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Subject: Peet's Guide to Sailing the Solar System. rss

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Peet Smith
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Peet's Guide to Sailing the Solar System.

Many new High Frontier players see the cards for the solar sails and dismiss them as not suiting their purposes. The thrust is low, low enough that the sail will not propel a heavier rocket, and the solar feature means that beyond Mars solar sails will be unable to operate. Since most of the real estate on the board is beyond Mars many players look at the solar sail and pass it over for something more powerful. This is a shame, because used properly the solar sail is one of the most effective thrusters in the game.

Part 1: Tricks of the Trade

There are a variety of 'tricks' to using the solar sail, and once you master them you will find that the solar sail can be a very powerful tool in developing the solar system. While the advanced (black) solar sails are better everything you want to do can be done with the basic (white) sails, and the material below assumes that you are using them.

Trick #1 - Mass
Firstly, you need to understand the need to keep the mass of your rocket low. The 'magic' mass number is four; a rocket with a mass of four (and no fuel) is the heaviest rocket in the probe category, and rockets in that category get a +1 bonus to their thrust. It may not sound like a lot but every point counts and sometimes that one point of thrust is what makes your mission work. The second magic mass number is seven - any rocket with a mass of more than seven gets a -1 penalty to their thrust, so a basic solar sail rocket with a mass of more than seven cannot leave LEO.

Since the ideal mass of the solar sail rocket is four or less, and the solar sail has one point of mass on its own, you generally want the solar sail to carry components with a mass of three or less. This will necessitate making two trips to your destination, one to deliver the robonaut and the other to deliver the refinery. If you are using the solar sail then buying a refinery with a mass of three is a high priority.

However, it is certainly possible to create a solar mission that has a mass of more than four, though this limits your options somewhat, and you still need to keep your rocket mass below eight at all costs.

Note though that the ESA privelige of adding +1 to your thrust is a very big deal to the solar sailor. For a player using the ESA privelige, solar sail rockets with a mass of 5-7 function like anyone else's sail rockets of mass 1-4, and they could mount a mission with a solar rocket of mass 15 and still have a thrust of one. An ESA solar sail rocket with a mass of four or less gets +2 to its thrust and this allows you to do even more remarkable things.

Whatever you decide to do, you need to plan your mission based on what mass your rocket will have and you can do the most when this mass is low.

Trick #2 - Disposability
The second thing tou need to understand about your solar sail is that it is a disposable thruster. Whether you want to aerobrake and let the sail burn up in the atmosphere, or jettison the sail once you reach the asteroid belt, you must understand that there are almost no circumstances where the solar sail will return to low Earth orbit.

But that's okay! In fact, it was your plan all along. Boosting a new sail to LEO only costs you one water token, and using it will save you a lot more than that in fuel. The solar sail mission typically involves shipping one component to its destination, decomissioning the sail, and then boosting it again to deliver the second component. This might take longer than just making one mission but it also means that you don't need to have the cash to boost everything all at once. When you send your robonaut out to the asteroid belt, you don't need to have even bought your refinery yet! You can get it later.

So when you plan your mission, don't worry about the return trip. Your goal is to get the components of a factory out to their destination, and the solar sail doesn't need to come home.

Trick #3 - Sunward Ho!
The thing that many people miss about the solar sail is how big a bonus it is to get a bonus of two to your thrust while within the orbit of Mercury. There may not be a lot down there, but you don't need to stay there; those two burns can get you a long way.

This is especially the case if you examine the board closely. You will note that there are two spots on the board in the Mercury zone that have lines that pass outward through the Venus zone and into the Earth zone without passing through any burns. These spots are the ones below the Sol-Venus L3 and L4 points respectively. Using these spots allows you to get back into the Earth zone where you started with two extra burns to spare, and you can get to a lot of places this way. I'll show you how in the next section. The plan is to position your solar sail rocket in a prime spot in the Mercury zone, and then in one turn speed to your destination.

Finally, increasing your thrust to four means that your solar sail rocket can make direct landings on sites with a size of three or less instead of only size one. This is a pretty big deal because while the size one sites are not worth a whole lot (unless you are good at rolling ones) a site with a size of three has some decent potential, especially if you have brought a buggy robonaut. In cases where your chosen site is too large for the solar sail to perform a direct landing, you will drop your payload into an outpost which will eventually include a thruster that can perform a landing on an adjacent or nearby site.


Part 2 - Suggested Routes
If you're still having a hard time picturing how you are going to make your solar sail mission work, I've prepared a variety of route maps for you to show you how you can get almost anywhere within the orbit of Jupiter or sometimes even further. All the major asteroid groups are covered as well as the Jupiter Trojans and some of Jupiter's moons as well.

Bear in mind that some of these routes do use the Slingshot and Moon Boost rules from 8.3 A and B respectively, and include the expanded board. I use these rules even in a basic game - they are simple enough to teach and make sense to anyone who knows even a little about space travel. For the record anyone who wants can click this link to look at my house rules for Basic HF. http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/8155442#8155442

Here is a diagram of the inner solar system with my regular starting points.


A represents the point below the Sol-Venus L3 point. B represents the point below the Sol-Venus L4 point. Both these spots are useful because they have paths that lead into the Earth zone wothout costing any burns. The Sol-Venus L5 point isn't nearly as useful because there's a burn leading out to it (though you can do the Mercury flyby) and the one line out that you can use doesn't get you to too many places.

C represents a starting point for a mission to Ceres that uses a special trick. It is only one space away from B but using that burn before you make your big launch the the outer system makes a big difference.

D is the "Rabbithole," the Sol-Mercury L3 point. It can be used for many destinations that would also use the A starting point, but such a flight path costs one extra burn. However, it has the advantage of taking one less turn to get to.

E and F are spots that can be used to initiate a Mercury Flyby. Most of the B routes use a Mercury flyby but E and F are just as good to start these from. However, if you don't want to Telegraph your intention to do a flyby B is the better starting place, and they can all be reached in one move from LEO.

All these routes assume you are using a basic solar sail in a rocket with a mass of four or less, so when in the Mercury zone your modified thrust will be four. The number appearing in the circles on the route is the number of remaining burns the rocket has when arriving at that point on the board.

Route A1: Lutetia - Elara - Hertha


This route uses the straight line leading out of the Sol-Mars L3 point as a "bouncing" spot. This line is useful because it has lots of spots where a turn can be executed cheaply. This route leads to both Hertha and Lutetia, which are both great starting spots if you want to go after Metallic sites. Elara is the largest of the Jovian Himalia Moonlets that you can land on and makes a good refueling point if you plan on exploring Jupiter's moons.

Note that all these sites can be reached with one burn to spare. This means that you could use the Rabbithole as a starting space and save yourself a turn, or you could send a mass 7 rocket out there and still have enough burns to get there (though landing on sites becomes more difficult).

Route A2: Jupiter Flyby


This route can get you to the Hygiea family of asteroids (though Hygiea itself is too big for a direct landing) or you can make a Jupiter slingshot.

This really illustrates the power of the Jupiter slingshot because this can really get you places. You can make it all the way out to the Trojan camp Jupiter Trojan asteroids (and can land on any of them) or to Comet Nejumin I or to Okyrhoe. You can also set yourself up for a Saturn mission (though you can't actually make it to Saturn) by dropping off payloads on the route in to the Saturn system until you have enough there to make a complete rocket. You could also set yourself up on Comet Schwassman Wachmann I, which makes a decent refueling stop on the way to Saturn, and at size 2 it is pretty big for a D site (but is still landable).

If you wanted to go for a Callisto mission, you could stop your sail at the burn that leads to the Hygiea family. Once you have assembled enough parts for a conventional rocket there, you send it to the Jupiter flyby and have it pass through the double aerobrake that leads to the Sol-Jupiter L1 point. You have four free burns to play with at this point (one of which you just spent) which are enough to get you to Callisto without spending any fuel.

Route A3: Mars Needs Sails!


If you want to get a solar sail to Mars this is the best way to do it. You can get your solar sail all the way to the polar insert if you want, though landing there is tricky. Most people will use the aerobrake - let's face it, the sail is not coming home anyway. The fact that you can get your sail to Mars with two burns to spare means that you can use the Rabbithole instead (at the cost of one extra burn) and you could have a mass 7 rocket at the same time.

This route also shows a number of other minor destinations; namely Nyx, Nereus, Olijato, and the Koronis Family "sweet spot" where you could fire a ISRU 0 laser robonaut and prospect all ten sites in one go. There is another route that gets you to the Koronis Family with more burns to spare, but that one requires a slingshot (see Route C, below).

Also note that if you continued to follow the green line you would reach the Jupiter flyby and could reach all the same destinations as in route A2 in the same number of burns.

Route B1: The Flora Family


This route gets you to the Flora family, which is a good spot if you are going for an S space venture. Flora is too big to land on directly, though.

It also puts you in raygun range of the Kleopatra family, though you don't have enough burns to make the Hohmann Pivot and enter a burn, unless the ESA gives you a hand. If they do you could actually land on Kleopatra if you wanted.

Finally the route can take you all the way out to Comet Wild 2, though it doesn't have that much to recommend it.

Route B2: The Mercury-Venus Slingshot


The one-two punch combo of the Mercury-Venus slingshot has enough power to get you into orbit around Davida; no mean feat considering that it takes a Hohmann Pivot and a burn to get there. The Karin Cluster point is really useful for this because it provides you with a free turn, though at the cost of a hazard space. Davida doesn't have a lot going for it though; Ceres is a much better C site.

This route can also get you to Psyche or Vesta orbit, but there are routes to reach those that are less dangerous.

In the expanded game the Venus slingshot can only be reached during the Blue sector, so the use of this route (and all the subsequent ones) have to be timed carefully.

Route B3: To Greece Via Earth


The beauty of the Mercury-Venus slingshot is that it can be followed up by other slingshots. The first one is the Earth+Moon route. This one isn't great because you have to spend two burns on a Hohmann pivot in order to gain the three burns the Earth+Moon flyby gives you, but that is enough to get you out to the Greek Camp of the Jupiter Trojans, and you can land on all of them except Hector and Achilles (which you could reach with a push from the ESA).

Route B4: The Martian Way


Heading for the Mars slingshot gets you a free burn and doesn't cost you anything extra, so this slingshot is ultimately just as powerful as the Earth-Moon run. It also follows a line that gets you to Psyche or the Vesta Family without having to brave the hazard of the Karin cluster.

Route B5: "The King"


Jupiter is the King of planets, and combined with the Mercury-Venus slingshot the Jupiter slingshot can really get you places. It gets you to the same spots as the A2 route but you have one extra burn to spare. This is a big deal because it gets you to a few places on the board that are difficult to access. It can get you into the Kleopatra family (no other route gives you enough burns to do it), or the Greek Camp Trojans. It sets up the same Saturn mission launch points but with one burn to spare, which means that with an ESA "push" you could make the Saturn Flyby (though this destroys your sail).

It also gives you access to Jupiter's Galilean moons - you can reach Europa and Ganymede, and are one burn away from Callisto. Io is also one burn away, but it's a hazard so you are in raygun range.

Route C: C is for Ceres


The C starting space is useful because it sets up a route that does the Mercury-Venus flyby in reverse order, hitting Venus first. Moving on to the C space from the B starting space spends an extra turn but saves you a burn next turn, and you need it if you want to make it to the Ceres family. It also gets you to the Koronis Family with lots of burns to spare.

I like this one because it gets you to Minerva, which is is the sweetheart of the Gefion family. You can do a direct landing there, and it has lots of water. If you fail to prospect the site, you can use Minerva to refuel until you have enough fuel to take off and land on Ceres via lander.

All in all, a solar sail-powered rocket can get almost anywhere on the board. The Saturn region is the exception, but even Saturn is made accessible by dropping off payloads nearby and starting your mission from there.

And don't even get me started on the Black sides of the sails. Gaining one extra thrust and losing one mass is great news for the solar sailor. And in the advanced game, the Mag Sail is absolutely unstoppable - you can do a Mercury-Venus-Earth-Moon-Jupiter flyby route that upon leaving the magnetic field leaves you with sixteen remaining burns, which puts the whole Saturn system at your feet and can get you well on the way to Uranus or Neptune if you are using the expanded poster map.

I hope these suggestions have fired your imagination regarding the use of solar sails and I hope you give them a try!

Good Sailing,
Peet Smith

(Edit: spelling and grammar)
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Victor Caminha
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Very nice essay about sails, specially with the example routes you showed. For those who want to cruise the system without burns will find this guide to be a valuable tool. If I may add some points:

- One of the key issues to optimize the use of solar sails is *patience*. You may need to spend a turn or two moving your rocket to one of those sweet spots Peet showed in exchange for a fast cruise later. Though I like sails, I confess I am too eager to optimize my routes blush .

- Beware the radiation belts. Even though your low-mass rocket may start at Mercury zone with a juicy thrust of 4 (5 if you are ESA), before reaching there you may will pass through radiation belts once or even twice. The sail itself is immune, but watch it if you are bringing a generator like the Photon Tether Rectenna or the buggy robonaut Cat Fusion Z-Pinch Torch. Of course, if you're ONU, this becomes a less serious issue.

- The restriction of mass on your rocket stack makes it cost-prohibitive if you want to include a crew. But if you do not, your rocket will be vulnerable to the "Glitch" event on the triangle burns, a tough choice. If you are ONU, its zero mass will avoid this problem during your first or second trip (as you won't be able to decommision the crew along with the sail before starting your second trip unless the global politics allow it - which trip you won't want to bother with glitches?). PRC allows you to carry a crew during all trips, but that one point of extra mass hurts...

- If you don't want to build a off-site outpost and plan to land on a site with your sail without aerobraking, you may need to put WTs and jettison just enough water to pay the landing cost (generally speaking, for sites of size 3 or less). Of course, if you bring along a powerful thruster just for that you can forget this issue. Last year, I uploaded a chart for calculating burns and using solar sails. At the page of solar sails, I included the influence of fuel steps on the thrust modifier of the solar sail:

http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/63009/burn-and-solar-sail-...
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Edgar Gallego
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Sending a crew is useful too to take land on big planets, changing from solar sail to their own thruster before the landing.
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Peet Smith
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These are some good points, wykthor.
wykthor wrote:
- One of the key issues to optimize the use of solar sails is *patience*. You may need to spend a turn or two moving your rocket to one of those sweet spots Peet showed in exchange for a fast cruise later.

This is certainly true. The A and C start points take 2 turns to get to, while the B, D, and E and F spots take 1 turn to get to. This is assuming a mass 4 thrust 2 rocket. If you load up to 7 mass then you will take an extra turn. I personally don't think this is too long.

wykthor wrote:
- Beware the radiation belts. Even though your low-mass rocket may start at Mercury zone with a juicy thrust of 4 (5 if you are ESA), before reaching there you may will pass through radiation belts once or even twice. The sail itself is immune, but watch it if you are bringing a generator like the Photon Tether Rectenna or the buggy robonaut Cat Fusion Z-Pinch Torch. Of course, if you're ONU, this becomes a less serious issue.

That's right - when passing through Earth's belt you will have a thrust of 2 which is not nearly as good for protecting yourself from radiation. Fortunately you don't need radiators for your sail.

wykthor wrote:
- The restriction of mass on your rocket stack makes it cost-prohibitive if you want to include a crew. But if you do not, your rocket will be vulnerable to the "Glitch" event on the triangle burns, a tough choice. If you are ONU, its zero mass will avoid this problem during your first or second trip (as you won't be able to decommision the crew along with the sail before starting your second trip unless the global politics allow it - which trip you won't want to bother with glitches?). PRC allows you to carry a crew during all trips, but that one point of extra mass hurts...

Another good point. I would usually take my crew out with my first trip and leave it at the outpost. If you have a robonaut with only mass 1 or 2 then you can bring it at the same time. Then as you accumulate other equipment you leave them in the custody of the crew. Remember that you only get one event per turn no matter how many triangles you run, and your trip to the starting gate doesn't pass through any. If you make your mission when other players are not moving much then you never need to worry about this, because only you will trigger an event and it will occur after your payload has safely arrived at the outpost with the crew.

wykthor wrote:
- If you don't want to build a off-site outpost and plan to land on a site with your sail without aerobraking, you may need to put WTs and jettison just enough water to pay the landing cost (generally speaking, for sites of size 3 or less). Of course, if you bring along a powerful thruster just for that you can forget this issue.

Um, you mean for sites of size 4 or more, right? Your sail will have enough thrust to land directly on a site of 3 or less, so you don't need to worry about fuel for those. I like to carry missile robonauts for this purpose since they save you the trouble of carrying extra thrusters. Since you don't need fuel to get where you're going, your robonaut can make a direct landing without having to worry about it.

wykthor wrote:
Last year, I uploaded a chart for calculating burns and using solar sails. At the page of solar sails, I included the influence of fuel steps on the thrust modifier of the solar sail:

http://boardgamegeek.com/filepage/63009/burn-and-solar-sail-...

Thanks for the chart.

Peet
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Phil Eklund recently posted (#3119) a link to an article on Solar Sails on the High Frontier YahooGroup:

"Short but interesting paper on electric sails. http://www.electric-sailing.fi/papers/HazardousAsteroids.pdf Missions to places like Phaethon and Apophis match well with the performance and mission times of the High Frontier electric sails. When reading Table 1, (which compares chemical or nuclear rockets to E-sails to various asteroids) remember that the "delta-v" associated with the "two-impulse transfer" is a Hohmann transfer using high thrust rockets such as a 9-6, and that each HF burn is 2.5 km/sec."
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Victor Caminha
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Quote:
Um, you mean for sites of size 4 or more, right? Your sail will have enough thrust to land directly on a site of 3 or less, so you don't need to worry about fuel for those


Yes, size 4+, my bad (I wrote the last part in a hurry for I was late to work).

David, good call on that link. It's a pity the innermost system asteroids are so unfriendly to industrialization...



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You should make a PDF guide that can be printed and stored in the game box. I always have a hard time explaining how the solar sails work and this would be a useful document to have on hand.
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Victor pointed out some very good dangers to using sails, but I think that solar flare risk bears mentioning. If you head towards the sun first, into the +2 zone, and a flare hits... kiss that mission goodbye (and heaven help you if you're in the red season).

Fortunately as pointed out, sail missions are generally cheap, and losing one or two isn't the end of the world... but it's a definite additional cost of doing business.

Also the jovian rad belts are dangerous, even at mod thrust of 4 (depending on your radhardness of components).

An excellent guide on one of my favorite tools! It really fits well with my style of small, disposible, weird missions... (I like particularly like comboing with the UN... mass zero crew and ignore earth's rad belt... i'll take it!).
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Matthew_Eklund wrote:
Victor pointed out some very good dangers to using sails, but I think that solar flare risk bears mentioning. If you head towards the sun first, into the +2 zone, and a flare hits... kiss that mission goodbye (and heaven help you if you're in the red season).

Yes, this is important, though the solar flare events only happen in the red phase, so you can plan around this.

Matthew_Eklund wrote:
Also the jovian rad belts are dangerous, even at mod thrust of 4 (depending on your radhardness of components).

As long as you ensure that everything you are carrying has a rad-hardness of 2 or better you are in no danger. The ESA bonus is good here too since it helps in this regard as well. Of course, my philosophy in this game is generally "Damn the Torpedoes!" There are always risks. If you keep cards in your hand you risk losing them to budget cuts, but if you boost them to LEO you risk a Pad Explosion. With radiation at least your cards MIGHT survive... :)

On a side note I once had a mission on the way to Saturn when my Metastable Helium Thruster got taken out by a solar flare when I was out near the Greek Trojans somewhere. But I managed to finish the rest of the mission just using my 9*6 NASA crew rocket because there is just so much water out there.

Matthew_Eklund wrote:
An excellent guide on one of my favorite tools! It really fits well with my style of small, disposible, weird missions... (I like particularly like comboing with the UN... mass zero crew and ignore earth's rad belt... i'll take it!).

The UN is great for them but so is the ESA. But even without these advantages the solar sails are still great fun.

Glad you enjoyed the article.

Peet
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Mease19 wrote:
You should make a PDF guide that can be printed and stored in the game box. I always have a hard time explaining how the solar sails work and this would be a useful document to have on hand.

I don't have the ability to make .pdfs on my machine but I could do a .doc file if you want.

Peet
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Victor Caminha
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It is important to note also how useful sails are to grab early & easy 6 VP for an Eureka glory mission (the other players MUST pay attention to that, making a trip from Deimos, Didymos or other nearby site and then returning - the sail would only gain 3 VP for the science site then).

Now, for an ideal sail rocket stack, IMHO it would be like:

1st trip: Sail + Crew + Kuck Mosquito + Lyman Alpha Trap (-2 thrust reactor)
Thrust: 2 (3 if ESA) + starting Helio Zone
Total Mass:4 (3 if ONU)
Lowest Rad-Hard: 4 for the reactor or 3 if ONU (but then you would only worry with rad-belts outside Earth)

Viable substitutes: Penning Trap (sun powered reactor), but it has Rad-Hard: 3.

2nd trip: Sail + Basalt Spinning Refinery (needs reactor) + PRC Crew or Cheap Backup
Thrust: 2 (3 if ESA, 1 if PRC-crewed) + starting Helio Zone
Total Mass:4 (5 if PRC-crewed)
Lowest Rad-Hard: 6 (4 if PRC-crew) or Cheap Backup

Viable substitutes: CVD Molding Refinery (Rad-Hard 5 instead of 6, so it's perfectly viable)

Assume the crew went at the first voyage. If you're PRC, you may carry a new crew but the total mass will be 5. If you want to stick to the optimal mass of 4 or if you're not PRC, this trip will be vulnerable to glitches. You may either risk it (specially if you only pass through a triangle burn in ONE movement phase) or you may bring along a cheap backup.

A cheap backup is a sneaky way to avoid the consequences of a glitch. There are three thrusters and four robonauts that have Mass:0 (I am not includding the Bubble Membrane radiator here because of its Rad-Hard:1), and with the exception of the Cat Fusion Z-Pinch Torch, all have excellent Rad-Hard. So, if you have one or more of these cards, put them on your non-crewed rocket stack. As you may choose which card will be decomissioned, feel free to discard that Mirror Steamer you weren't planning to use anyway.

Warning: This rule can be abused if you target the glitch to a Mass:0 card that is not even functional (like, having a Flywheel Tractor robonaut without a generator). So this could bring the following dialogue:

"Captain, I noticed there is a Tungsten Resistojet at the back of the rocket that just launched from LEO. However, it seems ESA forgot to add a generator. Are they planning to have another voyage to bring it to our Ceres outpost?"

"No, Lieutenant."

"Does our future factory here on Ceres plan to build a revolutionary generator, so we can test it with this missile robonaut in order to explore deeper into the system, instead of launching a new rocket at LEO?"

"No, Lieutenant."

"Uhh, so is this some kind of deal with the Shimizu Corporation, right? Are we bound to meet their rocket somewhere so we can exchange components?"

"No, Lieutenant."

"Please fill me in, sir. I am completely lost here."

"Actually, this rocket is carrying the Resistojet as a sort of junk firewall. If there is a glitch on that non-tripulated rocket, it will target that useless robonaut, mantaining the integrity of the upcoming refinery and our mission."

"This is illogical, Captain!"

"Just follow the rules, Lieutenant."


Yes, I am stretching the situation here for humor's sake . Mechanically, this feature does not bother me much, because it can be hard to build a good rocket configuration and still have redundant Mass:0 cards to bring along. But if you feel this can be un-thematic, consider adopting a house rule that glitches can only target cards that are functional (in the above example, the Resistojet could only be targeted if the rocket stack had a working generator also).

Finally, a note of concern about the wording of the glitch event in 8.5:

"The phasing player must decommission one of his cards that is in a non-LEO stack without a crew card, if any."

Last month, Phil was explicit about "non-LEO stack" to avoid a situation in which a player sends a non-crewed rocket while having a confortable stack of LEO cards to avoid glitches entirely.

While I agree with this, I fear for the freighter's stack. If a crewed rocket passes through a triangle burn and triggers a glitch, the rocket would be immune but the event is bound to happen anyway (as it specifically targets a non-crewed stack). This way, unless a player has expendable outpost stack cards, an active freighter would be targeted and decomissioned outright.

So, Phil, am I right to assume the goal of the glitch rule is to specifically affect rocket stacks which lack a crew card? If so, would it be feasible to change the rules' wording to "the phasing player must decommision one of his cards in his rocket stack if it lacks a crew card" or something similar? This would target just rocket stacks while not affecting freighter, outpost and LEO stacks.
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Mike Hoyt

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Peet, posting a .doc file would be great! Thanks for this great article, now I want to print it out and sit with the map for awhile
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I'm hoping that High Frontier will get eventually collect some really good player guides and strategy articles like, for example, 1830.
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wykthor wrote:
It is important to note also how useful sails are to grab early & easy 6 VP for an Eureka glory mission

Actually, it's 8VP, because the cubes themselves are worth 1VP each.

I prefer Phaeton because without ESA help the trip time is four turns instead of five, and you don't need to bring lander fuel to lift off as you would if you went to Eureka. However, the 30% death chance of passing through a hazard twice can really burn you. Once I died three times in a row upon leaving Phaeton. :) If it's a race I would go for Phaeton, but if no one else has a rocket yet then Eureka is better.

wykthor wrote:
A cheap backup is a sneaky way to avoid the consequences of a glitch.

I like this idea, and I stumbled upon it in a solitaire Hermes Fall game I played a few nights ago. I boosted an extra card to protect myself from a pad explosion, and it turned out that it saved my bacon.

Of course, you can always send your mass 0 cheap backup card on your first mission to set up an outpost, provided you did not send a crew card the first time out. If you have mass 0 cards available, I would probably prefer this over sending the crew, unless you need the lander.

Another thing I came up with is that if you haven't used your outpost yet, you could park your cards in HEO instead of LEO to avoid a pad explosion, and keep your crew there to protect from glitches as well.

As for your ideal mission stack, I am kind of torn; I prefer sending buggy robonauts because most of the missions I describe here end at low-size sites. If I land on Hertha or Lutetia I like the idea of getting two prospecting rolls instead of one. But the missile robonauts allow landings on bigger sites. It depends where you end up going.

Peet
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drpetrov wrote:


I prefer Phaeton because without ESA help the trip time is four turns instead of five, and you don't need to bring lander fuel to lift off as you would if you went to Eureka. However, the 30% death chance of passing through a hazard twice can really burn you. Once I died three times in a row upon leaving Phaeton. :) If it's a race I would go for Phaeton, but if no one else has a rocket yet then Eureka is better.


I prefer Phaeton for the simple reason that you can prospect it with your crew! Take your 1/6 shot (or more with UN) at a great science/prospect location (if a poor factory site).
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Quote:
Actually, it's 8VP, because the cubes themselves are worth 1VP each.


The cubes are only worth 1 vp each if they are on a map site, "regardless if it's a claim, colony or factory". Then you award additional VP for glory and space ventures. On the 7.2 Endgame example shows Space Tourism is awarded 7 VP (and not 8)

Quote:
I prefer Phaeton because without ESA help the trip time is four turns instead of five, and you don't need to bring lander fuel to lift off as you would if you went to Eureka.


I understand. The point is that Phaeton hazard turns me off . But it is quite a viable route and a daring one if you do the Matthew Eklund approach.

And finally, the missile x buggy robonaut conundrum is serious indeed. Both approaches are optimized. I love a buggy robonaut but one of them uses a reactor + radiator (low Rad Hard) and the other requires a generator (which may need a radiator, have Mass:4 or have low rad-hard). In the end, the auctions and the draw will be decisive.
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Silly question, but how did you draw the rocket mission paths on the maps for your post (what software did you use)? Thanks!
 
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David Ells wrote:
Silly question, but how did you draw the rocket mission paths on the maps for your post (what software did you use)? Thanks!

I just bought ten copies of the game and drew on the boards with magic marker.
:P

Seriously, I used a program called Ulead Iphoto Express that came with a scanner I got ages ago.

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Here the truceless armies yet / Trample, rolled in blood and sweat; / They kill and kill and never die; / And I think that each is I. // None will part us, none undo / The knot that makes one flesh of two, /
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drpetrov wrote:
David Ells wrote:
Silly question, but how did you draw the rocket mission paths on the maps for your post (what software did you use)? Thanks!

I just bought ten copies of the game and drew on the boards with magic marker.


I would have believed it!

drpetrov wrote:
Seriously, I used a program called Ulead Iphoto Express that came with a scanner I got ages ago.

Peet


Good to know - this is a very good idea and helps people (me especially) understand the rocket missions even better.
 
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David Ells wrote:
I would have believed it!


Actually that probably would have taken less time. Ulead Iphoto Express is not very powerful, but it is easy to use.

David Ells wrote:
Good to know - this is a very good idea and helps people (me especially) understand the rocket missions even better.

I'm glad this helps.

One thing to note is that it is easier to do examples using solar sail movement because there is no fuel to track. So it is easy to see how much movement you have left because it is just a matter of counting remaining burns, and each time you hit a slingshot you add instead of subtract.

Another thing that becomes apparent is that most routes on the board follow a vaguely spiral-shaped path. This is the "natural" route in HF and in a way the spiral is the straight line of HF, in that it is typically the shortest distance.

Peet
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Any chance on the .doc or pdf version so I can print it and hve in hand while sitting at table?

(I can, and will if I have to, borrow a laptop, and I did just realize the illustrations in the post are also in the image section (where they are easier to read) but paper would still be the best for me. Thanks again)
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Peet wrote:
while the size one sites are not worth a whole lot (unless you are good at rolling ones)

My opponent from No Retreat! (Hex Wargame) can verify I'm good at rolling ones... shake
 
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drpetrov wrote:
Mease19 wrote:
You should make a PDF guide that can be printed and stored in the game box. I always have a hard time explaining how the solar sails work and this would be a useful document to have on hand.

I don't have the ability to make .pdfs on my machine but I could do a .doc file if you want.

Peet

A Doc file is perfectly fine, other enterprising folks can (including myself) convert it to PDF form if needed. In my case I prefer doc since I can upload it to my portable tablet and use the search function in it.
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Actually it turns out that I can do .pdf. I will post it shortly.

Peet
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This is a great guide and I'm eager to try out a solar sail now, whereas before I just sold them on the free market for 3 WT. However, do sails flout real world physics - i.e. is this something you can do in the game but would not work in real life? To put it another way, do these sail missions indicate some design flaw in the game?

To explain why, consider what the "burn" spaces on the map actually represent. I remember asking Phil how come a rocket with a thrust greater than the site size used no fuel to land, and his explanation was that actually they do, because the burn spaces passed through include the delta-v required to actually land on the site, not just get to it. The lander fuel expenditure is due to the fact that delta-v isn't everything - you also need sufficient thrust to land (i.e. to be able to change your velocity quickly enough to fight against gravity in a landing).

Returning to sails, how exactly does starting close to the Sun help a sail decelerate to the surface of an asteroid? It can't - it just helps you get there.

I hope I'm wrong and the game really is an accurate depiction of solar sails but I need some convincing.

[edit]

P.S. - The same problem applies, in my mind, to flyby bonus burns. A flyby increases your velocity. Unless my understanding of orbital mechanics is way off, I can't see how you could use a flyby to decelerate.

In my opinion, the game just considers total delta-v and ignores the fact that you are accelerating at the start of a trip and decelerating at the end of it.

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