Sunday, March 8, 2015

Locust UAV - Sneak Preview

Sometimes Kixeye likes me, sometimes Kixeye doesn't... so I think.  But they don't pay me... you do.  My readers have overwhelmingly told me in a poll that you prefer for me to write articles based on preview data, even if it is subject to change.  The information in this article is based on the info mined out of the game files by the guys over at bp-information in their dump of changes in the update for March 3 and the image came from their Feb 23 article.

From the March WIP Post:

Running a little late guys?

EDIT: WOOPS - I missed it (posted as promised) over in the strategy section...

It doesn't talk about the Locust much anyway, except for the mention that the Reaver mothership is "equipped with a new aerial weapon that swarms Forsaken ships like a cloud of mechanical locusts."



BP-Info grabbed this teaser image of a UAV, which certainly looks very Reaver-like.  

That article also showed preview images of this week's new Forsaken Mission items and the Warbird Carrier.  It's been pretty accurate so far.  FYI they also showed two other hulls that we haven't seen yet.  One looks like a Forsaken hull similar to a Vindicator, and the other looks like a Reaver hull similar to the Hellhound.

This Locust UAV is expected to be a prize in the upcoming raid - Apocalypse (starting March 12th).

The following chart shows the key stats that have been mined out for the new UAV, compared to other UAVs:

Building Damage109.233.055.0158.6
Bonus Damage33.
Reload Time4.
Swarm Duration12.
UAV Reload0.
Weight (Shipyard 2)547479595453
Damage TypeExplosivePenetrativeBallisticExplosive
Fleet DPS470.4198.0137.5162.7
Fleet DPS/hton86.041.423.135.9
Building DPS571.299.068.8211.5
Building DPS/hton104.420.711.646.7
Other30 DPS fire-Acc Debuff-
Build Time w/off20h 27m15h 28m15h 28m20h 27m

Before I did any math on this UAV, the first thing I looked for was the reload time - The Hornet has a 2 second reload time, where all other existing UAVs have a 4 (or more) second reload.  The Locust also has a 4 second reload, which means the Hornet remains the UAV of choice if you are solely concerned about Override Launch UAVs (pinch in particular).  The Locust range is similar to all the other UAVs.

The Damage output of the new Locust is huge, although that damage is spread over a very long swarm time.  The other feature of the Locust is the fire pool - it does 30 DPS in a relatively small area, damaging all stacked up ships.  Moving ships will move out of that field, but new fields will be created as the UAV continues to fire.

When I thought about the long swarm time, I was concerned that although the Locust potential damage output was very high, the long swarm time means that the damage could take a long time to build.  I decided to compute one more statistic - DPS per UAV.  This statistic compares how quickly each UAV does damage.  

Bonus Damage33.
Reload Time4.
Swarm Duration12.
UAV Reload0.
Damage per UAV1,882396550732
DPS per UAV147.0110.073.3101.7
DPS per UAV/sec36.855.018.322.6

With the Explosive + Radioactive damage, a single Locust UAV does damage more quickly than any of the other UAV types, but when corrected for UAV launch rate, the Hornet (with its short swarm time) does damage most quickly.

The huge damage output of the Locust makes this new Reaver UAV a very desirable option.  In order to maximize your damage, UAV Powercells should be used on any build utilizing Locusts.  With such a long swarm time, you will want to chain to new targets.

The high number for "Damage per UAV" makes the Locust very attractive for hit and run tactics - launch a volley of UAVs at max range, then turn and run out of range while the UAVs do damage.  This strategy would work best with a fast ship like the Lightning Carrier.

I've been a big fan of Hornets, and anti-Scarab.  This tables show that maybe Scarabs aren't too bad, but the Locusts eclipse the Scarab in just about every way (except weight).  Hornets will do their damage sooner and give more chance of a special UAV, but the Locusts blow all the other UAVs away in the sheer amount of damage they can do over time.  This will be a very good UAV against ships and buildings.

On the defensive side, the long swarm time means that the Locusts will be on target for much longer, giving more time for them to be shot down by countermeasures before doing their full damage output.  Full UAV fleets will generally overwhelm any reasonable number of countermeasures, but don't discount how much counters can reduce incoming UAV damage.
Update: In the comments, a reader pointed out that countermeasures do not shoot at UAVs that are on swarm (only incoming), and shared some video evidence of that.  Thanks for the info!

Update 2: With the long swarm duration and relatively short reload time, Locusts will be boosted by UAV retrofits (and you can see "Locust UAV" in your retrofit lab already) more quickly than any other UAV.