So, my players upgraded their Tier 3 ship with a Heavy Weapon Particle Beam turret. They have an Explorer frame with 2 light weapon mounts for the turret, but for only 6 BP you can upgrade a light weapon mount on a turret to a heavy weapon mount (CRB pg 305).
The Particle Beam heavy weapon does 8d6 damage with a range of Long. I didn't realize the implications of this upgrade until, well, I threw a Tier 3 pirate ship at them. Needless to say, they chewed the pirate ship to pieces in a few rounds. On average on a hit, that weapon is going to do 24 points of damage. Since it's a turret, it didn't matter what my positioning strategy was in the Helm Phase.
Did I miss something or does this kind of weapon power more or less negate Helm Phase strategy?
Collective thoughts and/or advice?
It doesn't negate it, but changes the balance and dynamics of game. While the arc in which opponent remains is less important with turret, it's still important for non-turret weapons. The distance still counts, the effect of other maneuvers still is important. In fact maneuvers are more important for enemies now, because every bonus to their AC counts.
It's vitally important for enemies with shorter weapon ranges to close as quickly as possible and optimize their own approach to fire own weapons on the PC ship.
My (limited) experience is that turrets are definitely the way to go, because you're never out of position with your best weapon. Helm phase *could* still matter in a close combat because whoever wins can present their most shielded side to the enemy, but oftentimes it won't matter.
Like Drejk says, turrets don't negate the helm phase, but they do change the dynamic of the positioning minigame. Turrets are more rare and expensive than other weapon mounts, so if you're confident in your piloting skills you can get better offense by investing in arc-facing weapons. In contrast turrets are "the safe option" - point for point less powerful than arc weapons, but you can almost always fire them.
In a fight with two ships exclusively equipped with arc-weaponry, positioning is the name of the game - you want to be in an arc where you can fire your guns (ideally into their weak side) but they can't fire their weapons onto you. High risk, high reward - if you do it right they can't fire at all, but if you flub the piloting check you're in for a beating.
In a fight with two ships with turrets, positioning is still important but the priority changes - rather than trying to negate the opponent's firing lines while setting up your own, you want to maneuver your ship to spread the damage you take across multiple shield sectors, ideally while also maneuvering to hit their "weak side" - the side that's already taken damage.
All that having been said, would you mind posting the stat block for their explorer?
Having a big gun that can shoot any direction is nice but they just sunk an entire levels points in one weapon. With the power budget for that weapon I'm guessing moderate shields, low countermeasures and no point def weapons.
As a deterrent to them adding a second particle beam try sitting back a couple range bands and throwing tracking weapons at them. Maybe a well armored, heavily shielded shuttle with linked coilguns in bow and two tracking weapons per side arc. Start from three bands out to limit their fire effectiveness and give you room to maneuver. They will have a choice of avoiding missiles or slowing down vs moving closer to get a good shot. meanwhile you can spread hits taken over 2-3 shield arcs. While the enemy is going to take several hits before the first missile hits after that they will face probably one hit per round while the attacker moves away. If I;m not mistaken there is nothing that prevents a missile from maneuvering to hit an arc other than the closest one.
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If I;m not mistaken there is nothing that prevents a missile from maneuvering to hit an arc other than the closest one.
I think missiles always follow a direct path to the enemy, and that particular arcs or quadrants can't be targeted if the ship turns or moves. If they can, missiles just got a big bump in importance!