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Wednesday, November 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 Andy Vancil 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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Opportunities to Show Your Skill

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

We have lots of opportunities to be published in Captain's Log, but many people are not aware of them.

For example, Daniel Kast's Starmada system has pages in Captain's Log, usually for new ships. But that does not mean someone who is familiar with his system could not assemble a primer on how to play it, or submit tactical articles on how to conduct combat. Same concept as term papers and command notes. Of course these would have to be about his system in our universe.

With A Call to Arms Star Fleet there are more opportunities to write tactics articles and primers on how to play.

Seriously, there are probably papers waiting to be written on SFB Online and FC Online, not to mention Warlord.

The opportunities are there to teach not just your opponents, but players all across the world your own tactical insights, and in so doing raise the skill levels of your opponents.

Monday, November 28, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 20-26 November 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week for giving thanks (what with Thanksgiving on Thursday and all) and the first of the last two weeks of Captain's Log #44. This meant that normal days (long hours and working half of Sunday and several hours on Thanksgiving) resumed. The weather this week was cool, sometimes cold, but never quite freezing. The spam storm mostly remained at just over 200 per day. Leanna cooked a full turkey dinner for both Steves and Joel.

Nothing new went on e23 this week but let us get past Captain's Log #44 and we'll resume a normal measured pace.

We did, at least, get the new Mongoose products, Captain's Log #44, SFB Module E3, and Boosters 31-32-33 on the shopping cart.

We got word that Federation Commander had won the Gaming Genius fan award for best space game.

Two customers (David, Eric) stopped in for a visit on Wednesday. They weren't together, each was going to visit family in different directions. Funny that we get maybe five or six drop in visitors per year and had two on the same day!

Steve Cole worked mostly on Captain's Log #44 this week. At the end of the week, it was exactly 70% finished. Steve found time to do a Tholian DDS scout for someone's campaign; it will be in Communique #72.

Steven Petrick worked on the last of his pages of Captain's Log #44, and began the long process of proofreading what everyone else did (and what SVC did to what SPP did).

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 (which is up to 1043 friends), proofread Captain's Log #44, and did some marketing.

Sunday, November 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.

Saturday, November 26, 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, November 25, 2011


Here is what you can expect on a date with a suitable member of any of the SFB species.

Federation: Make First Contact.
Klingon: Go dancing. Saber dancing.
Romulan: Attend the submarine races.
Kzintis: Heavy petting.
Gorn: First attend the ballet, then just hold you close.
Tholian: Attend a Rock Concert.
Orions: They will steal your heart.
Hydrans: Just want to hold you close.
Lyrans: Heavy petting.
WYNs: Stay home and watch the house. Burglars, you know.
ISC: Attend an anti-war rally.
Seltorian: Attend a Beatles concert.

Thanks to Mark Kuyper, Timothy Steeves-Walton, Andy Palmer, Sandy Hemenway. This originally appeared in Captain's Log #20. (c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Jean Sexton writes:

We at Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. would like to wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving today. Our thoughts today are perhaps best expressed by John F. Kennedy in his 1962 proclamation.

Over three centuries ago in Plymouth, on Massachusetts Bay, the Pilgrims established the custom of gathering together each year to express their gratitude to God for the preservation of their community and for the harvests their labors brought forth in the new land. Joining with their neighbors, they shared together and worshipped together in a common giving of thanks. Thanksgiving Day has ever since been part of the fabric which has united Americans with their past, with each and with the future of all mankind. It is fitting that we observe this year our own day of thanksgiving. It is fitting that we give our thanks for the safety of our land, for the fertility of our harvests, for the strength of our liberties, for the health of our people. We do so in no spirit of self-righteousness. We recognize that we are the beneficiaries of the toil and devotion of our fathers and that we can pass their legacy on to our children only by equal toil and equal devotion. We recognize too that we live in a world of peril and change -- and in so uncertain a time we are all the more grateful for the indestructible gifts of hope and love, which sustain us in adversity and inspire us to labor unceasingly for a more perfect community within this nation and around the earth.


In this world, may you find the gifts of hope and love.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Captain's Log #44 and Thanks

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Work continues apace on Captain's Log #44. SVC is often overloaded with work, a lot of what I do is proofreading and checking things he is doing, which takes away time from my own projects. Fortunately for me, a lot of my projects are things that can be done over time. Thus, for example, the battle groups were all collected, read, formatted, corrected, and laid out in advance. Term papers, tactical notes and command notes were culled from their topics before they were needed (although I got lazy this time around and did not send them to the graders as early as I normally do). Much work had already been done on the Monster article, and really the draft SSDs had been done almost before Origins (if memory serves). And I had time to work on the scenario file for this Captain's Log. We are going to try to run a few Galactic Conquest term papers this time around, and those went out for grading very late, and I am grateful the graders, many first timers in this case, responded so quickly.

I still have things to fix (mostly corrections to SSDs), and a brand new scenario to write, as well as ship descriptions for the selected SSDs.

On top of all that, I need to start working on the next Captain's Log now, so that as much of what I can do is done beforehand. That includes creating a new instruction sheet for the "battle groups" article, and working on Monster Article #17, which will be a little difficult as SVC and I will have to literally choose the next monster [the last sequential Monster Scenario was (SM18.0) in this Captain's Log], so I do not know if it will be "the Intruder" (SG31.0), or "The Juggernaut" (SL1.0) [which would have to include data on the subsequent incarnations from at least three other scenarios where a Juggernaut, or Juggernauts in the case of "Fire in the Deep" (SL288.0)]appeared, or Mulakee (SL154.0), The Base (SL145.0), The Orb (SL192.0), or the Space Manta from a recent Captain's Log. We also have two "playtest monsters" to consider [Sharks (SP367.0), and the Crab (SP283.0)]. Whatever we choose, there is a lot of effort on my part included in it, and the months between now and Captain's Log #45 will give me time to do it, and then revisit it several times to try to make sure I covered everything appropriately.

I can at least hand over large blocks of pages to SVC when the time comes which makes the stress of getting Captain's Log done a little easier on him.

But most of it cannot be done without input from you guys. Scenarios, term papers (whether Star Fleet Battles or Galactic Conquest ones), tactical notes, command notes, even fiction, background articles, tactical primers, and lots more is all stuff we need from you, our players. That you have supported us in this so far is just one of the many things we will have to give thanks for on the morrow.

Tuesday, November 22, 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, November 21, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 13-19 November 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was the first week dedicated to Captain's Log #44; it will take three to finish it. The weather this week was cool, sometimes cold. The spam storm mostly remained at just under 300 per day. A plague went through the office, taking out SVC on Monday, Mike on Tuesday, Leanna on Friday, and SPP on Saturday.

Nothing new went on e23 this week.

Steve Cole worked mostly on Captain's Log #44, but he also set up the file for Communique #72, updated the S3.3 download file, and finished the Captain's Log countersheet,

Steven Petrick worked mostly on Captain's Log #44 and updated the first of the R3 SSDs.

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 a lot of pirates (there has been a massive outbreak this week), and helped Mike.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1037 friends), proofread Captain's Log #44 pages, and did some marketing and customer service.

We had the staff meeting on Thursday so Tascosa High School intern Charles Diaz could attend. We decided to raise the flat fee shipping to $10 as of 1 Jan 12 as we're already losing over $2 per box and UPS is going up again. The meeting put Joel in charge of riding herd on our outside artists.

Sunday, November 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!

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself about the curious origins of common words:

1. Butcher, the guy who cuts up meat in the grocery story, originated as bochier, a man who slaughtered goats and sold the meat. The first part (boc) was the word for he-goat (the females were kept for milk and breeding) and later became the English word "buck" for a male deer.

2. Cab, short for taxicab, is itself short for the French word cabriolet, which means a prancing young goat. This word was applied to a two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage, which (because of the heavy springs from a cargo wagon) bounced around a lot. The carriage arrived in England in 1800 and had been contracted to cab by 1825. By 1832, a man named Hansom had designed a better version for the carriage, which was known as the Hansom cab. Later (but still before internal combustion engines were invented) such carriages were offered for hire in Paris and a device called a taximeter would be used to "tax" the number of "meters" which the carriage traveled. The result was the taximeter cabriolet (the French still used the long form) and this was quickly adopted in London as the taximeter cab (charging by fractions of a mile). This was shorted to taxicab by the time internal combustion engines replaced horses.

3. Cabal, or a secret group involved in a conspiracy, actually comes from Cabala, the occult Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament. The word would never have reached English ears except that someone noticed that the five principle cabinet ministers of the English King Charles II were Clifford, Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, and Lauderdale, and some editorialist combined that into "cabal" because they secretly signed a treaty with France without permission of Parliament in 1672.

4. Cabbage, a leafy vegetable, came from the French caboche (and the Latin caput, both of which mean the head of a human or another animal). It gets better. In the 1600s, rich people would buy a bolt of expensive cloth and hire a tailor to make them a garment. The scraps of expensive cloth (rightfully the property of the rich client) would be kept by the tailor, who used them as accents or details of cheaper garments. The pile of such scraps resembled a pile of cabbage leaves, and the word "to cabbage" became a form of "to steal" but also was frequently misspelled as garbage and that's where THAT word comes from.

5. Cad, a disreputable scoundrel, goes back to the French word cadet, which meant the younger son (or brother) of a nobleman. Thus the "cadet branch of the family" was the relatively poor cousins who did not inherit the land, title, or money. As the younger sons often went into the military (the only profession where they did not lose social status), a general might be surrounded by the (barely old enough to shave) sons of various rich noble bigshots. Being educated, these sons were somewhat useful around headquarters as clerks, messengers, or doing odd jobs. Other officers referred to them as "the cadets" which meant "the surplus children of big shots" who had no commissions and got no pay, and subsisted on money from home and tips from officers for whom they did small services. They learned the art of war and were (after a few years) commissioned and sent to command companies of troops. (In America, which had no nobility, the term was applied to officer trainees selected to attend the prestigious military academy at West Point. From there, that meaning of the term returned to Britain and France. The Germans continue to use the term aspirant instead of cadet.) The British mispronounced the term as caddie, which then came to mean an unemployed young man who could dress and speak well and was always looking for a job (while waiting for a career opportunity), such as carrying a gentleman's golf clubs. The young students who hung around Oxford looking for such jobs were then called cads, and in time, the term spread to any young man on the lookout for any opportunity, and was applied to individuals of lower social standings. (The term might well be applied to young men today who join street gangs.)

6. Cadre, a small group of officers and senior sergeants around which a entire new unit might be built, comes from the French cadre, which meant a picture frame or some other framework. It goes back to quadrum, a Latin word for any four-sided object such as a square or rectangle.

7. Cajole, to harass, coax, or encourage someone, came from the French Cajoler, which means to babble. It had an earlier meaning of to wheedle, which is more or less the same as cajole.

8. Cake, something from a bakery, is an old Scottish word intended to be distinguished from a loaf. A loaf was rectangular, fluffy, and rose in a pan, while a cake was flat, round, hard, and was turned over during cooking (e.g., pancake). In general use, a loaf didn't travel as well and was eaten at home, while a cake was harder and could be carried on a journey. English travelers discovered the things and told their home bakers, who decided to experiment, adding spices, sugar, and (eventually) the same yeast or soda they used in bread.

9. Calculate, to determine an answer by mathematics, is the Latin word for pebble. The ancient Greeks had a counting system based on small beads on a counting board called the abax. The Romans copied this as their abacus, but their counting board and a series of small troughs that held pebbles.

10. Calico, a cotton cloth with a printed pattern (or the pattern itself) comes from Calicut, the Indian city which produced cotton cloth for British markets. (This is a different city from Calcutta, by the way.)

Friday, November 18, 2011


The Captain of the Federation Survey Cruiser Lewis & Clark reported back to Starbase 26 after a five-year mission in the off-map region.

"Admiral, we have won great glory in our war with our enemies in the galactic core. We have bombarded their planets, destroyed their freighters, harassed their bases, and mined their supply routes."

"But Captain," the Admiral pointed out, "the Federation doesn't have any enemies in the galactic core region."

"We do now!"

Thanks to Robert Herneson. This originally appeared in Captain's Log #20. (c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, November 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.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Account is Always Settled in Blood

This is Steven Petrick posting.

There were a lot of things I learned while growing up and serving in the military. Some of them still haunt me from time to time. One of these is the "nightmare of combat command." When you are not in command, and you make a mistake, well you tend to pay for your mistake right then and there. You get killed, maybe you have the heartbreak of having a few comrades lose their lives with you, or sometimes a few of your friends pay for your mistake and you get to walk away.

When you are in a combat command it often becomes very different and much worse. When you are in a combat command, you often have the "luxury" of trying to redeem your error. The problem is that often the only way you can redeem the error is by spending blood, the blood of the men entrusted to your command. If you failed to occupy a hill (such as Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg), then to redeem the battle you may be sending troops to attack that hill again and again. This can happen in a battle (as did happen at Gettysburg), but sometimes it is just a matter that you, as the Commander, did not think a piece of ground important, until the enemy occupied it and suddenly you discover that it enfilades your line. Sometimes you think a piece of ground is perhaps more important than it is, and your decision to occupy it puts your men out of position, such as happened to the Union 3rd Corps under Dan Sickles the second day of Gettysburg. Sickles's men paid a heavy price.

Sometimes your mistakes are forced by an enemy. A series of "fixing attacks" launched by an enemy at your strong defensive position may hold your attention while he maneuvers to hit a flank you have failed to realize is exposed because the enemy is attacking where you thought he would. Maybe you know the flank is exposed and due to the repeated attacks you fail to issue the orders to cover the position. Or maybe you just get so wound up in your own genius attacking an enemy position that you discount the reports of your subordinates that another enemy force is advancing on your flank, as happened to General Pope at Second Manassas.

Any time you make a mistake when you are a combat commander, at some point the bill is going to come due in the form of the blood of the men entrusted to your command. Whether the mistake was due to your own neglect, or due to an enemy who managed to show you what you wanted to see until it was too late, or due to an enemy who pulled the magician's trick of waving his right hand in your face while his left plunged the dagger into your back.

It is very easy to see what we want to see, to interpret data as what we expect. At Chancellorsville Hooker was told of the Confederate troops moving towards his right, but interpreted the movement as a retreat, and did not even issue warnings to his right flank which he thought anchored on impenetrable terrain. At Shiloh Courthouse the Union soldiers were aware that Confederate troops were maneuvering to their front, but were still taken completely by surprise by the sudden assault. Their commander's had misinterpreted the movements and failed to entrench their men and set up security. Disaster was only narrowly averted and among the losses was General Prentiss's entire Union division, forced to surrender in the "Hornet's Nest."

Cardboard does not bleed, and however real the graphics may seem in your computer game, it is not real blood and guts splattering about. Keep in mind that in the real world there are real commanders doing all they can to limit the bill their men will pay, to take the lessons of history and of the commander's who have gone before them to keep the bills that must be paid as low as possible. General Lee was known as "The King of Spades" because he made his men dig in when they defended a position, because sweat is much cheaper than blood. As a Commander, you have to learn to press the men hard so that when the enemy comes they are ready, and you have not made mistakes by being lax, not occupying the hill because you wanted to give the men a rest and letting the enemy get there first.

Because, when the time comes in the real world and real combat, all accounts are settled in blood.

Tuesday, November 15, 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, November 14, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 6-12 November 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was a calm week as work on Captain's Log #44 proceeded while the final approvals for ACTASF/2500 production were completed. The weather this week was cool, 40F-50F. The spam storm mostly remained at just over 200 per day. We all breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday when that asteroid missed Earth.

New on e23 this week were the R4 SSD book and Captain's Log #16.

Steve Cole worked mostly on Captain's Log #44 stuff, posting his provisional Third Fleet order of battle and getting some help hunting down the final ships. He found time for some other projects, including the completion of Hailing Frequencies and Communique, wrote reserve blogs, worked on that Captain's Log countersheet, did a minor proofread of the ancient S3.3 rules and posted them, and helped Leanna do a major clean-out of junk boxes that had accumulated in the conference room over two years (mostly, he just kept Leanna from throwing it all away without sorting it first).

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #44 items (term papers, scenarios, LDR class history), updated the S3.3 rules (for next week), did some order of battle research for SVC, and wrote a blog.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date. She is closing out the Zocchi plastic bookkeeping and put 144 clear plastic Fed DNs on sale, selling 50 of them in 3 days.

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

Joel did website updates, chased pirates, helped Mike, and supervised Charles Diaz, our internet from Tascosa High School. SVC took Joel, Mike, and Charles on a tour of Whitney Russell printers (which does much of our color printing).

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 1020 friends), proofread things, wrote a blog entry, and did some marketing.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Steve Cole muses: Just thinking to himself.

1. One case study in business school was about a partner who put a quarter million dollars into a business she knew nothing about, got 49% ownership, and worked full time for $2000 a month. Her partner invested no money, owned 51%, and worked full time for $8,000 a month. He was supposed to "run" the business but actually only looked after his own customers and did not supervise the employees, who had gotten lazy and unprofessional and did poor quality service. This lost customers so the overall business was losing money. No wonder this business was dysfunctional.

2. According to Bucky Katt, Batman is the evolutionary link between bats and humans.

3. I was watching one of the survival TV shows the other day, the one with the Green Beret and his British wife. Their usual plan is to get out of immediate danger, spend a day getting water and food, then get rescued. This time (on the volcano-devastated island of Montserrat) they decided to build a spark transmitter and hope somebody heard SOS. As they had already seen a helicopter go by (perhaps tourists) I don't know why they did not do the obvious (gather up junk and spell out HELP on an open grass field). For that matter, if the scenario (tourist boat sinks and tourists swim to shore in the devastated zone) happens now and then, I would think that the local government would do something. (Perhaps put signs up telling anyone stranded to stay put by the sign and get spotted in a day or two by a routine patrol. They could stock water, food, and first aid supplies by each sign.)

4. New TV show: Le Sabot Nikita. It's the height of the Cold War, but nobody knows that Nikita Khrushchev (played by Drew Carey) is in fact a CIA spy. Watch as Nikita conducts secret missions inside the Kremlin to get President Jack Kennedy (played by Nathan Fillion) the information he needs to prevent a global disaster. Nikita is constantly being thwarted by Brezhnev and Kosygin (played by Penn and Teller).

5. I was so disgusted with the end of Warehouse 13 that I may never watch it again. Why do the moronic writers think that they have to "shock" the audience by destroying everything (and the loveable H. G. Wells)? So I guess next season will be called Warehouse 14?

6. I feel like I am getting the hang of this marketing thing. Jean asked Mongoose to do a video of ACTASF playtesting, and he said he wouldn't have time. It instantly occurred to me to ask Tony Thomas (the one SFB-FC team testing ACTASF) if he could throw together a quick video, and he said he would.

7. Australia decided that it would use submarines, not frigates, as its primary warship type. The problem with that plan is that submarines cost a lot more to operate than frigates, and sailors just do NOT like serving aboard submarines. (Subs are cramped and the crews are overworked. Then there is that being cooped up for weeks thing.)

8. I had a ton of fun at the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary fundraising party on 22 October. As Chef Steve, I prepare the buffet, giving each wolf a pumpkin filled with a pound of beef heart, a pound of beef liver, two pounds of beef kidney, and a pound of hamburger (mixed with vitamin supplements and other things good for wolves). I got to do a presentation about wolves, diets, hunting strategies, and pack organization which was well received.

Saturday, November 12, 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.

Friday, November 11, 2011

On Veterans Day 2011

Jean Sexton writes:

Veterans Day has been on my mind for a bit. I read a newspaper article about an archaeological dig at Gallipoli. It seemed odd to think about that sort of activity on a site that was relatively recent compared to archaeological sites one usually reads about. However, it reminded me of the World War I roots of Veterans Day.

It disturbs me that this day seems to be skipped over in the rush to get to Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is a cartoon circulating on the social networks that reminds us that if it were not for our veterans, we might have more difficulty celebrating these holidays. That is true in so many ways.

I am fortunate to work for a company that honors and respects the men and women who have given of their time and lives to serve this country and to keep her safe. I also count myself fortunate to have become friends with so many of those people who have such a high level of integrity and honor. They challenge me to live my life each day in such a way as to be worthy of their protection of us all.

Today I wish to pause and thank the veterans on behalf of Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. and me. We appreciate you for what you have done and what you were willing to do. Thank you. In addition, we thank your families who have also given so much.

We challenge all of our readers to take the time to thank the people who kept and keep you and yours safe.

Thursday, November 10, 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:

Wednesday, November 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.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Some Comments on Scenario Submissions

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Today I started work on processing scenario submissions for Captain's Log.

One of the frequent problems is authors who feel that their submission is "the key event on which the entire fate of the General War" or at least "the fate of the Federal Republic of Aurora" or "The reason the Magellanics failed to stop the Andromedans."

Not every scenario needs to be the critical pivotal event.

All a scenario needs to be is interesting.

They do not need to be introductions for a special ship (or a specially modified ship that is the submitter's own personal ship, such as an Orion ship that has two extra weapons above and beyond every other ship of its class) that does not yet exist in the game. They should stand on their own within the existing background.

Scenarios can be based on existing backgrounds and use existing ship names from that background. Anyone reading about the Federal Republic of Aurora knows how the Klingons got there, but an author in creating a scenario does not need to decide that he will determine the fate of the ships. In so doing, he has (however unintentionally) closed the door on a potential campaign. The Klingon ships might have had a number of adventures and resulting in several battles before the survivors returned to Aurora. Doing one scenario as the whole story of their anabasis in the Omega Octant is something of a waste. It deserves more thought, and yes, an outline of the campaign should be sent before it is written.

Many years ago I created an Orion pirate campaign. I have asked others to create a new one with little success (some have tried, but have never reached the point of trying to submit it). My campaign was a simpler one, if only because "the times were simpler." There were no ducktails or skids, and the possible encounters were limited to freighters, armed freighters, Q-Ships, Free Traders, Armed Priority Transports, Federation Expresses, and large ore carriers (it was the 1980s). Things have changed. An Orion campaign should start with a small ship (in my opinion) and a set number of scenarios, some of which will be boring by their nature, but with a constant chance that the freighter being jumped is a Q-ship, and a variable time for when "the police" will arrive (and perhaps some variable on what the police ship is, other than "empire specific"). Maybe a small convoy (only need to loot one ship of course, but cutting it out of the convoy could be difficult). And of course participation in some published scenarios involving Orion ships. (Perhaps the subject of an enforcer visit, or perhaps serving as the enforcer, among others . . . there are lots of Orion scenarios). A set number of completed objectives earns promotion to a bigger ship (in the old days, LR to CR to BR to CA) and then perhaps the best Campaign player becomes the new Cartel Lord. That constant chance of tangling with a Q-ship is what keeps the Orion player "honest." In short, he should learn not to rush up on a small freighter, blown down a shield, and then just try (after lowering his own shield) to beam over boarders because the freighter might put a photon torpedo or a bolted plasma-F through it accompanied by a few phaser-1s. He should learn the correct methods of stalking and securing his prey, and doing it fast before the cops come.

Monday, November 07, 2011

This Week at ADB, Inc., 30 October - 5 November 2011

Steve Cole reports:

This was a back-to-normal week. Without much to do for Mongoose, the Steves worked on our own releases. The weather this week was cold and damp. The spam storm mostly remained at just over 200 per day.

New on e23 this week is the updated SSD Book for Basic Set.

Steve Cole worked mostly on the story for Captain's Log #44. (This is something of a research project, finding everything ever mentioned about Day One and rolling it into an expanded narrative with new material. He loves writing the new stuff, but hunting down the old stuff is tedious.) He found time for some other projects, including the first Ranger Recognitions (we have a lot of backlog there), reviewing E3, reviewing the Basic Set SSD Book 2011, and writing a blog about the schedule.

Steven Petrick worked on E3, the Basic Set SSD revision, Captain's Log #44 stuff, and other projects.

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 (which is up to 1006 friends), proofread some things, and did some marketing.

A Board of Directors meeting took a look at the 2012 schedule but no decisions have been made.

Sunday, November 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

Saturday, November 05, 2011

About A Call to Arms: Star Fleet

Tony L. Thomas reports:

ADB, Inc.'s joint venture with Mongoose includes an entirely new game system using the A CALL TO ARMS system which Mongoose originally created for Babylon Five and has used since then for other projects including NOBLE ARMADA. This is a system designed for massed fleets and allows huge battles to be played in a single evening. A Call to Arms: Star Fleet's release is expected in November of 2011. This is a miniatures-based game (no hexes, no counters).

A Call to Arms: Star Fleet is a hexless, miniatures based game of fleet combat in the Star Fleet Universe. From small skirmishes involving single ships or small squadrons to massive fleets between rival empires, the ACTA system allows even the largest fleet battles to be fought in a single evening and the smaller skirmishes can be completed in about an hour.

ACTA: SF accomplishes this by streamlining the game system. There is no energy allocation and no "pay-as-you-go" energy tracking. Your starships move, shoot, and repeat.

Movement and fire occur once per game turn (rather than the 32 impulses in Star Fleet Battles or the 8 impulses of Federation Commander).

Seeking weapons are not placed on the board as markers and moved; they are instead treated as "quasi-direct fire weapons." Once a seeking weapon is launched, the targeted ship may fire any unfired weapons in the proper arc in defensive fire. Each successful hit will destroy and incoming drone or reduce the strength of an incoming plasma torpedo. In addition, certain Special Actions (more about those later) may enable other starships to assist in the defensive fire.

The weapons available in ACTA: SF mirror those seen in the other game of the Star Fleet Universe. Inside the rulebook, you'll find the phaser (in four flavors), photon torpedoes, disruptors, drones, and even plasma torpedoes (in five different types). Each weapon has one or more traits. Weapon traits include Accurate, Devastating, Reload, Precise, etc. Each of these traits gives a weapon a bit of an advantage or disadvantage depending on various factors such as range, terrain type, etc. These traits are what keeps the photon torpedo from behaving exactly like a disruptor and makes a phaser-1 different from a phaser-3.

Over 50 different starships are detailed in the core rulebook, covering seven starfaring empires, with a few civilian targets, err... units thrown in for good measure. The starships have their own traits (16 different ones) to differentiate them. These traits include such things as: Agile, Armored, Fast, or Scout. They also include systems such as Cloak, Labs, Stealth, and Transporter Beams.

Each turn consists of an Initiative Phase, a Movement Phase, an Attack Phase, and an End of Turn Phase.

Initiative is determined during the Initiative Phase each turn for each player.

During the Movement Phase, the player losing the initiative moves one of his starships first, then the winner moves a starship. This alternate movement is repeated until all starships have moved.

At this point, each starship may choose to undertake a Special Action. These actions include movement enhancers, such as High Energy Turn or Maximum Power to Warp, or combat enhancements (like Overload Weapons or Intensify Defensive Fire), or even allow the use of advanced technological devices such as the Cloaking Device. There are a total of 14 Special Actions from which a starship may select.

During the Attack Phase, the player who was the winner of the Initiative Phase selects one of his starships. This unit nominates a target for each of his weapons, fires those weapons, and resolves their damage. Then the player losing the Initiative Phase selects one of his starships and performs the same steps. This continues until all starships have been selected, fired, and resolved their damage.

The End of Turn Phase allows ships a chance to repair critical damage, check to see if critical damage escalates, and complete compulsory movement.

The Core Rulebook contains:

Fleet lists for the United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, the Kzinti Hegemony, the Confederation of the Gorn, The Tholian Holdfast, The Pirates of Orion, and several civilian shipping units.

General Scenarios that can be used for endless hours of game play.

Tactical Challenges, special missions designed to test the limits of your command abilities.

A complete campaign system.

Easy to learn, basic rules which will have you playing ACTA minutes after you open the rulebook.

Advanced rules covering all of your favorite "toys", shuttlecraft, cloaking devices, alternate firing modes for plasma torpedoes, etc.

Stay tuned for more information regarding this exciting game!

[Tony L. Thomas has recently been named the department head for ACTA:SF. He will work closely with both Mongoose and ADB to promote the game, answer questions, and help create the ACTA:SF information for Captain's Log.]

Friday, November 04, 2011


On Andromedan Displacement Device:

Warning: This device may act haphazardly if used improperly; do not try this at home.

On Andromedan Tractor Beams:

Warning: Use only as directed. May cause irritability and tension when used against Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Kzinti, Hydran, Lyran, Orion, Tholian, ISC, Gorn, and just about any intra-galactic forces. For repair or replacement of damaged parts, send the defective part (postage pre-paid) back to Androma Technical Works Field Repair Shop, Starbase Desecrator-5, Andromedan Galaxy (allow 401 years for delivery, repair, and return of the damaged goods).

Thanks to Hyun Yu. This originally appeared in Captain's Log #18. (c) copyright by Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc.

Thursday, November 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.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

SFB Basic Set SSD Book Update

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Well, the update of the Basic Set SSD book is done. It is all assembled, SVC has paged through it and referred a matter to Jean Sexton, and the matter has been resolved and the corrections made. It will probably go to Leanna tomorrow, and show up on e23 soon after that.

What does the update entail?

Well, every ship and base has its appropriate Crawford table.

All the refits where applicable and possible to do are noted on each SSD with the year they are available. So for the most part you can look at your SSD and determine if the year you have chosen to play the scenario in allows a given SSD. There are some exceptions here, i.e., Partial X Refits (impossible to do as there are too many variations any given ship can use) and mech-link refits are not listed. The Gorns are all have the Carronade data, and there is a mention of its availability on the Orion SSD. All plasma ships have Sabot data (there is some data indicating that sublight warbirds might still have been around in Y180

All the shuttle tracks are updated (there are still three ships in Basic Set that do not get advanced shuttles, so they do not have them on their SSD page).

The Romulan Warbird Cruiser has been updated as best I can to account for the new information that was published in the Early Years Modules. It is obviously one of the ships that does not get advanced shuttles, and also does not get the Sabot refit (would any of them still have been around as Warbirds in Y180?).

The small and large freighter SSDs include space to insert any skids or ducktails from Module R8 and R11.

And, of course, all references to "aft hull" or "A hull" have been changed to "rear hull" or "R hull."

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Steve Cole writes:

Jean asked me to provide an update blog on the products we will be doing. It occurs to me that I've been remiss in communicating this with you all, partly because I have been buried in reviewing the ships and rules Mongoose sent me. (They wanted the cover art approved and still had that problem with weapons fire coming from strange places on a Klingon D7. I just sent them another reminder of what to fix.) The rulebook is doing to figuring out the final nits and gripes, and is scheduled to go to the printer by Friday the 14th. (I am already working on Captain's Log #44 but fortunately the ACTASF1 rulebook does not take a lot of checking at this point.)


The first of the joint-venture products are scheduled to appear sometime around the end of November or the start of December. The exact date just depends on the production facilities, and of course, some of you will (by the vagaries of the distribution system) see them weeks before others do.


The first round of releases will include the CALL TO ARMS STAR FLEET rulebook, a set of ship reference cards, and several packs of miniatures. The first batch will include the 2500 version of squadron boxes 1, 2, and 9 (and a box of cloaked Romulans, 9A). These squadron boxes have the same ship types as the existing 2400 squadron boxes. What I mean is that the 2400 version of Squadron Box One had a metal 1-3788 Fed DNG, BC, CA, CL, and FF. The 2500 version will have a resin 1-3200 Fed DNG, BC, CA, CL, and FF.


They will also release Fed, Klingon, and Romulan Fleet Box sets (16 ships for $99.99). Those boxes don't match anything in the 2400 range. There will be a 2500 version of the Border Boxes, but that will be mail order only, 24 ships for $129.95 with the same ship types as the 2400 Border Boxes.


Squadron Boxes 3-8 and 10-12 will appear over the subsequent few weeks, as fast as production allows. The content of those is the same ship types as the 2400 series squadron boxes.


All of the Mongoose ships will be available in blister packs as individual ships (or in some cases more than one copy of a given ship). However, this is mostly a backup and special order system; I doubt that many stores will stock the individual blisters. (They should all be able to get them for you, and all of the boxes and blisters will be on both shopping carts.)


I am asked fairly often if people should pre-order the stuff on the Mongoose site or wait until we put it on our cart. That's up to you. We get exactly the same amount of money both ways. You might get the first few ships a day or two faster from them, but after that, they should ship on the same day from both warehouses. One might suppose that it depends on what else you want. If you want Captain's Log #44, which won't be on the Mongoose cart, you might save a few dollars in shipping by ordering a combined order of ships, ACTASF1 rulebook, and CL#44 from us. It may depend more on where you live than anything else. The contract provides for simultaneous release of the products by both companies, but because of the short intense schedule, we've agreed that as soon as they land on the loading dock, they're going back out.


Beyond the joint-venture products, we will have a number of our own releases, probably about the same point in time.


Captain's Log #44 will of course be the main release. I'm personally writing a special story of Day One (the Klingon invasion of the Federation) and the issue will have the same cover art as ACTASF1. This issue will have all of the usual features, plus a new section on the joint-venture products done with Mongoose.


I expect that we will also have Boosters #31, #32, and #33 available. The cards are ready to print but we are waiting for cover art.


Steven Petrick has completed Module E3: Borak Star League and we will release that at the same time.


As always, next year is a little murky, but it's starting to come into focus. As we are not going to Origins next year, we don't have to design the entire year around those releases but can space things out in a more rational pattern.

We will have Captain's Logs #45 and #46. These may (or may not) be bigger. (We've been discussing the idea of a larger format for some time now. If we go ahead with that, the cost will go up by whatever it takes to cover the extra pages.)

Star Fleet Battles
will get a new product or two, but we've yet to decide what they will be.

Starmada will get a new edition, plus Battleships Armada and perhaps another new book.

Star Fleet Marines and Federation Admiral will be done as fast as possible.

The next Federation & Empire product will be Civil Wars, but I'm not sure if it will come out in 2012 or 2013.

We have two Federation Commander products cooking, and one (or maybe both) will come out next year. One is a reinforcements pack with a few ships for every empire. The other is the first Borders of Madness product, with the first scouts, maulers, carriers, and escorts. Both will get done within the next 18 months, and maybe within 12 months. We will just have to see.

The Prime Directive line will expand into Mongoose Traveller, and we may take a shot at getting another empire book done.

The Mongoose joint-venture series will doubtless include one if not two major new releases, each comprising a book and a range of miniatures packs. Each ACTASF book will match some combination of Federation Commander products so we can do the corresponding Squadron Boxes.

I have a secret plan in the works to get an expansion out for our card game, Star Fleet Battle Force.

There are some other products that will appear that I am not prepared to reveal at this time.