Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New Forsaken Mission Item - Crossbow

First some general stuff:
Thanks to for the mention of my last article on the UAV Simulation - I got ten times my normal traffic on that article.  For you new readers, I try to post a weekly "Monday Morning Analysis."  If you liked it, you can use the Blog subscribe tools at the bottom of the page. I also try to post a quick analysis & opinion article when new items are released.  This article falls in that category.

Also with the UAV Simulation, I had intended for that spreadsheet to be usable by the readers as embedded on the page.  Last night I realized that it was not, and I was able to fix that this morning.  If you want to run some of your own scenarios, go back to the article and try it.

If you saw my initial cut at this article - I had it kind of wrong - I thought the damage decayed by 40% with every successive target the shot passed through - this is not the case.  The danger of trying to get a quick reaction article.  I'm still not 100% sure if this article is correct.  The description in the briefing, "
the projectile will travel to its maximum range dealing its full damage" does not match with the description "Every object it passes through reduces its damage slightly".

ANOTHER UPDATE: The damage definitely drops off as the shot passes through walls.  An alli mate of mine was kind enough to refit a Crossbow 2 onto a SCX & we ran a test looking how the weapon pierces four walls to get to a targeted warehouse. 


I'll try to keep this article up to date as I analyze the video and try to figure out how the damage drops off.

Crossbow Overview:
With this week's Forsaken Mission, the Crossbow has been released as a Tier 2 (Crossbow 1) and Tier 3 prize (Crossbow 2).  With the smaller Crossbow on Tier 2, I think lots of players will be winning the Crossbow 1 (at least) this week.  The Crossbow is a Forsaken, ship mounted weapon.  It is not the "Reaver Javelin" that some were expecting (that sounds more like a raid prize anyway).

Crossbow 2

When I read the description of the prize, my thought was... "How the F*** am I gonna analyze this???"  The difficult part is that the weapon deals additional pierce damage beyond its initial hit.  I'll compute my usual weapon metric of DPS/100t, and compare it to the alternatives.  Then I'll make some assumptions about some scenarios, and run a few more numbers, and we'll see what we get.

First of all, the key to understanding this weapon is to understand how the damage is done.

From the Mission Briefing:

"This Long Range Forsaken cannon requires ships its mounted on to be completely stopped before firing. This Cannon, will deal damage in a line to anything that its projectile passes through, as it hurls Heavy Shells at extreme speeds thanks to high power electromagnetic rails. The Cannon has a maximum firing range of 49 and a minimum range of 30. After shooting, the projectile will travel to its maximum range dealing its full damage. Once it reaches its maximum range, the projectile will then travel to its pierce range distance, dealing less damage to a maximum of 40% less damage. It is not possible to extended the Pierce Range of the weapon, but it is possible to extend the maximum range of the weapon through the use of Hardened Barrels."

(my emphasis) 

Some of you might have seen the first iteration of this article - I initially thought that the damage would be reduced by 40% for each successive target that is hit.  Based on the description above, all the targets within the max range that are in the line of fire will receive full damage.  Then any targets in-line in the additional pierce range (52), will take some amount of damage between 100% and 60% of the full damage.

Crossbow DPS/100T:
The numbers below compare the expected damage per weight of the Crossbow against some other weapons that we are familiar with, that might be used in similar situations.  This does not account for pierce or splash enabling multiple target hits - I'll get to that later.

WeaponBase RangeFleet DPS/hTBld DPS/hTWall DPS/hT
Crossbow 1495.514.453.7
Crossbow 2495.414.253.0
Siege Cannon W409.539.7103.2
Siege Cannon Z4013.372.272.2
Assault Cannon X4252.152.152.1
Chaingun 34623.333.333.3
Thud 44956.9142.0142.0
Inferno Rocket5816.621.921.9

This chart shows that:
  • The Crossbow is NOT an effective anti-ship weapon against a single target
  • Without accounting for its piercing ability, it isn't a very good anti-building weapon
  • It might be effective against walls
  • The Crossbow 1 & Crossbow 2 are very similar in DPS/100t.  Use the larger one if you can in order to save weapon slots.
So with characteristics like this, the weapon seems suited to mix in on a base blitzer fleet.  It might be suitable for anti-ship - if you can count on your enemy stacking up, the damage should be multiplied by 5.  Note that its minimum range might be a problem in true FvF battles.

So if I want to build a fleet utilizing the strengths of the Crossbow, I think the concept would be to mount enough of them to pierce walls, and allow the rest of the weapons to go straight to shooting the turret. Any extra damage from being in piercing range I'll consider gravy.  So... 

Crossbows Piercing Walls: (Needs revision - the crossbow will not one-shot through multiple walls)
I'll use the published Crossbow characteristics to try to figure out how many I need to pierce a reasonable number of walls, and then see if I can build a decent blitz fleet around that.

The Level 2 Crossbow does 3968 damage against walls, and a level 6 wall has 10395 health.  This means that three Crossbow 2s that target a turret behind a wall will be able to destroy all the walls between the ship and the turret with one shot, opening a hole for other ballistic or rocket weapons to attack the turret directly.  With a Crossbow 1 (2509 damage), 5 weapons are required to destroy a Level 6 wall. 

Also note that those 3 Crossbow 2s will do 3 * (968 + 96) = 3192  damage to the turret that was targeted, which is about 30% of the health of a Level 4 turret. (there will be damage done to the turret behind, but it will be degraded)

To compare - 7 Siege Cannon W hits are required to destroy a Level 6 wall, and since those walls block splash, 7 hits will be required for each layer of wall.  Although the Siege Cannons will open a wider hole due to their splash, the Crossbows will cut right through multiple wall layers.

Fleet Design:
I think there are two possible ways to go on a blitz fleet these days - SCX and Hellstrike.  The SCX has the Ballistic bonuses, but the Hellstrike has greater resistances and an extra special slot.Starting with the SCX, I will use the option with 5 Crossbow 1s, and put one on each ship in a 5 ship fleet.

Now these fleets won't work quite as advertised - the crossbows mounted will only pierce one wall layer per shot.  

The Diplomat 4 (516t) stands in for the Crossbow 1 (500t), since it isn't in the Shipyard yet.

Siege Cannon Z are used to give this fleet some punch.  Cannon System 3 gets the reload and range bonus in one special slot, leaving slots for Speed System 3 and CX-3.  Compound Plate 4 gives a lot of armor points for the weight.  Thuds are there for filler... a Phalanx 1 would be a good choice as well.  

This design results in a range of 49 +35% (CS3) + 20% (SCX) = 76 for the Crossbow and 40+55% = 62 for the Siege Cannons.

One more design tip - this usually doesn't matter, but put the Crossbow in the front of your ship, so those shots are sure to arrive first.

Driving it would be interesting - you'd have to target the turret, stop & fire the Crossbows, then start moving again to close range enough to let the Siege Cannons fire.  Hopefully they fire through the hole the Crossbows made, and hopefully they haven't fired at something else - forcing you to wait for reload.  The stop-start technique this would require is not ideal for blitzers, which usually don't want to stop and get hit by Mortar and Brimstone-type base defenses.  Another consideration is that careful targeting would be required in order to avoid wasting shots.  

A build like this on a Dreadnaught might be deadly as well - the extra special would allow Hardened Barrel and Autoloader to be used instead of Cannon System.  Agility System would be really nice to have as well.

Basically, any ballistic blitz fleet laying around might benefit from having a refit to add 5 Crossbow 1s instead of some current weapons.

For Hellstrikes - a carefully designed Crossbow ship could be used to escort and open holes for Hellstrikes carrying Infernos, or a one Crossbow 2 could be mounted on each of three Hellstrikes. 

I'll try the escort concept on a Hellstrike - I need to have the Crossbow range to be just over 63.8 (inferno range), meaning that I need at least a 30.2% range boost to get my Crossbow from 49 range to 64.  This means I end up choosing 35% from Cannon System 3.

For a Hellstrike Escort I end up with:

Full Hellstrike Fleet link: Kind of a quick build - I could increase the armor or even squeeze in a 7th Inferno. 

You could also try a few other types of hulls to be a Crossbow clearer, but if you want it to be out front of a blitz fleet - it will certainly have to be capable of taking punishment.  An SCX might be a decent match for the Hellstrikes.   

Other Thoughts:
On ships with HB3, and adding in the extra piercing range, you could theoretically do damage at very long distances with this weapon.  But you'll have to get the geometry right... you need a target in range, and then your longer range target has to be in the piercing range and directly behind that first in-range target.  I don't think people are going to be reaching out and touching Outposts with this or anything.

Guard fleets might be able to make use of this, as base fleets tend to stack up.  Putting these on Goliaths gives them Thud range... but their actual damage output isn't very high against ships either, so attackers would be best off treating Crossbow Goliaths about the same way as Thud Goliaths... IGNORE.

Verdict on the Crossbow:
This weapon looks like a great addition for blitz fleets, if well thought out and well driven.  Any ballistic blitz fleet gathering dust might benefit from refitting some of these.

For FvF, you'll need your enemy to stack up and stay at your desired range... I would be very cautious about using this in open water FvF battles.