Logistics Part 1 - FTL
The most important category, and as Skimmer points out, if you can’t get there, you can’t fight, which is why FTL is at the very top of this list. The Borg have several types of FTL of note, they’re all cousins, in that they’re ‘warp’ and ‘transwarp’ but the effects are very different. Type A Butressed Transwarp Conduit Network
Probably the greatest asset the borg have, these may be the same as type B, but internal buttresses are clearly seen, and they’re based around transwarp hubs. For this we’re going to assume that the hubs in each quadrant are already in place.
I don’t have the clip but would appreciate if anyone could time it. I’d estimate it at about five minutes to travel what is at least sixteen thousand light years – as it would take Janeway sixteen years to get back home otherwise by dialogue, and we know Voyager can manage about a thousand light years per year.
53 ly/second approx.
Disadvantages are that it can be detected from a little over three light years away by neutrino emissions (I’m reminded of Curtis’ description of neutrino-radiators for high energy applications) and graviton flux from the hub, and of course, vulnerability to the hub being attacked and destroyed.Type B Transwarp Conduit
1.22 the conduit opens, 1:33 the ship enters and 1:43 the light on the bridge returns to normal, indicating they’re back in a normal spacetime reference. So, 65 light year jumps in a ten second hop, extremely impressive.
6.5 ly/second, with a ten second time period to spool up.
On weakness is that it can be accessed by the enemy.
Note that although that clip appears in the context of Hugh’s borg, we also see a conduit used by a cube in ‘Dark Frontier’ the Hansens follow, and travel all the way to the delta quadrant.
MAGNUS [OC]: Field notes, U.S.S. Raven, Stardate 32629.4: after three months of tracking our Borg cube, the vessel entered a transwarp conduit. We followed in its wake. Our sensors tell us we've travelled all the way to the Delta quadrant, the Borg's native territory.
This one might be the buttressed type A, of course, so we can’t necessarily say that freestanding conduits are capable of crossing the galaxy.Transwarp Coils
TORRES: If I could equip our engines with even one coil, we could shave about twenty years off this trip.
Captain's log, stardate 52619.2. We got another twenty thousand light years out of the transwarp coil before it gave out. I figure we're a good fifteen years closer to home.
It’s described at different points as travelling through a conduit, but also it seems to function like a very excellent warp drive, it’s not clear how far the unacomplex is from Voyager in this episode, so estimating range is impossible, but it can clearly let the user pick a direction and travel fifteen or twenty thousand light years in short order. Very good range, no limitations, but it can be stolen comparatively easily.
Realspace (Trans)warp Travel
We see cubes travelling at what is presumably battle speed in Scorpion, as they’ve been drawn together as a fleet and are on their way to attack
5.8 light years behind at 0:27 and 2.1 Ly of the sublight voyager at 1:00 overtake at 1:18 seconds.
0.11 Ly/sec from 18 seconds to cross 2.1 Ly
0.11 Ly/sec from 51 seconds to cross 5.8 light years (Good job at consistency writers!)
Notably this attack fleet causes Voyager to lose warp while the cubes are still more than two light years away, that’s a hell of a bow-wave.
No really appreciable weaknesses here, but we should remember that this probably represents an attack speed that damages their engines or consumes vast quantities of fuel, as we have seen them travelling much slower at times. We don’t know how far they can sustain this speed in real-space.
Summary of Borg Speeds:
Code: Select all
Type of Travel Ly/Sec Speed Time to cross the galaxy
Buttressed Conduit 53 1.6e9 C 31 Minutes
Freestanding Conduit 6.5 2.0e8 C 4.2 hours
Transwarp Coil Not Known Not Known Not Known
Warp Travel (Attack Speed) 0.11 3.4e6 C 10.5 days
Now herein hangs a tale of many contradictions. As 40K has gone through edition changes, the necrons have had some severe changes in this area:
The first time we’re given any details of necron FTL, this period also includes the Battlefleet Gothic wargame. Necrons were described as being equipped with…
“Armed with weapons of god-like power and ships that could cross the galaxy in the blink of an eye, the Necrontyr stood ready to begin their war anew” ~ P.25 Codex Necrons 3rd edition.
If you go back far enough on the forum you’ll find me talking about this at length, and all the other examples of the lore at that point concurred roughly with that extreme speed. In this edition, necrons had ‘inertialess drives’ for their FTL.
Around this point the producers realized that this was a laughable advantage, and along with a seires of other debuffs to make my favourite killer robots less effective, they removed the inertialess drive. I can’t provide proof of this, because it’s from talking to writers involved at Warhammer Fest and Games Day before it, but the objective at this point (from Alan Merett, who no longer works for GW) was for GW to remove any form of FTL from every race that wasn’t a version of warp travel, or the webway.
So in this edition, the necrons used something called ‘Dolmen Gates’ to access the Eldar Webway, but they had only intermittent access to it, and some necron worlds used actual-factual slower-than-light stasis ships.
This was inconsistent even at the time, as this edition also introduced Iori Delta Tove, and the World Engine, necron mobile planets, which travelled through space at FTL velocities by undisclosed means, and various necron units used worm-holes captured inside them, most notably Night Scythes, a form of supersonic aerospace fighter that was used as a troop delivery mechanism, something like Wraith Darts in Stargate Atlantis, and the Monolith.
They were described as pulling troops from distant worlds to deposit them on the battlefield, and using wormholes.
Essentially this has been a bit of a hackjob.
Inertialess Drives came back, after a fashion:
Turning his fleet toward the glinting crimson orbs of Cryptus, Anrakyr engaged his inertialess drive, his vast Necron armada streaking off into the void. Unlike the ships of the Imperium, those of the Necrons did not travel through the Warp, and so the great psychic barrier cast out by the Hive Mind was no impediment to their fleet.
But there’s also a reiteration of the lore in a recent White Dwarf magazine too:
GW urgently needs to employ a continuity advisor.
In the novel 'World Engine' one of the C'tan Shards claims that it designed the devices that allowed the planet Borsis to journey across the galaxy, it seems likely that this god-being may have also had a hand in the inertialess drive, which may explain why they are so rare; the necrons now keep the 'shards' of the C'tan inprisoned, but are not able to truly enslave them, or make them produce anything. This is speculative, however.
The webway has millions of exit apertures, but travel times vary, depending on where you enter and want to leave, you can be ambushed and waylaid, and there are sections that are damaged.
A necron ship with inertialess drive – which some sources say exist – is grossly superior, able to cross the galaxy in an even shorter time than the borg, but those without are inferior.
Preponderance of evidence in recent sources shows that the necrons generally, with Anrakyr the Traveller’s fleet being an obvious exception, lack reliable FTL to compete with the borg, their ships can get around, but not with the same scale of convenience.
The Eldar use the webway, and humans use warp travel, which is approximately 100,000 C depending on source and details.
For the Eldar, travel across the galaxy can be done in some cases in a matter of days using the webway - for instance in the novel Valedor, they travel to Craftworld Iyanden on one side of the galaxy to Biel-Tan on the other without much trouble on foot in what seems like a few hours.
Necrons with Inertialess drives are faster, but are very rare in modern source materials. Most necrons use limited access to the webway.
For the Imperium, it can take up to a year, but on some very rare occasions, mere weeks to cross the galaxy. That's for the best ships, others take far longer, down to local 'chartist' ships which may take years to make a journey of a hundred light years or so - it's been covered in some detail elsewhere so I won't dwell on this here.
Gathering Storm update:In the Gathering Storm books, the warp is stirred up and navigation becomes impossible for the Imperium in many areas. Navigation is still possible, but worse than it was previously.Outcome
I really have to award this one to the borg in a sweep. Their FTL is reliable, they understand it and can deploy it, all their ships have it, they have their own equivalent to the webway which is better maintained. They can expand their transwarp network as they please as far as we know, and no doubt have other tricks they can use.