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Sunday, July 31, 2016

On AMA-Con, Health, and Happiness

Jean Sexton muses:

AMA-Con 2016 was an interesting event for ADB to attend. The gaming portion is still relatively young compared to the anime, comics, and cosplay portions. We had to feel our way along for this convention. We'd been to Origins, but that convention has always had a strong gaming component.

We thought with the release of the new movie that people might be interested in pewter miniatures and indeed some of those did go home with attendees. We hoped that demoing Star Fleet Battle Force would have those flying off the shelf. We did find a couple of people who bought the game. And 41 "challenged" starships found adoptive families.

There were some intangible benefits that will pay off in the future. We built some bridges with local stores. We don't know how many people (but we know there are some) want to buy the game through their favorite gaming or comic store. We built up some stock that won't go to waste. We polished up some of our convention skills.

One thing became clear to me: I still don't have the stamina I need to work a long convention. I was pretty tired by the end of Saturday. By Sunday afternoon, my "get up and go" had fled, gibbering into the heat. I'll need to work on building up that stamina.

On the other hand, just before the convention I found much to be happy about. My health continues to improve, my medications continue to be decreased, and my weight is generally on a downward trend. In another year who knows what I will have accomplished?

In the meantime I continue to find happiness and the positive in life. I loved seeing all the skills that went into the cosplay at the convention. I had no clue who some of the characters were, but I could tell that others did. I enjoyed meeting people and chatting with them. And ultimately, I am glad I could actually be at the convention. I hope some of you can make it next year.

And life is good.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

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.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ship Breaker

This war is like a tidal wave, spinning out of control.
Caught us out of position, all alone on patrol.
You're the right kind of captain, to release my inner warrior beast.
The invincible winner, and you know what you were born to be.
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
They don't mess around with you!
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
You don't mess around - NO NO NO!

Mistakes have set your ship on fire, burnin' out of control.
You made a reckless attack, now its takin' its toll.
You're the right kind of captain, to release my inner warrior beast.
The invincible winner, and you know what you were born to be.
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
They don't mess around with you!
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
You don't mess around - NO NO NO!

You're the right kind of captain, to release my inner warrior beast.
The invincible winner, and you know what you were born to be.
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
They don't mess around with you!
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
They don't mess around with you!
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
They don't mess around with you!
You're a Ship Breaker, Death Maker, Life Taker.
You don't mess around - NO NO NO!
Apologies to Pat Benatar (Heartbreaker).

(c) by Stephen V. Cole and ADB, Inc.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Foodie and Grumpy Season Two (c) 2016 ADB, Inc.

EPISODE #1 (Part 2)

F: Taking our lives in our hands, let's check the refrigerator. You have milk which has gone bad, beer, soft drinks, half a pack of sandwich ham that expired last week, half a jar of pickles, some mayonnaise and mustard, some of those plastic-wrapped yellow slices that you think are cheese, two cans of fruit cocktail, and two Tupperware boxes of ... something moldy.

G: Yeah, I gotta dump that stuff so I can take boxes back to Mom. They were some leftovers she sent me home with after Sunday dinner last week.

F: More like last month.

G: Last week, I swear!

F: Do I need to call her and ask?

G: Not really. Let me scrape those into the trash and put them into the dishwasher.

F: Now, what's missing from your refrigerator?

G: A decent bottle of wine for when I have a lady friend over. I got a bargain on something from Oklahoma.

F: Red or white?

G: Sort of pink, I think.

F: We'll discuss wine another day, except to mention that you're doing it all wrong. Now, what else is missing?

G: I think I have everything I need except a roll of ready-mixed chocolate-chip cookie dough.

F: You bake cookies?

G: No, I eat the raw cookie dough as a snack.

F: Never mind that for now, but please do not do it again. Even the package says not to do that. One more time, tell me what's missing.

G: Well, I guess I might need another can of fruit cocktail?

F: How about anything fresh? Anything in the vegetable crisper?

G: More beer.

F: [Sigh.] How about some fresh vegetables?

G: They go bad before I can eat a whole package of anything. I get by with salad bars in restaurants.

F: How about eggs? You eat eggs, don't you?

G: I have been known to scramble them, but that makes a lot of mess and I end up buying a new frying pan.

F: You could just hard boil them.

G: Too complicated. I'd have to buy a self-timing cooker.

F: Boil them in a pan of water for 20 minutes.

G: Too complicated. I'd have to listen for the timer to ding which means I can't wear the headphones for my video games.

F: Maybe your mother could boil them for you. Anyway. Let's check the freezer. Two TV dinners and ... something that might have been meat a year or two ago. What is it?

G: I think it's some hamburger I didn't have time to cook. The last time I grilled burgers for a lady friend, there was meat left over and she didn't want to take it to her dog.

F: Lucky dog. In future, you need to label things you put into the freezer with the month -- and in your case the year -- you put it there. If it has a birthday, throw it out.

G: Sounds like work, but okay.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Update on the Dog

This is Steven Petrick posting.

I will admit that Jean's dog is surprisingly intelligent. Given his small size compared to most of the dogs I have known in my life, he packs an awful lot of dogness into pretty small skull.

When his hair is not quite so long, I will generally admit he looks like his name, but I find it somewhat uncomfortable to call him by his given name. Still, he has learned that if I call "puppy" that I mean him and he will come running if not otherwise occupied. This despite the fact that he knows the only reward I am going to give him is petting.

I tend to be a little firmer with him, and pretty consistently demand that he sit and stay before going out the door to the office, or back in. Jean has announced that he wants him to learn to stay in the car until she has gotten out, and I have begun training the dog that when he rides in my car, he must wait to get out until I tell him he can. He does display an ability to understand that this is something he has to do, but he has not learned to do it automatically as yet.

He does not get a lot of amusement when I have to walk him, as I almost always go exactly the same route. The only difference is if there is a time crunch that forces a shorter walk. He has learned that I, at least, do not like him pulling on the leash, and while he tries to keep all of the slack out of the leash, he no longer tries to pull me.

There is a point on the route where two terriers live, and he has learned not to bark back at him because I express disapproval of his doing so, but he does still "mutter under his breath" and try to mark something in their yard.

We are currently having a disagreement when I walk him in that he wants to start fights with larger dogs who are behind fences. Not all of them, but some new ones, and I am again expressing my displeasure (not hurting him) at his doing so.

Still, he has learned not to make messes in the office. He has learned that if he barks or whines at me I will ignore him, but if he touches me quietly (putting his paws on my leg) I will give him some attention.

For his size, he is a very bright dog. I have known dogs with a lot more room in their skulls for brains who were not half as bright.

Monday, July 25, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 17-23 July 2016

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week we scheduled for AMA-Con, a local convention with anime, cosplay, games, science fiction, and other stuff. We spent some of the week prepping for the show and then the weekend at it. We met a lot of people, sold a bunch of stuff, and did a lot of demos. The weather this week was hot, always in the 90Fs and often 100F. We did take a couple of hours to go as a group to see Independence Day II.


Steve Cole worked on Federation Admiral and AMA-Con, did a few ships for the Romulan Master Starship Book, and other things.

Steven Petrick worked on the Romulan Master Starship Book, the Star Fleet Battles Module C2 update, and ran Federation Commander demos at AMA-Con.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date and helped Jean run the booth at AMA-Con.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory and ran Star Fleet Battle Force demos at
Simone did website updates and some graphics and helped run Star Fleet Battle Force demos at AMA-Con.

Jean worked on AMA-Con, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,160 friends), managed our Twitter feed (193 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Star Fleet Battles Module C2, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

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.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Foodie and Grumpy Season Two (c) 2016 ADB Inc.

EPISODE #1 (Part 1)

F: This season, we're going to focus on "Bachelor Cooking," that is to say, men who live alone -- or who temporarily find themselves alone -- and have to cook for themselves. We have built a typical bachelor apartment kitchen here in our studio, and my partner Grumpy will play the role of someone decades younger and not yet married.

G: Instead of my constantly talking about my allergies, we'll just assume that anyone with food allergies will simply leave out any ingredients we mention which are toxic to them. Some of what you will see here comes from my pre-marriage experience and from times when my wife skipped supper and I had to fend for myself.

F: Our goal is to show you men that cooking is not that hard, not that scary, and that you can prepare delicious and healthy meals for yourselves without calling your mother for instructions.

G: There are three things that cause us men to simplify whatever cooking we do: we don't know how to cook, we don't want to clean up the mess, and we don't plan ahead what we might want to cook so we don't have the ingredients for anything not in one can. All of that combines to reduce bachelor cooking to opening a can of ravioli, dumping it into a paper bowl, microwaving it, and eating it with a plastic spoon. After that, we throw away the bowl, the can, and the spoon.

F: I've been to your place when your wife was out of town and you were three days behind throwing away the cans and dishes. That's where I got the idea for this whole season.

G: Look, it works, okay, we don't exactly starve. We eat our main meal at lunchtime in a restaurant.

F: You mean in a fast-food joint where the three food groups are grease, salt, and carbs. That's okay some of the time, but what you fix at home needs to fill out the rest of what your body needs, like fruits and vegetables.

G: What are those?

F: I know you're joking, but seriously, looking at what you eat, I could almost believe you don't know what they are. And you never season anything.

G. I have a salt shaker next to my recliner.

F: Fine. Let's start with a review of the typical bachelor pantry, including the refrigerator. In this case, it's easy because you dug out the cans from the pantry shelves and put them on the cabinet for me.

G: Actually, I just put the cans on the cabinet when I bring them home from the store and use the pantry to store my hobby stuff. I throw the cans away as I use them.

F: Your life will be so much better if you just put stuff up. Anyway, let's look at what you have. I see, we have... ravioli, spaghetti, pork & beans, Vienna sausages, and chicken noodle soup. You also have Styrofoam cups of ramen noodles, mac & cheese, and corn flakes. You have half a loaf of bread that is stale but at least it's not moldy, a bag of chips held closed with a ballpoint pen, and a store-bought brownie that is a week past its sell-by date. I see no cans of vegetables.

G: Pork & beans are vegetables!

F: No, they're carbs. Vegetables are green beans, corn, carrots, and things like that.

G: Oh, wait, I have a can of black-eyed peas under the sink that I save for New Year's Day.

F: Those aren't vegetables. I'm not really sure what they are, but they aren't even food.

G: Somebody's prejudice is showing!


Friday, July 22, 2016

A Galaxy of Song, pt. 3

Research has determined the favorite songs and groups of the various empires:

Andromedan: "Jump!"
Lyran: "Eye of the Tiger," bagpipe music, "Stray Cat Strut."
WYN: "We Are Family."
ISC: "I Love You, You Love Me, We're a Happy Family."
LDR: "Born Free," any bagpipe music.

Thanks to Jonathan McDermott, Douglas Oosting, Richard K. Glover, Larry Ramey, Chris Young, Sandy Hemenway, Steven Petrick, Stewart Frazier. Originally published in Captain's Log #21, (c) 2000.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

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/).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

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!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Preparing for AMA-Con

Jean Sexton writes:

Right now we are busy preparing for AMA-Con this weekend. Going to a new convention takes planning. Luckily we are located right here in town, so if we need more of something, we can go pick it up.

But our work on AMA-Con started over a year ago. Leanna and I thought it might be a convention that we could attend and support. So we started by checking out the convention, chatting with vendors and event organizers. We thought it might be a good fit for the company. So we reserved our vendor booth and told them we also wanted to demo games.

Later we met with organizers from the library, the sponsors of AMA-Con. We found out what we could and could not do in the way of promotions. They suggested something unique for us: Meet the Publisher. By mid-March 2016, we had a webpage page up for our participation at AMA-Con. We also began advertising steadily that we would be there.

AMA-Con seems to be a different mix of interests than what we would expect at Origins. Therefore our planning started taking that into account. We started out by deciding each of the games would be represented by its base game. We planned on demoing Federation Commander and Star Fleet Battle Force, so we needed to go more heavily into those games. We were told that lots of people there are RPGers, so we decided to make sure to take GURPS Prime Directive and Prime Directive PD20M. Everyone there reads, so our short story collection, For the Glory of the Empire, and our more RPG-aimed Away Team Log will be there. Captain's Log has a strong following, so we decided to take some of the more recent issues. We know a lot of people read on Kindle, so we had a sign and bookmark created with a smart code that leads folks straight to the book.

Now the big question is which miniatures will we take. We decided to take our "challenged" starships so people could get an inexpensive miniature. We're still sorting out which Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Tholian, and Gorn ships to take. Because our space is limited, we decided to open up the cart for those people who wanted to order ahead and pick up things we might not take.

Since we are doing demos, part of the planning was training the people giving the demos. Simone learned Star Fleet Battle Force and then practiced what she learned by teaching me. Michael is scheduled for a refresher course in SFBF. Petrick is brushing up on Federation Commander. Steve Cole has practiced answering questions from budding game designers. (He got questions about well-thought-out games as well as games that would be quite illegal were they to be developed.)

One of the things that happens at conventions is working with the people running the convention. That's been Leanna's responsibility. She's arranged for vendor badges, set-up lists, and meet-and-greet opportunities. She's also arranging for change, credit card apps, and a counterfeit pen. Also behind the scenes, Simone was creating signs for our events. These should give us a professional look as well as drawing interest from people who don't know about ADB.

So going to a convention is a lot of hard work before the first gamer walks through the door. We do hope that you will come and visit us at AMA-Con this year.

Steven Petrick prepares what he needs for AMA-Con.

Monday, July 18, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 10-16 July 2016

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress on Federation Admiral, Star Fleet Battles Module C2, and the Prime Directive Supplement. The weather this week was very hot, over 100F most days; several new records were set.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was Captain's Log #22.


 Steve Cole worked on the Federation Admiral ship chart, did the SFB Module C2 updated scenario graphics, sent graphics to SFBOL3G, did Rovillian graphics for Jean, did some ships for the Romulan Master Starship Book and wrote an alternate history blog. Steve discovered that Pupperoni doesn't taste all that bad as a snack food and worked on the new season of Foodie and Grumpy. Steve got a clear report on his one remaining kidney from the specialist and was told to check in next year.

Steven Petrick worked on the SFB Module C2 revision and Captain's Log #52.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with a new entry 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 for AMA-Con. Steven Petrick taught her how to demo Star Fleet Battle Force.

Jean worked on ADB's presence at AMA-Con (chairing two meetings effectively), managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,157 friends), managed our Twitter feed (192 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread SFB Module C2 and the Romulan Master Starship Book, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

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.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

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.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Galaxy of Song, pt. 2

Research has determined the favorite songs and groups of the various empires:

Tholian: Classic Rock, Monsters of Rock, "We Will Rock You."
Orion: Gangsta Rap, "Take the Money and Run."
Hydran: "The Colonel Bogey March," "Hit Me with Your Best Shot," "(I Long to Be) Close to You." The theme music for the Expeditionary Fleet was "Long Way to Tipperary" and "Eastbound and Down."

Thanks to Jonathan McDermott, Douglas Oosting, Richard K. Glover, Larry Ramey, Chris Young, Sandy Hemenway, Steven Petrick, Stewart Frazier. Originally published in Captain's Log #21, (c) 2000.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


An Alternative History by Stephen V. Cole
For want of a strap, a stirrup was lost; for want of a stirrup, Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall broke his neck one autumn day in 1943, and died two days later. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (F.D.R.) knew that the Army needed a strong leader, it being the middle of World War II, with US troops just landing in Italy and the Normandy Invasion planned for May of the next year. He needed a leader with stature, experience, and reputation, someone who could instantly gain the respect of the entire military establishment -- and the British.
There was only one choice, that being the Army's senior four-star general, Douglas MacArthur. After all, he had been Chief of Staff when the Army now fighting was built. Summoning him to Washington also solved several problems in the Pacific. Nimitz wanted him gone so he didn't have to compete for resources, and the Australians still hated him even after his decision to put the battle for Australia in New Guinea was proven right.
Arriving in Washington, MacArthur already had a plan. He had been working on it during the long plane ride to California and the subsequent train trip to Washington. MacArthur could have taken a plane from San Francisco, but wanted the time to work on the plan. MacArthur had brought a few officers with him from Australia, and had a selected group meet him at the airport in San Francisco. With these officers sequestered in a closed train car, he had spent the entire two days of the trip across country getting briefed by officers with European experience. Included in the group was Omar Bradley, dispatched by Eisenhower to represent his viewpoint.
But MacArthur had decided what he would do the minute word came to him to report to Washington to replace Marshall. Staying in the capital with a bunch of dusty files and crusty staff officers was not going to be sufficient, not for MacArthur. After all, he had already been Chief of Staff once. The big show was in Europe, and the less time spent in Washington, the happier MacArthur would be. He already knew that Marshall had considered bringing Eisenhower home to be Chief of Staff while Marshall himself flew to England to command Overlord. Exactly why Marshall decided against this move would never be known. That was only one of many secrets that died with him.
MacArthur told F.D.R. his plan, and the president could only agree. He had, after all, allowed Marshall to decide that Eisenhower would stay in Europe. F. D. R.  had always been uncomfortable with Eisenhower's relatively junior status, rapid promotion over the Army's other generals (he had been a lieutenant colonel only two years earlier), and his lack of combat experience in World War I. MacArthur had won a row of silver stars and commanded a division in combat in World War I. The British (shaking their heads at the unknown and very junior Eisenhower) had often asked why MacArthur wasn't picked for command in Europe.
MacArthur did explain to the president, patiently, that his new duties would require the rank of field marshal. That would make him the equal of the top British commanders. The US had been debating the need for a new five-star rank for a year, and George Marshall had vetoed any idea of calling the new rank field marshal. He was not going to be Field Marshal Marshall. It just wasn't going to happen. Marshall had wanted to call the rank Arch-General, but accepted the awkward General of the Army.
But Marshall was no longer a factor; his funeral had been held while MacArthur was on the train. MacArthur had wanted a field marshal's baton since he graduated from West Point and famously bet the entire class that he would become a field marshal before any of them. He had retired from the Army with the highest rank allowed by law (the four stars of a full general) but convinced the president of the Philippines to give him the rank of field marshal of the Philippine army just to win the bet. His classmates rejected the move as a joke and refused to pay the bet. Making MacArthur a field marshal was not a problem for the president. MacArthur had held the Army's top rank for a decade. It was a perfect solution to several problems.
Arriving in England, MacArthur gave Eisenhower a week to fully brief him and then sent him to Washington with a fourth star and public thanks. One reporter imagined their final conversation to be "Go home, son, the grownups are here now." MacArthur had a lot of experience with troop landings in the Pacific, and had been relentlessly briefed for a week about the situation in France. After reviewing the invasion plan for less than an hour he called in the officers who wrote it and told them it wasn't big enough. He needed them to add two more divisions landing over the beaches, and increase the paratroops landing on the flanks to three full divisions. That this was the same conclusion that Eisenhower reached when MacArthur had him independently review the plan was further support. By the time General Montgomery saw the plan (and agreed) MacArthur had already won F.D.R.'s approval. The president ordered American industry to produce more landing craft and transport planes, and MacArthur sent Eisenhower back to the US with orders to speed up the training and shipment of troops and equipment.
MacArthur ordered George Patton taken out of his doghouse (for slapping two soldiers) and flown to England. The two had only met twice (during a single day on a battlefield in World War I where they were famously the only soldiers who remained standing during a German artillery barrage). MacArthur had heard stories of Patton's tendency to exceed orders, but came into their first day-long meeting with an open mind. Patton told MacArthur that the British had little respect for Americans. The British had squeezed the US Second Corps out of the front line in Tunisia until forced to give them another chance by political leaders of both nations. When Montgomery would not attack and advance up the eastern coast of Sicily due to fear of casualties, Patton had broken loose and captured 80% of the island. (MacArthur already knew from reports that this bold move had just forced the Germans to evacuate the island; it had not cut off or trapped any substantial German forces, but the point was made. The British had lost too many men in World War I to accept the kind of casualties a Patton-style high speed attack would involve.)
MacArthur wanted the plan changed, to have the Americans land on the eastern beaches (Gold, Juno, and Sword) and the British-Canadians on the western beaches (which would have become Oxford and Uxbridge under MacArthur's revision of the plan). The British and American officers who had drafted the Overlord plan pointed out the impossibility of this shift. Troops had been garrisoned in England in specific locations that fed directly into their future beaches. To change those now would delay the invasion into August. Reluctantly, MacArthur accepted the situation, but would often publicly regret it in the future.
MacArthur stood up to the British on every other question, who grudgingly respected his ability, seniority, and experience. The embarrassment of Kasserine had, after all, been expunged at Bizerta, Sicily, and Salerno. Overall command of the landings would be held in the hands of MacArthur, not Montgomery as the British wanted. His primary deputies would be American, not British, as the UK had foisted on Eisenhower. MacArthur was not afraid to tell the British that their favorite general had defeated Rommel only after the landings behind him ended the career of the Desert Fox. MacArthur noted the failure of Montgomery to break the Mareth line, as well his slow movements in Sicily and up the Italian coast (where the British general had ordered his Army to take a day off to rest while Americans died).
Patton would command the American contingent of five divisions landing on Utah and Omaha (including two of paratroops). Montgomery would command the fictional First Allied Army Group for the deception operation that convinced the Germans that the real landing would be later and in the Pas de Calais and take over the British-Canadian Army group in August. While the landings were a soldier's battle, MacArthur had made it very clear that if the British did not take Caen on D-Day there would be sudden retirements in their command staff. Spurred on, they did take Caen, but were still stopped by the SS panzers before breaking out. MacArthur was as baffled by the hedgerows as other commanders would have been. He gave Patton plenty of support and the ultimate breakout of Operation Cobra happened (accompanied by the summary firing of two US Air Corps generals who had failed to put their bombs and bombers where MacArthur told them to). When US troops reached Argentan and the British-Canadian forces could not move south from Falaise, MacArthur told Patton to cross the US-UK border and close the gap. The shattered remnants of the 5th Panzer Army marched into prison camps instead of back to Germany to absorb replacements and launch the Battle of the Bulge. The cream of the German panzer corps was gone and nothing could rebuild it.
As the British-Canadian 21st Army group stopped its forward rush without trapping the German 15th Army against the coast, MacArthur told them to keep moving until they did. That Army was forced to surrender, and 50,000 German soldiers who might have continued the war in Holland marched into POW cages. When Montgomery demanded priority of supplies that would have stopped the US 1st Army and 3rd Army (under Patton's 12th Army Group) from reaching the German border, MacArthur refused, pointing out that the British were supposed to have cleared the Scheldt river and opened Antwerp, after which there would be plenty of supplies for everyone. (This was one of those occasions when MacArthur regretted not shifting the British to the western side of the invasion.) When Montgomery wanted to use the First Allied Airborne Army to lay an airborne carpet to the Rhine, MacArthur told him to clear the Scheldt and open Antwerp if he wanted his treasured promotion to Field Marshal. MacArthur refused to give Montgomery American divisions to clear the area, pointing out that with the German 15th Army removed from the board the job was well within the capabilities of the Commonwealth forces. MacArthur also set a specific deadline for Montgomery to get Antwerp open, and made it very clear that he would find a new British general if the job was not done.
Geography is a cruel mistress. Even with adequate supplies, Patton was unable to get past the German border defenses before they could be stiffened with raw recruits and overage soldiers. The supply lines were just too long. The advance had been so fast that railroads and fuel pipelines could not catch up with him until late October. Even when supplies became available, the American sector of the front faced terrain that was not at all suitable for a major advance. The allies continue to grind forward, with the newly promoted Field Marshal Montgomery pushing the Germans out of Holland and back to the Rhine. Patton's 12th Army Group was deployed between the Ardennes forest and the Vosges mountains, a gap that faced the minor industrial region of the Saar but could barely reach the major one of the Ruhr. Once again, MacArthur complained that he should have shifted the troops to put the Americans on the North German Plain. The British responded that he simply wanted the glory, and even MacArthur had to admit that the plodding Montgomery and his casualty-adverse 21st Army Group could never claw their way through the Hurtgen Forest and the Siegfried Line. The day Patton urinated in the Rhine River was the day that F.D.R. promoted him to field marshal.
With too many panzer divisions destroyed at Falaise, Hitler was forced to accept the Jodl plan of a smaller offensive with available troops to trap and destroy some of Patton's troops at Achen. Even had the plan succeeded, it could never have changed the course of the war as the (implausible) goal of Hitler's larger Ardennes plan might have. Patton easily contained the intended double penetration attacks and destroyed the last German reserves. Without the massive "bulge" to reduce before a broad-front offensive could storm into Germany, the Americans reached Berlin in early April 1945 a day ahead of the Russians. The official photograph of the war's final moments showed MacArthur shaking hands with Zhukov while two Russian and two Allied field marshals looked on. A row of German generals hung their heads in defeat.
While new President Truman eventually gave eastern Germany over to Russian occupation as the Eclipse Plan had required, his bargaining position was considerably stronger. The Russians pulled out of Austria in exchange. Japan surrendered when the second atomic bomb destroyed one of their cities, sparing the lives of a million allied soldiers and several million Japanese. Japanese armies in the Philippines surrendered the next day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Products Moving Forward and AMACON Prep

This is Steven Petrick posting.

As graphics appear they are being integrated into the various projects I am working on. In time, these projects will become products to offer on our shopping cart and to the distributors.

We have begun our preparations to attend AMACON here in Amarillo. Duty assignments have been handed out, and Marketing is marshaling the company for a full court press during the event. Even Mrs. Dale has been handed a duty (demonstrating Star Fleet Battle Force). Set up will be the done on 22 July, and take down must be completed by 2000 hrs on 24 July. In the interim, not only will we need to maintain a presence most of Saturday and Sunday, but somehow have to take care of the dog (who for reasons we cannot comprehend is not allowed to attend).

In the interim, I will need to review how to play "basic" Federation Commander (so as not to confuse myself by trying to go to rules that are not in the Klingon Border rule book), and re-familiarize myself on Star Fleet Battle Force. SVC is preparing to speak with people about how to go about getting into the gaming industry, and Leanna and Jean are preparing lists of booth materials and Mike is gathering these and pre-packing them.

We are doing this early so that we do not find ourselves in a last minute rush. But we are also reminding ourselves that as this is local, we can go back to the office to pick up anything else we need in a half hour or so.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

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 are expanding into Kindle books through Amazon. Our first book, For the Glory of the Empire, was released there recently; more will follow. 

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.

Monday, July 11, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 3-9 July 2016

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress. The weather this week was hot, often over 100F. PBEM Chief Frank Brooks and Casting Lord Bruce Graw visited the office.

New on the shopping cart this week are Pound of Ships and the 1/2 Pound of Ships [Parts] 


Steve Cole worked on Federation Admiral ship stats, did some art for the Romulan Master Starship Book, did Communique, explained to Jean how Rovillians move down a starship corridor and did a graphic for it, and finished the treatments for his kidney stone (giving him the first break from doctors in 10 months).

Steven Petrick worked on the Lyran Master Starship Book (fighter and escort tables), the Romulan Master Starship Book (art and line items), proofreading the newsletters, the Star Fleet Battles Module C2 update, and other projects.

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 shopping cart updates, posted Communique #127, and sent out Hailing Frequencies.

Jean worked on the Prime Directive supplement, did her part of Hailing Frequencies, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,153 friends), managed our Twitter feed (193 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Communique, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Star Fleet Universe Downloadable Art

Simone Dale 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.

Saturday, July 09, 2016


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, July 08, 2016

A Galaxy of Song, pt. 1

Research has determined the favorite songs and groups of the various empires:

Federation: Theme from T. J. Hooker.
Klingon: Dire Straits' "Love is a Battlefield."
Romulan: Queen "We Are the Champions."
Kzinti: Stray Cats, any bagpipe music.
Gorn: "Anchors Away!"

Thanks to Jonathan McDermott, Douglas Oosting, Richard K. Glover, Larry Ramey, Chris Young, Sandy Hemenway, Steven Petrick, Stewart Frazier. Originally published in Captain's Log #21, (c) 2000.

Thursday, July 07, 2016


Steve Cole's thoughts on military history.
1. In August and September of 1944, Hitler ordered that all new tank production be diverted from replacing lost vehicles in existing divisions to form 13 new Panzer brigades, all but one of which were destroyed in their first battles. The reality is that an existing division fights better than a new brigade because it is a cohesive unit accustomed to working together. The officers of a new brigade were spending too much time trying to figure out how the other officers in the brigade thought and fought. This amounted to 16 battalions of tanks and 16 battalions of mechanized infantry. Hitler felt himself compelled to do this because spread out to all of the existing Panzer divisions, those 32 battalions would have been frittered away in continuing defensive battles.
2. In the US Army if you do something brave you get one of several possible medals based on just exactly how brave the thing you did was. In the German Army in World War I and World War II, you got the Iron Cross 2nd Class if you did something brave, no matter how brave it was. To get the next higher medal (Iron Cross First Class) you had to do several additional brave things. After that, to get the next medal up the chain (German Cross, Knight's Cross, Knight's Cross with oak leaves, Knight's Cross with swords, and Knight's Cross with diamonds) you had to do something else brave, but from that point no ordinary act of courage would do, you had to do something spectacular.
3. Adolf Hitler's favorite dessert was chocolate cake.
4. During World War II the US Army experimented with the first armored cavalry units, the forerunners of today's armored cavalry regiments. The World War II units had some similarities but were very different in many aspects. For one thing, they had two battalions in World War II rather than the current three and had no organic artillery. While the 2000 version of armored cavalry is made up of tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, the World War II versions had a few armored cars, a lot of jeeps with machineguns, and some light tanks and "assault guns" (light tanks armed with low-velocity howitzers). They had virtually no tank-killing weapons and very few infantrymen. (Modern armored cavalry is awash with tank-killers and is more deadly than a tank brigade.) Each corps in World War II (which had two or more divisions) had one of these "cavalry groups" to use for recon work. In theory they could screen an open sector (a flank, or a part of the front where nobody expected to attack or be attacked). In a very real sense, they were denied heavy firepower because they were not supposed to fight (or to be assigned defensive combat duty by higher commanders). The thinkers in the Pentagon were convinced that if the cavalry regiments were given Shermans and halftracks they would just become armored brigades and would be used as sledgehammer attack groups and to hold sectors of the front line. Actual corps commanders in actual combat tended to assigned tank destroyers to the group to turn it into a real regiment able to hold a sector of the front line. There was only about a month (August 1944) when American armored cavalry did the primary role it was designed to do (run forward quickly and find out where the enemy has set up a defense line).
5. During the months of August-September-October of 1944 the Germans managed to create 43 entirely new divisions out of thin air. (They had to; the Russians had destroyed at least that many during June and July and the Western allies had wiped out at least as many more when the German front line at Normandy collapsed and the shattered remnants ran for the West Wall.) Even at 10,000 men per new division (400,000 troops), and given that 200,000 men were given to existing units as replacements or used to form new artillery and tank brigades, this was an extraordinary accomplishment for the Replacement Army that had been training 60,000 trainees per month for years. How did Heinrich Himmler (who took over the Replacement Army after the attempt on Hitler's life) do it? First, he transferred 100,000 men out of the Luftwaffe and another 100,000 out of the Navy and put them into Army units with almost no Army training. He called up all 17-year-olds and threw them directly into new divisions instead of cycling them through the training system. He drafted any able-bodied adult male of German heritage from conquered nations still under German control. He cut training time from 18 weeks to 12, so the training units released many more men than normal for a couple of weeks. He cut the amount of time that wounded men were allowed to recover in a hospital or rest camp by a third. He "combed out" the Nazi bureaucracy and the Replacement Army of "surplus" men who were not usefully employed. More men were pulled out of the Luftwaffe home defense anti-aircraft units and replaced by boys of 15 and girls of 18 (known as "flakhelfren" or "anti-aircraft helpers"). The divisions weren't that good (the German Army called them "half soldiers") but they were better than nothing. Posted to existing defensive sectors and not asked to do much more than stay in a foxhole or bunker and fire their weapons on command, they were of some use. These new divisions probably made the war last another month or two longer than it would have without them.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

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.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Master Rulebooks Progress

This  is Steven Petrick posting.

The Romulan Master Starship Book is coming along. SVC is working on the graphics as he finds time, and most of the sections have gone to Jean Sexton for a final read-through and mark up. I am just waiting on any final reports. Then it will need to go through a few last checks to see if any of the graphics have problems or if the text in one or more of the fighter and escort data tables has jumped around.

The Lyran Master Starship Book is mostly ready for launch to the staff for review. The carrier fighter and escort tables have all been reviewed, but an article explaining the Lyran fighter deployment (a few paragraphs actually) will need to be written to clarify a few points. Note that while there is a rule that says the Lyrans used all Klingon fighter types, obviously that cannot apply to very short run fighters (such as the Z-G and Z-R).

The Lyran Democratic Republic are still in a state of flux. It is still not known if they will be rolled into the Lyran book, combined with some other minor empires (Vudar, Jindarians, Seltorians, WYN and/or Tholians) into a book (or those into multiple books with more than one empire), or in a stand alone book. The biggest problem is the General Units data.

Monday, July 04, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 26 June - 2 July 2016

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady progress. The weather this week was hot.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week was the Module Y3 rulebook.


Steve Cole worked on Federation Admiral.

Steven Petrick worked on the Romulan and Lyran Master Starship books, Captain's Log #52, the Star Fleet Battles Module C2 update, fiction (the ISC story and the Andro story), and on Federation Admiral.

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 Rovillians, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,150 friends), managed our Twitter feed (194 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread fiction, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

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.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

On Measuring and Cancer and Food

Jean Sexton muses:

I like making things into tidy groups. Sometimes that means measuring; sometimes, counting. I give Steve Cole seven treats each week for Wolf. The treats come in three colors (sort of like a color-limited M&M), so he gets three yellow ones, two red ones, and two brown ones. I watch my car's average miles per gallon and try to keep it around 30 (that can be a challenge during hot days and local driving). Each day I weigh myself so I can get a handle on what I am doing and if I start backsliding, I can catch it quickly. I keep track of how many books, CDs, and movies (including TV series) I have. There is something satisfying about categorizing. When my life becomes chaotic, I bring some order to it by adding a movie to LibraryThing. The database specializes in books, but opened itself up to music and movies. The entries for those are far from orderly, so a movie might take 30 minutes to fix once entered. Everything defaults to DVD, so a VHS tape or Blu-Ray have to be changed over.

Now I have a new thing to count. I am a six-month cancer survivor. Every three months I must be checked by my doctor. There I find out what my weight is, how it varies from the last check, what my blood pressure is doing, and whether he sees or feels anything that "isn't right." This time it appears that I've healed up inside and there is no cancer. I've lost weight -- not as much as I wished, but I didn't gain. And my blood pressure has stabilized to a low "normal." In short, I am healthier than I have been in years. My instructions were to keep walking and to continue to lose weight.

Losing weight is hard. I like to eat, I like to fix food, and I especially like to eat what I fixed. Add to that I spent most of my last 30 years fixing food for people with big appetites and what I see as "normal" is huge! (If I wanted to eat my own food, I had to plan for 75% of it to go to another mouth or mouths.) I actually tried to be good this past weekend. I was going to make a small amount of chicken salad, so I bought a can of chicken. It wouldn't be that much, I thought. Maybe four or five helpings. I forgot just how much canning compacts the food -- I was looking at the can size. By the time I added celery, hard-boiled eggs, just a little taste of red onion, bread and butter pickles, and Miracle Whip, it filled up a good-sized serving bowl! Four sandwiches later, it is only about a third gone.

The thing I am slowly learning is to not commit to making another cold dish until I see what I have wrought. Thus the potato salad is still in Yukon Gold potato form (and Miracle Whip, mustard, hard-boiled eggs, relish, and vinegar are un-transformed). The baked beans that I thought I would have with a hot dog later in the week are in the beans, molasses, onion, and bacon form. I am eating something with the chicken salad and that is a tiny "good parts" salad of cucumbers and tomatoes. Dessert is watermelon. No BLT for me this week! Chicken salad it is. Only by having light suppers and adding walks with Wolf can I continue to lose weight. So in some sense, I am measuring or portioning out my food.

Why am I doing this? I want to be here for a long time. I enjoy working for ADB and helping our customers. So since my doctor says that losing weight will help with keeping cancer at bay and help my longevity, that's what I will do. If he points out that calories in must not exceed calories out, then I'll try to cut back on what I'm eating each day. I just have to remember to think that walking more is good and eating less is also good. And I hope that in nine months I'll hear "weighs less and no cancer; go away and come back in three months." That will make my day.

Friday, July 01, 2016

The Top 10 Questions a Captain Never Wants to Ask during a Battle, pt. 2

Thanks to Geoff Chard.

6. What do you mean "he went to the bathroom"?

7. If you're not using the UIM to aim the disruptors, then what are you using it for?

8. What do you mean "you're not sure" whether you launched the real or the pseudo plasma torpedoes?

9. You're using the stasis field generator to keep the vegetables fresh?

10. You're using one of the seeking weapon's control channels to steal pay trivideo?

Captain's Log #18 (c) 1999, Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.