Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Big Updates to base defense: Armor, Tacticals, and Power

The update is here, and I'll summarize what has changed and what has not changed.

Kixeye release notes are here:

What has not changed:
  • Outpost is still maxed at level 5
  • Dock is still maxed at level 10 (no increase in fleet weight)
Note that the "teaser" said that these things are coming:

What has changed:
  • Base Armor is researchable in the Naval Lab, and may be mounted on:
    • Level 4 Turrets (1 slot)
    • Level 10/11/12 Warehouses (1 slot at level 10 & 11, 2 at level 12)
    • Level 3(?) and up Outpost (2 slots at Level 4, 3 slots at Level 5)
  • Base Tactical Installations are researchable in the Tactical Lab, and one may be mounted on: 
    • Level TBD Resource Generators (Level 5 is too low)
    • Level 11/12 Warehouses
    • Level 10 Labs
    • Level 4/5 Outpost (unknown if Level 3 gets one)
  • The following building is now 6x6:
    • Outpost
  • The following buildings are now 5x5: 
    • Intel Lab
    • Naval Lab
    • Weapons Lab
    • Warehouses
    • Advanced Lab
  • The following buildings are now 4x4:
    • Great Hall
    • Land-based Resource Generators
    • Launch Pad
    • Academy
  • Other size changes:
    • Radio Tower (3x3)
    • Trading Post (3x3)
    • Tactical Lab (11x11)
    • Shipyard (8x8)
    • Dock (8x8)
  • Bases have a power rating.  Turret weapons, Armor, and Tactical Installations consume power.  Turret specials give a % modifier to power consumed.
  • Base Defense weapon changes:
    • Gargoyle (increased Splash/Spread)
    • Coaxial Turret (~20% damage decrease)
    • Harpoon (damage doubled)
    • Meteor Mortar (Fire pool damage triples)
    • Napalm Missile (Fire pool damage 5x)
    • Arc Missile (range now 40-130, damage now 520/720/880)

Building Size Changes:
Although there are no new turrets or land tiles available, the reduced building sizes resulted in 10 land tiles being freed up in my base design.  This may vary between base designs, but with that much more land available, we may see new breeds of base design soon.

Tactical Installations

Tactical Installations are researched in the Tactical Lab.  There are currently three available types:

Hidden Cache
Protects resources
Level 1 (2d8h research): 34 power, 1M resources protected
Warehouse bonus: 2M resources protected

Combined Defense 
Friendly effect - Upgrades Turret Defense
Level 1 (2d22h research): 178 power, 46 range, +20% Ball/Exp/Pen Defense

Fire Support 
Friendly Effect - Upgrades Turret Attack
Level 1 (4d16h research): 493 power, 30 range, +10% Exp/Ball/Pen/Rad/Concuss damage
Outpost, Warehouse bonus: +10% Exp/Ball/Pen/Rad/Concuss reload

All of these are available immediately, and no uranium is required for the research.  We will likely see more types of tactical installations in the future, possibly as research or more likely as prizes, since these are designated as "level 1", and when installing the tactical installation, there is a tab for Researched installations and a tab for Blueprints (empty).

Since resources are not very hard to get at any level anymore, the usefulness of installing Hidden Cache is fairly low.  If uranium becomes lootable, then a "hidden cache" for uranium might become very important.

The obvious usages of the other two tactical installations are: Combined Defense for the front-line, short-range turrets (Cerberus, Disruptor, etc.), and Fire Support for the center island turrets (Javelin, Brimstone, Halo, Victory Mortar, etc.).  

To take advantage of Combined Defense, you will need a building with a Tactical Installation within range 46 (2 land tiles + 1.5 walls center-to-center). We may see resource generators or warehouses embedded within long channels to use Combined Defense, instead of just filling the channel with walls.  If setting up a channel this way, look out for guard ship placement because you want to be sure they are protected behind walls.  If using a warehouse, be careful because shockwaves can be triggered on warehouses, but not resource generators.

Using Fire Support should be more straightforward, since the center island usually contains the Outpost in addition to the Turrets.   With the 6x6 OP size and the 3x3 turret size, the 30 range is adequate to cover any turret touching the outpost (when corner to corner, the center-center range between a OP & a turret is 25.4), but not a whole lot further.

One more possible usage would be to use Fire Support to bolster reload time of Coaxial Turrets in the front line.  This would likely require embedded warehouses in the channel.

The video as part of the release notes states that the buffs from Tactical Installations stack, so consider that.

It is unclear if the effect of the tactical installations remains after the building with the installation is destroyed.  I am assuming it would go away, so consider installing the tactical installation behind the turret(s) being buffed.

Armor Slot
Base armor is researched in the Naval Lab.  There are three levels of Iron, Steel, Titanium, and depleted Uranium armor.  Each must be researched in order, and no uranuim is required for the research.  Armor provides additional armor points, and Kixeye has stated that those armor points do NOT affect base % damaged for bubble/medal purposes.

The following chart shows the armor points and power required for each type:
TypeLevelProtectionPower Prot/Power
Depleted Uranium11200068317.57
Depleted Uranium21700096817.56
Depleted Uranium322000125217.57

When power becomes limited, you can see that Depleted Uranium is more efficient than the other researched armor types, which are all just about equivalent to each other.  With a Level 4 turret having 10,600 health, the DU1 more than doubles turret health, and DU3 more than triples turret health.  

The best place to place armor is on the front-line turrets.  Armoring center island turrets, Warehouses, and Outposts is less useful, since most fleets that reach those targets have just about beaten the base anyway.  Armoring the Outpost may be useful at low levels, since sometimes low-level base fleets will timeout when hitting the Outpost. We may see more fleets having to stop to kill heavily armored turrets in the front line, so Brimstones and Halos may become more useful again.  

Power is how Kixeye limits the amount of upgrades you can install in your base buildings. It is not generated by any base buildings, and cannot be degraded during an attack (unlike War Commander).  Total base power is limited at 52,000 for Outpost 4 & Outpost 5. I'm not sure if lower level outposts allow lower amounts of total power.  

Buildings also have individual power limits:
Outpost: 3875
Warehouse: 1500
Turret: 3700
Lab: 1750
Resource Generator: 750

So far, it looks like all of the power limits are independent of building level.

Just as a reference, my Level 36, Outpost Level 4 base is using 3,828/52,000 power, and my Level 75 Outpost 5 base is using 36,256/52,000 power.  

A Javelin Turret with Priority Targeting is using 3,132/3,700 power, so any armor beyond Titanium 1 doesn't work for that turret.  A Coaxial Turret with CM targeting is using 2,732/3,700 power (supports DU1), and a Cerberus with Fire Support X is using 855 power (any armor).  You can see that advanced turrets won't be able to support the highest armor types due to the turret power limit, but basic ones might.  I would try to focus on DU armor, since that is more power efficient.

I don't think power limits will come into play too heavily until reaching high levels of technology.

Base Defense Weapons changes:
I'm going to give some quick impressions, then do more side-by-side analysis in a later article.

Gargoyle: with Splash 18/Spread 80, this is now usable for its intended purpose and may also be effective against blitzing fleets.
Vulture: Damage went up by 2.5x.  This may be a lot more usable now. 
Harpoon: Damage is doubled, so it may now be considered a baby Javelin.  With only a 30% slow effect, it still isn't a primary choice.
Coaxial: reduced damage means it is less effective than before at dealing damage.  Although the countermeasures from the Coax are nice, I don't think its DPS potential was ever reached in practice anyway.
Meteor Mortar: The fire pool is now more deadly - 300 points per second instead of 100.  In conjunction with ships possibly needing to stop more often, this may help
Napalm: The fire pool is now 300 instead of 100 points per second.  I've seen some bases that relied very heavily on napalms, and generally blown through them.  This upgrade MIGHT help that strategy.
Arc Missile: I have never lost to a base that used any Arc Missiles.  Increasing the Arc 3 damage from 624 to 880 probably won't change that.
Cerb/VM/Sent/Howy: Ranges standardized at level 4 values.  This helps low level players only.

I'm excited for new wrinkles in base defense, and hopefully bases won't be so cookie-cutter.  In the near term, I expect to see players figuring out the best ways to use these new upgrades, and also to see some new upgrades released through Raids, Forsaken Missions, and maybe even Drac Base blueprints.  For that reason, I would not recommend a rush to coin these upgrades, since you may want to replace them very soon with prizes instead of researched items.  Don't forget to reallocate officers to Naval and/or Tactical research if you are interested in a bit of a speed up.