Sunday, August 31, 2014

BP for Noobs part 3 - Base defense

OK as promised, I'll put up an article for base defense for the new players.

I'm going to focus on defense at Outpost Level 3 and Level 4.  At Level 2, you don't really have enough land to put any sort of these techniques together, and you really shouldn't be there for long anyway.

Right now with a day and a half left on my bubble, I am Level 29 with Outpost 4, Level 7 Weapons Lab, Level 7 Naval Lab, and 3 Level 7 Warehouses.  I have 5 Level 3 turrets, 7 Level 2 (and I plan to get at least 2 more to Level 3 before I lose my bubble).

So to break down base defense in Battle Pirates, you must understand the three types of turrets: Long Range, Short Range, and Defensive.  There is no "Best" turret, and a base defense will not work (maybe sometimes, but not often) if it tries to depend on only a single type of turret.

Long Range Turrets: These are intended to be the real damage dealers to enemy fleets.  These turrets are the Sentinel Missile and the Victory Mortar.  The Sentinel is an aimed weapon that fires a damaging missile at enemy ships.  Low level players will depend on the Sentinel much more than high level - you usually won't see this turret in high level bases.  The Victory Mortar fires a salvo of mortar shells, doing splash damage in an area.  This can damage all ships in the attacking fleet simultaneously if they are stacked up (which base attackers usually are), but moving fleets can often outrun the shells.

Short Range Turrets: The short range turrets can do even more damage than the long range turrets, but most base attack weapons (mortars and missiles) will outrange them.  The Howitzer is a rapid fire ballistic weapon that aims shots at a single target.  The Cerberus is a rocket platform firing a salvo of rockets at close range.  The Cerberus is extremely destructive, and a sure fire way for a novice to lose their base fleet is to drive into range of a Cerberus.  "Red means stop!"

The way short range weapons work is that they force the attacking fleet to stop outside the turret's range in order to avoid taking the damage.  A smart base layout will figure out the places where an attacker must stop, and place long range turrets so that they can fire at those spots.  The best way to estimate range is to use a Howitzer.  Its range is slightly shorter than most base attack weapons, so click on the gun, look at the red circle showing its range, then figure base attack fleets will stop near, but outside of that circle.  You can (temporarily) move the howitzer around to see the stop points for different turret locations.

Defensive Turrets: Flak turrets defend against missiles.  Each shot of a flak turret gives some splash, so it will take out incoming missiles across a small area.  Bombard turrets defend against mortars, so the bombard shots will blunt the damage from an incoming mortar attack.  None of these defensive turrets is perfect, they can get overwhelmed by sustained fire, but their purpose is to slow down attackers even more by forcing them to take more time to destroy the turrets.

I'll post pictures of an Outpost 3 and an Outpost 4 layout to try to illustrate some principles of base defense.

My Outpost 3 design (never tested):

Since I knew I could reach OP 4 before my bubble popped, I never finished my weapons while using this base design.  The basic idea of this base is that the front row of turrets would be short range turrets, and the back row would be long range.  The double wall really helps against ballistic fleets, which are sometimes used for base hits by low level players (not so often at high levels).

I protected only the warehouses and the Outpost on land.  My dock is also in a fairly well protected area.  Although it would be snipable by players with tech like SFB3 Assault Missiles, Launchers, or UAVs, other players around level 28 would not have the capability.

This base design certainly has some weaknesses - the double row of turrets means that splash (mortars) that are directed at the first row of turrets may also damage the second row.  Also, the placement of the outpost means that ships don't have to go all the way around the channel and island to reach the outpost - it could be reached from just halfway down the entrance channel.  

My Outpost 4 design makes use of more land, and is a more generally solid design:

The short range, long range, and defensive turrets are placed in order to work together.

This picture shows the turret ranges.  I drew a line to highlight the first Howitzer's range circle.  A ship stopping to shoot at that Howitzer outside its range circle will be in range of 3-4 of my Victory Mortars.  As a fleet moves further in, it will come into range of the fifth VM and also the Sentinel.  

My defensive turrets are placed centrally to cover the maximum number of turrets, and are not exposed to early fire.

The bombard range is fairly short, but will improve to the forward Cerberus turret once I add Enhanced Propulsion:

Flak turrets have better range - this flak can cover all of my short range turrets, and even two more on the center island.

You can also see I used a guard fleet - since I have advanced through the early game so quickly, I haven't had time to build a decent guard fleet, which should consist of heavily armored ships with long range weapons.  The longships really show where you COULD put guard ships in this base design.  Mortars would work best, since you probably don't have good enough specials at Level 30 to let Missiles match the range of Mortars.  Mortars will also add to the volume of shells being fired, which will help overwhelm any anti-mortar defenses that the attackers may carry.

So let's see how this base works in action:

Chrissy had taken some damage prepping the other side of my base - a Thud Battlecruiser did that to her lead ship.  She makes two mistakes going in - one is that she doesn't take the time at the outset to stack her fleet up (press up arrow to select all ships, then click a spot).  The other is that she presses ahead into the short range turrets.  You can see this at 1:18, where the lead ship stops outside the howitzer range, and it looks like she is waiting to stack up.  But she realizes she is already being fired at by the Victory Mortars, so she presses ahead.  Eventually you can see the mortar fire take out her trailing ships (starting at 1:33).  When spread out like that, the mortars that fire on the lead ship will tend to hit the ones in the rear, even if you are moving.  After that she keeps going, and the Sentinel and the Cerberus finish her off.

I hope this helps to introduce a little bit about base defense for the new players.  Watch your playbacks, look for what worked and what didn't, and make adjustments.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Forsaken Mission items - Assault Missile Z, Magnus Drive, Gargoyle Turret

Now that we all had last week to catch up with the new Forsaken Mission items, Kixeye has released three new items:  The Assault Missile Z, the Magnus Drive special for subs, and the Gargoyle Turret for base defense.  I'll give each of them a once over... even a chart.

See the post on Kixeye here:

Assault Missile D33-Z
Back when Seawolves ruled the seas, the Assault Missile used to be the premier anti-ship weapon.  I had this SW build - 2 Assault missiles, 3 Rippers.... I called it the "Spring Surprise". Now the Assault Missile is mostly an afterthought.  Even when MCX were the best ship around, Siege Missile MCX builds tended to do better against ships (particularly Drac ships in events) than Assault Missiles.  These days, Launchers and UAVs are the best long range weapons against ships.

There are two big questions when looking at this weapon:
  • Is it competitive with UAVs and Launchers?
  • Will it "rescue" the Kodiak hull?
The Chart: (sorry for the big chart - lots of weapons to compare to this time)

Assault Missile Z w/SFB3Achilles Missile B w/SFB3Cutlass 4 w/SFB3Assault Missile C w/SFB3Siege Missile F w/SFB3Torrent Missile 3 w/SFB3Impulse Launcher F (no special)Hornet UAV (no Special)
Bldg Damage3451,0006681509001,914972198
Bonus Damage75003714866900
Reload Time4.
Weight +Special (Shipyard 2)6729528116721,344665970479
Bonus Armor05000015003000
Fleet DPS57.237.541.834.271.8186.0262.6198
Fleet DPS/hton8.
Building DPS105.0125.083.545.6209.6206.6473.399.0
Building DPS/hton15.613.110.36.815.631.148.820.7
Build Time (w Off)?1d10h12m10h43m11h59m1d11h37m17h26m1d2h16m15h28m
Flak Evade0%0%0%0%25%0%n/a0%
Penetrative Bypass0%30%0%0%0%0%0%0%
(9/1 note: I had the reload time incorrect on the Cutlass 4.  This has been corrected along with the DPS.)

The Assault Missile Z is clearly a step up from the previous Assault Missiles, but that was expected.  It also compares favorably in efficiency to the Siege Missile (even against buildings).  The Achilles continues to look bad next to any other modern weapon (and even the Cutlass 4 post-update), and the Penetrative Bypass won't save it.  The Assault Z actually stacks up fairly closely to the Cutlass 4, which really says more about how much the Cutlass was improved with the weapon update. 

Next to the Launcher and the UAV, the Assault Missile Z still falls short - putting the Assault Z on  a hull with 100% reload will double the DPS, but you're still better off with the Launcher and UAV weapons.

If you're looking for a use for the Kodiaks, the Assault Missile Z is at least a decent option - all the weapon slots will come in handy when mounting 600 ton weapons. As a base prep weapon, the range will be nice, and it will probably be effective on the PvE Draconian targets.  The missile advantages of retargetability and underwater capability shouldn't be totally discounted either.  This missile would also be a nice fit for the Mercury or the Sea Scorpion A, although players depending on those hulls probably aren't reaching Tier 4 yet.

Magnus Drive:
This special combines a Speed upgrade with Cloaking capability.  The speed upgrade is the same as Engine 3, with a reduced accuracy penalty, and the cloak efficiency is 50% instead of 60%.  The biggest advantage is that the Magnus Drive only takes one special slot instead of two.
Magnus DriveEngine 3 + Cat Drive 3Speed System 3 + Cat Drive 3
Total Weight19%28%25%
Combat Speed80%80%60%
Map Speed50%50%50%
Cloak Efficiency50%60%60%
Build Time w/Officer?19h 35m19h 35m
Special Slots122

This is clearly a great upgrade to use, unless you really think you will need the extra 10% cloaking efficiency.  Spectres will benefit from this the most, because they only have 2 special slots.  Nighthawk builds will be able to get more creative - most currently use Speed, Cat Drive, and Battery.  Now, with Magnus Drive and Battery, Nighthawks could add Concussive Warhead for more damage, Sonar to help in the underwater battles, or even another Speed Upgrade. Barracudas could be built similarly, but might have more of an issue with ship weight.

Gargoyle Turret:
This turret acts like a Cerberus, but does concussive damage, and will also damage submerged targets.

Compared to a Cerberus 4:
GargoyleCerberus 4
Submerged Dam3,8880
Cycle Time6.54.5
Fleet DPS283.6426.7
Damage TypeConcussiveExplosive

It is intended to destroy detected subs.  I have one major concern for this use - the very tight spread and low splash of the Gargoyle.  Subs moving at 20+ combat speed might have a chance of outrunning the projectiles from this turret, especially if moving in a straight line.   This is something we'll have to see in practice.

Right now the most reliable way to stop subs in a base is to use a Subsonic Cavitator on an Arbiter (or Vanguard) to force them to surface.  The addition of the Gargoyle gives players an option to use Sonar or Thermal Detection in conjunction with the Turret.  However, with Magnus Drive, Spectres and Nighthawks will be cloaked much more often, so I wouldn't trust using sonar in most situations, and it is likely that a player will need to use a Viper Interdictor (or some other future hull with Thermal Detection) with this turret.  Forcing the subs to turn around the outside of this turret while in detection range (just like when using a Subsonic Cavitator) might work better, and give the subs less chance of outrunning the projectiles.

I looked at specials to use with this turret.  The Fire Support Platform X adds 30% to projectile velocity, (as well as explosive reload increase and explosive damage decrease).  But, I'm not sure whether the projectile velocity increase will apply to this weapon - that is a Kixeye question.  No other turret specials affect Concussive turrets, so Insulated Panels (preventing a pinch) or some sort of defensive special would likely be best.

I was also hopeful that this turret would be good against blitzing base fleets like Hellstrikes that have high explosive damage resistance - most base attack fleets have zero concussive resistance.  However with the tight splash & low spread, I would be concerned about base fleets outrunning these projectiles as well.

Overall, I don't think this turret is a sure thing for sub defense.  It will need to be placed carefully, and used in conjunction with the right guard ship(s).  We'll also have to wait and see how easily fast fleets can outrun its projectiles.

Battle Pirates for Noobs, Part 2 - the BB-A

One correction from my last article - it looks like the shipyard build time in the Armor Games platform is the "with officer" time.  However, the repair time is still the "no officer" time.

So I'm a couple more days in on the new Armor Games account, and I'm starting to get a clearer picture of what I need to be doing to be ready for when my bubble drops.

Base Upgrading:
The most important thing to keep busy during your first week of "bubble" time is your construction (building upgrades).  I want to have Outpost level 4, and my Turrets (bases) to level 3, by the time my bubble drops.  I also want guns on my turrets - hopefully level 3.  To support that, I'm getting my Naval Yard and 3 Warehouses to Level 7.  As soon as the Naval Yard hit level 7, I researched Titanium 3, to enable my turrets to be upgraded to level 3.

At first, you want to research everything.  Around Level 5 of your labs, start being more selective in your research, and think about what you will be wanting to use in the near term, and what you won't. 

Plan your researches and upgrades to use your time wisely.  As they start taking longer, do the quick ones while you'll be playing a lot.  Do the longer ones while you're offline.  Very soon, they will all be longer ones.

One more good part of getting the Naval Lab to Level 7 - that enables you to be able to build the Retrofit Lab.  The Retrofit Lab allows you to research improvements to your "prize" hulls, and those improvements are applied retroactively to the ones you've built.  Speed, cargo capacity, and cannon reload rate are some of the bonuses you get from retrofitting the Battle Barge A.  This should be a priority.  

After building (see the last article for details on these builds):
  • Thud Marauders (for Campaign 1 & weekly mission)
  • Rapier Longships (for Campaign 2)
  • Havok3 Eng1 Predators (for Salvage)
I'm going to be focusing on the Battle Barge A that I won from the first Campaign for a little while.  I will be building a missile fleet and a cannon fleet of these, to be used for weekly missions, raids, and campaigns.

Last article I showed pictures of the ship building interface in-game.  This time I will introduce a very valuable tool - Huggy's Shipyard.  This allows you to plan out builds while your in-game shipyard is busy.  Links can be copied and shared so you can see other people's builds.

The missile fleet uses the Strike Missile L that I won in the first campaign:!3036004040G003E3E3E3E036004040G003E3E3E3E036004040G003E3E3E3E036004040G003E3E3E3E036004040G003E3E3E3E

All my BB-As will be using the Engine upgrade.  Speed is very important for just about every fleet, and the speed is worth the accuracy loss.  A key concept to keep in mind for any battle in this game is that you want to get your fleet into its optimum weapon range and keep it there.  The more speed you have, the more quickly you can do this.  In a ship vs. ship battle, if your fleet is faster than the other fleet, you are more likely to be able to do that while your opponent can't.

I left the second special slot blank to let me add Solid Fuel Booster 2 (SFB) when I get it.  Hulls of the Battle Barge size and larger can be refit.  Adding items in an empty slot as refit takes the same time as it would to build them from scratch.  If adding items in a slot already used, the removal time is 20% of the removed item's build time.  My Advanced Lab is a little behind my others so I will be a few days away from adding that special - it will help these missile ships out a lot, but I didn't want to take the time to build SFB1.  Also notice you'll need Dock level 6 to launch a fleet of 5 of these ships.

I have a few options for the cannon fleet: Thuds, Rippers, or the Impact-N (also won from campaign #1).  When comparing weapons, I usually consider two important metrics: 

  • Damage per second (DPS) - the expected value of damage done per second against a non-evading, non-resisting target
  • DPS per hundred tons (DPS/hton) - DPS divided by the weapon weight, and multiplied by 100 (makes the number easier to compare).  

When ships are being built up to their weight limit, DPS/hton is the most important metric to use, since you need to use that weight as efficiently as possible.  For this build, you'll see that the ship is not at its full weight, so DPS is more important because you want to know the most damage that can be done using the four weapon slots.  I decided to compare my weapon options including the special I would most likely use.  Since the Ripper and Impact have a relatively short range of 43, I decided Hardened Barrel (HB) 1 would be my best option for the range increase.  For the Thud, I used Auto Loader (AL) 1 for an increased fire rate.  The DPS numbers are different against fleets and buildings for two reasons.  The first reason is that weapons are 100% accurate against buildings.  The second is that weapons sometimes have different damage amounts for fleet and building targets.

Thud 4 with AL1Ripper 3 with HB1Impact-N with HB1
Bldg Damage263322582
Bonus Damage000
Cycle Time1.801.703.00
Weight (Shipyard 1)7412495
Bonus Armor000
Fleet DPS58.475.864.7
Fleet DPS/hton79.161.267.9
Building DPS146.0189.4194.0
Building DPS/hton197.8153.0203.8
Build time (4 + special)3h 42m11h 44m5h 26m

From the chart, the Rippers have the highest fleet DPS, and the Impact-N has the highest building DPS.  The Thuds are the most weight efficient at doing damage, but with weight not being the important factor here, Thuds are the least powerful choice.  With the HB special, the Rippers and the Impact Cannons also provide more range.  The Thuds could be used with HB instead of AL to get even more range, but then they would do less damage (with slower reload).  The other factor to consider is the build time - the Rippers take significantly longer to build than the other weapons.  My favorite choice here is the Impact-N - I'm willing to give up a little DPS in order to get my fleet in the water faster, since I don't expect this to be a great fleet for the majority of my game.  But each weapon has its merits, so you'll have to look at the numbers and make your own decision.  

By the way, there was a weapons update a couple months ago where a lot of weapon statistics changed - before the weapons update, the Impact Cannon was completely worthless - worse than the Thud 4 in every way.  So other players in the game might tell you that you shouldn't use the Impact Cannon... but they might be giving advice based on the "old" numbers.

Link to all three ship builds:!3036004040G0Z30303030036004040G0Z0F0F0F0F036004040G0Z040404040ZZ0ZZ

You could fit heavier armor on those builds - Steel or D1-C (also won from campaign #1) are good choices as well, but adding more armor points results in losing instant repair capability during raids.  Armor wins battles though, so it might make a difference if you are willing to suck up the repair time.

At 12-20 hours each for loaded BB-A, building these will take me through the time when my bubble drops.  After that I plan to work on a fleet of Leviathan A to hit bases.  You could build a mortar fleet with the BB-A for bases... but I'm not sure that's a great use of shipyard time when the Leviathan A is so readily available.

Do you see a theme here?  The items you win from campaigns are VERY USEFUL.  Do the campaigns.  Win the items.  Use them.

I promised help with base defense, but this article is long enough...  Next time.