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Ad Astra Games
Bringing 3D Acceleration To TableTop Gaming
Bringing 3D Acceleration To TableTop Gaming

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Do you like your Cold War safely in the "distant" past of the 1980s? Have you always yearned for the timeline where the Apollo program was a cover for Project Orion?

Have we got the setting for you...

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New AVID Assistant Codebase Open Beta!

The AVID Assistant Version 2 is now up for testing, with a new lead developer. (Jon Barson is still working on the project, never fear!)

You can find the new AVID Assistant here:


Hello all, I'm Mike. I'm the third and first programmer on this project. I'm the third one to head up this effort and the first one on AVID Assistant 2. AA2 started life as a private project of mine and doesn't share any code with AA1.

I first met Ken at Origins 2002. I was on my way to run one of my 12-player games of Twilight Imperium when Ken tried to recruit me into play Delta V (the playtest version of Attack Vector:Tactical). I'm also the guy behind SSPDF, the software that takes the output from the SS Ship Spreadsheets and turns them into PDFs.

Design Philosophy of AA2

1) The purpose is to speed up game play.
2) Real world usability is more important than looking pretty or being clever.
3) AA2 is a game-aid and not the game.
4) Where there are multiple valid design choices, add a configuration option if possible


There are three variations on AA2 planned.
1) AVID Calculator
This is the variation that is releasing today. It is generic enough to support all of the AVID based games on the market. It's roughly equivalent to the AVID Assistant Version 1

The most important thing to remember is that the AVID Calculator only cares about the Now. It doesn't care about the past or the Future. Think of it as a pocket calculator for firing arcs.

2) Squadron Strike

This is the next variation that will be added. It will support multiple unit types (Ships, Missiles, Torps, etc...) as well as Mode 0, 1, and 2 plotting.

3) Attack Vector:Tactical
This is the final variation to be released.


Coordinate system:
AA2 uses a coordinate system to track where the ships are. I simply place a poker chip in one of the hexes on the map and call it the Origin Point (0,0,0). The coordinates are written using the AVID directions. For example: (4A, 3B, 5+) would be 4 hexes in direction A, 3 hexes in direction B, and 5 levels above the Origin Point.

The coordinate entry system is very lax and accepts lazy entries. For example, it will accept (3F, 2D, 3E, 3-). The software will then normalize it to (5E, 1F, 3-)

Multiple ships:
AA2 can support an infinite number of ships. The practical limit is much lower unless you really like scrolling through ships and have lots of memory on your device. Ships are arranged into Squadrons with each player leading a squadron.

Multiple positions per ship:
Ships can defined a current location, mid-point, and EOT location.

Shared data:
While it is possible for each player to enter in the coordinates for each ship every turn, it is faster to sync data via the internet. AA2 connects to a database at Google that allows players to share data. This is done without accounts.

To share data, one player goes to the setup page and enters a password in the Game Password field and clicks Game Id. The server will then generate a Game Id. This password and Game Id is shared with the other players in the game, allowing them to share data.


A series of tutorials on how AA2 works can be viewed here:

Plan going forward
1) Release Web App of AA2 as a beta build
2) Gather feedback and make improvements
3) Release the Android/iOS Apps
4) Release the Squadron Strike Web App as a beta build
5) Gather feedback and make improvements
6) Update the Android/iOS Apps for Squadron Strike
7) New Kickstarter for AV:T version
8) Release the AV:T Web App as a beta build
9) Gather feedback and make improvements
10) Update the Android/iOS Apps for AV:T

So how fast is this going to happen? I really don't know. This release is actually a few days ahead of what I had planned and I'm already testing out the Android App on my phone.

The 3D rendering code is being worked on by Jon/Tom and there isn't a timeline for completion for it.


I need feedback. Complaints, compliments, feature requests, improvement suggestions, etc... are what keeps me motivated to work on this project. is the email address to use. Please note that this address is for the AA2 software only. Questions about anything else will simply be forwarded to Ken at

All feedback will be added to our issues list and discussed at the development team's monthly meeting.

I'll try to have a monthly update from this point forward, most likely after one of our monthly meetings, to keep folks updated on the progress and to act as a running FAQ.

I can also be found on the Ad Astra Games Fans page on Facebook (

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New art morgue for a product to be developed next year.

US-USSR deep space naval action with Orion Pulse Drive warships, set in the Reagan Administration, roughly 20 years after Robert McNamara championed the Orion program as a way to extend SACs mission into low orbit.

An uneasy detente exists on Earth, as a Soviet Union enriched with the spoils of Lunar mining, faces off against Ronald Reagan's ambitions to make Mars American, and both are looking at the far frontier of the Jovian Moons for the water needed in the highest desert of space...

This will be a Squadron Strike product, Mode 2, and will use fuel tracking. We'll be working from the details of Brent Ziarnick's Starfleet Postponed briefing, available here:

I'm setting up the universe tab, Will Minsinger is taking the first stab at ship designs (and I'm providing technical assistance) and Brent and I are writing the future history and scenario fodder.
2 Photos - View album

Reminder: The NoOrangeList discount code ends tomorrow! 10% off any purchases at

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I've been told photography isn't allowed at SpaceX, so this will have to suffice...


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I've been informed that someone has created an "orangelist" of Trump supporters in the game industry, and that Ad Astra Games is top of the list, largely due to alphabetical order.

The progenitor of the list says that all entities on the list were contacted before he added them. We have no record of this contact for Ad Astra.

At least two other game companies listed on the "orangelist" have been out of business for ten years, and one designer listed has been dead since 1997.
Ad Astra's position is that we'll work with anyone who knows our products and does work we can use, and that whomever you voted for in this election is your business, not ours.

While we were going to create a Black Friday discount code that ran through the first Sunday in December...we're going to start it a day or two earlier than normal, and call it the NoOrangeList code instead.


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6 fleets, 7 sets of box miniatures, 86 ships, 7 sets of box mini stiffeners.

42 1/4" ball bearings, 32 3/8" ball bearings, and 12 7/16"s are in the box minis as counterweight/ballast.

Feds are on the bottom, Klingons are the next row up, the "base setting" of the game is the next two rows, and Exile's Stars are the two rows on top of that.

I just assembled 86 box minis with box mini stiffeners over the last three days. I got better at it as I went along. I may choose to re-do the Empire/DIrectorate War box minis next week.

Things I learned:

Punch out the box mini and "fold it up" into its final position before you assemble the stiffener. If it will friction fit, even better - this gently deforms the paper.

Assemble the stiffener. Stiffeners have a white side and a brown side. The white side is rougher and it should go on the INSIDE of the box minis, especially with the 16-point paper of the new Empire/Directorate War box minis and the Exile's Stars box minis. That difference in roughness is a lot of frustration when trying to tuck tabs in after assembling the box minis.

Set up the front/back/top/bottom as a quadrangle, and then put one of the side pieces into the box mini - once that side piece goes in, it helps 'lock' everything into place. The stiffeners aren't designed for friction-fit, but it can work if you're patient. If your fingers are sweaty, the stickiness of your sweat is a stronger adhesive than the friction holding the panels together. Expect this to be like assembling one of those old "snap to fit" models together, only smaller, and a bit more fiddlesome.

Once you've got 5 pieces together, put the ball bearing in the box mini stiffeners. Small ones will take a 1/4" ball bearing, the mediums take a 3/8" ball bearing and the larges take a 7/16". (This assumes you want the largest counterweight that will fit in each box mini; you can standardize on 1/4" ball bearings, though if you're putting this much effort in, you might as well go whole hog, I say.)

Put glue on the inside surface of the top, right side and bottom surface of the box mini. I use Tomow Aqua glue, which is liquid until it dries.

Picking up the assembled stiffener and bearing assembly (it's a small cardboard box with a rolling weight), pinch from the front and back and put one of your fingers underneath. Place it on the glue on the inside of the "top" image of the box mini.

Fold the "nose" and "aft" flaps up so that their small tabs are over the stiffener.

Fold the other surfaces over the box mini and tuck the long tab under the left edge of the "top" art to complete the box. You may need the tip of a dull knife to slide everything in, but with practice it gets easier.

Run your fingers over the surfaces with glue on the other side of the art, particularly, try and push the liquid glue out towards the tabs, while keeping pressure to keep the tabs in place. This ensures that the glue will seal the tabs in place and will also push the art so that it "seals" on the cardboard.

After a while, you'll get better at this. However, the process that I describe (front and aft tabs up, then wrap) is MUCH less likely to result in a weird looking box mini from a non-Euclidean dimension.

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It is confirmed: I will be attending Carnage 19 (Carnage Royale) in Killington VT on the weekend of November 4-6th.

William Minsinger and I are planning on getting some playtesting in for new ships in Squadron Strike on Saturday afternoon if we can find a table, and we'll be doing a Squadron Strike/Stars At War gab-fest for interested parties.
Let me know if you can attend.

Dear Author:

If your next set of example NPCs have the gender mix of "Buckshot, Man-to-Man Heat," editorial reserves the right to write a Yaoi Love Dodecahedron about them and declare it canon.


(Maybe this will get more RPG authors to include female characters in their examples. Asking them nicely sure as hell doesn't seem to work.)
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