Maybe your right. What if I go with Thomar's idea of launching lighting bolts from the main bolt, or other bolts. you could launch it ahead to a four way junction and have 3 480-ft lightning bolts go down each passageway. take out at a large chunk the monsters in each passageway, and then you send in the fighters to mop up whatevers left (not that they won't have support from you, of course). you could lauch it into enemy lines on a battlefield, and watch those weaklings fall in droves. poof, they're gone. I could even say that any monster who gets hit by the ranged touch attack part of it, and is at a point where another bolt has launched off, takes a straight 12d6 damage with no save (damage reduction applies once instead of twice). hit the big ugly monster in the center of a horde and branch out all three from him and deal 12d6 + 6d6 + 6d6 + 2d6 with no save. the peircing doesn't matter much but they will be fried. not to mention all their hordes of minions ("aaaaaaaaggggggggghhhhhhhhh", scream the little leveled up goblins, "aaaaaaaaggggggggghhhhhhhhh"). fun possibilities, and perfect for an open battelfield (zap the commander and his little minions too). how's that for a 9th level spell.