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Dark's Guide to Weapons - Pew Pew and You!

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Dark, Wed 23 Jan, 2013 11:13 PM
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    #1
     –  Last edited by Dark; Thu 16 Jul, 2015 8:52 PM.
    Hi! I'm Aeren@Dark83 in STO, and recently I've been answering a lot of build questions in {UFP-UFPK} and here on the forums. I find I'm repeating myself a lot while not being as thorough as I'd like to be, so here we go!

    Last Updated 20150716

    Goal of this Guide

    It's infeasible to definitively say what the best weapons are, because ship capability, piloting ability and your tactics make a huge difference. Hopefully this guide will help you make make educated decisions about what weapons you should carry and how to use them.

    Kinetic Weapons - Torpedoes and Mines

    Kinetic weapons can't be easily compared because these weapons are heavily dependent on skill, and their DPS numbers are situational.

    Skill is important, because Kinetic weapons deal do double damage against hull but all shields have an innate 75% resistance against it. (See: Shields and Armor) In order for Kinetic weapons to compete against Energy weapons in a DPS comparison, you must be able to reliably score hits when shields are down.

    If you always connect with all your mines against hull the moment they recharge, it would deal high DPS. Alternatively, if you can't reliably hit your target's hull with them, your DPS would be low. Situational and skill dependant, thus difficult to measure.

    Similarly, in theory Photon Torpedoes have higher DPS than Quantum Torpedoes if you take both damage and recharge rate into consideration. Against unshielded targets like Gateways and Generators, this will always hold true. However, against shielded targets like Unimatrices and Tactical Cubes, if you only get the opportunity to drop a shield facing every 8.5 seconds, Quantum torpedoes will do more DPS than Photon torpedoes. Situational and skill dependent, thus difficult to measure.

    Choosing Kinetic weapons essentially means sacrificing Sustained damage for Burst damage, and the Omega Plasma Torpedo Launcher and the Romulan Hyper-Plasma Torpedo Launcher are really nifty.

    As I said though, they vary too much for me to compare to other weapons, so I won't be doing into any further details about them.

    Exception: There exists one Kinetic weapon for which the above does not apply - the Kinetic Cutting Beam. It has a 360 firing arc, hits instantaneously, and fires rapidly enough that you don't need to worry about wasting it against shields. It's also in the same set as the Assimilated Module everyone should have, and so is highly recommended for your aft weapon slot. Note that as a part of a set, only one can be used on any one ship.

    Energy Weapons - Energy Types

    It is common knowledge that you should be using only one type of energy weapon, and your tactical console slots should be full of consoles that boost that energy type. This is because consoles that boost a specific energy type go up to +30%, while general consoles (all beams or all cannons) only go up to +20%. These consoles stack linearly, so if you have 5 tactical consoles it's +150% vs +100%.

    Weapon damage is based upon its Mark level and its rarity. Energy type doesn't affect damage directly, rather it grants certain effects.

    Phaser Weapons - 2.5% Chance to disable 1 subsystem

    Phasers can be good in PvP, but this is about STFs and PvE content. Disabling Engines or Auxiliary in an STF won't do much, and many targets don't even have shields. There are only a few reasons to use Phasers.

    You use Phasers if you're in a Chimera with the Phaser Lotus, or a Dreadnought with the Phaser Spinal Lance. This way, your Phaser-boosting tactical consoles will boost both your normal weapons your special weapon. Speaking of special weapons, you'd obviously have to stick with Phasers if you're using Phaser Quad Cannons.

    If you're in a Multi-Mission Explorer, you use Phasers if and only if you're using the Quantum Field Focus Phaser. If you're not using that console, don't run Phasers!

    The Elite Fleet weapons for Feds are Phasers-only, but are not a reason to use Phasers, because the Elite proc sucks.

    Update!
    With the release of the Counter-Command reputation, Phasers finally have a set damage bonus. If you're in a ship that uses DHCs/Torps/Turrets, use the set's turret with the set's torpedo launcher. Alternatively, use the set's console with the turret, but that's not recommended.

    Antiproton Weapons- +20% Critical Severity

    Unlike other energy types, Antiproton weapons are more reliable and straight forward in their effect - if you can score a Critical Hit, you deal extra damage. Consequently, these are recommended for Tactical captains, because Attack Pattern Alpha gives signifigant boosts to Critical Chance and Critical Severity. The more you can pump up your Critical Chance, the more mileage you get out of Antiproton weapons.

    That unfortunately means everyone else will get less out of Antiproton weapons.

    Note that the Chroniton Dual Beam Array can be freely mixed with Antiproton weapons, as it is also affected by the Antiproton-boosting tactical console.

    Update!
    With the release of the Ancient Obelisk Technology set, there's a new toy for AP users. The beam turret is good for any AP build (since losing a turret doesn't cost a DHC/Torp/Turret build much), and with the warp core you get a +10% Damage Boost. This is a Boost, not a Weapon Strength bonus, so it should be equal or greater to what you would get from an [Amp] core.

    Disruptor Weapons - 2.5% Chance to apply a -10% Damage Resistance debuff

    For everyone else, Disruptor weapons deal the most damage directly and indirectly. While this will only affect the amount of hull damage your victim takes (See: Shields and Armor) it is still an effective way of increasing the amount of damage your victim takes.

    Note that you can freely mix in Plasma-Disruptor, Spiral Wave Disruptor, and Polarized Disruptor weapons because they are also affected by the Disruptor-boosting tactical consoles.

    Uptime - Math!
    The 2.5% proc rate is misleading, because the debuff lasts for 15s. Within that 15s, beam weapons have 3 firing cycles and cannons have 5 firing cycles, potentially refreshing the debuff. Thus the chance that the debuff is active has to be calculated as follows (using an average of 4 firing cycles):

    1 weapon: 1 - (1 - 0.025)^(4) = 9.6% chance
    6 weapons: 1 - (1 - 0.025)^(4*6) = 45.5% chance
    30 weapons: 1 - (1 - 0.025)^(4*30) = 95.2% chance

    What this means is that you don't have to worry about other people also using Disruptor weapons. The proc won't be wasted, you'll just help keep it active and increase the damage of the entire team.

    Update!
    There's something wrong with the above math, but don't worry about it. Disruptors are still awesome. There's also a huge variety of Disruptor weapons (Nanite, Elachi, etc.) and sets (Silent Enemy, Counter Command Ordnance) that boost Disruptor damage, so it remains one of the best choices. Note that I've been told by highly respected people that the Heavy Crescent Wave Cannon sucks, and the set bonus may not make up for its suckiness. So use the torpedo instead? The console is definitely awesome for everybody who has room for it.

    Plasma Weapons - 2.5% chance to apply a DoT

    Contradicting what I just wrote above, Plasma weapons currently have the highest potential in the game. This is due to two things. First, the new Threat-Scaling Science Consoles in our Embassy give up to +9.6% Plasma damage. This means you will be able to get anywhere from +11.6% to +48.0% more base damage with Plasma than any other energy type on the same ship.

    Second, the Romulan Singularity Harness set gives +7.6% Plasma damage as the 2-item set bonus. Everyone can make use of use the Zero-Point Energy Conduit, so if you're using beam arrays you should go Plasma and grab an Experimental Romulan Plasma Beam Array. If you're going to use torpedoes, go Plasma and grab a Romulan Hyper-Plasma Torpedo Launcher.

    Highly recommended, and the Plasma-boosting tactical console obviously works with Romulan Plasma weapons as well.

    The Plasma Infuser will also improve the damage from the Plasma DoT ("Damage over Time"), and while the DoT from energy weapons won't stack with each other, they will stack with the DoT from torpedoes for more hull melting fun.

    Tetryon Weapons - 2.5% chance to deal extra damage to all shield facings

    Tetryon weapons are not recommended for general use. The proc acts as shield strippers, and once shields are down or against unshielded targets they are worse than all other energy types. Can be useful for certain builds, but note that many of the targets in STFs are unshielded.

    In any case, Polarized Tetryon and Phased Tetryon weapons are also affected by the Tetrryon-boosting tactical console.

    Update!
    The Nukara Appropriated Munitions set isn't bad, but note that normal Refracting Tetryon weapons are considered to be poor, due to how unreliable that proc is. Piecing Tetryon weapons would be interesting if it wasn't limited to mission rewards, thereby capping how high a quality you can get.

    Polaron Weapons - 2.5% chance for -25 power to all subsystems

    Polaron weapon are questionable, mainly because nobody is sure how effective they are against things like the Tactical Cubes or Gateways. Most of us think the NPCs cheat and are running 125 power to all systems. Assuming it works fine against our enemies, these are alright. Dominion Polaron weapons are also affected by the Polaron-boosting tactical console.

    The Jem'Hadar set has one of the best shields in the game and the set bonus for Mk XIIs give +13.1% Polaron damage. It's very pretty and but nobody really knows if the proc has much of an effect on NPCs. It's an excellent set to put on a shuttle though, due to the limited tactical console slots we have. Either Polaron or Antiproton weapons will do the most damage on a shuttle simply due to having more boosts.

    Protonic Polaron weapons are interesting, in that they have a shield-bypassing damage proc. A good choice for PvP, especially since it'll definitely drain enemy player captains.

    Proton Weapons - 25% chance on Critical Hit for shield-piercing damage

    Currently there are only two Proton weapons in the game. The DHCs that are mounted on the Dyson Science Destroyers, and the Experimental Proton Weapon. I can't speak for the former, but the latter is highly recommended for the set bonus. The +3% Critical Hit is amazing, and the weapon itself functions with all relevant Cannon and Beam abilities. If you're in a broadsiding beamboat, grab it with the Console. If you're in a DHC/torp/turret ship, grab it with the also-amazing Gravimetric Photon Torpedo Launcher. If you're using Phasers or Disruptors, you'll have to pick which torpedo launcher from the sets you want, but only ever carry one (if you're not a torpedo boat). I personally favor this one, because on a Torp Spread you'll spawn multiple rifts, which is just awesome.

    In conclusion, Plasma gives the most damage right now in PvE due to all the toys related to Plasma. If you're running beams, you should definitely grab the Experimental Array and go Plasma. Alternatively, use Antiprotons if you're a Tactical captain or Disruptors if you're not. Use Phasers only if your special ability/console/ships are boosted by Phaser consoles. As for the rest, Tetryon weapons are overly specialized, and Polarons would be rather nice if we can figure out if the NPCs cheat their power levels.

    Energy Weapons - Weapon Types

    There are 6 different kinds of energy weapons, with different firing arcs.

    Dual Cannons and Dual Heavy Cannons have 45 degree firing arcs, and are fore only.
    Dual Beam Banks have a 90 degree firing arc, and are fore only.
    Cannons have a 180 degree firing arc, and are fore only.
    Beam Arrays have a 250 degree firing arc, and can be fore or aft.
    Turrets have a 360 degree firing arc, and can be fore or aft.

    Update!
    With season 9.5, there is now an [Arc] mod, which appears to increase firing arcs to the next category, possibly at the cost of damage. Not having millions of Dil to speed up crafting, I have no experience with these weapons. It looks like we're restricted to just one [Arc] array on each ship, which means we can't do DBB/beam turrets unless we can at least put the Obelisk set's beam turret alongside an AP [Arc] array.

    The more restricted the firing arc, the greater the dps. Note that DHCs deal more damage per volley, but have the same DPS as Dual Cannons. However, they have an innate bonus to Criticals but drain more power. Damage decreases over distance, but cannons lose damage faster than beams. The following numbers are approximate and come from here:
    dps range comparison graph

    At 1 km, point blank:
    DC/DHC: 133.5 dps
    DualBB: 106.5 dps
    Cannon: 96 dps
    BArray: 80 dps
    Turret: 60 dps

    At 5 km, where almost all of your abilities become available:
    DC/DHC: 101 dps
    DualBB: 90 dps
    Cannon: 72 dps
    BArray: 68 dps
    Turret: 45 dps

    At 9 km, almost maximum range. I'm looking at 9km instead of 10km because if you hover at 10km it's easy to drift out of range and stop shooting.
    DC/DHC: 59 dps
    DualBB: 72 dps
    Cannon: 42 dps
    BArray: 56 dps
    Turret: 26 dps

    We can't actually get anything meaningful out of this without knowing our weapon layouts, so without further ado...

    Ship Layouts - Weapon Selection

    Fire At Will will affect all Dual Beam Banks and Beam Arrays on your ship, and Cannon: Rapid Fire and Cannon: Scatter Volley will affect all Dual Heavy Cannons, Dual Cannons, Cannons, and Turrets on your ship. What this means is that if you have any of those skills, sticking to weapons that are affected by them will make them more effective.

    Beam Overload and the various Target Subsystems only affect the next shot from a Dual Beam Bank or Beam Array, so the number of weapons won't make a difference in their effectiveness.

    We also want to be able to bring as much firepower to bear as much as possible. That tell us that if we use Beam Arrays aft, we should use Beam Arrays fore so that we can broadside. If we use turrets aft, we should be using cannons fore, so that everything fires forward.

    There are primarily three weapon layouts. Cruisers with 4 fore/4 aft, Escorts with 4 fore/3 aft, and Science ships with 3 fore/3 aft. I'm assuming you can keep your power levels up for these numbers.

    Cruisers (4/4)

    Most cruisers run beam arrays. Why is that? Let's take a look.

    8 Beam Arrays:
    1 km: 640 dps
    5 km: 544 dps
    9 km: 448 dps
    You cannot use torpedoes here without bringing the target out of your fore or aft weapon arcs. As such, the only possibilities are the Wide Angle Quantum Torpedo Launcher or the Rapid Fire Missile Launcher. I highly recommend the KCB I mentioned in the Kinetic section though.

    4 Cannons/4 Turrets:
    1 km: 624 dps
    5 km: 468 dps
    9 km: 272 dps
    Only the Advanced Heavy Cruiser Retrofit has the turn rate (best among cruisers) to try make use of cannons, but note that you actually do worse than with beams if that's all you're doing. The advantage of this layout is that you can fire torpedoes and still bring all your weapons to bear. Note also that the Cannon-related tactical abilities are generally superior to the Beam ones, unless you're trying to piss off everyone in a 10km sphere around you.

    4 DBBs/4 Turrets:
    1km: 666 dps
    5km: 540 dps
    9km: 392 dps
    The Advanced Heavy Cruiser Retrofit is clearly much better off using DBBs and Turrets. While it's more difficult to keep targets in a 90 degree cone rather than a 180 degree cone, it's the same firing arc as torpedoes (and you'd want a torpedo in front rather than 4 DBBs in practice, which mitigates energy drain from your firing cycle).

    4 DHCs or DCs/4 Turrets:
    1 km: 774 dps
    5 km: 584 dps
    9 km: 340 dps
    For the Feds, only the Dreadnought can mount DHCs and DCs, and it has a poor turn rate, so while it seems to be the ideal layout in theory, in practice you'll have difficulty bringing your DPS to bear. The KDF can blast away with their Battle Cruisers, however.

    Escorts/Heavy Destroyer (4/3)

    Escorts shouldn't be using beam arrays, because they have the turn rates to use DHCs.

    4 DHCs or DCs/3 Turrets:
    1 km: 714 dps
    5 km: 539 dps
    9 km: 314 dps
    Even though DHCs do so much more damage, because of their limited firing arc they're forced to pair with turrets. They also have a horrible drop off, and if the escorts stay at just 5km away they'll be outdone by cruisers with 8 beams. This is ignoring abilities like CRF, but if you're in an escort you should getting 2-3km of your target regardless.

    "Hey wait, you didn't cover 3/3 ships!" Nope, I didn't. That's because there isn't really much choice. Most of the better Science abilities (like Grav Well) have a 90 degree firing arc. That means if you use beam arrays, you'll be constantly losing your broadsides to fire abilities, and vice-versa. That means turrets in the rear.

    Update!
    The above paragraph has not been true for some time, as Cryptic has wisely increased the firing arc of science abilities for better synergy with broadsides. Beam arrays are probably the way to go, since science ships have innate Target Subsystem abilities.

    It's basically a comparison of Cannon vs Beam Arrays vs Dual Beam Banks, so just compare the individual numbers above. Decide what range you want to fight at, and load up. Note that carriers turn like bricks so they may want Beam Arrays, but Science Ships tend to turn fairly well and can easily make use of Dual Beam Banks. The Vesta can use Dual Heavy Cannons, so they should use those.

    Warning: This is all in the context of "DPS via weapons". While it can apply to a ship like the Vesta (which can act as a science-escort) or the Recluse (which can act like a cruiser), it isn't necessarily how you fly a science ship.

    Note on Weapon Modifiers
    The [Dam] mod has been changed, and rankings have moved as a result. Check out Vel's analysis on reddit to see the details.

    My understanding is that the ultra-high end, Tac captains benefit more from [Dam] than [CrtD] due to APA and too many buffs going into Cat 2 whereas [Dam] is its own Category, while non-Tac captains won't have that excess and so [CrtD] is still king (with [Pen] still being the best general purpose mod for everyone). Do look at Vel's analysis rather than just go by my summary, though.

    Closing Statement

    Hopefully I didn't waste your time and you learned something useful. Tongue Out

    Remember, I'm pulling for you, we're all in this together! If I made a mistake, don't hesitate to correct me. Wink
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    #2
    Sweet guide. Well done and well written. Good job man. Very useful.
    Connor
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    #3
    Dark, this is some amazing work!
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    #4
    Great work ! Many thanks for the information Cool
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    #5
    Excellent job Dark, thank you very much!
    Leoferwic
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    #6
    Minor Update - 20130201

    Added calculations for DBBs/Turrets on cruisers, due to a conversation in {UFP-UFPK}
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    #7
    Didn't notice this reading through so I thought I'd bring it up. Plasma Infuser tac consoles improve the damage of the Plasma DoT. They work on both the DoT from energy weapons and from torps.
    JamesRean
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    #8
    Sure, updated to point that out. Smile
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    #9
    Only thing I can add is that beams seem to be able to "use" weapon power above 125. Meaning they dont get more damage by going above 125, but it seems to help with their drain. You can see it work most effectively with Aux2Bat builds.

    Feel free to check the stoforums for people that have spent way more time testing it then me, but it seems to be effective.
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    #10
    The STO Wiki says something like: you get an extra 2% damage per unit of power above 50, up to 125. Any additional units of power reduces drain.

    It does work, which is why I set my Weapon Power at 100 even though that puts me at 127 without EPtW1 active.
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    #11
    IIRC and my info might be incorrect since I have never tested this, cap is 125 but for drain purposes it caps at 135 if you can push it that high.
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    #12
    Ive read alot of conflicting stuff. Some say its as high as 150 for drain cap. Personally I dont really know, but worth mentioning since drain is the biggest single problem for beam damage.
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    #13
    The soft cap for power you get your damage bonus from is 125. However my testing has shown that the hard cap has been removed. Running EptW 1 I can bump my weapons power to 163, 3 DHCs and the KCB draw 44 power leaving me with 119 when firing. However due to the firing delay with DHCs I have never seen my power drop below 125 with EptW active.
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    #14
    I believe James is correct, and it matches tests run by others on the STO forums, as well as the wiki description:
    If a player has 50 power in this subsystem it will allow each of your ships energy weapons to cause 100% of their natural DPS. Every additional point of power applied to this subsystem will increase overall DPS by 2% per weapon. As an example, running 100 weapons power will yield a 100% bonus to weapon DPS giving an overall amount of 200% of the energy weapons base damage. However, every point under 50 in this system will lower overall DPS of each energy weapon by 2%. This means that if a player uses 25 power in the weapons subsystem then every energy weapon on the ship will only cause 50% of their original DPS.

    The weapons subsystem power levels are capped at 125 power. Any Additional Power goes to buffer the drain from firing weapons, If you have 127 power you will receive 2 less points of drain. If you have 150 Power you will get 25 less points of drain from a fire cycle. Etc.
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    #15
     –  Last edited by starsrift; Fri 15 Feb, 2013 1:53 PM.
    I wanted to make - at least a partial - confirmation that the NPC's do not cheat on power generation. As some know, I've been running a heavy Polaron/drain build lately, and on smaller borg vessels like probes and spheres, it actually drains so much energy from them that they (depending on how much of it procs) shut their shields down and stop in space, as if hit by a Viral Matrix!
    It seems like it does good work against larger Borg enemies by considerably softening them and their attacks up, but I don't have numerical confirmation. I'm more of the opinion that the Borg cubes don't have to necessarily cheat anyway, they just strip their engine power to 0 and redirect it to weapons/aux/shield (and maybe not even aux given how weak their tractors are), get a standard "cruiser" ship type energy bonus, and roll with it.
    Naldoran's Elite STF guide on the STO official forums also notes that Power Siphon drones, if running a carrier, are spectacularly effective on the tac cubes. http://sto-forum.perfectworld.com/sh...d.php?t=281651

    I initially stopped by the thread because I'm seeing some confusing information on stowiki - some pages say that beams deal reduced damage to hull but increased damage to shield and cannons deal damage equally to both, and some pages say the opposite. Any confirmation one way or the other?