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Subject: Is the Mirror Steamer a solar sail? rss

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Martijn Vos
Netherlands
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The rules say there are two solar sails, identified by the solar icon. And Phirax's tutorial says solar sails don't use water and don't have afterburners.

And yet my game comes with a thruster called the Mirror Steamer which has the solar sail icon, an afterburner icon, and a fuel consumption of 4. What's up with that?

My guess is that the thrust is modified by the sun, but it still uses fuel to do anything. Is that correct? It's weird that neither the rules nor the walkthrough mention anything about this.
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Robb Minneman
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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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Yes, that's correct. The Mirror Steamer is basically a giant Fresnel lens that concentrates solar energy onto water propellant, which is then ejected behind the spacecraft. It's base thrust is three (unlike the solar sail), and it is solar-modified and uses propellant like you suggest.
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Matthew Eklund
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Solar Sails are just like any other solar powered thruster... they just have a fuel efficiency of zero and a base thrust of one. The only other special thing about sails, as noted on their cards, is that they cannot survive atmospheric braking.

All solar powered thrusters get their thrust modified by the solar zone that they start their move in.

In the expanded game, this modification flows through from any generators used to power your thruster (if the generator is solar powered, so is the thruster).
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David Ells
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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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The Mirror Steamer thruster has a Fuel Consumption of 4, and Afterburner capability; the 4 Solar Sail thruster cards (2 white patent cards, 2 black) have a Fuel Consumption of 0 (zero).

The only thing the Mirror Steamer and the 4 Solar Sail thruster cards have in common is that fact that they are both require Solar Power and their Modified Thrust is affected by Heliozone that the Rocket Stack is located in at the beginning of it's movement phase. The Mirror Steamer also requires water tokens as fuel tanks, and consumes fuel points for each Burn it enters, the same way that all non-Solar Sail thrusters require Fuel and expend Fuel Points.
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Erich Schneider
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Well, the other thing it has in common with the sails is that it requires no support cards.

The nine thrusters can be put into three groups: the purely solar-powered ones (the two sails and the Mirror Steamer), the three ones based directly on reactors (de Laval Nozzle, Metastable Helium, Cermet NERVA), and the three based on generators (Mass Driver, Ponderomotive VASIMR, Hall Effect). And of the three based on reactors, there is one for each different reactor type ("bomb", "x", and "n").
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David Ells
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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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Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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Good point about not requiring support cards, thanks. These 5 thrusters are also very low dry mass (either 0 or 1), and with a small payload (low dry mass cargo) they can make excellent use of their lower modified thrust and longer range (limited primarily by the distance - starting heliozone - from the sun).
 
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Bwian, just
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Matthew_Eklund wrote:
Solar Sails are just like any other solar powered thruster... they just have a fuel efficiency of zero and a base thrust of one. The only other special thing about sails, as noted on their cards, is that they cannot survive atmospheric braking.

I thought they were also immune to damage from radiation?
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Martijn Vos
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Thanks. Am I correct that the mirror steamer can survive atmospheric braking, unlike true solar sails?
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Roger Taylor
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mcvos wrote:
Thanks. Am I correct that the mirror steamer can survive atmospheric braking, unlike true solar sails?

Unless it's noted on the card, yes.
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David Ells
United States
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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, /
badge
Sick with hatred, sick with pain, / Strangling -- When shall we be slain? // When shall I be dead and rid / Of the wrong my father did? / How long, how long, till spade and hearse / Puts to sleep my mother's curse?
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Bwian wrote:
Matthew_Eklund wrote:
Solar Sails are just like any other solar powered thruster... they just have a fuel efficiency of zero and a base thrust of one. The only other special thing about sails, as noted on their cards, is that they cannot survive atmospheric braking.

I thought they were also immune to damage from radiation?


The Solar Sails are immune to radiation damage, but Mirror Steamer (with its Radiation Hardness of only 2) is otherwise vulnerable to radiation damage like any other patent card. This is its other main flaw.
 
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Matt Shields
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mcvos wrote:
The rules say there are two solar sails, identified by the solar icon. And Phirax's tutorial says solar sails don't use water and don't have afterburners.

And yet my game comes with a thruster called the Mirror Steamer which has the solar sail icon, an afterburner icon, and a fuel consumption of 4. What's up with that?

My guess is that the thrust is modified by the sun, but it still uses fuel to do anything. Is that correct? It's weird that neither the rules nor the walkthrough mention anything about this.


Yeah, you're basically right. The sun icon is not a "solar sail icon". That icon just means that the item uses the solar bonus for distance from the sun. You'll notice a bunch of the generators also have this icon. Basically a "sail" is anything that's named a "sail". So if it doesn't have "sail" in the name, then it's not a sail.
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Winchell Chung
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The mirror steamer is what in olden days they used to call a "solar moth".
Solar Moth

The solar moth usually has a couple of mirror a few meters in diameter, using the "incinerating an ant with a magnifying glass" principle.
Solar sails have a sail tens of kilometers in diameter.

This is why aerobraking will decommission any type of solar sail, but will not harm a mirror steamer.
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