July 2011

Ask Admiral Growler (Continued)

     Jon Berry asks: Can an empire carry and service non-native PFs/interceptors on its mech-links in a non-historic scenario or campaign?
     ANSWER: Rule (K2.24) in the Master Rulebook includes this as the final sentence: "Mech-links can dock (and if capable, repair) allied PFs and interceptors."
     This is interpreted to mean that under combat conditions a PFT of one empire can dock and repair the PF of an allied empire. It does not mean that Empire A can have PFTs operating PFs, whether individually or in full flotillas, of an allied empire on a regular basis. NOTE: The rule allows "dock and repair", it does not allow rearming, replacement of warp booster packs, or flushing, i.e., the PFT is not enabled by this rule to flush the ionic build up of an allied PF (which is not a "repair"). These are the modifications that have to be made to the mech-links because of variations in the engines of the different empires' PFs. [Even if you tried to get around some of the problems by say taking a PF that generates its own weapons and has nothing to "reload" and tried to claim that since it has the same number of engines, whether two or three, as your own empire your existing facilities to replace warp booster packs would work (they will not), there is no provision for fitting booster packs on allied PFs in the rules.]
     So, no, your Romulan PFT cannot operate a flotilla of Orion Buccaneers that it got from its ally the Kublai Cartel, and the Kzintis cannot equip a PFT operating in Federation space with a flotilla of Tholian Arachnids, and the Klingons cannot operate a PFT with a flotilla of Lyran Bobcats. You build your PFTs to operate your own PFs, which you have in steady supply from your own factories, and not to operate PFs from your ally, who may have "military emergencies" of his own that require him to divert those promised shipments of replacement PFs (or PF spare parts . . . like replacement booster packs). Remember, even the WYN Star Cluster built its own PFs.
     Note that under the above rule, if in a campaign the cutoff PFT of Empire A picked up the surviving PFs of Empire B's PFT which was destroyed, you would have to keep a running total on the engine degradation of the PFs as the PFT could not flush them. Such a campaign might provide that a ship from Empire B also survived, and had at least one mech-link, and was providing flushing services (or just live with the growing degradation problem until the PFs start blowing up). So, yes, you could cobble together a campaign about a cutoff force that had PFs from one empire more or less operating from a PFT of another empire.
     But the rules as they stand do not allow the PFT of Empire A to flush the engines or load weapons onto the PFs of Empire B. So any such circumstance is always, always, going to be "temporary", and not the basis for a longer campaign or the camel's nose allowing wholesale (or even limited/restricted/temporary/special circumstance/just this one time/for just this one mission/whatever) replacement of one empire's PFs with PFs of another allied empire.
     As always, we have the option to allow some "historical event" to occur, e.g., Cavalry Charge (SH11.0).
     Stephen V. Cole adds: I confirm the above. This is the way it works. No battle force bought with a PFT from Empire A and PFs from Empire B is legal. What happens in a running T-series campaign is what happens for that campaign (with running totals of flushing) but a series-U campaign (say, Admiral's Game) could not do it at all (you could at best recover the allied PFs and give them to an allied PFT you rendezvoused with, or at least rescue the crews and scuttle the PFs to avoid their capture).
     The Klingon ship in the Far Stars was shipyard-modified to use Lyran PFs. The two empires cannot and do not do this as a normal operating procedure. In your non-historical campaign, if you want to permanently modify a Klingon PFT to use Lyran PFs you can do it (if and only if your opponent does not object to your Monty Haul and the Munchkins idea), but the Klingon PFT then treats Klingon PFs as "allied" not as "own".
     Glenn Hoepfner asks a follow-up question: What about Orion PFTs? Are they not equipped to handle multiple empires' PFs? Frankly, I hope no, but like I said, it is just a thought.
     ANSWER: The Orions operate Buccaneer PFs, which might have different weapons (one might have phasers only, one might have a disruptor and phasers, one might have plasmas, etc.). The PFs are, however, all Buccaneers.
The WYN operated mixed-empire PF flotillas, but bear in mind how small WYN space is, i.e., a single Federation & Empire hex. They do not even have a "neutral zone" between themselves and other empires that they patrol, much less have PFTs that might move up to six Federation & Empire hexes before launching a strike into a seventh hex (as an example).
     As noted, because of the spare parts situation and need for replacement PFs (both of which the empire providing might suddenly find a military emergency requiring that it withhold such items for use by its own fleet), even the WYN eventually built their own PFs (Freedom Fighters), relegating the other empire PFs completely to defensive operations.
     Dale McKee asks: Are the repair boxes on a Lyran BC fully functional, i.e., can they repair boxes on a docked ship or on itself, or are they limited to PF repairs only?
     ANSWER: The ship description (R11.3) says the repair boxes can only repair PFs and cannot repair the ship itself. This is in accordance with rule (K2.611), which prohibits PFTs from using their repair systems on anything but a PF or a shuttle.
     Marc Baluda asks: We have discussed that no PFT, other than the Kzinti SSCS (and starbases), can have more than one PF flotilla. However, I recently saw that the Lyran TGC/TGP + P-PFT pallet SSD shows that it can carry ten PFs. Can these two hulls carry ten PFs? If so, can they be broken into two flotillas, with each being considered carried by a "true PFT" (rather than one flotilla deemed to be carried by a "true PFT" and four of the ten mech-links being treated as "casual PFs")?
     ANSWER: Under (K2.13) no PFT can carry more than six PFs at a time. The rule lists the only exceptions, and Lyran tugs are not among the list. Previous requests and proposals to allow Lyran tugs (and other empires' tugs) to carry additional PFs on mech-link refits as additional exceptions have been rejected.
     John Wyzynski notes: Under the Federation & Empire rule (525.65-C), the Romulan REDHawk (Really Evil Demon Hawk), a "never-built" Romulan DemonHawk modular dreadnought with both SparrowHawk and SkyHawk PF modules, is another exception. It can carry twelve PFs. This exception does not seem to have made its way over to Star Fleet Battles.
     ANSWER: The SFB ship description does not specifically prohibit this combination, but a specific exception to (K2.13) has to be granted, and SVC (who coordinates the two games) recently granted that exception.