Monday, February 10, 2014

Optimizing Your Armor - Build Time & Weight

(12 March: - Today's update suggests that research item build times have been reduced - this article does not reflect that change, which may affect Iron, Steel, Titanium, and Depleted Uranium armors)
For your Monday Morning analysis from the BP Professor (I might make that a thing), let's talk about armor build time.

When I first started this game, I compiled the weapon and armor data into spreadsheets.  I learned for myself that titanium armor weighed more than depleted uranium, but it built faster.  I kept these sheets, and recently updated them to include Draconian armor and Forsaken Plate armor.  I'll share this data with you now, and also explain how you can use that data to make your ships builds take less time or weigh less.

The key data for each armor is:
  • Armor Points (AP)
  • Weight (ton)
  • Build time (hrs)
The key metrics for each armor are:
  • AP / ton (higher is better) - How much of your fleet weight is used up by the armor?
  • AP / hr (higher is better) - How fast will your armor build?
One more note on the table below - most of the times below are from the BP Outpost shipyard.  However, I was suspicious of a few of them and rechecked them (some, but not all) in the game.  In BP Outpost, the build time for U armor and Forsaken Plate armors are incorrect - they both show the same build time as V armor.  U armor takes longer to build (longest in the game).   Forsaken Plate takes less time to build - the same time as E armor. 

(click to expand)

Armor Weight
Lets start with the AP / ton metric.  The key thing to notice is that all armors with a particular technology have the same AP/ton.  For example, all Drac armor, whether D1 or D4, and no matter which bonus is gives, is 4.5 AP/ton.  From best to least weight efficient, the armor ranking (with shipyard 2) is:
  1. Forsaken Plate: 5.88 AP / ton
  2. Depleted Uranium: 5.30 AP / ton
  3. Draconian: 4.50 AP / ton
  4. Titanium: 4.12 AP / ton
  5. Steel: 2.94 AP / ton
  6. Iron: 1.76 AP / ton
(without shipyard 2, Forsaken Plate is still top, and DU is tied with Drac)

Forsaken Plate is a great way to maximize the number of armor points on your ship, or to squeeze a few more weapons in while keeping the same amount of armor.  Depleted Uranium can also give you more armor points for the same weight, however most higher level ship builders avoid it because they would rather use Drac armor for the bonuses.  Drac armor is used very commonly by players once they've earned it - the bonuses such as evade, resist, or speed are generally worth the weight.  
(perhaps a subject for a future article?)

Armor Build Time
A lot of players make mistakes when building ships with mixed armor, and cost themselves build time for no benefit.  Looking at the AP / hr numbers, there are a couple trends worth noting.  

For Research Armors (iron, steel, titanium, and DU), the AP / hr goes up as you move to larger armors.  You get better build time when you use larger pieces of research armor.  For example: 
  • 2 plates of DU3 give 1960 points of armor, and take 30.24 hours to build
  • 1 plate of DU4 gives 2156 points of armor, and takes 21.6 hours to build

For Prize Armors, (Draconian and Forsaken Plate), the AP/hr goes down as you move to larger armors.  D4 takes a LONG time to build.  You get better build time when you use smaller pieces of prize armor.  For example:
  • 1 plate of D2E + 1 plate of D4E gives 2500 armor points, and take 31.32 hours to build
  • 2 plates of D3E give 2500 armor points, and take 21.6 hours to build.
That's a 10 hour difference!  Are you coining that build?  I just saved you 20 gold!  Per ship!  I see this error all the time in ship builds.  100 gold per fleet!  Facebook me if you want to gift me some gold as a thank you.

One more thing to notice on the AP / hr numbers is that some of the different bonuses result in different build times.  

For D2 & D3, there are three groups: 
  • E, T, N: FASTEST
  • X, M, C, V, S, P
  • U: SLOWEST  
For D4, there are four groups:
  • E, T, N: FASTEST
  • X, M, C
  • V, P
Worst Value - U armor
U armor really ticks me off - D2-U and D3-U give only 3% resist against Ballistic, Penetrative, and Explosive damage.  Put three plates of that on and you will have a little less than 9% resist against each of those damage types.  Put one plate each of X, C, and M armor on, and you will have 10% resist against each of those damage types, with the same number of AP, the same weight, and less build time.  By the way, if you don't have three armor slots, then you probably shouldn't even be thinking about the U armor. D4-U is a slightly different story, with 4% resists instead of 3%, so that extra build time will at least get you more total resistance.

Best Value - E Armor
When considering armor build time, D3-E has always been my favorite.  Evade is great because it protects against cannons, missiles, and torpedos.  Of course, if you need the extra armor points, there is no substitute for D4.  Well, maybe DU4 with 2189 armor points instead of 1750, but you'll have to give up bonuses.  Whether it is worth it... that's what math is for.

An example of how this knowledge comes in handy:
I am building MCX with Strike System 3, and I want to use 1 turn armor to bump my turn just a little bit, but really want to emphasize ballistic resist.  I have enough weight for 1 D4 armor and 3 D3 armors.  (we already know not to use 2 D4s, 1 D3, and 1 D2).  Since the D4T is quickest of the D4s, I use 1 D4T and 3 D3C for a total armor build time of 58.32 hrs, which is 1 hour faster than 59.4 hours to build 1 D4C, 1 D3T & 2 D3C, even though the armor points and bonuses are the same.  
I only saved you 2 gold there, but you'll take it, right?

For build time, Forsaken Plate comes in at the same build time as the fastest equivalent Drac armor (Plate 1 takes the same time as D2E).  This is a pretty good deal for the build time - since it builds faster than the equivalent resist armor.  Whether to add a piece of resist, evade, or plate armor is a difficult design choice that can depend on what you expect will be shooting at you.  
(That's a subject for that future article where I will introduce a new metric:  "Survival Time")

Thanks for reading and good luck in the raid this week!  

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Next week: As I hinted in this article a couple times, I will compare different armor mixes and how well they stand up against various weapons.