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Saturday, January 31, 2015

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.

Friday, January 30, 2015


On Romulan Plasma Torpedo Launchers:

Warning: The nature of this equipment may expose the user to unfavorable tactical situations due to the length of the arming cycle after each use; the torpedo device may be decoyed by specialty shuttles. Do NOT use within 100 parsecs of any Organians.

On Hydran Fusion Beams:

Warning: This equipment requires a very close approach to be effective; not responsible for any undue, unwanted, and forcible alteration to the structure of the generator ship due to the said close approach; not responsible for any angry Lyrans or Klingons. Warranty void where prohibited by damage control.

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

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Of Life, Media, and Education

This is Steven Petrick posting.

One of the things I run into is a statement by one side that "movies are entertainment and not political," and by the other side that "all movies are political." The curious thing is that the sides are not what you would think. The side that you would expect to be championing the idea that movies are just entertainment actually champions the idea that all movies are propaganda and should be designed to educate the masses in right thinking (even if those precise words are not used). One of the reasons that "American Sniper" is reviled because it fails to inculcate the right thinking.

Another is the statement that people should not expect to learn history from movies and thus the maker of a movie has whatever license they chose to take in how the past is presented. This can be somewhat harmless (while the overall message of the movie about how a squire assumes the identity of a knight and finally is claimed as a noble knight by the Black Prince stank to high heaven, the movie's producers and directors bringing modern touches was entertaining, to include "We Will Rock You" being sung as the knights joust).

The problem with the above is that the reality is without strong disclaimers at the start of a "historical film," literally with the director appearing on screen after the credits and before the movie begins to emphatically state that the piece is a "re-imagining of a historic incident, event, or character, or all of the above" too many people leave such films believing they are in fact historically accurate. Sorry, but I majored in history and encounter this effect all to often when I went to movies regularly. (Truth to tell, I do not go to movies much any more.) At least "Captain America" was known by most audiences to be an adaptation of a comic book, so not too many thought "The Red Skull" was a real person and "Hydra" an ally of the Third Reich.

I am trying (and that is the word) to watch the "Agent Carter" TV series. I find it incredibly painful to watch as I have a habit of watching older movies that were actually created in the time period that "Agent Carter" is set. "Agent Carter" has an agenda to make sure it is common knowledge that women were being ruthlessly crushed and held back by a "man's world." There is more than a little truth to that. It was, however, nowhere near as blatant if you watch the background information presented in movies of that era as "Agent Carter" makes it out to be.

As I have noted elsewhere, though, sloppiness is also a factor and seems to be creeping in everywhere. I find more and more typos in formally published books, and sometimes out and out historical inaccuracies (I recently, in the last two years, read a book on U-Boat operations that placed the Operation Torch landings in North Africa in 1943 for example).

I have stopped asking random questions of the college students I run into, because the answers are too often disturbing. The things that these young adults who are all High School Graduates do not know frightens the dickens out of me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Steve Cole's thoughts on surprising and little known parts of military history.

1. After WWII, Stalin insisted that no one ever really feared for the loss of Moscow, that everyone was confident that the city could be held. In reality, the NKVD was preparing teams of saboteurs and assassins to stay behind in a German-occupied capital. One team of actors was told to prepare to entertain German generals; during their act, the juggler was to throw explosive bowling pins into the audience.

2. During WWII, the US regularly updated the Australians on their Pacific War plans. The Australian Foreign Minister was very pro-Russia and his staff promptly gave copies of the plans to the Soviet embassy. The really surprising part is that the Soviets then gave the plans to Japan! Why? To slow down the US advance in the Pacific so that the USSR could defeat Germany and then move troops to Siberia for an invasion of Japan. Stalin wanted to be sure that the USSR ended up occupying at least half of the Japanese home islands. This would provide security (Japan would then be unable to attack the USSR) and the USSR could confiscate Japanese labor and technology for the Soviet Union's benefit.

3. The next US atomic bomb was just a few weeks away and was scheduled to be dropped on Tokyo itself. That might have killed the emperor and decapitated the command structure, leaving nobody with the authority to surrender.

4. Everybody knows that the Germans crushed the French in a few weeks in May 1940. One of the little known aspects of this is that the collapse began with the Dutch. The small Dutch Army was badly trained, had not fought a war in a century, honestly expected to be left alone, and had virtually no anti-tank weapons. After 12 hours of combat, their high command ordered all troops to retreat to a tiny part of the country (on the coast, where most of the population lived). This left the southern half of Holland empty, and the Germans barreled right through it, collapsing the Belgian flank and meeting the French and British troops days before they expected to be fighting and miles behind the defense lines they had planned on using.

5. I was reading a history book which compiled interviews with many soldiers who served in Russia during World War II. In one incident, a group of Russian soldiers cut off behind German lines just two weeks after the war started ambushed a lone car, killing the three occupants. These were found to be a German general and his driver and a Russian nurse. The Russian soldier being interviewed assumed that the nurse had defected to become the mistress of the general. It is far more likely that the nurse spoke German (and her native Russian) and was being used as an interpreter. Until the 1960s, German was "the medical language" and virtually every doctor and nurse in Europe and the US spoke it because the medical journals of the day were published in German. (Remember in the old movie "Von Ryan's Express" that the British doctor inexplicably spoke German and impersonated a German officer? This is why it was the doctor, and not some random other officer, who spoke German.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

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.

Monday, January 26, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 18-24 January 2015

Steve Cole reports: 

This was a week of steady work on new projects. The weather this week was cold; we even took a "snow day" on Thursday. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on Warehouse 23 this week was JagdPanther#12.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week were JagdPanther #12, the A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Federation Ship Roster Card Pack, and the A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Klingon Ship Roster Card Pack.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #50 fiction, A Call to Arms Star Fleet Book 1.2 Revision D, the SFU History Book, and the A Call to Arms: Star Fleet 1.2 ship roster card packs.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50, Captain's Log #51, the Klingon Master Starship Book, and the revision to the Hydran Master Starship Book.

The Starline 2500 project continues to wait for production molds and doesn't expect them before March.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates, covers for PDF products, and some graphics.

Jean worked on PDF uploads, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2476 friends), managed our Twitter feed (128 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread For the Glory of the Empire, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

On Snow and Driving and Kindness

Jean Sexton muses:

It is hard to believe, but I had never seen a foot of snow lying on the ground before. The time it snowed 17 inches in my hometown, I was visiting friends in Philadelphia and we saw four inches.  When it snowed 14 inches, I was in college and saw less than half that. After Thursday, I can no longer say that. A foot of snow is quite different than a few inches. When one has a dog who is only 11 inches tall at the shoulder, one finds the dog has challenges. I had to break a trail for Wolf. When he decided to leap ahead he found himself up to his ears in snow -- and he didn't enjoy that at all!

When I moved to Amarillo, I found my "heavy" coats weren't. The wind cut right through my wool coat and my lined windbreaker wasn't warm enough. I had one coat that was long and warm, but it was frequently in the way. I've added a jacket that is sufficient in most weather. After my first trip, I had a pretty pair of warm boots, but they weren't designed for wet weather. I now own sheepskin-lined rain boots and my feet are dry and warm. Wolf has an assortment of coats to handle rain, cold, and wet and cold. He is training me to carry him when his little feet would get too wet and cold on trips to and from the car.

That leads to driving. In the area where I lived (southeastern North Carolina), we realized that snow is slippery. Driving in it was hazardous. Most places closed if there was an inch of snow either expected or on the ground. My father taught me to drive with a few inches of snow on the ground. With no practice, my skills atrophied. Luckily, the Steves are willing to transport Wolf and me when I don't feel comfortable driving. Still, I am finding that my knowledge and skills are slowly returning. I may never be as proficient as they are, but I will be able to get around safely.

The apartment complex where I live now isn't responsible for clearing sidewalks or the parking lot, although they often do. The biggest problem for me is that I live in the north end of a "U" and it is shaded. Snow gets compressed or half-melted and then it refreezes to slick ice. One of my neighbors noticed I was having trouble when we were both out walking our dogs. He came over and cleared a path for me to get to the cleared part of the sidewalk. He did that again with this snowfall, having to dig about 300 steps to my door, through high drifts (two or three feet). Combined with my ice-melt crystals, I had a safe path.

On Friday, a young teen neighbor was outside and there was a snow shovel on his landing. There was a mound of snow behind my car that the plow left behind. I asked my neighbor if he'd clear it for me, sharing my nervousness about driving in snow. He understood as his mother felt the same way; his friend even cleared the car's back window. Both refused pay.

So many times we remember the rude and inconsiderate people: the person who rides your bumper, the neighbor who thunders up and down the stairs when you are trying to sleep, or the person who treats you unfairly. I am going to try to remember the kind people, the helpful people, and the people who lift others up. I think I'll be a happier person.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

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.

Friday, January 23, 2015


On Klingon Stasis Field Generators:

Warning: Requires high energy input and very cool nerves; this equipment requires a very close-range approach to the targeted object; manufacturer not responsible for any undue, unwanted, and forcible alteration to the structure of the generator ship due to the said close approach; warranty void and null if #1 shield is breached. The manufacturer makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, with respect to the hardware referred herein as SFGs, its quality, performance, mechanical reliability, or fitness for any tactical situations.

On Lyran Expanding Sphere Generators:

Warning: Manufacturer not responsible for paint scratches, hull dents, or loss of fur/life due to mishandling of the generators; warranty null and void if there are any hostile objects inside the radius of the generator, whether the generator is active or not; if not used properly, this equipment may result in severe damage to unintended parties.

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

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Continuing Progress

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Work continues apace on various projects.

The Klingon Master Starship Book is in a sort of "advanced draft" stage. The various component parts have been gathered and assembled, and the basic formatting has been done on most of it. I need, however, to do a better update on the fighter information incorporating the data from Captain's Log #25. This means in part having Z-P and Z-E (note, the article defines the EW variant of the Z-D as the Z-W) fighters operating from some ISF carriers as provided in the article.

Further, I need to take a solid look (and have been doing so) at when various Klingon fighters enter and exit service. There is also specific note that one type of fighter only ever operated from the C8V Vindicator. And of course various references to fighters that were produced in only small numbers.

Fortunately none of this applies to the heavy fighters, or the bombers.

However, as long as I am doing this, as part of the book I need to take a closer look at the Klingon carrier escorts. I mean, we know there was only one (1) AD6, and it spent its entire service life (as an AD6) with the C8V Vindicator, and was lost in the same battle in which the Vindicator itself was destroyed. However, it is a little better than an AD5, and if the B10V had entered service, would it not have been reassigned to that ship? Or to a B11V? (Not to mention the space control ship variants.) And what of the ADW (D5W carrier escort variant)? While conjectural, I need to note what carriers it might have been assigned to had it been built, or built in any numbers.

So I need to do a better rationalization of the escorts as well as the fighters.

Another thing the article creates is that Z-Ds apparently were assigned to starbases, so I am going to need to revise the Klingon Hangar Bay Augmentation Module to at least note this, but I do not currently believe I will modify its cargo boxes to APRs as is done for Hydran Stingers (they do need drone storage, which Stingers do not).

All of this, while keeping in mind that the Z-D, and all of its many variants (Z-P, Z-W, Z-E, Z-DC, Z-PC, Z-EC, Z-De, Z-Pe, Z-Ec, Z-We, Z-DCr, Z-PCr, Z-ECr, Z-Der, Z-Per, Z-Eer, etc.), only comprises 5% (that is five percent) of Klingon fighter production.

So the book is (as were the previous ones) a headache, but progress is being made.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

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/).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

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!

Monday, January 19, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 11-17 January 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of steady work on new projects. The weather this week was cold at first but warmed up nicely by Thursday. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

We received a shipment of 3,700 Starline 2400 ships and 300 Starline 2500 ships. Steve Cole, Steve Petrick, and Mike Sparks spent three entire days doing quality control. Steve Cole trained Jean Sexton on the task so that in future he could work designing new products instead of doing QC on minis.

Steve Cole tried to work on the Captain's Log #50 fiction story but made virtually no progress. He did find time to review a Prime Directive adventure, update the chain of command chart, guide the development of Star Fleet Battles Module X2, work on some other parts of Captain's Log #50, and conceptualize a new Star Fleet Universe history book project. He spent an entire day with his new doctor who said that it was time for him to take better care of his health. SVC and Jean renewed a project to update the Capitalization Guide Stylebook to the Damascus Road edition.

Steven Petrick worked on miniatures, Captain's Log #50, and the Klingon Master Starship Book.
The Starline 2500 project remains deadlocked waiting on molds to be made by a company that doesn't care if they do their work or not.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with two new entries and an updates.

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 Starline miniatures, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2472 friends), managed our Twitter feed (128 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread Glory of the Empire so it can become a Kindle book, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

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.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

On Grief and Learning and Living

Jean Sexton muses:

A comment from a friend sent me looking back at past Januaries in my life. For the past few years, they have been rough.

In January 2010, I returned home from a trip to Amarillo to find that the landlord had decided that many of my belongings in the common area (where they had been for 14 years) were clutter. They were tossed haphazardly in boxes. I was furious at the cavalier treatment of my things, as that in many ways was an invasion of my space. It marked the end of my thinking of that place as "home," and I grieved for that loss. It solidified my decision to move to Amarillo. I even got a storage area for my "clutter."

In January 2011, someone tried to break into the house where I was living. They didn't get in, but I started moving more things into storage. In January 2012, someone successfully broke in and stole things that belonged to my landlord. They tried to get some of my things, but there were too many things to disconnect with the burglar alarm going off and police on their way. That incident ended any illusion of security and safety that I harbored. I grieved for that loss of innocence.

In January 2013, I lost my beloved cat, Sapphire. That was followed in January 2014 by my new dog, Markie, becoming ill and succumbing to the effects of a genetic defect. I mourned for those losses -- a cat who lived a long life, but who still fought for her life and a dog who died far too young.

Today I am promising myself that I will live my life, learn from those events, and not clutch the losses close to me.

I learned I don't need as much "stuff." I shouldn't be defined by things and I certainly shouldn't live my life around them. I didn't know what I would need when I moved to Amarillo. When I got here, I made some decisions and gave up many of my things. I didn't want to look at objects and forget to look at people and the world around me.

I learned that feeling secure is a state of mind. The crime rate in Amarillo is nowhere what I faced where I lived before (the county where I lived was recently named the second most dangerous county in the United States). Part of my sense of security is that a Steve walks me to my car whenever I work late (our building is next to a bar). Part of it is that I have worked hard to make my apartment feel like home. I've chosen tranquil colors and favorite pieces of art. I have a feeling of peace when I am at home.

I learned that leaving a place isn't necessarily running away from failure. Sometimes it is moving to success and happiness. You cannot let your fear of failure, of change, and of the unknown take charge of your life.

I have learned that my furkids are loans. Each one is its own being; each one brings a different joy. Saph was always tranquil and was a lap sitter. Markie was fiercely protective and the world's best soccer-playing dog. I will always miss them. However The Wolf is just what I need now. He protects me from strangers when we walk at night. He plays hard; I am still trying to learn the rules of his puppy games. He demands that I walk him, even if I am feeling lazy, so that I am getting healthier. When he feels I need it (or there is a storm), he sleeps in my lap.

I think what I am working around to is that living can be hard. Loss happens, both of "stuff" and loved ones. Bad things happen, even to good people. What you have in your power is how you face it. I am choosing to face life, good and bad, by moving forward. I want to live life exuberantly. I want to celebrate the happiness I have and let that define who I am. It may not be easy to do so. I may not always succeed. But I will have tried and I will continue to try. For me, that is what matters -- that I never, ever give up hope.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sometimes ...

Steve Cole says that sometimes ...

1. Sometimes people want to know why we published a stupid rule, a stupid ship, a stupid scenario, or an entire stupid product. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. There; now I never have to answer that one again.

2. Sometimes people say my desk is a mess. People with neatly organized desks are just too lazy to look for things. I get my best ideas when looking for something else.

3. Sometimes I wonder how can I trust Jean if she runs out the door every time I unlock her leg chains.

4. Sometimes people tell me an inconvenient truth and I get mad as hell, scream, and throw things, then I deal with the situation in a way that makes a better product and a better company, and I even make everyone happy about the whole situation. Sometimes people tell me a lie and I never trust them again. Choose wisely.

5. Sometimes I think about the two ways to argue with Leanna. Neither one of them works.

6. Sometimes people mistake my refusal to argue with them to be an admission that they are right, and sometimes people mistake my admission that they are right with some kind of agreement to publish their rules change.

7. Sometimes, when I was young, I did stupid stuff, but unlike people 40 years younger than me, I did not take photographs of it.

8. Sometimes I wish I had a dollar for every time Jean interrupted me ... is it time for
lunch yet?

9. Sometimes those voices in my head, the ones I know aren't real, come up with great product ideas.

10. Sometimes words cannot express how I feel. That's when I throw things and shoot Jean with an airsoft gun.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

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.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Endless Recycling

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Once more I have been penalized by my age when watching entertainment.

Several recent shows have had plots that I was, from my long years of having watched shows, plots that I knew where they were going, and even who the villain was in some cases, long before the plot line intended them to be revealed.

I know that it has been said that all plotlines are just rehashes of the same plotlines that were used in the plays that were put on by the Greeks before even Rome arose.

But, somehow it seems they should be able to come up with something new that is not an endless recycling.

With that being said, I will admit that the one thing in "Ascension" that did take my surprise was the death of the female investigator. Sure, I knew her "ally" was a villain before that point, but only just before that point because I picked up on the "butcher" comment. Still, I thought from that point that the investigator would somehow disarm her and escape.

It was, however, pretty much the only thing that surprised me in the last month or so of shows, the only thing I did not see coming. (The escape of the "Stroh" character in "Major Crimes" did not come anywhere close being telegraphed the first time Stroh got control of the compressed air can and dropped the pen, if not the exact sequence of how he would do it.)

Still, I am watching a lot of shows in hopes of something new. At least "Castle" continues to be amusing for example. But I would like to see something different now and again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Steve Cole ponders 10 more ways that World War II might have turned out very differently. (See Random Thoughts #213 for the first 10.)

1. The Germans could have pursued atomic bomb research. They were years ahead of the US but abandoned the project after convincing themselves that triggering a fusion reaction was too complicated. A German nuclear bomb in 1941 would have destroyed Moscow, collapsed the Russian front, and forced Churchill to the bargaining table. A bomb in 1942 or 1943 would have also collapsed the Russian Front and might well have still forced England to bail out of the war.

2. The Germans could have built a real four-engine bomber and used it to reach targets deep in Russia.

3. The Germans could have fitted their fighters with drop tanks for the Battle of Britain, giving them more time over the target. Nobody seems to have thought of it.

4. The Germans made little effort to bomb the British radar stations during the Battle of Britain. Radar was in its infancy and the Germans didn't realize how vital it was.

5. The Germans could have shrugged off the first British bombing of Berlin and kept up their attacks on Royal Air Force bases, winning the Air Battle of Britain.

6. The allies might have abandoned the convoy route to Murmansk, which was dangerous and not very effective anyway. (Nine times as much stuff reached Russia through Iran.) This might have convinced the Germans to withdraw the mostly idle troops garrisoned there to use in some active theater.

7. Hitler could have kept an effective Army command structure. By assuming personal command of the army, there was no army commander to argue otherwise when the Navy and Luftwaffe wanted a bigger share of the available resources.

8. The Germans might not have changed their plans for invading France at the last minute, in which case their invading panzers would have run head-on into the French and British armies moving into Belgium and the Netherlands. Properly supported (i.e., no German tanks cutting off their supply lines) a head-on battle might well have still ended in a German victory, but not one so spectacular as historically happened. The front line might even have stabilized somewhere in Belgium and stagnated.

9. The Germans might have decided to mix SS men into Army units rather than keeping separate SS units. A man smart enough to be a sergeant in the SS was usually smart enough to be a captain in the Army.

10. The Japanese were working on a radioactive dirty bomb weapon that could have been used to shut down US operations on Okinawa, Guam, and Tinian.

Monday, January 12, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 4-10 January 2015

Steve Cole reports: 

This was a week of planning and steady work.  Everyone worked on the annual product schedule, business plan, and budget memo and with getting Hailing Frequencies and Communique #109 sent out on time. The weather this week was very cold. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

New on DriveThru RPG and Wargame Vault this week was the third pack of ship cards from Federation Commander Briefing #2.

Steve Cole worked on Captain's Log #50, A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Book 1.2 Revision D, Communique and Hailing Frequencies. We got a fiction story in that (after a few hours of review) is pencilled in for Captain's Log #51. Steve Cole and Jean Sexton decided to do a PDF playtest pack for Early Years; Jean noted that the Federation Commander Omega Playtest Pack had sold enough copies to discuss doing some kind of product for it in the fall of 2015.

Steven Petrick worked on the Klingon Master Starship Book and Captain's Log #50.

The 2500 project continued to wait for the SD7 production mold. 

A Call to Arms: Star Fleet moved forward with a contract signed for the ship roster cards and the review of about half of the cards, posting the preliminary contents list for Book Two (and Three and Four), the start of formal playtesting for Book Two, and more fixes to get ready for ACTASF-1.2D.

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries and one update.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates and some graphics.

Paul Franz reported that 17% of SFBOL has been converted to 3rd Generation "countdown" ship diagrams.

Jean worked on For the Glory of the Empire, managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2454 friends), managed our Twitter feed (129 followers), advised SVC on the presentation of information in the Captain's Log #50 fiction, commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread nine FC cards that are going back for their fourth or fifth reprint, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

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.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


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:

Friday, January 09, 2015

Did I Make the Mistake of My Life?

Jean Sexton wonders:

What have I done? How did I get here?
Did I make the mistake of my life moving to Texas?
It appears that I did. Not only does this place not get any rain (nothing grows without hours of watering by hand every day) but the peaches in the farmer's market don't smell like the peaches back home. None of the barbeque is properly done (pork, with vinegar-based sauce) but everybody thinks that cow meat covered with some glorified concoction of ketchup is actually good. Speaking of vinegar, nobody in Amarillo seems to understand that you're supposed to include it in a wide variety of things (such as deviled eggs and potato salad) and in fact virtually no one includes vinegar in anything. I live among heathens!
Every day working for Steve Cole is April Fool's day. If you think the endless pranks he played on me during the Origins trip were just to make the drive go faster, think again. He's like that at home all the time. I never know when he's serious about anything. He casually remarks about some extremely controversial blog he posted, knowing that I don't want him upsetting the customers who don't agree with him. An hour of checking later, I find out that he hasn't posted anything, anywhere. He sends me full-page Captain's Log articles that are nothing but his political and religious rants about just about anything, but I find out that he already deleted them before I could explain to him how it would hurt the company to publish such things.
He is constantly organizing the players and customers and staff against me, feeding them product information that should only be released by marketing. I got 24 emails demanding that I give Steve Cole the password to our page on Facebook because he asked people to do that during one of his appearances on TalkShoe, which, by the way, was never authorized by me. He doesn't need to be talking to customers at all, but rather letting me handle it.
How he treats my dog, Wolf, is even worse. He thinks he's the "grandfather" of Wolf, assigned to spoil the grandchild with treats that he has no business eating, such as roast beef sandwiches, meat sticks, cheese pizza, or porkchop bones. I thought he was taking Wolf to the dog park (which would at least get Steve some exercise) but I just found out today that he has been taking the dog to Walter's Cafe where Wolf gets a bowl of beef stew. (Steve claims that Wolf is his allergy-testing dog who makes sure there are no onions in his food. Somehow, the cafe owner let's him get away with the "service dog" exception.) No wonder Wolf won't eat his kibble!
Clearly, I should have taken that offer from the CIA!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

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.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Yet Another Report on the Doings at ADB

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Orders are being shipped, and work continues apace on various projects for our various product lines.

I am currently trying to work through (in addition to other things) the Klingon Master Starship Book. As with the Hydran book (and technically the Federation book which while published before the Hydran book formally, was done after the Hydran book was started), I am finding there are issues that are not accounted for in the earlier books, requiring more effort to do this book than simply "following the previous format." I do think, though, that doing a Kzinti book will be easier after having done the Federation and Klingon books (because of the drone and drone-armed fighter issues). Right now, much of the Klingon material is out for review, and reports are being submitted. At least all of the "ships" are out. The fighter and fast patrol ship sections remain to be done, and I have a major project to review and integrate the fighter and escort tables of all of the carriers looking me in the face, and finding the time to do it properly.

So, if I come across as frazzled and harried in the coming days, have no fear, there is a reason for it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

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.

Monday, January 05, 2015

This Week at ADB, Inc., 28 December 2014 - 3 January 2015

Steve Cole reports:

This was a week of catching up and starting new projects.. Having to do the Year in Review and Look Ahead blogs focused our efforts. The weather this week was bad with snowstorms causing us to take a few days off that were not scheduled as such. The spam storm mostly remained at something under 200 per day.

Steve Cole worked on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Book 1.2D, Captain's Log #50, and other projects.

Steven Petrick worked on Captain's Log #50 and the Klingon Master Starship Book.

The Starline 2500 project is waiting for delivery of the Klingon SD7. We got another shipment of 2400s and sent the casting house the largest restock for 2400s in company history (because of the largest wholesaler restock for 2400s).

The Starlist Update Project moved forward with three new entries.

Leanna kept orders and accounting up to date.

Mike kept orders going out and rebuilt the inventory.

Simone did website updates, started work on Hailing Frequencies, and did some graphics.

Jean managed our page on Facebook (which is up to 2,444 friends), managed our Twitter feed (128 followers), commanded the Rangers, dealt with the continuing spam assault on the BBS, managed the blog feed, proofread For the Glory of the Empire, took care of customers, and did some marketing.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Where Did It Come From?

Steve Cole explains:

1. The original name for butterfly was flutterby.

2. In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase: "goodnight, sleep tight."           

3. The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with any stick wider than your thumb.

4. It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the "honeymoon".

5. In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts, so in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them, "Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down." It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's." Most people think, however, that it comes from the fact that a lower-case p and a lower case q are mirror images.          

6. Many years ago, the mugs in English pubs had a whistle molded into the ceramic cups, and customers used these to call for a refill. It's where we get the phrase "wet your whistle."

7. Clans of long ago that wanted to get rid of unwanted people without killing them would burn their houses down, hence the expression "to get fired."

8. The term "the whole 9 yards" came from WWII fighter pilots. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet, before being loaded into the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got "the whole 9 yards."

9. Dr. Seuss invented the word "nerd" in his 1950 book "If I Ran the Zoo."

10. The name Wendy was made up for the book "Peter Pan."

Saturday, January 03, 2015

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.

Friday, January 02, 2015


  • your shuttlecraft has been up on blocks for over a month.
  • he paints flames and an NRA sticker on the warp nacelles.
  • you have a shuttle called "Billy Joe Bob."
  • he refers to Klingons as "Critters."
  • he refers to Romulans as "Yankees."
  • he refers to photon torpedoes as "popguns."
  • he has the sensor array repaired with a bent coathanger and aluminum foil.
  • he installs a set of bullhorns on the front of the saucer section.
  • he says "Got your ears on, good buddy" instead of "open hailing frequencies."
  • he hangs fuzzy dice over the viewscreen.
  • he rewires his communicator into his belt buckle, along with his tricorder and his pocket knife.
  • he keeps a six-pack under his command chair and a gun rack above it.
  • he says "Yee-Ha!" instead of "Engage."
  • he has a hand-tooled holster for his phaser.
  • he insists on calling his executive officer "Bubba."
  • he sets the forward viewscreen to reruns of "Bassmaster."
  • he programs the food replicator for beer, ribs, and turnip greens.
  • he paints the starship John Deere green.
  • he stocks catfish in the ship's pool.
  • he spends every Tuesday evening in the ship's bowling alley.
  • he refers to a pulsar as a "Blue Light Special."
  • he refers to the Mubarsa Nebula as a "swamp."
  • his moonshine is stronger than Romulan Ale.
  • the spare seat on the bridge has his cowboy hat in it, and no one, absolutely no one, would dream of sitting on it by accident.
  • he sings "Lucille" instead of "Kathleen."
  • his idea of a dress uniform is CLEAN bib overalls.
  • he wears mirrored shades on the bridge.
  • his idea of a "gas giant" is that big ol' XO Bubba.
  • he sets the phasers to "Cajun."

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

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A Look Ahead: January 2015

Steve Cole writes:
The future, like the weather, cannot be planned or predicted; it can only be guessed at.
The plan for 2015 is the same as the plan for 2014: establish a list of projects and then do each project in order, no matter how long it takes. The lessons of 2014 will be applied at every level. We will better leverage outside designers, motivate or replace the disappointing vendors for prototypes and molds, and set out from the first keystroke to produce manuscripts that have 90% fewer errors before they go to proofreading.
As before, there is more than one list.
The Captain's Log List includes Captain's Log #50 as the next product for the company, with Captain's Log #51 next summer and Captain's Log #52 a year from now in the winter. Because #50 is a big number, we're planning to include special features in every department of the issue. We're going to deliberately set out to do the best issue we have ever done instead of just being amazed when that happens by itself.
The Communique List will again produce a dozen new ships and a dozen new scenarios for Federation Commander. The steady upload of new PDFs will continue.
The Starline List will include new 2500s as the market demonstrates its ability to support them. There will be new 2425s (ships that work for both scales) including the long-awaited gunboats, the augmented battle station, and the jumbo freighter. Any and all new 2400s will be done to the level of detail of the 2500s so they would technically be 2450s. These will include the heavy destroyers and a few carefully selected replacements (re-scaled 2500s) for the less detailed 2400s. (Gorns, we're looking at you!)
The Main List is described below in terms of the individual designers. We won't predict any release dates but we will give some "no sooner than" guesses.
Tony L. Thomas will supply the final tweaks to A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Book 1.2, supervise the creation of the corresponding ship roster cards by an outside graphics contractor, and create A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Book 2.1 (which will include the rest of the Orions and Tholians along with a new empire and some entirely new classes). Book 2.1 might be ready for summer.
Daniel Kast will complete work on both versions of Starmada: Rumors of War, which incorporates the ships from two Federation Commander series (War & Peace and Reinforcements Attack). This might be ready for late spring or summer.
Jean Sexton will convert our paperback book For the Glory of the Empire for sale on Kindle. (If it sells well, we will create new books such as Day of the Eagle, Day One, and For the Honor of the Federation.) Once the issues with Traveller are ironed out by Mongoose, she will manage the creation of those four books by Mike West. We hope to see something by summer, but much of that schedule is not in ADB's hands.
Steven P. Petrick will push forward on the Klingon Master Starship Book (released sometime in the summer, perhaps) and will concurrently begin work on SFB Module X2 which will take many months to complete (and might not see print this year). Steve also does much of the work on Captain's Log and will have his share of the material for each issue done before it is needed.
Stephen V. Cole will focus on what used to be called the Main List, including what's left from the 2014 plan. He will have some layout work on A Call to Arms: Star Fleet Book 1.2, Deluxe but that won't amount to more than a few days before the print version appears (perhaps in February). He will have to do his part of Captain's Log #50 before he can turn to his true love: Federation & Empire. We need to print a set of fourdouble-sided countersheets, which will include Minor Empires, the revised Fighter Operations, the reprinted bases sheet (to get the boxed game back into stores), and a revised sheet for Advanced Operations. (The revised book for Advanced Operations will have to wait for 2016.) That should take him to the point it will be time to do Captain's Log #51. After that, the next thing on the list is the promised Federation Admiral Campaign Manual, which will consume most of the summer. He then has to get working on Federation Commander Fighters Attack, which is the bulk of the Borders of Madness project.
We have to print die-cut counters in runs of four sheets, and hope to do that run in the fall of 2015 or the spring of 2016. Two of those sheets will be SFB Module X2 and Federation Commander Fighters Attack; a third will be the reprint of Federation & Empire Planetary Operations. The fourth sheet might be the third installment of Star Fleet Marines, or something else entirely.
Given the recent malaise on Kickstarter it might not be a viable path for Tribbles vs. Klingons, so we are looking into other options. If any option works, the sky is the limit. If not, we may release a low-cost version of Tribbles vs. Klingons because anything that fun just deserves to get printed.