Let's say you have a ship with both and slots, or you're choosing between ships based on which slot they have. You want a five-dice munition, and two are available: Advanced Proton Torpedoes (APTs) and Proton Rockets (Prockets). Which to choose? After all, some of these differences matter more than others:
|+Front Arc||-Limited to Bullseye|
|-Range 1 only||+Ranges 1 - 2|
|-Requires Lock||+Requires Focus|
|-Only 1 charge||-Only 1 charge|
|+Changes a Hit to a Crit||-No inherent dice mods|
|Cost: 6 1||Cost: 7 1|
|-Not Hyperspace-legal 1||+Hyperspace-legal 1|
1 Cost and hyperspace status are as of this writing, and could change soon
Among these pros and cos, a few tend to matter a lot (range, arc, token), while others (e.g. changing a hit to a crit, one point difference in cost) are nice but generally not decisive.
Lock vs Focus
Usually for munitions, a lock is much harder to set up than a focus for a low-initiative ship, which has to move before its opponents. For a range 2-3 munition like regular Proton Torpedoes, this is really tough for low-init ships because by the time they have the lock, their opponent has moved into range 1 or passed them up. But for APTs, they *want* the target at range 1, so the situation isn't quite so dire.
That said, the ability to simply focus and take any target that falls into your sights is very effective. You don't care if the ship you thought would fly in front of you instead veers off or arc-dodges you, as long as you have a shot on *something*. Focusing doesn't require calling your target, and that's a big advantage at low initiative.
The question of focus vs lock also matters a bit for crits -- in addition to its -> effect, the APT will generally get more crits with its attack. The average hits+crits is the same for focus vs lock, but the focus token only changes focuses to hits, while the lock reroll adds another chance to roll crits.
One final matter to consider is: does your ship have a boost or roll linked to a focus or lock? That might determine which weapon that ship inherently prefers. A TIE/ca Punisher, for example, has an easier time getting a lock and boosting into range 1.
Range and Arc
APTs are tough because you have to have a target in range 1 (unless you're Major Rhymer, but he's special), and that's not always easy to line up. The bullseye can be easier or harder... tough to say. Extending out to range 2 actually greatly helps with lining up a target, especially against swarms, but you've still gotta be precise. APTs have a full 45 degrees to work with whenever they get a foe into range 1.
Mind you, both might be impossible if your opponent is squirrely and arc-dodgy enough. You can try to block their maneuver with an ally to force them into a tough spot, but otherwise aces can be very difficult to line up with these weapons. Keep that in mind on the approach -- less maneuverable targets are more likely to eat your nukes. A target that bumped into your ship is easy pick'ns. Set those traps!
But overall, it can be easier to tag a victim in your bullseye at range 2 than it is to get someone in arc at range 1. Depends on your ship, depends on how you fly, depends on how your opponent flies. But the Procket method of park & focus to see what you get works for a lot of ships and against a lot of opponents, while having a lock in arc at range 1 can be generally tougher, IMO.
Having the Token, Losing the Token
It's worth noting that a few effects will either strip away a green token (e.g. Palob) or make you choose between losing a green token or taking damage (Darth Vader (Crew) and Torani). Effects like Palob make it hard to deploy Prockets, while effects like Vader/Torani make it dangerous to lock as your action (e.g. if you're close to death and would rather lose your token than take damage). Likewise, a few effects will strip a lock, such as Spare Parts Canisters. You might be able to guess what you'll be up against based on your area's meta, or you might ignore the question -- after all, there are other, more dependable things to consider that are under your control, not your opponent's.
One You See, One You Don't
Finally, the meta question... To me it seems Proton Rockets see a lot more use than APTs do. This is for more reasons than "superiority" though... APTs are in a strange position because the best munition in the game -- Proton Torpedoes -- costs twice as much but is far more effective. Standard protons are easier to fire (range 2 - 3, compared to APT's much more difficult range 1) and have two uses (compared to APT's 1), and only give up one attack die in exchange. If you plan on having a torpedo equipped, it's usually a Proton Torpedo. It's rare that you'd want to equip APTs instead, even if you can't affort the 12 points for Proton Torps.
But Missile slots are just more common too: 21 ships vs torpedoes' 16. Further, the ships that can equip missiles lend themselves well to Proton Rockets (often being fast and agile), while ships with torpedo slots often lend themselves better to Proton Torpedoes (being slower and wanting to fire from a distance). And Prockets are a great missile choice; other missiles are either situational (Cluster Missiles, Homing Missiles), Faction-locked (Energy-Shell Charges), or don't see much use because they're unimpressive (Ion Missiles). This further puts APTs in a tough spot.
It also hurts that APTs are not hyperspace-legal, but even in extended play, I don't see them much.
As a result, APTs are a rare sight while Prockets see some decent amounts of play. Casually, I've seen APTs fielded along with range 2-3 weaponry like Proton Torpedoes, to punish a foe that gets close to avoid the Proton Torpedoes; but this tends to make the ship extra expensive, and you don't always get to put those APTs to good use. It's a difficult way to justify spending the points.
With all that said, we may yet see a meta that favors APTs. They work better for low-init ships that normally can't deploy Proton Torpedoes due to range-timing issues. They tend to deal more crits than Prockets do. We might see a pilot (Nera Dantels?) who makes them appealing. And if we see a lot more of Palob and related effects, not relying on green tokens could be a boon. Time will tell.
But for now? Prockets are more dominant. They're easier to deploy, more ships can take them that can't take Proton Torpedoes, and they're one of the better missile choices for most ships.
What are your thoughts? Do you prefer APTs or Prockets? Have some fun stories about using them? Share in the comments!