My previous KSP question What can the KSP game actually teach about spaceflight and orbital mechanics, and what are its limitations? resulted in some really productive discussions and under-the-hood exploration of the KSP game and its utility for learning orbital mechanics, as well as seven excellent answers and almost seventy surviving comments.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm allergic to both any computer language with curly braces, and to patched conics. Ironically, I did once have an allergic reaction to Space Food Sticks as well, but I've never had the opportunity to see if I still have that allergy today. I don't think my question is biased or leading in any way, but instead will hopefully lead to some thoughtful as well as scientifically correct answers.
Answers to Going from LEO to lunar using only low-thrust ion propulsion - can it be done? include the SMART-1 spacecraft with
a nominal thrust of 68 mN, hence an acceleration of 0.2 mm/s² or 0.7 m/s per hour
and another example of a spacecraft that uses ion propulsion for orbital maneuvers and moving from orbit around one body to that of another is the Dawn Spacecraft currently orbiting Ceres:
With the propellant it carries, Dawn can perform a velocity change of more than 10 km/s over the course of its mission, far more than any previous spacecraft achieved with onboard propellant after separation from its launch rocket. However, the thrust is very gentle; it would take four days at full throttle to accelerate Dawn from zero to sixty miles per hour (96 km / hour).
The simplest implementation of patched conics assumes instantaneous impulse maneuvers, rather than days or weeks or even longer periods of very low, continuous thrust.
Question: So for simulated travel from orbit around one body to orbit around another, are patched conics (and by induction, KSP) "useless" for simulating ion propulsion?
If so, then is there in fact any scenario for which it is not (useless for simulating ion propulsion)?
For the purposes of this question, "simulate" is distinct from "animate". I'm more interested in how well the trajectory of a patched conics calculation matches reality rather than if KSP would provide a convenient viewing venue.
Mark's comment that 'KSP doesn't do patched conics for vehicles under acceleration' may be highly relevant to the "by induction" aspect of the question if this applies to the ion engine propulsion.