September 2008


- Lieutenant Commander Andy Vancil, USS Colorado

One overlooked use of the narrow salvo (E1.6) is for defensive fire, particularly against plasma torpedoes. By firing pairs of phasers in narrow salvoes, you can actually increase your expected damage.

Here is an example to illustrate: Suppose you are firing two phaser-3s at a plasma torpedo that has reached range one. If you fire them individually, you have a 44% chance of doing eight points of damage, which translates to four points of warhead reduction. The rest of the time, you score six or seven points of damage, which gets you three points of warhead reduction. However, if you fire the phasers in a narrow salvo, your chances of getting eight damage increase to 67%, and you are still guaranteed to do at least six points of damage.

By firing pairs of phasers in narrow salvoes, your damage will always come out an even number, so you will not lose any odd points when the warhead reduction is calculated. If you are firing more than two phasers of the same type, fire one salvo for each pair. If you have an odd number of phasers, you can combine the odd phaser with one of the pairs, or fire it separately; statistically, your results will be about the same.

Of course, you could group larger numbers of phasers into a single narrow salvo, but doing so increases your risk of doing very poorly. For best results, salvo the phasers in pairs. This not only works for phaser-3s, but for any pair of phasers of the same type.

Similar logic can apply when firing at drones or shuttles, which usually have an even number of hit points. For example, suppose you only have two phaser-3s to shoot down a type-IV drone at range two, and due to closing trajectories, you will not have an opportunity to fire at range one. Firing the phasers individually, you will only be successful 61% of the time. Firing them as a narrow salvo raises the odds to 67%.

A few caveats: Against drones, narrow salvoes work best when there is only one firing opportunity, and depending on the damage you need, in some cases they may increase your chances of missing. In the example above, you would not want to use a narrow salvo if the incoming drone were a type-I, as you would be decreasing your odds of destroying it from 92% to 83%.
It should also be noted that this tactic is not useable in tournaments where narrow salvoes are not allowed.
However, there are many cases where this tactic works. If you can identify those cases, you can increase your average damage without using any additional power or weapons.