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Weapons Breakdown: Phasers
By
Dennis "SFCShadow" Greene

This article originally appeared in Hailing Frequencies issue 3. It has been recreated here from the original material.

The weapon systems in Starfleet Command (SFC) are probably one of the most misunderstood and abused systems in the game. Most new players just "move and fire" with no thought for getting the most bang for their buck. Most discover that the closer you are the more "dangerous" you are, failing to realize that so is your opponent. The veteran non-SFB player goes by the "average" damage and has a feel for what his weapons can do, but it's "magic" to them on a certain level. Then there is the former SFB player who either looks up the old tables or fuzzily remembers what they were and bases their actions on those memories or "references".

Purpose

The purpose of this series is to give you, the players, a comprehensive guideline on exactly what the weapons can do in SFC. It is hoped that with greater understanding and a reliable reference source, your gaming experience in SFC will be richer and allow for you to gain greater tactical insight as to why some tactics work and others get you killed. How the relation and power of your weapons interrelate with your other systems like Electronic warfare, Erratic Maneuvers, High Energy Turns, Power management and practically everything related to playing SFC and winning! Part one will be on phasers and Part two will be about all the heavy weapons. Each portion of the series will have a weapons breakdown and then some suggestions on some specific tactics and methods you can use to be more effective. Lastly, each article will end with some practice drills for you to use to refine and teach you the skills you'll need as an Elite Captain! I can't promise to give you victory, but I can promise to improve your game!

Part I - Phasers

We'll begin with the most common and most potent weapon available to any race in SFC, the starship phasers. Below are the specific phasers by type used in SFC. I have included phaser type-4's because many players are also using custom designed API scripts that enable them to manipulate bases, these are here only for reference and completeness. I will be concentrating on starship weapons though for the purposes of this article.

Phaser, Type-1 (Ph-1)
Range

0

1

2

3

4

5

6-8

9-15

16-25

26-50

51-75

16%

9

8

7

6

5

5

4

3

2

1

1

33%

8

7

6

5

5

4

3

2

1

1

0

50%

7

5

5

4

4

4

3

1

0

0

0

67%

6

4

4

4

4

3

2

0

0

0

0

83%

5

4

4

4

3

3

1

0

0

0

0

100%

4

4

3

3

2

2

0

0

0

0

0

Avg.

6.5

5.3

4.8

4.3

3.8

3.5

2.2

1

.5

.3

.2

As can be seen here the phaser type-1 is the most potent starship phaser available to you in SFC. It is the offensive phaser. Costing a single unit of power to arm, it is the the most effective phaser type, giving you the most "Bang" for the power invested into it. Examining this table we can see that the Ph-1 does respectable damage out to range 8k. Although it has a range of 75k, you have at best only a 16% chance of inflicting a single point of damage. Out to range 5k, assuming no EW shift, a phaser 1 never misses. Once we cross the 6-8k range, our chances of hitting are 83% and at 9-15k this drops suddenly to only 50%. The smart Captain, typically won't fire his Ph-1 beyond range 8k, unless he is presented a downed shield. Firing at range 9 to 15 is a gamble, with a 50/50 chance of causing damage, the odds worsening beyond that range.

Phaser, Type-2 (Ph-2)
Range

0

1

2

3

4-8

9-15

16-30

31-50

16%

6

5

5

4

3

2

1

1

33%

6

5

4

4

2

1

1

0

50%

6

4

4

4

1

1

0

0

67%

5

4

4

3

1

0

0

0

83%

5

4

3

3

0

0

0

0

100%

5

3

3

3

0

0

0

0

Avg.

5.5

4.2

3.8

3.5

1.2

.7

.3

.2

The phaser type-2 is the second best starship phaser in SFC. It is an offensive/defensive phaser. This distinction is important if you want to get the most use out of what this phaser can do. As can be seen it does respectable offensive damage out to range 3k and moderate damage to range 8k. It's maximum range is shorter then the Ph-1, firing only as far as 50k, with little chance to hit. Like the Ph-1, it has a 50/50 chance to hit out to range 15k, with less damage delivered. An important difference is that the Ph-2 is also a defensive phaser. Although any phaser can be used defensively vs drones, shuttles, fighters and plasma torpedo's, the Ph-2 is "optimized" for this type of duty. It to costs only a single unit of power to arm, like its more powerful cousin, but the Ph-2 is a better choice for defense due to the power to damage ratio. A Ph-2 can kill most type I drones 83% of the time, where a Ph-1 destroys that drone and has left over damage potential that is left unused. This is the most "general" purpose phaser in the game. Effective in offense as well as defense. As with the Ph-1, offensively the smart captain won't fire his Ph-2 beyond range 8k, but if you want to guarantee a hit (assuming a 0 EW shift) you have to close to range 3k.

EW Note

That's twice now that I've mentioned EW (Electronic Warfare). Lets go over what that means briefly before we continue. Typically when your playing SFC, you will see an EW shift based on how much ECM (Electronic Counter Measures) your opponent is using against you that you have not countered with ECCM (Electronic Counter-Counter Measures). You will typically see a 0, 1 or 2 and rarely 3. What this means is that it reduces your chances to hit. For Example: Lets look at the 4-8K range for the Ph-2. As can be seen we have an overall 67% chance to hit for a single point of damage, and a 16% chance of delivering 3 points of damage. A 1 EW shift "shifts" our chance by 1 on the row in the above table. In this example, our overall chance to hit is now 50%, and if they had a 2 EW, our chances would be a 33%.

What happens you say if the range is 3k and you do the least damage (ie you got that 100% chance to do only 3 points of damage)? The EW shift actually moves the range column over by that number. If you were unfortunate enough to do the "minimum" damage, a 1 EW shift would be as if you fired at range 4-8k instead of 3k and a 2 EW shift would be as if you fired at range 9-15k. So pay attention to EW, it has a profound effect on your ability to cause damage to your opponent!

Phaser, Type-3 (Ph-3) / Type-G (Ph-G)
Range

0

1

2

3

4-8

9-15

16%

4

4

4

3

1

1

33%

4

4

4

2

1

0

50%

4

4

4

1

0

0

67%

4

4

3

0

0

0

83%

4

3

2

0

0

0

100%

3

3

1

0

0

0

Avg.

3.8

3.7

3

1

.3

.2

Next is the phaser type 3. This is purely a defensive weapon. Although in a pinch it can be used offensively, it's meant for defense. This phaser, unlike its more powerful cousins, costs only half a power point to arm. So you can arm 2 Ph-3's for the same cost as arming a single Ph-1 or Ph-2. It's range is severely limited, having only a maximum range of 15k. Offensively it can do moderate damage out to range 2 and can cause some damage out to range 3, 50% of the time. Beyond that range, it is typically a waste of power. There is a special kind of Ph-3 available called the Gatlin Phaser or Type-G. This phaser costs 1 power to arm and fires as 4 Ph-3's. It is extremely effective at defense and at close ranges, very dangerous offensively.

Phaser, Type-4 (Ph-4)
Range

0-3

4-5

6

7

8

9

10

11-13

14-17

18-25

26-40

41-70

71-100

16%

20

20

20

15

12

10

8

6

5

4

3

2

1

33%

20

20

15

12

11

9

8

6

4

3

2

1

0

50%

20

15

12

11

10

8

7

5

4

2

1

0

0

67%

20

15

11

10

9

8

6

4

3

1

0

0

0

83%

15

12

10

9

8

7

5

3

2

0

0

0

0

100%

15

10

9

8

7

6

5

3

1

0

0

0

0

Avg.

18.3

15.3

12.8

9.5

8.2

6.5

5.5

4.5

3.2

2.2

1

.5

.2

Type 4 phasers is the most dangerous and frightening weapon in the game. It costs 2 power to arm and is the longest ranged direct fire weapon in SFC. I won't really go much in depth here, but as can be seen, it can deliver extremely potent damage out to range 17k, and moderate damage to 25k, and has a 50/50 chance of causing damage out to range 40. Beware the Ph-4.

Part II - Effective Phaser Use

Every phaser uses power from a common energy pool. This is called the phaser capacitor and every ship that is armed with phasers, has at the top of your tactical screen the phaser capacitor slide bar. This bar is VERY important and most experienced and elite players use this slider to give them an edge in combat. Basically the phaser capacitor allows you to set how "fast" that capacitor recharges, not the amount of the charge it holds. The capacitor can be used for any phaser that can legally fire. The same phaser can pull from a fully charged capacitor many times before that capacitor needs to be recharged, or all the phasers can be fired at once and it needs to be recharged or any combination in between. Now consider what that means. You can drain the capacitor by firing all your phasers and wait the 20-30 seconds for it to recharge and for the phasers to reset. Or you can use what power is in the capacitor and fire the same phasers over and over (for the most part) once they reset and there is power in the capacitor.

Each weapon in the game, phasers included, have cycles they must go through before they may be fired again. Phasers have (assuming a game speed of 5-7), a recycle rate of 30-20 seconds respectively, even if there is power in the capacitor to use. Typically the phaser capacitor also takes the same period of time to fully "recharge", at the default 100% recharge setting.

By reducing the recharge rate you can still have more power available then you need for those particular set of phasers. It is very rare to be able to fire all your phasers at once. It can be done, but this can sometimes be wasteful, and dangerous if you face a missile armed, fighter armed, or plasma armed opponent. Most times (unless you face drones or fighters), setting this down to 50-75%, can free up some energy when needed for other things (like those power hungry heavy weapons, ECM, EM, or any number of options available to a savvy ships captain).

Part III - Phaser Tactics/Drills

Many players think that their heavy weapons are the killing weapons, but the veterans know differently. Lets do a simple comparison of the phaser 1 and the archetype heavy weapon the photon torpedo.

Photon torpedoes take 2 power over 2 arming cycles to charge for a standard photon. This means that before you can fire that photon, you need to have used up 4 power. Typically you won't be able to fire that photon immediately either, so expect one more weapon cycle to occur before you can shoot. It takes 1 unit of energy to hold a photon, so now your up to 5 units of power used over a span of 3 arming cycles. If the photon hits, for an investment of 5 power, you can do 8 damage. Or if you arm a standard cruisers compliment, you'll invest 20 power to deliver 32 damage every three turns (4 photons).

Lets look at the phaser 1 now. It requires 1 unit of power, we could arm 8 phasers the first two arming cycles and 4 phasers the third arming cycle. So for the same amount of energy we can arm 20 phasers in the same time we armed 4 photons. Now assuming that we fired those phaser 1's at range 5, we can do in that amount of time, a maximum of 100 points of damage, a minimum of 40 points of damage and an average of 70 points of damage. That photon torpedo will hit on the average of 67% of the time at this range. So it's maximum damage as I've already said is 32, the minimum is 0 and will average 16-24.

As can be seen here, the phaser is really your killing weapon. Heavy weapons are good for shield cracking, or to add extra damage to your opponent. Consider heavy weapons to be your big stick, or threat weapon, but the real threat is your phaser. They cycle faster and within close to moderate ranges more damaging then heavies. Heavy weapons should be considered your long range weapon, the weapon you use to soften up your opponent, but the phaser is the one that kills!

The problem is many players fail to recognize this fact and therefore have little or no skill for using their phasers on an opponent. Using them ineffectively and firing without effect or reason. Plus as I outlined earlier, phasers can be used 'defensively' as well as offensively. Used to kill drones, fighters and reduce the effectiveness of plasma's makes them the most versatile weapon in the game. To use them well, the player has to know the specifics on the effectiveness of his weapon and plan his tactics to take advantage of those specifics.

Something many players do in SFC is group their weapons "groupings" by weapon type, but what if you set them up by "range". Examine the above phaser tables and with the next article, try to setup your weapon groups not for type, but effective combat ranges. Say Group 1 is for short range, Group 2 for moderate range and Group 3 for long range. Group 4 for special weapons (like drones and ESG etc). Now you know exactly which weapon group to use based on the effectiveness of your weapons on range, not type and isn't that what it's all about, getting the most bang for your buck at specific ranges?

You'll find that all tactics used and talked about in Hailing Frequencies are range based as much as "Type" based, but even then range is the primary consideration. So learn these tables, memorize them and apply that knowledge based on your range and how you fight your opponents. Here are some drills to help you practice your phaser skills and get you thinking Phasers as your primary weapon when you fight your opponents, because they will be!

Drill #1

Play the standard cruiser on cruiser 1 on 1. Only, turn off your heavy weapons and don't turn them on again the entire battle. Using just your phasers, defeat your opponent (AI is fine for this drill) 10 times in a row. If you fail in one drill, start the count over again. This drill teaches you to use your phasers effectively, and also as an added benefit how you maneuver your ship to take advantage of your phasers and shield use to stay alive long enough to do it. You are NOT allowed to park yourself on one shield, but must try to fire off every phaser you have every arming cycle.

Variations -

Take a light cruiser against a heavy cruiser.

Take a Frigate against a heavy cruiser.

Take a Heavy Cruiser against a Dreadnought or Battleship.

Drill #2

As above, but this time turn your heavy weapons on only after you've brought down 2 shields with your phasers. Make sure the shields you bring down are opposite shields. #1 and #4, or #2 and #5 or #3 and #6. You may only fire your heavy weapons on down shields. This drill teaches you how to use phasers to rip a shield down and then use your heavy weapons to cause the damage. After the above drill, you'll find this drill is easier. Use the same variations and you must win 10 times in a row before you can consider yourself the master of this drill. Again, you are not allowed to park on one shield. The point is to learn to move and shot, not fly in formation.

Drill #3

This drill is similar to #2 above, but you turn off your heavy weapons after you've breached 2 shields (again opposite shields). You are NOT to fire your heavy weapons on a down shield. This drill teaches you to use heavy weapons to break a shield, but use your phasers to kill the opponent. You'll find that by the time you get to this drill, you'll have broken your heavy weapon mentality and are a leaner, meaner and much more dangerous opponent then ever before. Again, you must win vs the AI 10 times in a row before mastering this drill (by this time, it should be VERY easy).

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