Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Forsaken Mission Items - Torrent Missile and Resonance Battery

Well, it looks like Kixeye doesn't want to let ANYONE catch up with the Forsaken Missions, releasing 2 new items with this week's update.  Players who have gotten Tier 3 on every Forsaken Mission, or have caught up through raids, are still one short of the batch of three new items released three weeks ago. (for me it's Sawfish.  I'll live.)  

The two new items are the Torrent Missile and the Resonance Battery.  I think the most interesting part about these two new prizes is that they are tough to classify.  Most previous items released in the Forsaken Missions are similar to or mashups of something else - for example Shredders are like Rippers, or Agility System is like Guidance Scrambler + Shielded Electronics.  The Torrent Missile is very unlike other missiles, and there really isn't any special like the Resonance Battery.  This post was kind of hard to write, because I really had to think about how these new items might be used.  I'm sure I missed a few things that creative pirates will come up with... and I'm holding one back for myself... heh heh.

Torrent Missile:
The Torrent Missile 3 specs are as follows:  
Range: 58 (75.2 with SFB3)
Damage: 1914 Penetrating + 669 Radioactive
Reload Time: 12.5
Salvo: 16
Accuracy: 90
Weight: 594 tons

With a shorter range than most other missiles (and did you EVER use a rapier?), I'm not exactly sure what to make of this weapon.   The comment in the description says that it does a "blistering torrent of penetrative damage".  Let's look at my favorite weapon metric - DPS per ton, and see if that statement is accurate:

Type(HB3 / SFB3) Weight(HB3 / SFB3) RangeFleet DamageBuilding DamageReload + Salvo TimeAccuracyFleet DPSFleet DPS / ton * 100Building DPSBuilding DPS / ton * 100
Thud 484.873.52344093.570.00%46.855.2116.9137.8
Assault Cann Z320631871871.6100.00%116.936.5116.936.5
Reaver Chain 2633.6692500250018.370.00%95.615.1136.621.6
Assault Missile M67296.21871124.375.00%33.04.926.43.9
Siege Missile A1,34485.84509005.050.00%45.03.3180.013.4
Siege Missile F1,34485.859810485.050.00%59.84.4209.615.6
Impulse Launch U51491160802.870.00%40.07.828.65.6
Torrent Missile 122275.41031103115.590.00%59.927.066.530.0
Torrent Missile 244475.41714171415.590.00%99.522.4110.624.9
Torrent Missile 366575.42583258315.590.00%150.022.5166.625.0

Well for a missile, they do a lot of damage... they sit between the Chaingun and the Assault Z in the key DPS/100 ton metric.  The Torrent 1 is more efficient than the other two versions as well.  The other nice feature this weapon shares with the Chaingun is that the damage is 'front-loaded'.  So they could be more effective than the DPS/ton metric implies, since if you kill your target with the initial volley of fire, that target will not be firing back while you are reloading.  Ignoring the 'boom', the Torrent is also much more effective than the Impulse Launcher, but like the Launcher, it will lose effectiveness against high-evade fleets, although not as drastically since it isn't dependent on the boom.

So the question is how can these be used?

Base Fleet: You will outrage Cerbs (66), but not Howys (78), and you'd have to be very careful around Disrupters (72).  You wouldn't outrange most weapons on guard ships either.  The other concern is the long reload time.  After firing at (and probably sinking) your initial target, the long reload time means that you may have to sit and wait before being able to fire at the next target, and thus be very vulnerable to Brimstone / Halo / Mortar fire.  There might be some use for these on blitz-style fleets, but the Missile-enhanced hulls really aren't durable enough to blitz.  Someone will try this, but I'm not going to try it first.  WAIT AND SEE

(someone already did -  I think some of the things I said above are evident on the video)

FvF Fleet: The key in FvF is to be able to pick your optimum range and stay there.  These Torrent Missiles certainly have enough punch to be able to kill enemy ships quickly, but would be vulnerable to ballistics or rockets if they couldn't keep their range... and they don't have a whole lot of margin.  MAYBE

Drac Base/Mission/Mine: Compared to other missile/launcher fleets that do well in drac bases, the shorter range might not be as much of a handicap as it is against player bases.  These fleets need to have a strategy for dealing with the missile and cannon fire that the player will be in range of anyway.  The greater punch would make up for the additional time needed to get in range of a target.  On a fleet with retargeting, I think these Torrents could be very effective against the dracs.  TRY IT

Reavers: The range is better than the 66 of an Engine Disrupter field, and the additional range over Infernos on a Hellstrike (for example) might allow you to stay away from the rockets on the big targets.  The damage is nearly as good as the ballistics.  Perhaps a mercury with its reload bonus would be a quick effective build, or the R5 MCX would certainly deal out a lot of hurt.  TRY IT

Guard Fleet: The short range here hurts the Torrent's usefulness for guards.  It may work for anti-blitz (especially because many Hellstrike builds are lowest in Missile resist), or on a ship that has high evade or resistance, in order to stop enemies in the range of center-island weapons.  MAYBE

Overall, no ringing endorsements here... I want to like this weapon, but I think some experimentation will be needed to find its niche.  Remember that Penetrative or Composite Plate will really blunt the damage done by this weapon.

Resonance Battery:
This special gives a damage, defense, and speed bonus to ships affected by a tactical field.  The key word is AFFECTED.  So your own friendly fields, like Navigation Array, ECM, or Wake, will affect your own ships when they are in the field (Only the subs in an ECM field).  Enemy fields like Microwave Dampener or Engine Disrupter will affect your ships when your ships are in the enemy field.  For example, your own ships won't be helped by the Resonance Battery against the reavers just because you brought an Engine Disrupter field.

The first question I thought about is - would it be worth it to replace a ship in a fleet with a field, just to get the resonance bonus?  To think about that one, if you consider a 4 ship fleet, and the possibility of adding a 5th ship or adding an arbiter, the 5th ship would give 25% more attack and defense, and the arbiter would give only 20% more attack and defense, with the 20% speed boost.  This probably isn't worth the special slot you'd need for the resonance battery.  However, that assumes an even 5 ship fleet.  

Base Fleet: An arbiter with Nav Array 3 would be made to weigh only 3359 tons.  A Vanguard with Nav Array 3 could serve as a countermeasure ship for a base hitting fleet.  This would let you use more weight in the 4 remaining hitter ships.  I played with a Nuke Cruiser build for a few minutes and ended up with this fleet.  (4 nuke cruisers with 7 launchers, Speed3, Battery (Sub Battery 1 weighs just a little more than resonance battery), D5X, 2xD3-E 2xD2-E), I didn't like it that much actually. UNLIKELY

FvF: I'd rather have the 5th ship and use of the special.  Subs with ECM might be able to take advantage, but specials are very precious on a Sub - you wouldn't give up Engine or Cat/Bat on a Spectre for example.  FORGET IT

Guard Fleet: Give up a ship slot for a Nav Array?  NOT A CHANCE.

Drac Base/Mission/Mine: See Base fleet above.  FORGET IT

Reavers: So now you need TWO arbs to fight reavers?  NO WAY

Resonance Battery - Neat idea, but I have no clue how to use it well.  Maybe some of you pirates out there are a little more creative than me.  I'll keep my eyes open.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Optimizing Your Armor - Survival Time (part 2)

For Part 2 of my piece on using Survival Time to optimize your armor, I'm going to look at a few more sample builds - these are actual questions my friends and alliance mates have asked me over the last week or two, so they might apply in your situation.

If you missed Part 1, read it here.  I discuss how the Survival Time metric works.

Nuclear Cruiser Build - Resist or Evade?
Let's start with the Nuke Cruiser.  I was presented with this build (Config 1 in my table below), and asked how it looked for hitting bases:

I thought it was alright - I noticed the one larger piece of armor was the D4-E, which is the right choice for build time.  

But I noticed that he was adding Missile (D3-M) and Ballistic (D3-C) resist, which are mostly from aimed weapons.  I suggested making those both D3-E, and ran the numbers (Config 2 in the table).  I found that the E armor did better against all aimed weapons.  This happens because the E armor helps against all the aimed weapons (two 7% bonuses), but the M or C armor only will give you only one bonus against each weapon type (one 10% bonus).  This configuration will hurt a little against the splash weapons that do Missile or Ballistic Damage, such as Halos, Brimstones, or Assault Rocket C.  Also note that the evade does much better against impulse launchers and assault torpedos, since evade is the only helpful bonus there.  This is almost a general rule - 2 evade beats 2 resist armors.

Then I decided that since a little evade was good, more evade might be better.  So I replaced the D5X with Evade upgrade.  That put me a little bit over the weight limit for a 5 ship fleet, so I decided to also replace the D4E with Penetrative Plate 3 so keep my armor points & save some weight.  I usually don't like the Penetrative Plate, but I was thinking Halo defense.  This is Configuration 3 in the table below.

Ship ConfigShip Config 1Ship Config 2Ship Config 3
Armor points:100481004810048
Explosive Defense:46.00%46.00%20.00%
Ballistic Defense:52.00%46.00%20.00%
Missile Defense52.00%46.00%20.00%
Concuss Defense:0.00%0.00%0.00%
Radioactive Defense:30.00%30.00%30.00%
Explosive Subtract:000
Ballistic Subtract:000
Missile Subtract:0014
Concuss Subtract:000
Radioactive Subtract:000
Expected Time of survival (seconds) from:HIGHER TIME IS BETTER
Accounts for "subtract" armor (resist% before subtract)
Javelin with DUShell3194.07197.75148.86
Sent 5206.34210.26167.52
Cerb 443.6143.6129.44
Howy 4112.97115.1286.10
Assault Cannon Z371.87388.30290.44
Assault Missile C1,301.991,326.691,220.83
Siege Missile V989.741,008.51784.87
Shredder 3853.04869.22650.16
Thud 41,484.551,512.721,131.49
Ripper 4539.27549.50411.02
Shock Mortar Q719.58719.58485.72
Assault Mortar X133.11133.1189.85
Siege Mortar B169.60169.60114.48
Impact Cannon A1,908.591,944.821,454.72
Assault Rocket M209.33204.68152.38
Inferno Rocket73.1973.1953.67
Reaver Chaingun 1677.38717.14596.91
Reaver Chaingun 2350.32370.89308.73
Reaver Chaingun 3241.74255.93213.03
Siege Cannon X801.69850.94636.48
Impulse Launcher D92U763.50875.23969.85
Assault Torpedo B407.21466.80517.27

So what's best?  

Configuration 1 - D4-E D3-E D3-M D3-C with D5X: Best against Hail & Brimstone, tied with Config 2 against Explosive Splash weapons.

Configuration 2 - D4-E D3-E D3-E D3-E with D5X: Best against aimed weapons except all-radioactive or concussive. Tied with Config 1 for Explosive Splash.

Configuration 3 - PenPlate3 D3-E D3-E D3-E with Evade Upgrade: Best against impulse launcher and torpedos.

So what would the Professor build?  I recommended Configuration 2, to cover most base defense weaponry.  At the range of impulse launchers - I worry about aimed weapons like missiles, and ballistics on Goliaths like chainguns and thuds.  That seemed a nice balance to me.  Evade emphasis may be more of a FvF build, where you may be hit by subs or other nuke builds, but the big drop in resistances hurts against most weapons.   However, I have an alliance mate 20 levels higher who swears by the high evade builds.  I have the numbers, he has the experience... you'll have to make your own decision in the end.

Stingray Build: Armor or Evade?
The next question I was asked related to the new Compound Armor 4, and whether it would be good on a slot-limited configuration, such as a Stingray.  I'll go with a R5 Assault Cannon Stingray.  I'll start with a High Evade configuration - this build isn't too fast, but has nice range.  I might use some chainguns here to use up more weight, but we do have plenty of space to fit the new heavier armor.  

Unfortunately, Compound Plate hasn't been added to the BP Outpost shipyard (when I wrote this) so I'll have to do the math by hand.  Since I have 1700 tons to work with, I'm not going to worry too much about the exact weight, Compound 4 only weighs about 100 tons more before the weight modifiers, which will only total 16% with Shipyard 2.  Compound will add 535 armor points per piece of armor, and drop the Evade from 67% to 62%.  I also tried a super evade configuration with D4E and Evade upgrade instead of D5X.

Ship ConfigShip Config 1Ship Config 2Ship Config 3
Armor points:569367635693
Explosive Defense:33.00%33.00%0.00%
Ballistic Defense:33.00%33.00%0.00%
Missile Defense33.00%33.00%0.00%
Concuss Defense:0.00%0.00%0.00%
Radioactive Defense:0.00%0.00%0.00%
Explosive Subtract:0160
Ballistic Subtract:080
Missile Subtract:0120
Concuss Subtract:000
Radioactive Subtract:000
Expected Time of survival (seconds) from:HIGHER TIME IS BETTER
Accounts for "subtract" armor (resist% before subtract)
Javelin with DUShell3112.19117.0188.59
Sent 5119.29137.4094.20
Cerb 419.9124.7713.34
Howy 465.3169.2251.57
Assault Cannon Z220.30336.98173.96
Assault Missile C752.701,140.68594.37
Siege Missile V572.18614.75451.82
Shredder 3493.16630.11389.42
Thud 4858.25961.98677.72
Ripper 4311.76379.76246.18
Shock Mortar Q328.59415.14220.16
Assault Mortar X60.7974.9740.73
Siege Mortar B77.4593.4051.89
Impact Cannon A1,103.411,372.41871.33
Assault Rocket M93.47142.8862.62
Inferno Rocket32.2342.3823.72
Reaver Chaingun 1388.52531.36345.94
Reaver Chaingun 2200.93237.46178.92
Reaver Chaingun 3138.65156.79123.46
Siege Cannon X482.78529.68381.23
Impulse Launcher D92U431.28444.92508.29
Assault Torpedo B328.60338.99387.28

Configuration 1 - D4E D4E D5X: Never the best.

Configuration 2 - CP4 CP4 D5X: Best against everything but all-radioactive and torpedos.

Configuration 3 - D4E D4E Evade Upgrade: Best against impulse and torpedos.  Worst against most of the rest. 

The damage reduction is nice, but the numbers were looking like a win for the Compound even before I entered the damage reduction values.  Usually, more armor just wins.

So what have we learned from 3 armor articles?
Armor takes a long time to build, but armor is what keeps your fleet afloat when you are getting shot at.  Choose your armor pieces carefully to optimize build time, and optimize resistance against the weapons that you think will be shooting at you.

Next week: I'm going to move from armor to weapons.  When are big weapons better than small weapons?  Or the opposite???

Also coming soon: I will be releasing a web version of my Survival Time Calculator so you can use it for your own builds.

Hopefully you don't mind the ads too much...  All advertising proceeds will be put into the "Buy the Professor a Nuclear Cruiser fleet" fund.