The Four Fingers: Straight Talk About The Tractor Beam

Written by ECV in 2013

Every ship with two or more engines has the capability of towing any other ship. Wow! This is so useful!  You can tow around your own ships to save on fuel or to economize on engines.  Towing can also be used to minimize risk in minefields and for countless other logistical bonuses.

Guess what?  The tractor beam can also be a frightening weapon.  You might want to tow an enemy ship somewhere and attack it or capture it.  Or you could tow an enemy ship for someone else to attack it.  You can pit players against each other and create chaos in the cluster using the tow mission.

Maybe you’ve figured out how to tow enemy ships away and exploited this to great advantage.  It’s really great fun, isn’t it?  But it’s not so much fun when you are on the receiving end of the fearsome tractor beam.  What if you happen to be the victim of such a scheme and you get a ship of your own towed away?  You might feel abused or violated.  After all, who would dare to interfere with your precious ships’ movement?

More importantly, is there any way to keep your opponents from interfering with your ships’ movement?  Is there any way to avoid the enemy tractor beam from taking you somewhere you don’t want to go?

Tractor beams in the Echo Cluster are just ridiculously strong.  A Neutronic Fuel Carrier (hull mass 10kt) can tow a ship ninety-eight times heavier – Gorbie Class Battlecarrier (hull mass 980kt) – with no problem at all.  There is no amount of mass that can break the tractor beam.

On top of it all, if the towing ship is successful, the target ship’s own movement orders are disregarded.  Ouch!


So How Do I Get Away?

If you find yourself at the same point in space as a two-engine enemy ship and want to avoid being towed away by its ultra-powerful tractor beam, you have two choices.  The first choice is to move away before it can tow you, which requires finding a way to move earlier in the host order.  The second choice is to overpower the tractor beam, which requires the four fingers.


The Movement Phase of Host

In the host order, the movement phase is the only time when ships move each turn unless something unusual is involved like an ion storm.  In the movement phase, towing happens first.  Ships that are towing or being towed move before any other type of movement, including intercepting ships, hyperdrive ships, and chunnels.

Every stage of movement happens in order of ID number.  So when the host gets to the movement phase, since towing happens first, the host will check the ship with the lowest ID number.

For example, If ship #1 is on a tow mission, attempting to lock its tractor beam on another ship, and is successful in doing so, ship #1 moves and its target moves with it.  Next, the host checks #2 to see if it is on a tow mission, and if successful, ship #2 and its target will be next to move.

What if #1 had successfully towed #2?  The host recognizes that #2 already moved and its own movement orders are ignored.


Avoiding a Tow by Moving Away First

The only way to move away before someone can tow you is by using the tow mission yourself, using a ship with a lower ID number.  Whoever attempted the tow will receive a distinctive report if their tow was unsuccessful for this reason: “Unable to lock tractor beam on [name of ship].  They moved away before we could tow them.”

For example, let’s say you have the following ships at the same point in space: Large Freighter #100, Large Freighter #200, Medium Freighter #300, and Medium Freighter #400.  Your opponent also has Cobol #250 at that point in space and you are afraid one of the freighters will get towed away and captured and just want to move them all away.  Avoiding a tow in this situation is easy: just have the two large freighters tow the two medium freighters.  Since both large freighters have a lower ID number, both will move away before the Cobol tries to tow, and they will carry the medium freighters with them.  The Cobol will therefore have nothing left there to tow.

Alternatively, let’s say you have these ships in the same situation: Medium Freighter #100, Medium Freighter #200, Large Freighter #300, Large Freighter #400.  You won’t be able to avoid Cobol #250’s tractor beam by moving away first in this situation because the Medium Freighter has only one engine and cannot tow.  Among these five ships, the Cobol on a tow mission will move first, so there is no way to move away before the Cobol can tow.


Avoiding a Tow by Breaking the Tractor Beam

As we have established, the Echo Cluster’s tractor beams are ridiculously strong.  Tiny ships can tow huge ships, provided they have two engines.  If an opponent is trying to tow you away and you have not been able to move away first by using a tow mission yourself, the only way to avoid being towed is to overpower the tractor beam.  Overpowering the tractor beam requires a set of criteria that we will call the four fingers.



The four fingers are: FuelTwo EnginesLong Waypoint, and Speed.  We use the hand as a symbol to remind us that overpowering the tractor beam requires all of the four fingers.


The First Finger: Fuel

On the first finger we ask: Does the ship have 25kt or more of fuel?  If the answer is no, the ship cannot overpower the tractor beam and may be towed away.  If the answer is yes, go on to the second finger.

Note that you must have 25kt of fuel clientside; if you have less than 25kt at the beginning of host, you cannot use the “Beam Up Fuel” mission to get more fuel and satisfy the first finger. You also cannot receive a ship-to-ship beam transfer from another player to get enough fuel to break a tow.


The Second Finger: Two Engines

On the second finger we ask: Does the ship have two or more engines?  If the answer is no, the ship cannot overpower the tractor beam and may be towed away.  If the answer is yes, go on to the third finger.

While on the second finger, we never ask about the grade of engines, only the number of engines.  Two StarDrive 1s satisfies the second finger just as well as two Transwarp Drives.  The type of engines is never relevant to the second finger.


The Third Finger: Long Waypoint

For a ship to have a long waypoint means that the distance between its location and its destination is greater than the square of its warp speed.  For example, A ship traveling at warp 9 with a waypoint of 81.1 LY away has a long waypoint.

On the third finger we ask: Does the ship have a long waypoint?  If the answer is no, the ship cannot overpower the tractor beam and may be towed away.  If the answer is yes, go on to the fourth finger.


The Fourth Finger: Speed

Breaking a tow requires warp speed equal to or greater than the ship trying to tow.  If a registered player is trying to tow you away, they will most likely do so at warp 9.  Since warp 9 is the highest speed possible in the Echo Cluster, it is safe to say that you should use warp 9 if you want to try to break a tow.

So on the fourth finger we ask: Will the ship have a warp speed equal to or greater than that of the towing ship?  If the answer is no, the ship cannot overpower the tractor beam and may be towed away.

The only way to be certain of satisfying the fourth finger against an opponent tractor beam is to set your ship’s speed as warp 9, unless you know that the ship trying to tow has enough damage that it cannot travel at warp 9.

Speed is different than grade of engines.  A ship with Quantam Drive 7s can overdrive and travel warp 9 and therefore can satisfy the fourth finger.  The type of engines is never relevant to the fourth finger.

Note that a ship with a certain amount of damage may be unable to travel at full speed, and any attempt to overdrive an engine or set a speed higher than the threshold allowed by the damage will cause the host to reduce the ship’s speed automatically.

If you have answered yes on all four fingers, your ship can break a tractor beam.


Mutual Towing

When ships try to tow each other, all of the above applies, with one exception.  If both ships satisfy all four fingers and have an equal warp speed, they simply break apart, each toward its own waypoint.

To state this another way, when two ships try to tow each other, the low ID ship will win the conflict unless the high ID ship satisfies the four fingers.  If the high ID ship satisfies the four fingers, the high ID ship’s tow will succeed unless the ships’ warp speeds are equal.


Special Considerations for Gravitronic Ships

Three ships are equipped with a gravitronic accelerator: the BR4 Class Gunship, BR5 Kaye Class Torpedo Boat, and Meteor Class Blockade Runner.  The gravitronic accelerator allows the ship to move twice the distance otherwise allowed for its warp speed.

Planets Nu functions significantly differently than Host 3.22.047 in resolving towing situations with gravitronic ships. The information here applies only to Planets Nu.

If you are trying to break a tractor beam, you must satisfy all four fingers.  If the ship has at least 25kt of fuel, it satisfies the first finger.  Since all gravitronics have two engines, they always satisfy the second finger.

On the third finger, a gravitronic ship has a long waypoint if its waypoint is farther away than the square of its warp speed. A gravitronic traveling at warp 9 can satisfy the third finger with a waypoint of 81.1 LY away. Note that a non-gravitronic ship must have its waypoint set farther away than one turn’s travel; by contrast a gravitronic can break a tow and then travel to a precise destination greater than its warp factor squared but within its normal one-turn travel range.

On the fourth finger, a ship must have warp speed equal to or greater than that of the towing ship in order to break the tractor beam.  A gravitronic’s warp speed counts double when it is trying to tow.

When a gravitronic is the target ship, its warp factor does not count double on Planets Nu.

Many thanks to Emork (the world’s most humble Planets guru) for testing, correcting, and verifying many things in this article.


Questions and Answers

When I was trying to tow somebody’s ship away, I set a long waypoint but it didn’t work.  Why?  The target ship either moved away first or broke the tow by satisfying the four fingers.  Incidentally, the towing ship does not need a long waypoint.

Help!  I got towed away but my ship was set to go 85 LY!  Did you check all four fingers?  If you had a long waypoint but still got towed, that means you failed on one of the other three fingers.

Do the tow conflict rules apply equally to my own ships as well as those of allies or opponents?  Yes.

Why does my Mig Class Scout not have “Try to Tow” available as a mission?  Because it has one engine.  Ships with one engine can never tow.

So the more engines, the better, right?  My Biocide Class Carrier with six engines can always overpower a two-engine ship, correct?  Nope.  Six engines are not more powerful than two.  Any ship with two or more engines can tow any other ship.  Any ship with two or more engines can break a tow provided it also satisfies the three other fingers.

I always set short waypoints because I don’t like for my opponents to see where I am heading.  Can I still break a tow when setting short waypoints?  No.

Can I establish a long waypoint even if my ship does not have enough fuel to reach it? Yes. To have a long waypoint and thus satisfy the third finger, the ship needs to have a waypoint farther away than the square of its warp speed. It does not actually need to have enough fuel to reach the long waypoint. In fact, a ship can break a tow and run out of fuel the same turn.

I have a Virgo with Transwarps set at warp 1 and … ?  Sorry to interrupt.  If you’re asking about towing or breaking a tow, the grade of engines doesn’t matter.  The warp speed is what matters.

So I can have StarDrive 1s and successfully tow away a Meteor?  Yes.

My ship has a lower ID number so it was not supposed to get towed!  ID number is not one of the four fingers; therefore ID number is not relevant to breaking a tow.  But having a lower ID number is important if you want to move away first to prevent a tow by using a tow mission yourself.

My Nova has Transwarp Drives and was set to warp 1 and … ?  Well gee, I sound like a broken record.  It doesn’t matter that you had Transwarp Drives.  What matters is that you were set to warp 1.  The tech level of your engines is irrelevant to towing or breaking a tow.

Can I overdrive my engines to tow somebody away?  Yes, although you can’t overdrive if the ship is badly damaged.

Can I win a tow conflict if my engines are of a lower grade?  Yes, by overdriving the engine.  Remember to wear your seat belt.

Really?  So bad engines can tow away good engines?  You bet.

Does the strength of my tractor beam somehow get penalized when I overdrive and try to tow at the same time?  Nope.  I’ll agree that it does seem a bit immoral.

Can I daisychain?  #1 tows #2 which is towing #3, etc.?   No.  Ships that are towing or being towed travel in pairs.  Two by two, kind of like Noah’s Ark.

If I am going warp 18, that means I should travel 324 LY, not 162.  The Meteor is not really traveling warp 18, right?  That’s correct, the Meteor is not traveling warp 18.  Don’t start splitting hairs here.

Can I tow a cloaked ship?  Yes.

Can I tow a cloaked enemy ship two turns in a row?  No, because the host locks the tractor beam at the beginning of each turn. You cannot tow a ship that you cannot see.

So you’re that nasty Privateer trying to tow me away at warp 9.  Is there any possible escape?  Not unless you can find a way to evade the gravitronic by using another tow mission at the same point in space.

Why do people say that you should try to get low ID ships to break a tow?  ID number is not one of the four fingers and is not relevant to tow breakage.  What they are saying is that you should try to get ships with two or more engines with low ID numbers so that you can initiate a tow mission and move away before an enemy with a higher ID ship can attempt to lock the tractor beam.

Can you give me any neat tricks to getting low ID ships for towing?  On Nu, the Medium Freighters automatically given to all players on turn 1 have the lowest ID number.  These can’t tow because they only have one engine.  Here’s the tip: save your initial freighter and don’t lose it.  Also capture the initial freighters from other players if you can.  Late in the game, if you do it at the right moment, you can recycle the low ID freighters and exchange them for two-engine ships.  Remember that there are two build phases, and with priority points you can build at the beginning of the turn so you get the ID number that you want.  The only ship slots that open before movement are those freed by recycling or by ion storm destructions.  Switching out stolen low-ID freighters for low-ID Meteors late in the game is one of my top-secret Privateer tricks (alas, no longer a secret now that it’s on a public blog).

Is there anything extraordinary about owning the very lowest ID ship – ship number 1?  If you own ship number 1 and it has two engines, then it is the ship that can move first in the tow phase, always, with no exceptions, if you can see any other ship — your own or someone else’s — at the same point in space.  Ship number 1 can move and tow one other ship of your choice before any other ship moves.  If ship number 1 is on a successful tow mission, there is no possible way that any other ship can tow ship number 1 nor the other ship that it is towing.

Is there anything extraordinary about ship ID number 2?  Well, yes.  If ship number 2 is at the same point in space as another ship it can see and ship number 1 is not there, then ship number 2 can tow and move away before any other ship at that point in space.  And so on.  In towing and movement, there is great advantage to having two-engine ships with ID numbers lower than about 50; the advantage diminishes greatly if your ship’s ID number is higher than 200.

Are there any more secrets to getting low ID numbers?  Please, just one more?  Early in the game, particularly in the first three or four turns, it is very important to build two-engine ships to take advantage of the availability of low ID numbers. With some notable exceptions, players should avoid building Medium Deep Space Freighters or other one-engine ships until there are at least 75 ships in the cluster. Refer to my article Early Construction — an Opinion for more valuable information. The user comments on the article also contain some terrific advice (and diverse opinions)!

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34 thoughts on “The Four Fingers: Straight Talk About The Tractor Beam

  1. Best article in ages.

    Having just read this one and the one about “maximizing allies collaboration” (or somethink that sounded like that), I can tell without hesitation that the 20′ I spent here are worth more that the hours and hours I spent in the forums and on the Interwebs, without ever finding reliable responses to key issues like this one!

    Keep up the good work!


  2. Hi Ecv,

    another great article! Very good to explain towing resolution in a way that is easy to understand. I have read this topic at Donovan’s many times to fully understand and believe all this.

    There is only one point I dare to disagree and that is about gravetronic ships. I’m used to know a slightly different and more simple rule:
    This means: A MBR that flies 70 LJ with warp 7 won’t escape the tow of LDSF that flies for 1 LJ with warp 9. This is how it reads at Donovans. To be really sure I just tested it with NuHost and can confirm it.

    During this test I found something other I’m not sure about: A MBR flies with warp 9 and is towed by a LDSF also with warp 9. What distance does it need for the MBR to escape. My results:
    = 81 LJ: MBR does escape

    I’m sure it is wrong that the MBR escapes with distance = 81 LJ (third finger). But I’m not sure what is right:
    a) > 81 LJ
    b) > 162 LJ

    Opinions from the veterans about this?


  3. Haha,m it was no good idea to highlight my rule with brackets. This is what you should read between the brackets:

    Gravetronic doubles the warp factor only for a tower not for a towee.


  4. Hi Ecv,

    I come along with an additional suggestion. There is one point about towing immunity that was very hard to believe for me: how strong the low ID defense tow is. You answered this already in your questions section (btw: great idea to add such a section) but you could add an extreme example to make it really, really clear. I don’t know if you should also add the part about chain towing or if this would be too confusing. Well, I think it’s good to know. I just confirmed in a test game with NuHost that it works.

    Extreme example for towing immunity:
    Rush ID 1 is towing Rush ID 500. Rush ID 500 is happy about this and does nothing to break the tow of Rush ID 1. Because of ID 1 both ships are completely immune against being towed away by any other ship (gravetronic doesn’t matter). This is true under ANY circumstances. Speed and waypoint of Rush ID 1 are totally irrelevant as long as it ends not at the same spot as it started. The later is really the only trap to fall into. E.g. if the Rushes are orbiting a planet and Rush 1 tows Rush 500 with warp 9 for 1 LJ into the warp well, both ships will be sucked back to the planet. If there is an enemy ship at the planet that tries to tow one of the Rushes it will succeed in this special case because the Rushes MOVED but not AWAY.

    This can lead to an even stranger situation. If you encounter it you might think it’s a bug but it isn’t. Imagine this situation:
    Ship A (you) and ship B (enemy) are orbiting a planet. Both ships have 2 enignes and > 25 KT fuel. Ship A flies away with warp 5 and for 30 LJ distance. Next turn ship A finds itself 9 LJ away from the planet – towed by ship B with just warp 3! How is this possible? You had satisfied all 4 fingers and still got towed?
    A third, cloaked ship C was also in orbit. It had a lower ID than ship B and also towed ship A. Ship C towed ship A with warp 9 and for a distance of 1 LJ. It’s tow succeeded and A and C were sucked back to the planet. In this process the warp factor of ship A was set to 0 (as always for the towee) and therefore ship B was able to tow it with warp 3.


  5. Emork! Thank you so much for your expert comments. I tested everything here very extensively under Host 3.22.047 last week and am 100% certain of its accuracy. I simultaneously tested some (not all) possibilities in my live games on Nu.

    Regarding your specific mention of gravitronics counting double as the target ship, Donovan’s is wrong concerning the behavior of Host 3.22. If you did test it on Nu and it matches the behavior of Donovan’s, I will change the article. We need this documented correctly once and for all. It’s not that I don’t believe you, but sometime soon I will start a single-player game and tow myself around a little bit more just to see it for myself, and then I will change the text above. Or if you’d like, you and I could do a two-player blitz and try towing each other around and see if we experience any more anomalies? Two brains are better than one when trying to figure out such strange and esoteric details.

    Your next question: option “b” is correct. That is why I reworded the third finger criterion from anything that has been published before. When the tow conflict rules were created, Wisseman simply wrote in the Host 3.2 changelog that the new rule would be that >81 LY would break a tow. That’s not right, of course, for ships traveling at a lower speed than warp 9. The common parlance has been to say “waypoint equal to or greater than warp factor squared LY away”. I specifically changed the third finger criterion above to define “long waypoint” as a greater distance than one turn’s travel at the established speed, and this change was only to reflect the gravitronic issue. (If MBR were really traveling warp 18, then third finger would require >364 LY right? But again, no splitting hairs please!)

    With regard to your last reply, in writing this article, I tried to make it clear that “moving away” was one way to avoid a tow and that it prevents the tractor beam from being imposed at all. As the message from Nu will say, “… moved away before we could tow them”. I’m going to add something in the Q&A section above about ship ID#1. I would like to hear any further suggestions about how to make it absolutely clear that moving away and breaking the tractor beam are two different things.

    Thank you for all your insight, Emork! I’ll be adding to the Q&A section above and will modify the gravitronic section later after I think about the clearest way to word it. But I have to go play my turns first 😛

    In the words of ecatonchieres, the goal here is to give “reliable responses to key issues” and to document everything exactly right, once and for all. The tiny details about gravitronics and warp factor are far less significant to most people since it’s only once in a blue moon that somebody would try to tow your Meteor away. Hopefully I have succeeded in giving a good guide to something that many players struggle with, and I will continue to refine this to make sure it is correct and clear.

    Emork or anyone else, please feel free to add critical comments! 🙂


  6. Ok! I added a bunch of new questions and answers. Enjoy!

    I’m still pondering this gravitronic issue and will change the article when I am 100% certain of every aspect of Nu’s functionality regarding gravitronics and tow conflicts. Again, I am certain that the above is correct for Host 3.22, but as this blog is intended for Nu players I will change it if it is wrong.


  7. Hi Ecv,

    I can only answer short because I’m busy today and tomorrow. First I’m happy that you don’t mind my dissent. That’s the good thing about this blog compared with the old Nu-forum. You can discuss, collaborate and step by step improve an article until it’s perfect.

    My test config was: A NuHost private game me as Pirate vs. computer. I tried to tow my MBR with my LDSF. The LDSF always had warp 9 and flew 1 LJ. The MBR tried to escape with warp 5,6,7,8,9 and distance warp*warp. I tested it with 2 LDSF, one had a lower Id than the MBR, one had a higher Id than the MBR. The result was as described in my earlier comment. I’m glad that you retest it before changing anything in your article.


  8. Arrggg, I learn slowly. I should not use the less or the greater sign here.

    Ecv, I wrote:
    The MBR tried to escape with warp 5,6,7,8,9 and distance less/equal than warp*2 and distance greater than warp*2.


  9. Hey Emork,

    Your dissent and your corrections and clarifications are great! The Mag needs to be a place for everybody to go for good information, and we will continue adding and revising until it is correct.

    Let me state the gravitronic issue a different way.

    The Meteor should escape if it satisfies all 4 fingers.

    To satisfy the third:
    waypoint > 2*(warpspeed^2) LY away

    To satisfy the fourth:
    2*(warpspeed of Meteor) ≥ (warpspeed of towing ship)

    Is that right? If not, we definitely should do a blitz game for practice whenever you have time. We will continue this discussion until the information here is exactly right!


  10. Hi Ecv,

    I just tested again with NuHost.

    * finger 1: 100 KT fuel
    * finger 2: 2 engines
    * finger 3: waypoint is 190 LJ away
    * finger 4: warp = 7 (if gravetronic would count for the towee it would be 14)

    LDSF tows the MBR for 20 LJ with warp 9 and succeeds. No doubt.


  11. Hi followers of this discussion,

    in my comment “emork on June 3, 2013 at 15:41” I wrote “warp * warp” twice where I wanted to write “warp * 2”. Sorry for the additional confusion.

    Hi Thin, I don’t know if you can edit comments. If you can I won’t mind if you correct this.


  12. Emork, you rock. Enough said 🙂

    I’m going to change the article now so will you please proofread and make sure I got it correct?!


  13. Hi Ecv,

    there is one more thing which is different in NuHost. You write:
    “So for a gravitronic traveling at warp 9, a waypoint of greater than 162LY away constitutes a long waypoint.”

    In NuHost 81.1 constitute a long waypoint for a MBR travelling with warp 9 and being a tow target. I think this can be regarded as direct consequence of the NuHost difference that we just discussed: If a gravtronic ship is a tow target it’s warp speed is calculated as normal (warp 7 is warp 7, not 14) and therefore for warp 7 it only needs 49,1 LJ to establish a long waypoint.
    In fact it needs even less than 49,1 LJ and that can easily confuse you. E.g. if you set a straight waypoint from south to north for 81 LJ this does not count as long waypoint for a MBR travelling with warp 9. If you choose the same waypoint and now move it only one LJ to the east the NU-client still shows a distance of 81 LJ because this is rounded to 81.0 LJ and not 81.1 LJ. But the MBR will escape. Obviously the towing algorithm uses a more exact number than the client.

    When thinking about this matter another question came into my mind. What excactly happens to the mission of a ship that has been sucessfully towed? Well, mission “senser sweep” won’t be affected but what’s about with mission “intercept”? And just to be sure: If my ship is a tow target while it tries to intercept another ship then the distance to the other ship before movement counts for determining that the waypoint is a long one, or? Or course it has to be this way because of the host order. Which leads me to a another situation which looks like a bug but isn’t one. I never though about this up to now so forgive if I overlooked something in thje following szenario.
    Turn 1:
    * ship A tows enemy ship B with warp 9.
    * ship B intercept cloaked ship C (same race as B) which is more than 90 LJ away.
    * ship C moves cloaked for 81 LJ towards ship B.
    Turn 2:
    * ship B has broken the tow but is only 10 LJ away from it’s origin. This would look like a clear violation of the third finger but isn’t 🙂

    I haven’t tested the interaction of tow and intercept but will do.

    Just in case you want to explain some more strange looking situations in your questions section:
    * It is not reuqired for the escaping ship to have enough fuel to reach it’s long waypoint. So the ship may in fact fly a short distance but still have escaped. This is easy to detect because the escaped ship has warp 0 then.
    * Sometimes a ship escaped and now has a lower warp factor than the tower but still greater warp 0 (so it didn’t run out of fuel). Check the minefield situation in this case. Warp adjustment because of mine hit damage is done (of course) after resolving the tow conflict. For ships < hull tech 7 a mine hit also leads to a shorter travel distance. So you may see a ship that you towed with warp 9 having escaped and now being only 50 LJ away with warp 5 set.

    I don't want to spoil your splendid idea to explain towing in a simple way. Maybe you add as a last question "I towed a ship but it escaped. I got the message that my tractor beam was overpowered but now I see it did not satidfy finger three and/or finger four! What happend?" and then make a short list of the reasons in order of probability:
    1) ran out of fuel
    2) mine hit
    3) intercept (if confirmed)

    One last request: Don't mentioning me in your article. My help is so little that's to much honour.

    Until later when I know more about the intercept thing! Emork


  14. changed the warp*2 thing – okay like this?

    as far as i know (at least i have used it so far) the intercept command can’t break the tow lock regardless of the distance. but i haven’t tested it in the lab.


  15. Emork! Sorry it’s taken me a week to get to this. I’ve been snowed under with work and turns 😛

    I am about to make changes and should be finished about 2200 your time, so please take a look. Thanks again!!


  16. Hi Ecv,

    I know this very well, so no problem at all. Meanwhile I tested intercept. It is as I assumed. If you are intercepting a ship then the position of the intercepted ship is counted as your regular waypoint when towing success is calculated.

    One hint in case you make additional tests: the old NuHost bug still exists that intercept mission is not resetted. So if you tried to intercept but get towed away you still have intercept mission set. But the ID of the intercepted ship is gone and you won’t continue intercepting if you get free of the tow. This is the difference to the regular intercept bug that you can exploit to turn your PBP-dummies into super-ship-tracers. But that’s something completely different … 🙂


  17. Ok Emork – please take a look at the article now when you have a chance. I reverted to the “warp speed squared” syntax for the third finger, because that actually does hold true on Nu according to your tests.

    The intercepting bug/feature is the same in the old game. You get towed away and mission becomes intercept with no target, and you don’t move (again) during the intercept phase. In other words, if you’ve been towed away, that counts as your movement, so you lose your opportunity to intercept.

    I may modify the Q&A section above some more and include a few of the other suggestions; however if folks want to learn about this topic in depth, they will probably be reading our entire conversation here also 🙂


  18. Great article.

    One question though, you can still tow a ship that cloaks the same turn? Will the ship remain cloaked after towing it to its destination?


  19. Hi rco, thanks for the compliment!!

    Yes, you can tow a cloaked ship, and it will still be cloaked when it arrives, barring any unforeseen events that would cause it to emerge from cloak (ion storm, Loki, etc.)

    You cannot tow a cloaked (enemy) ship two turns in a row because the missions reset every turn and you can never tow something that you can’t see.


  20. Hi Thin!

    +++ Towing cloaked ships

    To establish and hold a tow lock it is neccesary that you see the towee.

    +++ Towing enemy cloaked ships

    Turn 1: Enemy towee is visible but cloaks the turn the tower starts towing. The towee doesn’t break the tow.
    => tow succeds

    Turn 2: The towee can cloak and sit or _even uncloak (e.g. minesweep) and sit_. The tow is cancelled because the towee is no more visible. The mission of the tower still shows tow but without ID.

    +++ Towing friendly cloaked ships

    Friendly means that at least the towee has set share intel or higher towards the tower.
    All in all it works in the same way as towing your own cloaked ships.

    Turn 1: Friendly towee is cloaked or cloaks the turn the tower start towing. The towee doesn’t break the tow.
    => tow succeds.

    Turn 2: The tower can continue towing the friendly cloaked towee as long as the towee doesn’t break the tow.

    Side note: If the towee revokes share intel then this has no immidiate effect. This is because the tower sees your ship in this turn. It needs one more turn to have an effect.
    Example: Your cloaked ship is towed by another race. Turn 20 you revoke share intel. After the host run for this turn you will find that your cloaked ship was still towed. After the host run for Turn 21 the tow is canceled of course.


  21. This here could added about the first finger:
    On the first finger we ask: Does the ship have 25kt or more of fuel? If the answer is no, the ship cannot overpower the tractor beam and may be towed away. If the answer is yes, go on to the second finger.

    Try to move with ‘Beam up fuel’ mission to gain >25 kt fuel before the movement phase not work in the planets nu host. You will lose the tow ‘break free’ attempt in any case. So its important that you have 25 kt fuel before the lock beam in the host order take place.


  22. Important info Ted! This also means that a fuel transfer by a foreign ship also should not help to break the tow.

    I’m abit confused about this. I thought that the “tow lock” just means “check if the towee is visible and at the same position and therefore the tow mission is valid”. I assumed that all finger checks are done in the towing step of the movement phase. Obviously wrong.


  23. So I am still trying to figure out how they broke my tow.

    1. I had the lower ID
    2. I had fuel 150kt
    3. I had WARP 9 set
    4. I had the long-way point.

    So how did he break tow?


  24. Howdy Prohobo. Look again! You own the ship trying to tow, correct? If so, It is patently irrelevant whether you have those four things covered. If your opponent satisfies them all, the tow is broken. The four fingers apply only to the target ship, not to the one trying to do the towing.


  25. First of all: great article!

    I have a question about Mutual Towing:
    “To state this another way, when two ships try to tow each other, the low ID ship will win the conflict unless the high ID ship satisfies the four fingers. If the high ID ship satisfies the four fingers, the high ID ship’s tow will succeed unless the ships’ warp speeds are equal.”

    Does this mean, that the low ID ship does not need to satisfiy the four finders, but only needs to set its waro 9 to avoid beeing towed himself?
    low ID ship has set warp 9, but tries to tow only 1 ly.
    If high ID ship tries to tow low ID ship as well and has all four fingers satisfiesd, than hight ID ship will move away but does not tow low ID ship?

    Greetings, Otto


  26. Hi Otto,

    no. If the tow of the low ID ship fizzels it does not move in step “towing ships move” but later in step “normal ship movment”. So after the fizzeled tow of the low ID ship both ships are still at the same place and next comes the towing attempt of the high ID ship. This attempt will succeed if the low ID ship doesn’t satisfy all 4 fingers.

    A better wording would have been:
    “If the high ID ship satisfies the four fingers, the high ID ship’s tow will succeed unless the low ID ship satisfies the four fingers.”


  27. Hi,

    one more question:
    An enemy ships wants to tow my ship. Can I break free if finger 1, 2, 4 are fulfilled and I have set ma ship’s mission to intercept on a ship that is more than 91 ly away?

    If yes, does it matter if the ship that I am intercepting will end up in a position less than 91 ly away?

    Greetings, Otto

    Liked by 1 person

  28. @Otto no the intercepted ship moving closer does not effect will still brake tow.

    My Question

    What about when lower warp speed is being used. where movement is being done at Warp 7 most of the time in like in dogfights



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