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Photon Torpedoes

posted Oct 15, 2017 10:09:27 by Gilandilas
Ok folks, I have had the first ship combat in my last session and I am wondering if somebody could help me out what the deal with photon torpedoes is.

They seem incredibly weak compared to phaser and disruptor fire - I intend to houserule that they do double damage against unshielded targets but still, even accounting for a salvo I am hard pressed to sell the advantage to my crew.

What am I missing here?
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17 replies
PicardX said Oct 15, 2017 12:43:44
Page 232. "High-Yield: The weapon inflicts massive damage to enemy vessels; if the Attack inflicts one or more Breaches to a system, it inflicts one additional breach."
SilentP13426 said Oct 15, 2017 15:15:18
With the above in mind, a torpedo hit against an unshielded target will cause 2 Breaches as long as it does *any* damage to the target.
Gilandilas said Oct 15, 2017 18:10:38
Sold. I will use this as a houserule then - torpedoes should be something to be feared. They should inflict massive breaches against unshielded targets imo.
Deadmanwalking said Oct 15, 2017 19:53:44
It's not actually a House Rule, that's the official rules.

Also, bear in mind the Scan For Weakness action. Torpedoes will usually be rolling at least 5 challenge dice for damage, and combined with that action and a Momentum, that's an average of 6 dice damage, which is 5 damage and -4 Resistance average. That'll immediately cause two breaches on even a fully shielded ship with Resistance 4 or less. Toss on some more Momentum and it gets even more destructive.

Also bear in mind the ability to spend 2 Momentum for a Devastating Attack. On an unshielded (or weakly shielded) target that can make for 4 Breaches from a single hit (especially if combined with Scan For Weakness).

Basically, on a mechanical level, photon torpedoes should be something you use to finish foes off after weakening their shields with phaser fire, and preferably after scanning for weaknesses in the enemy.
[Last edited Oct 15, 2017 19:56:16]
Gilandilas said Oct 15, 2017 22:58:36
you misunderstood my point I guess I was to brief.

I will use my houserule with torpedoes doing double damage against unshielded ships as indeed seems to be nothing in the rulebook I failed to take into account. For me and my group, torpedoes are far to weak to our liking.
PicardX said Oct 16, 2017 02:18:33
They score two breaches for every "injury" they would inflict thus doing double damage. How does your house-rule differ?
Jonathan Everson said Oct 16, 2017 06:09:40
I think he means that he will roll twice the amount of dice, which seems excessive to me. I don't think you need any houserule at all, they are plenty powerful already.
TobinQai said Oct 17, 2017 02:56:52
I haven't had a chance I engage in ship combat yet, but in the 24th century phaser arrays will roll 6-8 CD normally (depending on ship class and assuming average security discipline), are potentially an easier shot, have the spread quality, and automatically generate 2 bonus momentum, which can become -4 resistance, which is nearly enough to cause a second breach. Such an attack can be augmented with all the same actions and momentum spends mentioned by @deadmanwalking. It seems like the OP has a point.

PS, I don't particularly like how the descriptions of weapon qualities and the descriptions of the weapons themselves are so far apart.
[Last edited Oct 17, 2017 03:01:04]
Deadmanwalking said Oct 17, 2017 06:17:23
You need to get to right about 12 dice of damage (or 10 dice and +2 damage from Versatile's Momentum Spend) before you're scoring more than one breach with phasers (barring really low shields). And even then it's usually something like 3 or at most (6's a theoretical possibility with an array, but not a likelihood at all).

With Photon Torpedoes vs. low amounts of shields you can easily score 5 Breaches, and very possibly 6 (vastly more often than phasers will get anything close to this). And they're more concentrated as well (if arranged properly a Photon Torpedo hit can do 3 Breaches to one system...the best a phaser shot can do is two), which is vitally important to actually disabling a ship.

The extra breaches are very much worth it and make photon torpedoes a very solid choice as a finisher. Using only phasers is also a perfectly valid choice, but the lower concentration of breaches per system can slow down victory quite a bit.

All of this is less true on a high Scale low Security ship (like a Galaxy Class), and more true on a small Scale high Security ship (like the Defiant), so how useful photon torpedoes are will also vary by the ship in question.
Lancel said Oct 17, 2017 16:21:53
After you get past the Shields, the damage number starts meaning less. It just needs to exceed two thresholds, the enemy's Resistance, and 5 over the enemy's Resistance. Any damage past that is gratuitous once the Shields are down. In this way, Phasers are better for taking down Shields because they generally do higher numbers of Damage, but since they lack High Yield, they do fewer numbers of Breaches. Phaser Arrays fudge this a little since they can do a Spread readily, but Torpedoes have Spread options across the board. Ignoring that for a moment, a Phaser against an unshielded target could do 1-2 Breaches of damage per hit, while a Photon Torpedo could do 2-3 breaches per hit. 3 breach clustering can be important for larger ships, as it's more likely to actually inflict a Damaged state on a System, which is the point at which a ship is meaningfully impeded by damage.

Consider targeting an unshielded D'Deridex. Even in ideal circumstances, you might do 2 or 3 hits (with Devastating Attack) for 2 breaches each. Unless you get lucky with your rolling, you only impacted a few of its systems. A Photon Torpedo Spread, however, could readily inflict a 3-breach cluster which would guaranteed damage at least one system. Buff it up with Devastating Strike and Penetration and you could be looking at a 3/3/2 or even 3/3/3 breach set. Now what you consider unlucky with a Phaser Spread of 2/2/2 breaches just means your torpedoes just wrecked multiple systems, and if you happen to get lucky and stack the breaches, that's a system disabled.

Of course, it's harder to land those Torpedo attacks, so it does need more setup. You can probably get away with just Phaser attacks, particularly if you target opportune Systems if you don't want to resort to Torpedoes, but remember they cost Power to fire while Torpedoes do not. I think it's reasonably set up for selecting the right weapon for the intended effect. For me, I like to start with Phasers to take out the Shields, bank what Momentum I can, then cripple the target with a Torpedo Spread.

That said, torpedoes look better in TOS than they do in TNG. They simply don't scale up well for larger ships unless you burn a talent for something like Quantum Torpedoes, while energy weapons do so naturally. Plus TNG throws Arrays around which has significant consequences for a Phaser's ability to create Breaches.
jonrcrew said Oct 18, 2017 09:15:04
That said, torpedoes look better in TOS than they do in TNG.

Which actually matches what we see in the shows. Torpedoes tended to be devastating in the original, where they're more likely to create pretty puffs of light in the newer material!
SilentP13426 said Oct 18, 2017 09:19:29
No kidding, I always vividly remember the visuals from ST:VI when Chang's Bird of Prey was firing torpedoes could blow a hole the entire depth of the Enterprise-A's saucer section.
TimKellogg said May 15, 2018 23:59:05
OK but! Photon Torpedoes are all long range. It makes little sense to close to medium for phaser attacks, and then open range to use photon torpedoes. If a Vor'Cha takes on a Steamrunner, the Vor'Cha weapons do 11 Vicious 1 and 10 Vicious 1 at medium and close range. SO! Getting close enough to use phasers seems, unhealthy.
[Last edited May 16, 2018 00:00:29]
Deadmanwalking said May 16, 2018 01:09:15
If you don't want to close, as I mention above, using the Scan For Weakness action is also a really good idea for torpedoes. It can make up for low damage via Piercing 2 and add a bit of damage if you spend Momentum on the attack as well.
[Last edited May 16, 2018 01:09:54]
TimKellogg said May 16, 2018 04:53:11
IIRC, one can use a weapon outside its optimum range band with an increase in difficulty of one. A Vor'Cha can hand out 23 points of damage at medium range, assuming successful rolls on both Disruptor cannons and disruptor banks. That is one helluva punch! That is a minimum of four breaches, darn near destroying a Scale 4 ship in one fell swoop! Granted there is reduction for resistance and for shields, but still - that is a lot of firepower!
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