Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Interceptor Builds

The Interceptor hull is the latest hull released in the game.  In my raid preview article, I compared this hull to the MCX, Kodiak, and the Viper, and thought it looked very good.

Two analogies I came up with are:
- It is the love-child of the MCX and the Viper
- It is the new Mercury

The second one is actually a pretty good analogy.  For those of you who were around when the Mercury first came out, it had similar characteristics.... similar slots and better speed when compared to the top hulls, sonar, and some underwater weaponry.  High end players looked at this as a sub hunter or FvF hull only, and mid-level to lower players built base fleets with them.  The Interceptor can do the same things - its improvements over the Mercury put it at the same relative strength compared to other hulls commonly used.

In this article, I'm going to look at some different builds for its possible roles.

Sub Hunter
I'm going to start with this one, because much of the talk has centered around this role.  The first step here is to look at the requirements.  Because the Thermal Detection range is 68 on the Interceptor, and the Assault Torpedo B range is 78, there are two options to winning a battle with Nighthawks - outrun them (submerged), or withstand a full dose of torpedos.  Nighthawks will likely have a core loadout of 7 Assault B Torpedos, Magnus Drive, and Battery 3.  This results in a submerged combat speed of 35.5 (with no retrofits).

(Core build, I'm not suggesting the other slots would be empty)

So to start with, let's see how we can get the Interceptor to a combat speed of 36...

Strike System 3, 2 Engine upgrades, 4 V armors, and 4 B torpedos get the Interceptor to 36 exactly.  This is a bare minimum - you won't be closing with the Nighthawks quickly, but at least you'll be keeping pace.  You could use Engine to get an extra 20% speed, and leave off one of the Engine Upgrades, but then you would still need a SFB special, so you really aren't any better off.  Magnus might help if retrofit.

(Core build, I'm not suggesting the other slots would be empty)

To finish off the weapons, I added 4xTorrent 2 missiles, and set the armor to be 3xD4V and 1x D3V.  The 4 torrents will do enough damage to kill a sub in 1 volley, so tapping "0" to get each Interceptor to target a different sub should be enough to kill the fleet once they are seen.

I also considered Assault Missile Z, which has enough range (74) to target at the edge of Thermal Imaging range without a special, but they don't have the damage potential of the Torrents.

The question is - will the Interceptor live long enough to get in range?

With 4 Nighthawks, each loaded with 7 Assault Torpedo B, with a Rank bonus of 50% and full alliance Gunner bonus, the DPS from 28 torpedos against the Interceptor build (52% evade, 40% concussive resist) is 838.25 damage per second - with a dive time of 66.7 seconds with battery 3, that results in the fleet doing 55,911 damage if in range for the full submerge time.  The interceptor fleet has 11454 armor per ship, so 57,270 total armor for the fleet.  So.... the fleet is nearly sunk in one submerge cycle (if the sub driver gets in range right away, and he targets efficiently, ...).  There's lot of variables here... a Phantom as flag obviously pumps up the fleet DPS, rank and torpedo retrofit can also come into play, lower level Alliance Bonuses, and of course, the subs won't be in firing range for their entire submerge cycle.

Another option would be to pump up the evade, and try to catch the Nighthawks only when surfaced.  I tried it with 2xD5E, 2xD3E, and Evade upgrades instead of the Speed upgrades. The fleet DPS gets cut in half - down to 419.13, and the amror per ships is at 11954, so now the total dive time damage is 27956 compared to 59770 armor.  Better, but with an Interceptor combat speed of 27 and a Nighthawk surfaced speed of 23.7 (at least), the Interceptors might not be able to catch a careful Nighthawk fleet even when surfaced.

Overall, the result is that any Interceptor sub hunter fleet is in for a tough time against a well-driven and/or well built Nighthawk fleet.  This doesn't mean an Interceptor will lose every time, but they are in for a tough fight.

Builds are in the following link:


Baser / FvF
I looked at loadouts using Assault Missile Z, Achilles Missile B, and Impulse Launcher F.  The number of weapons was chosen to keep the total fleet weapon weight 15,000-15,500 tons.  I used Strike System on each build - on the Missile build for the range, and on the Launcher build to minimize accuracy loss.

I put the three weapon configurations into my DPS calculator, including the alliance gunner bonus, and targeting a hull with around 60% penetrative resist and 30% radioactive resist.  The defense % number used for the Assault Z tries to account for the combined damage, and the number used for the Achilles accounts for the armor bypass.  The the building damage numbers below use zero resist and 100% accuracy.  I estimated a rank bonus of 50%.  Using a higher rank would make the missiles look relatively better, as recent understanding makes it look like the rank bonus is computed separately from (and so compounds onto) hull bonuses (this likely explains the S launcher vs. F launcher behavior on Enforcers).  However, not everyone puts in the time to get fleets up to legendary rank.

WeaponAssault D53-ZAchilles D55-BImpulse D92-F
Fleet Damage305500648
Building Damage4201000972
Salvo (shots)219
Salvo Delay (sec)
Weapon Blueprint Reload (sec)482.5
Weapon Accuracy (%)75%60%70%
Overload Damage007864
Hits to Overload12015120
Overload Time (sec)101010
Weapon Weight (tons)600850970
Special Weight (+%)0%0%0%
Number of Weapons251816
Hull+Special+Alli Reload Bonus (%)100%100%10%
Rank Reload Bonus (%)50%50%50%
Accuracy Bonus (%)20%20%20%
Evade (%)50%50%50%
Defense (%)50%30%30%
DPS CalculationsAss-ZAch-BD92-F
Total Fleet DPS1,197.0850.52,515.0
Total Fleet DPS/hton8.05.616.2
Total Building DPS7,325.66,750.010,793.6
Total Building DPS/hton48.839.469.6

The D92-F does the most DPS against buildings and fleets, the Assault Missile Z is in the middle, and the Achilles comes in last.  These DPS numbers do not account for splash from the shockwaves.

With the fourth special available on these ships, use of the Gauss Supercharger is possible for the launchers, but the Enhanced Warhead would also be available for Missiles.  With those changes (and dropping a few weapons for weight), the DPS numbers look like:

DPS CalculationsAss-Z w EnhWAch-B w EnhWD92-F w Gauss
Total Fleet DPS1,375.21,005.52,724.9
Total Fleet DPS/hton8.96.617.6
Total Building DPS8,566.47,980.011,227.7
Total Building DPS/hton55.452.472.5

This use of special doesn't change the relative rankings of the weapons, or the conclusion that the launchers are much more destructive than the long range missile options.  The Armor Bypass ability of the Achilles isn't enough to overcome its lower inherent DPS.  Note I'm comparing against "long range missiles." Torrents do have a DPS that is competitive with launchers, but their range is much shorter.  

Another disadvantage of building a missile fleet is that it will take MUCH longer to build than the launcher fleet.  
  • 16 D92-F launchers: 17d 12h 22m
  • 25 Assault D53-Z: 37d 1h 26m
  • 18 Achilles D55-B: 25d 15h 42m
If build time is supposed to reflect relative "power" of weapons, the slight extra range & retargeting potential of the missiles don't make up for the vastly lower DPS and lack of shockwave.  I don't understand why the build time for the missiles should be so long.

If you really want to use missiles, you could use SFB3 instead of Strike System, and with the Assault Missile Z, you would get 96 range, as opposed to 91 for the launchers.  This is an advantage, but you are reducing your antifleet capability by a factor of two.  Even if you are up against a slower Launcher fleet, it would be difficult (although perhaps possible) to exploit that small range difference to avoid damage.

So the weapon of choice for an Interceptor used as a Base and as a FvF fleet would be the same - Launchers.  The FvF build might emphasize speed, and the Baser build might emphasize resistance, but they wouldn't be very different overall.  When people were first putting launchers on Stingrays, I saw a few bases get destroyed by those fleets.  I could imagine Interceptor FvF builds having similar success against bases that aren't top-end.

A high evade baser build (needs Dock 11) is below:


You may want to add some radioactive armor instead of the evade.  I dropped in a few Phalanx 1...  Impact Cannon or Vortex T might also be ways to use up the fleet weight.

So then the next question on my mind is: Should I bother building the launcher Interceptors?  Or if I'm going Launchers, why not build a Greta NC fleet... targeted at dock 11 weight?

This isn't really a "numbers" decision, it's a capability decision. The Interceptors have the speed and the extra special, but Greta's NC has the reload and the cryo overload.  I'm not sure what my answer will be.  It really depends on each player's current fleets.  I have a NC fleet that I'm pretty happy with, but it will be light once the dock gets to 11.  I still don't have a fast (over speed 21) surface fleet, so building the Interceptors would fill a hole in my capability.

Next Time - I'll try to make sense of the latest update.  It includes Outpost 6, Dock 11, Weapons Lab 11, and Retrofit lab items including Berserker, Base turrets, and Specials. I just took a quick look and my head is spinning.