November 2012



     Many players of Federation Commander think of the plasma-F torpedo as inferior to the other "big" plasma launchers (G, S, and R). This is perhaps a holdover from Star Fleet Battles, where the plasma-F torpedo is not as powerful as it is in Federation Commander. Players often see the plasma-F torpedo simply as "padding" to protect the larger plasma launchers from damage.
     However, if we take a closer look at this excellent weapon, we will see why, at least on Gorn, Orion, and Federation ships, it can be better, when receiving damage, to "lose" a larger plasma torpedo launcher instead of automatically disabling a plasma-F torpedo launcher. The carronade function is the real heart of this tactical article. If you are flying a Romulan ship, which cannot have the carronade function, you need read no further.
     Here are the three main reasons why a captain should seriously consider disabling a larger plasma torpedo launcher when receiving damage, instead of blindly applying the traditional "plasma-F torpedoes are for padding" approach used by most players.
     o 1. Plasma-F torpedoes have no holding cost.
     o 2. You can use the carronade function.
     o 3. The plasma-F torpedo is more flexible than the plasma-G torpedo in terms of tactical choices.
     o 4. And ... you can use the carronade function.
     There are also two good additional reasons why an Orion captain should choose plasma-F torpedoes every time over the larger plasma-G and plasma-S torpedoes:
     o A: You can have two plasma-F torpedoes for less than the cost of one plasma-G torpedo and far less than the cost of one plasma-S torpedo.
     o B: Plasma-F torpedoes take up only one weapon box whereas a plasma-S torpedo takes up two.
     Some would say that the disadvantage of the plasma-F torpedo is that you cannot produce a 30-point seeking warhead. However, the 20-point F/G warhead is still a reasonable warhead and because no launcher in Federation Commander can be used in the enveloping or shotgun modes seen in Star Fleet Battles, this narrows the "gap" between the plasma-G and plasma-F launchers. Also, for the Orion captain, who can choose his weapons, two plasma-F/Gs instead of one plasma-S have to be better in combat, even if only because you can produce two 20-point warheads (total 40, get it?) instead of just the one 30-point warhead. This goes along with the tactical flexibility and maintenance of threat given by the ability to not have to launch the whole lot in one go.
     Even then, I would select the plasma-F torpedo over the plasma-G torpedo just about every time, because it has the carronade advantage. Effectively, for just one energy point more than a completed photon torpedo or an overloaded disruptor, (assuming a full carronade load), you can fire the near equivalent of a photon torpedo every turn (provided you have sufficient power), plus you also have the advantage that it usually does not miss. It also retains its seeking weapon ability with the equivalent, at close range, of a full plasma-G torpedo warhead, as well as the usual plasma bolting ability. You can also use targeted damage in bolt or carronade mode. Clearly, the plasma-F torpedo is a most flexible weapon.
     The two disadvantages that the plasma-F torpedo has in comparison with the plasma-G torpedo is firstly that the plasma-F torpedo is shorter ranged than the plasma-G torpedo in both bolt and seeking modes, but I feel that the carronade function more than makes up for this. Secondly, the plasma-F torpedo has no "two-turn-plasma-F-torpedo" capability, but again, if you are in a close-range fight, you would often be better off using the carronade function for two turns rather than warming up a new plasma-G torpedo or even a "two-turn-plasma-F-torpedo." Of course, in the end, you must make this decision yourself while taking into account the overall tactical picture, but the take-home message is simply this: do not automatically disable a plasma-F torpedo in preference to a larger launcher without thinking very carefully first. You know it makes sense.