Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interceptor Fleets

The raid is done - I hope you were able to get what you wanted without spending too much coin.  I ran the Siege Campaign 14 times, and hit a couple world map fleets to put me at 48,501,353.  Per the leaderboards, that put me at #9280 globally, so you can get a rough idea of how many players earned enough points to take all of the new prizes.

So now my attention is turning to the question: 
Now that we have some new Interceptor ships and new weapons at our disposal, how do we best build a fleet with them?.  

First I'll review the tools at our disposal:

Ships (I'm going to start calling the Interceptors "Icers"):

H Icer: Prize from a couple raids ago.  When this hull was released, I liked it, but didn't like it like it, because there was no missile that would make this missile-enhanced hull do as much damage as launchers.  With the release of the Siege Missile Z, that's changed (now I like it like it), and H Icers armed with Siege Missile Z are fearsome.

C Icer:  Prize from the Hailstorm raid. This Launcher-enhanced hull is similar to the H version, but enhanced for radioactive weapons instead of missiles.

Frosty Icer:  Limited flagship prize from Hailstorm.  This hull has both radioactive and missile enhancements that are slightly better than the C or H versions, as well as improved resistances and increased max weight.  It also emits a short range (60) cryo field that causes ships caught in the field to have a slower speed, turn, and weapons reload, and causes penetrative, explosive, and ballistics to bypass some resistance.

StatisticFrostburn InterceptorInterceptor V2-CInterceptor V2-H
Weapon Slots888
Armor Slots444
Special Slots444
Max Weight8,8926,5486,548
Base Armor6,1244,9544,954
Combat Speed151515
Turn Speed202020
Ballistic Defense30%20%20%
Explosive Defense30%20%20%
Penetrative Defense30%20%20%
Concussive Defense40%20%40%
Radioactive Defense50%40%20%
Penetrative Reload100%0%90%
Radioactive Reload100%80%0%
Flak Evade %40%0%30%
Concussive Damage Bonus40%30%40%
Thermal Imaging Range906868
Sonar Range803232
Cryo FieldTRUE
Hull Build Time w/off4d23h54m4d23h54m4d23h54m


Siege Missile D55-Z:  The Siege Missile Z put missiles back on the map where Assault Z and Achilles B could not. This missile does a good amount of ship damage, as well as a huge amount of building damage.  Ships with high penetrative resist still need to worry about the radioactive bonus damage done by this weapon.

Cryo Launcher D104-N: This prize from Hailstorm does a large amount of anti ship damage, as well as causing a Cryo overload at 80 hits.  The Cryo overload has an effect similar to the Frosty Icer field described above, as well as doing damage.  The building damage from the Cryo launcher is lower than from other launchers.

Impulse Launcher D92-F, S, U: Even at high reloads, the F launcher does more damage than the lower salvo U version - so the decision if you have all these options is whether to use the Cryo, F, or the S.  The U would be your last choice compared to the other three launcher options. The S launcher, with its 1 salvo, can do better damage than the F at high rank on high reload hulls.  The 80% radioactive reload from the C Icer is high enough that the S Launcher is probably worth considering.

Assault Torpedo D63-B: These torpedos give a 5% speed boost and do a fair amount of concussive damage to ships - and most have zero resistance against concussive.  But torpedos won't hit most buildings (at least the ones we care about hitting), and also have a shorter range than the missile and launcher weapons.

Torrent Missile 3: Torrent Missiles do a lot of damage, but their drawbacks are their long reload time and their relatively shorter range than other missiles.  In practice, I've disliked Torrents when I tried them, but a lot of players use them so I'll put them in the mix.

This weapon comparison chart uses no bonuses, evade, or resistance, but these unmodified numbers show that all these weapons are in the same ballpark for damage dealing.  The hulls, specials, and targets will be key in deciding which weapons will do best in which situations.  I also included a build time per ton metric, so you can see what the impact of weapon selection will be on your build time.  To compare - the build time per ton of the S launcher is 3 times that of the Z missile, so adding a given weight of S launchers to a fleet will take 3 times as long as adding the same weight of Z missile.

Cryo Launcher NSiege Missile Z w SFB3Impulse Launcher FImpulse Launcher SAssault Torpedo BTorrent Missile 3 w/SFB3
Max Range91.088.491.
Bldg Damage4902,1769721,35001914
Bonus Damage0359000669
Reload Time2.
Weight (Shipyard 2)6001,120970700220665
Bonus Armor35060030015000
Fleet DPS175.9202.6137.575.052.5166.1
Fleet DPS/hton29.318.114.210.723.925.0
Building DPS125.6507.0294.5225.00.0184.5
Building DPS/hton20.945.330.432.10.027.7
Hits to Overload8001201500
Salvos to Overload10.0013.315.000
Reference Overload Time (sec)55.7062.9180.000
Overload Effect4296 Cryo Field07864 shock7864 shock00
Overload DPS/hton12.9012.96.200
Build Time (w Off)13h 46m 30s13h 46m 30s1d 2h 16m1d 2h 16m8h 45m17h 26m
Build Time / ton (minutes)1.380.741.622.252.391.57

Before digging into the actual builds, I'll put some planning behind it.  The first question is how to best use the Frosty Icer.  Whether built as a launcher-based ship or a missile-based ship, the Frosty will do more damage than either the C or H versions.  Since the Frosty has a higher max weight, loading it to the max weight would allow the installed weapons to take best advantage of the bonuses.  That could make Frosty a big target, so the other valid option would be to balance the weight and use a similar build for all ships.  Either way, we are looking at a 5 ship fleet (for Dock 11).  If Frosty ends up at the max weight of 8,892 tons, then the other 4 ships would have a target weight of 5,716 tons.  A balanced fleet would have a target weight of 6,351 tons for all 5 ships.

My next thought is that I want to try to take advantage of the cryo overload effects.  I really liked how my Gretas did in the raid with their cryo effect (even though I only had 2 and they weren't even armored yet).  So if I load up the Frosty with Cryo launchers, that gives me 8 launchers with 8 salvo each, which makes 64 of the 80 shots I would need for an overload (if they all hit).  If I use a Gauss Supercharger, those 64 shots would count as 96, which gives me a overload in one salvo (against buildings or ships with highly negative evade).  Now we're on to something... so if I build a Flagship loaded with Cryo Launchers, then pair it with H Icers loaded with Siege Missile Z, I end up with a fleet like this:

FLEET 1:!70MI00V0V0V0V681V655B4W4W4W4W4W4W4W4W0M600V0V0V0V681V5P5B00190000004U4U4U0M600V0V0V0V681V5P5B00000000194U4U4U0M600V0V0V0V681V5P5B00000000194U4U4U0M600V0V0V0V681V5P5B00000000194U4U4UdB

Maybe a little light on armor points, but with this fleet my philosophy is that the best defense is a good offense.  A base hitter would need more armor.  Some of the other design choices:  I used D5X instead of MC3, because for the anti-reaver mission, you'll see rockets and mortars occasionally.  Also, replacing the 4xD3E armor with D5E, D3E, D2E, D2E would keep the same amount of armor points, and add 0.8% evade to the build, but also add 1 day to each ship's build time.  I'll make these builds with balanced armor for comparison, you can make your own decision on whether extra build time is worth the bit of evade.

Another option is to go all Cryo Launcher with C Icers:

FLEET 2:!70MI00V0V0V0V0C1V655B4W4W4W4W4W4W4W4W0MO00V0W0V0V0C1V5P5B4W1900004W4W4W4W0MO00V0W0V0V0C1V5P5B4W1900004W4W4W4W0MO00V0W0V0V0C1V5P5B4W1900004W4W4W4W0MO00V0W0V0V0C1V5P5B4W1900004W4W4W4WdB

5 Cryo launchers weigh the same as 3 Siege Missiles.  On this fleet, I also switched the Radioactive Coat for Guidance Scrambler - the V2C has more built-in radioactive resistance, so I liked the extra evade more than the extra radioactive defense.  The lower build time on the special somewhat makes up for the extra weapon build time, but I also changed one D3E to a D4E to use the extra weight.

Then I'll look at some balanced fleets, again all Cryo:
FLEET 3:!70MI00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4W4W4W4W1A4W00000MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4W4W4W4W00004W1A0MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4W4W4W4W00004W1A0MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4W4W4W4W00004W1A0MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4W4W4W4W00004W1AdB

I used the Gauss on all the ships, and also bumped up the armor a bit.

Or all Siege Missile:
FLEET 4:!70MI00W0V0V0V0C1V0L5B4U004U4U1A0000000M600W0V0V0V681V0L5B4U4U000000004U1A0M600W0V0V0V681V0L5B4U4U000000004U1A0M600W0V0V0V681V0L5B4U4U000000004U1A0M600W0V0V0V681V0L5B4U4U000000004U1AdB

Back to Radioactive Coating... and using Enhanced Warhead to help the missiles seemed like a fair comparison to using Gauss for the Cryo.

And then the build I've been seeing a lot of: Torrents + Torpedos:


Very similar to the Siege missile build, but this will have more combat speed and less range. 

And for good measure, let's try Impulse Launcher fleets using F & S launchers:

Fleet 6:
(go see Fleet 3, but 4 Impulse Launcher F, no Phalanx, and all D3E on Frosty, 3 Impulse Launcher F & the Phalanx on the C Icers)!70MI00V0V0V0V0C1V655B4R4R4R4R000000000MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4R4R000000004R1A0MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4R4R000000004R1A0MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4R4R000000004R1A0MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4R4R000000004R1AdB

Fleet 7:
(go see Fleet 3, but 5 Impulse Launcher S, no Phalanx, and all D3E on Frosty, 5 Impulse Launcher S, Phalanx 1, and all D3E on the C Icers.  Also Evade Upgrade instead of Gauss Supercharger, since the S isn't helped much by Gauss)!70MI00V0V0V0W0C1V655B4S4S4S4S4S1A00000MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4S4S00004S004S1A0MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4S4S00004S004S1A0MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4S4S00004S004S1A0MO00W0V0V0V0C1V655B4S4S00004S004S1AdB

To compare these fleets, I'll run down their statistics, and then compare DPS against some targets.

The chart below shows the key fleet statistics:
Statistic (per ship)Fleet 1 (Cryo FB + SM-Z H Icer)Fleet 2 (8 Cryo FB + 5 Cryo C Icer)Fleet 3 (All Cryo Icer + Gauss)Fleet 4 (all SM-Z)Fleet 5 (Torrent + Torp)Fleet 6 (F Launcher + Gauss)Fleet 7 (S Launcher + Evade)
Fleet Build Time (w officer)62d 5h60d 21h66d 23h59d 16h71d 14h69d 14h67d 18h
Combat Speed24.
FB Armor13,92413,92413,37413,42411,62412,32411,874
H/C Icer Armor11,75412,20412,20412,25410,45411,35410,704
FB Evade70.6%73.7%73.7%73.7%73.7%73.7%77.6%
H/C Icer Evade66.7%70.2%64.9%60.8%60.8%64.9%70.2%
Max Range91.0 / /

For DPS calculations, the first two targets I'll use are a building with no resistances, and a "zero ship" that has resistance of 0% against all weapons, no plate, and 0% evade.

I'll also continue to use the raid Icer and raid Kodiak targets I've been using lately, and add one more - one of the Reaver Scouts from a Level 61-63 dredge.  Of course, much thanks to the guys at the Unofficial Battle Pirates Information blog for extracting the detailed ship build info that makes this possible. Their dredge article is here:

There are actually two type of the Reaver Scout ship - a Missile type and a Cannon type - the Cannon type has better defense (more evade), so I'll use that one. I was surprised to see how heavily the Reaver ships relied on plate rather than resistance.  All three ship types in the dredge (2 Scouts and the Hulk) have the same plate for damage reduction.  Looking at these numbers it's a bit clearer why Inferno-armed Hellstrikes do so poorly against these ships.

 Evade: 33%
 Ballistic Defense: 3%
 Explosive Defense: 3%
 Missile Defense: 3%
 Penetrative Damage: -76
 Ballistic Damage: -104
 Explosive Damage: -144

For my DPS calculations, I assumed full alliance Gunner Bonus (10% reload & 20% accuracy), and 45% rank reload Bonus (applied separately from other reload bonuses so it compounds).

The chart below is shaded from Green to Red, where Green shows the fleet with the highest DPS against the target type.  

Looking at this chart, I was surprised that the Cryo Launcher didn't keep pace with the other weapons (fleets 2 & 3), and especially that the Gauss Special (Fleet 3) hurt the DPS.  When looking at the numbers a bit deeper, what seemed to be going on is that the Cryo gets less of its DPS from the overload, so mounting fewer launchers in order to use the Gauss special doesn't make for a good tradeoff. The other reason why the Cryo is falling behind the other weapons is that it is helped less by the high reload bonuses than the Siege Missile, because of its high salvo number and longer delay between salvos (0.2 second for Cryo vs. 0.1 second for Impulse).  I would be concerned about trying to use an all-cryo fleet against dredges, since the DPS against buildings is low compared to the other weapons.  The turrets in Dredges have 60,000 health each.

The Siege Missile Z and the Impulse Launcher F are the two best weapons of the bunch, and the Siege Missile Z certainly seems to be the weapon of choice against dredges.  Keep in mind the Siege Missile fleet will have shorter range.

The Torrent & Torpedo combo does great against the ship with no resistance, but against targets that have the combination of a resistance percentage and plate, it really falls behind. It also has shorter range with more speed so that is another tradeoff to consider.

  The all-Siege Missile Z fleet also falls short against the 73% missile resistance of the Kodiak.

Impulse Launcher S doesn't look that great compared to the alternatives, but they would improve most at Legendary rank, so consider your own situation.  However, they would never catch up to the Z missile, since both have salvo of 1.

One important effect not accounted for in the chart above is the debuff from the Cryo Overload.  It slows enemy movement and fire rate by 30%, and also gives a 30% bypass effect.  Although that bypass does not affect radioactive resistance, it does affect penetrative, which is the reason I wanted to combine the Cryo with the Z missile in the first place.  When accounting for the bypass effect, the Missile DPS would go up.  Against the 10% evade of the Kodiak, Frosty would get a Cryo boom by the second volley, so the effect would be in place fairly quickly, reducing the 73% resistance to 51%.  This would increase the Fleet 1 DPS from 5,004 to 6,396 against the Kodiak.  The reduced enemy fire rate is important as well, since that will reduce the damage you take.

So... what am I going to build?  I think I'll try the Cryo/Siege combo fleet.  I think the takeaway here is that the new weapons are not overpowered "I win" weapons, but they can be very powerful in the right situations.  The launcher splash effects are not accounted for in the DPS numbers above, so the powerful overload of the F launcher is deadly against grouped ships.  The Siege Missile Z is extremely deady against buildings, and also against any target that doesn't have high missile resistance.  Also remember that launchers won't work well if you want to go sub-hunting.  The Torrent + Torpedo fleet is faster than the others, although it does seem to be countered by the evade and resistance.

I used Strike System on all of these ships for best accuracy.  With the Launchers, choosing Speed System might be a decent choice even with the accuracy loss, since this is really a FvF fleet, and the turn and extra evade from Speed may help.  On Missile ships, Speed + SFB3 could be used instead of Strike + Enhanced Warhead.  In this case you would give up accuracy and damage, but get the evade, turn, and extra range.

One more twist to consider would be to build a 4 ship fleet.  This fleet could be built with the same number of weapons and heavier armor per ship, since there are generally weapon slots open in most of the designs I showed above.  The primary issue with that would be that the max weight of a Frosty + 3 Icers is 28,536 tons, so you would be leaving about 2,000 tons unused from the Dock 11 fleet weight. I'll leave a 4 ship fleet design as an exercise for the reader.  With one less hull, it should shave a few days off the fleet build, and if you already have a light Highlander or Savage Kodiak, that could be inserted as a 5th ship to give a fire/defense bonus, which would surely make up for the lighter fleet weight.
(Edit: Whoops - it was pointed out to me by an alliance mate that you can't mix the Frosty with one of the other Limited flagships - although you could make use of one as a 5th ship in an appropriate 4 ship V2C or V2H fleet though)

Another possible "combo" fleet is using Frosty to spot for Mastodons.  A build similar to the "heavy" cryo version in Fleet 1 wouldn't have evade as high as a correctly built Juggernaut X, but it could be quite effective if it can cause cryo overloads.  If building solely for this purpose, it might even be preferable to build it with fewer launchers, Speed System instead of Strike, and D5-E armor.
Maybe something like:!70MI01R1R1R1R5H1S5P68000000004W4W4W4W0MC00000000000171S0L0R4U4U4U4U4U4U004U4V000MC00000000000171S0L0R4U4U4U4U4U4U004U4V000ZZ0ZZdA

I hope you like like your Icers!