Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Snowblind - Pre-event summary

There is a LOT of info coming out about the Snowblind raid.  This is a really good thing - Kixeye has basically provided the prize blueprints and all the details on the raid format 48 hours before the raid starts - usually we don't seen anything official until 24 hours at best.  The only usual thing we seem to be missing is a video.

Edit: The video is out at:  And it shows a few more things so I'll be making a few edits, especially in the last section.

I'll try to summarize and make sense of it, maybe even provide a few tips and thoughts.

Briefing post:

Tips post:

The Raid Structure:

This is a 6 day raid, starting on August 14, ending on August 20.  Start time depends on your "world".

It is a hull store raid, so you will redeem points to buy prizes.

There are three target groups.  Each target group must be completed to unlock the next group:

Retrieve Data - 3 different targets Multiple types of fleet targets on the world map.  Difficulty is similar to C sets.  Completing 50,000 points from this set (maybe from the three targets?) unlocks the Snowblind Recon target.

Snowblind Recon - 5 targets, campaign "ladder" style, accessed via a relay near your base.  Completing this campaign will give a 750,000 point bonus and unlock the Snowblind Siege target.  This campaign will reset after a 6 hour time limit.  I would guess this will be like the B set from recent raids.

Snowblind Siege - 7 targets, campaign "ladder" style, accessed via a relay near your base.  Completing this campaign will give a 2,250,000 point bonus and unlock the ability to purchase the Savage Kodiak prize.  The campaign will reset after a 1 hour time limit.  I would guess this will be like the A set from recent raids.

By campaign "ladder", I mean that you have to hit the targets in a campaign in order - you can't skip to the 5th target and hit it repeatedly (for example).

So you have a few options to play this raid:
- Grind out easy targets on the world map.
- Work a campaign as far as feasible and then reset it (I think you will be able to manually reset a campaign)
- Work a campaign until the end and get the bonus.

Which style will work best for you depends on what your fleets are like, how much time you have, and how much coin you are willing to spend.  You may have to do some experimentation and take some notes on points vs. repair times to see which style works best for you.

Other strategy notes:
Although others can't prep for you, targets won't repair so you will be able to prep for yourself - for example, if a base has its approach seeded with mines, you may be able to bring in a minesweeper fleet with sonar and weapons capable of hitting underwater, retreat, then bring in the base fleet.

Instant repair fleets may work on the campaign targets, but you have to be careful of the time limits or a campaign will reset.  The "Recon" campaign is probably a better bet than the "Siege" campaign for this.

With this many targets, you may be able to choose different fleets to hit various targets.  If you rotate fleets, make sure you keep something repairing to take advantage of all the time available.  24 hours x 6 days = 288 coins worth of repair.

I always tend to experiment in the early raid to see what works best.  With the campaign-style, this may be a little more difficult as you won't be able to hit the same target repeatedly.  Take notes on what you tried and how well it worked.

And from the video: 
I see lots of interdictors with Thermal detection in the video.  Don't try subs on those.

Raid Prizes:
This will be a hull store, so most of the prizes are previously announced hulls, but there are some new items:

New Hulls:
The Kodiak is a hull that is competitive with many of the recent hulls, given its high number of slots, and high armor points.  The Savage Kodiak is a Limited flagship-only hull that adds some enhanced statistics, an occasional micro-pinch (like a Harlock Carrier), and a field that enhances penetrative resistance and penetrative weapon reload (like a High-lander Nuclear Cruiser).   

Since these hulls are missile-optimized, lets compare them to the R5 MCX:

StatisticKodiakSavage KodiakMCX R5
Weapon Slots10106
Armor Slots554
Special Slots443
Max Weight9,00010,0008,695
Base Armor6,5058,0052,965
Combat Speed111112
Turn Speed131315
Ballistic Defense30%40%35%
Explosive Defense30%40%20%
Penetrative Defense40%40%40%
Concussive Defense0%0%0%
Radioactive Defense20%30%0%
Penetrative Reload100%100%100%
Flak Evade %30%40%30%
Building Damage60%89%0%
Anti-Mortar Range50%50%0%
Field Boost Pen Rel50%
Field Boost Pen Def50%
Hull Build Time w/off??4d20h38m

Of course, the first thing I noticed was the fourth special slot, which was common on Reaver hulls, but seeing the 4th special on a Draconian hull isn't too common.  It is certainly appreciated since the missile weapons need a special to be truly effective, unlike Launchers or UAVs.  The increase in weapon and armor slots is also useful.

Max weight and base armor is fairly high, allowing a max dock weight fleet to be built with just 1 Savage Kodiak and 2 regular Kodiaks.  Speed and turn are lower than the R5 MCX, but not terrible. Defense is similar to the MCX with the addition of the Radioactive Defense, which is needed these days.  The reload bonus is the same as the MCX before adding the Savage field.  Flak Evade is similar.  Building Damage gets a boost which is important to allow the "no-stop" style of base hitting that Berserker and Nuclear Cruisers can pull off.

All by themselves, I don't think these hulls will bring back missile hits, as they are somewhat better than the MCX (definitely will be tougher to sink), but might still be held back by the characteristics of Siege Missiles.  To really decide if the Kodiak fleets can compete with the Launcher and UAV fleets, we'll have to look at the Achilles Missile.

New weapon:

I'll put this weapon side by side with the Siege Missile F and the Torrent 3, as well as the D-92F launcher and the Hornet UAV.  

Achilles Missile B w/SFB3Siege Missile F w/SFB3Torrent Missile 3 w/SFB3Impulse Launcher F (no special)Hornet UAV (no Special)
Bldg Damage1,0009001,914972198
Bonus Damage014866900
Reload Time8.005.0012.502.502.00
Weight (Shipyard 2)9521,344665970479
Bonus Armor50015003000
Fleet DPS37.571.8165.8262.6198
Fleet DPS/hton3.95.324.927.141.3
Building DPS125.0209.6184.2473.399.0
Building DPS/hton13.115.627.748.820.7
Build Time (w Off)?1d11h37m17h26m1d2h16m15h28m
Flak Evade0%25%0%n/a0%
Penetrative Bypass30%0%0%0%0%

Some notes on the chart: 
The weight of the SFB3 special for missiles is included with the weapon weights.  
DPS for the launcher assumes you have enough launchers to make shockwaves without decaying (or overkill).

OK Kixeye.... I don't see it.  Why do I want this Achilles Missile?  I was actually thinking about showing a Kodiak build side-by-side with a Nuclear Cruiser build, so we can see how these fleets would stack up against each other with the reload bonuses and such applied.  But a Nuclear Cruiser fleet R5 will have almost the same reload bonus as the Kodiaks - you might catch up in the building DPS with the hull building damage bonus applied, but you'll be weak against guard fleets.  The fourth special will help, especially if you are using Strike System, and maybe you could add laser targeting or enhanced warhead, but I still don't see an Achilles-Kodiak fleet being as effective as a Launcher-Nuke Cruiser fleet.

My numbers don't account for the Achilles Armor Bypass, but that will only add 20% to the DPS against targets with a 40% penetrative resist (72% damage gets through instead of 60%)... it's not like you see many Arbiters running around with Armor Bypass fields right now.  So the Achilles is about as destructive as a Siege Missile, with a little extra range.  The long reload time means that it will be very vulnerable to being picked off by just a few countermeasures. 

The only combo where I see a payoff is the Kodiak hull with Torrent missiles.  Although they don't have the range of the Launcher or UAV weapons, they are at least competitive in DPS.  You should be more likely to get a pinch missile from the Savage when you are pumping out all the missiles from the torrent barrage, and the relatively lightweight torrent weapon will be able to take advantage of all the weapon slots on the Kodiak.

Rogues Crews like Bullseye Brigade might close the gap too, but I'm not sure a fleet where you constantly need a crew for it to be effective is a fleet I want to build (when I have plenty of other choices).

Edit: The video talks about a few situations where these fleets might be useful... I'm still not convinced a 30% bypass will let it "shred through the armor of defensive turrets".

Hey... I've been wrong before, but this might be a good raid to catch up on any other hulls you feel like you are missing, instead of focusing on the new items.

Other hull prizes available are:
(although Kixeye published the list of prizes and tiers, they did not publish all of the point values)

Tier 5:  
  • Savage Kodiak (35 Million)
  • Kodiak (12.5 Million)
Tier 4:  These prizes will likely be in the 5 milion - 12.5 million point range
  • Achilles Missile D-55B (5.5 Million)
  • Dreadnought X (6.5 Million)
  • Nuclear Cruiser (10 Million)
  • Triton
  • Guardian
  • Atlas Carrier (10 Million)
  • Reaper Submarine
  • Lightning Carrier
  • Berserker (12.5 Million)
  • Missile Cruiser X
  • Vanguard (10.5 Million)
  • Hellstrike
Tier 3:  These prizes will likely be in the 1 million - 5 million point range
  • Juggernaut X
  • Battlecruiser X
  • Thresher
  • Barracuda
  • Strike Cruiser X
  • Hurricane
  • Missile Cruiser
  • Sawfish
  • Goliath
  • Mercury
  • Vindicator
  • Dreadnought
Tier 2:  These prizes will likely be in the 250k - 1 million point range
  • Hammerhead Hull A
  • Hammerhead Hull B
  • Sea Scorpion A
  • Battlecruiser
  • Super Fortress
  • Rampart
  • Juggernaut
  • Strike Cruiser
  • Mako
Tier 1: These prizes will likely be in the 50k - 250k point range
  • Corvette
  • Destroyer X
  • Light Cruiser X
  • Battle Barge A
  • Leviathan A
  • Floating Fortress A

My recommendations:
Tier 5: I just don't know about these new hulls... I'm not going to go all-out trying to get them... I'll see how hard this raid is and how many points I can get.

Tier 4: Atlas Carrier and Nuclear Cruiser - Launchers and UAVs are still the top weapons in the game, and these two hulls are the best to carry them.  Vanguard is getting a retrofit, which may make it even more useful, but keep in mind that it is more of a "role-player" and you'll likely never build more than 2-3.  Tritons are also good UAV platforms if you have any UAVs and are looking for a hull to mount them on.  Lightning Carriers are nice as fast FvF or prep ships.All of the other hulls in this tier are still useful hulls, so if you have a role in mind and an idea on a build, you probably won't be making a bad choice.  Note that there are versions of the DNX and the Triton available through campaigns that are better than the R5 versions, so it may be better to avoid these as raid prizes (and avoid the retrofit costs) and go after the limited versions in the campaigns.

Tier 3:  I'm not in love with any of the hulls on this tier, but Goliath, Barracuda, Mercury, and Vindicator can be useful hulls in the right roles.  Mercury and Barracuda can be relatively quick builds too.

Tier 2: Super Fortress is a UAV-capable hull if you have some UAVs you are looking to utilize.  Battlecruisers are always useful in early game, and also make a good sonar platform.  The Sea Scorpion A is fast and has lots of weapon slots, which makes it a nice FvF launcher platform.

Tier 1: Battle Barge A is nice for a quick repair ballistic build.  The Floating Fortress A is UAV-capable, and can carry a lot of cargo at R1.

And too bad there's no Spectres... Even with Nighthawks, Spectres have a big place in this game.

Possible surprises in this raid (spoilers courtesy of xnih):
Over at the BP Information blog, they took apart the new update and posted "what's new" in it.  I looked over that list and have some thoughts on what we might see...

Unofficial info:

So going by the names of things, a few jump out at me:

Cryo Launcher D104 (C, F, S), D104 Endothermic Reaction, Blizzard Cryo Turret, Cryo Field Debuff Applier, Cryo Torp Cruiser, Cryo Mine, Cryo Zone (tacmodule)
Seeing as this raid is called Snowblind, and there are a whole bunch of new "cryo" items, I would expect we might see some of these items.  There seem to be entries for a ship weapon (D104), a base turret (Blizzard), a ship (Cryo Torp Cruiser), and a tactical module (Cryo Zone).  Drawing on how cryo turrets work in War Commander, it is possible that these new weapons will create a persistent "ice field" that slow vehicles in the field.
Edit: How they seem to work from the video, is that they are like impulse launchers, but build up to a cryo explosion instead of a radioactive explosion.  Swag said the explosion debuffs your ships.  They looked like they were moving slower.  There were both ship mounted and turrets with the cryo launcher.

I also noticed the Cryo Mine was the only "mine" entry I saw.
Edit:  Swag referred to Cryo mines in the video, but we didn't see what happened when they went off.  Probably similar to the cryo explosion triggered from the launcher. 

Torpedo Platform Thermal
Watch out for torpedo turrets that you won't be able to sneak up on with Cat Drive subs.  Hopefully we will be able to pick these out by red markings.

Drac Depth Charge Turret, Bypass Missile Turret, Draconian Coaxial Turret
Other new base turrets - maybe we'll see the Dracs with them, or maybe we'll be able to get our hands on them. Look out for the Draconian Coaxial turret... it will probably be as deadly as ours.

Strike Missile D51-Z, Assault Missile D53-Z, Siege Missile D55-Z, Vortex Torpedoes D61-Z(1346)
New missile and torpedo weapons - I would bet they come out in Forsaken missions over the next month or so, but Draconians may be sporting upgraded missiles as well.

Fire-Support Dreadnought, Cryo Torp Cruiser, Missile Torp Cruiser
Ooooh new hulls... shiny!  I already mentioned the Cryo Torp Cruiser, maybe we'll see this new class of hull soon.  Maybe it will have buffs for torpedos, like a range or reload buff?  And I don't have any idea what a Fire Support Dreadnaught would look like, maybe a DNX with more slots... but that's sort of a Guardian.  Maybe more range?
Edit:  One of these torp cruisers is probably the "mysterious new hull housing valuable intel" shown in the world map targets.

Whether my speculation about any of those items is correct or not... it seems clear that the pace of new content isn't going to slow down anytime soon.  

Good Luck on Snowblind... Stay frosty but don't get frozen!