 3G and quality control on a new load of map panels. Steve spent the weekend at the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary as he does every year.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50, the Hydran Master Starship Book (almost finished!), and revisions to the Federation Master Starship Book.

The Starline 2500 project is waiting for the arrival of Master Mold #2 with the new ships mentioned earlier.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on the new Galactic Conquest edition, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2305 friends), managed our Twitter feed (123 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Hydran Master Starship Book and A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Got Any Marketing Ideas?

ADB, Inc., is always interested in great marketing ideas, ways and places to sell our products, as well as new products to sell. Our page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf) exists to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers. 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.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

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

All that is left is for you to "like" the page for Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf.

Many people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day, checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries, plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.

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

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

Friday, October 24, 2014

If I Could Start the War

If I could start the war, If I could find out how,
I’d come over the border and kill you ... Right now.

I don’t know why I bombed the things I did.
I don’t know why I killed the beings I killed.
Pride’s like a sword it can cut both ways
Bombs are like novas at the end of days.

I didn’t really mean to miss you.
I didn’t wanna see you leave.
I know I made you run, but really...

If I could start the war, If I could find out how,
I’d come over the border and kill you ... Right now.
If I could reach your stars, I’d take them all from you,
Then you’d hate me hate me like you loath to do.
If I could start the war...

Your world was shattered, It was torn apart.
Like I just took a sword and drove it deep in your heart.
You dove into that sea, I let you get away
I just lost track of your starship then and there...

Too mad to tell you I was coming
To proud to warn you at all.
You know that I am coming, and Kai...


I didn’t really mean to miss you.
I didn’t wanna see you leave.
I know I made you run, but really...


Filk written by Stephen V. Cole. Appeared in Captain's Log #35. (c) 2007

Thursday, October 23, 2014

More Nitpicking

This is Steven Petrick posting.

There is a TV series called "Hawaii Five-oh."

The writing for this show is pretty bad in my opinion.

Some examples from recent episodes.

One of the members of the team has a brother who has been kidnapped. He must find the villain's stolen money to ransom his brother back. Yet, he never, ever, makes the point to villain that he will not do this without "proof of life." He is a trained detective, and in point of fact in the episode previous to his finding out his brother has been kidnapped he is involved with another kidnap case where the "proof of life" concept appears. Yet he never gets it in the case of his own brother.

Eventually we find out that, indeed, his brother was already dead.

Then we have the "hitman with a heart." We learn that this hitman had a heart transplant and as a result, has stopped killing his assignments, but has instead by faking their deaths and smuggling them to Hawaii, creating his own little community of people whose lives he has saved (got that one as an oh so probable story line?). Now his "boss" has found out and sent a hit man to kill the people in his little community. Protecting them, he is wounded and captured by Five-oh.

He refuses, however, to tell Five-oh where he is hiding his little community because he does not want to put them at risk.

Excuse me, but your boss is already sending a killer to Hawaii to kill them, seems like he already knows they are alive and in Hawaii and probably where, so saying you do not want to reveal their location in an effort to keep them safe is a pretty stupid thing to say for someone who was smart enough to fake all those deaths and convince them to go live in Hawaii and smuggle them there for years without your boss finding out.

Other things that annoy me about the show:

With the exception of the non-Hawaiian members of the Five-oh team: Only white cops foul up and get killed; only Native Hawaiian cops perform acts of heroism. Its gotten to the point that if a criminal is captured and being put in a police car, you can look at the officer selected to drive that car and know if the criminal will escape (white cop, the criminal will escape usually killing the cop, Hawaiian cop, the criminal will make it to police headquarters and be locked up or questioned by Five-oh).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Steve Cole writes: These are things TV and movies taught me that are contrary to my own experiences and observations.
1. Absolutely everybody in the US loves and follows the sport of boxing. (The reality is, most don't.)
2. Everyone who does not live in New York wishes they did, except for the people who wish they lived in Los Angeles. (People who live there think so; those who don't live there mostly don't want to.)
3. Everybody wants to be an actor and wants to hear all about how actors organize their careers and events. (Few of us actually care.)
4. The good guy will always put down his gun when the bad guy holds an innocent civilian hostage. (A trained police officer will simply shoot the bad guy in the head.)
5. Lots of single women get pregnant, then raise their children (who grow up just fine, thank you) without the fathers being around. (The reality is that children without two parents are far less likely to succeed in life. Steven Petrick has a theory that lots of Hollywood shows repeat this so that Hollywood big shots are not annoyed by the young actresses who sleep with them and get pregnant.)
6. Absolutely everybody in the US loves and follows the sport of soccer. (I don't actually know anyone who does.)
7. Any group of 10 people includes someone who is gay, openly or otherwise. (I have a gay relative and some gay friends, who are swell people, but these comprise about one of every 50-100 people that I know.)
8. Pretty much every foreigner speaks English. (I have been to Germany where almost no one spoke English. I have been to England and have no idea what language they speak. I have been to Mexico and found very few people who speak English. On the other hand, every Canadian I have met speaks English quite well.)
9. Everybody has filled out their bracket for March Madness. (I have no clue what's that's all about. It seems to be some kind of sport thing.)
10. Every police investigation involves a visit to a strip club, somebody who had an affair, and an illegal alien who is afraid to talk to the police. (Ok, maybe that one is right.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Playing Star Fleet Universe Games Long Distance

Playing games by email or by post is an alternative to playing face-to-face. While there are a few differences (i.e., your opponent isn't sitting across the table from you), it is the same game.

When playing Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander using the Play-by-Email (PBEM) system you and your opponent submit your orders for the turn to a moderator via email. The moderator then processes them, and sends a "SitRep" (Situation Report) to the players via email. You receive the results, write up your next set of orders, and then submit your orders once again. The process is repeated until the game is completed. Sounds simple? That's because it IS! It'll take a little getting used to (after all, what doesn't?), but once you've got the hang of it, you'll be lobbing photon torpedoes (or whatever your weapon of choice is) at opponents from all over the world.

Every FC or SFB PBEM game has at least three participants: two or more players and one moderator. The moderator's purpose is to accept orders from the players and carry them out, reporting the results of those orders to all players. While (s)he is not a player, the moderator fulfills a very important role in the game. Good moderators and good players make for a good, enjoyable game. Moderating a game is also an excellent way to learn more about the game's rules.

Prime Directive games can be played by posting on the Forum. The GM of the game gets players, approves their characters, then sets up situations for the characters to face. It takes a bit longer because the players are not sitting around the table, but it also allows people who are spread out across the world to play.

Players of all our games are expanding the frontiers of playing long distance. Some are trying chat, some are adding webcams to that, many are trying out VOIP so as to get close to a face-to-face experience.

While there are some disadvantages to playing long distance (it does take longer to finish a game), there are advantages as well. You can play against people in other parts of the world (how often do you get to Australia, anyway?), you can play multiple games at once, and you can have large multi-player games (without worrying about running out of chips and soda).

For more information about playing long distance, drop in on the Forum (http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2) or BBS (http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/).

Monday, October 20, 2014

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

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on new products. The weather this week was mild. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was JagdPanther #10.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2, almost finishing the ship roster section. He also did some graphics for the Star Fleet Battles On-Line 3rd Generation project and for the Hydran Master Starship Book and worked on the fighter rules for Federation Commander Border of Madness.

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

The Starline 2500 project moved forward as we wait for the prototypes to reach the mold-making company.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on PDF uploads, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,294 friends), managed our Twitter feed (123 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Hydran Master Starship Book and A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lights! Cameras! The SFU Hits YouTube!

Ever wished you could take a peek inside a shrink-wrapped box or look behind the pretty covers of a book? Then these videos are for you.

The brainchild of Mike Sparks, our YouTube videos are of three types. The first is about a specific product line and you can hear Steve Cole (yes, he is the talking hands in our videos) discuss the products that are in one of the different games. The second kind is what ADB, Inc. has released in a particular month. These are a great way to catch up quickly on the new items.

It is the third kind that let's you see what is in the box. A boxed game such as Federation & Empire is taken out of the box item by item so that you can see what's in there. From rulebook, to charts, to maps, to counters, each item is shown and discussed. It's a lot of information to pack into a short clip, but SVC and Mike manage it.

Check out our channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames and be sure to bring the popcorn!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How to Find New Opponents

Steve Cole writes:

Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four war gamers in Amarillo that I knew, but there must have been more as the one store that carried Avalon Hill games (then the only wargames) would sell one or two now and then that my friends and I knew we didn't buy. Funny, it never once occurred to us to ask the store manager to give our phone numbers to the other guys. When I was in college, SPI (then the second wargame company and rapidly becoming larger and more innovative than Avalon Hill) had an opponent wanted list. I sent in my dollar to get it, and found only one person (of the 20 on the list) who was within 120 miles; the first and last person on the list were each 450 miles away (in opposite directions).

These days, the concept of contacting other gamers has had decades to mature, works much better, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For best results, you should do all of them.

If you play Federation Commander, then you can go to the Commander's Circle and enter your data (as much or as little as you are comfortable with) and perhaps find opponents near you. We are gaining new sign-ins every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out if somebody nearby has signed in. http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/

Primarily for Federation Commander players, the Forum has a topic where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations. Players can let other players know they're around. How silly would you feel if you found out that the guy who you've been arguing with on the forum for years actually lives in your town. (That HAS happened.) http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2

You can to go to a local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of your favorite game(s) and "grow your own" opponents. If a person already plays the game you are demoing, he'll doubtless drop by just to swap phone numbers.

Many towns have community bulletin boards on the local cable company's "home" channel. These are variously free or cost just a couple of dollars. It's hit-and-miss, but you could get lucky. (When I commanded Company C of the 1-39 MPs, I gained a dozen new recruits in a year that came from cable TV.) You could also buy a cheap want ad in the newspaper or the free advertising newspaper (American's Want Ads or whatever yours is called) found in quickie marts. There is also Craigslist, but you should use the normal caution you would for meeting a stranger.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to http://starfleetgames.com/starlist.shtml. Enter your data in the form, and you'll get a list of local players back. (This may take a day or two as it is done by hand.) Starlist is the most effective hunt for new players because the database has some 5,000 players in it, far more than all of the other sources combined. The only drawback is that Starlist works with full information (name and address) and those who are seriously concerned about identity theft often find this uncomfortable. In all reality, however, Starlist would not give an identity thief any more information than a local phone book would, and if that's enough for those criminals to operate, they would be vastly more likely to use the phone book than to request a copy of Starlist.

You can find opponents for all of our games on our BBS. Go to http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/ and you'll see "Seeking Opponents" on the main menu. You can post a notice there (and search the previous postings). Again, you can post as much or as little information as you are comfortable with.

Friends of our page on Facebook can post to see who is out there. Not a friend? Become one here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see http://www.starfleetgames.com/links.shtml for suggestions).

If there is a game convention within driving distance, it's worth a trip to see if you might find someone who is also within driving distance. If there is a game club in your home town or a store with a gaming area, go there and set up the game and wait for somebody to ask what it is. (Even better, take a friend who will play the game with you so you won't be bored.) If there is a Star Trek club in your home town, show them Federation Commander or Star Fleet Battle Force. There are people who have printed a card with the logo of one of our games and their email address and left these in the windows of their cars who got emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online (http://www.sfbonline.com/index.jsp) and play Star Fleet Battles and Federation Commander online with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $5 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.

There are probably more ways than this to find opponents, but unless you live in a cave somewhere, you can almost certainly find a new friend within a short while by trying these methods.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Here's what's starting later this fall (Part four of four)

GOLD MINING MORONS: Why go to someplace yucky to mine for gold when you can do it in your own back yard? Watch our plucky crew of couch potatoes go to the wild outback of Amarillo, Texas, a full five miles from the nearest Cracker Barrel and Holiday Inn. Listen to Jean ask them "Why don't we go to North Carolina where there actually is gold?" Watch as they ignore Jean, set up a sluice box with instructions printed in Chinese, learn to drive a four-ton bulldozer, and set up a windmill to supply water to the operation. Will they find gold? No, there isn't any here, but they've got about the same chance of success as the guys on those other shows.

REALITY SHOW PREPPERS: Has your restaurant, bar, or hotel signed up to be on a reality show? Have you ever watched one? Don't you know that the first half of the show is going to make you look bad so the expert can save you? Avoid embarrassment by having our crew of experts (led by Fearless Leader Stephen) get there a week early. Expert chef Jean streamlines your menu. Expert accountant Leanna gets your books in order and drills you to memorize and recite the key numbers. Expert operations chief Steven whips you and your employees into a frenzy of cleaning. Expert web designer Simone rebuilds your website, launches your social media campaign, and installs new software. Expert maintenance chief Mike gets everything working and a repair schedule established. Meanwhile, our fearless leader rethinks your entire business plan. On tonight's episode, hotel owner Ken asks "You mean discounts for skinheads is bad for getting families to stay here?"

LEGENDARY: Each episode begins with the gang sitting around the ADB office chatting. Eventually, one of the Steves recounts a "war story" from his past, at which point our expert team of re-enactors (from the local college drama department) recreate the actual events. On tonight's episode, watch as the Steves crew the secret Army space shuttle to rescue a Nazi astronaut stranded in orbit for 75 years.

GAMING WITH THE STARS: We take Hollywood action heroes and run them through hard-reality RPGs based on their movies. In tonight's episode, Bruce Willis says "What do you mean I'm dead? That worked in the movie!"

GRIMMACE: Detective Patrick is cursed. Deeply depressed, he wants to die, but fate won't let it happen. Perhaps that's because he's one of the very few humans who can see the demons walking among us in their true form. The demons fear him because the pained expression on his face frightens them out of their wits. In tonight's episode, Patrick confronts a demonic chef determined to poison him with onions in a stew including human flesh.

CSI AMARILLO: In tonight's episode, the sheriff notes that the burglar who has robbed three houses so far this week was shot and killed by a housewife while robbing the fourth. "Case closed," he declares. "Let's go get a beer."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Yet Another Hydran Master Star Ship Book Update

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Jean Sexton has completed her read through of book's draft, and I have done the "designer's notes" page (which she has not read yet, but that is more or less a formality as she does not  have to go and look anything up).

At this juncture, I have some graphics SVC has not transferred to me as of yet (would be embarrassing to publish the book with "Federation PFs" on some of the "placeholder" graphics used to get page count), and four graphics that need to be corrected.

Other than that, I am just waiting on any final reports from the field. Then I will run off a final "check copy" which Jean will compare to her annotated corrections copy to make sure all of her marked corrections were done properly.

We will then do a final look at the layout.

That may require re-PDFing the book several times (the program has a tendency for stuff on pages to "jump" due to accumulated fractional errors in the layout, so the only way to be sure the layout works is to do a PDF, look for places where a jump has occurred, go back into the file and insert a blank line, sometimes take a blank line out, and then re-PDF the book and do it all again). That, fortunately can all be done on the computer screen.

So far, all of this has caused the book to grow from 106 to 110 pages.

There are always little niggling issues that turn up.

The original "R1.0" section file is modified for each new empire, and that always requires looking for things that get carried over from an earlier empire, and sometimes forgetting to add things for the new empire. An example of the latter is the FRX. The advanced technology fleet repair dock is an "X unit," so it should have access to Stinger-X fighters, but this was overlooked until just earlier this week (its fighter data has been adjusted to allow it to use Stinger-Xs). This is an issue that does not come up with any other empire (no one else has X-fighters), which is why it got overlooked, as the unit is not in any normal "X-technology" product, but was published in Module R11. Hydran X-ships that appeared in Modules X1 and X1R, and even in Captain's Log (the D7HX) allow for Stinger-X fighters, but previously not the FRX, but if a Hydran SBX or BATSX can have Stinger-X fighters, then surely the FRX should be able to operate them, so this has been (as noted) corrected.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Free Stuff for Star Fleet Universe Players!

Steve Cole writes:

We have a lot of free stuff on our website. Let me point you to some of the most popular things. Doing this in alphabetical order we start with Federation & Empire. They have play aids and countersheet graphics here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#FNE

Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of the Federation Commander game (well, enough of the game to play a few battles). First Missions will give you enough of the game that you can try it out. Go here to download it: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/first-missions.shtml

But that's just a start. Commander's Circle has lots of free resources such as various formats of the Master Ship Chart, Ship Cards, the current and back issues of Communique, scenarios, and playtest rules. If you register, then you can find other Federation Commander players.

Prime Directive players can find a treasure trove of play aids, including medals, insignia, maps, the timeline, and lots of other goodies to spice up a game. These can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#PD

Want to introduce a friend to the Star Fleet  Universe? Try the free download of Introduction to the Star Fleet Universe: Prime Directive and Roleplaying found here:http://www.warehouse23.com/products/introduction-to-the-star-fleet-universe-prime-directive-and-roleplaying

Star Fleet Battle Force
has new cards and play aids as well. These are located here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#SFBF

Star Fleet Battles
players have the Cadet Training Manual and Cadet Training Handbook. These were done as a way to get players into the complicated Star Fleet Battles game system. You can download them for free here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/CadetTraining.shtml Also available on the same webpage are lots of SSDs for the game.

We have downloadable art for your computer and iPhone so you can show your SFU pride. Those are here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml

Don't forget Hailing Frequencies, our free monthly newsletter. Covering all our games, you can read back issues here: http://www.federationcommander.com/Newsletter/past.html Don't forget to sign up to get the link delivered straight to your email box each month. You can "opt in" here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml

There are many historical documents which are available for download. Maps, deck plans, assorted graphics, and much, much more can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/historicaldownloads.shtml

Browse our master index to find all sorts of interesting information: http://www.starfleetgames.com/masterindex.shtml

As you can see, you could spend days browsing. We hope you enjoy what you find.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Reviews of Current TV Shows Steve and Leanna Cole Are Watching

Monday, October 13, 2014

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

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on many projects. The weather this week was cooler. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week were Captain's Log #37 and the color SSDs from that issue.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet  (the staff was busy reviewing and testing; reports rolled in every day and fixes were made every day; the scenario chapter was sent to Tony and SVC did the weapons part of the ship roster). Steve also worked on Communique, Hailing Frequencies, and graphics for the SFBOL 3rd generation upgrade. Steve continues to take five or six long walks every week (with Wolf or Ramses) building strength in his battered left knee.

Steven Petrick worked on the Hydran Master Starship Book, Captain's Log #50 battlegroups, and the Hailing Frequencies and Communique issues.

The Starline 2500 project made a surge of progress as a box of prototypes arrived and five were sent to be in Master Mold B.

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

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory. A new shipment of miniatures was quality checked by Mike and the two Steves.

Simone did website updates, released Communique and Hailing Frequencies, and did some graphics.

Jean worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,280 friends), managed our Twitter feed (123 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Hydran Master Starship Book, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the  Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault websites. So far on Warehouse 23, we have released a lot of stuff for Federation Commander, including the Revision Six Reference Rulebook, the 72 ships from Federation Commander Briefing #2 (divided into six packs of 12 ships and a separate rules pack), and more than a dozen Ship Card Packs. Our ebook PDFs are in color and high resolution. PDFs of most books are searchable (older Captain’s Logs are not).

The way Warehouse 23 works, once you buy a product, you can download it again for no cost if you lose it or if we upload a revised version of that edition. Thus, the people who bought Reference Rulebook Revision 5 were able to obtain Reference Rulebook Revision 6 for free (and to download it again when we discovered we had accidentally left out rule 4S).

Our Prime Directive PD20 Modern books are sold as ebooks exclusively through DriveThru RPG. We have started offering general RPG books there as well as some of the general gaming materials that Steve Cole has written. We are also listing Federation Commander, Federation & Empire, and Star Fleet Battles products on Wargame Vault.

We must note that these products are copyrighted and are not to be uploaded or passed around to your friends. Doing so is piracy, a criminal act, and may result in us deciding not to offer any more PDF products. We have already uploaded many Starmada, Star Fleet Battles, Federation & Empire, and Prime Directive products. We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale through the various venders. From here you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.

So check them out! Many people like the fact they can search our rulebooks for a keyword and find everything that pertains to that issue. Others like the fact they can carry around multiple books on one device. Some Ship Cards are available exclusively as PDFs. Whatever your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. Hailing Frequencies has the latest company information and covers all of our games. You'll find news on the latest releases both in print and 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:

Friday, October 10, 2014


Here's what's starting this fall (Part three of four)

GOOD SISTER WIFE: "We can't take him anywhere!" wail the exasperated sister wives of the fundamentalist billionaire technology tycoon, who continues to make inappropriate remarks in public. Given his history, he is always followed by people with video cameras waiting for another of his self-destructive comments. When that happens, Sister Wife One (a lawyer), Sister Wife Two (the marketing director and brand manager), and Sister Wife Three (the fixer with a shady criminal background) spring into action to control the damage. In tonight's episode, the billionaire asks a waitress her bra size, then comments on it.

MYSTERIES OF LEANNA: Why did she marry him? Why did she let him quit a great job to start a game company? Why did she let him get fat? Why did she let him do that deal? In tonight's episode, accountant Jean reports that Steve secretly invested the company pension fund in a game called Springtime for Tribbles.

TEXATOPIA: In our "building a new world show" you won't see the kind of childish drama and petty bickering you saw on that other show. Instead of deliberately picking people who can't get along, we deliberately picked people who can. We cast six married couples who all attend the same church and belong to the same political party. In tonight's episode, Engineer Mark completes an insect-killing drone to protect Farmer Ben's garden.

TEXAS TWO-EIGHT: The most feared law enforcement agency on the planet is the Texas Rangers, who still wear the ten-gallon hats and still carry the six-guns of their earlier days. Founded in 1823, they are the oldest state law enforcement agency in the US. They accept no excuses and do what needs done. In tonight's episode, Ranger Bill (riding his saddle-broken buffalo) spots eight terrorists wading across the Rio Grande. Knowing that under Texas law eight criminals constitutes a riot (since any Ranger can shoot the first six and whip the seventh in a fist-fight), Ranger Bill lines up the first two and shoots them with one bullet. Shooting the next five, Ranger Bill holsters his six-gun and slaps the last terrorist in handcuffs.

INLANDER: Touching the magical tree of the druids in her native North Carolina, Jean is transported 1600 miles and 160 years to the magical mesquite bush of the antebellum cowboys. Finding herself in a strange, flat land with no trees (or water) but lots of cows, she must convince the local sheriff that she is not a spy for the hated Yankees. Romanced by a local handsome cowboy, she is hunted by a Yankee cavalry officer (eerily reminiscent of her ex) who thinks she is an agent of the coming rebellion.

Thursday, October 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.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Another Update on the Progress of the Hydran Master Starship Book

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Jean is reading the Hydran Master Starship Book and finding very little of major import that is in error. She did find one place, as an example, where the fighters of a carrier were still listed as Stinger-Ss and Stinger-Rs in Y179 rather than Stinger-Ts and Stinger-Us. No one else had caught that (and of course I am the one who made the original error).

On the other hand Jean had problems with the (to use her one words) "incestuous nature of Hydran ships." The problem is that most Hydran ships are . . . well not one line. A Federation New Light Cruiser is a unique ship (the Federation War Cruiser) that can become an New Heavy Cruiser.  The Hydrans,  however, have the Horseman as their war cruiser, except it is not. The Horseman becomes the Mongol, which is their war cruiser, but since they are both war cruisers the Horseman is the Light Cruiser and the Mongol is the Medium Cruiser and neither is actually called a "war cruiser" as a result (because they are both war cruisers). Both have hellbore variants (Traveler, Tartar), and both remain in production (the Mongol going on to provide the Mohawk New Heavy Cruiser and its Iroquois hellbore variant), but he Horseman remains in production to provide the "variants" (Chasseur Scout, and etc.), but  a Horseman is also capable of being converted into a Mohawk (or an Iroquois). And of course there are advanced technology (X) versions, and . . . well suffice to say that poor Jean's head exploded, and my efforts to try to explain it to her led me to finally (literally) bang my head against a door because I could not get her to understand (sigh).

Poor SVC had to finally sit down and broker a peace treaty between us on this one.

The same thing happens, of course, with the Hunter (which becomes the Buffalo Hunter in the same way a Mongol becomes a Mohawk), and the Ranger (which also spawns the various Hydran Command Cruisers and the Overlord Heavy Battlecruisers) and the Gendarme (which leads to the Heavy Gendarmes).

Thank the maker that Lancer Destroyers pretty much remain Lancer Destroyers even if the Lancer hull does lend itself to the standard variant lists (Knight Hellbore variant, Uhlan carrier variant, Lancer-X advanced technology variant, etc.).

I have been taking time to review things and think things over in my head, and then go and look to see if the necessary things have been done.

As with all books after the first one there is much in this book that is taking the previous book and making changes. Thus, in all of the Hydran General Units data it turned out there was one place where I missed the word "Federation," as in "ships of this type in Federation service." Only one place, but still. I have fixed that item and searched the whole book (one of the advantages of computers) for the word "Federation" to make sure no other such entries occur (unless the word is actually being used correctly, but I do not think the word shows up in the book at all).

Tuesday, October 07, 2014


Steve Cole ponders the curious origins of interesting words:

1. PALE, a colorless complexion, comes from the Latin pallis, which simply means pallid or pale. However, the Latin word pale meant a stake that was part of a fence, forming a boundary. Until 1558, the English Pale was the area of France controlled by England.

2. PALL MALL, street in London that inspired the name for a brand of cigarettes, is an old French game (palle maille) that evolved into croquet. Palle is the word for ball and maille is the word for mallet. The most popular place to play the game in London was a narrow park near Saint James's church, where Pall Mall street is today. The speed of the game also spawn the term pell-mell meaning some activity done at great speed.

3. PAMPHLET, a small document such as a brochure, comes from the poem Pamphilus, sue de Amore. This poem was very popular in the 1200s in France and Britain, and thousands of copies were printed and passed around. Quickly, any document of about that size that was handed from read to reader became a pamphlet.

4. PANDEMONIUM, a place of great noise and confusion, comes from the Greek words pan-daemonia. Milton named the capital of hell (in Paradise Los) as Pandemonium because all of the demons lived there, and it became a polite word for hell, which was somewhat impolite. In time, because hell was expected to be noisy, busy, and confusing, that became the meaning of the word. Even today, the word is capitalized in most dictionaries as it is (technically) the formal name of a city.

5. PANDER, to cater to the ego or tastes of a potential customer in order to complete a sale, comes from the character Panderus in the play Troilus and Cressida. Troilus was a prince of Troy, and wanted to woo the lovely Cressida, who didn't even know he was alive. Troilus enlisted the help of his best friend (Panderus, who was a cousin of Cressida). Panderus tried to convince Cressida to consider the suit of the dashing prince by telling her was a swell guy he was through numerous flattering stories about Troilus.

6. PANIC, a sudden unreasonable fear, comes from the Greek god Pan, who had the ability to inspire such fears in the enemies of Greece (if he were in a good mood and the offerings of the Greeks were suitable). This unique kind of fear was Panic Fear, that is, fear related to Pan.

7. PANJANDRUM, a pompous and self-important minor government official (and a British secret weapon that never worked) is the name of a fictional character. The Irish actor Charles Macklin retired in 1759, opening a tavern that catered to younger actors. After dinner was served, he would perform some of his better roles, or lecture on whatever subject came to his mind. He claimed that the key to his acting success was his ability to memorize anything after hearing it once. As a challenge, and young actor composed a one-paragraph story that was total nonsense, but mentioned the Great Panjandrum, a word the actor made up. A hundred years later, Kipling described an Indian potentate as the Great Panjandum, and the fictional title became an actual word.

8. PANIER, similar to the term pallet as something to carry cargo or goods when loading them onto a vehicle, is simply the French word for a type of basket used to carry bread. Someone came up with the idea of loaded two baskets on a mule by tying them across his back. This later became a sort of corset which fashionable women wore a few centuries ago to make their hips wider. While we're at it, pan (such as a skillet, sauce pan, or bread pan) is simply the French word for bread.

9. PANORAMA, a broad view of something, is simply the Greek words pan (all) and orama (view). Robert Baker, a painter, first use the word in 1788 to describe his art exhibit "Nature at a glance" which was a continuous painting on the inside of a sixty-foot round building. One climbed stairs into the center of the building. Robert Fulton (who much later invented the steam boat but was then an artist) introduced this art form to Paris in 1799 and the US a few years later.
10. PANTS, now just another word for trousers, comes from a character in a play produced in Italy in the 1400s. The play was popular and had a "run" of decades, being performed all across Europe. One silly character wore an unusual set of trousers that went from waist to ankle and were very baggy. His name was Pantaleone, or Pantaloon in English. At the time, men were breaches (which ended just below the knee) and stockings. Long pants became popular later, and were known as pantaloons (even if they were not baggy). When the word and garment finally reached America in 1785, it was instantly shortened to "pants" and remains so to this day.

Monday, October 06, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 28 September - 4 October 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work. The weather this week was cooler. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was the Star Fleet Battles Module R3 SSD Book in color or black & white.

Steve Cole worked on reports from the A Call to Arms: Star Fleet rules pack, the scenarios for ACTASF, articles for Captain's Log #50, and the Hydran Master Starship Book. He also took steps to move the 2500 project forward and (assisted by Jean Sexton and Steven Petrick) posted a new system to reward people who do ship cards for SFBOL (and did some images to help them). Steve also continued taking longer and longer walks with Wolf or Ramses, gaining strength in his battered leg and overall stamina.

Steven Petrick worked on the Hydran Master Starship Book and Captain's Log #50. He read some things for Captain's Log #50.

The 2500 project had a hopeful sign as the first new prototypes in three months showed up in the London office of Mongoose; they're on their way to ADB.

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.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on PDF uploads, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2273 friends), managed our Twitter feed (124 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Hydran Master Starship Book, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

How Not to Get into the Game Business

Steve Cole writes:

I constantly see things on industry mailing lists and in my Email where people want advice on entering the game business. The best advice I have is my free book which you can find at www.StarFleetGames.com/book as a nice multi-chapter PDF.

In one recent case, an individual wrote to say: "I just lost my job and have decided to be a game designer for a living. I need a stable income of $4,000 a month. How long would it take me to get there? Three months? Six?"

I laughed and cried at the same time. For one thing, I don't make $4,000 a month now and I've been in the industry over 30 years. (A few years I have made that much, barely, but not in the current market.) The sad fact is that except for the lucky three or four, game designers won't ever make that much. Worse, you probably cannot make a living as an independent game designer at all, since game publishing companies were (99% of the time) created to publish the owner's games because no other company would publish them.

In another case from some time ago (I'm going to blur some facts here so that nobody can tell who I'm talking about), a young game enthusiast decided to quit his day job and focus his full time efforts on game design and publishing. His wife said that she would allow this only if he "brought home" a paycheck of a defined amount each month. He had some money from an inheritance which was separate property and his wife allowed that he could use this. Well, he went through the nest egg, borrowed money from savings without telling his wife, maxed out the credit card he got for the business, and then got two more cards (those offers in the mail) without telling his wife and maxed them out. All the time (his company lasted 18 months and did a dozen products) he was "bringing home" the required paycheck. His company was making a profit beyond expenses, but not enough to cover the paycheck, but the paycheck continued because (a) his wife insisted and (b) he was sure he would start making more sales any time. One of the credit cards was a $5,000 cash advance spent on advertising (which produced few if any new sales). Every month, he wrote that paycheck but came up short elsewhere. He had established credit with the printers and with the companies that sold him advertising pages so he ended up deeply in debt to the printer and to advertising publishers. Worse, his first product (which sold well enough) ran out of print, but it was going to cost $20K to reprint it and the dwindling rate of sales (nowhere near as good as it had been 18 months earlier) would not support the debt load, but he "had" to reprint it to avoid looking like a company on the way out. Finally, with no more places to borrow money and creditors threatening legal action, he took the case to his wife for a home equity loan. She, of course, had no clue that his company was $40K in debt (for which he was personally liable) or that most of the family savings account was gone. It's a wonder she didn't kill him or leave him, but she did force him out of the game business immediately. He sold out for what he could get and applied that money to the debts. Moral of the story, if you are married, make your wife a part of every business decision and do not keep secrets from her about family money.

In another case (actually, there are four or five of these I have seen, all about the same), an enthusiastic game designer who knew nothing about the industry but was sure his game was the next big thing got a home equity loan, printed thousands of copies of his game, and THEN (and only then) asked other game companies how to contact stores and wholesalers to sell his game. He had no clue what size the market was (few games sell over a couple of thousand copies) or who the wholesalers were or what it would take to get them to buy (some now demand that you pay them $500 for advertising before they will carry your game) or even what the discount structure was (which meant that his cost per game was fairly close to the 40% of the retail price he had printed on the games). Moral of the story, learn as much as you can about the industry before you spend a dime getting into it. GO READ MY BOOK FIRST.

I see lots of gamers who think that running a retail store, and online discount store, or a game publishing company involves low work and high reward. It does not. If it did, a lot more people would be in this business.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Play Online

Many people do not know that you can play either Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander online in real time against live opponents.

Ten years ago, www.SFBonline.com was created to provide players of Star Fleet Battles with an on-line gaming experience. It was a smash hit as hundreds of gamers joined the battles. Tournaments and other competitions, plus general opening gaming, have gone on around the clock since then. It since expanded to include Federation Commander!

Now you can play with real live human (not to mention Klingon, Romulan, Kzinti, Gorn, Tholian, Orion, and other) opponents all over the world in real time 24 hours a day! The computer automates many functions and acts as a friendly assistant for mundane chores.

For the modest subscription fee of less than $6 a month per game system, you have access to most of the ships in the Star Fleet Battles/Federation Commander game systems as well as new ships still in playtest and development. The Java Runtime system is compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems.

Never worry about a lack of opponents. Never worry about opponents who don't show up for games day because of silly reasons like family reunions or their own weddings. Don't be cut off from your regular gaming group while on vacations or business trips.

Even better, you can join in online tournaments and campaigns, and your victories will add up to a higher and higher average score!

The system also allows you to chat with friends, taunt your enemies, and watch other players fight their own savage battles. (Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else's?) This "observer" system allows players of either game to learn the ins and outs of the other game before deciding to invest time and money in it.

We continue to develop Federation & Empire for an online environment and have playtesters working out the kinks. We'll let you know as soon as it is ready to release.

Friday, October 03, 2014


Thursday, October 02, 2014

Hydran Master Starship Book Delayed

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I had planned on the Hydran Master Starship Book being released yesterday, but things did not go as planned.

While the individuals asked to check the book did their best, many suffered from "real-life issues" that interfered with their doing so. And, as I have often noted, real life must take precedence over a game.

We have delayed the project for three weeks to allow the checkers more time. Part of this is that not only do I not regard myself as perfect (shocking, I know), but in going over several issues in the book some things caught my eye on a basis of "that needs to be explained." It is always easier to see things when you are no longer actually in the trench trying to get the job done.

Jean is reading the book even now (something that was scheduled but in the press of other issues she did not have time to get to last month), and already the page budget has been blown (the book has grown by two pages, and Jean has only read 14 of the originally budgeted 106, so it might grow by two more pages when she is finished).

There is also the fact that this, while in one sense the first book ever done (the Hydrans provided the original prototype sold at Origins several years ago), it is benefiting from being the second book. Comments made about the Federation Master Starship Book are being incorporated into the Hydran Master Starship Book. A big one is that rather than each ship's picture coming at the end of its entry, the picture is now included within the entry, generally just before the "this ship is a variant of/this ship is a base hull" entry. This puts the picture closer to the title of the ship description and makes it obvious what ship description it belongs to. (The placement in the Federation Master Starship Book had all pictures following all text, i.e., the picture came after the listing of ship names and before the beginning of the next ship description. This was the same system that was used in the original Hydran prototype, but now all of the Hydran ship pictures have been moved as noted, and that was done just yesterday.)

Every Hydran General ship that is able to use the (R9.R6) local defense fighter rule is noted as such. Thus while the "Hospital freighters" were not mentioned in the Federation Master Starship Book, for example, they are in the Hydran book together with a specific statement of whether or not they can do the swap once, or twice. Rule (R9.R6) itself has been expanded to cover not just the Stinger-F, but the Stinger-1F (pushing the year it is available back), and of course the transition years (when there were Stinger-1F+s and Stinger-Fes among other transitional fighters available) are covered. The rule has also been revised to cover the differences in BPV this creates [it is not a straight five BPV which only covered swapping a Stinger-F (seven BPV) for an admin shuttle (two BPV), but the cost of the fighter replacing the shuttle in each case, the top being the Stinger-F at seven BPV but the Stinger-1F and various transition fighters are cheaper than that.]

Notes have been specifically added in some cases to make sure it is understood that some fighters on some ships are considered to be Hybrid fighters and do not count against the total number of fighters brought to the scenario (such as the four fighters on the HAC). And Hydran carriers that count as "interdiction" carriers are noted (those that bring a lot of fighters, but some or all of whose fighters count as only a single squadron of 12 for purposes of the number of fighters that can be brought to a battle).

I think the next three weeks will help insure that this product is well polished when it is released.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014