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Saturday, December 31, 2016

This Year at ADB: 2016

It was a good year with many new products. In hindsight, we always feel like we should have gotten more done, but a lot of work went into projects which didn't reach completion. That's fine, those are the seeds of next year's strong schedule.
Steve Cole and Jean Sexton steadily recovered from last year's surgeries. Security Director Ramses transferred to the Black Fleet in July after 17 years on duty. He is sorely missed.
We attended the local AmaCon convention in July and learned many valuable lessons. We look forward to next year's show.
We released Captain's Log #51 in May. It was a good issue, and not any kind of let down after the spectacular 50th issue. Jean would tolerate nothing less than "zing!" for every page and drove the Steves to create it. No end of boring pages ended up on the floor of her office, replaced by more exciting material. A lot of work has gone into Captain's Log #52 which will appear in January 2017.
Steve Cole and the staff completed F&E Fighter Operations 2016 in March and Minor Empires in April, which moved that game system a giant step toward the fabled F&E Warbook. Stephen did all of the art for the Romulan Master Starship Book and started on art for other books. Stephen worked tirelessly to recruit and edit fiction stories so that future Captain's Log issues won't be delayed by that, and did a lot of work on Captain's Log #51 and #52. Stephen completed (with the massive help of Tony Thomas) the Deluxe version of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Book 1.2 in April. Stephen wrote nearly a hundred blogs and did numerous graphics and demotivationals for Jean to post. At least one of his Friday Funny graphics was actually funny, but Jean made sure most of them never saw the outside of the office. Stephen did a lot of work on the Federation Admiral campaign book, but ultimately determined that the combat system provided by the original author was unworkable. He assigned the creation of new combat systems to two independent outside designers and moved on to other projects including the mysterious Star Fleet Stalingrad project. He did briefly review the Merchants of the Federation train game and (with Jean) came up with a plan to run a Kickstarter for it next year. In hindsight, Stephen really should have finished Captain's Log#52 and Federation Admiral; his productivity needs to improve next year as his health steadily improves.
Steven Petrick updated SFB Module C2 and is working on C3. He worked mostly on the Master Starship project. He released the Romulan book in November and at the end of the year had the Lyran and LDR books complete except for art. We really should have gotten at least one more book released, and Stephen Cole should have finished the Romulan art months earlier. Steven Petrick wrote nearly 50 blogs.
Jean Sexton kept our page on Facebook growing; it had reached 3480 friends by year's end. Jean uploaded many documents to the PDF stores, kept the Rangers busy, supported conventions and the battlegroups, made sure we always had a daily blog uploaded even if she had to write it herself, and did a lot of marketing. Jean worked on only one RPG project this year, the PD20M Supplemental File that will add the "missing" species to that game system. She should have gotten started on new game systems for the PD Core book but it just never happened. That's somewhere we need to improve, starting with Traveller.
The Starlist Project continued to help people find local opponents for all of our games, with hundreds of new entries and updates. The two newsletters, Communique and Hailing Frequencies, shipped on time every time with a lot of new items and good content. SFBOL effectively completed the conversion to the far superior Third Generation graphics. Several new ship card packs were uploaded to the PDF stores including the Lost Empires Preview Pack and the free North Polar Pack. We also did the first SFU Coloring Book just to see if there was any interest. In early February we released the Kindle version of our first fiction anthology. We should have released more fiction anthologies on Kindle but had too many other projects. We did publish the PDF of a quick little zombie apocalypse story.
Leanna Cole kept orders and accounting up to date. She suffered a mild stroke in May but got to the hospital in time for a miracle drug to give her a full recovery with no damage at all. During June, Leanna completely replaced our old Miva shopping cart with a much superior Zencart. Leanna and Stephen celebrated their 39th anniversary in September.
Mike Sparks kept orders going out and continually rebuilt the inventory. Sales of all of the Starline series continued to be strong and we released the 2450 D7K, the first step in converting the highly detailed 2500s to the 2400 scale. The new 2425 jumbo and heavy freighters have been sent to production but we're still waiting for the casting house to deliver.
Simone Pike (who became Simone Dale on 26 March) did website updates and many graphics.
Wolf continued to stalwartly guard the office and kept serial killers and zebras at bay with the power of BARK!

Thursday, December 29, 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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Master Starship Book Status

This is Steven Petick posting.

As you are aware, the Federation, Klingon, Romulan, and Hydran Master Starship Books have been published.

The Lyran Master Starship Book is currently in development. It is in the hands of the staff checkers who have been making reports which have been integrated into the book. SVC currently intends to do a day of graphics creation for it early next year, and this may give us an idea of when it will be published.

The Lyran Democratic Master Starship Book is currently in draft form. Graphics for it will largely be copies of Lyran graphics, so once the Lyran Master Starship Book is released, this one should not be too far behind. However, the graphics are not 100% identical and will need SVC time to do the modifications, even if they are minor. This book has been given a first proof by Jean Sexton and has been looked at by one of the staff checkers who had some concerns he wanted to make sure were addressed. This book will go out to the rest of the staff once the Lyran book is closed. It is smaller in page count than any previous book, but as noted is very different in format because there were so few ships in  the Lyran Democratic Republic fleet.

Currently in the pipeline as the next book in the series is the Kzinti Master Starship Book. This one has been assembled, and as line items come in on the Lyran book that also apply to it, they are being integrated at the same time.

At this juncture I think there is a very good chance that 2017 will see the release of all three of the books (Lyran, Lyran Democratic Republic, Kzinti) in the system.

Tuesday, December 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.

Monday, December 26, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 18-24 December 2016

Steve Cole reports:
'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the office people were more interested in parties, last-minute shopping, taking off Friday afternoon to see the movie PASSENGERS, and exchanging greetings than in actual work, but some stuff got done. (In other words, ADB was just like every other company in the Western world.) 
Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #52, reviewed a fiction story, blogs, wrote a bunch of entirely new Zosman stuff, and other projects.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #52 and Master Starship Books.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Jean worked on reports for Captain's Log #52, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,479 friends), managed our Twitter feed (209 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed (recruiting, editing, and writing blogs), proofread Captain's Log #52 and the LDR Master Starship Book, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

ADB is closed as we celebrate Christmas with family and friends.

See you on Monday!

Saturday, December 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.

Friday, December 23, 2016

ISC Will Make You Behave!

Oh! You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I'm telling you why:

ISC will make you behave!

We're making a list,
We're checking it twice,
We're gonna find out
Who's naughty or nice.

ISC will make you behave!

We see you when you're fighting,
We know when plasma's fake.
We know when you've been bad or good,
So be good for peace's sake!

So...You better watch out,
You better not cry
You better not pout,
I'm telling you why.

ISC will make you behave! 


Filk (c) 2014 Jean Sexton and ADB, Inc.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sometimes You Can Surprise People With A Little Esoteric Knowledge

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Within my own little area of expertise, I know a great many things. A lot of them picked up by a sort of osmosis by being around other people of similar interests.

Even so, even within that little area of expertise there are a great many things that I do not know.

Still, I can pull up surprising bits of information simply because something fits into that area where I devoted a lot of my life and attention.

Thus when someone expressed surprise that the fifth longest recorded sniper shot was made with an M2 Browning .50 machinegun, I am able to state with firm confidence and not checking any resources that those weapons were in fact used, with scopes, as sniper weapons in the Vietnam conflict.

Most individuals without an interest in how things work in the military are probably unaware that while the M2 Browning is a "Machinegun" it can be set to fire single shots. (Yes, I know how this is done, it is a simple rotation of the wrist to accomplish it, while I was never a "gunner," I was familiarized with the weapon as part of my training.) While moving them tactically (even non-tactically if you cannot get a vehicle to do so) is not any fun at all, I do not think there is any American infantry man that does not otherwise love this weapon (as long as the bad guys have not captured it and turned it back on us). Mr. Browning's gun is one of those weapons which no one has found a way to replace (although the U.S. military has tried).

Set on its tripod with its traversing and elevating mechanism and a scope, a good shooter can dial in a target, and send a little love tap down range.

Wednesday, December 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/).

Tuesday, December 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!

Monday, December 19, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 11-17 December 2016

Steve Cole reports: 

This was a week of steady progress. The weather this week was cold, and on Saturday it snowed and the icy roads convinced us to get home before it got worse.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault was the free Federation Commander: North Polar Ship Card Pack. 


Steve Cole and Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #52.
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 articles for Captain's Log #52, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,460 friends), managed our Twitter feed (210 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Captain's Log #52, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, December 18, 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, December 17, 2016

One Year Later: On Surgery and Cancer and Recovery

Jean Sexton muses:

Last year in December, I reported on the results of the operation I had recently had. I had no idea what would happen subsequently: that I would develop a pleural effusion, pneumonia, and sepsis two weeks later. That would lead to two weeks in the hospital, another couple of weeks at home on oxygen 24/7, and a couple of months more of limited work. I couldn't drive for three months until my brain showed it had healed from the seizures I had when my heart stopped.

A year later, things are looking good. I am a one-year cancer survivor and each day I feel blessed. I lost over 30 pounds, most of that due to Wolf reminding me to walk. I am stronger than I've been in years, walking nearly two miles a day on most days. If it is very cold, then I try to walk a mile inside using my Wii Fit. (Yes, I know it is ancient in game years, but it does exactly what I want it to do.)

This all has affected my work at ADB. I used to think nothing of working quite late. Now I have to plan to allow time for walking. In the winter, especially, it affects my arrival time as I need to allow time to walk. (Even if I walk around a virtual island, I do need to get Wolf outside, and that is harder for me when the air is very cold.) I have to eat healthier food and that means fixing it more for myself and not doing fast food, takeout, or delivery. That means I'm not hanging out on the boards as much.

Am I happy with my life? Yes, absolutely. Nearly losing it made my life more of a treasure to me.  I just need to be careful so I can spend many more years promoting the games I love.

And for me, life is good. I hope it is with you as well.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Here Come Andro Ships

"Here Come Andro Ships"

Here come Andro ships!
Here come Andro ships!
Using their RTNs!
Mambas and Pythons and their motherships
Are filling panels again.
Ships are shooting, Marines boarding;
Displacements left and right.
Prep your photons and fire your phasers
‘Cause Andros fight tonight.

Here come Andro ships!
Here come Andro ships!
Using their RTNs!
They’ve got motherships filled with other ships
With their panels empty again.
Feel your ship go somewhere diff’rent –-
What a dreadful sight!
H-E-T, don’t fail me now
‘Cause Andros fight tonight. 


filk (c) 2011 by Jean Sexton and ADB, Inc. 

Thursday, December 15, 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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Think About the Future of the Star Fleet Universe

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Star Fleet Battles has been around as a game system for more than three decades. This gives it a lot of history, and by this I mean "game" history. No one suspected when the initial history for the Star Fleet Universe was written that so many things would be added, so there was a tendency to "close doors." To say "this happened, the end."

Now, in this unforeseen future, we can find ourselves wanting to do things, and running into those "closed doors." Sometimes we find away around them, but we do hate to use the "conjectural" rubric.

So if we add a new ship class, we have to be careful about closing doors. Do we really want to say emphatically in the rule for the ship "only x number were built?" We really need to leave ourselves some wiggle room, because perhaps we might want to do a variant of that ship, and NOT have it be conjectural. [A Federation Strike Cruiser hull as a "drone bombardment platform" for example, or a light strike carrier variant (maybe only six fighters since the secondary/engineering hull is so small), same thing for the Klingon SD7 and so on.]

We also have a number of you, our customers, who are creative people and submit articles for publication. These can be carefully researched and present information already published, but themselves include things that make it harder to do some new variant of an existing ship type.

We need to look to the future, to some unforeseen point where something different needs to appear to add to the game. For that reason, we need to be careful about saying "only this many hulls were built" because we might want to open the door a crack, perhaps because one of our customers has proposed a new variant of an older design whose time has come.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Steve Cole's thoughts on military science.

1. The Trojan Horse was probably a battering ram, not a hollow statue that soldiers hid inside of. Once the battering ram broke through the gate, soldiers "inside the horse" could jump out to attack the city.

2. African countries are moving forward with technology. Many are buying used fighter planes from larger countries and creating an Air Force, but they discovered that Africa has more birds than anywhere else and that birds and jet engines do not mix. (African countries are also getting more airports and commercial aircraft.) Many solutions have been tried, but the most effective (first used in South Africa) was to train cheetahs to kill some birds and scare away the others. Cheetahs have always been the easiest cats to train (the ancient Egyptians did it, a lot). The cats seem to enjoy their new jobs where they are protected from bigger cats and from hyenas, have plenty of food (including treats from the friendly soldiers), and have a comfortable place to live. They even get veterinary care. Even better, the cheetahs were quite happy to also take care of small land animals that get into the bases and airports and cause no end of problems and damage. Cheetahs are expanding their employment opportunities to include food storage facilities and no end of other warehouses and storage places.

3. The very concept of modern weather patterns began in the early days of the US when Postmaster General Ben Franklin directed the commander of every fort and port occupied by the US military to mail him a weekly report summarizing the weather, day-by-day, over the last week. Franklin discovered that the weather in one fort was repeated in others a few days later, and studying months of reports was able to discern (for the first time in history) the idea of weather fronts and storm systems moving across wide areas. Until then, everyone just assumed that the weather in any area had little or nothing to do with the weather a hundred miles away.

Monday, December 12, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 4-10 December 2016

Steve Cole reports: 

This was a week of steady progress on Captain's Log #52 and other projects. Since we cannot ship Captain's Log #52 until January we're allowing a few other projects to take an hour or two here or there. The weather this week was cold. We did ship Communique#132 and Hailing Frequencies for December on time on the 10th.

New this week on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault was Captain's Log #43 and its color SSDs and supplement.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #52 (doing several pages of history, F&E, and other things), Communique #132, Hailing Frequencies, blogs, Federation Admiral, ship graphics for SFBOL3G, continued to push the new big freighters through the casting process, and other projects.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #52, Communique #132, Hailing Frequencies, Master Starship Books, quality control, and a blog.

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 battlegroup reports for Hailing Frequencies and Communique #132, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,450 friends), managed our Twitter feed (209 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Captain's Log #52, proofread Communique #132, proofread Hailing Frequencies, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, December 11, 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.

Saturday, December 10, 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, December 09, 2016

Phasers Fire!

Warping space we go
In a trader that we bought
Our cash we hope to grow
Selling what we bought
Routes bring profits nigh
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to sell and fly
A trader shiny bright

Oh, phaser-1s, phaser-3s
Fire them all THAT way!
Oh what fun it is to fight
A pirate ship they say
Phaser-1s, phaser-3s
Fire them all THAT way!
Oh what fun it is to fight
A pirate ship they say

A day or two ago
We thought we’d make a run
To Texmex we would go
And have some jolly fun.
Our ship was laden high
Bad fortune was our lot
We went around some nebulae
By pirates we were caught.

Oh, phaser-1s, phaser-3s
Fire them all THAT way!
Oh what fun it is to fight
A pirate ship they say
Phaser-1s, phaser-3s
Fire them all THAT way!
Oh what fun it is to fight
A pirate ship they say

Our shields were falling fast
We thought we saw our doom
When a sudden blast
Lit up the entire room
A POL it had come by
And seen our sorry lot
It fired its weapons –- my, oh my
The pirates were upsot.

Oh, phaser-1s, phaser-3s
Fire them all THAT way!
Oh what fun it was to fight
A pirate ship this day
Phaser-1s, phaser-3s
Fire them all THAT way!
Oh what fun it was to fight
A pirate ship this day 

filk (c) 2011 by Jean Sexton and ADB, Inc.

Thursday, December 08, 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.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016


Steve Cole's thoughts on business in general:
1. When I was in my 20s, I told all of my friends of my quite excellent business idea to produce a winning NFL (American football) franchise. First, I would travel the world looking for someone seven feet tall (perhaps a Watusi?) who could kick a field goal from his own 20-yard-line. (Actually, I need two or three of them for backups.) My NFL franchise would have no offensive unit, but two complete first-string defensive units (each the best in the league), a second-string defensive unit (injuries do happen), and an elite "special teams" unit. I could afford the very best because there would be no offensive team (which costs more than a defensive team). Every time my team got the ball we would immediately kick a field goal and then kick off to the opposing team (who would never return a kickoff since my Watusi would kick it into the stands). Any opposing team who tried to run or pass into my ace defense would end up punting, and my special teams unit would run back the punt to a point easily in the range of my kicker. (Same for a kickoff if they did score.) By the second half, the opposing offensive unit would be totally exhausted since their time of possession in the first half would be about 25 minutes out of 30, and the score of a typical game would be maybe 15-to-7 at worst. For the second half, the opposing team would have to play their exhausted first string or their less-dangerous second string against my duplicate first-string defensive unit. A typical game would end with a score of 33-to-7.
2. "Tell me about polar bears." A friend of mine who owned a business and did a lot of hiring always included this question in his job interviews (along with a lot of other innocent conversational questions that were actually carefully concealed probes). His company had nothing to do wildlife and even he had only the vague general knowledge of the average American who saw a polar bear in a zoo. His point for including the question was that it told him a lot about the person if they knew something beyond what most people knew about some obscure subject that very few people studied in any depth. He wanted to hire people who read books, not people who just watched sitcoms on television. (Just so you know if it ever comes up: polar bears are the biggest land carnivores on Earth but actually do most of their hunting in the water. They mostly eat seals but if they find a dead whale on the beach they will stay a week to eat their fill. Their skin is black and their fur is clear, but each hair is hollow and the inside surfaces are rough, producing a white effect. They are dangerous to humans and will hunt and kill us. They don't have the big hump on their shoulders that grizzly bears have because they stick their head, neck, and (narrow) shoulders through the breathing holes in the ice that seals use. If you ever have to shoot one,  you need to use a bigger than normal rifle or shoot them about ten times.)
3. On GOLD RUSH, the reality show about gold mining in the Klondike, there has been a long-running argument between Parker (the kid) and Tony (who owns lots of land and leases it to mining companies) over royalties. Parker pays Tony 15% of the gold he recovers, up to 3,000 ounces, then the royalty jumps to 25%. Parker says there is no point in him mining more ounces because the higher royalty rate means he cannot make any money. Tony refused to change the deal and the show paints him as a stubborn and greedy old jerk. Parker said in response that he would stop mining and go home for the year once he has the 3000th ounce and Tony said that was fine. While nothing has been said, it seems obvious to me that Tony (who leases land to dozens of mining operations) cannot give Parker a lower rate because all of his other tenants would demand the same rate. (Sometimes you have to think about the bigger picture.) Beyond that, I suspect that Parker is the greedy one. If his operating costs are anywhere north of 60% of gold recovered (at which point the lost 10% would be problematic), he has to be doing something wrong. That 10% difference is there so that a mining operation has money (from the first 3,000 ounces) to buy and refurbish equipment (capital sunk costs, not operating expenses). After that, the equipment is paid for. Parker paid for his equipment earlier. If he had a million dollars to invest in his new Slucifer wash plant, he wasn't having expenses over 40%.

Tuesday, December 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.

Monday, December 05, 2016

This Week at ADB, Inc., 27 November - 3 December 2016

Steve Cole reports: 

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

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was Star Fleet Battles: Playtest Module R107 - The Nicozian Concordance.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #52, PDF packs, Communique, Hailing Frequencies, Federation Admiral, blogs, graphics for Jean, and other projects.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #52 and Master Starship Books.

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 Christmas scenario, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 3,426 friends), managed our Twitter feed (209 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread parts of Captain's Log #52 and the LDR Master Starship Book, took care of customers, uploaded PDFs, and did some marketing.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

On Music and Choirs and Christmas

Jean Sexton muses:

Anybody who has worked around me when I was working knows that I have music playing. Music brightens my day, inspires me to work faster, and keeps other distractions at bay. Ever since I can remember, music has been part of my life, from the musicals and Southern gospel that my mother loves to the orchestral pieces and folk music my father listened to. My brother selected rock music that I might like. After college I discovered New Age music. All through my life, I kept adding groups that I ran into that I liked. Thanks to YouTube, I can explore a person or group's music. Welcomed into my collection have been Lindsey Stirling, Jordan Smith, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

I spent over a third of my life in choirs. I took voice lessons, enough to find out that I had a nice voice, but wouldn't be making my living at it  (nor would I have made it in acting). I love the harmonies that voices can make, either with instruments or other voices. Singing introduced me to other composers that I like such as William Byrd and Leonard Bernstein. I've continued to expand my musical tastes. Pentatonix, Peter Hollens (one person, but his many tracks make it sound like a group), Straight No Chaser, and Home Free are all new additions to my choral/vocal music collection.

At Christmas it all comes together. In choirs we worked for months to produce our Christmas programs. I sang my part all through the season. It isn't Christmas for me until late on Thanksgiving night I pull out the Christmas music playlist. People laugh when I tell them I have over 120 hours of Christmas music, but each performer brings something new to the mix. Amy Grant and David Arkenstone are quite different, even when performing the same songs. Chanticleer, The King's Singers, and Robert Shaw's various groups each bring something unique. (Robert Shaw is one of my favorites as he and Alice Parker arranged so many of the songs that the choirs I belonged to performed.)

Singing makes my heart light and keeps away the cold and dark of winter. This Christmas, if you celebrate it, I hope you find joy through music. If you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope that you enjoy the music you listen to.

Peace to you all.

Saturday, December 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.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Answers to the Top 10 Questions that a Starship Captain Never Wants to Ask, Q4

4. "You did WHAT to the warp engines?"

Well, according to the head janitor, who is a genius, if we just reverse the polarity of all the leads, we can double the output. But it does seem to keep us from using the power to move. I'm sure the impulse engines will be sufficient, won't they, Sir?

David Kass
(c) 2002 Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. Captain's Log #25

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Improbable Events Do Occur

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Board game simulations have rules that try to cover a reality. But sometimes things can become surreal. One of the games I played quite a bit early in the 1980s was "Ironclads" and its expansion.

In one particular game my Ironclad was chugging up a river (American Civil War, so it was simulating some river somewhere in the United States) when (embarrassingly) I hit a sandbar and went aground. (Fortunately not "Hard Aground" and I did not open any or my ship's seams.)

So there I was, a sitting duck.

"Ironclads" (at least we understood its rules) had a bad way of handling ship to ship ramming. Basically if there was going to be a ramming, you wanted to be the "rammee" and not the "rammer." The problem with the rules is that the "rammee" (if not destroyed outright by the ramming attack) simply took whatever damage was inflicted AND CONTINUED TO MOVE (perhaps at a reduced speed). The "rammer" on the other hand would be stopped dead in the water. Which meant that everyone on both sides knew where the rammer would be at the start of the next turn. It also meant generally that the "rammer" would have had his "T" crossed, and taken a full broadside at pointblank range from the "rammee."

So I was a sitting duck, and so what if someone tried to ram me, right?

The problem was that I was on a sandbar in a river. Rivers are not as bad as the open ocean for small boats.

Say small torpedo boats. The Confederates had three of them!

Okay, they cannot launch the torpedoes (they are "spar torpedoes"), but they know right where I am to come running up and stick those things under my hull and . . . well it would not be good.

The surreal part came in when the torpedo boats tried to destroy my ship (one spar torpedo would have done it). Two of the torpedo boats tried (I do not remember why I was not engaged by the third one). In both cases my guns scored hits, and in both cases the hit was a critical hit, and, again, in both cases the critical hit was a boiler hit, blowing the tiny skiffs to heck and gone before they could reach my ship. Needless to say a very unusual series of dice rolls (something like rolling "snake eyes" four times in a row if I recall correctly, it has been more than 30 years since this happened).

Having fended off the torpedo boats (I still do not know what happened to the third one, just that it did not try to attack my ship), I rolled dice to successfully extricate my ship from the sandbar to continue down the river. I think the game ended at that point (not played to a conclusion, but apparently once their torpedo boats were wrecked and I was "past the bar" the Confederate players (it was a multi-player game) conceded.

But as surreal as that was at the time, I  have to admit that I have read of moments in history that it comes close to matching. A machine gun has a platoon pinned down, and several men are killed trying to get up and rush the gun. Then, suddenly,  one man jumps up, rushes directly at the gun and destroys it, somehow not being  hit by a single bullet. Improbable things do happen in games, but also in reality.