about the universe forum commander Shop Now Commanders Circle
Product List FAQs home Links Contact Us

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Tank Company That Was Not There

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

A little story from my days in the Army.

While I was attending the Infantry Officer's Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Georgia, one of the training events was a large "wargame". As part of this, the various officer students were divided into headquarters, with the various students being given different roles. In my particular case, I was assigned the job of being the Brigade Intelligence Officer. Not a good job to have in such a game (seriously), as you are pretty much just "making reports" and everyone otherwise pretty much ignores you. But since I was there I tried to do the best I could.

At one point in "the battle" an enemy tank company was reported to be moving more or less across our front (going from our right to our left as we were looking at the board). This unit then "disappeared" (none of our "units" could see it). Some time later an attack helicopter unit arrived on station to support our operations. The "Brigade Commander" and the "Brigade Operations Officer" had no idea what to do with it, and querying the various "Battalion Commanders" drew general comments that they could not use the unit at that point. The Brigade Commander was about to release the asset (since it would run out of fuel and have to leave in a little bit in any case) when I intervened and requested that the unit be sent to a cross roads just to the left of center of our front line. The Brigade Commander decided to humor me, the result being that the Helicopters found and destroyed an enemy tank company that "no one knew was there".

Most of my contemporaries seemed to take an attitude that if they could not see it, it was not there and was not their problem. I had been watching the whole battle, and was concerned the moment that Tank Company had vanished, and had worked out that it was probably going to follow a particular road to our left and join in an attack there, and had kept a mental note of about how far it had probably moved. That paid off.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

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, Andy Palmer for Prime Directive d20, Gary Plana for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, and Mike Filsinger for STAR FLEET BATTLES.

Frank Brooks runs the Play-by-Email system as a volunteer. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the On-Line game system (for SFB and FC) to pay the server costs. Mark Tutton does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures at a cost that barely covers his costs.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a real-world colonel from Space Command) in charge of the overall game system. He keeps his staff (Mike Curtis, Ryan Opel, Scott Tenhoff, 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 who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including Jean Sexton (Vice President of Proofreading and Product Professionalization); John Berg and Mike Incavo (Galactic Conquest Campaign); and John Sickels, Matthew Francois, Jonathan Thompson, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by Email or BBS or Forum, 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.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Game Mechanics

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

A constant problem with games is trying to reflect real events without complicating the rules so much the game becomes unplayable. This results in a number of very odd events happening in the course of playing games.

Simulation Publications Incorporated produced a game about individual soldiers fighting in Urban Terrain (I no longer remember the title for sure, but I believe it was Sniper!). One of the failures of the game was that, bluntly, machine guns did not work. A machine gun was reduced to being nothing more than a "single shot weapon" with a high probability of killing the one target it shot at (sub-machine guns were treated in the same way, albeit with a somewhat lower probability of killing the one target). The result was that if you needed to move a squad of men across a street that had a machine gun firing down its length, you simply accepted that the odds were that the first man you moved into the street would probably be hit (there was a chance the machine gun would miss). But once the first man was hit, the rest of the squad could "stroll" across the street as if the machine gun was not there.

The game system did not really allow for suppression fire, and had no apparent concepts for "area fire" or "grazing fire". As a representation of combat on the level of the individual soldier, it was basically a complete failure. (Did not stop us from playing it, of course.)

The result of playing that game, however, was that I began building up an attitude about games and machine guns. The result was a true shock the first time I ever played Avalon Hill's Squad Leader. The first scenario in that game was "The Guards Counterattack". Essentially you have 121 Russian Guardsmen, and across the street is this building with 31 Fascists in it. There are German light machine guns positioned to put a cross fire between the building the Guards are in and the building the Fascists are in. The obvious solution, "CHARGE". The Germans are outnumbered better than three to one, and have no chance, right?

That solution delivered me 121 dead Russian Guards, and the shocked statement (literally) "Machine guns work!?"

This is not to say that Squad Leader did not have its own problems, i.e., a lot of things were grossly simplified and could get you results that did not really make sense. But from the standpoint that you could set up machine gun positions with interlocking fields of fire, and could spend time studying the map-boards to develop the best possible defenses for the numbers and types of machine guns, and other weapons, you had available, and figure out how to crack those defenses. Suppressive fire and grazing fire were very much a part of Squad Leader.

Next to SFB, it was probably the single game system I played more of than any other, and this was certainly so in College and after I was commissioned. The basic tactics I knew and understood worked in Squad Leader, more than any other tactical game I had ever played to that point.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Steve Cole comments:

Health care reform (a.k.a., the president's plan, Pelosicare, Obamacare, socialized medicine) is dead for this session, but the liberals are never going to stop trying to pass it. The American people have (poll after recent poll) said they don't support the plan (but do support some other kind of reform), and people have realized that the plan(s) being floated are (a) too expensive and (b) a power grab masquerading as health care reform.

There are issues that need to be addressed, such as health care insurance being too expensive, and I hope we can find a way to address them.

The "crisis" is overstated. There are (numbers vary, 45-50 million) Americans who do not have health insurance. But of these, 10 million are illegal aliens, 10 million qualify for Medicaid but just haven't gotten sick, and 10 million can afford health insurance but decided not to buy it. That leaves 20 million "gray area" people who are above the poverty line but below the "easily could afford it" line. A plan giving these people some kind of semi-subsidized (sliding scale) option to pay premiums to Medicaid would be swell, and could be easily implemented. Another option (which costs a pittance) is to use tax money to pay for private "catastrophic" policies for these "gray area" people and move on. Everyone else could be required to pay for at least catastrophic insurance, which is incredibly cheap.

Conservatives are being naughty about this. They say on one hand that "If you add another 47 million patients the system will collapse because there are not enough doctors" but on the other hand they insist that "those 47 million people are already getting care, often free, at emergency rooms and clinics". The second one is true so the first one cannot be.

The power grab was ridiculous. Telling doctors if they could or could not move into a given speciality. Telling a company it had to pay for insurance for employees. Telling a company that it can never change to any new plan EXCEPT the public option. Telling an insurance company that it must cover this list of things (instead of letting customers decide that the coverage is lousy and they want another insurance company.) None of this nonsense was needed to improve health care and all of it was a clear socialist big-government power grab and we all know it.

We do need to put health care insurance on an even playing field. If the unions won't allow the government to tax employer-provided health care as a taxable compensation benefit, then they should allow everyone else to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums on form 1040A.

The fundamental flaw of the proposed plans was that the premiums were subsidized by taxpayers, meaning this would be cheaper insurance and lots of people (and employers) would "switch" to the cheaper government option. Once people start doing that, private insurance companies would start go out of business for a shortage of customers, driving more and more people into the government plan (especially since if a company quit issuing policies, an employer would have no legal option except the government plan). The CBO said we couldn't afford to insure those "gray area" people, so how were we going to provide several times as many people with subsidized coverage?

And we all knew that the government plan WAS inevitably going to mean "rationed care" like in Canada and the US, where a few people die because a lot of people did not get brain scans, and you have to wait (in pain) six months for a gall bladder operation.

Why are health care costs rising? A combination of three factors: (1) patients who do not pay their bills, (2) doctors order more tests to defend against malpractice, (3) doctors out to make more money by cashing in on whatever the insurance company will pay.

(1) is a good reason to get some kind of coverage for everybody, but I think any subsidy should be "sliding scale" with people having to pay much of the cost, and anyone over the "struggling line" (above the "gray zone") paying the full fare.

(2) tort reform is needed, but is nowhere in the bills because the trial lawyers pay tons of money to one political party to make sure tort reform never happens.

(3) I don't want to badmouth doctors, but I have read doctor trade journals with articles about how to "milk" the insurance for every dollar of profit they can make and trick the relatives of patients into accidentally making themselves legally liable for the bill. I have seen groups of doctors buying their own MRI machines so they can order an MRI for everybody they can qualify under insurance just to make a profit. I'd propose that doctors not be allowed to own such expensive machines or get any profit from them.

We need to reform health care, but we do not need to use it an excuse to wreck a system that works just to push a political agenda.

Monday, July 27, 2009

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. We are developing a line of non-game products (calendars, paperback books, ship books, plus Cafe Press). We have an Amazon store (not to make money so much as to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers), and the MySpace page exists for that reason as well. 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.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Anyone Can Be A Good Shot

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

Learning to fire a weapon accurately is, to me, relatively easy (assuming nothing physically or mentally wrong).

I learned to be a pretty good shot with an M-16 rifle, but there was already something there (the first bullet I ever fired hit the target, a beer can, after two other shooters had fired 49 shots at it from the same point and missed). I was aware that I had a lot to learn, and never assumed that I already knew how to shoot.

So when people (sergeants) in the business of teaching me how to do so started talking to me, I listened. I, in fact, did all I could to make sure I got "individual instruction", literally a sergeant sitting right next to me watching every motion I made and correcting me right then and there. The result was that I shot expert the first time I qualified after my commissioning. This despite my weapon having malfunctioned once while I was on the range and having to be cleared. In subsequent qualifications I maintained the expert status.

I have not been shooting in a long while (barring the recent pseudo-shooting in "Terrorwerks"). And I am aware that my odds of doing well in long range shooting are not good due to the damage I have since done to my right elbow.

But in the relatively close range shooting in "Terrorwerks", with shot moving so slowly that you could watch each one leave the barrel and travel to its destination, I could see that the old training was still there. The fingertip of my right index finger settles on the trigger without my having to think about it, and I raise the weapon to my eye without having to think about it, and I squeeze the trigger while simultaneously catching my breath without having to think about it.

All of that is important not just because it makes the shots as accurate as possible, but because it frees my mind to think about other things. (Like how many enemies are there? Where are they positioned? What are they doing? What should I do? And a host of other thoughts in the midst of a"fire fight").

One of the things in life that makes me happy is that I managed to teach one other person to shoot. That person being SVC. I know I only succeeded because he finally decided, late in life, that maybe he was wrong, that he was not just naturally a bad shot, maybe he "just needed to listen". Even today, as he was using an airsoft rifle to hit a target, he said he could hear his "father's voice", i.e., that he could remember when his father had tried to teach a teenage SVC to shoot, and failed because SVC was not ready "to listen". I succeeded because of what he had been taught before, and remembered, and was now ready to apply if only someone who "seemed to know what he was doing" (and SVC drew that from two things, that I hit the target, and that in a casual moment the Infantry Officer in me had looked at him shooting and told him that he was not going to hit the target because he had too much finger on the trigger). After first issuing that age old mental block, i.e., telling me that he could not hit the target because he was just naturally a bad shot, he watched me raise my weapon and fire at the target, and finally asked, in essence, what he should do.

SVC shot expert several times in the state guard, and for a time marveled at his own ability to relatively effortlessly place the bullet in the target where he wanted it.

He shoots well because he had good teachers (and again, I only built on what others had taught him, he knew how he should be shooting, he just did not believe it mattered because he believed he was inherently a bad shot), and because when I got to start teaching him, he was ready to listen and not accept his previous image that he was simply a bad shot.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Best Business Advice You Didn’t Have To Pay For

1. It is incredible how much intelligence is used in this world to prove nonsense.

2. It is later than you think, which is why “now” is usually the best time to get started.

3. An idiot with money is going to lose it. Try to teach him how to not be an idiot.

4. It is not enough to tell me you worked hard to get your money. The devil works hard, too.

5. Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman, and sometimes it’s your worst enemy
6. It is not sufficient to be a success; but it is also not necessary for your friends to be failures.

7. It is not true that life is one thing after another. It’s one stupid thing over and over.

8. It is okay to be ignorant in some areas, but some people abuse the privilege.

9. It is the dead wood that makes a sick tree look healthy.

10. Excellence is achievable and worthwhile; perfection is not and will drive you insane.

11. It isn’t that they can’t see the solution; it’s that they can’t see the problem.

12. It would be nice to be sure of anything the way some people are of everything.

13. It’s always darkest just before it goes pitch black.

14. Just about the time when your income gets to the point where food prices don’t matter, calories do.

15. It’s always the wrong time of the month for somebody you have to deal with today.

16. It’s better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.

17. It’s better to retire too soon than too late.

18. Failing to write a plan is a plan for failure.

19. What’s ”Good Enough for Government Work” is not good enough for a successful business.

20. It’s hell to work for a nervous boss, especially if you are why he’s nervous!

21. It’s Not My Job! Ok, then whose job is it and why isn’t he doing it?

22. It’s not hard to meet expenses; they are everywhere.

23. It’s not how good your product is; it’s how well you explain it.

24. It’s not the work that gets you down, it’s the interruptions that are the real killers, the worst of which are the ones you create for yourself.

25. It’s out of my control! Then we had better get control of the situation, or stop getting ourselves into situations we cannot control.

26. Job placement: The ability to tell your boss what he can do with your job.

27. Join in the new game that’s sweeping the country. It’s called “Bureaucracy”. Everybody stands in a circle. The first person to do anything loses.

28. Junk mail arrives the day it was sent. Checks sent to you are always late. Checks you are racing to the bank always win. The letter you regret sending already arrived.

29. Just about the time when you think you can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends.

30. It’s easy to be somebody’s favorite customer. Pay your bills on time without being reminded.

31. It’s easy to pay your bills. Don’t spend money you don’t have in the first place!

32. Sometimes, you just need to have a long rambling chat with your suppliers and customers. Things (good and bad) come up in conversation that would never come during interviews.

33. The only one who will ever really understand you is your most dangerous rival.

34. Sometimes, you have to ruin the fun and point out that the new plan violates the contract.

35. Sometimes you have to ask: “Are we trying to get this project done, or are we just trying to prove which one of us is the biggest elephant in the herd?”

36. There never has been, nor will there ever be, a good time to release a bad product.

37. The guy you defeated, destroyed, and utterly humiliated last week is the guy you will have to ask for a favor next week.

38. Never fight a battle that you do not have to win.

39. The best surprise is the unexpected.

40. Diplomacy is the art of saying “Nice tie!” while your attorney files the lawsuit.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Stephen V. Cole writes:

We have merged the two websites. The combined site now has a new front page, site map, and index, making it a lot easier to use. You are welcome to comment on the changes, but more importantly, please suggest changes, and check the changes we make.

Here is my e-mail: Design@StarFleetGames.com or you can comment on either forum.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Walter Kronkite

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Walter Kronkite is dead, and as a child I learned that he was the most trusted man in America. I might not have understood, at that point in my young life, what was going on, but I did know that the man with the mustache on TV was to be trusted. This has been his praises most of the last half century of his life, and has been stridently proclaimed anew since his passing.

Would that I could still believe it.

Walter Kronkite may have been a good newsman at one point in his life, but he became an example of most of what is wrong with the modern news media.

We lost the Vietnam War, and Walter Kronkite realized we had lost it before anyone else did. Realized it and on his own sought to sway the American public to his realization. It was Walter Kronkite, the man who was trusted, who declared that Khe Sanh's airfield was closed, standing in front of a wrecked Cargo plane that had been pushed off the airfield. It was Walter Kronkite who let the Marines and other military personnel in Khe Sahn know that they were doomed and simply waiting for the Vietnamese to overrun the base. Kronkite knew the airfield on Khe Sahn was closed because he was flown in and landed on that airfield to record his story, and was flown out again from that airfield the same day. And all the while he was making his report, more supplies were being flown in. And, of course, since it was not enough of an impending disaster, Walter Kronkite had sounds of gunfire and explosions "dubbed" into the background of his report.

It was not the first time Walter Kronkite deliberately made an erroneous report in favor of his own chosen agenda after he decided the Vietnam War was lost, nor would it be the last.

Walter Kronkite was an elitest in the sense that he determined that the American People were (to borrow a phrase) too stupid to know what to think (note specifically that I am not saying Walter Kronkite ever said those exact words), so he pioneered the concept of not telling the American people the facts and letting them make up their own minds, but instead telling them what they should think about the story he was delivering.

He is the Parent of most of today's "talking heads" who do their best not to tell us the facts, but just what we should think about the story they are telling us.

Don't ask "how much is this new government program going to raise my taxes", just accept that this new program is a great idea because the talking heads say it is. Do no listen to reporters in the combat zone who say that American troops are doing well and have good morale, listen to the story the Editors create from that report that says Morale stinks and the troops know they cannot win, because that is the correct way Americans should be thinking.

I know Walter Kronkite will be a presented as the shining exemplar of what media personalities should be. To me, he will always be a traitor to his sacred trust as a reporter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

12 to the Moon

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

I am watching a "failed" movie that was released in 1960. It is a black and white film whose title is "12 to the Moon". I have not seen it all, but I was amazed at this film which predated Star Trek. The 12 members of the mission included two women and ten men. And it was truly "international" in that one of the crew was a Turk, one was an African, one was Japanese (female), one was an Israeli, one was a Russian, one was a Swede (female), one was a German, one was a Briton, one was a Kenyan, one was French, one was Indian, and one was an American. Yes, the American was "in command" (and the rocket used for the special effect of the launch was a U.S. Atlas with the U.S. star plainly visible), but the others were portrayed as from their given countries, not simply "an African-American" or other hyphen American.

But here was a polygot crew working together (more or less, it was only 15 years since the end of World War II, and the Cold War was on going). Anger at past events was dealt with (the German and the Polish-Israeli had to work together despite the Israeli remembering the Nazis killed his parents, the Russian was somewhat arrogant about the superiority of the Soviet system and the "Western Types" were not interested in being dominated by the Soviet Union, and so on).

I had to wonder if Gene Roddenberry had seen the film. Each crewman had a real role to play (i.e., a real job on the mission), the Kenyan for example was the navigator. The Russian was a geologist and assumed command of the operation once his "task" came to the fore, i.e., we have reached the site where we are going to look for rocks and how the moon was made so now you tell us what to do.

The technology was, of course, silly (magnetic faceplates served to keep them from being exposed no atmosphere rather than have actual faceplates, and portable magentic shields kept them from being hit by stray meteorites while they wandered around on the Moon's surface. And slow movement on the Moon had to serve for low gravity while the on the ship it was assumed (without saying so) that there was artificial gravity.

I have only seen about half of it, and I know enough to know that this film was rated a "BOMB" for people to see by critics, but I am somewhat curious to see what will finally happen.

It is obvious that the film suffered greatly from its effort to have such a large cast (it become very obvious in some of the scenes where they are trying to crowd 11 people onto the screen after they left one man to hold the ship).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Playing FEDERATION COMMANDER by Email 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.

The basic gist of the FEDERATION COMMANDER Play-by-Email (PBEM) system is that 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 FEDERATION COMMANDER 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 of FEDERATION COMMANDER. Moderating a FEDERATION COMMANDER PBEM game is also an excellent way to learn more about the FEDERATION COMMANDER rules.

While there are some disadvantages to PBEM (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 FEDERATION COMMANDER PBEM, please visit the Play-by-Email section of ADB, Inc.'s website at www.StarFleetGames.com/pbemgames and we will be happy to help you.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Stephen V. Cole writes:

Our website is vast and full of fun, useful, and interesting documents, charts, play aids, illustrations, and other things. Most of the best stuff is found at: http://starfleetgames.com/playerresources.shtml which has lists of resources and links to other lists of resources. Take a look down the list and see if there are documents you always wanted and could never find or documents which you never knew you were looking for.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tomorrow is the 20th of July

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Tomorrow is the 65th Anniversary of operation Valkyrie, the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. There will always be a "what if" hanging over that event. If it had succeeded, would the Germans have been able to negotiate an earlier end to the conflict? Would that end have forestalled the Communist occupation of most of Eastern Europe? There were competing "governments in exile" for Poland (Stalin had rescinded his previous recognition of the Polish Government in Exile in London in favor of a new one established in the Soviet Union). Would the war have gone on, becoming one of Soviet Conquest if the Germans had simply decided to have their troops in the West lay down their arms (those that could not be quickly transferred to the Soviet Front until the Allies had advanced far enough)? What would the Western Allies do if the Germans simply started moving their troops to the Soviet Front as quickly as they could while leaving the roads open for the Western Allies to advance? Demand that the Germans keep fighting them as well? Refuse to advance unless the Germans resisted? Advance to the Elbe and stop? Would Stalin have accepted any sort of peace that did not give him Control of Eastern Europe? Would the allies have allowed Stalin to still install his puppet governments?

The world would be somewhat different, how different is, of course, impossible to say.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How to Find Opponents

STEVE COLE WRITES: Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four wargamers 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, and works much better, and you have a lot of ways to do it. For best results, do all of them.
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-in's every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out of somebody near you has signed in.
You can go to the forum and find the area where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations and let people know you'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.)
Feel free to go to your local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of FEDERATION COMMANDER (or any of our games) and "grown your own" opponents. If anybody already plays the game you demo, they'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.
The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to our Legacy site and look for the button that says Player Resources. Under that menu is a link for Starlist. 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 five thousand 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 your 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.
The original website has a bulletin board system and the 8th item on the main menu is "seeking opponents". 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.
Many of those on Starlist and StarFleetGames.com/discus will be players of STAR FLEET BATTLES, but most of those can be convinced to play FEDERATION COMMANDER. Indeed, over half of the names on Starlist are people who quit playing STAR FLEET BATTLES for lack of opponents (or because SFB was too complex for them or their opponents) and most of those are ready recruits for the faster cleaner FEDERATION COMMANDER game system.
With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see the links list on our site).
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 cards who got Emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.
You can go always go to SFB Online and play FEDERATION COMMANDER on-line with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $4 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.
There are probably more ways than this to find opponents, but unless you live in a cave somewhere, you can almost certainly find a new friend within a short while by trying these methods.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Visit to Amarillo

Mike Curtis, a guest blogger, writes:

Some of you may know me and some may not. I am the Federation & Empire official answer person, also known as FEAR. I take on all the tough, and not-so-tough, questions players come up with while playing Federation & Empire.

What is Federation & Empire you may ask? It is the strategic version of the Star Fleet Universe where fleets of ships clash from empires at war. There is a large following of this game that culminates each year at Origins where there are usually four full games of Federation & Empire being played from late Tuesday evening until late Saturday night with clean up on Sunday morning. Different scenarios and variants of the game are played and some of the best players in the world can be found here. The games are a little different than your standard tournament play. They are more of a social event for players who don’t get a chance to cut up face-to-face to do so here. Some of the funniest interactions can be found with Dave Whiteside and Todd Lovas involved!

While on vacation this year my family and I traveled from Murfreesboro, Tennessee to various places in the Western United States. This included places such as Arches National Park, Loveland Pass, Colorado, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. in Amarillo, Texas! The staff here is very cordial and was most gracious with myself and my family. Steven Petrick put up with me asking about the ethics of war and the Geneva Convention. Steve Cole showed my nine-year-old son and eleven-year-old daughter the “Piñata” and they were able to select a smattering of surplus items from the SFU that they have not put down since the visit. Leanna Cole and my wife, Amy, talked about various subjects from being “Gaming Widows” to the history of Amarillo Design Bureau.

We ended up the visit by going to one of their favorite eating establishments for lunch, J’s Restaurant. The special on Thursday is turkey and dressing. The restaurant is located on 6th Street in Amarillo, which is also the historic Route 66. Very good home cooked food.

Thank you Amarillo Design Bureau for a wonderful visit that neither myself nor my family will soon forget.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Vulpes Expedition

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

The history of the SF Universe is an accumulated and continually growing thing. There are references to historical events all through it, intended to be hooks for players to develop into things that might see publication. Back in the Early 1990s we did a brief history of the General War. As part of that, we included a reference to a Romulan Admiral Vulpes, who lead a squadron of ships that eventually saw combat with the Hydrans. Now, almost two decades later, a player has decided to develop the Vulpes operation as a mini-campaign. Of course, there have been changes since the item was originally written. We now have a much tighter look at what Romulan ships were available (due to Federation and Empire), and how those ships would need to operate. And even back in the early 1990s we defined what the last ships of the Vulpes operation were (they became part of the Red Fleet and are mentioned by name in the intelligence report the Alliance developed on that fleet).

So, sometime soon we may be putting a Vulpes campaign into playtest, and the Hydrans will learn to really fear plasma torpedoes (something they have previously only seen on a few Orion ships).

Of course, the Romulans may find that all those Phaser-Gs have a negative impact on their plasma!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Free stuff for FEDERATION COMMANDER players!

STEVE COLE WRITES: 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). Go to www.StarFleetGames.com/fc and you will find a lot of stuff you can download. Some of those downloads include:
o The free First Missions packet (demo version of FEDERATION COMMANDER).

o Turn gauges and firing arcs for the tabletop rules.

o Sample Ship Cards.

o Wallpapers of game covers.

o Frequently asked questions.

o Information for retailers.

o The original theatrical trailer (ok, not that, but it WAS the original flyer handed out at trade shows).

o Notes from the game designer (Steve Cole) on what parts of the older game STAR FLEET BATTLES we decided to include in FEDERATION COMMANDER.

But that's just a start. If you join the Commander's Circle, which is free, you can download the monthly Communiqué which includes scenarios, tactics, and new ships. You can also access a database of FEDERATION COMMANDER players looking for new opponents (you!).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Another of Those Foibles

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

I have been watching Merlin on TV. I am not saying it is a great show, but so far I have been willing to keep watching it. However, they did something recently that managed to once more elicit a groan about the failed continuity, i.e., the failure to treat things as if there is a future.

The Knights of Camelot are, for the purposes of the show, all hand selected by Prince Arthur, and the final test to become a knight is to stand in mock battle against the prince for at least five minutes. All well and good, and we see a prospective knight fail the test and get sent home.

Now, Knights are very much the strength of a Kingdom in this era we are supposedly seeing. Keeping good Knights on hand is like keeping a good armored division handy. Men at arms are all well and good for stiffening the peasant levy, but to win the battle you need to have Knights to break the enemy line and defeat the enemy knights.

So, Arthur is sent out by King Uther will all of his Knights to fight a Gryphon.

Only Arthur survived.

You would think that there would be serious discussions about the weakness of Camelot versus its various surrounding Kingdoms since it now lacks Knights. This little scene the writers created was a MAJOR DISASTER for the Kingdom, yet it has absolutely no effect on anything.

They could have given Arthur a loyal troop of mere Sergeants at Arms (since they did all of their fighting dismounted in any case) and at least avoided the issue (losing trained troops would still be bad, but it is not the same thing as having your corps of Knights wiped out).

But this was really annoying.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Congress is Safe, but You Are Not

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Congress has decided that it is time once again to engage in political theater, allowing them from the safety of the halls of Congress to beat their chests and tell the American people how it is they, and they alone, who are preserving our freedoms. They will do this by attacking the agencies the try to keep tabs on violent foreigners who wish to do us harm.

The result will be greater restrictions on what the CIA can do to learn what our foes intend. Greater restrictions on the operations of the FBI. Fear for their careers by people in authority in those organizations, making them risk adverse.

And when more Americans are killed by a surprise terrorist assault, Congress will once more absolve itself of all blame and and point its finger at those organizations designed to defend us which they, in the name of defending us, have gutted to the point of being nothing more than workfare.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Stephen V. Cole writes:

Have you ever heard of Cafe Press? Cafe Press is a website where you can open up a free online shop and promote products on your website. Cafe Press creates and sells products with designs provided by various companies. So upon learning about Cafe Press, Leanna set up an account and we have uploaded several designs for T-shirts, coffee mugs, Christmas ornaments, mousepads, etc.

See www.CafePress.com/starfleetuniv for these items. And take a look at our new I-heart-Klingons T-shirt!

If you have any questions or comments or would like to see something on Cafe Press, let me know and I will try to set it up for you! Email me at: Design@starfleetgames.com

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Opening a Floodgate

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

A side note that my foul past has again caught up with me. I received an E-Mail today from an old gaming buddy back when I was in High School, i.e., the early 1970s. Ed McGrady was a friend I went through my first experiences in roleplaying games (he was an evil priest of K'sarul in the Empire of the Petal Throne, I was a happy-go-lucky ex-slave turned warrior). Ed and I participated in the great "mission impossible" episode to rescue Kara ty Kilashin and her handmaiden Ry le Ta from the slave markets. That was a great story arc in our adventures involving the habit of my character of collecting odd items that did not seem to have much practical value. We made a lot of mistakes playing that game, the most famous of which (among ourselves of course) was not realizing that "Bolt Throwers" fired every other TURN, and a Turn was TEN ROUNDS, so we were firing them every other ROUND. No wonder we swept the decks of enemy ships with our fire! To be fair, when we ran into the occassional enemy Bolt Thrower they also fired every other round until we discovered the mistake.

We also played En Garde, and pariticpated in a game of SPI's War in the East from the start to the finish. (I still cannot believe our Finish Commander managed to drown a good section of the Finnish Army be allowing it to be trapped on Lake Ladoga during the Winter just before Spring!)

Those were fun days of my youth, and I do not want to forget any of them. From the moments of high adventure and flashes of brilliance, to the periods of all of us groaning over something that was obviously not the best idea.

Napoleonic Miniatures, Fletcher Pratt Naval War rules miniature events, Fight in the Skies dogfights, and so many other things that the list just seems to go on.

A voice from the past triggering a flood of happy memories.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. The newsletter has the latest information on release schedules and company news, as well as lots of other useful content. It also has links to the new Communique, a free PDF newsletter which is full of good things for Federation Commander players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules. The newsletter also has links to the most recent Star Fleet Alerts, the press releases that tell your store when to expect new products.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Stephen V. Cole writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download FEDERATION COMMANDER wallpaper.

Klingon Border, Romulan Border, Klingon Attack, and Romulan Attack are currently available in the following sizes : 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024.


If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into wallpaper, please feel free to write me at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and I will get it set up for you.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Making the Right Choice for the Wrong Reason

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

One of the things about real-life that can carry on into a live action role playing game is that you can make a categorically correct decision based on categorically false data.

During the "Terrorwerks" scenario I was confronted by a "civilian" inside the compound. My immediate reaction was "someone else to protect", i.e., add her to the pack of company execs and convicts my security detail was trying to shepherd to safety. Not having been well briefed on the "technology level" the exercise was supposedly operating under, the idea that she was a hologram that could only travel inside the compound simply did not enter into my thoughts. I was utterly unaware of this until SVC mentioned it (something he had learned from an earlier playing) well after the exercise was concluded. To an extent, the right choice (at least in SVC's eyes) was to leave her behind.

Why did I leave her behind?

Well, I did not know she was a hologram, but in the fast running computer of my own mind the available data that I "knew" from observation had eventually (literally in a matter of seconds) clicked to "threat".

She was a "survivor", but appeared in deep shock and non-responsive. The room she was in was not barricaded in any way. She was sitting in a chair in the middle of the room. There were no signs that she had been attacked, yet there were signs of "massacre" in the area of the compound we were in. There was no solid evidence of what had happened here, but something (I cannot really call them zombies) was attacking my people.

The possibilities were that she was bait, that included in the group she would "suddenly become active" and begin attacking my party from the inside, and at its most vulnerable point (the unarmed and untrained civilians mostly densely bunched in the formation when we moved). But she might simply attack some of my guards at a critical point where we trying to fend off an attack. The apparent state of shock could have been just a prelude to her "transforming". I could not take the risk of having a threat within my party as well as the threats I was trying to keep outside of my moving defensive perimeter.

So I left her, and issued a verbal command to that effect to the rest of the party.

Why did SVC think she should be left? From what I gather, she would have "slowed" the movement of the party, provided cryptic data, some of which might have been useful, some of what would have been distraction and nonsense. From the stand point of the company exec types, she might have provided clues to make them try to force the party to go in other directions to gather things "the company" wanted, thus disrupting the "command and security structure" I was seeking to maintain. (SVC avoided telling me anything about the particular exercise even though he knew from his previous trip through, so he gave me no clue about this individual.)

Was the decision right? From my standpoint, unquestionably. We were too small a group to launch an assault on the facility, and my goal (not the one that was assigned, since I was utterly unaware that the character had an assigned goal, although it pretty much turned out it was the character's goal as well) was simply to get the people with me out, and then report the problem, perhaps, once outside the compound, try to keep it contained while the report was made, but get the people out and call higher was my only operating objective.

When the "rescue team" showed up, I was again in a quandry. The problem was that I had been taught (while I was in the service) that in a situation like that (well . . . not with zombies but in the case of taking charge of a mixed bag of prisoners and guards after a period of "confusion") to make everyone lay down their arms. The real "guards" might be "dead", and the guards I think are on my side might be some of the prisoners waiting to make a break, which might include killing us. So you make everyone put their weapons down until you verify who they are.

So when the "rescue team" gunned down the last group of zombies that had been attacking us, and then came over and demanded that the mixed bag of "security guards, executives, and convicts" lay down their arms, my actual training directed me to comply.

I did not because I noticed something about the "rescue team" that, when I mentioned it after the fact, others had not noticed. Like the Zombies, the "rescue team" members all had short spade shaped tails. That triggered suspicion which caused me to hold onto my weapon, although I kept it down and more or less covered. Finally, the computer in my head said, in essence, "they are not here to rescue us", and I asked "what's the password". I knew there was no password, but I hoped the asking would throw them off center, create a momentary confusion, maybe alert some of those with me that something was wrong. While the "rescue team" was trying to figure out what my question meant, I was already coming up, their confusion ended with a command to "kill them all", but I was already shooting (and so fortunately was SVC) so that every member of the "rescue team" went down before they could trigger their own weapons into the crowd of people I was trying to save, and they tried.

The call for a "password" was perhaps the most ingenious thing I did, as it probably in terms of the game bought me the few precious seconds of confusion I needed (with SVC's help) to save my party. A literal warning to my charges would probably have simply seen the gunmen open fire, and movement on part would have focused them on me and made me a quick casualty in an initial exchange. I needed a moment of confusion on their part, so I asked for a password, and while they were trying to sort that through their own minds, time for them ran out.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

More on the Civil War

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

I have finished reading "The Quest for Annihilation".

I found it an interesting book all through as it presented a lot of information in forms that I had not really thought of before.

I have always known that the Southern Cavalry was superior to the Northern Cavalry early in the war, but had accepted the conventional wisdom (even though there was always something nagging in the back of my mind about it) that there were just more southerners who were comfortable in the saddle. This book, however, touched on things that I am ashamed I did not recognize (perhaps because too much of my reading is about actions later in the war). The Union Cavalry was at a disadvantage because:

A: The South simply fielded far more cavalry regiments early in the war than the Union did and

B: The South established a centralized command structure for its cavalry from the start, while the North dispersed its cavalry among many different commanders.

This makes a lot of sense as early Union TO&Es frequently included cavalry detachments within individual infantry brigades, whereas (to take an example) Lee's Army of Norther Virginia had virtually all of its cavalry under the command of one man (J.E.B. Stuart, of course).

As far as numbers, the Union suffered from a decision by the Army Commander (Winfield Scott) that "Modern Arms" had made cavalry obsolete, so he had actually REDUCED the existing number of cavalry regiments and blocked the formation of additional regiments.

The result of these decisions left the Union armies will too little cavalry to adequately screen their own movements, or penetrate the screens of Confederate cavalry to learn what their armies were doing.

The idea that southern men were simply better cavalrymen had long nagged at me, like the oft-cited concept that Southern men were better soldiers (and yet you can find isolated incidents where they were committed against Union troops only to be bloodily repelled by inferior numbers). Sure, the great successes are known (and a tribute to the generalship of Robert E. Lee), but the average Union soldier seems to have suffered more from various political decisions that cost him much of his fighting spirit.

Again, I had noted that the Union system of allowing regiments of veterans to gradually dwindle to nothing had to be devastating to the men, whereas the Southern system of constantly feeding in replacements enabled southern regiments to remain combat effective long after a Union regiment's moral authority had declined to nothing. And the large blocks of green troops in the middle of a Union brigade were always skittish in the first actions and prone to run, leaving gaping holes the reduced veteran units could not fill that the Southern troops could then exploit.

So many things in this book that had occurred to me in my readings that I had not seen presented elsewhere.

Monday, July 06, 2009


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 28 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 on-line 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.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

More Data on the Civil War

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

While at Origins SVC and I found a book on the Civil War titled "The Quest for Annihilation". It has been an interesting read so far, at least for me in that it touches on some subjects that have occurred in my own thoughts, but that I had never seen elsewhere (at least I definitely do not ever remember having read of these things before).

One is that I had come to the theory that the South had better militia regiments than the North at the start of the Civil War. This is because generally east of the Mississippi there was no real perceived threat in the Northern States. West of the Mississippi the threat of attack by the indigenous population was possible and very real. In the Southern States, however, was the constant threat of "slave uprisings". Such things had occurred historically (and indeed John Brown's raid was an attempt to foment one again). The result was that most Northern militia organizations had degenerated into "social clubs", while Southern Militia retained a "real world" mission resulting in greater earnestness. While this book did not come right out and state that, it mentioned that while the Northern States had a greater population, there were actually fewer militia organizations, and those that existed were smaller than the ones that existed in the South. This helped with the South having immediate access to trained bodies of troops and existing equipment (in addition to stocks that would confiscated from Federal Armories).

Because this, and other things I had concluded, were mentioned, I have to assume that there is other scholarship to support it. Yet I find it odd that I cannot recall ever having read specific comments about it. Rather, I had drawn the conclusions simply from my own (rather limited) military experience and a historical record indicating various slave revolts at different times (not all of them within the United States).

Indeed, one cannot help but believe that Southern plantation owners had to have read of "Spartacus", and had sought to avoid such an eventuality, even if they did not pit their slaves against each other in mortal combat.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independence Day

This is Steven Petrick Posting:

Two hundred and thirty-three years ago fifty-six radicals assembled to bring a plot of treason to fruition. Citizens of King George, the Third, of England, these men plotted the theft of part of his kingdom by continuing a then ongoing rebellion against the Crown's rule. These radicals, while claiming to represent the "will of the people" actually only conveyed the views (according to modern historians) of about 33% of the population in the rebellious region. Their action was actually opposed by another 33% of the population, while the remainder simply wanted to be left alone. Those population numbers are themselves misleading, as there were no Africans, Native Americans, or even women included in those numbers.

Today, we celebrate the action of these radicals, some of whom did not live to see their plot come to fruition.

That plot created a new nation out of thirteen disparate colonies of King George, although it failed in its effort to include the King's Colony of Canada (despite military operations designed to add it to the new nation).

The nation that was founded was, largely, incomplete, operating under the ineffective Articles of Confederation, until the Constitution of the United States was created to address the divisiveness the Articles were creating between the various states. It would be the Constitution that would truly create one nation from the thirteen rebellious colonies.

What those 56 treasonous men continued on that day (a war of rebellion already begun), but more importantly created (the formal declaration that the rebellion was now a war for Independence from the Crown) that we celebrate has led to the nation we, citizens of the United States of America, live in today. Yes, they were traitors to their king, and had the rebellion gone differently, the legitimate government would have doubtless hanged them all (had they been caught).

Their unanimous vote, however, led to the creation of our nation, and therefore it is right, proper, and indeed just that we should remember them as our founding fathers.

Friday, July 03, 2009


Many people do not know that you can play FEDERATION COMMANDER on-line in real time against live opponents.

Eight 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.

This successful operation has now been 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 $4 a month, you have access to all of the ships in the FEDERATION COMMANDER game system 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 on-line 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.

So come to www.SFBonline.com right away. You can even fly the Federation CA or Klingon D7 as a free trial, or watch any game in play. Legendary SFB aces and new FEDERATION COMMANDER aces strut their stuff in combat arenas all the time, and you can learn from the best.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Origins After-Action Report: 2009

STEVE COLE REPORTS: It was a good show. Attendance was clearly down (preliminary GAMA reports indicate about 10,000 people, down from the disappointing 13,000 last year). Lots of events were nearly empty all over the show, although the "pay $12 to play all day" room was full most of the time. The dealer room was a third smaller and had "spacious" aisles and many obviously unsold booth spots, but there were far more attractive women than usual. Sales were a bit MORE than last year, surprising due to the supposed bad economy and smaller crowd. GAMA team did a superb job. Trey actually asked me for any gripes since she knew I'd be the first person to speak up if there were, but there were none, at least, none about GAMA. (The idiots who run the convention center were trying to force us to pay $100 to park our van in the loading dock, but went away when we refused to be bullied. I don't know who owns the big carts, but they -- again -- would not allow exhibitors to use them, doubling the time needed to load and unload.) The convention food was much better. Grilled chicken sandwiches were healthier than most offerings and they got rid of those horrid "home-made potato chips" in favor of French fries. I got to go to North Market for the first time ever (and that will be the last time I ever go there as it is mostly trendy ethnic food that I'm allergic to or just won't eat. I refer to that stuff one staffer brings back from there as "dog vomit" and that's when I am being polite.) The GPA booth was well organized and very professional due to the delightful fashion model (Marcy) they hired to run it. The best part of the experience, as usual, was seeing so many old friends. We learned some lessons and made some notes to change things in the future. We will no longer bring 50 or 60 backlist SFB modules just in case someone buys one or two of them; we will just bring stuff printed in the last two years. (We may use the space to bring a better cart since the decorator won't let us use the big ones any more.) We will stop bringing so many of the miniatures and will just bring a representative sample of the ones more than a year old. We will have better signs to tell people that we have products in boxes we don't have room to display. (If GAMA offers the "second booth for half price" next year, I may take them up on it and bring all of my magazine racks, since I have two complete sets due to forgetting to take them one year and having to buy a second set at Office Depot.) Ken Burnside and I need to have each other's phone numbers in our cell phones instead of relying on faulty memory. We will continue to sell Ken's products and the Factory Second starships. I plan to put Jean in "full charge" of the booth so I can spent more time "floating" around the convention. I plan to gather up a team of SFU staffers with military service and demolish the TerrorWerks scenario (again). The tournament guys need to keep better records of who played in events (and who won them; I am tired of trying to figure out on Sunday morning who won which event). We need a sign in the booth telling people that demos are available (free!) if they just ask Jean where to find them. Event attendance was up for F&E and down for SFB and FC. We're not worried since that seems to reflect the economy and the overall attendance. The judges did a great job (so maybe next year Petrick and I can do TerrorWerks more often). Kudos to Chuck Strong, Tony Thomas, Mike Curtis, Lieutenant Grant, Snacko Knipfer, Mike Filsinger, Paul Franz, and Roger Rardain. Paul put the seminars on Talk Shoe. Next year, we plan to do more scenarios (unsure if we need a tournament for SFB or FC as players want scenarios).

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Thanks to the Origins Crew

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

The after Origins cleanup is almost done, although several things remain to be done (much of it paperwork).

Still, it is important that we acknowledge those to whom we cannot give enough thanks to.

Mike Filsinger, Paul Franz, and Roger Rardain kept the tournaments running. Without them it would be impossible to conduct Origins. We are eternally blessed by their commitment and support.

Charles Strong, Mike Curtis, and Tony L. Thomas keep the Federation & Empire event running continuously, and have made it an event to join year after year.

We need to also recognize Daniel Knipfer and Grant Strong who ably support the Federation & Empire events.

We also have to extend our thanks to Colleen Knipfer, Jean Sexton, and Celestia Getgen who assist SVC in running our booth in the dealer area, and who also assist in running messages.

I also want to extend a thanks to Garth Getgen (and Celestia Getgen) who ably assisted in getting our booth set up this year. I am, regretably, not as spry as I was and while I think I might have managed to make all of the trips back and forth to the vehicle to bring in our booth materials, it would have taken far longer without their assitance. Particularly given how far from the exhibit hall we were pretty much forced to park and haul our goods in.

Without the contributions of the above named individuals, Origins would be nearly impossible for us to run by ourselves. They are all eminently deservering of the thanks of the Star Fleet Universe as a whole.