Beam lasers vs pulse lasers. What does Science say?


Banded Mongoose
One of the few puzzling changes from MGT1 to MGT2 was the beam/pulse laser switcheroo. In MGT1 beam lasers were the better weapons but in MGT2 it is the other way around. I understand that this probably is a balance issue, because now you can habe beam lasers that are easier to hit with but less deadly. So both weapons have their place.
But it still doesn't feel right to me. This is an established trope in SF that beam weapons are more destructive, crom the original Traveller to Elite, Babylon 5, etc. Also from a real world POV a continous beam should have more effect then a pulse. I understand that pulse lasers exist for a reason. That is to allow debris from the impact point to dissapate so that the next pulses energy does not hot that debris. But we can savely assume that at those space distances a second pulse will not hit the impact point of the first pulse and you just end up with the hit area pf a beam laser. But without a continious beam.

Or os the on universe reasoning that pulse laser beams are stronger than a constamt beam could ever be because of accumulated power before the shot or whaterver.

Go. Discuss. Write words.
The beam laser in CT causes one hit.
The pulse laser in CT causes 2 hits but has a DM of -1 to hit.

In the real world a pulse laser is going to do more damage because the stuff boiling off from the impact point diffuses the incoming beam - pulses allow this to disipate while beam laser would lose energy to it.
Just reviewed the space combat rules and they seem balanced. A beam laser spreads over time allowing it to track a target allowing a better chance to hit but since the energy is spread over a longer time, it sacrifices damage and distance efficiency. The pulse laser fires its energy packet in a very short burst to maximize damage but it all or nothing when it reaches the vicinity of a target. Easier to miss. The system gives choices.
Another thing to consider is that a Beam laser gets DM+4, a pulse DM+2 and damage increases with Effect, so a beam hit on average does more damage than the 1D would indicate... and it hits more often. This bonus becomes a little less compelling in double and triple turrets, because the damage done goes up by number of dice, so by triple turret all you get is that 'hits more often' effect, which is still somewhat worthwhile, but you also have shorter range with a beam.

And I can't remember if its definitely decided whether the beam provides a benefit over the pulse in point defense. By RAW, definitely not, as it's not an attack and the benefits of double and triple weapons is all that is specifically mentioned.
(Of course if you want to play rules jockey, you could also point out that the point defense rules say 'a weapon used for point defence cannot be used to make attacks in the same combat round and vice versa.' It does not say a turret, though that is clearly the intent. I also think point defence should work against fighters in dogfight mode - a fighter being much bigger than a missile - but I am not a fan of dogfight mode under any condition.)
Pulsed lasers are typically far more destructive at realistic energies. Continuous wave ("beam") lasers heat and melt hulls, whereas short pulses shatter the hull, thus:


(from this post at the Children of a Dead Earth designers notes)
Beam laser = phaser from star trek and pulse laser = star wars blaster bolts? :unsure:

Phasers are particle beams with an exotic, fictional particle (nadions).

Blasters are also a particle beam weapon firing a slow bolt with a significant amount of particles, i.e. a plasma weapon. The particles are accelerated "blaster gas."
I agree as @Geir points out the weapons are more balanced then they first look. There is only an average damage difference of +1.5 for pulse lasers when you take account of the extra dice (+3.5) on pulse lasers versus extra +2 to hit on beam lasers which feeds directly through to damage effect. Plus beam lasers hit more often and are more likely to roll over the auto-critical threshold. For damage dealing I would take beam lasers as criticals are a big factor.

The actual big advantage of pulse lasers, IMO, is the range. I would argue for them actually being given the same range.