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Ships can be ordered to move from their current waypoint to any waypoint you want: a planet, starbase, point in space, current position of another ship, an UFO-object (such as wormholes), anything. To have a ship move simply set it's waypoint to the desired location and give the ship a warpsetting. Next to 'normal' movement, ships can also tow other ships or intercept other ships. Some special ships move twice as fast as others, one ship generates fuel while flying and some ships can perform hyperjumps. The different types of movement are performed at different stages of the Host order of actions. Simplified, towing ships move first, then most ships move and then ships intercept.

Towing, towcapturing

Lock towbeam
In the very early stages of the hostrun, the towbeam is locked onto the intended towee. This happens before ships cloak, so if you try to tow an enemy ship that cloaks the same turn, the cloaking does not disable the towing. The same goes for towing cloaked allied ships. As long as they are visible when you give the order, the towbeam will be locked. You can tow your own ships regardless of them being cloaked or not. To lock a towbeam as defined in this description, a ship does not need to have fuel onboard. It does need fuel to actually tow(capture) a ship.

The amount of fuel the towing ship will burn for moving if the tow succeeds is not exactly proportional to the sum of the masses of both ships, because of rounding mechanics in host.exe. See fuelconsumption for more details. Ships that run out of fuel while towing another ship will immediately release the tractorbeam upon running out of fuel. A ship needs fuel onboard to tow an enemy ship, and will tow as far as it's fuel allows it or as far as the waypoint it has set.

If the ship that is the target of the tractor beam has a warp factor greater than or equal to the ship using the tractor beam, and the waypoint of the target is further than it's warpsetting squared (warp^2), the target ship will break free of the tractor beam. When comparing warpsettings between tower and target, the value for the tower is doubled if that ship has gravitonic accelerators (the BR4, BR5 and MBR). So a BR4 at warp 5 will count as being at warp 10, and always overpower the target ship.

Ships with only one engine can only tow when this is allowed in the Host configuration. Ships with less than 25 kilotons of fuel can not escape a tractorbeam, neither can ships with only one engine. It is possible to tow a cloaked ship, as long as the ship is not cloaked when the tow-order is given, i.e. when the towbeam is locked. The towed ship may start it's cloak in the same turn as the tow starts. A ship performing a hyperjump cannot tow another ship. Ships that are towed have their warpspeed set to zero, and their waypoint reset.

The "try to tow" mission is executed in order of ship ID. So if multiple ships at the same location are attempting to tow, host.exe starts wit the lowest ID-ship present. It checks if it can successfully tow it's target following the rules above. If successful, tower and target will move away. After moving these two ships, the Host program checks if they are influenced by a warpwell. After that, the Host program moves to the next lowest ID-ship and the process is repeated.

This means:

  • A ship that tries to tow another ship can be towed away before it even gets to try and tow, by a ship with a lower ID.
  • A low-ID ship can easily escape being towed altogether by towing a (friendly) ship that does not break the towbeam. This way, the ship moves away before anyone else can even try to tow it.
  • If two ships in one position are using tractor beams on each other, the ship with the higher warp factor will tow the ship with the lower warp factor. This is because the ship with the lower warp factor, if it has the lowest ID, will fail to tow the other ship. If the ship with the lower warpfactor has the higher ID of the two, it won't be able to escape the tow from the other ship.
  • A ship can tow another ship into the warpwell, be sucked back to the planet and then be towed by another ship. Or a ship can be towed into the warpwell by one ship, be sucked back and then be towed by another ship.

The Privateers and Crystals can capture starships in space that are out of fuel (robbed, drained by webmines or simply run out of fuel). To capture the helpless enemy starships they need tow the enemy starship. When they do this the capturing vessel beams over armed crewmembers to take over the enemy starship. When the starship is secured (all the enemy crew jettisoned into space) half of the capturing starship's crew or a full compliment for the captured starship (whichever is less) will beam over and man the captured starship. (i.e., Say starship A has 500 crew and captures starship B which normally has a crew of 1000. 250 crew member from starship A will man starship B. If B had only required 100 crew members to be full only 100 crew members would have beamed over to run the starship).

For a successful towcapture, the capturing ship does not actually have to move. In fact, the ship does not even need a warp speed setting greater than 0 (zero). However, at warp 0, even a fuelless ship (if allowed to move in the host configuration) can escape the towcapture.

As stated above the crew of the captured starship is ejected into space except for Solar Federation, Privateer, Evil Empire and Colonial starships. With these races some of the crew members will rather go traitor than be ejected into space. The following shows the percentage of original crew members that grovel well enough to be kept on as lesser crew members.

Race % Traitor
Feds 90%
Privateer 100%
Empire 40%
Colonial 70%

Most ships move
In this stage of the hostrun, all ships that are not towing, being towed or intercepting another ships do their movement. This includes ships that are performing hyperjumps. Ships move in a straight line from their current position to their given waypoint. The speed of the ship (and with that, the maximum travel-distance per turn through normal movement) is determined by it's warpsetting, where speed (in lightyears per turn) is the equivalent of "warpfactor^2".

Warp Distance (LY)
1 1
2 4
3 9
4 16
5 25
6 36
7 49
8 64
9 81

There are three ships in the game that have Gravitonic Accelerators. These are the Meteor Class Blockade Runner, the BR4 Gun Boat and the BR5 Kaye Class Torpedo Boat. These three ships travel at a rate of twice that of a normal ship. At warp factor 9 these ships will travel 162 light years in one turn.

If a cloaked ship hits a mine or webmine and the amount of damage it suffers is greater than the amount of damage that prevents cloaking, the ship will be immediately decloaked - even if it has enough supplies to repair the damage.

Hitting a mine or having been damaged in any other way can impact the maximum speed with which ships move. Which ships are or are not slowed down immediately by hitting a mine is host-configurable. By default, ships of hulltech 7 or higher do not slow down immediately. It is possible that a starship hitting a mine will be slowed by 10 lightyears for every mine hit the ship takes. Starships below a host-configurable techlevel (level 7 by default) that hit a space mine will be slowed by 10 lightyears if they have more than 10 lightyears to travel when hitting the mine.

  • For most races, a damaged will have a max speed of: max warp = 10-truncate((damage percentage points)/10) (with a maximum of warp 9 of course)
    Example: a ship with 19% damage can still move at warp 9, with 20% it's limited to warp 8.
  • For Lizard ships, the formula is: 14-truncate((damage percentage points)/10 (also with a maximum of warp 9)
    Examples: a Lizard ship with 59% damage can still move warp 9, with 110% damage it moves at a maximum of warp 3 (which means a lizard MBR can still move 18 ly per turn after hitting a mine). A lizard ship with 140% or more damage is stuck in space at warp 0.

When hitting a webmine, ships are stopped dead in their tracks. Their warp gets reset to zero immediately.

The Host program uses a rather complex lightyear-by-lightyear way to calculate where exactly a ship will move. It compares the distance in the X-direction (east-west) to the distance in the Y-direction (north-south) in your waypoint. Then, it determines which one is the major direction in your movement (X or Y) - it checks if the waypoint is further east/west or north/south. Based on this, it starts a complicated routine where your ship is moved in steps of one lightyear in the major direction each 'click'. For each click, the Host program compares if your ship should also move a lightyear in the minor direction. The reason for this lightyear-by-lightyear calculation of movement is to check for minehits and webminehits each lightyear.

There is a handy little utility on Tanascius' website that will tell you the exact coordinates of a ship with a long waypoint, which takes care of these calculations for you. It is based on the actual movement code as used in the Host program, provided by Tim himself.

(For the formulas used and an explanation how to manually compute a ship's ending coordinates, check the details page)

Fuel needed is a measure of how much fuel you will need to travel to your waypoint. The amount of fuel your ship will need is based on your ship's mass and warp factor, and the type of engine your ship has. Tech one engines (stardrive 1's) are very poor engines and waste large amounts of fuel at speeds above warp factor one. Tech six engines are very fuel efficient at speeds up to warp factor 6. At speeds above warp 6 the engine begins to waste large amounts of fuel. The engine construction screen will show you a graph of the fuel efficiency curve of each engine type that you have the engine tech level and materials to construct.

It is a very good idea to invest the best engine technology possible. With high tech engines your ships can travel very fast and use very little neutronium fuel. Engine tech may be the most important factor in expanding your empire faster than your enemies.

The weight of your ship is the sum mass of all parts that make up your ship. The mass includes the hull, weapons, cargo and fuel. Engines have no weight. The amount of fuel your ship needs to burn to move increases proportionately to your ship's mass. When towing another ship, this ship's mass is added to your own.

There is a handy little utility on Tanascius' website that will tell you the exact fuelconsumption. It is based on the actual movement code as used in the Host program, provided by Tim himself.

(For the formulas used and an explanation how to manually compute a ship's fuelconsumption, check the details page)


There are three shiptypes equipped with a hyperdrive, able to perform hyperjumps through space:

  • PL21 Probe (built by the Evil Empire )
  • B200 Class Probe (built by the Cyborg)
  • Falcon Class Escort (built by the Rebels)

A friendly code of "HYP" will cause a hyperdrive equipped starship to initiate hyper jump if it has a warp setting (1 or higher), a waypoint beyond 20 light years and at least 50 units of fuel. If a ship set to hyperjump does not have enough fuel to perform a hyperjump, it will move normally.

To use the hyperdrive set the ship's waypoint to a point farther than 20 light years and set the friendly code to "HYP". The ship will jump about 350 light years and burn 50 units of fuel. The ship will come out of hyperspace at speed zero and with no waypoint set. Ships in hyperspace avoid all minefields. The hyperdrive can not be used to escape a tow. Hyperjumping can not be combined with the intercept mission. A ship using its hyperdrive can not tow another ship. Upon completing the hyperjump, the ship's warpspeed is set to zero and it's waypoint reset. Hyperjumping ships are only influenced by warpwells if they end up within a box (-2,-2)-(+2,+2) from a planet.

If the player sets a waypoint to any point that is between 340 and 360 lightyears away, instead of jumping about 350 lightyears the ship will jump to this exact point in space. Waypoints shorter than 340 or longer than 360 lightyears will result in a 350 lightyear hyperjump in the direction of the waypoint, using the following formulas:
Xmovement = INT( Xdistance * ( 350 / (SQR (Xdistance^2 + Ydistance^2)) ) + 0.4999999)
Ymovement = INT( Ydistance * ( 350 / (SQR (Xdistance^2 + Ydistance^2) ) ) + 0.4999999)

Ships that have made a hyperjump are only pulled into orbit by the planet's warpwell if they end up within a box (-2,-2)-(+2,+2) from the planet. If a ship lands outside that box but still inside the warpwell, it will not be pulled in since it's warp is reset to 0 right after the hyperjump.

The "Try to Intercept" mission orders the ship to intercept another ship. Consequently, the ship waits for the other ship to end it's movement before intercepting it. The order to intercept a ship is given by ID number. Which ships you may and may not intercept allows on the 'vpa features' configuration setting. If this is set to it's default no, you can not intercept any ship you were not able to see when you gave the intercept order. If this setting is set to yes, you can intercept any ship that is not cloaked or out of reach. Your ship will follow the intercept target ship until your ship runs out of fuel, the target ships cloaks, or -depending on the vpa features setting, the target ship is no longer visible at the beginning of a turn. You must be within 200 ly of a ship to intercept it.

It is impossible to intercept cloaked ships that do not belong to you. If the ship which is to be intercepted cloaks and is still cloaked at the time of intercepting, the interceptor's mission is reset to 'intercept' (with no target ID number) and the ship does not move. If a cloaked ship hits a mine or webmine and the amount of damage it suffers is greater than the amount of damage that prevents cloaking, the ship will be immediately decloaked - even if it has enough supplies to repair the damage - and can be intercepted.

The intercept mission does not order the ship to attack the ship it is intercepting. It will attack the ship if the Primary Enemy is set to the race of the ship that it is intercepting. You may intercept your own ships, if you wish.

Ships with Ramscoop generate fuel
The Cobol Class Research Vessel is equipped with a simple Ram Scoop as a part of it's hull design. The Ram Scoop will produce 2 KT of Neutronium per light year traveled by the starship. So if the Cobol traveled ten light years it would generate 20 KT of fuel. So in theory, if it used less than 20 KT of fuel to go that 10 light years the starship would experience a net gain in fuel.

  • The Cobol Class does not scoop fuel when it is being towed.
  • The Cobol Class will also scoop fuel while it is towing another ship.
  • The host can set the scoop rate at 0kt, 1 kt, 2 kt, 3 kt or 4 kt of fuel per light year. The default is 2kt.

Though the Cobol will often generate more fuel than it burns, note from the host order that it generates fuel after movement and not during movement. So yes, the following scenario is possible: Your Cobol is set to tow your filled superfreighter. It runs out of fuel halfway, and stops. Further down the host process, the fuel is generated based on the moved distance. So when you open up your next RST, you'll have received a message from your Cobol stating that is does not have the fuel to tow your ship at the current speed. You will also find your Cobol sitting somewhere between where it started and where it should have been, but WITH FUEL. So always be sure you have enough fuel to reach your destination.

Although the order of actions might implicate otherwise, the Cobol does scoop fuel when it is intercepting. So perhaps there should be another 'Cobol scoops fuel' phase after intercepting, but we'll leave it as it is for now.

If a Cobol's tank is full it has no place to store any generated fuel, so it will burn some fuel when moving, and then fill the tanks up again. Excess fuel gets wasted.

Warp wells influence ships
All planets place a stress on the time space continuum for a distance of 3 light years (circle) in all directions. This is called the warpwell, or gravity well. Any ship that warps to a distance of 3 lightyears or less to a planet will fall into the planets warpwell and end up at the planet. If a ship that is towing another ship is pulled to the planet by the warpwell, the towed ship will be pulled to the planet as well. Distance to the planet is calculated by using the good old Pythagorean formula: SQRT ( Xdist^2 + Ydist^2)

The Host programs checks to see if the warpwell is needed after each individual shipmovement in the towing, normal movement and intercept phases.

Ships traveling with a speed of warp 1 are not effected by warp wells, they can fly around inside the warpwell. To intercept a ship inside a planet's warpwell you have to fly at warp 1 or you will be pulled back to the planet each turn. Ships inside the warpwell may have a warpsetting higher than 1, as long as they do not move inside the warpwell (in other words: only ships that actually travel are affected). Ships that have a warpsetting of 0 (i.e. do not move) are not affected by the warpwell.

Hyperjumping ships are only influenced by warpwells if they end up within a box (-2,-2)-(+2,+2) from a planet. Contrary to the normal warpwell, this is a box-shaped area.

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