Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Siege Missile Z vs. Impulse Launcher U

Recently, when a new hull was released, we all sorta sounded like Louie:

(Yeah the video is poor quality, but I couldn't find a better one.  Just watch it or you won't get the joke...) 

Except instead of the thing with the balls, it was "I WANNA PUT LAUNCHERS ON IT!"

But with the Siege Missile Z release .... is it like Louie's mayonnaise?

Since a lot of mid-level players could have recently won U launchers, Z missiles, and Interceptors... let's compare some Interceptor builds:!70M600V0V0V0V5B0C0R1V3E3E003E194U4U4U0M600V0V0V0V5B0C651V4P4P004P1A4P4P4P0ZZ0ZZ0ZZdB

Note the build times per ship:
U Launcher build: 13 days, 5 hours
Z Missile build: 9 days, 17 hours

That's a huge advantage in build time for the Missile build.

These builds are targeted for a 5 ship fleet with Dock 11, and aren't particularly heavily armored or defended, but should be a decent all around build.  A dedicated weekly mission fleet should have more Phalanx, and a baser fleet should have more armor, but you get the idea (I'm not saying to go out and build either one of these ships, but they are just builds for comparison).  I used the 4th special slot for a weapon special - Laser Targeting for the Missile build and Gauss for the Launchers - a defensive special might be another option.  Although the Laser will put accuracy over 100%, and in particular isn't often needed on hulls with built-in retargetable, against evading targets it will come in handy.

I'll start the comparison with basic Fleet and Building DPS calculations, then also look at a couple "real world" targets (grabbed from Whiteout - thanks to the BP Information blog).

Weapon Summary:
Missile Build
15 Siege Missile Z, 15 Strike Missile L, 90% Reload Bonus, 60% Accuracy Bonus from LT3 

Launcher Build
30 U launchers, 1.5x Supercharge from Gauss

Alliance Gunner Bonus: 20% Accuracy Bonus, 10% Reload Bonus 
Rank Bonus: 45% Reload Bonus

Targets (thanks to for the stats):
Interceptor V2-C (from Siege #3)
 Evade: 52%
 Missile Defense: 46%
 Nuclear Defense: 40%
 Penetrative Damage: -64

Kodiak (from Siege #1)
 Evade: 10%
 Missile Defense: 73%
 Nuclear Defense: 20%
 Penetrative Damage: -64
(Note - this combo would completely negate Strike Missile damage.  I assumed 1% minimum damage gets through)

DPS Against Target
TargetU LauncherU Launcher with GaussSiege Z/Strike LSiege Z/Strike L with Laser 3
Basic Fleet5,696.67,465.312,412.115,140.9

There are a few interesting lessons to be learned from this chart... 

First of all... Overall, the Siege Missile Z is a more effective weapon on Missile hulls than the Impulse Launchers.  The exception above is against the Kodiak which has a very high missile defense percentage and high plate resistance combined with a relatively low nuclear defense percentage.  Even there the difference is less than 20%.

Laser Targeting is a useful special against high evade targets.  Old-school players generally say that adding Laser Targeting to a hull with built-in retargeting is a waste of a special.  But recently, when hulls keep coming with 4 special slots and targets can routinely have evades of 40% or more, that old-school advice might not be so accurate any more.  Even against the basic fleet target (zero evade), Laser Targeting provided a 20% damage boost.  Against the high evade target, the damage boost was close to 50%.  Another option would be Enhanced Warhead, which would do an additional 33% damage against all targets (including buildings) for slightly more weight.  

The Building damage of the Siege Missile Z might just come in handy.  A Level 5 turret with two DU3 armor plates will have 58,400 health.  30 Impulse Launcher U will take over 10 seconds to kill that turret, compared to less than 2.5 seconds for the Siege Missile Z build.  Even a Level 4 turret with one DU3 plate will have 32,000 health.  In this blog recently, I've been dismissing building damage as irrelevant, with the statement that any of these weapons have "enough building damage".  We just might need to start paying attention again.  I also attempted a "new" dredge with my 32 U launcher fleet, and it took quite a while to kill each turret... more building damage will help there too.

I also noticed that the computed Shockwave frequency when using the U launchers without Gauss against the 52% evade Interceptor was just under 5 seconds.  With the "unreactive" ability, this is pretty close to the 6 second time where the Interceptor hull will start "shedding" the charge buildup.  This is why I always recommend Strike System instead of Speed System on launcher builds - the launcher accuracy is critical in FvF.

Shockwave damage is great, and Missile retargeting isn't as good (especially since missiles won't fly across the whole screen anymore).  It's tough to quantify that, so as usual the "best" choice depends on how a weapon will be used.  Also, many of you will notice that I chose the U launcher for comparison instead of the more effective F launcher (S launcher is only more effective at very high reload so don't put those on missile hulls).  Going back to my F vs. U article, the F launcher has about 32% more DPS per ton than the U launcher.  That would close the gap a bit, but doesn't change the conclusion.  The build time advantage for the Siege Z missiles is also significant - 3.5 days per ship.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Whiteout - One day in

After one day of Whiteout, I think the big takeaway compared to the last event is that the Siege campaign is the best way to get points, instead of the Elite/Assault.  

The Elite campaign sees you being swarmed with ships right away, and a pair of very hard to kill Proto-Nemesis ships follows.

Over at the Unofficial Battle Pirates Information blog, they posted an article with the Whiteout Fleet breakdown:

All players (Elite Campaign):
I looked at the posted Proto-Nemesis stats over there, and it has 42% evade, 73% Missile defense, 80%+ Ballistic and Explosive defense, but only 24% nuclear defense.  It also has very large plate damage reductions (-134 penetrative) and over 55,000 health.  With those stats, it seems like Launchers are probably the best way to kill it.  There was a post on the Battle Vortex Facebook page showing 2 Enforcers killing the Proto and saying it was only 2-3 coins repair.  If using a full fleet, spread the ships to minimize splash impact.  Some players are also using a pinch... might as well use it rather than let it sit on your launch pad.

For Low Level (1-40) players (Recon Campaign):
Sorry, I haven't seen anyone doing the Recon campaign.  Instant repair ships did well last time, and should do well again.

For Mid Level (41-60) players (Strike Campaign): 
The Strike campaign might pose a challenge for players in the lower half of that level group.  From the perspective of a Level 45 player, who doesn't have any advanced weapons or fleets better than a Battlecruiser with Cutlass Missiles, it is quite hard.  The first mission has 1 MCX and 3 Interdictors guarding a small island base.  Each ship took 3 waves of instant repair ships to kill, and then the base took 3 more hits.  All that for 57,577 points, and a net loss of about 3.5M of each resource.  Players with a decent FvF (or possibly Cat Drive Sub) fleet may have better luck.  The second mission looks like the first, with 2 more MCX and a slightly larger base.

Death Grip, Eye of the Storm, or Hunt the Nemesis might be better campaign options to take advantage of the half repair time of this raid.  That level 45 player just earned the Mercury hull and Phalanx 1, which will be more useful near-term than any of the prizes on offer (except the Siege Missile Z).

For High Level (61+) players (Siege Campaign): 
The Siege campaign targets are similar to last time.  On Robot's Tips & Tricks posted before the raid, he suggested bringing in a FvF fleet for the ships, then returning with a Base fleet for the turrets.  I am using the same fleets as last time - Harlock's Atlas for the ships, and Nuke Cruisers behind a high evade Juggernaut X for the turrets.  My first runthrough of the campaign cost less than 20 coins for nearly 6 million points.  Also remember to concentrate on the priority targets to reduce damage taken.  On the fifth mission in particular, you can avoid triggering many of the interceptors while completing the base.

All Players (World Map Fleet targets):
The target mix has changed a bit, but these targets are still fairly difficult considering the points payout.  If you want details on the fleet breakdown, go to the bp-information post I mentioned above.

What to get:
With the exception of the new prizes, the prize list looks pretty close to the previous raid.  

Tier 5: Mastodon & Avenger Hull
These new hulls are not point & click to win, but I think they will be effective.  The Mastodon will be a great carrier for the Siege Missile Z.  More info at:

Update: Kixeye now says that the Avenger will not speed up to match the next slowest ship in a fleet, it can only slow down to match speeds.

Tier 4: Impulse Launcher D92-U & Siege Missile D55-Z
At 4 Million points, the D92-U is cheaper, more versatile, and longer range than the new Siege Missile, but with the damage & accuracy buffs the new Siege Missile is the best choice to outfit any missile hull with MCX-class reload or better.  I'll probably do more of a detailed breakdown in the near future.  It also seems that the build time of the new Siege Missile is reduced compared to previous Siege Missiles - 16 hours instead of 1.5 days (not updated in Huggy's yet).  The D55-B and D55-F are weaker AND longer builds in comparison to the D55-Z, don't get them unless you are trying to tick a box.

Tier 3: Strike System 3 & D3-P armor
Strike System 3 has been available from the Forsaken Mission Tier 3 recently, but if you need it you need it.  D3-P isn't that great, but it's the best choice if you have points to spend.  The M armor should be available from salvage blueprints, don't spend points on it.

Tier 1 & 2: Strike System, Torpedos, Stealth Attack System
Again, not super excited for anything on these tiers, even for low level players.  Assault Torpedo V is usable if you can't do any better.  Again, avoid the armor since it should be available from salvage drops.

Although the Elite raid is much harder than last time, the Siege is fairly do-able.  If you are struggling, remember that you can use the whole duration of the event to do a campaign (it won't expire).  Hit a target and wait for repair if you need to conserve coin.  I used that technique to complete a Siege Campaign for zero coin this morning by playing off and on.  Even one runthrough of Siege will earn you enough points for the Impulse Launcher U or the Siege Missile Z, either of which will be a useful weapon for the future.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Whiteout - Prize analysis and generic tips

The Whiteout raid starts on Thursday.  

Kixeye has posted the prize list, target format, and blueprints for new items here:

The format is similar to the Frostbite (the last raid) with a few tweaks to the campaign.

The previous raid had a "Recon" campaign (with a low total payout) for levels 1-50, and a "Siege" campaign (with a higher payout) for 51+.  This raid has a "Recon" Campaign for levels 1-40, a "Strike" campaign for Levels 41-59, and a "Siege" campaign for Levels 60+.

The points for the Assault Elite campaign seems to have changed - last time the payout was approximately 6 million from hitting targets with a 1 million completion bonus.  This time the payout is described as 6 million total, with 3 million from the bonus (and thus 3 million from hitting targets).  This may mean that points earned from doing damage are decreased overall.  There is also the possibility that the target is smaller, but I doubt that (a raid format doesn't usually get easier as it is used again).

The big question for the mid-levels is: How difficult will the Strike Campaign be?  The Recon campaign was easy with instant repair fleets, but didn't pay out enough points for players to earn Tier 4 prizes without putting in a lot of seat time.  

Similar to Frostbite, there will also be a large "Elite" (used to be Assault) target for all levels, and "mid to high level" world map fleet targets.

Generic Tips:

  • Look for isolated groups of turrets or ships for getting easy points (like the subs or the "lower right cluster" in the Frostbite Assault Campaign - If using expendable waves of attacks, run a ship up front to suck up the first wave of fire, allowing the remaining ships to get closer and hopefully fire off more shots.
  • If not (and you have a 4 ship fleet) - add a gunboat for the same thing.
  • Keep notes about what fleets you used, what tactics, how many points you got, and how much damage you took for your first few run-throughs.  That will help you identify the best point/damage combinations.
  • Help someone out by doing campaigns at someone else's base.  Although the expected point payout for Assault is a bit more generous to the "helpee" this time, it is certainly a great way to help an alli mate out.
  • Last time, the Fleet targets were fairly difficult, and didn't give good points/damage payout.  This may change, but don't count on it.
  • If you don't like the prizes you think you'll be able to afford, do campaigns for half repair.

Robot's Tips and Tricks thread is here:

Prize Analysis:  Siege Missile D55-Z (5.5 Million points)

EDIT: I Liked this missile before... then Kixeye buffed it.  These are the new stats:

I don't know about everyone else, but I guess I was a little surprised by the new missile release.  I'll stack it up against the competition:

Siege Missile Z w/SFB3Siege Missile F w/SFB3Assault Missile Z w/SFB3Achilles Missile B w/SFB3Cutlass 4 w/SFB3Deluge 3 with SFB3Downpour 3 with SFB3Impulse D92-F
Range88.488.496.293.635 - 96.224 - 100.124 - 84.591
Bldg Damage21769003451,00066899472972
Bonus Damage359148750013007864 shockwave
Reload Time5.
Weight +Special (Shipyard 2)11201,344672952811499.8666.4970
Bonus Armor150150050015000300
Fleet DPS202.671.857.237.541.899.933.0262.6
Fleet DPS/hton18.
Building DPS507.0209.6105.0125.083.545.894.4473.3
Building DPS/hton45.315.615.613.
Build Time (w Off)?1d 11h 37m1d 11h 34m1d 10h 12m10h 43m16h 19m16h 19m1d 2h 16m
Flak Evade40%25%0%0%050%34%0
Penetrative Bypass00%0%30%0%25%0%0
Pre-Fire Delay000000.750.750

You can see the Siege Missile Z has vastly increased damage, lighter weight, and better flak evasion than the Siege F.  Edit: The buff gave it even more damage, increased accuracy, and more armor points.

I've been down on missile fleets, because the DPS & range just don't stack up to launchers.  The Siege Z still doesn't get missiles caught up to launchers, but the Siege Missile Z at least gets missiles back into the conversation.    With the buff, this missile should perform better than launchers on missile-optimized hulls (FINALLY!)  .  This is easily the best missile released ever, against buildings or against fleets.  (Torrents just don't have the range... sorry).  If this missile were released instead of the Achilles, I might have been a bit more positive on the Kodiak.  I'm not going to go back and revisit Kodiak and Interceptor designs, but my suspicion is that with the Siege Z option, the launcher build for those hulls might not be the best choice any more.  (Now almost definitely)

Prize Analysis:  Mastodon Hull (12.5 Million points)

This missile hull has lots of slots, good defense, missile reload, and also gives a new capability: Remote Targeting.  I'll stack it up against the alternatives:

StatisticMastodonKodiakInterceptorMCX R5
Weapon Slots101086
Armor Slots5544
Special Slots4443
Max Weight12,3009,0006,5488,695
Base Armor3,5526,5054,9542,965
Combat Speed11111512
Turn Speed13132015
Ballistic Defense20%30%20%35%
Explosive Defense20%30%20%20%
Penetrative Defense40%40%20%40%
Concussive Defense0%0%40%0%
Radioactive Defense20%20%20%0%
Penetrative Reload120%100%90%100%
Flak Evade %30%30%30%30%
Building Damage0%60%0%0%
Anti-Mortar Range0%50%0%0%
Thermal Imaging Range00680
Sonar Range00320
Hull Build Time w/off?5d16h15m4d23h54m4d20h38m

It is fairly close to the Kodiak, with less defense, no building damage bonus, more max weight, and better missile reload.  Also surprisingly for a missile hull, the blueprint does not show that it has retargeting capability.  We may need to see if that is on purpose or not.

The unique capability of this hull is Remote Targeting, which allows an increased missile range against a target when another ship in the player's fleet is in range of that target. The Remote Targeting is specified at +75% range, which I am assuming applies to the weapon basic range (like other enhancements), not stacks with the SFB-modified range.  So this puts the total Remote Targeting range at 68 * (1+0.30) * (1+0.75) = 154.7 for Siege Missiles... or slightly farther for other missiles like Assault, Cutlass, or Achilles.  This isn't a huge range, but certainly much further than anything we have had before.

There is also a note in the forums, that when operating at extended range, there is a damage reduction.  Although not totally clear, it looks like the damage reduction is 60% when at max extended range. 

Ignoring the Remote Targeting, this hull is not quite as good as the Kodiak, since it won't be able to take as much punishment.  (3,000 less armor, 20% less evade, and 10% less Ballistic and Explosive Resist).  

So pick it up only if you think you can take advantage of the Remote Targeting... here's two ideas:

The (perhaps obvious) use of this fleet that comes to my head first, is to support a JugX on base hits.  With a single JugX taking fire, the Mastodons can rain missile fire down from a safer distance.  This could be used as a guard prep or as a main hit tactic.  The Bullseye Brigade rogue crew would be a great enhancement on this fleet if looking to take out guards.

Another (slightly less obvious) base prep option when using this missile would be to use a Mercury or Interceptor as the spotter hull with SFB3 and at least 1 Deluge missile in a hybrid weapon slot.  This could allow Mastodons to fire at any target within 100 range of the base edge.

Prize Analysis:  Avenger Hull (9 Million points, Limit 1)

This limited flagship hull is the first true generalist hull we've seen.  It provides fair reload bonuses to non-Launcher & non-UAV weapons, radioactive defense, and a good number of weapon slots.  It has a combat speed of 16, but it matches speed with the slowest ship in a fleet and thus should only take on the 16 combat speed when it is the slowest hull or when it is by itself. Its "Vengeance" capability works like the Midnight Marauders rogue crew - as the fleet takes damage, it will gain a bonus to Combat Speed, Weapon Damage, and Damage Resistance of up to 20%.  The reason I called it a "generalist" is that it could be built and effectively dropped into many different fleets given its reload bonus and its speed matching capability.

I don't think this hull is really comparable to any other hulls, so I didn't make a chart.  

To start, this hull could be used in 2 basic ways - as a true flagship hull to go with 4 other ships, or as a "shell" with just a single defensive weapon to sit back and provide its bonus.  

If building it to go with a fleet, one option would be to help sub hunters.  When I talked about the Interceptor hull, I was concerned that the interceptor didn't have enough speed to run down submerged Nighthawks.  In the case where the Interceptors are taking fire, they will start to increase their speed, helping them to catch up.  

As a shell, you could include it with a base guard or a base hitter, let it sit back and provide its Vengeance bonus.  Doing this for FvF might not work out as well.

One more thought - when building this hull, you could skimp on (or skip) the engine special because it only needs to be faster than the slowest ship in the fleet, doesn't need one for combat speed, but keep an eye on map and turn speed too.

Edit: A response from the mod on forums suggests that the Avenger will SPEED UP if it is the slowest ship, so possibly NO engine special is required. I'm still a little skeptical on that one.

Edit 2: They totally backtracked on that - the Avenger will not speed up if it is the slowest ship in the fleet.

Although I'm not super-excited about this hull, there are probably many creative ways to use it that I haven't thought of.  I suggest picking it up... just in case.


To learn more detail about the intricacies of the new ship abilities, see the Kixeye FAQ on them:

This raid seems like it will be just as player-friendly as the last one.  You will have plenty of options to choose a target, and plenty of options to work together with another player or just to sponge points off of someone.  The total points for all the new prizes is 27 million, which is lower than many recent raids.

The prizes are all pretty good but perhaps not great.  I think players who really think about the best ways to use these new hulls will reap the greatest rewards from them.. they certainly aren't items in the "point & click to win" class.

Update: The Siege Missile Z brings missiles back as a competitive weapon.  Pick that one up definitely. 

After the raid starts, I'll publish any tips or tricks I hear about, and also look over the prize list with points and give some "what to get" advice.  Since the prizes besides the new hulls look very similar to the last one, I don't expect my advice to change too much from last time.  If you do go back to that article, I ended up modifying my advice slightly... Low levels should try for:
Tier 3:  Assault Torpedo V (500k points)
Tier 2: Strike System 2 (200k points), Stealth Attack System 2 (175k points)
Tier 1: Vortex Torpedo T (30k points)