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Chris Tannhauser
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When they strap you in that suit and the last seal goes green, that's God winkin' at ya—'cuz once they light that candle you're gone, baby, gone.

—The Astronuts' Credo


CAN YOU MAKE MARGARITAS WITH FROZEN TEARS?

The ESA has managed to strand a crew in orbit over Callisto. No amount of recalibrating, rejiggering or reapportioning between outpost and rocket stacks seems to help. This is what it's like to get gored on the horns of the cold equations; every possible solution is off by a single, maddening one. One more thrust, one more fuel step, one less mass. The only sure solution is for all the screaming astronauts to suddenly become Chinese. And then send the codes that blow the radios.


Fig. 1 — Callisto: Graveyard of Hope

As they cry and tear at their clothing—how do you hang yourself in zero-gee?—trapped in a Sisyphean ballet over Callisto's sooty limb, the lone duty officer in ESA Mission Control is their last, best hope.

Callisto One: Mission Control, please! You've got to help us!

One hour later...

ESA Mission Control: Well, let'sh try—no, that'sh not gonna work. How 'bout—nah. Fuck, I'm drunk.

Five minutes later...

New Transmission (close): Hailing Callisto One, this is Commander Dave of Solar Rescue—please state the nature of your emergency.

Commander Dave! He who plies the Hohmann intersections thither and yon in a sci-fi ship loaded with black tech!

Callisto One: Uh—there's no emergency.

10 minutes later...

Commander Dave: I have a rescue mission in the Jovian system fueled and ready to burn for Callisto. Please advise.

50 minutes later...

ESA Mission Control: There'sh naw emergenshy!

Callisto 1: I—I guess we're fine.

10 minutes later...

Commander Dave: Very well. If it would help, you are free to use any of our numerous ET factories for refueling. Don't hesitate to call if your situation deteriorates.

One hour later...

ESA Mission Control: There'sh. No. Fucking. Emergenshy, ashhole. [unintelligible] Pish off! They're fine!

Callisto 1: Really—really, we're not! It's so cold—

One hour later...

ESA Mission Control: [knobbing the squelch] Shut up! Shut up! You're [unintelligible] fine!

Five minutes later...

Commander Dave: Sigh.

It was really, really late and the solution remained hideously elusive; meanwhile, Commander Dave was running away with it anyway, so what the hell—I outposted the crew over Callisto and blew the radios for sanity's sake. I like to imagine that Commander Dave sent that rescue mission after all; I also like to imagine that there was a terrible mishap during the docking maneuver and Commander Dave and the whine-o-nauts deorbited and augered in, screaming the whole way down.


Fig. 2 — Do the math drunk and no one's going home.

Anyway, fresh with the new day (and motivated by the teeniest pang of guilt), I set out to find if a tequila-free solution was even possible. I recreated the problem and ran it in sim... and it turns out there were two small rules I missed that would have helped enormously:

8.2 — When you industrialize, you don't need any radiators present
This would have saved me three mass I didn't need to truck down Callisto's gravity well. The only thing I had that needed a radiator was my generator (to power my thruster & buggy)—but I didn't need my buggy for prospecting (that's what the crew was for—quit cryin' and put your helmet on), only for the factory. So I didn't need to bring the radiator down after all.

6.1-A — When you dump fuel into the afterburner, if the spent fuel puts you across a class-threshold (tug / scout / probe, etc.) you gain +1 acceleration
So, +1 for using the afterburner, then an additional +1 for the wet mass change. This would have bumped me up the crucial bit I needed to make it all work.

A perfectly executed mission should have looked like this, in 13 lucky steps:

1. Shoot rocket, heavy with everything (robonaut, refinery, crew) at Callisto

2. Decommission thruster & radiator over Callisto, use crew module to set factory package down, Prospect & claim with crew

3. Industrialize

4. Factory Refuel crew module

5. Use crew module for sub-orbital hop to second hex site, Prospect & claim

6. Sub-orbital hop crew module back to factory, Factory Refuel to max

7. Crew module liftoff from Callisto—straight into immediate burn space (leaving crew module dry), outpost crew module in Callisto orbit

8. Boost new rocket stack into LEO (crew retrieval mission), tank up with enough fuel to reach Callisto + juuust enough to get to nearest 4-hydration object (Comet Elst-Pizarro)

9. Burn for Callisto

10. Coalesce rocket stack with crew in Callisto orbit, then burn for Elst-Pizarro

11. Land & Site Refuel at Elst-Pizarro—so many wasted years—hope no one brought a gun

12. Liftoff and burn for Earth

13. Arrive home with brittle bones, bite marks and epic Gandalf beards.

Bonus step 13a: Thumb nose at Commander Dave. Thumb it hard.

No matter how I worked it there was no way (with the tech I had) to shuttle water from the factory & up out of Callisto's gravity well. That initial burn after liftoff is a bitch.

I have learned my lesson, and learned it well. These days I just dump the crew off as a colony to be done with it. Those lucky enough to do a touch-n-go fly out on a shoestring, perhaps to return as heroes. Everybody else gets the one-way ticket.

Callisto One: But why would we want to spend the rest of our lives out here?

One hour later...

ESA Mission Control: I dunno. 'Cuz yer pioneersh or shomethin'. End transhmish'n—

[radio asplode]
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Chapel
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Round Rock
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Exit...pursued by a bear.
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
Space. A far out and funky place.
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Robb Minneman
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Tacoma
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
This? This is why I play High Frontier. Because you get such awesome stories out of the deal.
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Kyle W.
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
I love this game.
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Ed Bradley
United Kingdom
Haverhill
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
robbbbbb wrote:
This? This is why I play High Frontier. Because you get such awesome stories out of the deal.


That and insisting everyone respond with "MY anus???" whenever anyone mentions Uranus.
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Stephen Woll
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Toledo
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
Great game! Good report too.
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We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
HiveGod wrote:

I have learned my lesson, and learned it well. These days I just dump the crew off as a colony to be done with it. Those lucky enough to do a touch-n-go fly out on a shoestring, perhaps to return as heroes. Everybody else gets the one-way ticket.


laugh

As someone who's stranded more than his fair share of crew (and would rather see them embrace the slow creep of permanent weightless cryogenic slumber in a vacuum built for all, rather than watch the smug faced commander of some over-hyped rescue mission gleefully slide his wooden cube over the glory space, assist my crew and their lethargic, osteoporotic legs down the tarmac for the media circus, score the points, and get the girl) I can completely agree with you on this point.

It's great to bring your crew home, and have their faces and names memorialized in the pages of history as Those Who Came In Peace. But it's easier to slip'em the One Way, and write them off as Those Who Went In Peace.
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Dave Heberer
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Redmond
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
It's been a long time since I've done this game, but you can put your crew in a life capsule and they take the slow boat home, right?

You could send a rocket out to meet them in deep space and bring them home in style but I guess my point is unless you've got some hard-headed notion that the crew must take off in the rocket they came in you've got options. Or did I play that part of the game wrong?
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Chris Tannhauser
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San Diego
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
i7dealer wrote:
It's been a long time since I've done this game, but you can put your crew in a life capsule and they take the slow boat home, right?

Nope, "Rescue Pods" were removed from the game. Probably for reasons of hilarity.

Quote:
You could send a rocket out to meet them in deep space and bring them home in style but I guess my point is unless you've got some hard-headed notion that the crew must take off in the rocket they came in you've got options. Or did I play that part of the game wrong?

"Hard-headed" is the part you're looking for. Dave was waaay out in front and making the rest of us look like the chimps who hadn't touch the Monolith; the mission I'd painstakingly put together was a make-or-break affair. The idea was to land a factory and start producing some synergistic black tech and do the crew return in a single go.

Of course, I hadn't worked out absolutely everything in the planning stages, figuring I'd figure it out once I got there. The lateness of the hour rendered me incapable of seeing it through. (Though I was much relieved to find, the next day, that I did have a sound, if complicated, mission after all.)

And though we all always offer help no one ever accepts it...

"No one's dead! The mission's fine! This was all supposed to happen this way! Bugger off!"
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Calavera Soñando
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Tucson
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
HiveGod wrote:
8.2 — When you industrialize, you don't need any radiators present


OMG this is huge. I can't believe I've overlooked it.
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Morten Lund
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Århus
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
Sounds a lot like some of my missions, except that they *didn't* work on closer examination, even at the action review board the next day
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Christopher O
Canada
Toronto
Ontario
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
MScrivner wrote:
HiveGod wrote:
8.2 — When you industrialize, you don't need any radiators present


OMG this is huge. I can't believe I've overlooked it.


The rationalization is that you can use the thermal mass of the planet/asteroid to regulate temperature - either by digging down or placing radiators on the dark side.

I believe there's a note somewhere in the books to that effect.
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Calavera Soñando
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
Kozure wrote:
MScrivner wrote:
HiveGod wrote:
8.2 — When you industrialize, you don't need any radiators present


OMG this is huge. I can't believe I've overlooked it.


The rationalization is that you can use the thermal mass of the planet/asteroid to regulate temperature - either by digging down or placing radiators on the dark side.

I believe there's a note somewhere in the books to that effect.


I found it. In fact it's something new to the 2nd edition/living rules, which I have printed out, but have never bothered to look that closely at, since they were released long after I had already learned to play the game with my copy of the first edition rules. Subsequently, I am now pouring through a newly printed copy of the living rules and highlighting anything important like that which will aide in our game play.

Why the heck did they get rid of rescue pods, by the way?
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Chris Tannhauser
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
MScrivner wrote:
Why the heck did they get rid of rescue pods, by the way?

Why do all three Stooges try to go through the door at the same time?

I think the pods are an easy out for something that should be a nailbiter—the management of human life in the Silent Deep. Without the pods you're responsible for them one way or another. Either set them up with a proper colony that has a greenhouse for them to cry and rock in or be forced to divert resources to a rescue mission. Or (shudder) ask for help from a more prosperous space program.

Or just be Chinese.

The other option is to have them permanently squat in your Outpost Stack, but that has its own problems, like constant radio chatter about how much it smells, how Smitty "touched my side", and whining about a rescue mission we all know is never coming.
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Jonathan N. "Spartan Spawn, Sworn, Raised for Warring!"
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Summerville
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
Before today Id never heard of this game...now it sounds like its something that I must have, onto the wishlist it goes!
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Chris Tannhauser
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
Jiminy Christmas—I just now realized that Callisto One's total mission time is somewhere around 23 years. Given that the initial psych evals would have screened for people who are bendy instead of brittle, we'll have some pretty bent individuals breaking a hip on re-entry. Six Howard-Hughes-level recluses for the history books.*


*Out of the original crew of eight; minus the one who "accidentally" gave his life to restart the dead bacteria tanks and the one left behind on Elst-Pizarro "because he was a dick."
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Chapel
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
HiveGod wrote:
Jiminy Christmas—I just now realized that Callisto One's total mission time is somewhere around 23 years. Given that the initial psych evals would have screened for people who are bendy instead of brittle, we'll have some pretty bent individuals breaking a hip on re-entry. Six Howard-Hughes-level recluses for the history books.*


*Out of the original crew of eight; minus the one who accidentally gave his life to get the dead bacteria tanks restarted and the one left behind on Elst-Pizarro "because he was a dick."


That's why we gave them a four year life span. There are many clones in the hidden ghola tanks. Why do you think you need so many radiators?
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Chris Tannhauser
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Re: Portraits of the Stupid-Brave Part I: Drunk in Mission Control
Full disclosure: while this session was played using the High Frontier Expansion and High Frontier Poster Map, I highly recommend that anyone new to the game play at least five times with the base game before adding in the extras. HF is like a $28 dessert at Chez Royale—it's mostly a chocolate-infused stick of butter. Savor every bite and don't be in a hurry to wolf it down... lest you end up in the alley soiling your shoes with a $200 barf session. More if the corkage fee was outrageous.
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