Mark Blanco
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Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16)
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Hello all,
My wife and I brand new players to High Frontier. We've been going through the Training Guide and looking at the whole game in amazement and wonderment. However, we often get the feeling that all the manuals (even the Training Guide to some extent) are written to folks who have had some prior experience with the game.

I found the glossary in the Reference Guide and was surprised to see some really basic definitions were missing, specifically, all the patent cards.

Thruster, Robonaut, Refinery, Generator, Reactor and Radiator...none of these are defined in the glossary.

Of course, I've sort of figured out what most are, just from eventually learning their game mechanics, but can anyone give me a little more insight on:

Robonaut - These are used primarily for their ISRU value in prospecting, and you need one with a refinery to make a factory. But what exactly is a robonaut? Is it a "Robot Astronaut" that utilizes the tech on the cards, such as rayguns, missiles and buggies? Is it some sort of autonomous Robotic Astronaut that operates the factory once it's set up?

Generator - Some sort of energy producer?

Reactor - Also some sort of energy producer?

Any help appreciated. Thanks!






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Cole Wehrle
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There are six kinds of cards in High Frontier: Thruster, Robonaut, Refinery, Generator, Reactor, and Radiator.

They should be labeled on the card.
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Darrell Pavitt
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A robonaut is any sort of robot that you might send into space when you can't send a human. Think of the Viking landers and those little rover things that always crash. In Interstellar, they are more like your typical sci-fi robot.

There is no hard and fast definition of reactor versus generator, and there is some crossover, but if you assume that (some) thrusters need reactors to power them, while generators produce electrical power from reactors to run the ship's systems, then you have a simplified handle on things.

The best way to sort it out is to look through the cards and see which ones need which kind of supports in order to work.
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Josh
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One of the cool things about the old rules were the scientific descriptions included at the bottom of most pages. That got somewhat lost with the new rules. Here are some pics of some of the descriptions you are asking about:


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Francisco Colmenares
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Geese wrote:
Robonaut - These are used primarily for their ISRU value in prospecting, and you need one with a refinery to make a factory. But what exactly is a robonaut? Is it a "Robot Astronaut" that utilizes the tech on the cards, such as rayguns, missiles and buggies? Is it some sort of autonomous Robotic Astronaut that operates the factory once it's set up?

Pretty much all of the above. Robotic Astronaut is a fine description. It's primary mission is resource extraction which it can do on the various sites on the map. Of course resource extraction usually means water. And the Robonaut in combination with the Refinery becomes the factory yes. The factory is a somewhat abstract concept since you can mix and match factories with robonauts. It's a versatile little machine.

Geese wrote:
Generator - Some sort of energy producer?

Pretty much, it's a support for rockets, refineries or robonauts. You will find each generator produces electricity. They have a symbol indicating the type produced. Some generators require a reactor but others don't (solar powered for example). Also some of these things can heat up quite a bit. Those require radiators to cool off.

Geese wrote:
Reactor - Also some sort of energy producer?

Same deal, there are different kinds that produce a specific type of power that can be used by rocket thrusters OR generators (and in turn those generators can power thrusters, refineries, etc). They may require cooling, which is provided by radiators.
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Dom Rougier
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Geese wrote:
Thruster, Robonaut, Refinery, Generator, Reactor and Radiator


Quick crash course on advanced rocket propulsion then


Thrusters use fuel, and a mass to push against (reaction mass) to provide Thrust. In a chemical rocket (Saturn V, Space Shuttle) these are the same thing, but this is not necessarily the case.

Robonaut here is a used as a generic term for remotely operated or semi-autonomous robots, designed for manned or unmanned missions. This could be something like a large and sophisticated Mars Rover (the "rover" robonauts). In the context of the game, these are primarily designed for prospecting, so they are divided into three types for different strategies - the "Raygun" robonauts may be blasting away regolith to find valuable materials hidden under the surface layers of an asteroid, and "Missile" robonauts are small, self-propelled rockets - the Kuck Mosquito robonaut, for example, is basically a chemical rocket, some processing equipment and a massive inflatable fuel tank, designed for harvesting fuel from asteroid bodies.

The Colonist deck from Colonisation includes some actual autonomous robots that don't require human control - this is the primary distinction between the two.

Refineries are exactly what you'd expect - it's a refinery for turning unprocessed material from a surface body into processed and useful material. Since these are functionally similar to terrestrial refineries, they are extremely heavy (1 game mass point = 40 tons, and most of them mass 4 or so.)

Rockets have thrust and isp (thrust and efficiency in High Frontier). Usually, thrust and efficiency are inversely proportional - high efficiency drives tend to be low thrust, and vice versa.

Chemical rockets (the crew cards) are high thrust and low efficiency, which means that they're not great at getting deep into the solar system.

The alternative then is to look for higher efficiency systems.

Broadly speaking, there are three options (at least for the white cards), with more sub-categories than you can name, and some exceptions: Solar Electric engines, Nuclear Electric Engines and Nuclear Thermal Engines

Electric engines will use an Electric Thruster (e.g., a Hall Effect Thruster) to ionise a noble gas (Sometimes. typically Argon or Xenon) and accelerate it out the back, producing thrust. This is high efficiency, low thrust, but requires large amounts of electricity.

Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) will use solar panels (a Generator, in High Frontier terms) to power an electric thruster (thruster card). The problem with this is that solar energy drops off as you travel further away from the sun, reducing your thrust.

Nuclear Thermal rockets use Reactors. These are simple (sometimes!) nuclear reactors. Nuclear reactors do not generate energy by themselves, they just generate heat. This heat can heat a reaction mass (typically liquid hydrogen) and expel this through a nozzle to create thrust. Nuclear reactors are heavy, but they are not dependant on the sun as a power source.

Nuclear Electric propulsion generates electrical energy via a nuclear reactor, and is not restricted to being powered by the sun. Since nuclear reactors don't generate energy by themselves, the rocket will need a card to turn this heat into electricity, and it is the Generator which makes that conversion.

Both nuclear thermal and nuclear electric thrusters will generate a lot of heat. Since there is no convection in a vacuum to take heat away easily, it's very difficult to get rid of excess heat and stop the ship from melting. This means that advanced propulsion systems frequently require Radiators to cool them.

All of the above effects are exaggerated when talking about the black and purple sided cards - Nuclear fission reactors can be solid, liquid or gas cored depending on their working temperature - each more powerful and difficult to manage than the last. Nuclear fusion reactors are the same, but at orders of magnitude more powerful. Antimatter is then the same, but for atrociously high energy states - this is when you start talking about the drives suitable for powering a starship, scoring Futures and playing the Interstellar solitaire game.


Isn't High Frontier awesome?
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Mark Blanco
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Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16)
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Domfluff wrote:
Isn't High Frontier awesome?


It sure is! Thanks to all for helping me visualize all this better. This has all been some great information!

(Now if I can just convince my local community college that I have some credits in advanced rocket propulsion...)
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Dom Rougier
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If you really want to hit this hard, Atomic rockets: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/ is a great place to start, and has a good bibliography for going further.

For a while now, I've wanted to put a video together using Kerbal Space Program or something to illustrate these kind of concepts - with any simulationist game, I think it's useful to have an idea of the context.
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Phil DeKoning
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Domfluff wrote:
Isn't High Frontier awesome?
Indeed, it is, but what is even more awesome is that the technologies on these cards either actual hardware or very solid plans based on actual physics and materials.
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Remember, too, that at the end of the Resource Guide is the "science footnotes" for each and every card. Most of it I can't understand, but it does give you an idea of what the actual thingamajig is actually doing. I think it's section Z.
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Not sure if anybody mentioned the defining distinction between generator and reactor:

Generators produce electricity
Reactors produce energy, usually from nuclear reactions.

Some generators require reactors to power them, others are powered by some other form of energy.

Old rule books covered this. Are you sure that this is not described anywhere in the new ones? It may be covered in the same book where technology behind all the cards are described.
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Darrell Pavitt
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It may lurk in there somewhere, but the only relevent part I can find is under scale:

Quote:
Reactors produce from 650-2000 MWth of thermal energy, either in neutrons, pions, or plasma jets. From this, generators produce 60 MWe of electricity (Subscript e = electricity, th = thermal).
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I think it's also illuminating to consider what a ship in High Frontier is actually supposed to look like.

The below is from a NASA study, attempting to design an updated version of the ship from 2001: A Space Odyssey, capable of travelling to Saturn.

In High Frontier terms, this is a high tech, late(ish) game ship (black cards mostly) - but I believe that all of the components are represented in the game, so it's appropriate. It's also not carrying bulk cargo or any kind of industrial equipment, so the only payload here is the crew card. (Incidentally, that's one issue among many that this specific design can be criticised for - this is not a very useful spacecraft - but it's still a good illustration).



From the top:

Crew card
Two Radiator cards
Fuel (represented by the fuel strip)
Generator (Brayton cycle)
Reactor (Fusion)
Thruster (Magnetic nozzle)





Link to the NASA study: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20050160960
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