Friday, April 24, 2015

Ballistic Hull Comparison

I'm just gonna start off by promoting this thread right here:
Vote how you feel.

Tokens have been released.  You'll get your first chance to earn them (up to the equivalent of 2 days build time) in the "Reaver Removal" campaign this weekend, which should have the same content as the Let it Burn campaign.  I have a couple quick recommendations about how to use them.  Kixeye is giving an overview of how they work at:

  • The 1 hour tokens are worth 2 gold each, and 1 day tokens are worth 48 gold each.  All you coiners out there... don't overspend to obtain them.  Use your head.
  • Repair tokens are probably most useful during raids.   
  • For build/research tokens, save them until the end of a task (for example, use a 24 hour token when you have just over 24 hours left).  That way, you won't speed something up early, then find it completed in the middle of the night (or some other time) when you can't be on, so that some of the token's benefit ends up being wasted.
You also (maybe) just got 5 gold for completing an objective to be in an alliance.  I think the best use of this (for non-coiners) would be to repair your dock sometime when you log on and find out you've been hit... this allows you to play when you normally couldn't.  If you aren't in an alliance, and don't have an interest in being in one, start your own to get the gold, then leave the alliance.

Repair Specialists:
New repair specialists have been released, including some for limited hulls.  They are mostly in the "25% max" class of repair speed-up, which puts them with most of the mainline ships that have been released already. The time to research them is still effectively instant, but the resources have been increased, and most of the new ships do require uranium.  This isn't a surprise to me, and I hope it isn't to you.  This will force players to be a little more thoughtful about which repair specialists to take, and not just open all the ones they have available.  Again, I still think that these repair bonuses are relatively mild, and with just a couple exceptions... they do not change how a fleet can be designed or used.  Even with the Uranium costs, I think they are worth using on ships that are your "daily drivers".

So "What are the exceptions?" you may be thinking... they are the Battlecruiser and the (previously released) Battle Barge A/LCX.  

The Battle Barge A and LCX already have a 75% repair modifier, so they can be built with up to 800 armor (880 with repair officer) and be instant repair during raids.  As the modifier from the repair specialist increases, the amount of armor you can use on those hulls and keep them instant repair increases... up to 1200 armor can be used once they are Legendary rank (another 33% reduction).

The Battlecruiser is an even more interesting case... at 815 base health and a 100% repair modifier, it really isn't in the instant repair category - it takes just over 6 minutes per ship to repair during raids if you have an officer - so 1 minute per ship if you use the 5 minute speedup on each hull (not terrible, but tedious).  However, at Legendary rank, your repair modifier becomes 75%, which means that your repair time is instant if you have a repair officer, or just a few seconds if you don't.  With the great retrofits available to the BC, including a max weight increase to 5,040 tons at R9, there are some astounding options for instant repair Battlecruisers.  Here are a few ideas (leave off the armor if no officer):!70H6A0005010R1S174T4T4T4T0H6A0005010C0I5BAJAJAJAJ0H6A0005016A0I5BAGAGAGAG0ZZ0ZZdB

For the Assault Missile Z build, don't do it with non-Z assault missiles, they just aren't worth the build time.  Try Torrent 3 instead.  The Blaze Thrower build isn't too astounding... you could even get an additional thrower on a Seawolf.  I think the Bypass Cannon 3 build is the real star... at 4800 tons per ship, no way are you getting that kind of punch on anything else that can instant repair.

Ballistic Hull Comparison:
I am seeing a lot of questions about ballistic hull builds, including "Which hull should I use?" questions.  Two factors are pushing this:
  1. The new class of ballistic weapons with good range and damage output - Arbalest, Bypass Chainguns, Earthshaker Cannons, and D33-DR Disruptors
  2. The new and (newly R10) ballistic hulls - Crusader, Vindicator, SCX, and Dreadnaught
I'm going to try to build some ballistic fleets with a similar emphasis, and then compare their damage output and durability to see if we can learn which would be the most desirable.

I'll start with a stat comparison on the hulls:

StatisticCrusaderDread R10SCX R10Vindicator R10Stingray R10
Weapon Slots88677
Armor Slots44432
Special Slots44334
Max Weight13,02013,0208,3346,9256,250
Base Armor6,2215,2004,5161,7551,493
Combat Speed1311121517
Turn Speed1518253024
Ballistic Defense10%40%30%0%0%
Explosive Defense30%40%40%35%0%
Penetrative Defense50%30%20%20%30%
Concussive Defense0%0%0%0%0%
Radioactive Defense30%0%50%50%30%
Ballistic Accuracy0 - 50%0%0%0%40%
Ballistic Range40%40%40%30%20%
Ballistic Reload75%90%100%60%20%
Ballistic Damage50%50%50%33%0%
Slow Resist0%0%50%40%0%
Repair Modifier100%100%100%100%100%
Hull Build Time w/off4d 22h 42m5d 9h 36m5d 0h 48m5d 9h 36m5d 9h 36m
Total U needed0375,000350,000175,000200,000

The Vindicator R1-R5 Uranium costs have come down since the R10 was released.  I didn't have the "old" Dreadnaught costs handy to compare those.  I left off the Zoe Stingray - its stats are a little bit behind the R10 Stingray in a few areas (particularly max weight in these days of Dock 11), but does have the advantage of being winnable as-is from a campaign, so no raid prize points or Uranium are needed.

Right at the start, the Crusader looks really good, and for players looking at new builds with that hull available, it is really the obvious choice.

For a build concept, I'm going to use:
- Weapons: Arbalest and D33-DR cannons (shoot for 5-6 Disruptors and 12-15 Arbalest in the fleet).
- Specials: Speed System 3 and Nuclear Accelerators.  3 special hulls will get Fallout Armor, 4 Special hulls will get Radioactive Coating and D5X.
- Armor: Tune armor for fleet weight and to try to balance resistances and evade values.
- Weight: I'm going to use 4 ship (balanced) fleets for Crusader, Dreadnaught, and SCX (7939 tons), and 5 ship fleets for Vindicator and Stingray (6351 tons Vin, 6250 tons Ray).

I should probably explain a little more on the armor choices - although many players don't understand how "Kixeye math" works when combining multiple resistance values, the way I think of it is when you add a resistance/evade percentage, it will resist/evade that percent of whatever would have gotten through before.  

So if you at are 0% resist, adding 10% a resistance gives you 10% total resist - you block 10% of the 100% that would have gotten through.  

If you are already at 90% resist, adding a 10% resistance means that you are still blocking 10% of what would have gotten through... which was only 10% of the original damage, which means your resistance goes to 91%.  

Balancing the percentages means that you are trying to get the most benefit out of each piece of resistance that you add... if you don't know what damage types you will be facing.  Evade helps against multiple damage types, so this isn't strictly accurate when trying to balance evade... but I'm making builds just for comparison anyway.  You can tweak them how you like.

Also, the weapons I'm choosing have 1-2 salvo, so the rank effects on DPS will pretty much scale linearly... I'm going to run my calculations with 0% rank since (again) they are just for comparison only.  (nobody caught me on this one... as I say below, I will run the calculations with 45% rank bonus.  Reload bonuses will compound with rank, so the differences magnify as rank increases).

So here are the builds with some notes...  This Huggy's link shows all 5 hull options in a single fleet.!706G0131R1R121S6A5B6823232323512300000JIA1O1R1R1P1S6A5B6823232323512300000IUA1R1R1R1R2X1S6A23232323512305CA1R1R1R5B1S6A0051232323235104IA1R1R1S6A5B6823512323230000dB

Although I targeted 12-15 Arbalest and 5-6 DR cannons in the fleet, I decided to go with 5 Arbalest and 1 DR on the 4 ship fleets for the Crusader, Dreadnaught, and SCX (giving me 20 & 4) - I had the weight for it.  Another option would be to go 4/2 and use some heavier armor like a Reaver Bulkhead.  On the Vindicator and Stingray, I ended up with 4 Arbalest per ship, also giving me 20 Arbalest in the fleet.

On the Crusader, I used 2xD5E, a D2C and a D3C to make up for the (relatively low) built in Ballistic defense.  E or R armor could be considered instead of the C.

On the Dreadnaught, I used R panels instead of the C to make up for the complete lack of built in Radioactive defense.  Especially if fighting Reavers, the need for resistance against fields makes the R the best choice.

On the SCX, I went 4xD5E.  With one less special slot I had more weight to work with, so I wanted more armor points.  Even though the Ballistic defense of the SCX is low (because of the Fallout Armor), armor points protect against everything, and evade helps protect against ballistic damage. 

On the Vindicator, there was zero percent ballistic defense before armor, since the hull and Fallout armor came with none.  I wanted to use D5E since I had the weight to accommodate the armor points.  Using the D5X special instead of Fallout gave me ballistic defense and lower weight, allowing me to put 2 DR cannons on each ship instead of one.

On the Stingray, I also used 2xD5E to increase total armor points, instead of using C armor to increase resistances.  (swapping one D5E for a D3C would allow a 2nd DR cannon).

I'll compare the as-designed fleet stats & DPS in a chart.  I am assuming no component retrofits, no alliance bonus, and 45% rank bonus.  I considered doing zero rank bonus, but the rank does have an effect on the comparison - rank reload bonuses compound with the hull reload bonus, so that helps hulls with a higher built-in reload bonus more than hulls with a lower reload bonus.

For targets, I chose:

  • Buildings with no resistance
  • "Zero fleet" with no evade and no resistance
  • A Reaver hulk (from a level 60-type dredge): 13% explosive/ballistic resist, 21% missile resist, 43% radioactive resist, -144 Explosive, -104 Ballistic, -76 Missile
  • The Crusader build I used in this article

Statistic (per ship)4 ship Crusader4 Ship Dreadnaught R104 Ship SCX R105 Ship Vindicator R105 Ship Stingray R10
Fleet Build Time (w officer)87d 8h89d 15h97d 12h104d 22m100d 3h
Combat Speed23.419.823.427.030.6
Fleet Armor54,48450,40057,66447,02533,715
Ballistic Defense51%60%30%33%33%
Explosive Defense53%60%60%56%33%
Penetrative Defense67%53%60%46%53%
Concussive Defense0%0%0%0%0%
Radioactive Defense47%36%62%50%47%
Max Arbalest Range9595959085
Building DPS55,56160,32363,49848,55226,364
Basic Fleet DPS18,57920,12321,14919,63710,538
Dredge Hulk DPS13,28614,41715,17112,7327,096
Anti-Crusader DPS3,9594,2864,5035,0662,621

The Crusader didn't have any weak points, and its FvF performance will be helped by its concentrated fire ability (which I didn't account for in the DPS calculation).    

When I started this article, I was not expecting the SCX to look as good as it did.  I know a lot of players picked up the Arbalest in the last raid even though they were not able to get the Crusader when it was offered.  Getting the SCX from Snowfall Prize Pack 1, and devoting the uranium and retrofit lab time to get it to R10 can result in a very capable fleet.  Because the SCX R10 has the highest reload bonus of any of these hulls, higher rank will help its relative performance even more.

The Dreadnaught looks OK, but is held back a bit by its slow speed and relatively poor radioactive resist.  Building these from scratch is still not worthwhile after R10 retrofits, although a refit of existing, highly ranked dreads might be a quick way to get a decent fleet. 

The biggest surprise to me was the relative effectiveness of Vindicator R10.  Its high speed can make up for its shorter range, and its accuracy bonus really helps its performance against enemies with significant evade (like the Crusader target).  It is still a little weak in the armor, but with the R10 release, the Vindicator certainly seems like it is worth building for the players that don't have higher-end options.

The Stingray is looking fairly weak overall despite its high speed and evade.

Overall: I'm sure most of us have seen Arbalest Crusaders in action, and know how effective they are.  But there are other hull options out there which can be just as (if not more) effective.  I think this comparison is a great example of how having the best weapons is more important than having a specific hull.  I'm sure the question that I'll see after this article is... "So screw Crusaders, build SCX, right?"  There isn't an easy answer there - it depends on the player.  All I can say definitively is that I don't regret my Crusader build so far (I've got 2 no armor hulls in the water).  The Crusader doesn't need any Uranium to get to its listed performance... but also remember that the SCX Range bonus shows up at R5, and the Damage bonus shows up at R7.  R8 is speed, R9 is Radioactive Defense, and R10 is slow/stun resistance.  Even at R5 (100,000 total Uranium) the SCX will be a really nice ballistic hull.