July 2009


The "Zero-Energy Anchor" is a tactic whereby plasma launched at one-hex range, against a ship moving at Speed 16 or Speed 16+1, will automatically hit its target before it can move away, without the launching ship having to spend power on a tractor beam. Alternatively, a target moving at Speed 24 or Speed 24+1 cannot escape the plasma if the launch is at Range zero. To take advantage of this, you need to end your movement so that 1. your plasma has the target in arc, 2. you are at one or zero hexes range, and 3. preferably, you are facing the weakest shield you can get to.

As an attacker, therefore, you can use a "plasma hack and slash" attack whereby you damage or drop the enemy's facing shield with direct-fire weapons, then launch plasma at the end of that same impulse. The plasma will then impact the ship on that weakened shield because of the "zero-energy anchor".

However, if you are the target ship for such an attack, you can still do something about that incoming fire: you can perform a High Energy Turn in order to face a fresh shield to your attacker. It is important to make sure that you save the power for this. If you are about to receive direct fire from an enemy ship at one-hex range that has plasma he can launch right now, you should be careful to save some power for that High Energy Turn and not squander it all on reinforcement. Keeping only a single point of power in order to perform an Emergency Deceleration followed by a Tactical Maneuver is not an option in this case as the plasma will impact before you can execute the maneuver.

Also, and this is not often appreciated, if you can accelerate to Speed 24+1, then you may be able to escape, depending on the geometry of the launching ship's approach - unless he is at Range zero of course. In this situation, a canny opponent can also threaten a tractor beam anchor if he has enough power; countering this beam could also eat into the power you are keeping for your High Energy Turn. In this case, the situation will have to dictate whether it is better to accept the tractor and still be able to perform the High Energy Turn, or avoid the tractor anchor. However, most of the time it would be better to keep the power for the High Energy Turn, because you will probably need it anyway if he anchors you.

Rated the best Command Note of this issue of Captain's Log #39.