Monday, March 17, 2014

FvF Throwdown... Rays vs. MCX???

Opening notes: I wrote this article before the stats and analysis on the new Atlas & UAVs came out - I think any FvF fleet without countermeasures is in trouble, so these builds are not so well recommended at this point, particularly the MCX fleet which wouldn't be able to quickly close with a carrier.  Also about the game update - Kixeye has reduced the build time on some Forsaken Research items.  Last time my shipyard freed up, I rechecked the build times on Steel, Titanium, and Depleted Uranium armors - since I just posted an analysis of armor build times.  I found the build time on Depleted Uranium has not changed, but the build times for Steel and Titanium armors had dropped by a factor of 1.5 - 3.

My previous article about the Forsaken Mission Prize weapons got me thinking about the possibility of using MCX as a FvF ship, since the range and DPS of the Torrent missiles are in the same neighborhood as the Chaingun.

To decide if a particular ship would be any good, I really need to compare alternatives:

I'll start with a basic Stingray build loaded with Chainguns and emphasizing Evade and Firepower. 

We'll compare that to an MCX build utilizing Torrent Missiles, also emphasizing Evade and Firepower.

These two builds are fairly comparable - both will fit in a 5 ship fleet, and both are around an 11 day build.  The MCX has more Armor and Resistance, the Stingray has more Evade, Speed, and Turn.  Their weapon range is close - the Chainguns have a base range of 46, and get 50% bonus from the HB3 and 10% bonus from the hull, yielding a range of 73.6.  The Torrents have a base range of 58 and get a 25% range bonus from the Strike System3, yielding a range of 72.5.  With the ranges so close, the rays probably wouldn't be able to take advantage, unless they were driven VERY skillfully against a stationary fleet.   Looking at the Shipyard estimation of DPS, the MCX fleet is roughly double the Stingrays, although we already know that DPS does not account for many factors, including reload bonuses or any resistance or evade on the target.

So what I did to analyze these fleets was to put them both into my Survival Time calculator.  Looking at the picture below, Config 1 is a basic build allowing you to see how long each weapon would take to do 10,000 points of damage with no bonuses or resistances.  Config 2 is the MCX build, and Config 3 is the Stingray build.  

Underneath, in the weapons area, I entered the Stingray Bonuses for the Ballistic area and the MCX Bonuses in the Missile Area.
Stingray Reload: +10% Alliance, +25% Rank, +19% Stingray R4, +110% AL3 = +164% 
MCX Reload: +10% Alliance, +25% Rank +100% MCX R5 = +135%
Stingray Accuracy: +20% Alliance, +40% Stingray Hull = +60%
MCX Accuracy: +20% Alliance +60% LT3 = +80%

From the Survival Time, you can see the Torrent Missile 3s (32.2 secs) on an MCX should sink a ship much faster than the Chaingun 1s (82.5 secs) on the Stingray.  Doing some math to combine the 5 TM3 & 1 TM2 on the MCX (invert, add, and invert again), the time the MCX would take to do 10000 points of damage would be 5.9 seconds.  Doing the same calculation for the 6 CG1 & 1 CG2 on the Stingray results in a time to do 10000 points of damage of 10.3 seconds.  This means that the MCX could kill an unprotected target almost twice as fast as the Stingray.  Looking at the ships head-to-head... the MCX uses the survival times of the CGs from Config 2, and the Ray uses survival times of the TMs from Config 3.  The Stingray should last 4.9 seconds under fire from the MCX, and the MCX should last 18.5 seconds when under fire from the Stingray.  

One more consideration... the damage from each of these weapons is 'front-loaded', with the salvo fire followed by a long reload time.  The salvo time has been measured to be 0.2 seconds between shots for the chaingun (resulting in a 5.8 second salvo time for 30 shots), and I have assumed it is the same delay for the Torrent (resulting in a 3 second salvo time for 16 shots).  The reload time for both weapons is 12.5 seconds unmodified, meaning the ray has a 4.73 second reload time, resulting in a total cycle time of 10.5 seconds.  The MCX had a 18.5 second survival time, meaning the MCX would likely be sunk in the second salvo of fire from the Stingray.  The MCX would have a 5.3 second reload time, resulting an a total cycle time of 8.3 seconds.  Compared to the survival time of 4.9 seconds for the ray, this means that the Stingray is sunk within the first salvo of fire from the MCX - it won't even get to fire its second salvo!  

The table below summarizes the data from the article above.

Torrent MCXChaingun Stingray
Total Armor59654993
Combat Speed1925
Time to do 10000 Points of Damage5.9 sec10.3 sec
Survival Time Against Opponent18.5 sec4.9 sec
Weapon Total Cycle Time8.3 sec10.5 sec

 As I was writing this article, before I completed the numbers, I saw the big difference in Survival Times, but I was thinking that perhaps the Stingrays might be able to use their speed to their advantage by leaving the MCX's range during the reload time, and possibly equalizing the DPS disparity by equalizing the cycle time.  Since they can't even hold up to one salvo... this strategy wouldn't be effective.  

Of course there are plenty of other builds that might do better, and certainly the nature of Battle Pirates is that every build has a counter.  In this article, I tried to make a apples-to-apples comparison to see which fleet might do better in a FvF situation.  Many Stingray builds mix in a Rocket or a Piranha to do extreme damage when closing... this might help, but the Stingrays won't get very much time to close in.  And the MCX build could do the same thing... If you are considering something like this MCX build for an anti-reaver fleet - you'll need more turn speed.

One more thought: that MCX Torrent build would work nicely on a Mercury as well, with a build time closer to 7-8 days.  Less resistance and slower reload... but we already determined the reload might not be so critical.

Maybe I'm just spouting from an ivory tower here, so I'm going to try a new feature - a poll!  Look for the poll on the sidebar, and vote for which build you like better.

Next week: I'm thinking about trying to run a time simulation of countermeasures vs. UAVs to see what countermeasure configurations work best to protect your fleets or bases.  No promises...