Friday, May 30, 2014

Crunching the Weapon Revisions - Part 2: Missiles

OK - part 2 of the weapon changes.... Missiles.  The numbers here reflect the revision after the original post.

Source Material here:

Remember, these changes aren't in the game yet. 

Remember the colors on the chart - changes are in green, important changes are in blue.

Missiles Chart:

And the rundown:

Rapier Missile:  With the big range boost, these are becoming usable in the early game, but still not an important weapon.
Cutlass Missile:  With their poor accuracy AND poor damage, these used to be useless as soon as assault missiles were available.  Now, Cutlass match range with Assault Missiles, do more damage, and build faster.  I don't see the point of Assault Missiles anymore. (of course Hornets already made assault missiles obsolete anyway).  
Strike Missile:  The Range bump is nice because they continue to match Siege Missiles.  I always thought Strike Missiles were underrated - they do great DPS/hton for missiles, and they are getting even better.  Their drawback is that they are too light to stand up against big fleets.
Assault Missiles:  They no longer get the building damage nerf, but they are now eclipsed by Cutlass.  They take too long to build too.
Siege MIssile (E,V,A): The damage boost on the Siege Missiles means that the non-F versions of the Siege Missile will now do more building damage than the F version.  Did you work your butt off for Siege F recently?  Are you upset?  More range doesn't hurt either.
Torrent Missiles:  The big weakness on these recently released missiles is their short range, so the extra range is is a big help.
Downpour Missiles: Build time is cut, range is improved a little, and so is the damage for 1 & 2.  These are improved, but I still don't imagine we'll be seeing these too much more often.  

I'll probably combine the explosive weapons in a third post to wrap this up.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Crunching the Weapon Revisions - Part 1: Ballistics & Torpedos

Kixeye's CM Robot announced on the Kixeye Forums that the statistics for many research and blueprint weapons are going to be revised.  These changes are not implemented yet.  I don't know the schedule for the release of these gameplay changes, but I have started to crunch the numbers in preparation. Although I've run all the numbers, I'm going to break up the analysis into a few pieces because there is too much commentary to shove into a single article.  At the end of the series, I'll post my thoughts on what is going on, and what I think this means for the game.

The original post:

One day later: Post has been revised.... Article is updated.

For each article, I'll start off with a chart.  I'll show the old range, DPS, and DPS/hton numbers (fleet and building), then the new numbers.  I will also show some modified ranges & DPS/hton numbers for weapons that commonly get boosts (like HB for ballistics), to facilitate comparison across weapon classes.  For the charts, any revised statistics will be highlighted in green, and if I think those revisions are a big deal (make a difference in the weapon's usability), I will highlight in Blue.  If the name is highlighted, the build time for that weapon has been reduced, using the same green/blue coding.

So first the Ballistics Chart (updated):

So let's just rundown the weapon types:
Thud:  A little range boost keeps these the longest range ballistic weapon out there.  No damage boost means these don't even look as good as they used to.  They were always a little light to do damage against bigger targets.  Changed: Now no change to Thuds.
Ripper:  Rippers get a nice range boost but they stay the shortest range ballistic.  The small ones are very efficient, but the bigger ones still aren't too enticing.
Shredder:  A big damage boost along with the little range boost makes these intriguing again... although they always got a knock for poor accuracy, their increased damage output makes up for it, and they are extremely deadly against buildings.  Weekly missions, with their ships that don't have too high evade mixed with turret targets, might be a great use for these.
Impact Cannon: The new Impact R gets no change, but a small range boost, and all the other Impact Cannons get a range and damage boost.  Impact Cannon are now a viable alternative to Thuds, where before I'd always pick a Thud 4 over any Impact Cannon.
Assault Cannon/Disrupter: The range boost is great, and the boost to building damage isn't bad.  only the A Cannon version gets a damage boost - the DPS penalty for the extra armor points isn't as bad anymore, and might be the most attractive version (except the Disrupter) unless you are going for instant repair. 
Siege Cannon:  The biggest change is the decreased build time - all the versions except for Z are down to 28 hours from over 48.  Z got a smaller build time reduction.  Siege Cannons also get a range bump, and the X and L get more damage.  I don't think they are fundamentally more useful, but if you want them for a speed boost, the build time is not quite as outrageous.
Chaingun:  These get a small range boost, but are now equal to Shredders and Assault Cannon range, instead of longer range.  These get a damage boost making them less weakened by plate defenses, and their DPS boost brings them closer to Assault Cannons.  The best part of Chainguns has been that the big Chainguns let you use up the weight capacity of ships, where using just smaller guns like Assault Cannons might leave some weight on the table.  With the matched range, mixing Chainguns and Assault Cannons to tailor weight is an even better idea.
Crossbow:  Damage is doubled, which is a good thing.  Build time on all but the smallest is unchanged, which is not a good thing.  I'm still not sure these got enough of a buff to be useful, especially in comparison to other ballistics. 

And the Torpedo Chart (no change but I colored the Vortex M blue):

Vortex Torpedo:  With more range, these now stack up well against Havok torpedos - the M now does more DPS than a Havok 4 (quicker build too), and I always liked the T on decoy subs.  These still aren't an alternative to Assault or Siege Torps - DPS is what matters on most subs (except the occasional Barracuda), not DPS per hton.
Assault Torpedo (R, V, X):  The non-B torpedos get a damage bump, and a build time decrease.  The gap between these and the B torp is less, but you'd still rather have a B.
Siege Torpedo:  These get a big build time decrease and a big range increase.  They do significantly more damage than the B torps, but I still can't justify picking them over Bs - the speed boost is just too valuable.
Havok Torpedo: Not much change here - A little damage bump on 2 & 3, and a little build decrease on the 4.  Go look at Vortex Torpedos...

Overall - a lot of the weapons that were useless before might be useful at certain tech levels or certain situations.  Vortex Torpedos and Impact Cannons are the top two examples of this - there will be another HUGE example when I get to mortars.  I think the overall theme here is that the gap in capability between the top (prize) weapons, the findable blueprint weapons and the research weapons has been reduced.  You'll see this in the other weapon types as well.  

Next time... Missiles

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Nash vs. Harlock - what to get?

When I wrote my article about the Deathstroke raid prizes, I was very excited about Nash's Lightning Carrier, and my plan for the raid was to get 27M points, to earn 5 Nash and the new Dragonfly UAV.  I sort of ignored the Harlock as a slightly improved version of the Atlas we are already familiar with.  I followed that up with an article with an analysis of how many Dragonflys were needed to get a full debuff in a FvF situation in a reasonable amount of time, and put that info into making a Nash build.

I'll call the early reviews on the Nash carrier "mixed".  Some like them and some don't.  So as I finished my 27M points this morning, I decided to take another look at the Harlock.

I built the Harlock with the same concept as the Nash I built - 15 Dragonfly minimum, Compound Armor, Evade, Phalanx to fill up space, and I ended up with a 4 ship fleet:!705U00V0W1N1N1S0C5B191O1O1S1S1O1S1S05U00V0W1N1N1S0C5B191O1O1S1S1O1S1S05U00V0W1N1N1S0C5B191O1O1S1S1O1S1S05U00V0W1N1N1S0C5B191O1O1S1S1O1S1S0ZZ

In case you missed it - here is the link to the Nash build:!706601N1N5B0C2M0I194Q1S1S1S1O1O06601N1N5B0C2M0I194Q1S1S1S1O1O06601N1N5B0C2M0I194Q1S1S1S1O1O06601N1N5B0C2M0I194Q1S1S1S1O1O06601N1N5B0C2M0I194Q1S1S1S1O1O

This would be a 4 ship fleet - base turn on the Harlock is only 14, so I went back to Speed System instead of Engine.  Let's compare stats:

Nash's 5 fleetHarlock's 4 fleet
UAV Damage Bonus59%60%
Missile Resist61%67%
Explosive Resist35%53%
Ballistic Resist35%33%
Radioactive Resist0%40%
Combat Speed25.217.6
Turn Speed29.030.8
Ship Build Time13d 15h 38m14d 4h 44m
Fleet Build Time68d 6h 9m58d 18h 56m

I think a very interesting observation is that the built-in UAV bonus damage on the Harlock makes up for the extra special slot on the Nash.  

You can see that the Harlock fleet will hit harder, take a lot more damage, and build faster.  The only significant advantage of the Nash fleet is the speed - which is a BIG DEAL in FvF.  But in the latest raid format, a Nuke Cruiser Fleet with a 17 speed would not be a sitting duck because it could hit so hard.  UAV chaining is nice, but not a must-have.  The extra fleet slot in the Harlock could even be used for a Spectre decoy or a Superfortress cargo ship.

I'm leaning Harlock, but I'll put up a poll so I can hear what you think about it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

DeathStroke - B set tips and How many Dragonflys?

I hope your raid is going well - I've been hitting B sets and got my 10 bonuses so far (a little under 13 million points).  I'll share a few tips:

My overall strategy on the B sets has been: 

Draconian Targets (41 & 43): Use Nuke Cruisers with Launchers (my fleet's not fully armored yet, but usable).  Take out the Interdictors (keep driving until they separate), then retreat.  Send in the battery specs to finish the MCX and Nuke Cruiser - which have no sonar. 

Reaver Targets (42 & 44): I use my Vanguard (Engine Disruptor & Countermeasures) with 2 Hellstrikes.  In the 42, I retreat with just the two Enforcers remaining and send in the battery specs - take out one and retreat, then take out the other.  The 44 is tricky - I generally try to take out the small ships and the Enforcer - then sail to the left out of range of the Napalm ship and engage the Grimshine all by itself (triple napalm SUCKS).  Then I retreat and bring in the battery specs to take out the Napalm ship.  This doesn't always work too well.  I made it a little easier on myself by equipping a Molotov Maidens and hitting a bunch of 44s in a row.

Warzone (45): Back to the Nuke Cruisers - head straight for the mothership and kill it along with anything else that gets in range.  The Proto-Nemesis should be dead or mostly dead.  Sometimes you can retreat and bring in bat specs to kill off the MCX, or just finish them with the Nukes.

Overall, I find the best points/repair are the 42 & the 45... now that my bonuses are done, I may just grind on those two targets.  We'll see if I can find some easy A targets.

Dragonflys vs. Hornets:
So I was thinking about Lightning Carrier builds and the Hornets with their better DPS, and the Dragonflys with their debuff, and I wanted to determine the optimal mix.  I think what will work best is to have enough Dragonflys to get the full debuff, and the rest Hornets.  

So how many Dragonflys?  I have to make one big assumption - I'm going to guess the Dragonfly debuff lasts 10 seconds.  The max debuff is 45%, with 3% per hit, which means you'll need 15 hits x 5 ships = 75 hits to fully debuff a fleet of 5 ships.  The Dragonflys launch every 4 seconds, and hit every 1.5 seconds.  I'm not going to trot out that UAV Sim I did a while back... but I'll estimate about a 1 second flight time.  

This table shows what time we would expect hits to land for a series of Dragonfly launches:
UAV Launch 1UAV Launch 2UAV Launch 3
1st hit time159
2nd hit time2.56.510.5
3rd hit time4812
4th hit time5.59.513.5
5th hit time71115

If we sort the hits, then we can see how long it takes for a certain number of volleys to land:

And then looking at the number of Dragonflys in a fleet:
DragonflysVolleys to 75 hitsTime to 75 hits

Looking at that last table, the time to build up a full debuff isn't that much different from 25 Dragonflys to 15, but after that the time starts to drop off, and at 5 Dragonflys, you probably won't ever build up a full debuff.

So my Lightning Build: 

Good luck Pirates!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Deathstroke - Analysis of New Prizes and What to Get

OK Pirates - Sorry for the long duration between posts. Between work travel and a little lull in story ideas, I haven't been able to churn anything out.  I expect my long duration between posts to continue through the summer.  I do want to do a piece on getting rank for ships, but we'll see when we can work that in.  Realistically, I don't expect it until after Memorial Day (end of May for you non-US readers).

So Deathstroke.  There's a lot of griping going on about the raid format, bonus caps on B & C, and the limited blueprints.  I'm not going to weigh in here with my opinions - I'll stick to analysis and let you guys decide how you want to play this game, including how much you want to coin. 

Video Link:

Raid info on Forums:

Dragonfly UAV
I'll start with the new Dragonfly UAV, and compare its weapon stats to the Hornet UAV.

StatisticHornet UAVDragonfly UAV
 Fleet Damage66.0110.0
Building Damage33.055.0
Reload Time2.04.0
Swarm Duration3.26.2
UAV Reload0.61.5
Weight (Shipyard 2)479595
Damage TypePenetrativeBallistic
Fleet DPS198137.5
Fleet DPS/hton41.423.1
(building DPS is cut in half - see my Dragonfly article for method of calculating DPS on UAVs)

So in comparison, the Dragonfly has shorter (but still very good) range, more weight, less DPS, and takes longer to do its damage (look at the longer swarm duration).  It also has a longer reload time, making it more susceptible to countermeasures, and a higher damage per shot, making Plate armor less useful as a defense.

The Dragonfly has an ace in the hole though - its special ability to inflict a debuff: -3% accuracy and +3% spread.  Considering how many UAVs a fleet of carriers can launch, and the number of shots each of these UAVs will output, I can see a fleet that is under attack by these beasties being very quickly unable to hit anything.  Their DPS/hton value is pretty poor for base hitting, but I think these would be very effective in a FvF setting.  This brings me to the... 

Lightning Carrier, Nash's Lightning, Harlock's Atlas
Looking at the slot configuration, the new Lightning Carrier is like a Stingray with five Launch Pads.  One question I have is how many launch pads - I don't see a confirmation it will have all 7 weapon slots being launch capable, and looking at the video, I can only see 5 UAVs mounted on the Lightnings.  But let's look at the statistics:

StatisticStingray (R5)Lightning CarrierNash's LightningAtlas CarrierHarlock's Atlas
Weapon Slots77788
Armor Slots22244
Special Slots44433
Max Weight5,2506,2006,20014,24514,245
Base Armor1,4931,4931,4936,0956,095
Combat Speed1614141111
Turn Speed2419291414
UAV Damage-+19%+39%+30%+60%
Ballistic Range+10%+10%+19%--
Ballistic Reload+19.9%+30%+60%--
Evade Bonus+30%0+20%-10%+10%
(weapon resistances not shown)

The new Lightning Carriers even have some ballistic bonus.  So how would you use these?

At 14 speed, I think the Lightning Carrier addresses the biggest problem when trying to use the Atlas in FvF - Speed.  With 14 speed it can be upgraded to go quite fast, and UAVs won't even suffer an accuracy penalty.  I haven't tried any ship designs, but fitting all 7 weapon slots with UAVs would probably result in weight problems anyway, so this might be a good use for the new Impact R - mostly for the defensive buff.  I think I would try to outfit these with a mix of Hornets and Dragonflys to tailor weight and anti-ship capability.  Overall - this should be a very effective FvF platform, especially when combined with the Dragonfly.

Nash's Lightning and Harlock's Atlas add UAV damage and Evade to their normal versions, along with being able to 'randomly' launch a special UAV version.  Kamikaze, Marathon, and Pinch all seem like effective upgrades to the UAV abilities, but without knowing any probabilities or details of the benefits, I can't analyze it much more than being able to say "looks cool".

These new carriers with Dragonfly UAVs may also be effective as escort ships for other ships - using the UAVs to weaken enemies and the remaining ships to go for the kill - it will take some careful fleet tailoring to come up with good combos, but they may be effective as well.

So what should I get?
I think the first priority should be the D92U Launcher.  These weapons are very effective in many situations - base hitting, raids, and FvF, and if you missed them the first time around, don't do that again.  They are effective on many different hulls as well (MCX and Stingrays are two of my favorites to see), so don't fret if you don't have the Nuclear Cruiser... take them anyway.

Dragonfly and the Lightning Carrier - these are going to be great in open water fights.   I know players who did very well with Atlases last raid in open water, and these should be even better in that sort of situation.  As an interesting thought - if you can get enough points for 4 or 5 of Nash's Lightning Carrier, you may consider skipping the regular Lightning, since you probably won't need more than one fleet of Lightnings, and the regular version has no advantages.  Harlock's Atlas is also a nice ship, but I think each player will need to evaluate their own fleet needs before calling it a 'must have'.

Other prizes to consider:  
Tier 4: Javelin, Speed System 3, Strike System 3, Siege Mortar B, Shockwave Q, Assault Mortar X
Tier 3: Countermeasures 3, Phalanx 2, Hailstorm C, DU Shells 3 (use with Javelins), Halo
Tier 2: D3-E Armor, Hailstorm B
Tier 1: D2-E Armor, D2-V armor, Hailstorm A

Good luck Pirates - Happy Hunting!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

New Mission Items - Lead Panels and Impact Cannon R

Yes, Kixeye put out new items in the Forsaken Mission starting today.  Lead Panels provide Radioactive and Stun resistance for base turrets, and the Impact Cannon R is a new weapon that has statistics that make it look more like a Thud 5 than another Impact Cannon.  Let's run some numbers.

Lead Panels
With their Radioactive resistance, the hope here would be that these defensive weapons would slow down Nuclear Cruisers.  In general, a NC fleet will destroy a base turret by concentrating two volleys of launcher fire onto the turret, cause damage from the launcher hits, and then the shockwave triggered by the second volley will destroy the turret.  This rhythm allows NCs to get into bases and barely slow down, unless you have some high evade guard ships that force the NCs to stop longer.  This makes weapons like VMs, Halos, and Brimstones mostly useless against the NCs (or even other launcher-armed base fleets).

So the question is - will the addition of Lead Panels cause the turret to be able to stand up longer and make those NCs stop?  I'll look at two scenarios - one with 25 launchers (5 ship x 5 launchers), and one with 32 (4 ship x 8 launchers).  I think that's pretty much the worst case scenario... I could imagine a base fleet having 35 launchers, but it would be pretty lightly armored.  

The following tables show the damage buildup over time for the two example fleets:

25 Launcher Fleet
Turret Level 4 Health = 10800(Elite NC fleet) Time:25 Launchers
No Panels
25 Launchers
Lead 1 (30%)
25 Launchers
Lead 2 (40%)
25 Launchers
Lead 3 (50%)
Volley 1 - Salvo 10500350300250
Salvo 20.11000700600500
Salvo 30.215001050900750
Salvo 40.32000140012001000
Volley 2 - Salvo 11.710364725562185182
Salvo 21.810864760565185432
Salvo 31.9795568185682
Salvo 42.0830571185932
Volley 3 - Salvo 13.3865574186182
Salvo 23.4145101243710364
Salvo 33.510614
Salvo 43.610864

32 Launcher Fleet
Turret Level 4 Health = 10800(Elite NC fleet) Time:32 Launchers
No Panels
32 Launchers
Lead 1 (30%)
32 Launchers
Lead 2 (40%)
32 Launchers
Lead 3 (50%)
Volley 1 - Salvo 10640448384320
Salvo 20.11280896768640
Salvo 30.2192013441152960
Salvo 40.310424729762545212
Volley 2 - Salvo 11.711064774566385532
Salvo 21.8819370225852
Salvo 31.9864174066172
Salvo 42.0145941250910424
Volley 3 - Salvo 13.310744
Salvo 23.411064

 So what does all this tell us?  First of all, I was surprised to see that the 32 launcher fleet does not kill a turret with the first shockwave - it takes a few more hits to do it.  Against the lighter launcher fleet, any Lead Panel pushes the turret destruction from the second volley into the third volley.  Against the heavier launcher fleet, Lead Panels 1 or 2 pushes the turret destruction only fractionally - into the end of the same volley, but the Lead Panel 3 pushes the turret destruction into the third volley.

So are the Lead Panels worth it?  They will delay the launcher fleets, but certainly not stop them cold.  If you are able to reach Tier 4 in Forsaken Missions, Panel 3 is worth waiting for over the lower level panels, but Lead 2 does not give any noticeable upgrade over Lead 1 against the types of fleets we usually see.  Overall, I wouldn't refit every front-line turret with these Panels - most of my cerbs are using one of the drac base prize specials by now. But I might fit one or two of these just to mess with the nukes a little more.

Impact Cannon R

Up at the start of this article, I said the Impact Cannon R looked more like a Thud 5 than a Impact Cannon - let's look at the statistics and see why.

Impact LThud 4Impact R
Fleet Dmg100150238
Bldg Dmg150262714

It's really the range and the big multiplier on building damage.  If you look at the other lower level Thuds, it sort of follows their progression.

But what we really want to know is how good it is.  The best thing about this weapon... it weighs exactly 100 tons, so its DPS/ht is EQUAL to its DPS.  Well, maybe it's only me that thinks that is cool.

Fleet DPS/hTBld DPS/hT
Impact R39.7238.0
Thud 456.9142.0
Assault Z58.458.4
Impact L27.562.5
Ripper 439.0113.7
Chain 125.035.7

It's not bad in terms of efficiency - I think a lot of people are wondering if they should replace their assault cannons.  The short answer is not for FvF - the Impact Cannon R damage is decent but not great, and remember it is lighter.  The new Impact has a few things going for it - the building damage is great, and it also brings 50 armor points (meh) and +3% resist against Missile, Ballistic, and Explosive damage.  It can be retrofit for additional gains too, but I wouldn't make it a top priority.

Where is it useful?   The first thing that comes to mind is to use it on fleets that auto low-level Forsaken Mission targets.  The ship damage is adequate, and the building damage is great.  Just make sure you aren't leaving a bunch of fleet weight on the table if comparing it against heavier guns like assault cannons or chainguns.  Unfortunately, the players that could use this gun the most (that don't have good alternatives) probably aren't able to get to Tier 4 on the missions.  I wouldn't depend on these in FvF - their accuracy is too low.  These might come in handy on ships with a little spare weight and a spare weapon slot - the defensive bonus is what you'd really be looking for.

Happy sailing - let me know if you have any article requests - I'm a little tapped out at the moment!