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I've been playing around this for a bit and I can't really quite figure it out nor find the optimal way to aim a beam weapon... Basically, I've noticed that systems are sometimes not damaged by my beam weapon touching their room and that this usually happens when the beam only touches the edge of the room. Is there a specific hitbox for systems to be hit by beams or what?

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Advanced Edition makes this much easier since it actually highlights the rooms that will be affected by the beam when you are aiming it.

enter image description here

Basically, the beam has to touch inside the walls of the room. It doesn't have to go inside by much, so you can often squeeze an extra room in if you are careful. But you can't put your beam parallel to the wall between two rooms and expect it to hit both rooms. For example, there is no way to aim the beam so that it hits both the shields and the large square room below the oxygen in the picture below.

enter image description here

Note that the Anti-Bio beam actually works differently. Even though it highlights rooms like a normal beam, it only affects crew members, and it only affects them if the path actually touches the square that the crew member is in. So in the screenshot above, my anti-bio beam actually wouldn't hurt anyone even though both rooms are highlighted, because it doesn't cross the actual crew members shown in red.

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    What an excellent answer! +1 It may be worth mentioning the perhaps obvious case where shields go back up partway through the execution of a beam weapon. This can interrupt your beam and cause it to do less or no damage (dependent on the beam being used.) Apr 19, 2014 at 15:22
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    You're talking about rooms in general. I'm asking about systems. I'm aware that for each room that I touch (even barely), I cause hull damage, but sometimes a room's system isn't damage even if I touched that room. Apr 20, 2014 at 3:39
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    @Bob Systems will always take damage when their room is hit. The effects of that damage may not be immediately visible though. For example, if you do one damage to shields that currently have an odd number of power bars, it won't have any obvious effect. If you have the level of sensors that lets you see the enemies power allotment, you should always be able to see the damage occur.
    – bwarner
    Apr 20, 2014 at 13:08

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