We've all seen the dozens if not hundreds of Cruisers are crap and escorts are OP threads. They usually come down to a few points, one of which is BAs suck and DHCs don't. But is that really so true?
Now let's look at the Beam Array. It's your basic starter weapon. Every captain in this game started out using them. They are also the most iconic weapon in Star Trek. When you mention Star Trek weapons, most people think of phasers (whether they are hand-held or ship mounted), and the majority of ship class phasers in canon are Beam Arrays in the form of Phaser banks (exception to the rule: defiant with it's phaser cannons). That being said, let's go over the Beam Array.
1) HUGE firing arc. 250 degrees in all directions. That's everything in front of you with a large spillover window on the sides. That massive firing arc enables you to hit things directly above and below you, and also slightly behind you (forward hardpoints). There is a nice overlap as well between your forward and rear beam arrays if you broadside.
2) Moderately low range penalty. BAs only really start to lose out on significant amounts of damage 5k and further out. And I believe their max damage loss is only 40% (not confirmed). They can be used for long range bombarding of stationary targets with not a ton of damage lost as a result of being far away.
3) Instant hit. These weapons practically instantly hit your target. No travel time, no tracking, just a bam bam bam on your shields/hull. This is a strength because procs and damage can be applied instantly, without giving the target that split second to prepare it's defenses (unless they were applied ahead of time, in which case this point is moot).
4) They do equal damage to hull and shields. There is no differential between the two. This is a strength because it will slap shields down and then after that will continue to do well against hull.
5) Quick firing rate. Your target doesn't get much of a respite between attacks, which turns this into a constant pressure on your target. They will be constantly taking damage, which will negate passive shield and hull regen. It will also impede crew recovery.
And now for the fun part: Weaknesses.
1) The biggest gripe against beam arrays. Low damage. Very low. Second lowest in the game, beating out turrets in damage, but not much else.
2) Massive WP consumption. Each BA consumes 10 energy when fired with other weapons. This is a weakness because of how energy level dependent the damage on BAs is. Maximum damage at 100 weapon energy of course, and even with all power to weapons, it's still sometimes difficult to keep your energy levels high, especially with 5 or more BAs.
3) Quick firing rate. This was listed as a strength, but this is also a weakness due to the firing cycle. The quick firing rate also drains lots of weapon energy. Go figure.
4) [Dmg] modifier VERY weak on this weapon, ESPECIALLY this weapon. Courtesy of low base damage and the fact that this modifier just isn't that great to begin with.
Now let's take those 9 points I have compiled and do a quick comparative analysis and see what each point does to the other.
Firing Arc balanced by low damage, low [dmg] modifier, and power consumption. Quick firing rate balanced by itself and power consumption. Power Consumption balanced by firing arc and Low Range Damage penalty. Equal Hull and Shield damage balanced by low damage, low [dmg] modifier, and power consumption.
Now I know this is a very limited list, since it's only 9 features/aspects of BAs. But if you look at them, are Beam Arrays really that bad? I mean they have great positives, and are relatively easy to get/cheap to acquire. They do low damage, but have a huge firing arc and do more damage at range than most of the other weapons. They have a huge power consumption, but their damage is not inhibited by anything outside of resistances.
So I will just leave this up here. Feel free to post your thoughts on BAs and if you think I am wrong, please say so, but try to keep it civil.
that's cannons, beams do more dmg to shields and very little dmg when hitting hull.
Where does it state this to be the only case? I have been using BAs since I started, and I have noticed that my BAs do exactly the same to hull as they do to shields (that's after I add in the bleedthrough to the shield hit). If anything my cannons did less damage to shields and more to bare hull, but that may have been due to range etc.
My mistake, it appears that beams are the base line with 50/50 dmg to hull and shields. I thought beams had a bonus to shields, and that cannons were the base.
In any case, i m not sure it this 50/50 is a strength. In the end no more shields means nothing if you don't kill the hull. No more hull means optional/kill/win.
Beam arrays are ok... not brilliant but ok... Pushed to their very limits on the games best fed-side tac cruiser (Fleet excel) in the hands of an engineer (Build here) one can just about handle seemingly escort only jobs (Kang duty in CSE, upto 6 probes in KASE, sadly they just don't have the required kick to do all 8) one of the main problems is the power drain which while manageable still leaves resistances that DHCs get over through sheer damage output.
Now DDIS and Biteme have both had good ideas on this subject and I agree with both of them.
DDIS's idea would require a small modification in that it would require a reduction in the power drain (per cycle) to reflect the lower number of shots fired however looking at the two I would prefer Biteme's idea however I believe (from my limited programming experience) it would be difficult to implement.
I mention this as the main problem with BAs is they over drain for the damage they deal since this beam array nerf we've all read so much about (Something I cannot find a scrap of information about, searched the release notes and even tried google) however Biteme is right about weapon drain being illogical, it should drain when the shot is fired, not when the cycle begins.
On top of this we've all read about resistance changes I believe it was in one of the "borg have been buffed, their OP, nerf them please" threads, but this too is a problem the sustained firepower of beams has that DHCs don't suffer.
DHCs on the other hand have high damage with low drain (see sources shown above) and if you take 4 unbuffed DHCs (Mk X common) up against 6 BAs (again, Mk X common) you get results shown here*.
Does not take drain into account (due to lack of knowledge on the subject)
Feel free to save and edit for yourself, there are hidden rows showing potential buff analysis for those who wish to play with that
All figures from Mk X common