Sonic Pistol vs. Gauss Rifle

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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.

The Stats

Gauss Rifle:

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

Sonic Pistol:

Aimed mode: 50% TUs for 85% base accuracy

Snap mode: 30% TUs for 65% base accuracy

80 Sonic damage

Basic Analysis

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.

Point-blank calculations:

Gauss Rifle: 6 shots/turn @ 60 damage = 360 damage per turn

Sonic Pistol: 3 shots/turn @ 80 damage = 240 damage per turn

Non-point-blank calculations:

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

Intermediate Analysis

The previous analysis ignored damage modifiers and armour effects. The full formula for damage is:

Damage = max(floor((floor(basedamage/2) + randominteger(0, basedamage)) * modifier) - armour, 0)

On Superhuman difficulty, Aquatoids have 4/3/3/2 armour, Gill Men 18/14/14/16, Lobster Men 24/24/24/18, and Tasoths 24/24/24/24 (front/left/right/rear; non-explosive weapons can't hit under armour). Let us assume median values of 3, 16, 24, and 24 respectively.

Aquatoids treat Sonic and Gauss damage identically, but this is not true for the other races. Gill Men take full damage from Gauss and 110% from Sonic. Lobster Men take 30% damage from Gauss and 50% from Sonic. Tasoths take 70% damage from Gauss and 120% from Sonic.

Modifying the damage-per-turn values accordingly, we get:


Aquatoid Gill Man Lobster Man Tasoth
Gauss Rifle 342 264 1.2 106.2
Sonic Pistol 231 214.7 48 214.8


Aquatoid Gill Man Lobster Man Tasoth
Gauss Rifle 171 132 0.6 53.1
Sonic Pistol 150.2 139.5 31.2 139.6

(before soldier Firing Accuracy)

Terrorists are less commonly faced than the four main alien races, but aside from the Deep One the stats look very similar to those of Tasoths (or in a couple of cases, Lobster Men); terrorists are well-armoured and all of them resist Gauss.

Advanced Analysis

The above analysis is still not entirely accurate, however, because we don't really care about how much damage we do to aliens so much as how many we kill. Dealing 44 damage to a Gill Man is not very much better than dealing 14, and dealing 200+ is no better than dealing 46.

The way to calculate mean kills in a turn is to simply run through every possible permutation of hit/miss probabilities and kill chances for a given number of shots and tally up all the possible kills with their probabilities. This is complicated in the case of the Gauss Rifle by the fact that we cannot re-target between shots in an auto burst; if we kill an Aquatoid with the first shot, for instance, the other two will almost certainly be wasted on empty space. Because the probability of this happening depends on accuracy (a missed shot won't get a kill), the results will therefore depend somewhat on the Firing Accuracy stat of the shooter (point-blank range corresponding effectively to infinite Firing Accuracy).

I will not give the full calculations here, as while simple they are rather tedious. Instead, I will simply give the mean kills obtained in one turn and in two turns of shooting against Aquatoid Soldiers and against Gill Man Soldiers (in the cases of Lobster Men and Tasoths, overkill is less relevant, so the obvious superiority of the Sonic Pistol against these races stands basically unaltered), for 50, 70 and 100 Firing Accuracy stat as well as point-blank range. Armour values are the same as used above.

vs. Aquatoids

1 turn 50 FA 70 FA 100 FA Point-blank
Gauss Rifle 1.115 1.408 1.856* 2.857*
Sonic Pistol 0.975 1.365 1.95 3
2 turns 50 FA 70 FA 100 FA Point-blank
Gauss Rifle 2.231 2.816 3.715* 5.717*
Sonic Pistol 1.95 2.73 3.9 6

* These numbers are for Snap fire; at high accuracies, using the Gauss Rifle's Auto mode against Aquatoids is counterproductive since a single shot will likely kill anyway. The numbers for Auto fire are 1.713 (one turn) and 3.427 (two turns) for 100 FA and exactly 2 (one turn) and 4 (two turns) for point-blank.

vs. Gill Men

1 turn 50 FA 70 FA 100 FA Point-blank
Gauss Rifle 0.761 1.034 1.383 2
Sonic Pistol 0.793 1.115 1.601 2.478
2 turns 50 FA 70 FA 100 FA Point-blank
Gauss Rifle 1.587 2.123 2.798 4
Sonic Pistol 1.603 2.253 3.229 4.983


Note that while the Sonic Pistol is roughly equal to the Gauss Rifle at killing Aquatoids (when summed over the full range of Firing Accuracy stats), the Gauss Rifle is probably the better choice here, for two reasons:

  • Gauss Rifles and their ammunition are cheaper, and while this is a minor concern it can be a tiebreaker;
  • Aquatoids use M.C. attacks. The Gauss Rifle cannot penetrate Ion and Magnetic Ion Armours, while the Sonic Pistol can; this makes the Gauss Rifle quite a bit safer to use on large Aquatoid missions if you haven't done an M.C. screen.

The second factor technically also applies to Tasoths, but as the Gauss Rifle is quite ineffective against Tasoths on Superhuman difficulty (as seen above) you are probably screwed either way if you have to fight substantial numbers of Tasoths without having done an M.C. screen. On Beginner difficulty, however, there is a decent argument for using Gauss Rifles in that situation.


The Sonic Pistol is better against Lobster Men, Tasoths, and (more narrowly) Gill Men, and due to the immense disparity against the first two is the better to take on an unknown-race mission (e.g. Ship Rescue Mission, or simple lack of a Transmission Resolver). However, the Gauss Rifle is generally better against Aquatoids as long as you have some other means of disposing of any terror units.

Magic9mushroom (talk) 09:34, 26 January 2020 (CET)

See Also

Weapon Analysis