Are there any starship weapons that stand out as best choice?


Advice

Scarab Sages

Just heard a bad starship combat encouter from another group and while shields, computers and the like are obvious i'm wondering are there any starship weapons capital, heavy, light, point defense, interpersonal (mounted on the ship as opposed to carried by the crew) that stand out as a better choice?


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The biggest ones you can afford. Or, past that, the biggest ones yu can afford to dual link. Having a point weapon is also nice, but secondary to main armament.

There is, unfortunately, not a lot of depth in optimizing a ship loadout.

Also, it's best if ships aren't fully combat optimized, because they all end up identical, as heavily shielded deathspheres that don't bother putting anything in actual firing arcs until you have filled the maximum number of turret mounts with heavy weapons. It doesn't make for a very interesting result.


Persistent particle beams and masters iirc are among the highest average damage, put them in and dual link them. Maybe throw in a point weapon for missile defense and a couple high damage missile weapons in arcs you don't expect to use much.

But, as hammerjack says, as a GM I limit players to light weapons in the turret to limit the ol' bubble of death.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I hope you also alter enemy ships, accordingly?


HammerJack wrote:
I hope you also alter enemy ships, accordingly?

Enemy ships have been pushovers in all encounters I've run. Mostly premade ships and premade adventure paths, so admittedly I haven't checked them for turret heavy weapons. If I built them from scratch I would follow the same guidelines until I got to a ship capable of mounting capital weapons.

Dataphiles

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Look at spore weapons. Spore is a quality that, if used right, can be more effective than most weapons.

Scarab Sages

I was thinking (tier 20 build towards this) a pair of linked persistent particle canons in a turret mount along with a heavy laser net as well as a regular particle canon and heavy laser net in each arc. At tier 20 what id want to get doesnt use all the build points anyway and its either got enough energy (2nd power core) for everything or it'd need to be redesigned anyway so i may as well as give it heavy laser net instead of regular (obviously there's upgrading to get to this. This gives a potential 20 to 28 d6 in any arc and ability to intercept 2 tracking weapons in that arc as well. Throw in a zenith artillery canon for anti-personel when docked/landed and its good to go. Well mostly ...

1) Do I want to swap out the arc based particle canons for X lasers that do the same damage but have the line ability to hit multiple targets if you can line up the shot?

2) Do I want a high mk computer for a high bonus to rolls or one with more cores for lower bonus but can add to more people (+3 to 4, +5 to 3 or +10 to 2)?

Anyway expansion bays are science lab (general), HAC chamber, tech lab, cargo bay and a housing unit for a second core. Plus of course armour, shields, etc.

If I were in your game it'd obviously need more redesign since I'm using the turret as the heavy hitter and the arc based ones as a suppliment in case of damage as a turret suffers effects from every arc. I just wish there some proper magic or at lead hybrid ships especially omes that avoided using drift space.

Scarab Sages

The light weapons only in a turret really hits damage it drops me from . . .

any range except short: 8-28D6 vs 8D4-10D6 + 8d4. (Basically losing 10D6 damage 10-60 points per shot as they close)
Short: 5-38D6 vs 2D6-14D6 + 8D4.(Basically losing 16D6 damage 16-96 points of damage per shot at close range)


There are best choices, but what qualifies as best depends on some assumptions.

Assumption: Space is Big.
If true then you want to have a 13+ move, decent shields, non-terrible sensors, long range weapons without ammo limits, and a couple point defense weapons. In the light weapon category coil guns and light torpedos are pretty good, heavy is the particle beams (persistent or not depends on your point budget). Your tactic is to be faster than your opponent and stay 36 to 39 hexes away, or 56 to 59 hexes away. At the high 30s long range weapons are at -2 while medium range weapons are at -6. Just keep at range and plink them to death.

This is an optimal strategy. Therefore it is boring, tedious, and safe.

If space is not big then you'll be staying on the battle mat and keeping within 30 hexes, often being within 10 hexes. Max shields, a high quality mononode computer for your main gunner, some decent point defenses, and the biggest twin linked clobberer you can afford. Max shields and twin linked heavy antimatter missiles are doable by level 10. Pick up a couple particle beams as backup. The tactic is to rush in as fast as possible to get under the speed of the tracking weapons, essentially making then direct fire weapons, and then dump 20d10 damage into your target. The mononode computer is important here, plus anyone who can boost the to-hit should do so.

This may not be a perfectly optimal strategy. But it's much more fun.

Assumption: Level Apporpriate Opponents.
If true then both of the above sections work. If false then I'd go with the 'space is big' build and just accept that some days you need to run away and try a different approach.

One thing you can do is to break out a spreadsheet and try to come up with a value score for different weapons. Average damage per point+power cost, with adjustments for range, ammo, and special effects was my attempt. The coil guns really stood out for light weapons, heavy had several contenders dependent on factors but the particle beams were in the top 5 or 6. I didn't do capital weapons.

By the by, do we know how radiation weapons are supposed to work against the npc crews who aren't statted?

Scarab Sages

I thought you generally had to be within 20 hexes or even the long range scanners can't see anything. I need to go back to the rules on this it seems if your hitting things at 50 hexes.

Also I prefer to avoid the limited fire weapons as they have a lot more chance of missing.


Also, I'm pretty sure there is a line in there about not being able to twin link tracking weapons anyway.

And yeah, the light weapons only in a turret rule means you want maneuverability so you can bring your preferred arc to bear on an enemy instead of just rotating to show the arc with the highest shield points. Still, that's just a house rule, not one you'd find in most games.

As far as computers go, in your build there are two super important checks to make. The check to recharge/redistribute shields, and the check for your guns to hit. The pilot check is less important, so just pick up the best duonode you can find.


There are better weapons and worse weapons. But "better" and "worse" depends what you're optimizing for.

A year or two ago I set out to answer this question for myself. I looked at weapon damage per BP, per power consumed, and so on. I even tried to hybridize a score that took range into account (but I personally favored long range weapons so some of it was just in my head.) I don't have the resulting spreadsheet handy but there were definitely some standouts.

In the heavy weapon category, particle beams were a great weapon along with heavy lasers. Good bang for the buck there. Particle beams were extremely good choices esp. for turret weapons Coilguns and light laser cannons were winners in the light category. (I don't think I really looked at tracking weapons.)

Sure, a persistent particle beam does more damage, but the increase in expense and power is not worth 2d6.

Sovereign Court

The dominance of turrets is problematic. A "light turrets only" houserule takes care of that, but then the roll-off for initiative between pilots becomes super dominant.

A house rule for that that I want to experiment with is "complete turns" - instead of trying to do all ships' turns in parallel, do each one sequentially. So ship A does engineering, helm, gunnery; then ship B does engineering, helm, gunnery.

It becomes harder to maneuver quite so much to stay out of front arcs, so maybe ships need to have their total speed reduced a bit / their turn distance increased a bit.

The idea result would be that you're trying to maneuver ships into situations where they can't bring their most powerful arc to bear. The counter to that would be to spread weapons out more instead of putting everything into one super-arc.

I haven't tested this yet though.


Garretmander wrote:

Also, I'm pretty sure there is a line in there about not being able to twin link tracking weapons anyway.

I found it, you're right. It's easy to miss, but you're right.

Welp... I guess we can ignore the tracking weapons then and just go with dual particle beams. We're down to just pretty much one best weapon and build again.

Unable to link the missles I don't find the ammo limit, additional fail rolls (point defense plus extra attack rolls), and extra rules questions to be worth the bother. If you could put six launchers in an arc and fire them all at once it might be ok again, but I think the just have too many points of failure to be worth it.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Why would you not be able to fire six launchers at once? Are your PCs never hitting level 6 and gaining access to the Broadside action?

Acquisitives

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I found Heavy Lasers always be a good choice (dmg/BP wise).

But I also created a houserule for tracking weapons, so they are able to fire on every target in sensor range, regardless of the arc. Only rule here is that the missile has to move half it speed within it's arc in a straight line before turning toward the target.

This way you can always fire something even if you lost your pilot check.
Found this rule lead to a lot more missile fire and flak action. :)


HammerJack wrote:
Why would you not be able to fire six launchers at once? Are your PCs never hitting level 6 and gaining access to the Broadside action?

Well you could, if you dedicate all of one arc and all of your turret to them, and the enemy ends up in that arc, and you make a bunch of attack rolls at more to-hit penalties. But the launchers compare pretty evenly to the coil guns and particle beams for point costs, they just do a modest bit more damage at a higher miss/fail rate and have limited ammo. So at that point you might as well just pack regular guns in there and launchers lose again.

Scarab Sages

I have to say none of the non-capital tracking weapons seem worth it. Same roll to hit though admitedly vs a different AC but then they need to hit the target before running out of fuel, offer a second reactive roll by the attacked ship to eliminate them. Lot more chance to fail for not that much more damage if it were say 10d10 X2 or the like it might be more worth it.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Telok wrote:
HammerJack wrote:
Why would you not be able to fire six launchers at once? Are your PCs never hitting level 6 and gaining access to the Broadside action?
Well you could, if you dedicate all of one arc and all of your turret to them, and the enemy ends up in that arc, and you make a bunch of attack rolls at more to-hit penalties. But the launchers compare pretty evenly to the coil guns and particle beams for point costs, they just do a modest bit more damage at a higher miss/fail rate and have limited ammo. So at that point you might as well just pack regular guns in there and launchers lose again.

A -2 penalty to everything for broadside isn't some huge disadvantage. I'm not sure where you're getting the "modest" damage increase from, if we're talking about high damage missles, though.

Using a 5bp tactical nuclear missles launcher instead of a 6bp coil gun gives you 22.5 average damage instead of 10, or a bit more than double.

Using a 12bp heavy antimatter missles instead of a 15bp particle beam gives you an average of 55 damage instead of 28, or just under double.

The high damage for low cost is why using missles and closing to short range, where you'll only need 1 gunnery check to hit, is such a common way of supplementing a ships firepower when people try to maximize their output. Multiple launchers used with broadside will also tend to overwhelm point defenses, since even if the target ship has a point weapon turret ed or in the correct arc, it can only attempt to stop 1 missle per round.

The results of this approach become even more absurd once you hit level 12, and can combine Moving Speech and Broadside.

While only having limited ammunition weapons can be a very bad decision, the idea that tracking weapons don't provide a lot of firepower per build point makes no sense.


Yes, that's pretty much what I said. If you assume that all/most combats will happen at close to point blank range the missiles are a possible weapon choice.

However, the inability to link launchers, additional rolls for failure, extra penalties for broadside, limited ammo, short effective range, and limited weapon mounts are all negatives.

Think, I was advocating linking two powerful weapons then using both high computer bonuses and crew bonuses to minimize missing because of the limited ammo. The highly accurate burst damage of the tactic was to offset the short range and limited ammo. In addition the tactic worked at all levels, not just 6+ or 12+, and doesn't rely on resolve in any way.

Because I was wrong about the ability to twin link launchers it means you can't put significant (+10~ish) to-hit bonuses on one attack roll. Because PC ships are generally limited to 3 weapon mounts per arc and it's a bad idea to only put limited ammo launnchers in turrets you're capping at about 4 launchers if you want to try missile spam tactics. Now you're locked into using the broadside tactic, spending resolve each attack, taking a penalty to hit, rolling separately for each attack, not having the high single computer bonus, plus it still has all the range and limited ammo issues of missiles. It also costs more build points, limits your effective attack arc, and you can't do it at all for the first five levels.

So I don't think that going through all that bother and risk is worth it for

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