Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

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Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by EnterpriseSovereign » 2017-06-12 12:29pm

So I'm arguing with this guy on Youtube (might even be another SDNetter for all I know), and the question of whether it's a case that phasers are meant for shields, torpedoes for hull. I get that in games it works that way but in visual media there's plenty of examples of beams being used against targets without shields and torpedoes against those that do (First Contact and Nemesis being the case in point). My point is the difference between how they're supposed to work versus what we actually see on screen.

I can't decide if this guy has a point or whether he's throwing around a bunch of red herrings. Here's the video in question: link.

He also claimed that torpedoes were unique in being usable at FTL. While I know that should be true, there was the small matter of the Prometheus firing phasers at warp in (Message in a Bottle).

Though using episodes of Voyager to reinforce my position is dubious, the only counter example is from Enterprise, which is arguably worse:
link. :lol:
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-06-12 12:35pm

Moreover, phase weapons being unable to do a thing in Enterprise is not evidence of them being unable to do the same thing in Voyager 200 years later.

200 years ago, it was effectively impossible to hit a man-sized target with a man-portable firearm at the range of a mile. Today, it is difficult but possible.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Prometheus Unbound » 2017-06-12 12:40pm

They've never said on screen that phasers are for shields and torps for hulls, but I do get that impression - often they won't fire torpedoes until the shields are down (Voyager with the Equinox is a great example). But it's never been said and the Dominion and Klingons seemed happy to fire phasers / disruptors at DS9's shields as well as torpedoes and plasma balls ....

In ST2, they were using both phasers and torps against shielded and unshielded ships. ST6 had torpedoes against the shielded Enterprise. Shinzon seemed happy firing both torpedoes and disruptors at the shielded Enterprise and I think the same for Insurrection.

We also see phasers being used on hulls in DS9 all the damned time.

I think it's a case of phasers being "instant hits" and torpedoes are used closer up due to evasive abilities / jamming.

As for phasers at warp - DS9 has done it multiple times, TOS has done it and Voyager's done it. Even Enterprise has done it against the Suliban at the end of season 1. Phasers at warp absolutely *are* a thing.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by EnterpriseSovereign » 2017-06-12 01:06pm

One thing I've noticed consistently is that phasers aren't so much anti-shield as anti-device. Whenever a particular system on an enemy ship needs disabling, phasers are what are used IIRC. Insurrection has a perfect example of the Enterprise knocking out the life support and engines on Ru'afo's ship with two phaser shots at literally point-blank range.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Lord Revan » 2017-06-12 11:45pm

To me it seems that phasers are the scalpel while the torps are the hammer at least when hull/component damage is conserned. In that phasers can take out a component far less collateral damage so that when you disable to the weapons of the enemy you don't end venting couple of decks into space due to collateral damage. On the other hand if you want the enemy to die now the command is "lock photon torpedos on target, full spread, fire when ready!" So it's not so much that phasers have something that makes then inherently better at disabling things but rather torpedos (be they cyclonic, photon(ic), plasma or any other type) are more likely to cause excessive damage to the target, while phasers (and other similar weapons) are more likely to do only as much damage as it's needed (or at least close enough).
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-06-13 11:35am

Lord Revan wrote:To me it seems that phasers are the scalpel while the torps are the hammer at least when hull/component damage is conserned. In that phasers can take out a component far less collateral damage so that when you disable to the weapons of the enemy you don't end venting couple of decks into space due to collateral damage. On the other hand if you want the enemy to die now the command is "lock photon torpedos on target, full spread, fire when ready!" So it's not so much that phasers have something that makes then inherently better at disabling things but rather torpedos (be they cyclonic, photon(ic), plasma or any other type) are more likely to cause excessive damage to the target, while phasers (and other similar weapons) are more likely to do only as much damage as it's needed (or at least close enough).
Notably, see Reliant vs Enterprise-- Reliant's phaser cuts a neat line along Enterprise's hull, but Enterprise's torpedo blows a hole straight through Reliant (or was it vice versa? I need to watch that movie again)
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2017-06-13 12:12pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
Lord Revan wrote:To me it seems that phasers are the scalpel while the torps are the hammer at least when hull/component damage is conserned. In that phasers can take out a component far less collateral damage so that when you disable to the weapons of the enemy you don't end venting couple of decks into space due to collateral damage. On the other hand if you want the enemy to die now the command is "lock photon torpedos on target, full spread, fire when ready!" So it's not so much that phasers have something that makes then inherently better at disabling things but rather torpedos (be they cyclonic, photon(ic), plasma or any other type) are more likely to cause excessive damage to the target, while phasers (and other similar weapons) are more likely to do only as much damage as it's needed (or at least close enough).
Notably, see Reliant vs Enterprise-- Reliant's phaser cuts a neat line along Enterprise's hull, but Enterprise's torpedo blows a hole straight through Reliant (or was it vice versa? I need to watch that movie again)
Enterprise takes multiple phaser hits - damaging the secondary hull in the first fight andwrecking the port torpedo room in the second - but not damaging the starboard launcher. Enterprise's phaser fire damages the Reliant's engineering section and drives her off.

In comparison, we see Enterprise take a torpedo hit but no idea what damage occurred - but probably severe. Reliant takes a torpedo hit to the torpedo launcher pod which is shattered. Enterprise phaser fire guts Reliant's port nacelle before another torpedo hit blows it clean off.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-06-13 01:04pm

In at least -one- movie we see a photon torpedo blow straight through the Enterprise's saucer. That's a few decks' worth of hull right there. I want to say it's Undiscovered Country, but could have appeared in Search for Spock as well. (albeit TUC recycled a few effects shots...) I actually don't remember much phaser action at all in TUC, it was pretty much all torpedoes. Presumably Chang's cloaked BoP required all its power to operate the cloak and shoving a torpedo out the front was more efficient power-wise, and of course Enterprise needed a homing function to hit the BoP, which phasers wouldn't have had. After the first strike, it was all massive destruction on the BoP, and they went straight to torpedoes for that.

(Random thought: Have they ever used phasers on a cloaked target?)
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2017-06-13 01:14pm

Yeah it was TUC were a torpedo punches straight through the saucer. I don't recall and phaser fire at all - as for re-using effects shots, I think you're getting that mixed up with Generations re-using the exploding BoP shot from TUC.

As for phasers against cloaked targets...only one I can think of is...shudder...Nemesis.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-06-13 01:29pm

You're right, Generations did recycle a shot or two from TUC.

Hmm, I wonder if the Dominion War had any phaser fire against cloaked Jem'Hadar ships... it strikes me that something like the 'antimatter barrage' from Best of Both Worlds might be one way to expose cloaked ships, at least within close range.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Batman » 2017-06-13 01:33pm

Note on TUC: A large part of the attack on Qu'nos One was to make it look like the Big E was the one who fired the shot. While all torpedoes look pretty much alike nobody is going to mistake a BoP's disruptor pulses for phaser fire, especially as all the phasers on the Constitution (we know about) are on the saucer.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Prometheus Unbound » 2017-06-13 01:37pm

Elheru Aran wrote:(Random thought: Have they ever used phasers on a cloaked target?)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56iTxdu ... u.be&t=54s

https://youtu.be/56iTxduUacs?t=1m33s

Voyager's done it before too in in "Think Tank".

The Scimitar and Think Tank both had shields whilst cloaked through - normally that isn't possible so if the Ent-E had been up against a D'Derridex that tried to cloak and hide, it'd have been ripped in half by Worf.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by seanrobertson » 2017-06-13 02:19pm

Elheru Aran wrote:You're right, Generations did recycle a shot or two from TUC.

Hmm, I wonder if the Dominion War had any phaser fire against cloaked Jem'Hadar ships... it strikes me that something like the 'antimatter barrage' from Best of Both Worlds might be one way to expose cloaked ships, at least within close range.
Did you mean to ask if the Jem'Hadar ever fired on cloaked ships? 'Cause Dominion ships don't have cloaking devices.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by FireNexus » 2017-06-13 02:52pm

seanrobertson wrote:
Elheru Aran wrote:You're right, Generations did recycle a shot or two from TUC.

Hmm, I wonder if the Dominion War had any phaser fire against cloaked Jem'Hadar ships... it strikes me that something like the 'antimatter barrage' from Best of Both Worlds might be one way to expose cloaked ships, at least within close range.
Did you mean to ask if the Jem'Hadar ever fired on cloaked ships? 'Cause Dominion ships don't have cloaking devices.
Tachyon beams can be used to expose cloaked ships. They also suffer from a neutrino leak at high warp, and the dominion has a never-explaOnes ability to see through cloaks (at least the Defiant's) if they're trying and looking right at you.

They don't use cloaks as a rule but the technology is definitely available to them through espionage. Their military tactics prize what would later (in real life) come to be known as "Shock and Awe" so they probably just don't feel that the benefits of the cloak are worth its tactical drawbacks and don't field them.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by EnterpriseSovereign » 2017-06-13 04:24pm

FireNexus wrote:
seanrobertson wrote:
Elheru Aran wrote:You're right, Generations did recycle a shot or two from TUC.

Hmm, I wonder if the Dominion War had any phaser fire against cloaked Jem'Hadar ships... it strikes me that something like the 'antimatter barrage' from Best of Both Worlds might be one way to expose cloaked ships, at least within close range.
Did you mean to ask if the Jem'Hadar ever fired on cloaked ships? 'Cause Dominion ships don't have cloaking devices.
Tachyon beams can be used to expose cloaked ships. They also suffer from a neutrino leak at high warp, and the dominion has a never-explaOnes ability to see through cloaks (at least the Defiant's) if they're trying and looking right at you.

They don't use cloaks as a rule but the technology is definitely available to them through espionage. Their military tactics prize what would later (in real life) come to be known as "Shock and Awe" so they probably just don't feel that the benefits of the cloak are worth its tactical drawbacks and don't field them.
Not just the Defiant- Memory Alpha calls it a long range tachyon scanner:
A long-range tachyon scanner was a sensor technology capable of detecting cloaked vessels at extreme distances.

In 2375, a fleet of ten Jem'Hadar fighters utilized such a scanner to pursue a group of Klingon Birds-of-Prey which were returning to Federation space after conducting a cavalry raid behind Dominion lines. (DS9: "Once More Unto the Breach")
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Q99 » 2017-06-13 05:01pm

I agree with the "Photons = sledgehammers, Phasers = precision" idea, or at least the capacity to chose precision, at full bore phasers can erase a lot of ship.

Early in Voyager, the ship was quite sparring with it's photons (no restocking after all), the Kazon's shields could kinda hold out against an Intrepid class's phasers (which are, to be fair, not a shade on Galaxy or Sovereign phasers), but not so much it's photons.


Photons are also nice for not scaling- a big ship can throw more, but a photon is a photon and even a fairly small ship can have some.

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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by NeoGoomba » 2017-06-13 05:32pm

Yeah, I do remember some of early Voyager (really all I watched) where phasers could swat the little Kazon ships around a bit, but when the big cruisers showed up, Voyager would use a few photons and wrecked them handily.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by biostem » 2017-06-13 06:34pm

We saw a hand phaser used in a wide dispersal mode in Voyager - I wonder why they can't just do a wide, low yield sweep of the ship's phasers in all directions, to look for interactions with a vessel? Heck, IIRC, Data used several photon torpedoes set to a low yield, in order to uncover cloaked ships during the blockade from the Klingon civil war arc...

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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-06-13 06:53pm

biostem wrote:We saw a hand phaser used in a wide dispersal mode in Voyager - I wonder why they can't just do a wide, low yield sweep of the ship's phasers in all directions, to look for interactions with a vessel? Heck, IIRC, Data used several photon torpedoes set to a low yield, in order to uncover cloaked ships during the blockade from the Klingon civil war arc...
Range limitations, maybe? I don't know.

But we know that the TOS Enterprise could do at least limited wide-beam orbital bombardment.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Q99 » 2017-06-13 07:14pm

biostem wrote:We saw a hand phaser used in a wide dispersal mode in Voyager - I wonder why they can't just do a wide, low yield sweep of the ship's phasers in all directions, to look for interactions with a vessel? Heck, IIRC, Data used several photon torpedoes set to a low yield, in order to uncover cloaked ships during the blockade from the Klingon civil war arc...
I'd imagine it'd disperse to uselessness pretty fast.

Photons at least you can detonate near the target, phasers only helps if they're really near the ship.


The anti-matter spread from BoBW similarly.

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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Batman » 2017-06-13 07:36pm

That's rubbish. Photons you can detonate near the target if you have a rough idea of where the target is. You can point a widebeam phaser discharge there too. If you are shooting completely blind, photon torpedoes are no more useful than phasers are.
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Q99 » 2017-06-13 07:44pm

Batman wrote:That's rubbish. Photons you can detonate near the target if you have a rough idea of where the target is. You can point a widebeam phaser discharge there too. If you are shooting completely blind, photon torpedoes are no more useful than phasers are.
Sure, but while photons require you to have a rough area and you can use the trick of backlighting the target, phasers are only going to cover a few degrees of sky and not very far out. Too skinny and you can be right next to your target and get nothing, too wide and you can be on target and still get nothing because the target's a bit too far out.

There's a very small sweet spot, it's not long at all til a phaser beam is now a kilometer across and illuminating approximately nothing.

Or it might be that other cloak detection beams like tachyon beams can just do the job better. A phaser is not designed as a sensor.

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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Batman » 2017-06-13 08:00pm

Weapons not being all that good when employed as active sensors. That sure comes as a shock :)
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Prometheus Unbound » 2017-06-14 07:34am

Q99 wrote: The anti-matter spread from BoBW similarly.
I think that wasn't to damage the Borg, it was to create massive amounts of interference on their sensors and "blind" them - antimatter signatures which were designed to disguise the shuttle's power systems. A kind of blinding flak, if you will.

The Borg's tractor beam started trying to lock on to the explosions thinking they were the shuttle. They then cut the power to the shuttle and the Borg missed them.

https://youtu.be/uy8wqywAkrg?t=1m21s
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Re: Phasers & photons vs shields & hull.

Post by Captain Seafort » 2017-06-14 01:02pm

Batman wrote:If you are shooting completely blind, photon torpedoes are no more useful than phasers are.
Redemption II seems to disprove that. Data had no idea where the Romulans were, but his torpedoes still had a sufficient area of effect to light them up.
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