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Tractor question
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:14 am    Post subject: Tractor question Reply with quote

Hi.


I've been wondering about the whole tractoring other ships thing.


*Most of the details in the tractor rules in the reference rulebook seems to imply that the tractoring ship would try to force the tractored ship to go faster than it would want to.


However, what if the tractoring ship wants to force the tractored ship to go more slowly?


For example, say I with ship A go at speed 16 or 24, and use enough spare power to grab a target ship (ship B) in the last Impulse of a given turn.

Now, if I wanted to drop the base speed of ship A to speed 8, and drag the target ship down to speed 8 with me, can I do so, and how do I make it happen?

(The intention would be to lower the base speed of ship A, in order to free up more energy points to allow for a heavier strike on ship B, assuming the number of points needed to keep the target in place did not exceed those needed to keep the base speed of 24 anyway.)


Can this be done, and if so how?



*Early Years ships are limited to a base speed of 16. However, if a ship which can set a base speed of 24 tractors the Y-ship, would there be any kind of pseudo-death-dragging penalty suffered by the Y-ship if it's dragged into a higher speed than it can otherwise go?
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
*Most of the details in the tractor rules in the reference rulebook seems to imply that the tractoring ship would try to force the tractored ship to go faster than it would want to.


What? No, tractors slow both ships down, not speed them up. That's the basis of the FC Gorn Anchor. Two ships tractored together cannot ever exceed 24 hexes per turn, and it usually costs a heck of a lot of power for that. A pirate may use a tractor to drag a freighter in a direction it doesn't want to go, but it won't usually make the ship faster than it would otherwise be.

Quote:
Now, if I wanted to drop the base speed of ship A to speed 8, and drag the target ship down to speed 8 with me, can I do so, and how do I make it happen?


The short answer is "You can't be certain of doing this".

The ship that spends the most power for movement controls movement. If you set your base speed at 16, and you spend more power for movement than the tractored ship does, then you're at base speed 8. (Remember, the combination is slowed by one base speed level if the two ships are the same size, or if the ship that spends less power for movement is smaller). However, if the tractored ship spends more power for movement than you do, it controls movement and there's nothing you can do about it.

Quote:
*Early Years ships [and some freighters in the Main Era] are limited to a base speed of 16. However, if a ship which can set a base speed of 24 tractors the Y-ship, would there be any kind of pseudo-death-dragging penalty suffered by the Y-ship [or freighter] if it's dragged into a higher speed than it can otherwise go?


Well, is there anything in the tractor rules imposing such a pseudo-death-dragging penalty on ships moved higher than their natural maximum base speed? I'm not aware of any.
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:35 am    Post subject: Re: Tractor question Reply with quote

Nerroth wrote:
*Most of the details in the tractor rules in the reference rulebook seems to imply that the tractoring ship would try to force the tractored ship to go faster than it would want to.

No, not really. When one ship tractors another it will invariably slow down the controlling ship. Now, if the non-moving ship was not moving, it will "speed up", but that is a result of its lack of movement, not because tractors make tractored ships "go faster".

Quote:
For example, say I with ship A go at speed 16 or 24, and use enough spare power to grab a target ship (ship B) in the last Impulse of a given turn.

Now, if I wanted to drop the base speed of ship A to speed 8, and drag the target ship down to speed 8 with me, can I do so, and how do I make it happen?

(I am going to assume you are talking about setting base speed between turns, since you mentioned "last Impulse" in the setup.)

You can't directly control the speed of the other ship. If you chose a base speed of 8, there is absolutly nothing that prevents the other ship from picking base speed 16 or 24, and thus potentially control the movement by spending more energy than you. If the opponent does do this, then he will be dragging you around, which may not be what you were trying to accomplish.

Also, note that you lose base speed levels when you are tractoring an opponent. So, assuming it is two movement 1 cruisers who have tractored each other, if you set base speed of 8, you will actually be moving at base speed Zero while you are tractored.

Regardless, you set your base speed, and your opponent sets his base speed. You then compare the energy spent and proceed from there. (This also assumes there was no tractor auction. It is entirely possible that your opponent will engage in a tractor auction to try and either break the tractor, or at least make you use more of your power in the tractor.)

Quote:
*Early Years ships are limited to a base speed of 16. However, if a ship which can set a base speed of 24 tractors the Y-ship, would there be any kind of pseudo-death-dragging penalty suffered by the Y-ship if it's dragged into a higher speed than it can otherwise go?

What on earth in the rules even implied this was possible? (Seriously. If the rules give this impression, then they are broken and need to be fixed.)

The only units that can be death-dragged are shuttles (and fighters, which are also shuttles). This is because they are relatively fragile when compared to ships. Ships cannot be death-dragged. Early Years ships are still ships. Heck, even a lowly freighter, which also has restrictions on the base speeds it can choose, cannot be death dragged. Why would an Early Years ship be subject to it?

If you can manage to tractor an Early Years ship to a base speed of 24, I hope it enjoys the ride. It certainly won't be harmed by it. (Well, as long as you don't subsequently drag it through asteroids or such, but that applies to anything being tractored.)
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For my first point, the specific area I was referring to example-wise was in (5D6c), where it talks about what happens when either or both ships try to accelerate.

What I was trying to wonder is what would happen if the tractoring ship tried to decelerate while the tractored ship accelerated.

(I was envisioning the tractoring ship trying to pull backwards, in order to keep the enemy ship from either pulling away or dragging the two in a given direction.)



But it seems that it's only a secondary issue in terms of what I was trying to get at.



And so far as the dragging thing went, I was not drawing this from any rules in print, but rather trying to consider the in-universe stresses that slower ships might be under if they were brought to a higher tactical speed than they are otherwise able to.

(As a further example, in-universe, how can, say, a Romulan sublight ship maintain a stable warp field if a Gorn ship tries to drag it beyond the non-tactical warp speeds it can manage by itself? Even trying to go speed 8 would cause the ship's own warp field to collapse, if it tried to do this by itself... let alone if it is forced to such a tactical speed.)
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nerroth wrote:
What I was trying to wonder is what would happen if the tractoring ship tried to decelerate while the tractored ship accelerated.

First, the only time this is even relevant if both ships have used the same amount of energy for their base speed. In that case, neither ship controls movement, and both are stopped (subject to acceleration).

Second, that can only happen if the tractoring ship both accelerated AND decelerated. A deceleration can only be done on a ship's own move, not on another ship's move, even if they are tractored.

Quote:
(I was envisioning the tractoring ship trying to pull backwards, in order to keep the enemy ship from either pulling away or dragging the two in a given direction.)

That is not how tractors work in Federation Commander. Ship-to-ship tractors work very different in Federation Commander than in SFB.

Once tractored, the tractored ship cannot "pull away", as it is dragging the other ship with it. They are "locked" together. Whoever controls movement will move both ships in whatever direction it wants subject to the normal movement rules and the lowered movement rate and increased acceleration costs.

You can't "pull backwards". That doesn't make sense in the context of the tractor rules.

Quote:
And so far as the dragging thing went, I was not drawing this from any rules in print, but rather trying to consider the in-universe stresses that slower ships might be under if they were brought to a higher tactical speed than they are otherwise able to.

(As a further example, in-universe, how can, say, a Romulan sublight ship maintain a stable warp field if a Gorn ship tries to drag it beyond the non-tactical warp speeds it can manage by itself? Even trying to go speed 8 would cause the ship's own warp field to collapse, if it tried to do this by itself... let alone if it is forced to such a tactical speed.)

I have no idea what the techno-babble explanation is or would be. However, if a warp powered Gorn ship is tractoring a sublight Romulan ship all over the map, it works just fine. In fact, it works just fine in both Federation Commander and in SFB. So, whatever the "bubble" needs to do to make it happen, obviously happens.

But the point is, if one ship tractors another ship and moves faster than the dragged ship can normally go, the dragged ship is fine and gets to just enjoy the ride. This is no "hull stress" or whatever. The only way to give the sublight (or other slow ship) "hull stress" is to fire your weapons on it.
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mjwest wrote:
First, the only time this is even relevant if both ships have used the same amount of energy for their base speed. In that case, neither ship controls movement, and both are stopped (subject to acceleration).

Second, that can only happen if the tractoring ship both accelerated AND decelerated. A deceleration can only be done on a ship's own move, not on another ship's move, even if they are tractored.


Quote:
That is not how tractors work in Federation Commander. Ship-to-ship tractors work very different in Federation Commander than in SFB.

Once tractored, the tractored ship cannot "pull away", as it is dragging the other ship with it. They are "locked" together. Whoever controls movement will move both ships in whatever direction it wants subject to the normal movement rules and the lowered movement rate and increased acceleration costs.

You can't "pull backwards". That doesn't make sense in the context of the tractor rules.


I feel like an idiot, or maybe I'm just up too late, but I just can't quite get a feel for what way it's supposed to work... sorry.

Quote:
I have no idea what the techno-babble explanation is or would be. However, if a warp powered Gorn ship is tractoring a sublight Romulan ship all over the map, it works just fine. In fact, it works just fine in both Federation Commander and in SFB. So, whatever the "bubble" needs to do to make it happen, obviously happens.

But the point is, if one ship tractors another ship and moves faster than the dragged ship can normally go, the dragged ship is fine and gets to just enjoy the ride. This is no "hull stress" or whatever. The only way to give the sublight (or other slow ship) "hull stress" is to fire your weapons on it.


Maybe it's just me - and it may well be - but I can't help but have a red flag go up in my mind over this.


On the one hand, if a Gorn (or Orion or...) ship did have the ability to 'death-drag' a sublight Romulan - even if it was represented as a gradual set of damage rather than a one-shot warp field collapse, that might be very bad news for any sublight Romulan losing his tractor auction. Especially in the pre-Smarba Middle Years.

(As an aside, that would be very bad news for a Ryn ship which couldn't use its quantum transporters to get away, for that matter.)


However, if for some techno-babble-ey reason the sublight ship is able to survive being dragged around at tactical warp speeds, what happens if an ally, not an enemy, is able to do this?

Take an Orion mercenary (especially a Middle Years one), or a Klingon ship on a pre-Smarba 'goodwill tour', or even the first KD4s and KRs in Romulan service. Any of those would thus be able to latch on to, say, a Kingbird or Vulture, tow it at a tactical speed to and from a given location... or worse yet, treat it as a mobile plasma launch platform.

(The towed ship would be able to use its power to arm its heavy weapons, and forget about even trying to move by itself.)


Now, even if that is permissible under current SFB and FC rules, I can't help but feel that this was not the intended consequence of these kinds of ship interactions.

At all.


But of course, I could wrong about that.


I get the feeling that maybe as a kind of compromise, there might need to be some kind of 'inertia' rule, which makes it harder to move Romulan sublight ships around like that - by friend or foe. That way, you'd avoid having to introduce some kind of warp-bubble collapse, and also stop the kind of 'friendly tow' trick from being exploited.

But your mileage may vary on this.
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is no problem with a warp powered unit dragging a sublight unit all over the map. Happens al the time. The best example is a ship towing a pod (or boom or saucer).

But having a KR drag a couple of WB to wherever they need to go isn't an issue either.

Seriously, it isn't a problem. Never has been. Still isn't.
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The towed ship would be able to use its power to arm its heavy weapons, and forget about even trying to move by itself.


In FC, a ship tractored by a friendly ship cannot fire or launch weapons, even in its own defense. The towing ship could release the tractor, allow the towed ship to fire, then attach another tractor in the Other Functions Phase, but this would really be an abuse of the rules and I'd look askance at any opponent who tried this on me.
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Godeke
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

terryoc wrote:
In FC, a ship tractored by a friendly ship cannot fire or launch weapons, even in its own defense. The towing ship could release the tractor, allow the towed ship to fire, then attach another tractor in the Other Functions Phase, but this would really be an abuse of the rules and I'd look askance at any opponent who tried this on me.


While I can see powerful uses of this technique, I'm curious why this would be an "abuse of the rules". I'm not seeing any ambiguity in the rules that would make an askance look appropriate... could you clarify?
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Kang
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mjwest wrote:
But having a KR drag a couple of WB to wherever they need to go isn't an issue either.

Seriously, it isn't a problem. Never has been. Still isn't.

I thought you could only tractor one ship at a time?
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A ship can only be tractored by one ship at a time...

You can tractor as many different ships as you have operating tractor beams (and the power to win any auctions)
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dstancliffe
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can only tractor one ship at a time (5D6B) - you could release a ship and tractor it or another later that turn, but you'd need a fresh Tractor box - each one can only be used once per turn.
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dstancliffe wrote:
You can only tractor one ship at a time (5D6B) - you could release a ship and tractor it or another later that turn, but you'd need a fresh Tractor box - each one can only be used once per turn.

See... there you go. SFB'isms creeping into the memory system again! Rolling Eyes

I stand corrected. Embarassed
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kang wrote:
mjwest wrote:
But having a KR drag a couple of WB to wherever they need to go isn't an issue either.

Seriously, it isn't a problem. Never has been. Still isn't.

I thought you could only tractor one ship at a time?

Sorry, I was giving an SFB example, not one from Federation Commander. (There is no "Warbird" in Federation Commander.) I was trying to point out that this "problem" has never been a problem, even since SFB, much less Federation Commander. I apologize for not clearly labelling it as such.

In Federation Commander, you are correct. A given ship may only tractor (or be tractored) by one ship at any given time.
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Wolverin61
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2009 12:00 am    Post subject: Re: Tractor question Reply with quote

mjwest wrote:
... if the non-moving ship was not moving....


If it's non-moving, then it wouldn't be moving imho.
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