December 2008



When the number of photons available rises one should look towards using proximity fuses and when the number of photons falls, one should look towards using standards when one is to engage the enemy in the 9 to 12 hex range bracket.

We shall take large numbers of photons to mean a fleet battle and a few photons to be a duel.

Consider a Federation frigate with its two photon torpedoes, firing on an F5 (or a G2, or something in between).

If it fires a narrow salvo of standard photons, it has a 33% chance of pulling down the enemy shield then and there. On the next impulse (or the same impulse if one is willing to bet the power in the capacitors and is wary of an enemy turning) blast with phasers for actual internal damage.

On the other hand if it fires a spread of proximity fuses, it will have a 44% chance of doing eight points of damage, which while nice on a rear shield is not likely to be a game winner. It will have a 44% chance of inflicting merely four points of damage, which is going to require a lot of fighting to be made into anything result-worthy.

Duels are fought at much closer ranges than fleet battles (see note below) and thus the likelihood of a need to convert the standard torpedoes into ten-point warheads becomes even stronger.

Admittedly, with a downed or very damaged shield there is an advantage in having a high likelihood of inflicting little four point volleys (see Captain's Log #20, page #60, point #66).

In a fleet battle the effect is very different.
Fleet battles are fought at longer ranges (see note below).
The likelihood of a mid-turn speed change/over-run is reduced because of the fear of the one damaged ship in the battle pass becoming isolated and easily destroyed.
You cannot take advantage of the narrow salvo as well, so you might as well spread out your fire.

If you have a (pre-General War refits) Dreadnought, two Heavy Cruisers, a Destroyer, and two Frigates in your battle fleet, you have twenty photon torpedoes available to fire during your battle pass.

A Klingon C9 will have its shield brought down by six standard photons or a dozen proximity photons, and at range 12, you will need 18 photons to generate this with standard loads and 18 with proximity fuses.

Having the twenty photon torpedoes pretty much means you can bring that shield down.
On the other hand, that C9 that the enemy is presenting to you as the target is that which he is willing to get plastered . . . but why?

It is bound to have an ECM drone and, being a C9, has a lot of power to devote to finding six ECM.

Your frigates and destroyer are going to have "a mongrel of a time" trying to overcome this, and since the proximity fuses are less affected by electronic warfare they become the better option. A shift of one would mean that twenty photons would do only 24-32 points of damage, while twenty proximity fuses would still do 40 points of damage. If the dreadnought and cruisers can counter the C9's ECM, they might fire standard photons (32 points of damage) while the destroyer and frigates fire proximity fuses (16 points of damage).

Consequently if the number of photons is small, then one should look more closely at using standard photons and if the number of photons is large then one should look more closely at proximity fuses.

Reasons for fleet battles to be waged at longer ranges.
1.) Standard photons can steal a dreadnought's shields in fleet battles so there is less need to go into overload range.
2.) If you are tractored at range three by the enemy mauler, all the other ships will use their seldom-used rear phasers to turn your ship into a piñata.
3.) If you lose a shield within range five, you can expect 20+ boarding parties to take away your warp engines long enough for your ship to develop "an acute case of catastrophic decompression".