Sonic Pistol vs. Gauss Rifle
The Sonic Pistol and Gauss Rifle are the two generally-suggested general-issue weapons, since the Gauss Rifle is obviously better than any other non-alien weaponry, and the Sonic Pistol is better for an assault role than any other alien weapon due to its lower TU cost.
Obviously, there are weapons that surpass both of these in some roles, e.g. the Sonic Cannon for a sniper rifle, the Dart Gun for training reactions and the Disruptor Pulse Launcher and Sonic Pulser for splash damage and terrain destruction. However, none of these really work as a standard weapon assuming you have a choice.
Aimed mode: 60% TUs for 100% base accuracy
Snap mode: 30% TUs for 65% base accuracy
Auto mode: 40% TUs for 50% base accuracy
60 Gauss damage
Aimed mode: 50% TUs for 85% base accuracy
Snap mode: 30% TUs for 65% base accuracy
80 Sonic damage
In general, using these weapons in an assault role involves the Auto mode for the Gauss Rifle and the Snap mode for the Sonic Pistol. There are two general situations of use: point-blank and non-point-blank. The difference is that accuracy hardly matters at point-blank range since it's nigh-impossible to miss.
Gauss Rifle: 6 shots/turn @ 60 damage = 360 damage per turn
Sonic Pistol: 3 shots/turn @ 80 damage = 240 damage per turn
Gauss Rifle: 6 shots/turn @ 60 damage each and 50% accuracy = 180 on-target damage per turn before soldier accuracy
Sonic Pistol: 3 shots/turn @ 80 damage each and 65% accuracy = 156 on-target damage per turn before soldier accuracy
The prior analysis ignored resistance and armour effects.
For Aquatoids (and Aquatoids alone) there is no difference between Gauss and Sonic damage, both doing 100% damage. For Gillmen the stats are 100% Gauss/110% Sonic, hence each point of Sonic is worth 1.1 points Gauss. For Lobstermen the stats are 30% Gauss/50% Sonic, hence each point of Sonic is worth 1.67 points Gauss. For Tasoths the stats are 70% Gauss/120% Sonic, hence each point of Sonic is worth 1.71 points Gauss. Assuming equal frequency of each alien type (which is approximated over a full game), the geometric mean of these is 1.33. This is ignoring terrorists, of course, but most of those have large resistances to Gauss anyway, and they aren't as common.
So we can take 1.33 as a reasonable multiplier for Sonic damage compared to Gauss.
Hence we can repeat those calculations:
Gauss Rifle: 360 adjusted damage/turn
Sonic Pistol: 319.6 adjusted damage/turn
Gauss Rifle: 180 on-target adjusted damage/turn
Sonic Pistol: 207.7 on-target adjusted damage/turn
Armour acts per shot, so in each of the Gauss Rifle numbers, 6 * Armour must be subtracted, while for the Sonic Pistol numbers, 3 * Armour must be subtracted. Most alien armour ratings are 20 or above, so it can be seen that even in the point-blank numbers the Gauss Rifle drops to below the Sonic Pistol in damage/turn.
Weapons are more than just collections of accuracy/time/damage stats. There are a few factors that may affect your choice:
Ammo use concerns: Advantages Sonic Pistol due to Gauss Rifle's faster use of ammo (due to autofire) and smaller clip (15 vs. 20).
Size and Weight concerns: Advantages Sonic Pistol due to 1x2 instead of 1x3 size, and extremely low weight (especially since you need to carry more clips for the Gauss Rifle).
Ammo manufacture concerns: Goes both ways - the Gauss Rifle's ammo doesn't require Zrbite and is faster to manufacture, but you'll scavenge a good deal of Sonic Pistol ammo from dead aliens.
Handedness concerns: Advantages Sonic Pistol due to one-handed grip allowing a Sonic Pulser or other item to be carried in the other hand.
Molecular Control concerns: Advantages Gauss Rifle due to the nigh-immunity of Ion Armour to Gauss Rifle shots. The Sonic Pistol can penetrate the sides or back of even Magnetic Ion Armour on a lucky shot.
Collateral concerns: Advantages Sonic Pistol due to the spray-and-pray nature of the Gauss Rifle.
Burst fire issues: Advantages Gauss rifle due to the fact that aliens can only react after all three shots are fired in a burst.
Reaction fire concerns: Advantages Sonic Pistol due to the fact that reaction fire is always Snap.
After armour and resistance issues are weighed in, the Sonic Pistol seems to be by far the better weapon unless huge amounts of MC are in play.
Magic9mushroom 06:42, 10 August 2009 (EDT)