Uhh... don't the existing dual beam arrays already fill this gameplay aspect? (lower arc, higher damage, less damage than dual cannons)? The only difference I see is the roleplay desire for it to be a single beam, with 1 shot.
Also, I chalk the heavy damage against the Borg shown in Q Who to the fact that the Borg had not encountered/adapted to phasers before, didn't have shields (or appropriate shields), and their structure isn't exactly reinforced. Oh also, television special "WOW" effects. Short of Q Who and the Enterprise episode "Silent Enemy" where they cratered an asteroid, I can't recall seeing phasers ever having devestating effects like that. Careful about what you take as canon and not ("please disregarding Generations"), especially considering the example you chose was the exception to the rule, not the norm portrayed on the shows and movies (yes, including Generations).
Besides, Beam Overload I think nicely satisfies your big, uber one-shot phaser blast, even to the point of how it would drain the available phaser power levels.
EDIT: one thing I would want to take from this thread is better definition of the phaser strips on the ships. For example, especially on the Galaxy, the strips are not clear enough (or missing altogether). Even cooler would be if they could include the animations of how the charge would crawl before firing (though this may bring out issues regarding how often phasers currently fire now, how many beams you can load out, delay between firing and damage being registered, etc.)
Is there any canon (or even "soft canon") that explicitly says that longer phaser array = stronger blast?
I looked at memory alpha and I can't see anything like that. When the Defiant was fighting with the Lakota, O'Brien commented that it had an awfully lot of fire power for an Excelsior. It didn't have any phaser strips and was using the same emitter layout as any other Excelsior. The emitters themselves may have been replaced to an improved design, or maybe the power grid of that ship was upgraded to accomate higher power transfers.
I figured the strips and increased number of emitters would simply decrease the number of firing blind spots, not inherently increase the power of the phaser. And if no source claims a long strip = stronger phaser correlation, then what was that "number crunching" based on?
Gameplay wise, I don't see the need of coming up with a stronger array type.
i believe the tng technical manual basically explained it as i did, just a bit more eloquently. also, why would arrays be that long if it didn't make a difference in power? based on the charge up effect, you see energy gathering form the entire array and it is then fired. all the modern canon 24th century ships have their saucer section built so that the array ends up as long as possible. that's what i base my argument on.
ships firing from banks like the excelsior and Miranda on DS9 have never bean explained. there must be modern tech under the hull and that was deemed a better solution then rebuilding the primary hull to have a wrapping array installed.
the number crunching was from a 10 page + thread in the star trek legacy forum from years ago. i'll try to remember details best i can. basically they took published emitter output numbers, examined close up views of the long arrays, and literally counted how many emitter were in the big arrays. we then examined the craters that the enterprise caused in the borg cube and calculated how much energy it would have taken to vaporize that much material. for the density of the hull, we used the density of water for Christ sake, so a major low ball number. the number ended up being astronomical, and with it they calculated the energy output of any number of emitters working together. there was then discussion on diminishing return, but we decided that if that was a real issue, they wouldn't have bothered making the arrays on the galaxy that long. there was pages of discussion examining every use of phasers in tng, and the theories were further refined as examples mounted. then they compared the sov's arrays and the galaxies arrays and came to the conclusion that the sovereign's guns arnt actually more powerful than the galaxy at all. that sparked a huge debate as to witch was the overall strongest ship. i was especially glad there ended up being a tier 5 galaxy, felt more like its rightful place to me. these were great fun to be a part of if your an absolute geek and canon defender.
Call me cynical, but... there are never advancements in miniaturization in the Star Trek universe... so naturally a Galaxy's phasers must be more powerful than any new advancement. I'm sure Paramount marketting and visual design staff had nothing to do with it, and continuity errors never exist in a television show.
The Connie has phaser banks which house two emitters in each AFAIK. The Galaxy has a strip that houses 200 (see here).
Memory Alpha compares the emitter to a barrel of a gun. Having more guns doesn't make the shot of one of those individual guns any more powerful, it just allows for a greater volume of shots. Having 200 emitters along the hull in a circle pretty much means there are no blind spots. Whereas the Connie has emitters arranged in pairs of two (though I don't know the total number of pairs, it's a whole lot less than two hundred).
I see it as being similar to if I had exposed electrical wire leading to a lightbulb, and if for some hypothetical reason the wire glowed as the electrons passed through it. The length of the wire isn't going to make the light bulb burn any more brightly.
The part that glows appears to simply be the phaser energy traveling along its circuit until it reaches the appropriate emitter/"gun barrel" to be fired. The circuitry (or whatever you want to call it) is visible since all the emitters are relatively exposed in a sunken strip with bare space in between them. If that's the case, then ships like the Constition and Excelsior would have the exact same thing going on, you just can't see it because the emitters are completely surrounded by hull plating, so you wouldn't be able to see the energy traveling along the circuits to those emittters when they are fired.
Granted it's all fictional technology so there's no real answer to what is going on, and in the absence of some explicit statement by the people that had a hand in representing that fictional technology, I don't see any reason to believe that a phaser blast from a phaser array is inherently any more powerful than a phaser blast from a phaser bank. The phaser types are denoted in a way that implies strength. Type XII > XI > X > .... > III , etc. And technical manuals put the phasers on the Sovereign as type XII vs. the X on a Galaxy. Therefore I would think (in addition to Geordi boasting it as the most advanced ship) that the Sovereign is more powerful than the Galaxy, and the narrower profile of the saucer section would require fewer phaser emitters to cover all potential blind spots, hence the shorter arrays.
Bah, BreachAndClear, who needs logic like that when we got 10 pages of fan analysis on our hands?
yep. beat this topic to death years ago. not gunna debate it all over again. bottom line, there are dual cannons and heavy dual cannons. i want a heavy bank to go along with a beam bank. the details are in the original post.