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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Petrick on the Origins Game Fair

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Last week was Origins, and while SVC covered most things, I have a few items to add.

I spend most of Origins upstairs where the events are run (with the exception of those Jeff Johnson was running).

Honestly, Star Fleet Battles turnout was the worst it has ever been. I suspect a great many of you did not turn up because the "Gold Hat" has been moved to the online system and renamed the "Platinum Hat." We had four players for two of the "Classic Scenarios," and garnered favorable comment for the one designed for the convention (Rock the Organians). There was also one full round of Battle Force (four players). Mike Filsinger had 10 players for his Federation Commander tournament.

I was again ably assisted by Mike Filsinger, Paul Franz, and Roger Rardain who, as always, took better care of me than I took of them. I could not do anything at Origins if it were not for them. They are very much the unsung heroes of Origins.

The Federation & Empire guys have very much become the core of the events, running as many as five games simultaneously and all were excited by the appearance of ISC War.

Despite five very full days, there was not one problem that I was aware of (short of figuring out the costs for the Federation & Empire events, and the guys handled that with their customary grace, and have my thanks for that).

Origins is always "go to bed late, get up early" and this one was no exception in the end (except thankfully the last night which made it easier to stay awake on the road).

I am not going to further discuss the drive as SVC has handled it adequately.

I have to say that I am looking forward to next year, but I always am. As SVC has noted, it is a time to renew acquaintances and meet face-to-face with friends you have not seen in a year.

I hope to see you all at Origins next year.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 20-27 June 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week of the Origins Game Fair trip. Because of that trip, this blog covers the eight days of the trip, from mid-afternoon on Monday the 20th to late at night on Monday the 27th inclusive.

The weather this week in Amarillo was very hot, over 100F every day. The weather on the trip was a little milder, with spots of rain during the drive.

The spam storm remained below 100 per day as the filters and firewalls held.

Nothing new was uploaded to e23 this week due to the workload for Origins products. The next upload will be on 5 July.

While others were at Origins, the office team (Leanna Cole, Mike Sparks, and Joel Shutts) kept things happening in Amarillo, getting products packed and orders shipped.

Monday: Steve Cole and Steven Petrick left at 2:15pm, the earliest departure ever. The drive to Tulsa was quiet, but it was strange to arrive there in daylight.

Tuesday: This is the day Steve and Steve rest (as they drive) from the hard work of getting ready to go. The drive was pleasant; there was not much construction and only one spot of rain. The BBQ at Sweetwater was good. They got to the hotel in Columbus about 11pm. Jean called and asked SVC to walk across to D240 bringing some ISC War counters. He chatted with the guys for a while, then Steven Petrick showed up and said everyone needed to get some sleep.

Wednesday: Steve and Steve got up and began executing the on-site plan. SVC walked over to D240 and when Chuck Strong said that the guys were ready to help unload, phoned Steven Petrick and told him to bring the van over. SPP called when he was on the ramp, and everyone walked down. The F&E (Freight and Equipment) guys unloaded the car in one trip, and Jean got to see the booth set up from the bare concrete. Don Reents had his big booth next door and the carpet he brought went all the way into our booth, so we gave him some sodas for the privilege of spending the show in a carpeted booth. We got everything set up, had a nice lunch, chatted with friends, then had supper, then SVC went to the GAMA meeting. Then everyone went to the Singalong which went very nicely. Eventually, we all went and got some sleep.

Thursday: SVC and Jean had to be in the booth at 9am for "retailer hour" despite the fact that only three retailers showed up and only one talked to us (and she was just looking for stuff for her personal collection, not for her store). This was yet another brilliant GAMA idea that deserved to work but did not. Then the floodgates opened at 10am and we were swamped with sales all day.

Friday is quiet day at the booth. The all-week people have already bought their stuff and the one-day people mostly come on Saturday. We sold some stuff (passing our quota for the show), talked to a lot of people, and passed out chocolate for the ladies. Jay Waschak demonstrated his train game and attracted a lot of attention. The miniatures conference went well (with Rob Glass explaining what Mongoose does).

Saturday is Crazy Day because so many one-day people show up. The booth saw good sales, the events all wrapped up, and we talked to a lot of people. Jeff Johnson did a heck of a job with GURPS and Starmada events. The F&E seminar is always a special treat for SVC, made better this year by having Chuck Strong and ISC War there.

Sunday is the last day of the show, and everyone wants to go home. Steve and Steve got up, checked out of the hotel, and had the Star Fleet Universe seminar. Then, down to the dealer hall. When the show closed at 4, we were packed and out of there at 4:30, loaded and out the gate at 4:45, then Steve and Steve promptly got lost trying to take an unfamiliar way out of the convention because construction had blocked the usual ramp. Fifteen minutes later, they found the ramp and got on the road. They made it to Saint Claire, Missouri, just before it rained.

Monday is a day for driving, more Sweetwater BBQ, and a quiet review of how the show went. This all went well (the show was great, but we're all nervous about next year) and we got to the office at 9:15pm. Steve and Steve unloaded the van and went home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

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 and Jean Sexton for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, 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. Bob Pomroy 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, 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 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); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); 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.

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.

Monday, June 27, 2011

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. 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:

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, June 26, 2011

On Friends and Friendship and Partings

Jean Sexton writes:

One of the wonderful things about the Origins Game Fair is that so many diverse yet like-minded people gather together. We play together and develop friendships that transcend distance. We leave and when we see each other the following year, it is as though we parted just yesterday.

I feel so very lucky to have found such friends. The extraordinary acts of friendship included making sure I got to and from my hotel each day, reminding me to eat, providing quick neck rubs as they passed by, watching my "stuff" while I was in the sales booth, and making sure said stuff travelled with me. Two special friends made sure I had a place to sleep on my travels to and from the con. They opened their home to me and welcomed me in. Another special friend did most of the driving on the trip, leaving me only a few hours to drive in each direction. I thank them all for their many kindnesses.

The bittersweet ending of Origins is that we don't know when we will all meet again. The proposed date change adversely affects half of our customers. Most likely, we won't see them next year. We have to do an analysis to see if we can afford to come -- crass as it may sound, we must turn a profit and that will be difficult with the loss of half our sales.

Still, we hope and dream of the next time we shall meet again. Until we do, walk safely and happily in life.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


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 hope to see you there!

Friday, June 24, 2011

101 Ways to Kill the B10, Part 9

81. Play Barry Manilow on the intercom and watch the crew fall asleep.

82. Play hard rock on the intercom and it will shake apart.

83. Win three tournaments with it and let the judges know.

84. Take the "do not touch" sign off of the self-destruct switch.

85. Tell the captain you can disarm the wild SWAC before he pulls it into the bay.

86. Use it as the flagship of the attack on Tholia.

87. Use it as the flagship of the attack on the WYNs.

88. Assign Dr. Kevorkian as the chief medical officer.

89. Park it between two Tholians near a web caster.

90. Convert the security stations into bowling alleys.

c. 1994, Amarillo Design Bureau, from Captain's Log #16

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tuesday night & Wednesday at Origins

Steve Cole reports:

Tuesday night, I went to the GAMA meeting. They said that the official poll said 60% of people opposed moving the date to the week after Memorial Day, but that GAMA was going to stick with the data change. (I think they're crazy. The move will cost GAMA 1000 of those $65 badges and more in event fees --a cool hundred grand.) STILL no valid official reason for a change in dates.

Fun at the Singalong, even if Jean refused to sing. Jean got a toy stuffed alligator (Ally) for her birthday.

The first day in the booth was great. Counting pre-orders, we're at 75% of our goal.

I did the recon run at Terrorwerks and brought a map back to Petrick who has worked up a Battle Plan that will be militarily sound and still plenty of fun. The big mission is 3pm Friday.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

On Singalongs and Wars and Friendships

The Singalong at the Origins Game Fair is the traditional company kickoff for this convention. However, before this evening meeting starts, much has happened.

The Federation & Empire players were busily playing five(!) scenarios in a room full of good-natured ribbing and laughter.

Petrick and his judges are hard at work running the Federation Commander and Star Fleet Battles tournaments.

SVC and I got to build our sales booth and have mini-meetings with the staff.

So come visit us at Origins!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Playing Star Fleet Universe Games Long Distance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 20, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 12-20 June 2011

This was the last week before Origins. Because the Origins trip begins Monday, this "week" covers eight and a half days, starting with the Sunday (12th) that we all worked all day (including Leanna), and ending when we got in the van and headed east on Monday the 20th.

The "biggest news in SFU history" leaked on 13 June. The official announcement came on Wednesday when we unveiled that Secret Contract U was with Mongoose Publishing (of the UK, get it?) to jointly produce an SFU version of their starship game (A Call to Arms), a Prime Directive version of their Traveller game, and the total replacement of the metal Starline 2400 ships (in 1-3788 scale) with new resin Starline 2500 ships (in 1-3125 scale). See the blog posted that day for more.

The weather this week was hot. We were too busy to notice much more than that. The spam storm remained below 100 per day as the filters and firewalls held.

Nothing new was uploaded to e23 this week due to the workload for Origins products. It's 90% certain that the next upload will be at least a week after Origins.

Steve Cole worked on new products, and on preparing everything for the sales booth at Origins. He and Steven Petrick spent Sunday doing Origins prep stuff while the staff proofread the new products. Monday, he got the alert sent out, the Transports Attack cards and cover sent to the printers, and the ISC War cover sent to the printers. On Tuesday, he formatted the ISC War scenario and Order of Battle and sent it to the staff, checked proofs for the Transports Attacked ship cards, finished Distant Armada, and got Jean's last reports on Transports Attacked. Wednesday saw a moment of panic when the die cutter said that the ISC War counters would be late (but he promised to send one box by a faster method). On Thursday, he finished the Transports Attacked rulebook and sent it to press, did all of the reports to date on ISC War, processed more of Jean's phone reports on ISC War, and finished setting up the Origins display. Friday was a birthday party for both Steves. Steve Cole got DVDs of his favorite 1960 TV show, while Steven Petrick received a three-foot bronze sword from the Battle of Thermopylae. After finished his cake, SVC got back to work on ISC War. UPS (after some drama) delivered the ISC War counters and Zip Print, the two covers. SVC and SPP finished the Origins prep work. Saturday was a difficult day, as the F&E staff dumped five hours of work on ISC War onto SVC's desk (he was expecting less than an hour doing final tweeks), but ISC War did finally start printing at 5pm. Steve Cole also did the Captain's Log #43 and ISC War large print editions. Sunday was, to a large part, a day of rest, although Steve Cole had to come into the office to get the Marines playtesting ready for Origins.

Steven Petrick worked getting ready for the Origins trip and getting his secret SFB module printed.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date and got things ready for the trip. (She does not go on the trip, but still refers to it as "my vacation" for some reason.)

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, got stuff ready for Origins, and managed customer service. He also released a new video of our products for May. Mike also determined that the uber-PC we use for web management had well and truly died and sent it in for rebuilding.

Joel did website updates, sent out Communique #66 and Hailing Frequencies for June 2011, and helped Mike get stuff ready for Origins.

Jean managed our page on Facebook, dodged a real world tornado, and proofread the new products.

As this blog is posted Monday morning, we're getting ready to load the van and leave for Origins. The two Steves traditionally leave at 5pm, but left earlier last year and this year plan to leave as early as possible to avoid arriving at their first night's rest at the traditional midnight.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Steve Cole muses, just thinking to himself about Life After Origins.

1. On the trip home every year, there is a moment of trepidation as I think of everybody I told "talk to me after Origins." I know they all think that that means a complete and full answer to their request five minutes after I get home. That won't happen. Some of them will wait a month. I have two guys with excel software play aids who want contracts for distribution, for example.

2. I have promised Leanna I will not work any Sundays during July. (We have three Stars Wars movies, two of which we have never seen, on Tivo. We also have two entire years of Chuck.) I have also promised her that I will not go into work until 1pm on Wednesdays and that I will take one afternoon a week off to spend with her.

3. I am really, really, really looking forward to working on Star Fleet Marines.

4. I resolve that at least two days a week I will do at least five pages of Fed Admiral and send them to Jay.

5. I fully intend to get some short-run mail order only expansion card decks done for SFBF. I have found a place that can do them.

6. I need to push Jean to get PD20M Romulans done for Prime Directive and I need to push Mike West to do Mongoose Traveller.

7. I have got to find a fiction story for Captain's Log #44 so I don't have another frakking fiction crisis.

8. Even if it's a month or two after my birthday, I am going to have a birthday party this year, if I have to promise my relatives bribes to get them to show up.

9. I really do want to get the Romulan paperback anthology done and get all of those books into the market.

10. I am going to lose 50 pounds by Christmas, and more next year. Leanna is going to help me by taking away my car and my money and taking total control over my access to food. I was ok with dying sometime in the next few years, but then my doctor pointed out that I really was not depressed at all, just overworked, and so I'm resolved to live the 19 years my father lasted beyond this point. To do that is going to require losing a hundred pounds over a year or two. If all else fails, I have a friend who is a deputy sheriff who agreed to fake the paperwork and lock me in a cell for six months.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

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 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-in's 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 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 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 use the Discussions tab and find topics for the various games. 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 on-line with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $5 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.

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

Friday, June 17, 2011

101 Ways to Kill the B10, Part 8

71. Tell the Organians it is designed to attack someone. It doesn't really matter who you tell them is the target

72. Put it in the defense budget and let Congress vote on it.

73. [Skipped as it was tres pplitical.]

74. Tell Congress it is an "assault weapon."

75. Tell the Klingons it is scheduled to be converted into a Galactic Peace Monument and they'll kill it themselves.

76. Add a high-resolution camera and send it to Mars.

77. Go mano-a-mano with a Juggernaut.

78. Put it in orbit around Jupiter with an obelisk.

79. Upgrade the computer to Windows 3.1; it will crash.

80. Name Roseanne Karr as morale officer.

c. 1994, Amarillo Design Bureau, from Captain's Log #16

Thursday, June 16, 2011

ADB, Inc. and Mongoose Publishing, Ltd. Announce Joint Venture

ADB, Inc., has signed a new joint-venture deal with Mongoose Publishing, Ltd., which is one of the largest companies in the Adventure Game industry. They're famous for numerous product lines, including miniatures and roleplaying games. This long-term relationship includes three immediate elements, but the future is as open as space and as exciting as a supernova.

Let's briefly mention the first three projects.


This is Mongoose's well-known space combat game, designed for massive battles with dozens of miniature starships. The new joint-venture deal provides for the production of a series of beautiful hardback rulebooks that will bring together the ships of the Star Fleet Universe and the game system of A Call to Arms. This worked very well for the Starmada product line, and should work even better for the much more widely sold A Call to Arms series.

There is an even chance that the first book will appear before the end of 2011.


One of the most popular RPG game engines in the industry is the Traveller series (which has produced in various incarnations by several companies). The current "Mongoose Traveller" incarnation is one of the best of those. Our Prime Directive team is hard at work converting our books Prime Directive, Federation, Klingons, and Romulans to use the Mongoose Traveller engine. Our theory is, and has been, to license the best existing RPG engines and install them into our existing RPG books, and this project will follow that pattern.

The first book will appear near the end of 2011 or early in 2012.


Every existing Starline 2400 ship will be replaced with a new computer-generated design. (We call this Starline 2500, but they plan to market it under another brand yet to be selected.) The first ships will appear in late 2011, and ships will then follow every month or two. This will include some entirely new ships as we move forward. Ships will have a lot more detail and many known problems with existing designs will be solved by Mongoose's expert model designers.

These new production ships will be fancier and a little bigger (in 1:3125 scale) and made from resin by Mongoose's first-rate team. Everyone who has an extensive collection of Starline 2400s can keep it, or perhaps slowly replace it with new designs. (The existing 2400 line could be used for Early Years if you want, or the new 2500 designs could be used for X-ships. The 2400 line will convert to "mail order only" and be kept available as long as market demand exists.) Mongoose will convert all of the Federation Commander Squadron Boxes and Border Boxes to the new Starline 2500 range of ships, and will launch new $99.99 Fleet Boxes. (The first boxes to appear will be Squadron Box #1 Federation, Squadron Box #2 Klingons, and Squadron Box #9 Romulans. You read that right, number NINE.) The new A Call to Arms: Star Fleet books will be keyed to use the same Squadron Boxes that Federation Commander and Star Fleet Starmada already use. This will be good for retailers, who can stock one line of miniatures for three different game systems.


These products are joint ventures, and both companies will use the same stock numbers. Any of these products can be ordered from either company but because of the contract we have with Paramount, the invoice will come from ADB, Inc. All packaging for joint venture products will include the Star Fleet Universe logo and both company logos.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


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 e23, 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 FC players, including new ships, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

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

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 wallpaper for your computer 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.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 5-11 June 2011

Steve Cole reports:

The week before the week before Origins is traditionally the worst week of the year. Hard work, long days, and high stress are the norm for this week, and this will be one of the longest blogs of the year. Because color printing takes a week to get back and because any new rulebook has to be checked and proofread, most of the hard work to finish Origins products is done during this "week-before-week" each year. If everything isn't in the hands of the proofreaders or printers by seven days before the show, it's not going to make it to the show. This year will see six new products at Origins, a record for printed products, and more than most other companies (if not any other company). [Captain's Log #43, Starmada Distant Armada, Starship Aldo, Federation Commander Transports Attacked, Federation & Empire ISC War, and the Secret Product (an SFB E-module you never heard us talk about).

The biggest news of the week was that Secret Contract U was signed on Saturday. Expect a press release on Wednesday the 15th telling you all about this joint venture deal to create three major new product lines in cooperation with a game company that is as big today as SFU was in 1983 (and will be in 2012).

The weather this week was hot (90s or 100s every afternoon). The spam storm remained below 100 as the filters and firewalls held.

Nothing new was uploaded to e23 this week due to the workload for Origins. It's 90% certain that the next upload will be at least a week after Origins. Jean reports that we have 835 friends on our page on Facebook.

Steven Petrick had finished Captain's Log #43 (he does most of the hard work on that product) so he was mostly working on Origins Trip Prep, going through the pre-flight checklist. We put on a good show at Origins and that takes planning and preparation. We don't get there with everything we need because a magic wand created it on the spot; we get there with everything we need because Steven Petrick put it in the box.

Steve Cole worked on the new product releases. Of course, Captain's Log #43 and Starship Aldo are already finished, and Steven Petrick had done the "secret sixth product" before, leaving Steve Cole with only three major projects.

Starmada Distant Armada was mostly done the week before this. (SVC just had to lay out the 24 rules pages and write some ship descriptions.) Jean phoned in her final proofreading report Monday, and Daniel Kast kept pulling unneeded rules off of pages 7 and 8 and adding fun new optional rules. The Starmada ship card list was finalized Monday, the cards created by Daniel Kast, and two experts (Terry O'Carroll and Ken Rodeghero) checked them.

FC Transports Attacked was once thought to be the "product that isn't going to make it" but at this point we think it will. SVC processed the staff reports on the cards Monday and got Jean's final report later in the week. The rulebook was finished by mid-week and the ten scenarios on Saturday. The cards and cover go to press Monday and the rulebook will be printed on the 16th.

ISC War moved forward with the rulebook layout 50% finished (lacking only the "big scenario" which the staff is doing final editing on) and the SIT finished. (The staff has checked the rules and SIT.) All we lack is the "mechanical" task of formatting the 32 pages of ISC peacekeeping scenario, which will take a day. Most of the work remaining is for poor Jean, who will have to pull all-nighters to proofread the jargon and secret codes that the F&E staff use.

Besides the three new products, Steve Cole finalized negotiations on the U contract, updated three FC rulebooks to Revision 6 (Distant Kingdoms, Battleships Attack, Tholian Attack), checked proofs on the Captain's Log #43 and Starmada Distant Armada covers, did his part of the back covers for FC Transports Attacked and F&E ISC War, got press quotes for covers, talked with the die cutter, called wholesalers, and tried to find more caffeine and chocolate.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date, helped us get ready for Origins (she has to get the credit card machine working, the trophy ordered, and 30 other things), and got the Platinum Hat sign-up and Origins products on the cart.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, got stuff ready for Origins, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, did the cover layouts, and helped Mike get inventory ready for the booth.

Jean managed our page on Facebook, helped get ready for Origins, and proofread the new products.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Michael Sparks writes:

Looking to express your appreciation of the Star Fleet Universe? Need somewhere to send a gift-giver where you know you'll like what you get? Have to replace your mouse pad? Look no further! We have a storefront that sells all sorts of Star Fleet Universe designs on a variety of items. From buttons to mouse pads to t-shirts to hoodies, we've got them all! Klingons, Federation, Romulans, and the bad-boy Orion Pirates, each one has designs.

See www.CafePress.com/starfleetuniv for these items. And take a look at our newest designs featuring art from Xander, one of our hot artists.

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: Support@starfleetgames.com

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about the origins of unusual words.

1. Anecdote: This word (a story about someone and some event intended to illustrate a point) comes from the Greek anecdota, which means "unpublished secret." Seems some witty guy collected a bunch of funny, true, and embarrassing stories about lives in the court of Roman emperor Justinian and called them by that title, but the manuscript leaked and was published, changing the meaning of the word.

2. Anthem: A solemn song of patriotic or religious significance, this comes from the Greek antiphon, meaning a response. The priest would give his sermon, and at key points the choir would respond, perhaps agreeing with his wisdom, asking a question, or accepting his guidance.

3. Antic: A ludicrous act or gesture, from the same Latin route as antique. When excavating Roman baths, people in the 1500s came across some rather fanciful paintings of mythical creatures cavorting among vines and flowers, and called them "antic" (antique) but people who saw the paintings took to using the word in the new sense.

4. Apron: Worn by cooks to keep food stains from their clothes, came from the French napron (napkin), but slurred English speech turned "a napron" into "an apron" soon enough.

5. Arena: A venue for a sporting event, it is the Latin word for "sand" which was spread on the ground to soak up the blood of the "contestants" who performed there.

6. Arrive: To reach one's destination, this word meant sea travel until 400 years ago, as it is from the Latin ad rippa, which means "to reach land."

7. Assassin: Someone who kills a politician, comes from a Muslim cult in Persia, which sent young men (the Devoted Ones) to kill the enemies of their leader (the Old Man of the Mountain. The men were given hashish to calm their nerves and improve their courage, for such missions were usually suicidal whether they succeeded or not. This cult flourished for about two hundred years during the eleventh to thirteenth centuries.

8. Asset: The valuable property of an individual, this comes from the Norman French "assez" which means "sufficient" as in whether a recently deceased individual has "sufficient means" to pay off his debts.

9. Atlas: The leader of the Titans, overthrown by the Greek gods, was forced to carry the weight of the heavens in his shoulders. Artists took to showing this as a globe, not a dome. When Mercator published a book of maps in the 1500s, he put a picture of Atlas holding a globe on the first page. Everyone thought that this was a wonderful idea, and others who published books of maps copied the idea. In a very short time, every book of maps had Atlas on the first page and became known as "an atlas" in common speech.

10. August: When Octavian captured Egypt, the Roman senate named him "Augustus" (sort of a really cool honor). They had previously renamed the month Quintillus after his uncle Julius, and named the next month (Sextius) August after their popular new leader. Two thousand years later, we still have those names in everyday use.

Friday, June 10, 2011

101 Ways to Kill the B10, Part 7

61. Assign Ross Perot as navigator since he doesn't know where he's going.

62. Tell the captain that the B10 CAN land on planets. Even on gas giants.

63. Challenge the captain to a game of "chicken" without mentioning that you are on a planet.

64. Part it in New Your City without "the Klub", and it should be up on blocks with the engines missing in 24 hours.

65. Forget to allocate energy for life support.

66. Open the spacecocks and let the vacuum in.

67. Tell the Romulans and Orions it can see cloaked ships.

68. Get it wet. The rivets put in by penal workers will rust.

69. Fit it with eight R-torps; the shock will take care of things.

70. Tell the captain to run it through a supernova to clean the space barnacles off the hull.

c. 1994, Amarillo Design Bureau, from Captain's Log #16

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Star Fleet Universe Wallpapers

Joel Shutts writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download wallpaper with Star Fleet Universe art.

Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.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 wallpaper, please feel free to contact us at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Platinum Hat

This is Steven Petrick posting:

We are moving the competition for the best Star Fleet Battles Player of the Year to the Internet with the Platinum Hat tournament.

The big advantage here is that now anyone, anywhere, has the chance to earn the bragging rights as the best player for the year from the comfort of his or her own home -- whether that home is in Columbus, Ohio, or Osaka, Japan.

This will open things up so that any one who believes they have the skill set to reach the pinnacle of victory can participate.

The thing of greatest concern will be that everyone who agrees to play does so, and I have been tasked to watch the progress of the Platinum Hat tournament closely, with the able support of Gregg Dieckhaus (last year's Gold Hat winner, no less) and Peter Bakija, noted Kzinti about town.

If you have not seen it, here is a copy of the announcement, and beyond that, I hope to see you all Online, and may victory go to the best captain!


Our new Internet SFB International Championship Tournament is open for registration. Registration will close July 5th and play will begin July 15th. This is a single-elimination tournament using the format we test drove with Fight For A Cure. This will be conducted through SFBOL.

We will have 64 seats (more if there is demand) and anyone eliminated can re-enter for no cost in one of the unsold seats. Once we know how many people entered, some uber-players (e.g., former national champions) may get first-round byes.

Having learned some lessons from FFAC, Tournament Marshal Steven P. Petrick will "ride herd" on the tournament to ensure that games are played on schedule and the event does not drag. There will, inevitably, be some delays near the end when re-entries have to "catch up" to the initial entries. A firm hand on the helm will ensure that these are as minor as possible. Two senior players (Gregg Dieckhaus and Peter Bakija) have been appointed as "honorary sheepdogs" and empowered to encourage people to get their games done.

The entry fee ($10 per person) will be added to the prize fund which ADB, Inc., has always provided, making this the richest SFB tournament ever held!

To register (pay), use this link: http://store.starfleetstore.com/merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=S&Product_Code=9650&Category_Code=NP

When the link to register (select your ship) goes up on SFBOL, we'll be sure to let you know.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Steve Cole gives us a rare glimpse inside his work.

The whole concept of a "things to do list" becomes murky when you are head of a small company and have five or six different jobs, each with its own list. I have "things to do" lists for designing new products, print buying, marketing, contracts, graphics, supervising (and providing input for) everyone who works for ADB, Inc., and of course, that personal "things to do" list Leanna gave me.

In early June 2011, I finished Captain's Log #43 and had a week before I could begin the final book-layout work on ISC War, and during this time, my "things to do" list contained no end of miscellaneous tasks that did not fit neatly into any category, and this included only things that could not wait until I got home from Origins. I called it "trash week" not because the things were "trash" but because I had to "take out the trash" meaning "do the routine stuff that keeps this place running."

1. Do a Star Fleet Alert announcing the release of CL#43 and the release of the four Origins products.

2. I had to actually calculate the price of ISC War for the press release. This meant getting the staff that was working up the final documents to give me a page count, and then giving Leanna a list of components. She came back with two options (one with five countersheets, one with six) and I asked the staff to pick (they went for six). But part of that was an idea from one staffer to include a certain new kind of play aid, and I had to get a quote from a printer for that before I could decide not to include it (it would increase the price by $3 for one piece of paper).

3. I had to get press quotes for the covers of the products.

4. I had to hunt down the artist doing the cover art and ask him nicely to send in the final copies.

5. Leanna and Jean wanted to get one more old Captain's Log on e23, so I had to write a description for CL#10.

6. Jean wanted to get one more Ship Card Pack onto e23, so I had to create six LDR ships. (Five were easy, just variants of Lyrans, but one had to be done from scratch.) Then I had to do the counters and the scenario.

7. I had to finally complete work on the secret contract designated "U" which meant talking to lawyers and hunting down over 30 emails where we had agreed to this or that term, get those terms into the contract, and get the lawyer to change them from English into Lawyer.

8. I had promised to do counters for Module C3A and, well, they're on the list to get done but I don't know that they won't have to wait for after Origins.

9. We had to nail down the final things about the Platinum Hat, get Leanna to put it on the cart (the latest host site software upgrade means I can no longer do anything on the shopping cart myself), and help the SFBOL guys get the press release ready.

10. I had to do Communique #66 and Hailing Frequencies June 2011.

11. I had to actually finish CL#43, which meant doing the scenario graphics, getting Jean's reports, and doing a few last-minute updates and edits.

12. I had to work with Joel to create the actual covers for Distant Armada, ISC War, and Transports Attacked. Of course, that also means sending Jean copies of the covers for promotional and marketing use.

13. It is on my list of things to do to get Star Fleet Marines ready for a playtest-demo at Origins, but that is kind of on the "nice to do, but might not happen" list.

14. I promised the guy at Battlegrounds Games that I would do the written paperwork to extend his contract, which is currently expired (although he has an email promise from me to retroactively reinstate it, and instructions from me to keep selling stuff).

15. Mike Sparks wants to do the video for Andro Threat File and for GURPS Federation.

16. While Daniel Kast did 90% of the work on Distant Armada, I still was the one who had to lay out the rulebook, and I had to spend a few hours with him working out the ship list. Jean wants the rulebook send to her for proofreading.

17. I actually took a whole morning off to sleep in and rest. At my age, I just cannot do a four-week marathon of pre-Origins stuff like I could 10 years ago.

18. I had to write a couple of blog posts for Jean, as the blog must have a new post every day or internet people will think I died and the company closed.

19. Lots of "customer interactions" are part of my job. Despite pushing as many of those off to "after Origins" as I could, some would not wait (and some were so easy to do that it just made sense to do them). One internet discount store that phoned in wanted to use our pictures and buy direct from us, and normally I would spent a half hour with such people explaining to them why they are pond scum who are running the industry, but I just told Leanna "I don't want to talk to him. Tell him he cannot use our pictures and we won't sell to him." It felt good to do that, and I don't plan to waste any more half-hours explaining the immediate female parentage of these blood-sucking leeches to them any more.

20. I had to herd cats (the staff) to make sure that the parts of the three final products (ship list for Distant Armada, reports for Transports Attacked Ship Cards, and actual rules text documents for F&E ISC War) would be delivered to me when and as needed.

Monday, June 06, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 29 May - 4 June 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week we finished Captain's Log #43 and did no end of small tasks to clear the path for the final two-week push to Origins (which began on 6 June, D-Day, appropriately).

The weather this week was increasingly hot (over 100F a few times), and teasing reports that it was about to rain never bore fruit.

The spam storm remained calm, below 100 per day.

New uploads to e23 included SFB Module C3A and SFB Module P6. Sales for May set a new all-time record for a single month on e23.

Steve Cole finished "primary work" on Captain's Log #43 on Monday night, as all 120 pages had gone to Jean. He then began "small jobs week" which included: Star Fleet Alert, his part of the Captain's Log #43 and Starmada Distant Armada covers done, the GURPS Federation ad for GGIC, got press quotes for color printing, worked up the final components list for ISC War so the price could be set ($47.95 including six countersheets), resolved the crisis on FC rule 1E4, got Jean's phone reports on CL#43, fixed the final staff reports on CL#43, laid out the pages for Distant Armada, finished the next-to-last draft of the mysterious U contract, and wrote some blogs.

Steven Petrick proofread all of CL#43, then spent the week clearing his backlog of things not done while working on it and getting as much done as possible for Origins. This included helping Leanna get Captain's Log #17 back in print on the shopping cart.

Origins preparations began. GAMA confirmed all ten of our GM badges, but then we had to replace the suddenly ill Gary Plana at the Prime Directive table with Jeff Johnson.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, and managed customer service.

Joel did website updates, smote pirates, and did the covers for CL#43 and Distant Armada.

Jean spent most of the week on final proofreading of CL#43, but she also worked on the GGIC ad and the Star Fleet Alert as well as managed our page on Facebook.

Sunday, June 05, 2011


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 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.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Planning for Origins 2011

This is Steven Petrick posting.

We leave for Origins in a little more than two weeks. Even though we have two weeks, we are actually already in the intense preparation for the event. Our organization practices preserving institutional knowledge, so we have a compiled checklist of all the things we need to accomplish in order to make our departure schedule. Those things internal to the company we will accomplish in good time; our problems will generally be with things outside the company.

We cannot control whether or not the vehicle rental organization adheres to its promise to provide us with the vehicle requested. Last year they pulled a bait and switch, promised us the van we needed, and tried to palm off a kind of station wagon that was totally incapable of performing the mission (due to inadequate cargo space). We had a fallback for that one and used the old van (with trepidation as we were not sure it had another Origins trip in it despite having had a few years to rest since its last expedition).

Getting components we need to pack products to sell (the new products) at Origins has
caused heartache and delay most years. We hope that will not happen this time, but it seems no matter what the time budgeted, something always goes wrong at the last minute. We have already this year had to overcome several problems created by outside vendors.

However, things on the schedule include the haircuts we will each get prior to departure, laundry being done, shaving kits secured and packed, and numerous other details that must be attended to so that we can concentrate the trip itself.

The list is exhaustive, and it is backed up by the trip checklist. We know where every bathroom is between here and Columbus, Ohio. Okay, not every one, but we do know where all the state-provided ones are. We also know even now precisely where we will stop to eat, and precisely where we will stop for fuel.

We have done this many times, and by the end of the coming week we expect to have 80% of the departure check list completed.

And the checklist includes making sure we get a good night's sleep before we start the drive and this year we are going to try to depart earlier in the day to allow for a better overnight in Tulsa.

We expect to make it to Columbus, Ohio by Tuesday night, but if old age slows us enough, we will stop short rather than risk disaster (driving tired in the Columbus, Ohio heavy traffic zone is a non-starter).

So we hope to see you all there.

Friday, June 03, 2011

101 Ways to Kill the B10, Part 6

51. Send the Kzinti version of a swarm at it.

52. Tell the Gorns that you can't build a B10 without breaking eggs. Lots of eggs.

53. Displace it into a planet.

54. Three squadrons of Stinger-2s should do it.

55. Fifteen Hydran Cuirassiers did it just fine.

56. Impound it for exceeding the warp speed limits.

57. Tell the Seltorian Hive Ship that it's a Tholian colony.

58. Paint it red and assign it as security for the Enterprise.

59. Make it the site for the next Tailhook Party.

60. Tell the Orions if they can steal it, they can keep it.

c. 1994, Amarillo Design Bureau, from Captain's Log #16

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Many people do not know that you can play either STAR FLEET BATTLES or 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. 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 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.

We continue to develop FEDERATION & EMPIRE for an on-line environment and have playtesters working out the kinks. We'll let you know as soon as it is ready to release.

So come to www.SFBonline.com right away. Players can even fly the FC Federation CA, FC Klingon D7, and the SFB Federation and Klingon tournament cruisers 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.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011



In three weeks, Steven Petrick and I be setting up the booth at Origins after having lunch with Jean. The months before Origins are always busy, and every week is twice as busy as the last one. This year, we had a very aggressive schedule, some of which didn't happen (and most of that was our fault). Despite the delay of four products (February's C3A came out in May, March's Federation Admiral is now scheduled for September, April's Star Fleet Marines is now set for August, June's Borak will be done when the designer isn't busy driving a destroyer around the ocean), we were determined to keep the other products on schedule.
Five weeks to Origins, C3A and GURPS Federation had both been shipped out, and I looked at the situation with the staff and came up with a plan. Exactly halfway through that plan, it looks like it's going to work.
First, we planned to finish Captain's Log #43. That is the traditional two-week "goal line charge" which we knew would be disrupted by the other products and other situations. This dragged a few days beyond the point we aimed for, but it's done except for the final proofreading reports and will ship to wholesalers on 13 June and to mail orders on 22 June.
Starmada: Distant Armada is under control. Daniel Kast (known around here as the "only reliable game designer we know" and that encompasses both Steves) sent in the rules a few minutes ago, and it will take a day or so for the layout (depending on how many interruptions I have). At that point, we'll know how many pages are empty and send him a list of additional ships to pick from (probably LDR versions of Lyran ships). Doing them will take him two or three days. I think this whole project will be done within a week and allow the production people to print up a few books for Origins. (While we are gone, Leanna and Mike will print up the main print run for release after we get back.)
F&E ISC War: This should not be a major issue. The counters and SIT are done, and all I have to do is take the files the staff has done, format them, read them over (not that I haven't read them several times over the last five years) and send them to Jean (who is threatening to resign rather than read documents written by the F&E staff). I cannot see any reason why we won't have this for Origins, but then, natural disasters and human accidents have delayed two or three products in the 35 years I have been in this business.
Starship Aldo: This sixteen-page RPG adventure was finished a month ago, but cannot be released until Origins. We will have them on sale there.
CAPTAIN'S LOG #17: Leanna recently recovered the original files for the only issue which is not in print, and said she would have copies for us to sell at Origins. She's now done, after Joel did the last bits of art.
Federation Commander Transports Attacked: This was considered "the one that might get away" and now (with other things looking under control) it is being talked about as "the one with a 50% chance of making it to Origins." All we lack is the staff review of the Ship Cards (which they can easily do as they are no longer busy with Captain's Log #43), the Jean review (just not sure if she can manage that given the need for her to review ISC War), and the scenarios (which I moan about a lot, but which will take one whole day for me to do).
So, to review, the "mighty ten" products for the first six months of this year include three that are done (C3A, GURPS FEDS, Starship Aldo), two that are as good as done (Captain's Log #43, Starmada Distant Armada), three that were delayed (Federation Admiral, Star Fleet Marines, Borak), one that lacks work but will be done by sheer force of will (ISC War), and one (Transports Attacked) that will get done (just maybe not for Origins). That, in addition to six copies of Communique and Hailing Frequencies, the first iPhone application, and updating most of Federation Commander to Revision Six.