The Melnorme Trader is a large and somewhat cumbersome ship. It is designed for long range travel and high volume storage to facilitate trade. The Trader is not intended for war. Despite that, it is still quite capable of defending itself due to recently acquired Keel-Verezy weapon technology.
The Trader is not a very agile craft, but neither is it ponderously slow. Its top speed is usually enough to maintain a comfortable distance between itself and its opposition. The low turn rate of this ship could be considered a weakness.
The primary weapon mounted on a Trader is a chargeable, long-range blaster weapon. The Melnorme Captain can prepare the projectile without releasing it. Doing so moves the weapon through several distinct (and colorful) stages. When it is finally released the projectile travels extremely fast, and will do considerably more damage the longer it has been charging. It has a very long range, and at full power it can do as much damage as a Shofixti glory device at point-blank range. It is also able to absorb a Dreadnought's fusion blast and other projectiles when at full power (red), with a notable exception being the Kohr-Ah Marauder's F.R.I.E.D.
The order of the main weapon's colors as it charges is green, blue, purple, then red. These colors correspond to the amount of damage that the weapon can inflict; the corresponding damages are two, four, eight and sixteen, respectively.
The ship's secondary weapon is a confusion ray — an elecromagnetic cannon that disrupts the enemy ship's control systems.1 A stunned enemy cannot activate their secondary weapon systems or control their attitude jets, but they are able to operate their primary weapon and thrusters normally. An enemy under the effect of the elecromagnetic confusion ray will spin helplessly, and become easy prey for the Trader. If this weapon is employed near the planet, then its effects can be quite perilous.
While charging the primary weapon, all energy generation systems are diverted into the containment field. This means that Trader pilots should watch their fuel gauges closely, and not begin charging the weapon until they have enough energy left over for a Confusion Ray, or successive non-charged shots. A Trader pilot can also hold a fully charged blast for a limited form of protection against frontal assaults as the red charge will absorb the brunt of an incoming attack. A held shot can also be used for ramming attacks, as the projectile will impact without being released - beware of accidentally performing such an 'attack' on an asteroid! The Confusion Ray, a Trader's secondary weapon, is especially handy against ships that rely heavily on their secondary weapon system. However, the energy cost for a single shot of this weapon means that it should only be in moderation. Because of the main weapon's long range and the ship's powerful thrusters, a Trader can usually maintain a comfortable distance away from the enemy while still being able to inflict serious damage. The main tactical disadvantages of the Trader are its slow turning rate, which allows quick ships to easily out-flank the Trader, and its slow energy systems, which lead to extended down time while the energy batteries regenerate and while a blast is charging up to full power.
Notes and references
- 1In the Star Control II PC manual (pg. 94), the secondary weapon is referred to as a "confusion ray". The 3DO ship information video refers to it as an "electromagnetic cannon".