November 2008


This "Loophole" May Become a Noose
- by Cadet Patrick Doyle, USS Ohio

The most obvious (and tempting) tactic is to pay for a baseline speed of 8 during Energy Allocation, then at the beginning of each impulse accelerate to a speed of 8+1. (The alternative is to pay for 16 and then use 16+1 every impulse.) For all practical purposes, you move at a speed of 16 (for the turn), while enjoying the turn mode of a ship at a speed of eight. Sounds great! You should be able to outmaneuver anyone, right?

Well if that's the loophole, here is the noose. Your opponent, having seen your clever trick on previous turns, can quickly close that noose. If he guesses correctly that you are going to do a baseline speed of 8, then all he has to do is plot (secretly of course) a baseline speed of 16 during Energy Allocation.

Even if at the beginning of all eight impulses you accelerate to 8+1, you are still considered slower than a ship at speed 16 (see the updates). Thus the ship moving 8+1 will move first, and the ship moving at speed 16 will have the advantage of moving second. Despite the less favorable turn mode, the speed 16 ship may be able to better position himself for a killing blow (or at least avoid yours).

In this game, the Simultaneous Decision Rule ("Me too!') will allow your opponent to decide when to accelerate, and when not to, depending on what you do. This applies to acceleration done at the beginning of the impulse, but not in the selection of the baseline speed during Energy Allocation. So any time you decide on 8+1, he can remain at 16 (or accelerate to 16+1 for additional maneuverability), and you (at 8+1) will always move first regardless of what he does. In this game, having the initiative (moving last) is important to winning. To quote the old fighter pilots "speed is life".