December 2012

Ask Kommodore Ketrick (Continued)

      Lieutenant Keohane asked: I armed a photon torpedo, but didn't fire it, so I paid holding energy so I would still have it on the next turn. I think that the holding energy adds to the warhead, overloading it, but my opponent says I'm crazy.
      Dear Lieutenant: You are crazy. Holding energy is holding energy and does not contribute to the warhead strength. This is true for any weapon.
      Lieutenant Kamowski asked: Is there a civilian ship available that can (while carrying a ground base) land on a planet?
      Dear Lieutenant: No, but there is no need for one. A standard freighter can deliver the ground base to orbit and then it can be lowered by a tractor beam.
      Lieutenant Krigg asked: What is the difference between a carronade and a plasma bolt?
      Dear Lieutenant: Plasma bolts have longer range and can be fired every other turn (at best) by a launcher larger than plasma-F or every third turn from a plasma-F launcher.
      A plasma-F launcher can only fire a plasma bolt if it has completed arming, i.e., has five points of power in it (1+1+3).
      A plasma-G, S, or R (I am ignoring X-technology) can fire a plasma bolt in two turns by completing its third turn of arming during the second turn with reserve power, i.e., 2+2 (+2), but it is still only a plasma-F bolt.
      A carronade shot can be fired in every turn, but only from a plasma-F launcher. The launcher cannot use more power in a given turn than could normally be allocated to start arming it. So if you want to fire a carronade shot on Turn #1 you have one point of power (first turn of arming) that you can allocate (because the standard arming is 1+1+3). You can, however, add up to four points of reserve power (the maximum amount of power that can be fired by a plasma-F) during that turn.
      If it is Turn #2, and you did not fire a carronade shot on Turn #1, you began with one point in the plasma-F launcher, and had to add a second point to continue arming it as a plasma-F. (I am assuming that you decided to continue arming rather than just dump the point from Turn #1 into space). If your opportunity for a carronade shot arises, you can dump up to three additional points of power from reserve power into the carronade shot.
      If it is Turn #3, you had three choices. You could have completed arming of the plasma-F (three points of power, now available to be launched, bolted, or carronaded), or decide to not continue arming it (you needed the power somewhere else) or delayed the arming (allocated one point to initiate a "rolling delay" of the torpedo). In the first case you cannot add any more power to the torpedo should you choose to carronade it (just as you could not add any more power if you chose to bolt it or launch it). In the second case you could always dump up to five points of reserve power into the tube to fire a carronade shot. In the last case, you could dump two points (maximum) of power and launch the plasma-F or bolt it or fire it as a carronade with no additional power, or add one or two points of power and still fire it as a carronade.
      Lieutenant Kantolla asked: When I drop one kind of plotting and adopt another, do the two periods (eight impulses to drop the previous kind of plotting and four impulses to adopt the new kind) overlap? Does it take 12 impulses to change from one to the other? Or does it take eight if the two periods overlap?
      Dear Lieutenant: Nothing prohibits an overlap, but there is the eight-impulse delay before you can drop the current mode, so the simple answer is eight impulses. Say you adopt pursuit on Impulse #5, which won't take effect until Impulse #9. But on Impulse #6, something bad happens and you need to switch to evasion plotting. You cannot drop pursuit until Impulse #14, but you can easily have adopted evasion by then. You could wait a few impulses to declare evasion and see how things develop.