Saturday, January 10, 2015

Another Launcher Comparison

Since rank bonuses don't affect reload the way I thought they did, and the delay time between all salvos is 0.2 seconds, not 0.1 seconds... I need to come back to the #1 most frequent question I have been asked since I started this blog:

Which launcher should I use?

What Happened?
I did some testing, and found that the time delay between salvos on Impulse Launchers is not 0.1 seconds like we thought, but it is 0.2 seconds.  This hurts the D92-U & the D92-F, making their reload cycles 0.3 and 0.8 seconds longer (respectively).  That extra time is not affected by any reload bonuses (hull, rank, or otherwise).  The published salvo time for the D104-N was already 0.2 seconds, so no previous Cryo Launcher data is affected by this change.

We have also found that the rank reload bonus is not like other reload bonuses... it has a separate multiplier of (1 - rank).  This also helps the low salvo weapons (D92-S & D104-S) more than the other ones.

Test cases Comparing Launcher DPS
I'm going to compare the DPS/hton of the 5 launcher types as rank increases for 3 different cases:
  • 10% reload bonus, 20% accuracy bonus (alliance only).  This would apply to a Juggernaut X or other hull with no bonuses that apply to launchers
  • 90% reload bonus, 20% Accuracy bonus.  This would apply to Greta's Nuclear Cruiser (with full alliance bonus)
  • 130% reload bonus, 55% Accuracy bonus.  This would apply to an Enforcer R5 (with full alliance bonus)
I ran these cases against a "zero" ship (no evade or resist), and against buildings (100% accuracy, no resist).  Adding Evade and Resist would (mostly) scale all the results the same, except for the cases where accuracy bonuses drive the non-S launcher accuracy above 100%  (the high accuracy launchers would lose less DPS against evading targets than the low accuracy launchers).

So here are the charts showing DPS/hton for each of those cases: 

What can we tell from these charts?
  • Against buildings, the S launchers are always best.  By a lot.
  • I was incorrect in my previous favorite launcher choice - the D92-F... now that I've learned about the increased salvo delay, and the much larger effect of rank, the D92-F is generally the WORST choice for launcher, especially once the ships get to even elite (25%) rank.  (I guess I better refit those Gretas).  If in a situation where the weapon slots are limited and you have trouble filling your weight... MAYBE the heavier D92-F would be an OK choice.
  • The other area where I wasn't too accurate was to dismiss the building damage of the D104-N. The Cryo Launchers generally stay ahead of Impulse Launchers, even in Building Damage.
  • Against ships, the D104-N is best at lower ranks, then the S Launchers get better at the higher ranks.  The S Cryo Launcher stays ahead of the S Impulse Launcher.
  • Cryo Launchers get additional benefit from their cryo field debuffs (not shown on charts).
  • What is also not shown on these charts is that the higher DPS S launchers do a smaller percent of their damage from the explosion, which means that they may do less damage overall to clustered targets.  That is often noticed on Drac Bases and Forsaken Missions, where D92-U launchers can be very effective at taking out the turret clusters.
So the answer is usually ... If you're gonna rank them up much past Elite or shoot at buildings only, use D104-S, otherwise use D104-N.  And before you comment that Evade or Radioactive Resistance will change my results... those effects basically multiply the DPS of all the launchers equally so it doesn't really affect the comparison.  Some exceptions exist if you are more concerned about making Area of Effect damage with Shockwaves... read on.

Not far behind is...

Should I use the Gauss Supercharge special?

Gauss adds a 0.5 factor onto the charge per hit for all Launcher weapons.  This is slightly different than what is implied by the blueprint, which shows x1.5 from the Gauss.  This means that a launcher with a supercharge number greater than 1 already doesn't have that number multiplied by 1.5, it has 0.5 added.  Think of these things adding like reload bonuses, not multiplying like defense bonuses.  That means that a D104-S, with its x5 Supercharge, ends up at x5.5 with Gauss, not x7.5.

I ran some numbers for the launchers with and without Gauss, and the first thing I noticed is that the relative effects of Gauss don't change with rank reload or accuracy bonuses.  So I'm not going to make another big set of graphs... just a chart showing you the Gauss benefit (or drawback) for each type of launcher.

The chart shows that the U Launcher (with its small weapon damage) does the highest percentage of its damage with shockwaves.  Cryo weapons do the lowest.  If you are in a situation where you have a lot of weapon slots available and you want to take advantage of AoE (often in mission hubs), D92-U might be a good choice.  

The Gauss Supercharger will always tilt the damage balance toward AoE damage, and will always increase the DPS.  But if considering the weight, the benefits of the Gauss against a single target are small, especially on the Cryo launchers, and in fact negative on the S launchers (because of the additive nature of the bonus).

So the answer is... Your special slot is usually more useful for speed or defense than Gauss.  I think Enforcers on guard may be an exception, where incoming base attack fleets can often cluster up, and also you are very limited in weapon slots (since you only have one ship in an area).  But if you are using S launchers on the Enforcer, then Gauss is not a good choice, and using Countermeasure Loaders to give you 10% better reload would also give you 10% more DPS.

And one more question:

Is a Goliath R10 with Bypass Chainguns going to be as good as an Enforcer R5 with Launchers?

(OK nobody has come out and asked me this one yet, but I'm curious for myself)

I'll start out designing one of each with similar weight... I'll try to use similar design goals for each ship... I think evade and missile defense will continue to be important for guards, so I'll emphasize that.

On the Enforcer, I'll use 10 D104-S (based on the info above), Countermeasure Loaders (10% DPS improvement will do better than Gauss), Heavy Plate, Radioactive Coat, and Pinch Resist Panels with E Armor.

On the Goliath, I'll use 6 Bypass Chaingun 3 (see my article on why), Hardened Barrel 3, Heavy Plate, and Radioactive Coat along with a mix of E and M armor.  I'm not going to try Autoloader, since most of the weapon cycle time is in the salvo time which is unaffected by reload bonuses.


Stats compare:
StatisticEnforcer R5, D104-SGoliath R10, Bypass Chain 3
Combat Speed3.52.8
Ballistic Defense56%45%
Explosive Defense73%56%
Penetrative Defense73%55%
Concussive Defense0%0%
Radioactive Defense62%54%
Build Time w/off25d 20h 19m22d 20h 20m
Repair Modifier50%50%
Stun Resist60%30%
Weapon Range100.194.5
Weapon Damage Bonus0%50%
Weapon Reload Bonus140%80%
Weapon Accuracy Bonus55%53%
anti-ship DPS, zero target, zero rank4,5524,977
anti-ship DPS, zero target, 51% rank9,2916,326
anti-ship DPS, zero target, 75% rank18,2097,251
anti-ship DPS, Kodiak Baser, zero rank9891,185
anti-ship DPS, Kodiak Baser, 51% rank2,0171,506
anti-ship DPS, Kodiak Baser, 75% rank3,9541,726
Survival Time: 15 D104S+Blast34.538.6
Survival Time: 15 Siege Missile Z15.014.7
Survival Time: 24 Hornet20.716.8

On the stats chart - the "weapon" bonuses are the bonuses that apply to that ship's weapons (radioactive for Enforcer, Ballistic for Goliath). I included full alliance bonuses, and the 30% Ballistic Bypass is included in the Goliath's DPS.

To compare, the ships have similar total weight, and although the Goliath has more armor points, the Enforcer has more resistance.  The Goliath is a quicker build, but the Enforcer has better stun resist (if pinched) and also better range.

In terms of dealing damage, the Goliath starts out better at zero rank, but the Enforcer pulls away once ranked - taking advantage of its one salvo.  Using the "real" target closed the DPS gap a bit, but didn't significantly change the results. The bypass & slow effects of the Cryo Fields aren't accounted for either... especially if you are combining your guard with Wendigo/Cryo Turrets.

For Survival Time (computed with only alliance bonuses on those weapons), the two ships were fairly close, although the Goliath will take longer to repair due to its higher health overall.

So... the answer is: I'd probably still prefer the Enforcer R5... but the Goliath R10 with Bypass Chainguns doesn't suck.  Especially if you know you aren't going to be putting in the time or coin to really rank up your guards... the Goliath is a decent option.  Of course, if not ranking.. then maybe the D104-N would be better than the D104-S... you'll have to figure that one out on your own.  The DPS calculator is updated with Bypass Chainguns added, so enjoy!