Thursday, February 5, 2015

New Forsaken Mission Items - Blaze Thrower, Reaver Bulkhead, Fallout Armor

Three new items were released in the Forsaken Mission this week, ensuring we all would stay (at least) one Tier 4 item behind.  We have the Blaze Thrower weapon, the Fallout Armor ship special, and the Reaver Bulkhead Armor.  They all might have a useful place in your toolkit - I'll talk about the uses of each.

Blaze Thrower:
Not too long after the first thrower weapon was released in the Hellgate raid, Kixeye has released a second one - the Blaze Thrower.  The stats of the Blaze compared to the Magma and a few other weapons are below:

Blaze ThrowerMagma ThrowerBypass Chaingun 1 w/HB3Chaingun 1
Assault Cannon X w/HB3Torrent Missile 3 w/SFB3Inferno RocketChaos Mortar
Max Range80.
Bldg Damage8044,82815721,572225764251800
Bonus Damage0078655037267451447
Reload Time8.08.07.512.01.512.50.757.0
Weight +Special (Shipyard 2)3203204743173202221,4421,300
Bonus Armor0000004001000
Fleet DPS125.6188.6124.183.4110.059.9240.094.6
Fleet DPS/hton39.358.926.226.334.427.016.67.3
Building DPS62.8377.2177.3119.2154.166.5394.7303.6
Building DPS/hton19.6117.937.437.648.230.027.423.4
Build Time (w Off)20h 56m20h 56m7h 4m6h 33m20h 50m5h 54m2d 18h 49m1d 11h 38m
OtherFire Field, Explosion on Kill, +5% SpeedFire Field, Explosion on Kill25% Ballistic Bypass0%0%0%5% C/X/M defense5% rad defense

As a FvF weapon, its damage looks pretty good compared to the similar range/weight alternatives, and the speed bonus will certainly come in handy.  Its building damage is awful, and no baser fleet should be built around this weapon.  But the real useful stat on this weapon is the speed bonus.  A long time ago (in BP terms), players used to put Siege Cannons on ships just for the speed bonus.  If we compare the Blaze Thrower to the Siege Cannon, it is 50 tons lighter, builds quicker (the 2 day+ build time of Siege Cannons was cut to a bit over a day in the summer weapon update), and it does a similar amount of DPS at a much longer range.

So just like you don't see all Siege Cannon Fleets any more, you probably don't want to build an all Blaze Thrower fleet either.  But mixing one or two Blazes in with a Cryo Launcher armed V2-C might make a cool fleet... we'll see.

Fallout Armor 1, 2, 3:
The new Fallout Armor special is really just another compound/alloy armor special, but it gives Radioactive resistance instead of Ballistic.  

EDIT: It also adds weight based on TOTAL weight, not armor weight.  Thanks to a reader for pointing out this error in the original article  

EDIT #2: They changed it to armor weight, which is more consistent with the other armor specials.

This gives players another option to add radioactive defense besides R armor or the Radioactive Coating special.  I think to evaluate this armor you'll need to compare it to some alternatives, so I'm going to compare a few potential combinations.  One line to notice - I assumed that armor weight was equal to about 1/2 of the weapon weight (so 1/3 of the overall ship's base weight before specials), just to come up with an estimate for comparing these combinations.

Alloy MX-3
Reflect Coat 3
Fallout 3
Guid Scram 3
Fallout 3
Agility 3
Comp D5-X
Reflect Coat 3
Alloy MC-3
Agility 3
Total Weight14%12%10%14%10%
Armor Weight12%14%14%8%12%
Total Weight Estimate
(TW + 1/3 AW)
Missile Resist45%33%33%33%33%
Ballistic Resist0%0%0%33%33%
Explosive Resist45%33%33%33%0%
Radioactive Resist24%24%24%24%24%
Stun/Slow Resist0%0%50%0%50%
Total Build Time w/Officer2d 10h 30m2d 7h 57m4d 2h 13m2d 10h 30m2d 10h 30m

I chose Alloy MX-3 & Reflective Coating 3 as a baseline, since the areas where that combo gives resistance are the same as the combo of Fallout Armor 3 + Guidance Scrambler.  The new Fallout Armor looks pretty good in comparison to that baseline, with less estimated weight, 

The Fallout Armor can give a nice mix of resistance with less build time, and more evade at the expense of some conventional resistance, but at the expense of weight.  The combo of Fallout 3 and Agility 3 is another combination that would make sense to try on fleets, especially those aimed at dredges since the large ship has the slowdown cannon.  This combo takes a while to build but gives good across-the-board protection with not too much weight penalty.  I also show two other combinations that you would see in the field - D5X + RC3 which I think is popular on Interceptors, and MC-3 + Agility 3 which may be popular on base fleets.  If concerned about build time, I think at the very least, using Fallout + Scrambler is a good option when compared to anything using Radioactive Coating.  Although the Fallout Armor can be used to give a good resistance combination, especially with some carefully chosen armor pieces, the weight penalty is a concern.  (8 - 10% total weight works out to hundreds of tons per ship) If concerned about ballistic resistance (and some Reavers carry chainguns), maybe some C armor will make up the gap.

Reaver Bulkhead:
When a lot of players are concerned about build times and repair times, a new blueprint that adds almost 3x the armor points of any other armor piece is a bit concerning.  What's counterintuitive is that this armor can actually help out in that department.... Read on.  First off, I'll compare this armor to the alternatives:

Reaver BulkheadCompound Plate 4D5-E / D5-UDU4D4-UD4-E
Armor Points6,3972,2852,2502,1561,7501,750
Weight (SY2)991388489407389389
Build Time with Officer (minutes)2,484.01,522.52,484.01,296.02,214.01,555.2
AP / Ton6.465.884.605.304.504.50
Build Time / Ton2.513.925.083.185.694.00
Build Time / AP0.390.671.100.601.270.89

The build time of this armor is the same as the build time of the D5E armor, but gives you nearly triple the armor points.  It is also the most weight-efficient armor out there.  So let's look at a few possible uses of this armor.

Hulls with Limited Armor Slots:
Some hulls like the Sea Wolf or the Stingray only have one or two armor slots... with a max weight of 2300 tons, the Reaver Bulkhead may be a bit much on the Sea Wolf, but on a ship that has a good weight allowance but limited armor slots like the Stingray, the RB may be a way to bulk up.

Ships Loaded with D5-E Armor:
So if we look at a ship design that uses a bunch of D5 armor, it could be redesigned to use Reaver Bulkhead + D2-E armor to get a similar amount of armor with a lower build time.  Let's look at a Kodiak build loaded up with D5-E armor (I grabbed this one off Bangtidy's site - I don't actually like it that much), and then redesign the armor a little bit:!70LU01R1R1R1R1R5B1S1P0C4V4V4V4V4V4V4V4V4V4U0LU00U0U401R1R5B1S1P0C4V4V4V4V4V4V4V4V4V4U0LU00U0U401R0U5B1S1P0C4V4V4V4V4V4V4V4V4V4U0ZZ0ZZdB

Ship 1Ship 2Ship 3
Armor Configuration5x D5-E2x D5-E
2x D2-E
1x Reaver Bulkhead
1x D5-E
1x D3E
2x D2-E
1x Reaver Bulkhead
Ship Armor Pts18,35519,50218,502
Build Time (w/off)17d 17h 40m14d 15h 31m13d 6h 45m

If you look at Ship 2, I replaced 3 D5-E armor with 1 Reaver Bulkhead and 2 D2-E armor, to end up with more health, lower weight and 3 days shorter build time at the expense of lower evade.  The evade score is a little misleading, you aren't really losing 5% evade... a better way to think of it would be that your evade capability is degraded so that instead of having 29% of 100% accuracy shots hitting, 34% of them hit, so your evade capability is actually (34-29)/29 = 17% worse.  Ship 3 has a total armor closer to the original value and cuts even more off the build time, again at the cost of evade. 

Reaver Bulkhead can be used to cut build time and weight from your designs when you are shooting for a specific number of armor points, but you give up some armor special capability.  You probably need a hull with at least 3 armor slots to do this well.

Tank Hull:
I've also seen players suggest that you could use this armor on a "tank" ship, like a Jugg X.  I think this is actually a bad idea overall.  For a tank, obviously you want to draw and be able to soak fire, but you also want to be able to evade & resist damage so that your repair time is minimized.  When you use the Reaver Bulkhead, you give up any armor special capability, which is magnified on the Jugg X specifically.  On a hull with many armor slots, the armor special capability is magnified because each armor's special applies to all the slots, not just the one slot that the armor uses.  

There are a few exceptions... On a Grimshine or other overload hull, more armor points means more overloads, so bulking up is pretty cool (if you can deal with the extra repair time).  If you are a non-coiner, one strategy during raids is to use a tank (or up to 5 tanks) that you repair off-line in order to take advantage of your breaks.  In that case you want a hull where you can soak as much damage as possible then can repair it all overnight.  In 8 hours with 1/2 repair on, you can repair 57,600 armor points, so think about that when designing tank ships.

Base Guard:
With the better AP/ton, you could use this armor to load up on health points for guard ships.  Using hulls like a Goliath or Enforcer with the 50% repair modifier blunts the additional repair time... somewhat.  Certainly raw armor points is one way to slow down missiles with Bullseye Brigade.

At a glance, these new items don't seem to be worth the build time... but when you compare them to the alternatives (Blaze Thrower to Siege Cannon, Fallout Armor to Radioactive Coating, Reaver Bulkhead to D5-E), these new items can be used to actually cut your build time to get similar capabilities.  Of course to get the very best capability, you are going to have a long build time... that's how Kixeye designs this game and tries to encourage coining.  But if you are willing to give up a little capability, you can cut off significant build time and get your fleets in the water quicker.

Coming up for the raid - my (recycled) prize wishlist includes Spectres, Barracudas, Threshers and Hornets.  We haven't seen those for a while... they are overdue, especially the Cuda at R10, the Thresher at R10 (to go with FM Tier 3 Infernos), and the Hornet (to go with FM Tier 4 Atlas Carrier).