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Friday, July 31, 2015


In previous installments of this series as found in various Captain's Logs, we presented the class histories of some of the most famous Federation old-series destroyers in Star Fleet. Their tales of valor and glory, of missions accomplished and victories won, of worlds explored and civilizations contacted reflect the highest standards of the Star Fleet. Destroyer crews were, it would appear from those earlier entries (particularly Part 2 and the DDG sub-class), the hand-picked elite of the best space navy in the galaxy.

USS AMAZON: Crewed entirely by Alpha-Centaurans, this ship was known as a hellcat in combat. The captain once told a Klingon admiral: "You just don't get it, do you?"

USS FRISBEE: Apparently another ship resulting from incomplete database records of obscure terms, this ship disappeared in Y165 after suffering a breakdown during a high energy turn (the warp engine was torn completely away from the hull) and tumbling out of control. It was last seen in the jaws of a large space monster which literally ran away with the ship.

USS TITANIC: Destroyed by the impact of an uncharted comet during its maiden cruise. The ship was considered so invulnerable to damage that it had no internal air-tight doors.

(c) Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

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, July 29, 2015

This is Steven Petrick posting.

More progress has been made on the Klingon Master Starship Book. Jean Sexton has found several typo and format errors that the staff checkers had missed (it has a lot of information that has been added by the Master Starship Book format).

Like the Hydran Master Starship Book, the Klingon Master Starship Book is somewhat different from the Federation Master Starship Book, and also from the Hydran Master Starship Book.

While all three follow the general format, the books are inevitably different.

The Federation has few "hybrid carriers," but almost half of the Hydran ships are hybrid carriers, and thus text defining fighters on those ships had to be inserted into the format that was not really needed for the Federation.

The Klingons are the first "disruptor" empire we have done. Like the Federation there are few "hybrid carriers," but many (not all) of their ships have access to UIMs (requires Range-22 or greater disruptors and there are some "political" considerations which deny the system to some ships nominally allowed to have it). This gets into some ships (such as the D6 series, D7 series, F5C leaders, dreadnoughts, etc.) are in service before UIMs are available, but some of these (D7Cs, F5Cs, C8s, C9s, etc.) have UIMs as standard equipment, and most that have UIMs available as a refit, can also purchase additional UIM modules as part of their commander's options. So every ship includes a UIM line in the format. DERFACs on the other hand is handled as the straight refit it is (there is no allowance for using commander's option points to purchase additional DERFACS back up systems).

Another evolution is that the Klingons, more than the Federation, have "separation." So every ship that has a boom able to separate includes notes (where appropriate) about the change to the boom's weapons arcs, and (a problem not found on Federation saucers) the fact that if the boom has a shuttle bay, that bay can be used to lay mines only if the boom has separated.

All stasis field generator variants are covered with their own listing (SBA, B11A, B11VA, B11SA, B10A, B10VA, B10SA, B10TA, etc.).

The carrier escort tables have been relaid out to show all escort groups in order from the larger escort to the smaller, and the background of all of the escorts has been scoured to make sure the escorts appear where they are appropriate with a tighter view. Not only is the lone AD6 accounted for, but also the lone E5E. FWE escorts have been more restricted in availability in concert with their ship description (the FWV is no longer eligible to have one in keeping with the ship description of the FWE for example).

And while all this is going on, the Romulan Master Starship Book is itself being worked on. It has not gone to the staff yet (pending publication of the Klingon Master Starship Book we do not want to divert their attention). The Romulans, of course, do have "hybrid carriers" (if no where near as many as the Hydrans), but do not have disruptors. They do have cloaking devices, and whether a given ship has a cloak or not is noted. (Mostly auxiliary ships and a few police ships do not.) Format problems identified in the Klingon Master Starship Book are being addressed in the Romulan Master Starship Book at the same time, which should (along with the smaller number of fighter types over all compared to the first three empires) make the book easier for the staffers to check.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Monday, July 27, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 19-25 July 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week from heck, as we discovered that the Federation & Empire counters we had sent to press were full of mistakes. Lots of hard work by the F&E staff and in-house staff and by the end of the week the counters were fixed and back on track. The weather this week was hot. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 300 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was the SFB Basic Set Rulebook. New to DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault was SFB Commander's Edition Volume III.

Steve Cole worked on F&E counters, art for Klingon Master Starship Book, Captain's Log #51, and other things. Various minor injuries limited his walking with Wolf to under three miles.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51, Klingon Master Starship Book, Romulan Master Starship Book, and other projects.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries, one update, and perhaps the first person to ever ask for the archive list of names prior to 2005.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

 Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,667 friends), managed our Twitter feed (153 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread the Klingon Master Starship Book, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

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, July 25, 2015

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, July 24, 2015


In previous installments of this series as found in various Captain's Logs, we presented the class histories of some of the most famous Federation old-series destroyers in Star Fleet. Their tales of valor and glory, of missions accomplished and victories won, of worlds explored and civilizations contacted reflect the highest standards of the Star Fleet. Destroyer crews were, it would appear from those earlier entries (particularly Part 2 and the DDG sub-class), the hand-picked elite of the best space navy in the galaxy.

USS HERMETIC: A standard destroyer, the USS Hermetic was designed with a unique damage control system designed to seal hatches and doors in the event the pressure was lost in part of the ship due to battle damage. Unfortunately, the system malfunctioned and sealed the door to every compartment (including the crew quarters) during the shakedown cruise. The captain and senior officers, suspecting that their careers would be ruined if the event "leaked out", simply never reported it to Star Fleet, although they did recommend (fortunately!) that the damage control system not be used and advised Star Fleet that they had deactivated it. As every compartment was sealed, the crew could only move around the ship (e.g., from the quarters, to the mess hall, to their duty stations) by means of the ship's transporters. The work-around worked well enough, and the crew eventually became quite accustomed to this mode of intra-ship transportation, using transporters to report to work at the start of their shifts and to go "home" at the end. The crew was so happy with duty on the Hermetic that no one ever asked for a transfer off the ship! When Star Fleet needed a ship for a long-duration mission, the Hermetic was selected because the crew was obviously quite happy on board and wouldn't mind being away from home for years. Stopping at the first Class-M planet they encountered, the crew discarded the useless turbolift cars (nobody had used them to get to their stations in a year) and filled the turbolift shafts with water and fish beamed up from the planet's oceans, then filled the useless corridors with grass and small animals (the local equivalent of chickens and rabbits). Plumbing drew water from the turbolift shafts to irrigate the corridors, and collected water vapor to refill the "on-board ocean". Waste from the crew was used to feed the animals, plants, and fish on board. In this way, the ship could grow its own food as it went along and did not have to rely on tasteless replicator rations (further contributing to the ship's unusually high crew morale!). The cooks would, when mealtime approached, use transporters to beam the selected livestock (minus the useless innards) directly to the oven. When the General War began, the USS Hermetic was brought back from the Second Fleet and thrown into combat. During the Second Battle of Blackfoot Pass, the USS Hermetic took heavy damage but almost no crew casualties due to its extremely high "internal compartmentalization factor". The ship was boarded by over a hundred Klingon Marines, who rampaged up and down the corridors but could not get into any of the compartments. The crew did not even realize that Klingons were on board until two weeks later, when enterprising Klingon combat engineers managed to pry open the doors to the turbolift shaft, flooding the corridors on the lower decks and triggering alarms when the turnip crop was waterlogged. Faced with an ecological disaster, the crew had no choice but to fly to a nearby Fleet Repair Dock which cut open the long-sealed hatches and restored the ship to its proper design standards. Morale fell to such a low-level that the entire crew resigned en masse (something Star Fleet allowed because no other ship would accept the transfer of such unhappy crewmen).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Yet Another Update on the Klingon Master Star Ship Book, and a Rough Scenario Idea

This is Steven Petrick posting:

The Klingon Master Star Ship Book project is mostly waiting on reports.

SVC has done a number of the graphics, which have been inserted, but more remain to be done.

One thing I am pushing for is a careful review of all of the Klingon escorts and fighters for their carrier groups.

The Klingons have three cruiser escorts (ADW, AD6, and AD5) and eight size class 4 escorts [F6E, FWE, AF5/F5E, E5E, E4A/E4E, E3A/E3E, E3D (kind of honorary), and LFE]. Some of these were "one offs/unique" (AD6, E5E), and some very limited production (ADW), while others have availability restrictions (E4A/E4E, E3A/E3E and E3D all have limited service periods, the LFE has a very restricted service at all, and the FWE's background very much says it was only used by larger carriers). I am trying to make the listing in this book the most comprehensive for all of these, but this raises questions.

Might E3As have been relegated to escorting LDVs in addition to the LFEs? There were a limited number of LF4 hulls, and E3As might have been used to replace LFEs, perhaps before E4As were.

I am also wondering if perhaps the few E3As that were left might have "hung around" with the carrier pods. Might make an interesting (or at least amusing) scenario if an E4T (or a pair of them) were moving a couple of (inactive) carrier pods, and were accompanied by a couple of E3As (intended to provide an initial operating capability for the tug the pods were going to be used by, i.e., the carrier tug's escorts until some "real" escorts turned up). Might make for a small scenario. Assume the E3A's ADD racks are loaded with type-VI drones. Main issue would be the balance, what would such a small group of ships (1-2 E4Ts with pods and 2 E3As) be able to have a chance of fending off that might attack them in the Klingon rear area? A Reconnaissance Cobra? A Light Raider? Maybe add a small armed freighter to the Klingons (carrying fighter supplies for use by the carrier), or perhaps just a Free Trader?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


  Steve Cole ponders various thoughts that came to mind.
1. It is often said by people studying Noah's flood that "every culture on Earth has a flood myth" and because of this, one might assume, every culture on Earth descends from a single group of people who survived the biblical flood. A simpler explanation might be that floods happen all the time in localized areas and a storytelling looking for a new plot for his next story might well just make up a "really big flood." There may, however, be some truth to it. About 5600BC, the basin that is now the Black Sea flooded; that much is a geological fact. There is a theory that due to dry conditions, a substantial part of the European and Middle Eastern population lived around the shore of the (much smaller) Black Sea. (Not everyone agrees. The Black Sea might have been like the Great Salt Lake and not much use for drinking.) When the dam broke and the Mediterranean flowed it, it took a year or two for the basin to fill. There was no real need for panic, but everyone who wanted to keep living by the shore had to move their camp a mile away from the edge every evening (and probably woke up with wet feet the next morning). Eventually, the people got tired of this and relocated to more distant areas.
2. It seems strange to me that I waited most of my life to reach the 21st century but now we're far enough into it that bit expensive things (cars, computers) made DURING the 21st century are wearing out.
3. P.T. Barnum said: "You don't have to know everything. You don't have to know somebody who knows everything. You just need enough friends that ONE of them knows someone else who knows how to find out what you need to know." His classic example was that when he wanted to meet Queen Victoria, he asked his friends who they knew who could help. He knew the publisher of a New York newspaper who knew the US ambassador to England.
4. I just had Simone in my office, and as part of another conversation, I explained to her the ship's log. In the old sailboat says, if they wanted to know how fast they were going, they threw a log (literally) overboard. The log was tied to a rope, and a small hourglass (which ran only a few seconds) would run down. When the sand ran out, the sailors stopped the rope and pulled the log back in, counting the number of knots in the rope from the point where they stopped it to the log. This was the ship's speed in "knots" (which are still used today for ships, a knot or nautical mile being about 9% bigger than a mile). The result was recorded in "the log book" where the mate would write the time, compass direction, knots, and perhaps a note about the weather or what coastlines were in view. [Some navies had the knots closer together an used a smaller hourglass, or farther apart with a bigger hourglass, but they all got the same answer within the limits of the technology of 1492.]
5. Leanna and I were talking about our refrigerator the other day, and all the two previous refrigerators we have owned during our 38 years together. She remarked that she preferred to have the freezer on the bottom as she got to the non-frozen part more often and could do so without bending over. I commented that I wanted to get to the whole refrigerator without bending over, and that what the country really needed was a horizontal refrigerator that was twice as wide and half as tall as traditional models. This would then sit on top of a cabinet (with drawers full of canned food or whatever else).

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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, July 20, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 12-18 July 2015

Steve Cole reports: This was the week that the batch of Federation & Empire counters went to press, clearing us to ship Fighter Operations -2015 in August and Minor Empires in Aug/Sept. We will also be bringing the boxed F&E set and F&E Advanced Operations back into stock in early August. The weather this week was hot. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. We all saluted the New Horizons spacecraft as it reached Pluto and prayed for the families of the victims of terrorism in Chattanooga.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was Captain's Log #40. SFB Module YG3 and FC Frax Ship Card Pack #3 went on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault.

Steve Cole worked on art for the Klingon Master Starship Book most of the week (there is a lot of art!) as well as other projects. Steve managed to walk three miles with Wolf this week as he worked his way back from the knee he injured in Austin.

Steven Petrick worked on the Klingon Master Starship Book, the Romulan Master Starship Book, and battle group articles for Captain's Log #51.

The Starline 2500 project is reviewing sales figures for the three new ships before deciding where to go next.          
The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five new entries and two updates.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,657 friends), managed our Twitter feed (154 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread F&E counters and the Klingon Master Starship Book, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

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, July 18, 2015

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, July 17, 2015


In previous installments of this series as found in various Captain's Logs, we presented the class histories of some of the most famous Federation old-series destroyers in Star Fleet. Their tales of valor and glory, of missions accomplished and victories won, of worlds explored and civilizations contacted reflect the highest standards of the Star Fleet. Destroyer crews were, it would appear from those earlier entries (particularly Part 2 and the DDG sub-class), the hand-picked elite of the best space navy in the galaxy.

USS BUZZSAW: A unique variant with photon torpedoes replacing all of its phaser-1s, the ship exploded during its first test firing. After years of study of the wreckage, a Board of Inquiry ruled that the explosion was due to a design error in which the naval architects had failed to convert inches into millimeters.

USS YO-YO: The original test ship for the drogue, the system never functioned correctly and continuously released and recovered the drogue during its entire combat career. Enemy (and friendly) ships stayed as far away from the Yo-yo as they could.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Scenario Creation in Star Fleet Battles

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Scenarios are one of the ways to get your name published in the Star Fleet Universe, but there are a few things one should keep in mind when creating a scenario.

Star Fleet Battles is, at its core, a very tactical game that works best when the number of ships is kept to a minimum. It may seem like a romp to create two massive battle fleets, fully tricked out with fighters, fast patrol ships, scouts, and other specialist ships, but such massive slugfests will probably not see a lot of play. Controlling all of the ships and tracking all of the attrition units is frequently more than can be done in a single weekend (much less a single day), even if every ship has its own captain and he will control his own attrition units and you have a separate game monitor who will control the impulse table and moderate the sequence of play.

By and large try to keep the scenario down to (if you must have more than one ship on a side) a squadron of three or so ships. Smaller ships are easier to handle (and more likely to be knocked out faster) allowing for a shorter game but much of the feel of larger operations.

Another aspect is the special rules. You may want your scenario to involve the cleverly arranged ambush of any enemy force. But if your scenario involves a special rule telling one side they have to stick their proverbial heads on the chopping block, they will do all they can to avoid doing so. No rule you can write will make them ignorant of the fact that the scenario is an ambush, and generally they will know the order of battle of the ambushers and can have a pretty good idea of where they are and will do what they can to avoid it.

If you must have an ambush, it is probably best to start the scenario at the moment the ambush is sprung. That is to say have the specific starting hex of both sides, their specific speed for the previous turn (Turn #0), and any other unique circumstances. (You might even be specifying the damage one side received on Turn #0 and the empty weapons on the other side that will need reloading even though they are otherwise at WS-III.)

Do not be afraid to use terrain if it will make things interesting, but make sure you understand how the terrain feature you are using actually works. It can be embarrassing to discover that one side's technology is so negatively impacted by a given terrain as to make them essentially helpless before their opponent.

If you are going to create a monster as an opponent, you might start with Captain's Log #29 which had an article which collected all of the existing monster rules otherwise disbursed through the rulebooks, and you might look at some (you do not have to look at all of them) of the monster articles published in subsequent Captain's Logs for ideas of what to ask yourself in determining your monster's capabilities. (It can be embarrassing to have someone ask you what happens when your monster runs over a mine, or runs into a swarm of drones and you have not written a rule to cover it.)

Another aspect is background. Your scenario does not have to be the "pivotal battle that decided the outcome of the General War." It can be an important battle, or a battle that should never have been fought but that two captains (or commodores, or admirals) just could not let it go. But remember that background should also help explain your scenario special rules in some sense (the two captains that could not let it go explains why your scenario has a no retreat, no surrender, duel to the death outcome!).

And remember. Do not fixate on the full on warships. Star Fleet Battles has a rich plethora of ships. An auxiliary heavy carrier might have a duel to the death with an enemy auxiliary small fast patrol ship tender because both were being used to patrol quiet sectors on the front line and things got out of hand. Perhaps each might have a police ship or two (or armed freighters) as consorts that arrived before the battle got serious.

But remember that, in general you must adhere to the background. Someone wanted to use a monitor to attack an enemy base, and the game background in general does not allow this. (Monitors are so slow that by the time they arrive at the base to attack it, even with diversionary operations, the enemy will have time to gather a strong defending force.) But there are exceptions. A monitor that is moving towards the planet it will garrison, or returning from having garrisoned a planet that has now had a base built at it, just might happen to stumble across an Orion base. Or an Andromedan base. These are bases that are within its own empire and not part of an organized front and generally depend on being hidden and "off the beaten track" rather than having strong defending forces. Further, there is always a chance of a civil war encounter, a Romulan Monitor at the start of the Romulan civil war, or a Kzinti monitor at the start of the War of Return, or a Lyran monitor in any of the series of Lyran civil wars. The monitor might side with the opposition of the base that it was approaching when the civil war broke out.

You can find openings to write scenarios, but always keep in mind that you want your scenario "big enough to present the situation, but small enough to be interesting to play in an evening" to paraphrase an older quote.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

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, July 14, 2015


Monday, July 13, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 5-11 July 2015

Steve Cole reports: This was a week of steady work on current projects. The weather this week was warm. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 150 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, Wargame Vault, and DriveThru RPG this week: SFB Commander's Edition Volume II and Federation Commander: Frax Ship Card Pack #2.

Steve Cole, having divided his time between multiple projects, was given marching orders by the Board of Directors to focus only on the Federation & Empire project and get the counters sent to press next week. He complied. Steve recovered from his injured knee by the end of the week and was able to walk a full mile on Saturday and Friday. He did do Communique and his part of Hailing Frequencies and resolved a long-standing issue over the point value of the two Klingon tugs in Federation Commander and sent SFBOL some ship art.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51 battle groups, final fixes to the Klingon Master Starship Book, and worked his way through the ships of the Romulan Master Starship Book.

The Starline 2500 project is reviewing sales figures for the three new ships before deciding where to go next.  
The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries and an update.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on Hailing Frequencies, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,652 friends), managed our Twitter feed (153 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Communique and the Platinum Hat article for Captain's Log #51, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

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, July 11, 2015

Star Fleet Universe Downloadable Art

Simone Pike writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download backgrounds and covers with Star Fleet Universe art. We have art that will work on Facebook, iOS7 iPhones, Android devices, and computers. You will also find art you can use as binder spine cards.

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.

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.

Friday, July 10, 2015


In previous installments of this series as found in various Captain's Logs, we presented the class histories of some of the most famous Federation old-series destroyers in Star Fleet. Their tales of valor and glory, of missions accomplished and victories won, of worlds explored and civilizations contacted reflect the highest standards of the Star Fleet. Destroyer crews were, it would appear from those earlier entries (particularly Part 2 and the DDG sub-class), the hand-picked elite of the best space navy in the galaxy.

But now, in the fourth and final part of the series, we come to those ships which, it might be said, restore the law of averages. If the elite were concentrated into nearly a hundred of the best ships in the fleet, what was Star Fleet to do with those who gave it the old Academy try and just didn't quite reach the level expected? These are their stories.

USS PEQUOD: Driven by a maniacal captain determined to rid the Pacifica sector of space monsters, the ship exploded after being rammed by a Moray Eel.

USS DERRINGER: Intended as a carrier escort, the Derringer had phaser-Gs replacing all of the photons and phaser-1s of the basic destroyer design. Popular with admirals (but not its crews), the USS Derringer was constantly in demand by carrier group commanders maneuvering to have it assigned to their force. The enemy could detect its weapons and always target it with the entire fleet's long-range fire; USS Derringer had the distinction of being the first ship put out of action in six separate battles. On a deep space mission, the ship disappeared into the Pardessus Pocket and was never seen again.

Thursday, July 09, 2015


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:

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

The Romulan Master Starship Book Draft Advances

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Currently the parts of the Romulan book that are not "generic," and not counting the needed graphics, are all in completed draft.

That leaves the General section.

I have reached Module R8 in inputting the General Units. Basic Set, Advanced Missions, Module J, Module J2, Module K, Module M, Module R1, Module R6, and Module R7 have all had their material reviewed, and decisions have been made.

In the case of Module R6 (tramp steamer) and Module R7 (Operations Base and Mobile Operational Auxiliary) that pretty much meant looking at them and moving on.

The major thing in the Romulan book is "Year in Service" and "Cloaking Device." Most of the General Units are not available to the Romulans prior to Y161 (most "general unit ships" are warp units and the Romulans pretty much cannot even use a warp powered skiff before that date). But there are things to look at. Captor mines (plasma-F-armed only) become available to the Romulans in Y140 [when according to (Y0.0) they are freed from many early years restrictions, but still do not have warp, transporters, or good tractors, or even phasers]. So aspects of technology need to be reviewed (which means they still do not Defense Satellites because even the plasma-F defense satellite has phasers).

There is an existing argument over Romulan Gladiator-0 and Gladiator-L fighters, Legate heavy fighters, and Maniple medium bombers. Sure, they are sublight, but the fighters (not the bombers) were deployed on the Romulan early bases, and perhaps a super modern just built shiny new Romulan Starbase in Y161 to Y164 might go ahead and keep a squadron or so of, at least, Gladiator-0s (if not Legates) as an adjunct to its defenses until the Gladiator-I appears (Gladiator-Ls are less likely, of course). There is also a technology question that perhaps Romulan Defense Satellites with plasma-F torpedoes and warp-targeted lasers could be deployed in Y140. And these are not the only issues and questions.

Mostly a decision  has been made not to list "Freighter, Small, available in Y161, maneuver limits, and, oh, by the way it does not have a cloaking device." Basically if the only reason to list something is to say it does not have a cloaking device, or was not available prior to Y161, it is not listed. (There is, for example, no listing for the Exploration Freighters or the Minelaying Freighters or the Troop ship freighters just to say they are not available prior to Y161, and by the way do not have cloaking devices.) But if a unit is listed, it will definitively state if it has a cloaking device or not (and sometimes, in the case of large bases, there needs to be a note that the cloaking device is sort of optional, i.e., the Romulan player is not required to purchase his starbase with a cloaking device if he does not want to use it in the battle, but if he buys it as part of a campaign he is pretty much going to have to decide to pay for it then or not, or have some campaign rule allowing him to install it later). Of course units that have "optional weapons" are always going to be listed to spell out what weapons are available to them when the Romulans get them. Like the Skiff mentioned above, which is not available prior to Y161, does not have a cloaking device, does not have a drone rack (so its BPV is reduced by two point), but does gain a plasma-D torpedo rack in Y165 which restores the two lost BPV, and later on gets both a Y175 refit (adding a second plasma-D reload) and the sabot refit.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015


Steve Cole's standard speech at a wedding rehearsal dinner: I have assembled the best advice I can find and am offering it to you now.
1. The dictionary has a definition of love. (You might think something you have to feel can't be defined, but it can.) The definition is: "The state of mind when the health, happiness, and well-being of another person assumes importance equal to your own." Remember that when you have an argument. You're in this marriage to make the other person happy. Most people use the term "love" incorrectly to mean "I am really pleased to be in your company" (e.g., I love Doctor Who!) but that's not the kind of love that makes a marriage.
2. My mother said that marriage is not a 50-50 deal. Both sides have to give 100% all the time, every day. That's an ideal goal, and you won't make it every day, but try to do it as much of the time as you can. Decide how to divide up the housework (including the errands, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, balancing the checkbook, and home maintenance).
3. Happy wife = happy life. That's true and hubby better live by it, but I would advise wifey that nobody wants to live with grumpy hubby, so it's not all going to go your way.
4. A wedding is like a date, but when it's over, you get to keep the person you went out with.
5. It is said that to avoid the level of conflict that will destroy a marriage, you have to get an agreement on four things: the number of children you want to have, what role religion will have in your lives, politics, and your relations with your in-laws. I would also add where you're going to live, what you expect of the other person's career, and how you're going to handle money. (How hard you expect to work, expect the other person to work, expect to spend and on what, and what you think about big credit card balances.) If you haven't worked that out yet, you better get it done before soon.
6. The number one thing that will destroy a marriage is a fight over money. Have a budget you both agreed to, and stick to it or have a meeting to discuss changing the plan. The budget needs to have a reserve, some savings, and some fun money, but you'll stay out of trouble if you don't spend much of your money without a plan.
7. The second most effective way to destroy a marriage is resentment. If your spouse resents the money or time you spend on something, if your spouse resents the things you do, if your spouse resents the things you make them do that they aren't that interested in, if your spouse resents the opportunities and experiences they lost because of your decisions, you're going to have trouble. No relationship is perfect but keep the things they resent down to a minimum. That includes speaking up when you resent something. Don't let resentment build up an turn toxic. Sure you want to avoid an argument, but if the other person doesn't understand that you're upset about something, they'll keep doing it until there is a major explosion. Those major explosions are rough on a marriage.
8. Avoid going into debt, other than buying a house which is pretty much impossible to do without a mortgage. The best way to avoid debt is to never spend money you don't have to buy junk you don't need so you can impress people you don't even like. Never go into debt for a "want" but only for a real "need."
9. The best way to strengthen a marriage is to build memories together of things you did together. Places you went together, things you created together. Don't let anybody work while the other watches TV. Don't make one person run all of the errands (which are work, not playtime). While there will always be things one person is in charge of, the other one needs to know how to do them. (The wife needs to teach her husband how to do laundry and run the dishwasher. The husband needs to show the wife how to start the lawnmower.) If one is sick or out of town, the other can at least keeps things running. (Anyone could manage to make themselves something to eat, but if you run out of clean clothes, you have a problem that is very expensive to solve.)
10. My best advice to other men: Just do what the woman says. It will hurt less and she was probably right anyway. Women biologically think about the bigger picture and for the longer term.

Monday, July 06, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 28 June - 4 July 2015

Steve Cole reports:

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

New on DriveThruRPG and Wargame Vault this week were Star Fleet Times #6-#10 and Federation Commander: Frax Ship Card Pack #1.

Steve Cole and Leanna got home Tuesday night from the trip to Austin for a family wedding. Steve worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, Federation & Empire, and Captain's Log #51.      

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #51, the Klingon Master Starship Book, and the Romulan Master Starship Book.

The Starline 2500 project is reviewing sales figures for the three new ships before deciding where to go next.

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

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,647 friends), managed our Twitter feed (151 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread some of the Klingon Master Starship Book, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

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, July 04, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

We at ADB wish you a happy Independence Day. Celebrate safely!

Friday, July 03, 2015


In previous installments of this series as found in various Captain's Logs, we presented the class histories of some of the most famous Federation old-series destroyers in Star Fleet. Their tales of valor and glory, of missions accomplished and victories won, of worlds explored and civilizations contacted reflect the highest standards of the Star Fleet. Destroyer crews were, it would appear from those earlier entries (particularly Part 2 and the DDG sub-class), the hand-picked elite of the best space navy in the galaxy.

But now, in the fourth and final part of the series, we come to those ships which, it might be said, restore the law of averages. If the elite were concentrated into nearly a hundred of the best ships in the fleet, what was Star Fleet to do with those who gave it the old Academy try and just didn't quite reach the level expected? These are their stories.

USS LOLLIPOP: The first ship of the class, it was given this name due to a misunderstanding of 300-year-old records. By the time of Star Fleet, nobody really remembered just what a "Lollipop" was, and the historical databases (disrupted by the various wars on Earth during the 21st and 22nd centuries) had only two references. One was a fragment of an old dictionary which defined "lollipop-shaped" and included an illustration, and the other was a cross-reference to the "Good Ship Lollipop" in the cultural database (the actual reference having been lost). After the ship was commissioned, further research discovered the true nature of the term and Star Fleet quickly sent the ship on a five-year mission somewhere, anywhere, that was out of sight of the media.

USS KAUFMAN: A standard four-photon destroyer, the Kaufman was, for reasons never really explained, built with the single warp engine facing backwards. This unique arrangement allowed the ship to fly at top speed away from the enemy while keeping all of her torpedoes bearing on the pursuing enemy force. This ship served with distinction on the Klingon front, until its continuing retrograde brought it within range of Romulan squadrons. There, its success continued. Romulan ships maneuvered to uncloak "behind" the fast-moving destroyer, only to find themselves facing the four hot torpedo tubes of the "Killer" Kaufman!

(c) Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

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.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Continuing to Move Forward

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The draft of the Romulan Master Starship Book is through the Early Years, meaning that except for the generic ships all of the regular Romulan navy units are in format.

The Early Years ships presented a problem because most of them went from Ship description to at least four subships, e.g., (YR4.2) Vulture Dreadnought, (YR4.2A) Bolted Vulture, (YR4.2B) Masked Vulture, (YR4.2C) Veiled Vulture, (YR4.2D) Cloaked Vulture, and (YR4.2E) Vulture Plus. The first five entries (YR4.2)-(YR4.2D) are all under Early Years restrictions, but the last entry is not. The first and second entries do not have cloaking devices (or the Early Years analogues), and technically the first entry does not have an SSD [it notes the ship type was in service even before plasma weapons and warp-targeted lasers, which appear with the second entry, i.e., it had nuclear missiles (mentioned in the source material) and plain old lasers]. Yet some things are common to all of them, e.g., all have a nuclear space mine, all had shields, and so on. I settled on a general explanation of applicable material to all of the ships in the first entry, and only a short list of what changed in the subsequent entries. Perhaps one of the reviewers will come up with a better idea.

I still need to do drudgery of the Romulan General Units, but that is pretty much just drudgery to get it done.

For now, I am currently working on the draft of the Platinum Hat 2014 Victory article by Peter Bakija, and still waiting on the last Star Fleet Battles Battle Groups tactics article so that I can finish that file.