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Tractors

 
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storeylf
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008
Posts: 1844

PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:56 pm    Post subject: Tractors Reply with quote

Tractors have been important in both of our last couple of games. There was one aspect that I wasn't quite happy with though, so being ready to ask a question I just thoroughly re-read the rules again, and realised that I had missed a vital 'not' previoulsy.

Quote:
the period while tractored does not affect its turn mode count


Reading it now with that 'not' I was missing, it appears that a non-controlling ship in a tractor link cannot turn facing normally, no matter how long it is held, or how much it is moved by the controlling ship. The only way for it to change facing is to HET or TAC. i.e. If it's turn counter was at 2 at the point of tractor then it will be 2 throughout the tractor and still be 2 when released, no matter the distance or time involved.

Is that correct?

If the ship starts in a tractor already turn fullfilled, or over a turn break a ship in a tractor pays for a lower speed and therefore is now turn fullfilled, can it then make use of that to turn facing while under tractor. Re-reading the rules I think not, whilst it is not expressly said, I think the non-controlling ship is effectively at base speed zero and cannot accelerate to get a subpulse where it could execute such a turn.

The bit that makes me a little dubious is that in a static situation both ships are speed zero but can accel, that implies some ability to accel whilst tractored.

The static situation also threw up a situation which we were a bit confused on, My DD had tractored an F5 in an asteroid field, and they were static. The DD however really needed to turn. It can accel to get a subpulse 4 move, but it also needed to decel to avoid an asteroid. Can you still do this turn and decel in a static situation, with its special rules about accel/decel and who can move?
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Mike
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Accelerating and decelerating to cancel the move is technically not moving, so...
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you are a non-controlling ship that is tractored, you are in a very, very bad position. During the entire time you are tractored, your turn mode is "frozen" (for the lack of a better word) until the tractor ends. Which doesn't really matter while you are tractored, as you cannot turn (except by HET) until the tractor is released.

Now, if you are fully stopped, you may also use a TAC while tractored. But note that you have to chose that "speed" at the beginning of the turn (or by using an emergency deceleration) to use the TAC. But, if you have a base speed of zero or more while being the non-controlling party in the tractor, you cannot use the TAC. (You can always use the HET, of course.)

You can only use acceleration (or deceleration) while in the 'static' situation. (The 'static' situation is where both ships have spent the same amount of energy for base speed.) In this case, it is an effective stalemate for control. The only way to gain control (for an impulse) is to accelerate when your opponent does not also accelerate. At that point, for that one impulse, the one party who accelerates can move and turn normally. (In fact, if their turn mode was fulfilled, they could accelerate, turn, and decelerate all in the same impulse.)

However, in the 'static' situation, if no one accelerates (or both do), then both parties are effectively non-controlling. That means neither can move or turn outside an HET. (Note that a TAC does not come into play in this case, as if one ship is stopped, then the other ship automatically has control. If both ships are stopped, then they cannot turn anyway.)

Finally, in the case of your DD and F5, if the DD was the only one to buy an acceleration, then, yes, it could accelerate, turn, then decelerate. However, the F5 can screw the whole situation up (for the DD) by simply buying an acceleration, too, forcing neither party to have control for the impulse.
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storeylf
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that, we were playing most of that wrong, mainly due to my misreading the rule.

Yup, we realised the F5 could knacker my plans with an accel, but we were both starved of power by that point, and he needed the power to shoot me, as well as reach the primary objective if he could break free. This was one of those rare circumstances where a rule we've never hit before would almost certainly be decisive, and we couldn't quite work out what was meant to happen at the time.
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, tractors suck.

Tractors in SFB are "fairer", but much more complicated, requiring lots and lots of math to get right. (Let's see, a movement 1/4 ship moving 19 is tractored by a movement 1/3 ship moving 13. What are they moving now?) When Steve designed tractors for Federation Commander, he tried to massively simplify them. The whole "ship with less power" was to avoid all of the fractional match required to make it work. It is also why a ship can only tractor or be tractored by one other ship.

Unfortunately, even with all of the simplification, there are just so many different situations that can occur, the tractor rule has had to evolve to handle them. (Tractors are probably the single most heavily revised rule in all of Federation Commander.) With RRB6, we did try to make things a little cleaner, but it still shows its development too much.
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Mike
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I asked about this in a new thread, but since this thread is specifically about tractors, I'll ask here as well.

Can a ship landed on a planet be tractored and pulled into space?
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