April 2013


Ask Admiral Vanaxilth (Continued)


     A. David Merritt asks: Can you replace type-I drones one-for-one with type-VI drones in an A/B/C/H/or other non G-rack, if you wanted to?
     ANSWER: Only type-G and type-E racks and ADDs (plus type-H racks that have a type-VI magazine), per (FD2.51), can hold type-VI drones, so, no.

     Roch Chartrand asks: Can someone explain or give me an example of ballistic targeting (F4.0), especially the procedure in (F4.11)?
     ANSWER: A ship in hex 2008 launches a drone in direction A, targeted at hex 1908. The drone moves ahead to 2007A, then turns to 1907F, then turns to 1807E. [Note these are the only moves that satisfy (F2.21) and (F2.22), unless the drone does a high energy turn, which it is not required to do.] At that point, it would begin evading its target hex, and could move to 1708E, 1707E or 1707F.

     Roch Chartrand asks: I have an ECM drone that was protecting a ship moving in direction A, for an entire turn, following the same path and facing as the protected ship. On the following turn my ship went to Speed Zero and made a few warp tactical maneuvers bringing its facing to E. The ECM drone went to Speed Zero to keep pace with the ship. Does the drone do tactical maneuvers to keep the same heading as the ship? I ask this because if my ship starts moving again it will head in direction E, but if the drone is still facing A it will not protect the ship for a few impulses!
     ANSWER: When your ship drops to Speed Zero, so will the ECM drone. It will not change facing, as there is no provision for drones doing tactical maneuvers. However, nothing prevents you from having the drone execute a high energy turn at some point to match the facing of your ship.
     David Zimdars asks: There is an interesting implication here. The ECM drone is at Speed Zero. While it may make a high energy turn at any point (and more than one if at Speed Zero for more than 32 impulses after its first high energy turn), a seeking weapon normally skips its next movement if it does not move during the impulse it uses a high energy turn. This might imply that after an ECM drone did a high energy turn in this situation, it would be unable to follow the ship out of its hex on the first impulse on which it moved. As the drone is at Speed Zero and never moves during this period, one might argue that the drone could accelerate, on a pro forma basis, to some "speed," gain its move but stay in the hex, just for one impulse. This would always work for a Speed-32 weapon, but slower ECM drones might face some perverse circumstances when even this may not be possible.
     ANSWER: I sent this one to Kommodore Ketrick who replied: As I read rule (F2.13) and the specific case of (FD9.182), the player can order an ECM drone to use a high energy turn and provided that the target is moving slower than the ECM drone, this will not cause the ECM drone to "lose a hex of movement" (specific overriding general) because the lost movement is one of the movements it will not use. In the case of slow drones this would have more impact, e.g., a Speed-8 drone moving with a Speed-8 ship which does a high energy turn is going to be left behind because it lost that hex of movement. But a Speed-8 drone accompanying a Speed-7 ship which does a high energy turn can be assumed to have used the unused hex of movement to stay with the ship [under (FD9.182)].

     Scott Iles asks: I cannot find a reference on specifically how the launching ship receives the data. I thought the ship received it via telemetry, but I cannot find a reference that says that. All I can find is (FD6.14) which describes ejecting the probe module and it being recovered by tractor. Is that really the only way to get the data? Rule (FD6.32) describes the probe drone reporting tactical intelligence information, so it seems there is a link of some kind, but I do not want to assume that holds for science data also. Plus, why would you eject the probe module if the data was already sent back to the ship?
     On a related note, how long will a probe module collect data? I would assume as long as the drone has endurance, but I do not see that addressed either. If the module does not transmit the data back, is there a limit to how much it can store before the ship retrieves it?
ANSWER: I sent this one to Kommodore Ketrick who replied: A probe drone does transmit the intelligence it gathers back to the launching ship. The "eject the module" thing was added due to a scenario about Klingon probe drone modules ejected into the asteroid ring around a Hydran colony planet. Note that probe drones are pretty inefficient for gathering intelligence when you are not fighting a monster. As a probe drone can only have one target, it will essentially gather information until it impacts the target (doing no damage) as any other drone (they do not fly along with the target like an ECM drone).

     Mike Kenyon asks: On Impulse #1 a Kzinti ship at Range 12 to a Klingon ship launches four drones including a Stonefish. On Impulse #3, the Klingon launches a wild weasel. On Impulse #8, the drones close to Range 3 of the weasel.
     1. Can the Stonefish drone fire?
     2. Can you set it for any size class 6/7?
     3. Will it recognize the wild weasel as size class 7? (Logically no, but I cannot find a rule saying it will not.)
     ANSWERS: Did you set the Klingon ship as the primary target of the Stonefish drone? Then, yes it will fire when it reaches Range 3 of the wild weasel. However, it will consider the wild weasel to be the same size class as the Klingon ship, so it would not target the wild weasel unless you set it for that size class, or for the primary target.
     2. You can, but it would not target the wild weasel if you did. You can program it to accept the primary target, or randomly for a set of size classes, per (FD7.31-4).
     3. No, see (J3.203). (Shuttles are size class 6.)

     Francois Lemay asks: The Kzinti battle station has two type-D racks. How many drones can it launch from each rack? According to (FD3.41), I think it is able to launch three drones from one rack (three magazines). Is there a restriction of eight impulses between launches even between two different magazines?
     ANSWER: Per (FD3.41), the rack can launch one drone per turn, from any one magazine. The usual eight-impulse delay applies over turn breaks regardless of whether you are firing from the same or a different magazine.
     Alex Lyons asks: If the D-rack acts as I think it does, as long as you do not fire from the magazine you are reloading, you can reload while firing from a different magazine.
     ANSWER: You are correct. Per (FD3.43), you can take a magazine out of service to reload it and still use the launcher to launch a drone from another magazine. However, type-D racks do not come with reloads so these must be drawn from other stores.