Monday, February 3, 2014

Analysis - Cluster Warheads vs. More Rockets (or "Why Specials are Special")

I was recently discussing Hellstrike builds with an alliance mate of mine, and he wanted to add some countermeasures to his build, but he was out of weight. 

We all know the basic hellstrike build by now, right?
3 Inferno Rockets, Speed3, Alloy CX-3, Cluster Warheads 3, Scrambler 3 or Shielded Elec3 or Agility 3, and as much armor as will fit (Usually E, C, or Ballistic Plate)

Actually I'd prefer more armor, but this is just an example.  

The solution that was going to be tried was to drop the Cluster 3 down to a Cluster 2, and in doing so get about 2000 tons of fleet weight.

My solution was to drop one Inferno rocket  from one of the ships, and get about 2500 tons of fleet weight.

So which one has more firepower?

If we trust the DPS calculator in the shipyard, it tells us:
3 infernos and CW3 has a building DPS of 1488, 
3 infernos and CW2 has a building DPS of 1488
2 infernos and CW3 has a building DPS of 992
It looks like the Shipyard doesn't apply the special (or hull) reload modifiers.  This is why I don't trust the DPS calculator in the shipyard, and use my own DPS calculations.

Here's what I get (I didn't apply the Hellstrike splash modifier or elite rank reload, but it doesn't affect our comparison):
(click to enlarge)

You can see how the key number of DPS / ton gets better as we use a higher level Cluster Warhead special. This means that the weapon gets more efficient.  So if I compare the fleets:

9 infernos with CW2 have a total fleet DPS of 9 * 840 = 7560
8 infernos with CW3 have a total fleet DPS of 8 * 984 = 7872  <- WINNER

So - taking off one inferno rocket gave us more weight and leaves the fleet doing more DPS than reducing the cluster warhead level.

Other considerations:  

  • Countermeasure weapons added to the CW3 fleet will weigh 13% more than on the CW2 fleet because they are affected by the CW weight modifier.  This doesn't negate the nearly 20% weight advantage of the Inferno removal.  
  • The ship with 1 fewer Inferno loses 5% missile/ballistic/explosive resistance & 400 armor points.  This may be a consideration, which could be compensated for with bigger armor plates on that ship.
  • Dropping one inferno cuts 2 days 19 hours of build time. Dropping three CW3 to CW2 cuts only 9 hours of build time.  I'm all about saving build time, so this is another big benefit.
This article gives an example of why special slots are SO valuable.  Concussive warhead or alloy armor specials give their benefits with far less weight added than just adding more torpedos or heavier armor plates.  Think about this when choosing whether to go after Level 3 specials, or considering whether to go after ship hulls with 2 specials, 3 specials, or 4 specials.  Hint:  4 specials is best.