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Sunday, November 30, 2014

In Praise of Our Volunteers

The adventure game (wargame+roleplaying game) industry is a small one, and there isn't the kind of money inside of it that other industries have. The industry consists of creative game designers willing to work 60 hours a week for half the pay they could command outside the game industry, all because they get to BE game designers.

Even at that, the only way the game industry survives is by the hard labor of unpaid volunteers who (for honor, glory, and rarely some free games) provide no end of valuable services to game publishers.

Mike West answers rules questions on Federation Commander. Mike Curtis does the same thing for Federation & Empire, Jonathan Thompson for Prime Directive PD20 and PD20M, Jean Sexton for GURPS Prime Directive, Richard Sherman for Star Fleet Battle Force, and Andy Vancil for Star Fleet Battles.

Frank Brooks runs the play-by-email system as a volunteer. Paul Franz charges barely enough for the online game system (for SFB and FC) to pay the server costs. Tenneshington Decals does made-to-order decals for our Starline miniatures and is run by two of our fans: Will McCammon and Tony Thomas.

Federation & Empire would not exist without Chuck Strong (a retired real-world colonel from Space Command) in charge of the overall game system. He keeps his staff (Mike Curtis, Ryan Opel, Scott Tenhoff, Thomas Mathews, and Stew Frazier) busy moving projects forward.

Very little would get done on any of our games except for the Playtest Battle Labs run by Scott Moellmer in Colorado and by Mike Curtis and Tony Thomas in Tennessee. And all of the other playtesters are invaluable to us.

We have other staffers and volunteers who do specific things (and sometimes a wide variety of things) for us including John Berg, Howard Bampton, and Lucky Coleman (Galactic Conquest campaign); Daniel Kast (Klingon Armada); and John Sickels, Tony Thomas, James Goodrich, Mike West, James Kerr, and Loren Knight (Prime Directive). Some vital part of the product line would grind to a halt without each one of them. Sometimes our volunteers become part of our staff; Jean Sexton started out as a volunteer proofreader.

Added to this list are hundreds of others who, during any given month, by email or BBS or Forum or our page on Facebook, contribute in some way to the company and its product line. They may report a glitch in an existing product, playtest a product in development, suggest a new product, point out something another company is doing what we may want to take a look at emulating, look up a rules reference for another player, report on somebody who using our property improperly, comment on a posted draft of a new rule, or simply ask a question nobody else ever dared to ask.

Many years ago, we began awarding medals, ribbons, and other "decorations" to staffers and others who contributed to each product, and some other projects. These awards not only recognize those who contributed to the various projects, but encouraged others to begin making their contributions to future projects. We have created the Wall of Honor at http://starfleetgames.com/ArtGallery/Wall%20of%20Honor.shtml. This is a tribute to over 30 years of volunteer work. We hope you visit it to say thanks to all the volunteers and their efforts.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Steve Cole ponders various thoughts that came to mind.
1. The Mediterranean was the sea of destiny for the ancient world. The Atlantic was the sea of destiny for the Old World. The Pacific is the sea of destiny for the New World.
2. If you find my body beside a jogging trail, it's a good bet that I was killed somewhere else and moved there by somebody really strong.
3. If man is alone in the forest and says something where no woman can hear him, is he still wrong?
4. I can tell right from wrong. Wrong is fun and/or profitable in the short term. Right is fun and/or profitable in the long time.
5. Save your money and someday your money will save you.
6. Good things come to people who don't quit. Don't allow people who gave up on their own dreams to talk you out of yours. Then again, learn what's a dream versus what's a fantasy.
7. Nobody lives forever, but you can create something that will live on for a long time after you leave.
8. If you're being chased by a T-rex or other six-ton meat-eating dinosaur, shoot for his ankle. It's the weak spot on the frame and will slow him down; several hits there might even cause him to fall down.
9. Years ago, I faced a two-hour drive home at the end of a very long day. When I got home, I realized that for the last hour of the trip I had literally fallen asleep every minute or two but when my head fell forward the pain in my neck caused me to wake up. This is a phenomenon called micro-sleep, and it's a well-known problem for long-distance truck drivers and for engine drivers on trains. The problem with it is you are so tired you don't realize you are too tired to drive. I hope that if anyone reading this finds it happening to themselves it will pop up in their memory bank and they realize that they need to pull off the highway and take a nap, or do something else to wake up.
10. Mars is the only planet we know to be inhabited only by robots.

Friday, November 28, 2014

On Thanksgiving, Friends, and Family

Jean Sexton muses:

It had been a while since I had prepared a Thanksgiving meal for friends. In recent years past, I visited family and brought them contributions to the feast. Last year I helped Leanna fix Thanksgiving dinner for the Coles, Petrick, and me. This year the four of us had Thanksgiving at my apartment. I was worried because my apartment is much smaller than the Coles' home and because it had been years since I had been responsible for most of the dinner.

I decided to stop worrying. The world wouldn't end if the meal weren't perfect or if The Wolf pulled out all his toys (and he has quite a few) right before my friends arrived. The holiday isn't about worrying; it is about giving thanks for what you have. And what we had would be enough for a small army, even if something went wrong.

So I spent the day with friends. I looked back over my "days of thanks" (the days in November when I remind myself of what I am thankful for) and much of it was for family and friends. My friends are not only here in Amarillo. They exist all over the world and we are connected with those ties of friendship (and more tangibly perhaps) be communication. We use a variety of electronic formats to reach out. We care when one of us is hurt or is sad; we celebrate when things go well. Friendships are not longer restricted by location -- you can become good friends across states, countries, and continents.

Friends and family are what matter during this holiday period. Sometimes in the rush to get gifts at the lowest price possible we lose sight of that. Perhaps spending a few dollars more, but not being frustrated in the crowds and elbowing, is worth it when we come back home in a good mood.

So while the marketing director in me wishes to urge you to buy, buy, buy, the social person in me urges you to spend time with your family and friends. That is the gift that matters most. (And if that time is spent blowing up ships or RPGing on strange new planets, then that is good, too.)

I hope your Thanksgiving was all it could be and I wish you a peaceful time during these next few weeks.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Those of us at ADB are taking the day off to spend with family and friends. We wish our American friends a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

For those of you who do not celebrate this holiday, we wish you a great day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Got Any Marketing Ideas?

ADB, Inc., is always interested in great marketing ideas, ways and places to sell our products, as well as new products to sell. Our page on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf) exists to put our products in front of other groups of potential customers. You will find us on Twitter as ADBInc_Amarillo. We also are releasing YouTube videos that show what you'll find in "the box" and our latest releases. You can catch our videos on our channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/starfleetgames.

We tried a lot of things that didn't work (Google Pay per Click, full-color ads in trade journals) and a lot of things that did work (banners on gamer websites, Star Fleet Alerts) and are always looking for new ideas. If you have any, send them to us at Marketing@StarFleetGames.com and we'll think them over.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Music in Our Minds

This is Steven Petrick posting.

The lyrics of songs often seem to escape people. I have seen books on such a subject, but had not generally paid it much heed. Most "modern" music comes across to me as repetitive nonsense words. Words are said, but are strung together in a sequence which does not carry any real meaning to me.

Still, older songs I have often found to be popular with people, but if you ask them about the lyrics, they really do not know. Have no idea what the song is about.

I have talked to people who love the song "Lucky Man," who are stunned when I tell them the lyrics are about a young man who was born into wealth and dies in a war.

I have talked to people who love the song "Scarborough Fair" and do not know that it is the story of a young woman and an young man exchanging impossible tasks to prove their love (of course the older song is about a woman putting off the advances of a demon who demands she do impossible things to achieve her freedom, and she in turn demands impossible things of the demon, it is actually a very, very old song, unlike "Lucky Man," as indeed was the Scarborough Fair itself).

I am not immune to this. I have heard "Green Green Grass of Home" many times, but was never able to make out all of the lyrics. Still, the image the song always conjured in my mind was that of a man being returned to his home for burial. In that I was always half-right. The first part of the song it turns out is a dream by the man that he has come home, the break is where we learn the man was sleeping, and has awakened to find himself still surrounded by prison walls, and then the chaplain arrives to accompany him to his execution. The lyrics pick up then to carry the man from the aftermath to his burial beneath the oak tree of his youth and the grass of home. The song, of course, makes no mention of why the man was imprisoned and sentenced to death, i.e., what his crime was, so all are able to imagine it as they will, only he is very probably not an "honorable soldier" which was the image conjured for me before I actually read the lyrics. Depending on your viewpoint, because the crime is not mentioned, he might be a political prisoner, or an innocent man entire. The tone of the song, however, conveys that the man in question is probably not a violent man, and that perhaps his execution was somehow wrong. The chaplain (padre) walks with him "arm-in-arm" to his execution and clearly from the lyrics bears the prisoner no malice for whatever crime he committed that has brought him to that point.

Still, there are other songs.

"Leaving on a Jet Plane" for example always conveys to me the image of a soldier going off to war, even though the protagonist is clearly a musician ("Every song I sing, I sing for you"). Being me, however, the image is always of soldiers leaving their families to go and protect those families from "war's devastation."

Of course, I have mentioned before the images "Tubular Bells," "Classical Gas," and "Maid of Orleans" conjure in my mind, and always have from when I first heard them. There are other instrumentals not meant to create the images in my mind that they create (one I have forgotten the name of always makes me think of a carrier launching a strike, and another that was on that same tape was of a aircraft making their way through an enemy's defensive nets).

Still, I wonder how many of us (meaning of course you the readers) have songs we like that we do not actually know what the lyrics are about, but "it has a good beat and you can dance to it."

Monday, November 24, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 16-22 November 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was a quiet week as we took stock of recent releases, cleared up small projects that had been on hold, and pick new directions for the future. The weather this week was warmer than last week. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. Steve Cole, Jean, and Tony L. Thomas appeared on TalkShoe to discuss A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2B. 

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were parts A and G of Federation Commander: Briefing #2.

Steve Cole worked on ACTASF reports, miniatures, customer requests, art support for the SFBOL3G project, and other small projects. Steve also dug out the last five JagdPanther magazines and gave them to Simone to scan.

Steven Petrick continued on the Klingon Master Starship Book.

Starline moved forward with pounds of rejected castings turned into Pound-o-Ships bags and Scrapyard Sacks.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries. SFBOL reports 543 third generation SSDs are live on line, total 15% done.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,361 friends), managed our Twitter feed (122 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Join us on Facebook and Twitter

ADB, Inc.’s page on Facebook is now up and running, and we’re finding a lot of new faces who haven’t been around the BBS or Forum. We have pictures up of ADB, Inc. staff, links to many of our videos, snippets of information, and interaction with our fans. Jean Sexton is the main voice you will hear on our page on Facebook. If she doesn’t know an answer, she’ll ask one of the Steves and ferry the answer back.

All that is left is for you to "like" the page for Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf.

Many people on our page on Facebook have not been on our BBS, so perhaps our new outpost on Facebook will become the place for those who want to keep up with current events without the intense atmosphere (and flood of information) found on the BBS. If you are very busy on a given day, checking our page on Facebook would tell you quickly if something important has been announced. The page also has its own art galleries, plus a place where you can post a review of our products. It also has discussions where you can link up with fellow gamers.

We've also added a Twitter feed which you can follow at https://twitter.com/ADBInc_Amarillo.
 Be sure to follow us for a quick look at what is going on!

We hope to see you there! For Facebook users, be sure to add us to an interest group to see all of our posts.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

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/).

Friday, November 21, 2014


I hear the plasma in the night,
But they hear only whispers of some future devastation.
I lead my ships into the fight.
The silver wings reflect the stars that guide me to my destination.
I asked an old centurion,
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient battle plans.
He turned to me as if to say,
"Hurry boy, there’s glory here for you."

It’s gonna take a war to keep me away from you.
There’s nothing that a tractor beam and ships could ever do.
I fought the Gorns out at Gornshima.
Gotta take some time to do the things we never did.

The dead crews cry out in the night,
As they grow restless longing for some ghostly company.
I know that I must lead the fight,
As sure as BattleHawks and Eagles rise
like a Phoenix over the horizon.
I seek to fight what’s deep inside,
frightened of this war that I’ve begun.

It’s gonna take a war to keep me away from you.
There’s nothing that a tractor beam and ships could ever do.
I fought the Gorns out at Gornshima.
Gotta take some time to do the things we never did.

[ instrumental break ]

"Hurry boy, there’s glory here for you."

It’s gonna take a war to keep me away from you.
There’s nothing that a tractor beam and ships could ever do.
I fought the Gorns out at Gornshima.
I fought the Gorns out at Gornshima.
I fought the Gorns out at Gornshima.
I fought the Gorns out at Gornshima.
I fought the Gorns out at Gornshima.
Gotta take some time to do the things we never did.

Filk written by Stephen V. Cole. Appeared in Captain's Log #35. (c) 2007

Thursday, November 20, 2014

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!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Experience and Planning For the Weather

This is Steven Petrick posting.

This last Sunday past I drove Leanna and Jean to Oklahoma City so that they could experience Mannheim Steamroller.

You are all no doubt aware of the weather situation that hit the center of the country with early snowfalls. Naturally that would provide for the fall of snow on the day of the trip.

It was not a surprise, we were aware of the ongoing weather event, and actually began monitoring the possible weather a week in advance of the operation.

When the day came and the final pre-flight forecast prompted the "go/no-go" decision, I judged that there would be light snow on the way out and that this should prove not too much of a difficulty, and that between the time of our arrival and the conclusion of the show the snow would have stopped, and the road crews would have had adequate time to clear Interstate 40 for the trip home. So I called the mission a go.

I did not, however, anticipate "freezing fog."

That is my best guess for what caused the high number of accidents we encountered about 20 miles short of the Texas Oklahoma border on the outbound leg. Lots of jackknifed and even completely overturned big rigs. Obviously a lot of people in smaller vehicles not allocating sufficient braking distance from the vehicles in front of them.

Jean and Leanna revisited the "go/no-go" decision, but I convinced them we would make it. Yes, we drove slower (to road conditions) and commented on the courage (or was that stupidity) of people who passed us, but overall the "stress factor" on the interstate was never particularly high for me.

My main concern as announced before the trip began was the surface roads inside Oklahoma City itself, which I knew that, unlike the main artery of the Interstate, would not be cleared.

How right I was.

Swinging by to pick up the ladies was relatively easy, but our simple exit to the interstate was blocked by the police (the apparent result of a wreck of some kind on the actual intersection at the top of the ramp). This diverted us to a long (mostly due to the slow speeds, icy conditions, dark, and unfamiliarity of the route we were now on) detour in search of the next entrance ramp to the west.

The roads were packed with snow turned to ice, and my high level of focus and need to keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times led to significant pain in my shoulders by the time we made the ramp. SVC called and wanted us to make a go/no-go decision by the time we reached a particular exit just outside of Oklahoma City.

My prediction on road conditions held, however. And we were moving along at a reasonable clip by the time we hit the Garth Brooks exit, and so continued on.

There were, overall, fewer wreck sites in the return trip, but at least one of these was major with significant traffic back up about 15 miles on the Oklahoma side of the Oklahoma/Texas border, but over all the road crews had, as I had anticipated mostly cleared the road. There were a few rough patches, but not many, and we made it back to Amarillo by 2300 hrs.

Of course this was when I found that the road crews had not done quite as good a job on I-27 as had been done on I-40, and I-27 was still kind of rough even on the following day (Monday), but the sun was out and by Monday evening it was almost as if the snow had never been on the roadways.

Years of experience all came together to plan for the trip and the weather that was forecast to make a safe trip, but it was also skill and experience that allowed safety, in so far as my own driving, for the unanticipated aspect (freezing fog). And, of course, good fortune as while I can, and do, control my own driving (ever conscious of other people's lives in my hands), I cannot control the driving of others and we were fortunate that no one driving in excess of the road conditions lost control just at the time they would have hit us.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Find New Opponents

Steve Cole writes:

Many gamers are looking for new opponents. This is nothing new. When I was a teenager, there were maybe four war gamers in Amarillo that I knew, but there must have been more as the one store that carried Avalon Hill games (then the only wargames) would sell one or two now and then that my friends and I knew we didn't buy. Funny, it never once occurred to us to ask the store manager to give our phone numbers to the other guys. When I was in college, SPI (then the second wargame company and rapidly becoming larger and more innovative than Avalon Hill) had an opponent wanted list. I sent in my dollar to get it, and found only one person (of the 20 on the list) who was within 120 miles; the first and last person on the list were each 450 miles away (in opposite directions).

These days, the concept of contacting other gamers has had decades to mature, works much better, and there are a lot of ways to do it. For best results, you should do all of them.

If you play Federation Commander, then you can go to the Commander's Circle and enter your data (as much or as little as you are comfortable with) and perhaps find opponents near you. We are gaining new sign-ins every day, and since it's free you can try it every month or two and find out if somebody nearby has signed in. http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/

Primarily for Federation Commander players, the Forum has a topic where local stores and groups post announcements and invitations. Players can let other players know they're around. How silly would you feel if you found out that the guy who you've been arguing with on the forum for years actually lives in your town. (That HAS happened.) http://www.federationcommander.com/phpBB2

You can to go to a local store and ask them to let you post a notice looking for opponents. You could also run a demo of your favorite game(s) and "grow your own" opponents. If a person already plays the game you are demoing, he'll doubtless drop by just to swap phone numbers.

Many towns have community bulletin boards on the local cable company's "home" channel. These are variously free or cost just a couple of dollars. It's hit-and-miss, but you could get lucky. (When I commanded Company C of the 1-39 MPs, I gained a dozen new recruits in a year that came from cable TV.) You could also buy a cheap want ad in the newspaper or the free advertising newspaper (American's Want Ads or whatever yours is called) found in quickie marts. There is also Craigslist, but you should use the normal caution you would for meeting a stranger.

The quickest result, probably, is Starlist. Go to http://starfleetgames.com/starlist.shtml. Enter your data in the form, and you'll get a list of local players back. (This may take a day or two as it is done by hand.) Starlist is the most effective hunt for new players because the database has some 5,000 players in it, far more than all of the other sources combined. The only drawback is that Starlist works with full information (name and address) and those who are seriously concerned about identity theft often find this uncomfortable. In all reality, however, Starlist would not give an identity thief any more information than a local phone book would, and if that's enough for those criminals to operate, they would be vastly more likely to use the phone book than to request a copy of Starlist.

You can find opponents for all of our games on our BBS. Go to http://www.starfleetgames.com/discus/ and you'll see "Seeking Opponents" on the main menu. You can post a notice there (and search the previous postings). Again, you can post as much or as little information as you are comfortable with.

Friends of our page on Facebook can post to see who is out there. Not a friend? Become one here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amarillo-Design-Bureau-Inc/231728653279?ref=mf

With more effort, you can post opponent wanted notices in a whole lot of boardgame sites (see http://www.starfleetgames.com/links.shtml for suggestions).

If there is a game convention within driving distance, it's worth a trip to see if you might find someone who is also within driving distance. If there is a game club in your home town or a store with a gaming area, go there and set up the game and wait for somebody to ask what it is. (Even better, take a friend who will play the game with you so you won't be bored.) If there is a Star Trek club in your home town, show them Federation Commander or Star Fleet Battle Force. There are people who have printed a card with the logo of one of our games and their email address and left these in the windows of their cars who got emails from other gamers in their home towns who were seeking opponents.

You can go always go to SFB Online (http://www.sfbonline.com/index.jsp) and play Star Fleet Battles and Federation Commander online with live opponents from around the world for the princely sum of $5 per month. You might even stumble into somebody local.

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 9-15 November 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week that we released Communique #107, Hailing Frequencies for November, A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2 (revisions A and B) and the Hydran Master Starship Book. The weather this week was very cold. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. A European spacecraft landed on a comet.

New on Warehouse 23 this week was Hydran Master Starship Book.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were the Hydran Master Starship Book and A Call To Arms Star Fleet Book 1.2A and 1.2B.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, Communique, and Hailing Frequencies, then cleaned up his desk.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50 Campaign Update and  battle groups, the Hydran Master Starship Book, and Klingon Master Starship Book.

The Starline 2500 project is still waiting for the next round of masters. We did assemble 24 one-pound bags of 2400 factory seconds which we offered for $50 each.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with five new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on Hailing Frequencies, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,354 friends), managed our Twitter feed (123 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Communique #107 and A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Steve Cole ponders ten ways that World War II might have turned out very differently.

1. Italy might have stayed out of the war. That would have effectively eliminated the Mediterranean theater, the Afrika Korps, and the Italian campaign. Seriously, Italy was very little help to the Germans, and was always starting sideshow wars that distracted the Germans from the main effort. Without the Italian-caused Balkan mess, the Germans would have invaded Russia two months earlier and Rommel might have taken Moscow.

2. The US might have been delayed entering the war. The American people had very little interest in going to war and were unhappy with FDR's undeclared and unauthorized naval war in the Atlantic. Without the Japanese strike at Pearl Harbor and Hitler's stupid move to declare war on the US after that, any US entry might have been months or years later, or might have never happened. The Japanese needed the oil in Dutch Indonesia but did not have to invade the Philippines to get it (despite their mistaken belief that they needed to). Russia's Siberian troops might have continued fighting the Japanese and Moscow would have fallen.

3. The Germans might (a few minutes after seeing the first T-34) have radically improved their Panzer-IV tanks by sloping the frontal armor, switching to the long-barreled gun, and widening the tracks. (Call it the Cougar just to give it a name.) Production of the Panzer-III could have been terminated in September 1941 and that assembly line used for the StuG-III tank destroyer, which used the same hull as the Panzer-III and the same gun as the long-barreled Panzer-IV. These steps (and a tank recovery vehicle) would have vastly improved the combat power of the Panzer divisions.

4. Hitler could have quit messing with the aircraft industry. He delayed jet production. He insisted that all German bombers be redesigned as dive bombers (which cost money, range, speed, and bomb load). For bonus points he could have sped up jet production. Waves of jet fighters would have stopped the strategic bombing campaign when it started in 1943 and would have seriously disrupted Allied air supremacy over Normandy.

5. The British and Americans might have built a better tank. Let's face it, the Sherman was substandard due to thin armor and an inadequate gun. Later versions helped a little, but other than the handful of Fireflys none of them were the equal of the Panzer-IV, let alone the Panther or Tiger.

6. The Japanese could have used their submarines as commerce raiders (as the US and Germany did). The long US supply line from California to Hawaii could not have been protected without a massive increase in US destroyer production at the expense of something else (perhaps those magnificent battleships that ultimately had nothing to do that the old battleships already on hand could not have done).

7. The Allies could have just copied superior German stuff. The 75mm anti-tank gun, the 88mm anti-aircraft gun, the MG34 (let alone the MG42) machinegun, and the panzerfaust rocket launcher would have been easy to copy and were vastly more effective than Allied weapons.

8. FDR made his demand for unconditional surrender without approval from his allies, and it shocked them that he made such a huge political mistake. The German soldiers then felt they were fighting for the very existence of Germany, and the Japanese thought they were fighting for the very existence of Japan. They might well have agreed to a negotiated settlement.

9. The Germans could have made a far more rational defense against D-Day. There were really only two plausible invasion areas (Calais and Normandy) so troops could have been concentrated there. No concrete should have been wasted on the western coast of France or the coast of Denmark. The key bridges that British glider troops seized on the night of 5 June could have been guarded by entire platoons of troops instead of a couple of sentries. The key German tank divisions could have been parked 10 miles from the beach not a hundred miles or more. Even so, the massive amount of naval gunfire (seven battleships and 23 cruisers) would mean that the landing was not going to be totally destroyed.
10. The Germans could have paid attention when shipping packages. The war in Europe went the way it did largely due to British success cracking German codes, but the British got their start from the Poles. A month before the war began, the Germans mistakenly mailed an Enigma code machine to an address in Poland. Recognizing what it was, and with German diplomats on the way to get it back, the Poles had two telephone engineers examine it for a few hours. Without their report, there would have been no ULTRA, no Bletchley Park, no code breaking, no man called Intrepid, and probably, a much more expensive victory, or a negotiated peace.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Free Stuff for Star Fleet Universe Players!

Steve Cole writes:

We have a lot of free stuff on our website. Let me point you to some of the most popular things. Doing this in alphabetical order we start with Federation & Empire. They have play aids and countersheet graphics here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#FNE

Some people do not realize that you can download what amounts to a free copy of the Federation Commander game (well, enough of the game to play a few battles). First Missions will give you enough of the game that you can try it out. Go here to download it: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/Commanders%20Circle/first-missions.shtml

But that's just a start. Commander's Circle has lots of free resources such as various formats of the Master Ship Chart, Ship Cards, the current and back issues of Communique, scenarios, and playtest rules. If you register, then you can find other Federation Commander players.

Prime Directive players can find a treasure trove of play aids, including medals, insignia, maps, the timeline, and lots of other goodies to spice up a game. These can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#PD

Want to introduce a friend to the Star Fleet  Universe? Try the free download of Introduction to the Star Fleet Universe: Prime Directive and Roleplaying found here:http://www.warehouse23.com/products/introduction-to-the-star-fleet-universe-prime-directive-and-roleplaying

Star Fleet Battle Force
has new cards and play aids as well. These are located here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/sfb/sfin/index.shtml#SFBF

Star Fleet Battles
players have the Cadet Training Manual and Cadet Training Handbook. These were done as a way to get players into the complicated Star Fleet Battles game system. You can download them for free here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/CadetTraining.shtml Also available on the same webpage are lots of SSDs for the game.

We have downloadable art for your computer and iPhone so you can show your SFU pride. Those are here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/wallpapers.shtml

Don't forget Hailing Frequencies, our free monthly newsletter. Covering all our games, you can read back issues here: http://www.federationcommander.com/Newsletter/past.html Don't forget to sign up to get the link delivered straight to your email box each month. You can "opt in" here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/newsletter.shtml

There are many historical documents which are available for download. Maps, deck plans, assorted graphics, and much, much more can be found here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/historicaldownloads.shtml

Browse our master index to find all sorts of interesting information: http://www.starfleetgames.com/masterindex.shtml

As you can see, you could spend days browsing. We hope you enjoy what you find.

Friday, November 14, 2014


Ramses, Ramses, Ramses, Ramses,
I'm begging of you please don't kill my dog!
Ramses, Ramses, Ramses, Ramses,
Please don't kill him just because you can!

Your hunting is beyond compare,
With flaming pelt of reddish hair,
With vicious claws and teeth of deadly bite.
Your pounce is like a stroke of death;
Your snarl is harsh like demon's breath.
And he cannot escape from you, Ramses.

He dreams about you in his sleep.
There's nothing I can do to keep
From crying when he whines in fear, Ramses.
And I can fully understand,
How you could quickly kill my friend,
But you don't know what he means to me, Ramses.

Ramses, Ramses, Ramses, Ramses,
I'm begging of you please don't kill my dog.
Ramses, Ramses, Ramses, Ramses,
Please don't kill him just because you can.

You could have your choice of food,
But I think it would be quite rude,
If you were to kill my dog, Ramses.
I had to have this talk with you.
My happiness depends on you.
And whatever you decide to do, Ramses.

Ramses, Ramses, Ramses, Ramses,
I'm begging of you please don't kill my dog.
Ramses, Ramses, Ramses, Ramses,
Please don't kill him just because you can.
Ramses, Ramses

(c) 2014 Stephen V. Cole and ADB, Inc., with apologies to Dolly Parton and Jolene

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Exploring Excellent Ebooks

We have continued our long-awaited move to offer more of our products as PDFs by way of the  Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault websites. So far on Warehouse 23, we have released a lot of stuff for Federation Commander, including the Revision Six Reference Rulebook, the 72 ships from Federation Commander Briefing #2 (divided into six packs of 12 ships and a separate rules pack), and more than a dozen Ship Card Packs. Our ebook PDFs are in color and high resolution. PDFs of most books are searchable (older Captain’s Logs are not).

The way Warehouse 23 works, once you buy a product, you can download it again for no cost if you lose it or if we upload a revised version of that edition. Thus, the people who bought Reference Rulebook Revision 5 were able to obtain Reference Rulebook Revision 6 for free (and to download it again when we discovered we had accidentally left out rule 4S).

Our Prime Directive PD20 Modern books are sold as ebooks exclusively through DriveThru RPG. We have started offering general RPG books there as well as some of the general gaming materials that Steve Cole has written. We are also listing Federation Commander, Federation & Empire, and Star Fleet Battles products on Wargame Vault.

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

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Steve Cole reports:

We have released this month's issue of the Hailing Frequencies newsletter and this month's Communique. Hailing Frequencies has the latest company information and covers all of our games. You'll find news on the latest releases both in print and ebook, information on the company, and even serialized fiction. Hailing Frequencies also has links to the latest Star Fleet Alerts, which are press releases about new products and when they will be available for order. From Hailing Frequencies, you can link to Federation Commander specific news in the latest Communique, a free PDF newsletter which is full of good things for Federation Commander players, including a new ship, a new scenario, and updated schedules and rules.

You can subscribe to Hailing Frequencies at this link:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On Veterans Day 2014

Jean Sexton writes:

Veterans Day has been much on my mind recently. First, it is a holiday which seems to overlooked in the rush to get to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Second, both my father and brother served in the military.

It seems to me that many of our veterans are a bit hesitant about accepting thanks for their service. They know there are others who didn't come back or who are suffering from physical, mental, or emotional damage. Perhaps they served in an unpopular conflict or a situation that was never a "real war."

However, I respect and honor them all. What matters to me, more than anything else, is that they were willing to stand up to an enemy, whether the enemy was real, perceived, or simply a potential that was never realized. They made sacrifices of time and energy. Some made sacrifices of health. Families missed family members while they pulled duty, sometimes months at a time.

So today, take the time to thank someone you know who served. Do it while they are alive and can appreciate your thanks.

To my friends and colleagues who served, thank you. Thank you for all you have done and were willing to do.

Monday, November 10, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 2-8 November 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was the week that A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2 was (almost) finished and the week that the Hydran Master Starship Book was finished. The weather this week was cool and quite pleasant. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day. Inspector General Isis passed away quietly on 3 November, saddening us all.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was Captain's Log #8.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet (sending the final draft to the staff on Saturday), Hailing Frequencies, and Communique #107.

Steven Petrick worked on finishing Hydran Master Starship Book and articles for Captain's Log #50.

The Starline 2500 project moved forward with prototypes actually reaching the company making the next master mold.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two new entries.

SFBOL now has 514 third generation ship diagrams.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on Hailing Frequencies; managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,337 friends); managed our Twitter feed (123 followers); commanded the Rangers; dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS; managed the blog feed; proofread A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, Communique #107, and Hydran Master Starship Book; took care of customers; and did some marketing.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Star Fleet Universe Downloadable Art

Simone Pike writes:

Many do not know that we have a page where you can download backgrounds and covers with Star Fleet Universe art. We have art that will work on Facebook, iOS7 iPhones, Android devices, and computers. You will also find art you can use as binder spine cards.

Check out what we have on http://www.starfleetgames.com/backgrounds.shtml.

Big monitors, small monitors, we have something for nearly everyone. 800 x 600, 1024 x 768, 1680 x 1050, even 2560 x1600. If you need a different size, we'll see what we can do to fill that desire.

If there are any other sizes or any other images that you would like to see turned into downloadable art, please feel free to contact us at graphics@StarFleetGames.com and we'll work your request in.

Saturday, November 08, 2014


Steve Cole's thoughts on ADB and the future of the Star Fleet Universe.

1. We have a tradition of Customer Request Wednesday. I take an hour and review whatever requests have arrived, doing them in the order of the ones that take the least time first. This is for things like "Please look this up for me" and "Please review my scenario out of the normal sequence because if it's good I want to do sequels" and "Please create a graphic I need for something." Every now and then, however, we get people who just don't understand the whole "one hour" idea. One individual asked me to design Module X2, obviously not something that I can do in an hour, or even 52 hours. Another asked me to have a particular product uploaded as a PDF. That's not something for Wednesday, since the Board of Directors has to decide what gets uploaded, not least because anything we upload has to be updated first, and that means putting it on Steven Petrick's schedule, which is not a matter we take lightly.

2. Some people who know me think I'm a really nice person. Some people who know me think I'm a mean bastard. The difference is whether you went out of your way to piss me off, cheat me, or steal from me.

3. Jean says to stop saying "I don't care" which people think means "I don't give a rat's ass what you do or if you do it at all" when it really just means "either way is fine" or "I'm not married to either plan; do the one the fans want." The modern soundbite generation apparently thinks that the short version means what the few remaining words mean.

4. Over 20 years ago, I was at Origins running the SFB tournament. John Olsen from TFG had stopped by to say hello. One of the judges came to me with a young gentleman in tow, saying the individual had asked to see me. I said hello and asked him what he wanted. The individual announced that he had designed the 3rd Generation X-ships for me and wanted to sign a contract for their publication. I told him that I had no plans to ever publish 3rd Generation X-ships, and that if I decided to do so in future I would design them in-house and not buy them from someone outside who had no idea of the overall plans for development of the universe. He asked if I would at least review his designs (insisting that this must be done immediately), and I said that I would not. I explained that I had other appointments scheduled, was in the middle of running the tournament, and would not have him come back years later claiming that I had copied his designs. I did tell him that he could mail them in under our published standard terms, something he rejected, saying he wanted a deal. (For the record, I have no idea what the contract he envisioned us signing would look like. I don't know if it would have been fair and consistent with other deals we made, of if it would have been unreasonable. Given that he had rejected the standard deal, I considered his demands for a special deal he would define to be a non-starter for any discussion. If I'm going to give someone a better than standard deal, it would only be for something really spectacular that I really wanted.) The individual left, not in anger but clearly in disappointment. He never gave his name. John Olsen berated me for being rude, a charge I rejected, noting that I had in fact given more than adequate reasons for not reviewing his submissions. I told John that from my viewpoint, the individual had been a bit rude and certainly demanding, things I had no reason to deal with. I noted that I had not asked him to design anything and had never given anybody any idea that I wanted them to design an entire product, and that the last time I had allowed an entire product from an outside designer to be published had turned into a disaster that took years to fix. (I also noted to John that said outside design was the second-generation X-ships and had been kicked out of the universe so anything based on it was not publishable.) I remember this incident every now and then and wish it had been different, but I really do not think that politely reviewing and still rejecting his designs would have accomplished anything good, and more likely would have led to long-term legal problems.
5. A thought on game design. Many years ago, someone put on my desk (I was part of TFG then) the game Supervillains. I tried to read it, but it made no sense. I gave it back to my partner, and years later he printed it. The reason I couldn't make heads or tails of it began with the introduction, which described the events of a typical day for the supervillain about town. One of them was to go to a certain area and "beat up some punks." There were other events of the day, but that one stuck in my mind. Why did I want to go beat up punks? Did I gain money? Did I gain reputation points that had some game function? Did I gain combat skills? Why was I doing that? So remember when designing a game and writing that very important introduction, get the people into the game mindset. Something like "Go to the Bowery and beat up some punks, thereby gaining reputation points you can use to intimidate people when you go to Central Park later" or maybe "... beat up some punks, thereby gaining money to support today's expenses and activities" or "... beat up some punks, thereby keeping your combat skills points up to the maximum level." Give me something to start getting my mind into the purpose of the protagonist's lifestyle.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Song of the Kishawk

The Gorns are here, there’s no kind of support ships.
We’re all alone, in distress.
Run Run Run, from their Guns Guns Guns.

I want to be at home on Romulus,
Drinking cold falcon ale,
Orion girls nibbling at my toes.

Filk written by Stephen V. Cole. Appeared in Captain's Log #35. (c) 2007

Thursday, November 06, 2014

How Not to Get into the Game Business

Steve Cole writes:

I constantly see things on industry mailing lists and in my Email where people want advice on entering the game business. The best advice I have is my free book which you can find at www.StarFleetGames.com/book as a nice multi-chapter PDF.

In one recent case, an individual wrote to say: "I just lost my job and have decided to be a game designer for a living. I need a stable income of $4,000 a month. How long would it take me to get there? Three months? Six?"

I laughed and cried at the same time. For one thing, I don't make $4,000 a month now and I've been in the industry over 30 years. (A few years I have made that much, barely, but not in the current market.) The sad fact is that except for the lucky three or four, game designers won't ever make that much. Worse, you probably cannot make a living as an independent game designer at all, since game publishing companies were (99% of the time) created to publish the owner's games because no other company would publish them.

In another case from some time ago (I'm going to blur some facts here so that nobody can tell who I'm talking about), a young game enthusiast decided to quit his day job and focus his full time efforts on game design and publishing. His wife said that she would allow this only if he "brought home" a paycheck of a defined amount each month. He had some money from an inheritance which was separate property and his wife allowed that he could use this. Well, he went through the nest egg, borrowed money from savings without telling his wife, maxed out the credit card he got for the business, and then got two more cards (those offers in the mail) without telling his wife and maxed them out. All the time (his company lasted 18 months and did a dozen products) he was "bringing home" the required paycheck. His company was making a profit beyond expenses, but not enough to cover the paycheck, but the paycheck continued because (a) his wife insisted and (b) he was sure he would start making more sales any time. One of the credit cards was a $5,000 cash advance spent on advertising (which produced few if any new sales). Every month, he wrote that paycheck but came up short elsewhere. He had established credit with the printers and with the companies that sold him advertising pages so he ended up deeply in debt to the printer and to advertising publishers. Worse, his first product (which sold well enough) ran out of print, but it was going to cost $20K to reprint it and the dwindling rate of sales (nowhere near as good as it had been 18 months earlier) would not support the debt load, but he "had" to reprint it to avoid looking like a company on the way out. Finally, with no more places to borrow money and creditors threatening legal action, he took the case to his wife for a home equity loan. She, of course, had no clue that his company was $40K in debt (for which he was personally liable) or that most of the family savings account was gone. It's a wonder she didn't kill him or leave him, but she did force him out of the game business immediately. He sold out for what he could get and applied that money to the debts. Moral of the story, if you are married, make your wife a part of every business decision and do not keep secrets from her about family money.

In another case (actually, there are four or five of these I have seen, all about the same), an enthusiastic game designer who knew nothing about the industry but was sure his game was the next big thing got a home equity loan, printed thousands of copies of his game, and THEN (and only then) asked other game companies how to contact stores and wholesalers to sell his game. He had no clue what size the market was (few games sell over a couple of thousand copies) or who the wholesalers were or what it would take to get them to buy (some now demand that you pay them $500 for advertising before they will carry your game) or even what the discount structure was (which meant that his cost per game was fairly close to the 40% of the retail price he had printed on the games). Moral of the story, learn as much as you can about the industry before you spend a dime getting into it. GO READ MY BOOK FIRST.

I see lots of gamers who think that running a retail store, and online discount store, or a game publishing company involves low work and high reward. It does not. If it did, a lot more people would be in this business.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Blindspot in my Knowledge of U.S. History

This is Steven Petrick posting.

If you have read many of my previous posts, or spoken with me, you are aware that I have an interest in military history.

Despite that interest, I am sometimes surprised by things that "I should know" but that I do not.

I have seen various episodes of a TV series that was about Roger's Rangers (I only really remember that Buddy Ebsen who would go on to play Jed Clampet in "The Beverly Hillbillies" and a few other shows was one of the co-stars). I have seen "Northwest Passage" at least once, with Spencer Tracy playing Rogers.

But it was not until the series "Turned" on AMC that I actually gave any real thought to what Rogers did during the Revolutionary War. I gradually became somewhat startled at a Tory named Rogers in that series, and had begun thinking back to my reading of the Revolutionary War and could not really recall Rogers being mentioned in anything I had read.

The heroic Rogers, a Tory?

To add to my discomfit one of the books I have received in the last year was "War on the Run" which tells the story of Rogers and his Rangers, from his birth to his death, and yes he was a Tory.

This is not to say that as a student of "the art of war" I am unwilling to learn from "the enemy" (certainly I was much impressed with the German commander in Africa, Lettow-Vorbeck, during the First World War as an example). Simply because someone is on the other side, it does not mean he is stupid or incompetent (although that state of affairs is dearly to be wished), so the precepts of Rogers being something I studied in the U.S. Army does not cause me any concern.

It is, however, surprising to be in my late 50s and find I had always thought Rogers was one of (or would have been if he were alive) the heroes fighting for American independence. He was not.

At least he was loyal to the crown from the start, and did not "turn his coat" as Arnold did.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

I Voted! Did You?

Jean Sexton writes:

Today is Election Day in the United States. It is a "midterm election," one that doesn't elect a president. As such it gets less attention, when in actuality many of the races are for positions that are local and which affect people directly. Now is not a time for apathy.

As citizens of the United States, we choose our leaders. This is both a right and a responsibility. At ADB, Inc., we are not pushing you to vote for a particular candidate, a particular stance, or a particular belief. We are simply urging you to vote. Vote as your conscience dictates and do your duty as a citizen.

My father always said, "If you don't vote, you have no right to complain about anything that happens. You gave up that right when you didn't exercise your responsibility and vote."

If you have already voted, well done! If not, then what are you waiting for? 

Monday, November 03, 2014

This Week at ADB, Inc., 26 October - 1 November 2014

Steve Cole reports:

This was another week of steady progress. The weather this week was cooler, often in the 50Fs. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23, DriveThru RPG, and Wargame Vault this week were the updates of the Federation Master Starship Book and Galactic Conquest Fifth Edition rulebook.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet (processing reports from the staff, mostly on ships). He also did some blogs, customer requests, the Borders of Madness fighter test, and administrative things. Steve continued his exercise, taking Wolf and Ramses on several walks.

Steven Petrick worked on the Federation Master Starship Book, Hydran Master Starship Book, and Captain's Log #50. The two Steves did quality checking on thousands of 2400 miniatures.

The Starline 2500 project is still waiting for masters from mold two.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with six new entries and one updated entry.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Jean worked on Galactic Conquest Five, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2321 friends), managed our Twitter feed (123 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread A Call to Arms: Star Fleet and the Hydran Master Starship Book, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Play Online

Many people do not know that you can play either Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander online in real time against live opponents.

Ten years ago, www.SFBonline.com was created to provide players of Star Fleet Battles with an on-line gaming experience. It was a smash hit as hundreds of gamers joined the battles. Tournaments and other competitions, plus general opening gaming, have gone on around the clock since then. It since expanded to include Federation Commander!

Now you can play with real live human (not to mention Klingon, Romulan, Kzinti, Gorn, Tholian, Orion, and other) opponents all over the world in real time 24 hours a day! The computer automates many functions and acts as a friendly assistant for mundane chores.

For the modest subscription fee of less than $6 a month per game system, you have access to most of the ships in the Star Fleet Battles/Federation Commander game systems as well as new ships still in playtest and development. The Java Runtime system is compatible with Windows and Macintosh systems.

Never worry about a lack of opponents. Never worry about opponents who don't show up for games day because of silly reasons like family reunions or their own weddings. Don't be cut off from your regular gaming group while on vacations or business trips.

Even better, you can join in online tournaments and campaigns, and your victories will add up to a higher and higher average score!

The system also allows you to chat with friends, taunt your enemies, and watch other players fight their own savage battles. (Why learn from your own mistakes when you can learn from someone else's?) This "observer" system allows players of either game to learn the ins and outs of the other game before deciding to invest time and money in it.

We continue to develop Federation & Empire for an online environment and have playtesters working out the kinks. We'll let you know as soon as it is ready to release.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

On Tricks and Treats and Life

Jean Sexton muses:

It is the day after Halloween -- what better time to think about tricks and treats.

While I don't mind kind-hearted teasing, I really do not appreciate tricks. Somehow the ones played on me by people have always seemed to have a cruel edge. Whether it be an Oreo cookie filled with white glue, a yard that has been papered, or a stink bomb placed under a door, tricks seem to be designed to humiliate, inconvenience, or harm others. I wonder sometimes if I could have a "do over," would I choose to have those tricks removed from my life. I think not. Good or bad, they have served to remind me to be kind to others, to try to do no harm to someone else, to be the kind of person who shares happiness.

On the other hand, treats are something that I think most of us welcome. For me, it is getting a well-written book that needs just a nudge to send it in the right direction of perfection. (We won't speak about the treat of brownies!) Other treats include many of the interactions with our ADB friends.

As long as life goes on, I suspect that we will all experience tricks and treats. I think the lesson I have taken away is that tricks are to be learned from and treats are to be enjoyed. May your treats always outnumber the tricks played on you.