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Sunday, July 31, 2011


This is Steven Petrick posting.

For some time now we have done a "battle group" article in each issue of Captain's Log. In the last few issues we have switched to a greater emphasis on tactics as opposed to simple force selection. Moreso, we have kept the submitters in the dark as to the mission they would be sent on so that they are forced to adapt, adjust, and overcome when they find that the mission is not really suitable to their force pool.

This is reality. No matter how carefully an operation has been planned, sometimes the unexpected happens, and you have to work with the tools to hand.

An example from World War II was the dispatch of the 101st Airborne division to Bastogne (and the 82nd Airborne was sent to the St. Vith salient at the same time). These were both very light divisions (airborne) and neither was fully recovered and re-equipped after their participation in Operation Market Garden. They were, however, ordered to stand at those two vital cross roads blocking the German armored formations because the Allies had no other strategic reserve.

So for each battle group, while most players will have the scenario and will sit down and determine exactly what they will need to accomplish the task, the submitters must review their forces and determine how to accomplish a mission for which theirs may be an inappropriate force. This is where a player has a chance to show that he can think and understands the systems that he, and his opponent (most often a notional one, i.e., there is no player on the other side writing counter tactics, although we have done that too with some battle groups) have to deal with.

Saturday, July 30, 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.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Klingons: 101 Ways to Just Say "No!" to Attacking the Alliance, Part 4

31. My plot to take over the galaxy is thickening.

32. My phaser capacitors need charging.

33. I left my crew in the other ship.

34. I have to give nuisance lessons to the Orions.

35. I'm learning to speak Andromedan.

36. The last time I said "yes," I never came back.

37. I have to answer all my "Occupant" letters.

38. The covers on my torpedoes don't match.

39. I dropped a penny in a black hole and I'm waiting to see how long it is before it hits bottom.

40. I'm having my crew neutered.

(to be continued)

c. 1992, Captain's Log #10, Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about the television series Falling Skies.

1. I think the aliens will have a tougher time in Texas, because a much higher percentage of our houses have guns, multiple guns.

2. The whole "fighters vs. civilians" thing is nonsense. First off, soldiers are taught to protect civilians, not treat them as unwanted baggage. Secondly, unless you're proven to be incompetent in combat or have some key skill (like being a doctor or someone able to build a radio), every able-bodied adult needs to be carrying a gun as "fighter." (Those unable to fight can keep the kids under control.)

3. Some yahoo shows up and says "the big boss wants you to send all of your kids with me." Was I the only one who said "this smells like a guy who is working for the skitters?" The simple solution here is to tell him that their parents are going with them. He won't like that.

4. We had a kid who was telepathically linked to an alien and did not even try to carry on any kind of dialogue?

5. We rescued five more kids and nobody tried to debrief them about what they saw? One lazy kid can now do 102 push-ups. One kid with some disease is now cured. Did anyone else undergo some kind of miraculous cure? Did any of them see anything we might want to know?

6. Why have we seen no alien vehicles? (Steven Petrick noted that the aliens move their slaves around on foot, which makes little sense. Why waste the time? Put them into a truck!)

7. The key to the current tactical situation is to find a reliable way to kill a mech. Killing a skitter isn't that hard (just keep shooting it) but those mechs are armored, heavily armed, and just plain dangerous. The only reliable mech-killer we seem to have is dynamite (which requires the mech to wander on top of a buried bundle wired to a detonator). Of all the weapons we have found, have we never found something heavier? Maybe a big-game rifle? A Barrett-50? Heck, I have some Israeli-made .556 ammo that I bought back when I was in the State Guard and thought that (guarding the gate of an oil refinery) I might have to stop a speeding truck by shooting into the engine block. I'm gonna bet that stuff will take out a mech, and I'm going to bet that there is more such ammo available. (A quick check found several types of armor-piecing rifle ammo on sale at a local gun store.) How about a shotgun with a sabot-slug? AT4 rocket launchers? (The Army had a LOT of those things and there has to be a lot of Army stuff left laying round.)

8. Ok, so the clever aliens began the war by attacking the military and wiping it out. Well, wiping out a 15,000-man division is not that easy. You can kill most of them and scatter the rest, but I've got to believe that there are a LOT of small groups of armed soldiers still keeping out of the way of any skitter detachment that is too big to fight.

9. It seems that the Hollywood writers have so much contempt for the military that they never even asked a real soldier any questions. They also never think anything all the way through, and just miss a whole lot of stuff. (Do the mechs not have night vision and precision targeting?)

10. Alas, network science fiction is rarely well written and is always badly treated by executives who are out of touch with what the viewers want.

Wednesday, July 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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Steve Cole muses to himself on a lazy afternoon.

When I win the $250 million lottery, one of my projects will be to buy and outfit a ship and go see the whales (and the Japanese whaling fleet) in the Antarctic Ocean. I will cooperate with the Sea Shepherd battle group (ships named Steve Irwin, Bob Barker, Gojira), but I want a crew of ex-navy people, not tree-hugging vegetarians. I plan to go in harm's way and to shut down the Japanese whaling fleet as the Sea Shepherds have tried to do. I do not plan to fail.

I want to carefully pick the ship I buy (not least because when I get bored I'll probably just give it to Sea Shepherds anyway). I want two engines (so I am not adrift if one breaks down), good speed (better than what the Japanese ships can do), and plenty of fuel. (I may rent a really cheap ship to tag along during the first two weeks and refuel my ship on the way to the battle zone.)

I plan to name my ship Bucephalus, after the warhorse that carried Alexander the Great in battle. I'll tell Paul Watson (the head of Sea Shepherds) that my name is Alexander, and I'll assign myself the naval rank of Commander (which leads to the almost musical Commander Alexander). Being a commander will make Paul Watson think that I am placing myself under his command. (He calls himself Captain, which is one rank higher than commander.) I'll take his orders as long as they suit me. I will have to make sure we (and the Sea Shepherds) have encrypted radios or maybe some secret codes in a copy of Darwin's Origin of Species.

My ship will be outfitted differently than his. For one thing, I want a stern ramp so I can launch and recover small boats easier than the Sea Shepherds can. For another, I won't have a helicopter, but half a dozen UAVs which are easier to launch and recover. I want two of those big fire-hose cannons so I can return the Japanese squirt guns equally (or better). I definitely want a real radar detector, not something that the second mate bashed together with a Fuzzbuster and a satellite television dish. (Ships in the Antarctic Ocean need radar to stay out of the way of ice, and we can detect their radar twice as far away as our radar can detect them. I suspect that the Japanese ships already have military-grade radar detectors.)

But I plan to take the battle to them. Not with guns, but with non-lethal weapons. Start with powerful lights, like a couple of those 60-bazillion candle power light beams that can blind pilots and cause aircraft to crash. If the Japanese get on my case, I'm going to teach them what it's like to stare into the sun. I won't make them crash their ships (I'm not going to blind any guy who is driving a ship within collision distance of my ship) but if they try to crowd in on me I will make it sting. I'm going to have some really big potato guns (hooked to a really big air compressor) so I can lob stink bombs onto their decks (and red paint onto their sides). I want to have my own LRAD (long-range sound gun) and I'll be using the music that Petrick programmed for the agonizer booth. (If the Japanese want to sound-blast my ship, I'll give right it back to them.) I also want an AESA radar which can be used as a "zap gun" to fry the electronics of any Japanese ship doing something I don't think they need to be doing (for example, harpooning whales).

I am torn on actual guns (which create legal and insurance issues), and any I carry will be kept below decks unless I am force to use them in self-defense. (To simply go down there and sink their ships by gunfire results in me and my crew being declared pirates or worse.) My first choice is to have a 20mm autocannon (which would neatly perforate the hull of any ship that tries to ram me, or that I see ram the Sea Shepherds). If the Japanese want to play hardball, I can fire a warning shot across their bow, and they will realize that I have the capability to actually sink their ships and go away. (No more of this nonsense where Japanese ships circle the Sea Shepherds while the factory ship steams over the horizon.) I may also want to have some 7.62mm or maybe 12.7mm machineguns, and probably some rifles as well. (An anti-tank rocket would do a dandy job on the bridge of a whaling ship, but let's not get carried away.) I might even bring a Barrett 50 sniper rifle and poke some holes in their harpoon guns. (That would be a swell and non-lethal way to put a stop to their slaughter of whales. I am betting that they don't carry spare harpoon guns, and that a harpoon gun with a hole through it sideways isn't going to work very well.)

I'm not just saving the whales; I'm saving the entire planet. When those aliens show up to check on the whales, I want to make sure that there are whales left to answer the phone.

Monday, July 25, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 17 - 23 July 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was another normal work week for the design team and another week of heavy work for the production team (dealing with some of the largest orders ever). The weather this week was hot, often (but not always) passing 100F each day. The spam storm began to exceed 100 per day for the first time in months. The annual Origins Victory Dinner was held on Wednesday and Jean was sorely missed.

New on e23 this week were the Distant Armada rules, SFB Module E4, and Distant Armada ships.

Steve Cole (who stayed home Sunday as he had promised Leanna) worked on ACTASF (reading and reporting on the first draft), wrote two reserve blogs for Jean, reviewed the card deck for Jay W's train game, did the revision 6 rulebooks for Klingon Space and Hydran Attack, did a sheet of F&E counters for Captain's Log ships (although what will be done with it is unclear), reviewed and reported on deck plans that the Mongoose artist did, reviewed some proposals, added Captain's Log #43 ships to the F&E MSIT, sent notes to Mongoose about the next five minis, did the RegalHawk for Communique #68, and finished the CL#43 FLAP list.

Steve Cole also finished updating the Wall of Honor, updated the FC MSC, updated the text catalog, added CL#43 entries to the Gazetteer, and updated the FC Scenario database (none of which will get uploaded until Joel's computer is fixed).

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #44 and other projects.

The two Steves playtested Star Fleet Marines several times. It looks now like it will be delayed one or two months, and that E3 Borak will not be delivered to us until next year.

Leanna barely kept up with the huge volume of orders.

Mike and Joel kept orders going out, rebuilt the inventory, put the Origins stuff back in the warehouse, and managed customer service. Joel was unable to do web work because the uber-PC was sick and had to be rebuilt from the empty tower up.

Jean managed our page on Facebook, proofread some things, and did some marketing.

Sunday, July 24, 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!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Steve Cole writes:

You already know of my plans for a new series called Star Trek: Prime Directive, to be followed at three-year intervals by Star Trek: Klingons, and then Star Trek: Evil Empire. Each show will run for six or seven years, so there will always be two on the air, and sometimes three. Here are some further ideas that we've been kicking around.

1. After the second year, we'll replace one character on each series, and then replace another one every year. (This worked for Law & Order, and it keeps the show fresh.)

2. There will be no more holodecks. They won't even be mentioned.

3. Just for fun, we might do a few two-hour movie-of-the-week shows also based on Star Trek, but different from the current series. These might be a good way to preview and test drive each new series, or idea for a new series. When we sell the series into syndication, we can go back and turn the movies into two-part episodes and bundle them into the package. Hey, while we're going to the trouble to build sets and hire actors for the two-hour movies, we might use them in a couple of episodes of the current series.

4. Whenever we have two series on the air, I want to do a crossover show at least once a year, and perhaps even extend the crossover into a two-hour movie-of-the-week.

5. One of the series will have an annoying ensign. Every episode, he'll die horribly (transporter accident, Klingon sword, blown out the airlock, whatever) and then on the next episode he will just show up with no explanation.

6. I want to have some recurring characters, like a Klingon warlord (or a Romulan senator) who shows up several times a year, and maybe somebody named Flagg from the GIA.

7. I definitely want to have Detective Munch show up at least once in each series. (This is a character played by Richard Belzer. He's always depressed, and always thinks there is a big conspiracy at work somewhere. He's played the same character in eight different series, including: Homocide, X-Files, Law & Order, Trial by Jury, Arrested Development, The Beat, The Wire, and Special Victims.)

8. I'd like to have real world politicians, news reporters, and others play themselves as guest stars. Of course, there would be no explanation of why they're now in the 24th century (or whatever century trekkers think they're in).

9. I'd like to have characters from the other Trek series show up (as their original character, or a descendant or ancestor) as guest stars or recurring characters. I definitely want Jeri Ryan to stop by, and often.

10. We might have the guys from Sliders show up one episode, as they slide through.

11. One episode we could visit a pawn shop run by Rick, Chumlee, Big Hoss, and the Old Man. Then we could visit a gun store run by those guys from Baton Rouge.

12. We'll design the ship before the series begins and not allow writers to invent new decks as one-time plot devices. For that matter, every episode will have to have consistency with a knowledgebase document I create before we start filming the first episode of the first series. No more inventing a new weapon or technology that solves a plot problem and then ignoring it in future episodes.

13. I'm going to go to Star Trek conventions, pick 50 random fans, bring them into a secret room, and tell them the plot of upcoming arcs. If they hate the ideas, we're going to drop the ideas like a hot potato. No more launching a dumb story arc and being stuck with it for weeks.

14. No more "captain and entire bridge crew goes to the planet, leaving the second string officers to run the ship in a desperate battle for survival."

15. We could have a fan appear as a Red Shirt in every episode (and not kill them).

16. No more boring philosophical soliloquies by the captain.

17. I'd love to bring in actors and characters from other good series. I want to visit a base hospital run by Richard from Gray's Anatomy. I want to encounter a tramp freighter run by the crew of Firefly. We can have a court-martial with a lawyer from (oh, pick a lawyer show, I don't care which one). I want Annie Frost and Mary Sheppard to drop by as Federation marshals. I want Sig Hansen (from Deadliest Catch) to be the captain of a freighter. (I want the entire crew of the Time Bandit to show up as pirates.) I want Horatio Caine to show up as the captain of a police cutter.

18. We absolutely, definitely, positively, MUST have an episode about zombies, or even better a three-episode story arc and a movie-of-the-week.

19. I want the military characters to act like military people, not like Hollywood stereotypes of military people. Hollywood has no clue how military people act and think.

20. There will never, ever be an episode that opens with a desperate battle and then says "Three days earlier."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Klingons: 101 Ways to Just Say "No!" to Attacking the Alliance, Part 3

21. I'm putting a new coat of paint on my ship.

22. My patent is pending.

23. I can't remember where we parked the ship.

24. The Milli Vanilli fan club meets then.

25. I have to go back in time and save the spotted owl.

26. My tractors were repulsive last night and they need cleaning.

27. I'm taking up disco dancing.

28. I'm afraid I've come down with a horrible case of something or other.

29. We are expecting a gas creature to come through ventilation duct number 3 and kill the crew.

30. I'm converting my calendar from Gregorian to Stardates.

(to be continued)

c. 1992, Captain's Log #10, Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, July 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/).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lights! Cameras! The SFU Hits YouTube!

Ever wished you could take a peek inside a shrink-wrapped box or look behind the pretty covers of a book? Then these videos are for you.

The brainchild of Mike Sparks, our YouTube videos are of three types. The first is about a specific product line and you can hear Steve Cole (yes, he is the talking hands in our videos) discuss the products that are in one of the different games. The second kind is what ADB, Inc. has released in a particular month. These are a great way to catch up quickly on the new items.

It is the third kind that let's you see what is in the box. A boxed game such as Federation & Empire is taken out of the box item by item so that you can see what's in there. From rulebook, to charts, to maps, to counters, each item is shown and discussed. It's a lot of information to pack into a short clip, but SVC and Mike manage it.

Check out our channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames and be sure to bring the popcorn!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Steven Petrick writes:

I like to think of myself as a soldier, although I am the first to admit that I am no longer physically fit enough to be a soldier and my training is woefully out of date. Still, even at this late date there are ingrained "trained reflexes" that will take over given the right stimulus/circumstances.

"Take care of the troops" took over near the end of the Terrorwerks episode. I wanted to make certain everyone got out (since I was still on my own feet), and this resulted in "a mistake." Instead of making sure the company's "secrets" were safeguarded and keeping a barrier of "marines" around myself, I was "the last man out" of the big room. I had become "the rear guard." As I turned to scan the room to make sure everyone was out, I was greeted by the advance of four "hostiles."

On seeing them, things went into "automatic" mode. I have no doubt that thoughts were flying through my brain, yet my body went into a modified pistol firing stance (slight shifting of the feet to create a stable platform, right hand already holding the "mini-uzi" rose to eye level), the modification being the retention of the briefcase in the left hand instead of also being brought up to help steady the weapon. The "mini-uzi's" lightness and lack of any real recoil easily accommodated this firing posture.

I am not, and have never really tried to be, a "trick shooter." If ordered, I would try to place my shots, but otherwise I tend to automatically aim for the "center of mass" of the target. (Caveat: if I believed the target had a "vest" I would aim for the head.) The range to the targets was not extreme, maybe 15 feet, maybe 20 feet at the absolute most. At least it would not have been considered extreme with a real pistol in good light. The conditions here required that my arm and the weapon become a straight-line extension with the line from my eye to the target with no real access to the weapon's sights.

As the weapon came on line with the first target, the only clearly conscious thought I can recall was a command in my head not to just depress the trigger and move the weapon back and forth. The command was for individual trigger squeezes for each target.

The weapon came on line, target #1 was acquired, lock-on was achieved, and the target was engaged with a burst.

I have no idea how many shots the "mini-uzi" unleashed with quick pulls of the trigger. It did not have a "single shot" setting as far as I knew. Up to that moment my finger had not touched the trigger, but now the tip of my finger was caressing it.

With the first target engaged with a burst, the weapon tracked to my left, searching for the next target. This target was also quickly acquired, lock-on again achieved, and the target engaged.

Again and again so that all four targets had been serviced.

Even as I was doing the shooting, part of my brain was processing the damage. This part recognized that despite my just completed effort, all of the targets were acting as if they were undamaged.

Without conscious thought, I re-engaged. Servicing each of the targets with a second burst, this timing tracking them individually back from my left to my right.

This time my brain registered that the three targets to my left were "disabled" and no longer a threat, but the last target appeared to be "taking cover" behind some boxes.

Rather than wait for the target to reappear, I was driven forward into the room to quickly flank the position at close range.

I did not fire however, because it was "close range" and part of my brain still recognized that "this is a game," so instead I challenged the hostile, asking him if he was still in the fight. He responded that he was "dead," but was working on fixing a problem with a magazine.

With that data, I quickly "cleared the room," i.e., "got out of Dodge" so that the "marines" could protect me.

The exercise ended, and I learned several things.

Most (but not all) of the hostiles could be "killed" by three hits, but some (and the same hostile could on being "revived" fall into either category) had to be hit seven times to be "killed."

That apparently the last group of hostiles I had engaged had fallen either partly or entirely into this latter group.

That, in servicing the four targets, I had emptied the "mini-uzi's" 30-round magazine.

I had no real control over how many rounds the "mini-uzi" fired with each trigger pull. If I took it for granted that each of my targets had required, as was being indicated, seven hits to kill, this would mean that somehow I hit each one with two bursts, one of which had at least three shots, and one of which had at least four shots. That would mean that at most only two shots missed.

I have reviewed my "mad quarter minute" several times in my head, and I cannot believe that I was both that good and that lucky. I suspect the reality is that each of my opponents actually only required three hits to kill. What really happened was that each was engaged twice in such quick succession that they did not have time to indicate they had been killed by the first burst before they were hit again. The "mini-uzi" probably fired four or five shots with each squeeze of the trigger, and by the time I had tracked back over the last target (or last thttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifwo targets) the weapon was already "dry-firing".

Still, my performance in the instance was not bad. Confronted suddenly by four hostiles, I did promptly engage them all, and hit them all decisively in a short period of time with steady, controlled, and (given the lighting conditions) aimed fire.

I think I have every right to be pleased with my individual performance at that point.

[For more about the TerrorWerks experiences, please see our page on them at http://www.starfleetgames.com/Terrorwerks.shtml]

Monday, July 18, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 10-16 July 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was a calm week for the design team (who settled in to work on the fall schedule), and a busy week for the production team (who dealt with huge orders all week).

The weather this week was hot, passing 100F many days.

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

New on e23 this week was Captain's Log #10. Facebook climbed to 888 friends.

Steve Cole began the week by taking Sunday off to stay home and do work around the house, a promise he had made to Leanna. Then, he finished up the last part of putting the Origins stuff away, got Communique #67 and Hailing Frequencies July 2011 finished, finished the Captain's Log #43 Supplemental File, did the version of Starship Aldo for upload to e23, wrote product descriptions for e23, did all of the CL#43 updates for the Wall of Honor, reviewed some fiction, answered a bunch of pending Email, updated the Origins navigation log, read part of ACTASF, updated the Captain's Log Index, and read Jay W's train game (Merchants of the Federation, which seems pretty cool).

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #44 stuff (battle groups and the monster article)

Leanna dealt with huge orders going out and tried to keep the accounting sort of up to date.

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

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, uploaded Communique #67, sent Hailing Frequencies for July 2011, and helped Mike ship orders. He was hampered by continuing problem with the SuperPC he uses, which needs major work.

Jean managed our page on Facebook, proofread Communique and Hailing Frequencies, worked on Traveller, and did some marketing.

Sunday, July 17, 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.

Saturday, July 16, 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.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Klingons: 101 Ways to Just Say "No!" to Attacking the Alliance, Part 2

11. The security officers asked me to stop by.

12. I'm doing door-to-door collecting for the Peace and Love in the Galaxy Campaign.

13. I'm checking the freshness dates on my dairy products.

14. I wrote a term paper and I'm waiting to see if it gets published.

15. My SSD is missing a box and I have to find it.

16. I'm writing down all the changes from the Commander's Rules to the Captain's Rules.

17. We're converting our ship's instruments to the metric system.

18. I'm trying to see how long I can go without saying the word "yes."

19. My mother said hair would grow on my palms and I would go blind if I did.

20. All the modules on my drones are null.

(to be continued)

c. 1992, Captain's Log #10, Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. I will go to my grave believing the Casey Anthony killed her daughter. (I will also go to my grave wondering why that trial dominated every news channel for a month.) That said, I don't think I could have voted guilty because there were no forensics, and the CSI Effect (juries expect to see the evidence like on television shows but in reality a lot of cases do not have it). Twenty years ago, Casey would have been convicted on the mountain of circumstantial evidence, but now, juries want DNA and fingerprints and knife marks on ribs. You gotta admit, Doctor Bones Brennan would have found the clue that identified the killer from that pathetic skeleton.

2. The larger point, however, is that Casey Anthony was an irresponsible single mother. She got pregnant when not married, and the facts show that single motherhood costs the US something over $200 billion a year (with a B) because of higher costs for everything (welfare, health care, police). Children of single mothers account for 70% of abused kids and 70% of juvenile delinquents and 70% of criminals. If you account for single motherhood, the crime rate among blacks is identical that among whites. Telling women it was ok to get pregnant and keep the baby was the dumbest thing that Society ever told anybody. (Part of that was rewarding poor women for getting pregnant and not getting married, which started the whole thing rolling.)

3. I watch IN PLAIN SIGHT for Mary Shannon, the cranky female marshal. Leanna and Steven Petrick hate Mary, but watch the show for everyone else on it. Go figure.

4. Raising the debt limit. Sheesh what a mess. This is what happens when the population realizes that they can vote themselves not just the contents of the treasury, but every penny that the government can borrow. The blame falls equally on both of the political parties. The "game of chicken" is going to continue to the end. If we do not raise the debt limit, the government then has to decide what to do with the money they do have (i.e., what the cut because of the money they cannot borrow). If they pay the bonds first, we do not default, so any talk of default is just saying "we want to spend the money on people who will vote for us." There you have it: the people voted themselves the treasury. About 50% of Americans do not pay taxes, so it's easy to get a majority vote to keep spending, and that's not even a party line vote.

5. At Origins, I sent out for BBQ the first five on-site meals, then decided that I wanted turkey, fruit, a salad, and cottage cheese for later meals and did not have more BBQ until I got back to Sweetwater at lunchtime on Monday.

6. If two negatives make a positive, do two positives make a negative? Yeah, right.

7. I came home from Origins to a wife who put me on a diet. However, she did not account for an entire cooler full of leftover brownies, candy bars, and trail mix. Oh well, that stuff will be gone in a few more days.

8. While I was at Origins, Amarillo had its record temperature of all time (109F). A few years ago, Amarillo had the biggest (most destructive) storm of all time a few hours after I left for Origins. Maybe someone is trying to tell me to skip Origins in 2012?

9. Being a businessman, I like watching SHARK TANK, but something that is always confusing is what happens to the money. Is the money going to the owner or into the company to be spent on something other than the owner?

10. If pro and con are opposites, what is the opposite of progress?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the e23 and DriveThru RPG websites. So far on e23, we have released a lot of stuff for Federation Commander, including the Revision Six Reference Rulebook, the 72 ships from Federation Commander Briefing #2 (divided into six packs of 12 ships and a separate rules pack), and more than a dozen Ship Card Packs. Our ebook PDFs are in color and high resolution. PDFs of most books are searchable (older Captain’s Logs are not).

The way e23 works, once you buy a product, you can download it again for no cost if you lose it or if we upload a revised version of that edition. Thus, the people who bought Reference Rulebook Revision 5 were able to obtain Reference Rulebook Revision 6 for free (and to download it again when we discovered we had accidentally left out rule 4S).

We must note that these products are copyrighted and are not to be uploaded or passed around to your friends. Doing so is piracy, a criminal act, and may result in us deciding not to offer any more PDF products. We have already uploaded many Starmada, Star Fleet Battles, Federation & Empire, and GURPS Prime Directive products We have created a new page that allows easy access to our PDFS for sale on e23. From here you can see what we currently have posted and have links to those products.

Our Prime Directive PD20 Modern books are sold as ebooks exclusively through DriveThru RPG.

So check them out! Many people like the fact they can search our rulebooks for a keyword and find everything that pertains to that issue. Others like the fact they can carry around multiple books on one device. Some Ship Cards are available exclusively through e23. Whatever your reason for using them, we hope that you enjoy them and rate them.

Tuesday, July 12, 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:

Monday, July 11, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 3 - 9 July 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week when the Steves (recovering from Origins) tried to get back into the swing of doing regular work, while everybody else dealt with massive wholesaler orders and mail orders for the new products.

The weather this week was hot, passing 100F almost every day. There was no rain.

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

Steve Cole worked on the Captain's Log #43 Supplemental File, made a unique avatar for Silent Bob (the Mongoose ACTASF playtester on the forum), did product descriptions for e23 uploads, started doing the updates for the Wall of Honor, and got Communique #67 out to staff review. Steve Cole kept his promise to Leanna to eat healthy foods, and to take off Sunday and half of Wednesday.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #44, posting the battle force submission requirements. He also managed the closing days of registration for the first Platinum Hat.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

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

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook; proofread Communique, Hailing Frequencies, and the Supplemental File; and did some marketing.

There was a lot of interest in Jay Waschak's train game.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Steve Cole writes:

I am sure that the US military has an official thing about this, but if so, I don't remember it. When in the State Guard, I used these five points to teach people how to be a leader. They apply equally well to civilian jobs, and I've adapted them here. These are just the high points and some examples; to include everything would mean writing a book. (Hey, that's an idea.)

1. First, be an excellent employee (an excellent soldier, in the original text). Be really good at your job. (If you cannot do your job, do not expect to be promoted to the job of supervising your coworkers.) Understand not just how to do your job, but how your job fits into the overall way the company does business. You have to know more than your job. You have to be doing your job in a way that makes the next guy's job easier, and you have to be able to get your job done even if the previous guy didn't do his job exactly right. Be able to show other people how to do the job. (Hint: If you're not the first in line to show the new guy how your department works, you're not going to be the first in line when I pick a new department head.)

2. Tell people what to do. Oh, sure, any amateur petty tyrant can scream "Get this done!" and stomp out on the way to the golf course. That's not telling them what to do. Give clear and specific directions. Set standards. Establish goals. Give directions AS directions, not as vague suggestions. "Somebody needs to do this" or "This had better get done" is not the same thing as "You need to do this."

3. Make sure the job gets done. Be available for questions. Keep track of who was told to do something, when he was told he had the job to do, what the performance standards are, and what the deadline was. Check to see that they met the standards. Check to see that they met the goals. Check on their progress during the job and don't wait until the end when there will be no time to save a project from failure. (Asking "How's it going?" is not checking on their progress. You actually have to check the amount and quality of work that has been done.) Make sure the employees understand the task. (Have them repeat the instructions back to you for new or unfamiliar projects.) Without going all Big Brother on them, make sure they know that they are under supervision and that there will be consequences for failure to perform.

4. Take care of them while they're doing it. Back in the State Guard, this mostly meant making sure that the soldiers assigned to guard posts got water on hot days, bathroom breaks, and a chance to eat. It meant rotating troops from tough duty posts, and it meant making sure that you had a solution in mind for any plausible situation (such as carrying a first aid kit). The civilian world is different only in the list of things to do. Make sure people have the equipment they need to do the job they were given, and make sure that equipment is safe and in good repair. Make sure people get paid on time, and get raises when earned. Solve any paperwork problems with human resources. Control or get rid of the office bully. If someone has to work late, make sure they have a safe way to get to their car. Make sure they have the training. Encourage them to help each other, but not to annoy each other. Taking care of your troops also means having a continually updated plan about where you're taking the company.

5. Train the next generation of leaders, not just the next generation of employees. Once an employee reached step one (excellent employee) find out if they have it within them to lead, to manage people, projects, resources, and deadlines. Give everyone a chance to be in charge of some middle-size project that they have to coordinate with other people. Make sure that everyone knows that they all have a fair chance to learn to lead. Sure, one of them will be the obvious "next guy to get promoted" but he needs to understand that training for a future promotion does not start after the guy in your way got promoted out of your way. Put a junior guy in charge for an afternoon and make sure that the senior guys know that they're still senior and will remain senior, but that the junior guy needs to grow his skill set over a long period of time. The senior guy will remember that while he still had to wait his turn for promotion, back when he was the junior guy, he got a chance to lead every now and then.

Saturday, July 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.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Klingons: 101 Ways to Just Say "No!" to Attacking the Alliance, Part 1

1. I have to align my Ffanistan splines.

2. The crew needs a bath.

3. It's Clint Eastwood night in Rec. Room 3.

4. The Organians said they might drop in.

5. I want to spend more time with my warp engines.

6. I've been scheduled for a refit.

7. I'm staying at Starbase 3 to protect it from a sneak attack by the WYNs.

8. We're still repairing the bowling alley from the last critical hit.

9. I'm building an ISC ship from a kit.

10. I can't find the line for life support on my Energy Allocation Form.

(to be continued)

c. 1992, Captain's Log #10, Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

What if ... on McClellan and Stuart

This is Steven Petrick posting.

History is full of what ifs.

One of these is revolves around J.E.B. Stuart and George McClellan.

In early July of 1862 McClellan completed his "change of base," arriving at Harrison's Landing after "winning" the last of the Seven Days Battles by repelling the uncoordinated attacks by the Confederates at Malvern Hill. McClellan with a sudden spurt of overconfidence (perhaps because of his successful completion of his change of base operation despite the repeated attacks by the "numerically superior" rebel army) failed to take all due precautions against his new base being attacked.

There was a very significant chink in McClellan's defenses at Harrison's Landing. J.E.B. Stuart, being a good cavalry man found this chink. He then proceeded to do something incredibly stupid. While he sent a dispatch to Army headquarters, he also took it upon himself to tell the Union Army about the chink. Stuart had one small cannon with him, and opened a "harassing fire" on the Union Army.

As one might imagine, a single small gun was not going to, in and of itself, do enough harm to really accomplish anything of note.

What that gun did do (aside from causing a stir and an amount of damage that was significant only if you, personally, were hit by it) was wake up the Union Army to the danger it was in.

By the time Longstreet, acting under orders from Lee who had been apprised of the chink by Stuart, neared the critical point he found the position "well posted" by Union forces.

Given McClellan's tendency to take council of his fears (even at Sharpsburg/Antietam Creek McClellan was convinced that the South had superior numbers and would not hazard his last reserve in an assault that might have finally broken Lee's already weakened lines) one can only imagine what might have happened if Stuart had not acted like a little boy and had his cannon open fire.

Stuart's cavalry brigade was completely unable (and Stuart knew it) to hold the opening he had found in the face of a determined assault by Union infantry, but by firing his gun he signaled to the Union troops the danger they were, and triggered that assault on his brigade before any infantry could be brought up to support him. If Stuart had not done so, but kept the position under observation until Confederate infantry with artillery had come up, Harrison's Landing might have become the scene of a mass surrender of Union troops. It would have been the Civil War equivalent of Anzio, but without the airpower available to the Allied forces to help keep the Germans in check.

With Confederate guns on those heights, and already believe himself to be outnumbered, McClellan might well have capitulated (even if McClellan was relieved of command at that point, it is doubtful if any other Union General could have retrieved the situation).

Some number of the Union troops might have been evacuated under cover of night, but it is doubtful if any significant percentage of the supplies or artillery could have been brought off, and much of it would have fallen into Confederate hands in any case (trying to destroy most of it would have involved fires which would have announced and revealed the attempts to evacuate).

A disaster on that scale, so early in the war, might have had larger and even decisive political ramifications.

There can be no doubt that Lincoln would have wanted to continue the war, but not all of the Northern governors were behind him, and the Federal government was not all that powerful. States might have withheld further troops and supplies. There was even a nascent movement in the Western States to also secede from the Union which might have been strengthened by such an obvious blunder (the North's largest Army lost in one fall swoop).

Certainly McClellan's career would have been over, and the North might even have imprisoned him as Southern agent (it was after all his plan to land the Army in the Peninsula, and to change its base to Harrison's landing, burning large quantities of government supplies that could not be moved as part of the change of base).

In a sense, J.E.B. Stuart saved the Union by his little display of personal vanity in firing his little cannon.

He would do something similar before another critical point in 1863.

Wednesday, July 06, 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.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. The genesis of Napoleonic tactics came a century early with the battle of Blenheim in 1704. The French began using mass bayonet charges (which worked even better with Napoleon's larger army of draftees) while the British were using smaller, nimble groups of infantry firing aimed volleys (a tactic that Wellington mastered, and which became the Thin Red Line 40 years after Wellington at Balaclava). Most of all, the ability of the British General Marlborough to suddenly move his Army hundreds of miles was to inspire every one of Napoleon's operations.

2. The British Profumo scandal (a cabinet minister resigned after it was discovered he'd had an affair) was in 1963. I was old enough at the time to actually know what the news story was about. It dominated the news for an entire week.

3. I was shocked to learn that "Lincoln's Gettysburg Address Youtube Video" is actually a fairly common search on Google. Maybe I shouldn't have been shocked.

4. My favorite team in World Cup soccer is the Manilla Envelopes. They have the season in the bag if they don't fold. They've only been licked once.

5. I wonder if Dave and Cody (the two guys on Dual Survival) could escape from Terry Grant (Mantracker) in the forests of Canada. I would love to see Mantracker find Cody's barefoot prints on the trail and wonder what kind of idiot is running around Canada barefoot.

6. I hope that, in five years, it will be possible to do CGI shows so cheaply that we could see new episodes done for canceled live-action series. I'd love to see more episodes done for Firefly and Stargate Universe, for example.

7. Half of the commercials on my XM radio station are for truck lines trying to hire experienced drivers, promising high pay, high miles, weekly time at home, medical insurance, and no end of other things. If the economy stinks so bad, why are truck lines so busy?

8. I gave AMC's THE KILLING a try just because the writing on some of their other series was so good. I found the first few episodes boring and depressing (with the exception of Michelle Forbe's inspired acting) but by Episode 8 I was begging for more. Episode 10 provided a major turn in the case but Episode 11 was a time-wasting side-trip that did not advance the plot. I am outraged to have to wait another week to get anywhere with the plot. As it is, the final episode will be the night before I leave for Origins, and I'm planning to not leave home without seeing it.

9. I spent some time telling Leanna and Petrick that if it was up to me, when Brenda Johnson retires from THE CLOSER, I'd keep the cast together and just have Captain Raydor take over Brenda's major case squad. Turns out, that is just exactly what is going to happen. Great minds think alike! It upset me to think of such a great bunch of actors who would be out of work when their chemistry was so perfect.

10. Why is the Casey Anthony case even ON television, let alone dominating the news. Whenever I turn on FOX to find out what Obama is up to, all I get is drivel about this woman who killed her kid. Sheesh. Just put her in front of a firing squad and get it over with.

Monday, July 04, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 28 June - 2 July 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week after the Origins trip. Most of the week was consumed by getting copies of the new products ready to ship to wholesalers on Friday the first of July. The two Steves mostly rested and recovered from the trip, caught up on email and other correspondence, and tried to organize the rest of the year's work.

The weather this week was hot, every day passing 100F and one day reach 111F.

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

Nothing new was uploaded to e23 this week but we plan to upload starting next week.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

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

Joel did website updates and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook did her marketing duties, and started working with Mike West, Matthew Sprange, and me on the Traveller version of Prime Directive.

Sunday, July 03, 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.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

On Pomp and Parade and Illuminations

Jean Sexton writes:

On July 2, 235 years ago, the Second Continental Congress voted to separate the 13 colonies from Great Britain. John Adams, a prominent lawyer, political theorist, and future president, wrote to his wife Abigail regarding the decision:

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. (The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, Harvard University Press, 1975, 142).

The "toil and blood" to form this country included around 140,00 people who fought and 50,000 militiamen wounded or killed in a war that lasted over eight years. The end result was a confederation of states that soon became the United States.

While John Adams guessed wrong about the day and it was July 4 that was celebrated as early as 1777, he had the right of how we would celebrate. During the illuminations and parades and time spent with family, let us try to see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory as we celebrate the birthday of the United States of America.

Friday, July 01, 2011

101 Ways to Kill the B10, Part 10

91. Assign it to the studio for "KDSF Blue."

92. Tell the Federation it is not politically correct.

93. Tell the Lyrans it is a Kzinti ship.

94. Tell the Kzintis that the Klingons are going to send it to the Lyrans to copy.

95. Tell the Seltorians the Tholians are using it.

96. Tell the Tholians the Seltorians are using it.

97. Wreck the shuttles so it cannot launch a wild weasel.

98. Tell the French it belongs to Greenpeace.

99. Hire Tim "the Toolman" Taylor as chief engineer.

100. Replace the central computer with a 486.

101. Dare it to do three HETs in a row.

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