Thursday, July 31, 2014

New Mission Prizes - Countermeasure Loaders, Scarab UAV

And to continue catching up with the new content, I'll look over the new Countermeasure Loaders special, and the Scarab UAV.

Countermeasure Loaders:
This new special is fairly simple - it combines countermeasure improvements with a reload bonus.  At a glance, I thought the CM improvements were the same as Countermeasure Equipment 3, but they aren't.  I'll chart it:

CM LoaderCM Equip 3CM Equip 2
Weapon Weight6%9%6%
Anti-Mort Range40%50%30%
Anti-Mort Accuracy30%20%15%
Anti-Miss Range40%50%30%
Anti-Miss Accuracy30%40%30%
Pen/Ball/Mort/Rocket/Radio Loader Bonus10%NoNo
Build Time w/Officer1d 38m1d 38m16h 53m

There's a few tradeoffs here when comparing the CM Loader to CM Equipment 3, so I'll make a Pros/Cons list:

CM Loader Pros:
  • Less weight (based on weapon weight, I always thought CM wasn't very heavy anyway)
  • Better anti-mortar accuracy (Appreciated, I think Hailstorm Accuracy is pretty poor even with CM)
  • Loader Bonus (10% reload bonus for 6% weight helps DPS per ton a little, but other weapon buffs do better)

CM Loader Cons:
  • Less Range (with base range of 28 or 30, the 10% range difference doesn't mean much anyway)
  • Less Anti Missile Accuracy (with a Phalanx 3, CM3 anti-missile accuracy is REALLY GOOD, maybe good enough with 10% less)

CM Loader Tie:
  • Build time is the same 
Overall, I like the CM Loader compared to the older CM Equipment 3.  The extra Mortar Accuracy makes up for the lower Anti-Missile accuracy, and 10% extra fire rate is appreciated.  But you also need to consider when this special will be used most effectively:

Triton Countermeasure ship in base guard: Here, the small range difference might be a factor, but having better anti-mortar accuracy is also important.  The Loader bonus probably doesn't help, since the best weapon choice for the Triton is UAVs.  I would lean toward using the CM Loader in this case since mortars are more of a threat these days, but I wouldn't exactly rush to refit any existing ships with CM Equipment

Enforcer Countermeasure ship in base guard: Some Enforcer builds I've seen will combine launchers with hailstorms as a weapon loadout.  With 4 specials to use, and the reload bonus helping the launchers, CM Loader is a special to consider for this ship.

Dedicated CM ship escorting a fleet: The most common use for dedicated CM ships are for Forsaken missions, where the main threat is missiles.  Here the extra accuracy of the CM Equipment 3 comes into play, because missiles are the main threat as long as you keep moving, and I would stick with CM Equipment 3

Ship build combining CM and weapons: Back when the Mercury was a popular hull, a popular build used 2 Siege Missile, 2 Strike Missile and 2 Hail/Phalanx, along with Strike System, Evade/Armor special, and CM Equipment as the specials.  For this type of build, CM Loader is a much better choice.  But I don't see this type of build too often anymore - even on Launcher ships with some CM, you will usually see Engine, Armor, and Evade specials instead of a Countermeasure special.  For a build dedicated to Forsaken Missions (like the Mercury I described above), you may want to use this special, but if you are planning to hit bases, CM Loader probably isn't the best use of a special slot, and a defensive special (resist or evade) would serve better.

Scarab UAV:
The first thing to note about the Scarab is that it is the first UAV to show up in the Forsaken Missions, instead of being a Raid prize.  This is similar to the Impulse Launcher S, which I reviewed as "not very good" when compared to the other Launcher choices.  I was expecting the same thing out of the Scarab, but I'll look at the numbers to see:

Building Damage33.055.0158.6
Reload Time2.04.04.5
Swarm Duration3.26.26.2
UAV Reload0.61.51.2
Weight (Shipyard 2)479595453
Damage TypePenetrativeBallisticExplosive
Fleet DPS198137.5162.7
Fleet DPS/hton41.423.135.9
Building DPS99.068.8211.5
Building DPS/hton20.711.646.7

So... I'm very impressed with the Scarab.  Its Fleet DPS and DPS per weight isn't quite up to the Hornet (but in the same neighborhood), but the building DPS (and DPS per hton) is double.  That 46.7 is in the same DPS neighborhood as launchers - although the nature of how UAVs do damage means that you won't take down a turret as fast as with UAVs as with launchers.

Other considerations: 
  • The slower reload of the Scarab make it more susceptible to countermeasures.  
  • The Scarab does Explosive damage type, which many hulls have fairly good resistance against, and Compound Armor has the highest resistance (subtraction) against Explosive
  • Range is slightly less than the Hornet, but not really enough to make a difference unless you want every bit of sniping capability - you can mix UAVs and have all UAVs be in range when you click on a target and let your ships move to it.
  • The Swarm Duration combined with the UAV reload means that the Scarab gets 6 hits per UAV launched, like a Hornet, instead of 5 hits like a Dragonfly.  (remember it hits at T=0)
  • The Dragonfly looks terrible in comparison, but the weapon debuff it inflicts can be powerful.
  • The Scarab gives extra range for chaining, which is an ability like missile retargeting that goes with the UAV Powercell special.  Chaining is sort of broken, in that the chaining range is much longer than the published range anyway, so I don't see this ability as an advantage.
So overall, the Scarab is a very effective all-around UAV, and probably the go-to choice for base hitting.  If you use your UAV fleets for base hitting (or missions), it may even be a good candidate for refits.  So unlike the Impulse Launcher S (where I would still recommend going after the F launcher in raids after getting the S), if this is the only UAV you can get, be happy with it, and you really don't have to prioritize picking up the other UAVs in raids.  The Hornet is still a little better for base defense, although mixing in a Scarab or two wouldn't be bad if you are worried about attackers running Penetrative Plate.

One more note about the Scarab - on the blueprint, there is a statistic for wall damage - Robot confirmed that was an error, since UAVs do not target walls.