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Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
06-13-2010, 07:36 PM
I: Simple Introduction To Weapon Power

With energy weapons (beams, cannons, turrets), your weapon power setting affects how much damage the weapons will inflict. This only applies to energy weapons: weapon energy has no effect on mines or torpedoes, which do full damage regardless of your weapon power setting.

Technically, energy weapons inflict their rated damage (the one that shows on the inventory screen) at 50 weapon energy, and damage scales from there. For example, at 100 energy your weapons will do twice as much damage as at 50 energy (twice their rated damage). At 25 energy they'll do half as much as at 50 (half their rated damage), or one quarter as much as they would do at 100.

Even though the inventory damage rating is technically set at 50 energy, from this point forward, I'm going to refer to 100 weapon energy as delivering full damage. It's easy to envision 100 as being "100% damage", and if you really want to deliver the most weapon damage that is what your power level should be set to (actually it should be higher than 100, if possible).

Weapon Energy Drain From Firing Multiple Weapons

In addition to the initial power setting of your weapons, there is another mechanic you need to be aware of: weapon energy drain. Firing a single weapon doesn't result in any energy drain, but when you fire more than one weapon at the same time, your weapon power level is temporarily reduced while they are both firing. For each weapon that is firing after the first, your weapon energy is reduced by a set amount. Most weapons drain 10 energy, with only two exceptions: Dual Heavy Cannons drain 12 energy, and Turrets drain 8 energy. (Once again, this applies only to energy weapons-- torpedoes and mines don't drain energy when they are fired.)

For example, if you fire a single beam weapon, your weapon energy will not be reduced at all. If you fire two beams, your power level will be reduced by 10 (10 for the second weapon). If you fire three beams, your weapon power level will be reduced by 20 (10 for each weapon after the first), and so on.

This energy drain affects your damage output, just as if you had your weapon power set to a lower level. For example, if your energy is set to 100 and you fire two beam weapons, your power will be temporarily reduced to 90. Instead of each beam doing 100% damage, each would do only 90% damage (actually there's a little more to it than that, but let's keep it simple for now).

For this reason, firing two beams doesn't double your damage output compared to a single beam. While, you'd still inflict more damage than you would with a single beam, the total damage output would only be 180%, rather than 200%.

Now, the more weapons you fire, the more this affects you. If you fire 5 beams, instead of your power being reduced by 10, it would instead be reduced by 40, and each beam would do only 60% of its potential damage. The more weapons you add, the less all of them do, resulting in serious diminishing returns. At some point these diminishing returns mean that adding an additional weapon results in very little additional damage, or even reduces your damage output (if your weapon power is set too low)!

Higher Weapon Power Is Needed To Support More Weapons

The higher your weapon power setting, the more weapons you can fire effectively, without experiencing excessive diminishing returns. By the same token, if your weapon energy is set too low, firing too many weapons can be dangerous because it can end up reducing your damage to almost nothing.

To understand this, let's go back to the 5 beams example above. When firing 5 beams your weapon energy is reduced by 40. If you're firing at 100 power setting, your energy will be reduced to 60 and each weapon will do 60% of its full damage. However, let's say your power energy is set to 50. That means your power level when firing 5 beams will drop to 10! Each beam will only do 10% damage, and all 5 combined will only do as much as a single beam fired at 50 power. To make matters worse, if you were to fire 6 (or more) beams at 50 power, your energy level would actually be reduced to zero, and some shots would do no damage!

The bottom line is that if you want to run with a lot of weapons, your weapon energy needs to be at a high setting. If you usually have your weapon energy at 50, because you require a higher shield, auxiliary or engine power setting, then it may be better to equip fewer concurrently firing energy weapons. You can still fill all of your weapon slots, but either add mines or torpedoes, which don't drain energy, or equip frontal arc weapons like dual beams, which don't share a firing arc with rear mounted beam arrays (and thus won't fire at the same time as them).

Raising Your Weapon Power Above 100

It is possible to have more than 100 weapon power by combining inherent ship bonuses, console bonuses, and skill bonuses. The higher your weapon power the more weapons you can fire without each weapon losing too much damage, and the more overall damage your weapons will do.

Obviously this helps no matter how many weapons you are firing, but it is especially helpful if you have 6-8 energy weapons equipped. The reason I mention this is that there is no point in running with 7 beams at 100 weapon power, and even 6 beams is somewhat questionable. The diminishing returns at that power level are simply too high (as you'll see in the tests below). However, if you can boost your power to 125 it makes a big difference out at the far end of the curve. This can now be seen by comparing the 100 and 125 weapon power charts posted below.

What You Can Do To Increase Your Weapon Power
A question some may have is what you can do to increase your weapon power level settings. There are several different skills that affect weapon power. These are described briefly below.

Warp Core Training
- This improves your power levels for all systems when power is set below 75. It has the most effect when your power is at 25 and slowly scales down as your power level setting increases. At a minimum every character should have 7 points in Warp Core Training (the last 2 points are very expensive compared the benefit conveyed). This alone will ensure your weapon power will never be below 29. An important thing to note is that efficiency bonuses are determined based on your power setting, not actual power level. In other words, before any bonuses from ships, consoles or other skills are taken into account.

Energy Weapon Efficiency- Like Warp Core Training, this improves power levels when power is set below 75, but it only affects Weapon Power. Because this is an efficiency power it is worth putting points in it if you sometimes run at 50 weapon power. If you never have your weapon power set at 50, then don't bother with it, as the bonus is very small beyond that point. But for a science ship which runs high auxiliary power at least part of the time, or a cruiser who sometimes switches to shield power, this skill is essential. For an escort, I personally would not recommend it as you should always have weapon power set to full unless you are running away. With 9 points in this, plus 7 in Warp Core Training, your power level should be a minimum of 37 before ship bonuses.

Weapon Systems Performance- This admiral level skill increases your weapon power regardless of power level. Putting 9 points into this skill will increase your weapon power level by slightly less than 10 points (9.76). This is a skill that should be useful for most ships, regardless of what power level you have weapons set to. Unfortunately because it's an admiral skill points here take away from what you can put into other important skills, such as your ship command skill, or your Auxiliar Systems Performance skill (same thing but for Aux).

Plasma Distribution Manifolds- These engineering consoles can be used to increase your weapon power, once again regardless of setting. The magnitude of the bonus varies with the mark of the equipment.

For a much more detailed overview of ship power systems, please see PatricianVetinari's Ship Power Level Calculator post. Included there is a calculator spreadsheet that can be used to figure out the exact power levels you will achieve with a mixture of various skills and consoles.