Saturday, October 4, 2014

New Retrofit Options Part 1 - Ship Improvements

First some business.  The poll about whether I should continue to publish pre-raid articles based on leaked data is closed and 96% of you thought I should keep doing what I've been doing.  So I will.  I will not leak anything from the previews myself (if invited), but once the information is out there, I will do my best to analyze it for you, and then I will compare it to the "official" release to ensure it is still accurate.

Like I said in my last article, the options available in the Retrofit Lab have been greatly expanded to include many more special, weapon, armor options than before, and also options for base turrets.  I started out this article trying to review each retrofit option.  That sucked, because there are now so many of them.  I'm instead going to look at capabilities, and what retrofits give you the best options for increasing your capabilities.  Have you read my article about capabilities & planning fleets?

This article (part 1) will focus on ship enhancements, the next part will focus on base turrets.

First off in retrofit, look at hulls.  If you are trying to enhance your ship capabilities, retrofitting the hulls you use is the best investment of Uranium and Retrofit time.  1 point of speed, 10-20% extra defense or evade, 25% extra reload bonus, ... all of these hull improvements are better than just about any special or weapon improvement that you can get.  So do the retrofits for the hulls you use first.  Just be smart about it... if you have a Triton in your guard fleet (and nowhere else), you don't have to do R5 to get extra building damage.

Offensive Ship Capabilities:

In this section, I will look at ways to pump up your firepower.  Obviously that depends on the type of weapon you are using, so I've further broken it down by weapon class.

Launcher Fleets:  
The two options here are to retrofit Impulse Launchers, which benefits Accuracy +1.5% and Fire Rate +1.5% for all of our launcher types, or to retrofit Launcher Systems, which benefits Gauss Supercharger (Supercharge +3%). 

This choice is almost obvious (do the launchers before Gauss), since Launchers don't have 100% accuracy in most situations, the accuracy and the fire rate bonuses help both basic damage dealing and the rate/ability to make shockwaves.  The Gauss benefit only helps to make shockwaves faster, and only on those fleets using Gauss.

Using my DPS calculator on 
10 F launchers with Gauss against a target with 30% evade:
Basic Fleet (80 hits to overload): 2276 DPS
Fleet with Launcher R1: 2336 DPS
Fleet with Gauss R1 (78 hits to overload): 2310 DPS

10 S launchers with Gauss, 50% special and 50% rank reload bonus against a target with 30% evade:
Basic Fleet (10 hits to overload): 2213 DPS
Fleet with Launcher R1: 2269 DPS
Fleet with Gauss R1 (9.7 hits to overload): 2245 DPS

The S numbers are a little funky because of the fractional overload threshold, but since DPS is all about averages, it should be a valid comparison.

Edit: I've gotten some feedback and references - the Gauss Supercharge with the S launcher only gives a 8.5x bonus, not a 12x bonus.  So the actual "hits to overload" with Gauss should be 14.1 instead of 10 (as shown above).  I haven't re-run any numbers, but two things are clear: Don't use Gauss with S launchers, it is a real waste.  If you are using Gauss with S launchers anyway, refit the Launcher, not the Gauss because the Gauss is giving a very small benefit.

Carrier (UAV) Fleets:
The upgrade choice here is fairly interesting... The retrofit on UAVs increases UAV Swarm Duration.  Alternately, the upgrade on Power Cells (UAV Systems) increases UAV Damage and Chaining Range.  For those that don't know, the way UAVs do damage is that they fly to their target, then do damage with multiple shots over their Swarm Duration.  So the key statistics are the UAV Reload and the UAV Swarm Duration.  For example, a Hornet UAV has a Swarm Duration of 3.2 seconds and a reload of 0.6 seconds.  So over its swarm duration, it can fire 6 shots (at t = 0, 0.6, 1.2, 1.8, 2.4, and 3.0).  The last 0.2 seconds of swarm duration is wasted.  An increase in Swarm Duration does not increase the Hornet UAV damage unless the Swarm Duration goes past 3.6 seconds.  So to get any benefit from the UAV retrofit, there must be a 12.5% increase in swarm duration, then the Hornet will go from 6 shots to 7 shots, and thus get a 16.7% increase in damage.  Using the progression of percentages, I made the following chart showing retrofit levels and damage increase.  I compared to the UAV Damage increase for a Powercells retrofit, but the retrofit percentage is multiplied by the Powercell damage increase percentage (20%).  

Damage Increase

If you are willing to put in multiple retrofits, you can get a nice damage increase for the Hornet at R6, and for the Scarab at R8.  The Dragonfly does not benefit at all, but those are used more for the debuff than damage anyway.  The Powercell damage increase is small all the way through R10, and probably not worth it.  With Chaining Range of 30, an increase to nearly 36 at R10 doesn't seem like a big jump in capability either (now that Chaining is "fixed").  For these retrofits, the Uranium costs are the same between the weapons and the special.  Overall - unless you are willing to put in multiple retrofits to R6 or R8, avoid UAV retrofits.

Missile Fleets:
The choice here is between the Missile System and the weapon itself.  The Missile System upgrade gives a +3% Missile Damage boost for Enhanced Warhead and for Missile System... except the Missile System has no missile damage boost.  Woops.  So the Missile System retrofit will only help Enhanced Warhead.  The weapon boosts are: 
  • Strike Missile: Fire Rate
  • Assault Missile: Accuracy / Fire Rate 
  • Siege Missile: Building Damage 
  • Rapid Fire Missiles (Torrent): Damage 
  • Submerged Missile (Deluge/Downpour): Damage 
  • Bypass Missile (Achilles): Bypass Percentage
When comparing whether to upgrade the System or the Weapon, you have to consider that the system upgrade only upgrades the boost.  So the 3% Damage upgrade to Enhanced Warhead only changes the Damage boost from 33% to 34%, which means the damage only increases 1%, compared to a Torrent Damage boost of 3%.  When comparing the Uranium required, the Missile System requires 25k Uranium, but the Torrent only requires 15k.

The Torrent upgrade is just about the only good one, unless you still depend on Assault Missiles.  Submerged Missiles might be good too, but we'll have to see how useful the Deluge is in practice.  I suspect that when Deluge missiles work, they will be working without you taking return fire, so a few extra percentage points of damage won't be a deal-maker.  Enhanced Warhead isn't used very often either.  For Missile Fleets, look at Weapon upgrades before System upgrades.

Cannon Fleets:
Similar to Missiles, the choice is to upgrade Ballistic Systems or to upgrade the weapons.  At least in this case, Ballistic Reload on Autoloader and on Cannon Systems is affected, which is helpful, becuase those specials are both used often, and give a reload bonus in the first place.  For the weapon upgrades, the boosts are:
  • Impact Cannon: Fire Rate
  • Rapid Fire Cannons (Chaingun/Ripper/Shredder): Damage
  • Assault Cannon: Accuracy / Fire Rate 
  • Siege Cannon: Building Damage
However, the math on Cannons works out a little different because of the specials.  Since the reload bonus on Autoloader 3 is above 100%, the special retrofit may pay off better than the weapon retrofit, if you use AL3.  The problem is that on weapons with high Salvos, like Chainguns, the reload bonus does not translate linearly to a DPS increase because the salvo time is unaffected.  The other problem is that the damage increase does not apply to bonus damage.

For a Chaingun 2:
Basic Chaingun with AL3: Damage = 3536, Reload = 5.95, DPS = 279.7
Chaingun R1 with AL3: Damage = 3614.6, Reload = 5.95, DPS = 285.9
Chaingun with AL3 R1: Damage = 3536, Reload = 5.86, DPS = 282.6

In that case, the weapon retrofit still works out better than the special retrofit.  Assault Cannons might work out different, but the DPS result will be very dependent on the target situation, since the accuracy will be over 100%.  In general, the conclusion is the same as for missiles - upgrade the Weapon before the Special.

Mortar Fleets:
Mortar fleets benefit from Explosive Systems retrofit, just like rockets.  So that retrofit may give you a double benefit, depending on your fleet mix.

The mortar weapon upgrades are:
  • Shockwave Mortar: Fire rate
  • Assault Mortar: Splash
  • Siege Mortar: Building Damage
  • Rapid-Fire Mortar (Negotiator/Chaos): Splash

More Splash is always nice on mortars, and Fire Rate upgrades for Shockwave Mortars will help with damage and also help to overwhelm anti-mortars.

Explosive Systems will increase Splash percentage for the following specials used with Mortars: High Explosive Shells, Explosive System, Combustion System, Splash Upgrade, and Incendiary Shells.  Projectile Speed is also increased for Combustion System, and in one of Kixeyes head-scratchers, Electronic Range Finder is listed but there is no benefit.

Without getting into the math precisely, upgrading splash on a weapon will help more than upgrading splash on a special, since you are upgrading all the splash when doing the weapon, and only the splash bonus percentage when upgrading the special.  The only other factor to take in consideration is that an upgrade to Explosive Systems may benefit many fleets, both rocket-based and mortar-based, where upgrading a weapon will only help fleets using that specific weapon.

Rocket Fleets:
For rocket fleets, players are most often using Inferno-equipped Hellstrikes.  The Rapid-Fire Rockets retrofit adds to Splash to Infernos/Maelstroms (by 3% at R1), which increases DPS linearly (according to the formula I use).  The other option is to use Explosive Systems.  This boosts both the Splash for High Explosive Shells (by 3% at R1) and the Rocket Reload for Cluster Warhead by 3%.  My Hellstrike build only has CW3, but I'll look at a few combinations. 

Inferno on a Hellstrike R5 with CW3
Basic stats: Splash 18 (+40%) = 25.2, Spread 60 (-19%) = 48.6, Reload 0.75 (+140%+170%) = 0.183  Damage: 225  DPS = 1698
Rapid Fire Rockets at R1: Splash 18 (+43%) = 25.74, Spread 60 (-19%) = 48.6, Reload 0.75 (+140%+170%) = 0.1829  Damage 180+45 = 225  DPS = 1735
Explosive Sys at R1: Splash 18 (+40%) = 25.2, Spread 60 (-19%) = 48.6, Reload 0.75 (+140%+175.1%) = 0.1807  Damage: 225  DPS = 1718

Inferno on a Hellstrike R5 with CW3 and HES3
Basic stats: Splash 18 (+40%+50%) = 34.2, Spread 60 (-19%) = 48.6, Reload 0.75 (+140%+170%) = 0.183  Damage: 225  DPS = 2308
Rapid Fire Rockets at R1: Splash 18 (+43%+50%) = 34.74, Spread 60 (-19%) = 48.6, Reload 0.75 (+140%+170%) = 0.1829  Damage 180+45 = 225  DPS = 2345
Explosive Sys at R1: Splash 18 (+40%+51.5%) = 34.47, Spread 60 (-19%) = 48.6, Reload 0.75 (+140%+175.1%) = 0.1807  Damage: 225  DPS = 2355

(note the DPS is based on an equivalent accuracy above 100%, so the numbers may be a little suspect in absolute terms, but they should provide a basis for comparison)

So the "best" option depends on the build - if using the combination of Cluster Warheads and High Explosive Shells, the Explosive Systems retrofit does better, but if using Cluster warheads only, then the Rapid Fire Rockets does better.  Also consider that the built-in Hellstrike reload bonus "dilutes" the benefit of the Explosive Systems reload bonus, so on hulls without a rocket reload bonus the relative benefit would change as well.

Siege Rockets are also more of a viable weapon since the July weapons update.  The retrofit bonus on those is a 3% building damage bonus.  This will help you crack through walls faster if that is how you are using them, but for Siege Rocket fleets, I suspect that most players will benefit more from upgrading the Explosive Systems special instead of the weapon.

Torpedo/Depth Charge Fleets:

Retrofit Assault Torpedos.

Torpedo Weapon bonuses: 
  • Vortex Torpedos: Fire Rate
  • Assault Torpedos: Accuracy / Fire Rate
  • Siege Torpedos: Damage
  • Depth Charges (Piranha/Poseidon): Damage  (I assume these don't affect Piranha Drones)

All of the weapon retrofit bonuses are decent if you use that weapon, but the Assault Torpedo is a standout because it is used so often on sub fleets.

Concussive Systems can be retrofitted to improve Concussive Damage for Concussion Warhead and Concussive Upgrade.  This retrofit also improves Cloak Time on Stealth Attack System, which could also be interesting... Stealth Attack 3 gives +27% cloak time, and Battery 3 gives +40% cloak time.  At R10, SAS 3 cloak time will be increased 19.5% to +32.3%.   So a big retrofit doesn't get you caught up to the Battery special, but Stealth Attack System users might want to think about it.

Stealth Systems increases Cloak Efficiency for Caterpillar Drive and Cloak Time for Nautilus Battery.  This can be really valuable for subs when doing raids, or for subs that are sneaking into bases (without Thermal Imaging protection).  Consider Stealth Systems.

Also D2-S armor can be upgraded to give additional stealth.  To compare the S armor retrofit to the Caterpillar Drive retrofit is fairly easy... The S armor retrofit adds 3% cloak efficiency to the 5% cloak efficiency improvement.  A Stealth Systems retrofit adds 3% cloak efficiency to the 60% cloak efficiency of the Caterpillar drive.  Even with 4 S armors, putting the retrofit on the Caterpillar Drive (if you haven't switched to Magnus) will help stealth more than the S armor retrofit.   Note that Magnus is covered under Compound Engine Systems - you can get a speed increase but not a stealth increase from retrofitting Magnus Drive.

In case you missed it the first time... Retrofit Assault Torpedos.

Other Offensive Capabilities 

Siege Targeting can be retrofitted to give additional Building Damage bonus.  That one doesn't seem like a high priority.

Anti-Sub Systems gives Sonar Range and Explosive Hits Submerged increase to Sonar Pod and Hydrodynamic Shells.  At the upper end of the game, players are needing Thermal Imaging to detect subs, and using torpedos or missiles to shoot at them, so this isn't too useful there.  Lower end players who still rely on sonar probably have better places to spend their Uranium.

Speed Capabilities:

With the new options in retrofit, all of the speed increase options can be improved.

Engine Systems improves Engine Upgrade, Speed Upgrade, Unstable Core, and Reaver Scout Engine.  The big thing to note here is that even the researchable engine upgrade can be affected by the 3% improvement to Combat Speed (and Map Speed).  Another head scratcher from Kixeye - none of these specials affect turn speed, yet a turn speed bonus is listed.  

Compound Engine Systems improves Speed System, Strike System, and Magnus Drive.  The Combat speed and Map speed improvements are buffed by this retrofit, and the turn speed improvement from Speed System is also improved.

Streamlined Armor improves the bonus from V, T, and N Armor.

If choosing between upgrading V armor or the engine special to improve speed, choose the special.  With a speed bonus of 60-80% from a level 3 speed special, versus a 5% bonus from V armor, a 3% change to the bonus will have much greater effect on the speed special.  All of the Compound Engine Systems are used by players at all stages of the game, so that is always a good retrofit to consider.  Engine Systems might even help players in the early game who are using Engine because they haven't earned high level Strike or Speed System yet.

Defensive Ship Capabilities

To improve countemeasure capability, either the Countermeasure Weapons, or the Countermeasure Systems can be retrofit.  The Countermeasure Weapons gives a 1.5% improvement to Range and Reload Rate, and the Countermeasure Systems gives its 3% improvement to Range only.  Although a Range improvement is nice because you can (at least) fire earlier, and thus start reloading sooner, the actual improvement in Reload Rate from retrofitting the weapon should give more benefit than the system retrofit.

For armor, resistance armors (Explosive, Penetrative, Ballistic, Compound, and Radiation) can be upgraded for +3% Resistance at R1, and plate armors (Explosive, Penetrative, Ballistic, and Compound) can be upgraded for +3% Damage Reduction.
The Defense Systems upgrade affects Reactive, Ablative, and Layered Armor specials, the Compound Defense Systems upgrade affects D5-E/M/X and Heavy Plating specials, and the Alloy Defense upgrade affect MC, MX, and CX Alloy specials. 

The best choice here is to upgrade the specials before the armor for two reasons.  The first is the usual "specials have a higher percentage to upgrade than the armor" reason, and the second is that the special upgrades benefit more kinds of resistance than the specialized armor upgrades. 

Evade may be upgraded through Maneuverability Systems, which affect Guidance Scrambler, Thrusters, and Evade Upgrade, or through the Lightweight Armor which affects Evade armor.  The evade percentage of Agility System and Reflective Coating are not retrofittable at this time.

If still using Guidance Scrambler, it will usually give more benefit with the evade bonus affecting the 40% upgrade instead of the 7.5% upgrade of the armor.  However, on a ship like the JugX, or if using many D5E pieces, the armor upgrade may help more.  The best choice for any given player is very dependent on their fleets, but both the Scrambler and the Evade armor are generally good choices to retrofit.


With all of the options for retrofits, I'll try to summarize what I wrote above into a few general rules.
  1. Upgrade things that you use.  Think about which capabilities need enhancement.
  2. Upgrade Hulls, then Weapons, then Specials, then Armor.
  3. Since R1 and R2 upgrades are cheaper and larger, spreading the upgrades across a few different choices can give more overall benefit for a fixed amount of uranium than focusing it all on a single upgrade.
Since every player's situation is different, those rules aren't always perfect, but they should be considered decent guidelines if you are really unsure.  You can also run numbers yourself in Huggy's Shipyard.  When you create a build, click on the "Retro Menu" to bring up the retrofit possibilities.  You can try the different retrofit options you are thinking of to see which helps your statistics the most.