Thursday, 14 November 2013

Photon Torpedoes

Argument Over

The generally accepted wisdom around the internets and when looking at list building forums, is that photon torpedoes are not really worth the points. What is going on with these high powered cards, and why aren't people using them?

To begin, the problems with photon torpedoes stem from a few factors, one of which is the price. You pay a premium to replace your innate firing value with a secondary value. If you were to value 5 attacks at the same points as ship attacks are valued at, Photon Torpedoes would cost between 8 and 10 points. You're certainly getting bang for your buck, but you're causing point redundancies. You're taking your 3-5 attacks and replacing them with other attacks. You've already paid points in your build to have your innate attacks- these extra attacks better be something great at 5 points. Sadly, they are not. 

The second problem is that you need to spend a Target Lock to use them- you need to use an action to use your 5 pt attack. Fair enough. In order to reuse your photons, you need to re-enable them, which takes another turn's action, that you'd probably rather be spending on something else. Photon Torpedoes take 3 actions to use twice- that's three turns to get 10 attacks. On most ships, you're going to get 9 to 12 attacks in that same time period at any range, whereas photons are limited in range. 

Overall, things are looking grim for photons. They take up actions, and the innate attack value is high enough on most ships that you're not really gaining much in the way of attacks by using the torpedoes. 

The cost benefit analysis of photon torpedoes has them, in my opinion, very low on their relative ratio of cost to benefit. I just don't see the point of putting them on my bigger ships. 
Where should you put Photon Torpedoes?

There is one federation ship that should probably always have photon torpedoes, and that's the U.S.S. Reliant. The Reliant is a torpedo boat, plain and simple. 180 forward firing arc with a rear arc at 90 degrees. This thing was made to shoot off torpedoes. At close range, it makes up for it's lightweight attack value.

All that being said, the thing that stops you from running the 4 mirandas of death (4 basic mirandas, each with photons) is Cloak. Cloak is the final death knell of the photon torpedo. You can't target lock a cloaked vessel. The prevalence of cloak in the game means that such simple builds are not really feasible, and the photon torpedo is a casualty of cloak. 

In X-Wing, photons are discard on use- in Attack Wing, they are disable because cloak makes them generally bad. That 4 Miranda list is going to clean up if your group doesn't really play cloaked vessels. If you're facing down a klingon fleet, a 4 Miranda list is going to be pretty worthless. 

In sum- there's no upgrade yet that makes photon torpedoes a viable purchase. Don't throw away 5 pts on upgrades as situational as photon torpedoes. 


  1. I agree with you completely, especially for any ship with a base attack of 4 or higher. They're conditionally useful at best for ships with lower attack than that, but as you've mentioned, the action economy is so tight that they're really not worth the points. Perhaps if we see some captains or torpedoes that can be used without a target lock, or without spending it (such as on the Gor Portas), they'll become more prevalent. Until then...

  2. There are a few that I deem worthy of a second glance:

    Klingon Magnetic Pulse: does not require a target lock, 4 shots at Range 2-3, and crits that would damage your opponents shields instead inflict a hit on the hull. Not bad when combined with other upgrades (Toreth, Drex), but would be infinitely better if you could fire from rear firing arc. Costs 4 SP.

    Concussive Charges: Very appealing to me, although I've yet to use them. 4 shots at range 2-3, shoots from front and rear firing arc but requires a target lock. Each hit damages the opponents ship AND knocks tokens off (scan, battlestations, target locks, ...). Can be great coupled with a high skill captain. SP 4.

    Quantum Torpedoes: 5 shots, range 2-3, requires target lock, front and rear firing arc. If you hit the target ship, add an extra hit! SP 6.

    Having said that, these are useful only for certain ships/builds, and even then your points are probably better spent elsewhere...

  3. The Concussive Charges definitely would have their use against cloaked ships.

  4. Questionable. Cloaks are only guaranteed proof against target locks if you're not firing (or using Advanced Weapon Systems), and not shooting is no way to win. Cloaks will certainly delay the first photon volley, and you might kill an enemy ship before it gets off a torp shot because of that, but you aren't going to be truly immune to them.

    Also, the cheaper 4-attack, 3-cost photons the Feds and Klingons have are pretty economical and still offer worthwhile benefits for Mirandas and perhaps even 3-attack ships like the Excelsior and the upcoming Klingon Somraw.

    Most photons also offer rear arc fire, which opens up a lot of maneuver options (especially with Engage and Transwarp Drives) and increases the odds of getting off a shot. If that's a primary consideration, it might even be worth grabbing the Dominion version so that you can feed torps into a target that you've just overflown at range 1.

    And of course the Gor Portas always has that beautiful dream of getting off an ED shot followed by a photon spread. Chain that into a pair of Secondary Torpedo Launcher shots if you want a real pipe dream. :)