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They both cost 50, require 2 power. Their flavor text is nigh identical:

Powerful Drone that continually attacks the enemy ship.
Combat Drone that repeatedly attacks with a small beam weapon.

What is the difference?

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up vote 19 down vote accepted

The Anti-Ship Drone is armed with a laser, which does damage to a single room targeted randomly by the drone. It also takes the shields down one level if it hits a shield..

The Anti-Ship Beam Drone is armed with a beam weapon, which does damage to multiple rooms along the path of the beam, but which does not affect shields at all. Instead, shields affect the beam, in that each level of shield reduces the damage of the beam. Since the Anti-Ship Beam Drone only does 1 damage per room, even a single active shield can render the Anti-Ship Beam Drone completely useless.

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And since the beam does one damage per room, even a single layer of shields will render the Beam Drone completely ineffective. – Andrzej Doyle Sep 19 '12 at 12:45
The beam drone seems to usually target only one room, but the fact that it never misses still makes it better in some situations. – Brilliand Apr 29 '14 at 15:50

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