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Photon Torpedoes . . . really?!
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Mark Skarr
Ensign


Joined: 22 Jul 2011
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:20 pm    Post subject: Photon Torpedoes . . . really?! Reply with quote

Please forgive me if this is an old topic, but I'm new to Federation Commander, and have a horrendous problem with Photon Torpedos.

Why do they suck out loud?

It is never preferable to have Photon Torpedoes over Disruptors. Looking at the two weapons, and playing a few games, the Klingon ships are incredibly more versatile. Coupled with their improved maneuverability over Federation ships, Disruptors are the far superior weapons.

Disruptors are effective at more than three-times (almost four-times) the range as Photons (presuming a 66% to-hit chance), and can be fired every turn. The "increased" damage from Photons is, honestly, a fallacy, as their functional damage is only 4 (not 8) being as they take 2 turns to charge. Even over-charged Photons are just as worthless and have the same damage curve.

So . . . what makes Photons relevant? What am I missing?

ETA: Noticed a smiley where there shouldn't have been one.


Last edited by Mark Skarr on Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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mjwest
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Joined: 08 Oct 2006
Posts: 3479
Location: Dallas, Texas

PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, I love it. Some think the photon is so great it is literally unbalancing to the game, and someone else comes in and says it is worthless. Ah, well, I will let other explain why photons don't suck.

Anyway, I moved this discussion to the General topic, as it is not really a Rules Question. I could have moved it to Tactics, but it seems to be more general than pure tactics, so General it is.
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SFU_FEAR
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Joined: 28 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is good about the Photon: 16 points of damage in one hit.
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Mark Skarr
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Joined: 22 Jul 2011
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please?! Can't I get your opinion? I'm really struggling with this weapon!

I'm perfectly willing to accept that I've totally missed something.

I'm not new to wargaming, I've been doing it for 30+ years. But there's something not right about this weapon.
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Mark Skarr
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SFU_FEAR wrote:
What is good about the Photon: 16 points of damage in one hit.

At a range where you'd already likely taken 24+ points from another weapon. Sure a single-outlay of 16 points is massive (akin to an Autocannon 20 from BattleTech), but just as ineffective outside of anything approaching an ideal situation. Keep in mind that you've spent 4 turns and 8 points of power to get to that 16 points of damage, and you've got to be at a range of 0-2 to have a cost-effective exchange of fire.
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The_Rock
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Joined: 16 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are missing pretty much everything.

Photons are the best Heavy Weapon in Fed Com.

The short list of concepts you are failing to understand are:

1. the importance of thresholds
2. the value of cost shifting
3. the importance of flexibility (which is basically a sub-set of #2).

On the first subject, let me explain it as the following. If two weapons do the same amount of damage per turn and are in all other ways identical, the better weapon is the one with the longer arming cycle.

As an extreme example, would you rather have a weapon that did 1 damage and could fire every turn, or a weapon that did 1000 damage, but took 1000 turns to arm (but like all weapons, was ready to fire on turn 1)?

Ignoring for the moment the extreme example just given, the reason you want the longer arming weapon is because of the effect of thresholds on the game. The initial (significant - we'l ignore leaks) threshold is the strength of the facing shield. So when you fire a ship at an opponent the first threshold you want to achieve is the one that drops the shield and is doing internals. This particular threshold is even more important as you move to multiple ships, because dropping the shield is what prevent the application of re-enforcement from follow-up fire.

The second relevant threshold is whatever damage is sufficient to cause the target to no longer function in harmony with the remainder of the force.

The third relevant threshold is a mission kill (the ship is no longer capable of providing substantial assistance to the force).

The final, obvious, one is the destruction of the target.

The additional damage of the Photon allows these thresholds to be met more quickly/more assuredly.

That is why weapons doing X*Y damage and arms every Y turns are better as values of Y increase.

The second thing you are missing is the value of time shifting.

A photon can be held - either as a standard or an overload - at a considerable cost savings relative to its arming cost (1/4 the cost of arming). A disruptor does not have that option. It pays the entirety of its arming cost at the moment it is fired. The Photon pays a total of 8 power over two turns and then can be held until you are ready to fire it. This allows the photon ships other options (such as EM) to mitigate the between firing turns.

The third thing, and important when combined with the above, is its flexibility.

The Photon takes 8 power to fully arm. A Disruptor takes 4 power to fully arm and has double the firing rate. The Photon however, can be armed 6+2 or 4+4 or 2+6. In doing this, it time shifts its energy requirements to turns when it can best afford the expenditure. The Disruptor does not have that option. Firing an overloaded Disruptor will always cost 4 power on the turn it is fired. An overloaded Photon will cost anywhere between 2 and 6 power on the turn it is fired. This has significant tactical implications, as disruptor armed fleets are basically firced to speed 16 on the turns of close engagement. Photon armed forces easily maintain speed 24, but then occasionally come to a stop.

The overall effect of these attributes is that photon armed fleets are faster when it matters and have a higher likelihood of a successful engagement when the engagements occur.
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mjwest
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Joined: 08 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul covered it better than I was going to.

One other thing: Range 8 is still good, particularly with squadrons. Sure, about half are gonna miss (and the odds stabilize with more ships), but the half that hits is going to do way more damage than your opponent's disruptors at that range. And you are going fast enough to ensure he won't get closer (or, if he is going just as fast, he won't be able to use overloads).

So, don't fixate on range 0-2. Use range 8.
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The_Rock wrote:
As an extreme example, would you rather have a weapon that did 1 damage and could fire every turn, or a weapon that did 1000 damage, but took 1000 turns to arm (but like all weapons, was ready to fire on turn 1)?


Funnily enough, I was posting a term paper recently about just such a situation with a different weapon in SFB (one which I hope to see ported over to FC in the fullness of time).

That weapon has three separate arming levels which can't be fast-loaded; though you can start a scenario with the weapon fully armed, you'd need three turns' worth to get it back to the highest arming level again. (The weapon in question has a rolling delay, and essentially costs the same amount of warp power each turn to "roll" or upgrade.)

In this case, it could be argued that, in many cases, said weapon is better off being left to arm to its second arming cycle (which is still quite potent), and treated mainly as a de facto two-turn arming weapon once the first punch has been laid. (In a sense, the empire which used that weapon went one better; going from ships with one or two of these three-turn weapons to ones with two or three of a version reduced to go no further than the second arming level.)

Leaving a longer period of time between firings can risk losing that weapon, and more besides, if an opposing player presses the initiative in the interim between firing opportunities.


To go back to the point you raised, the relative worth of a multi-turn arming weapon (or weapon option) over one with a shorter reload time can still be a matter of context.
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Mark Skarr
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Joined: 22 Jul 2011
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see what you

ETA5: I keep trying to actually put my post in, but it won't take it. I can edit it, but if I put my post in, it deletes it. It's censorship! (It isn't, I know that, I'm being facetious)


Last edited by Mark Skarr on Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:49 pm; edited 4 times in total
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SFU_FEAR
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Range 8 on photons is good. Sorry for clipped remarks, I am at work and just popping in. The_Rock summed it up quite nicely, and he is an excellent player with most ships.
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Mark Skarr
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:51 pm    Post subject: Response part 1 Reply with quote

I'm going to try breaking my post up, and seeing if it'll take.

I see what you

Nope.


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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark, sometimes the board acts oddly if you try to enter in characters that it doesn't like (dipthongs, Greek letters, etc). If you can edit whatever character is just after the point your entry is being cropped, that might help get the rest in.
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Mark Skarr
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nerroth wrote:
Mark, sometimes the board acts oddly if you try to enter in characters that it doesn't like (dipthongs, Greek letters, etc). If you can edit whatever character is just after the point your entry is being cropped, that might help get the rest in.


I've got a 1/2 symbol in, but down a ways, and it lets me preview it just fine. The problem is the post is getting cropped after "you." Between "you" and "are." It just doesn't like me. I guess the fora agrees with you about Photon Torpedoes, and doesn't want me disparaging them.

Basically, it's having a snit over a space. Not an alt-space, or a control-space, or a fn-space, just a space. It seems to not like that space.
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Nerroth
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe get rid of the space, and merge the two words into "you're"?
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Mark Skarr
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nerroth wrote:
Maybe get rid of the space, and merge the two words into "you're"?


Testing:
I see what you

ETA: Man, my post is fail; I even retyped the first line.


Last edited by Mark Skarr on Fri Jul 22, 2011 9:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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