Friday, April 17, 2015

Descent - One day in

Everybody's Sector bar is full now, right?  Well, maybe not.

One interesting update - Recon campaign is now levels 1 - 45 instead of 1 - 40.

I have a few good tips on this raid to share that are applicable for a range of player levels, so here goes:

World Map Targets

These targets are getting more attention than previous raids, since they are needed to increase the sector Influence bar far enough to unlock the point bonuses, sector store, and Assault Platforms.  

Unlike previous Reaver raids, there is no shortage of map targets of any size.  In fact (and someone at Kixeye will definitely roll their eyes at this one) I think there are too many targets, since it is often tough to find the target you want in the crowd - you have to click on each one.  It looks like we are starting to resolve itself and we are more likely to run into the issue where if a target is "overhunted", it will start to disappear.

I put them in two groups of difficulty: 23, 25, and 43 can all be done with instant repair ships.   (the 43 damage was increased a few hours into the raid.  I noticed this, and there is a fairly active thread about it on Kixeye Forums) The 45, 61, and 65 are significantly harder - I could really tell a difference in the durability of the scouts (for example).

23 Fleet target: 8,526 raid points, 10 sector points
4 drones, 1 scout.  

25 Platform target: 13,581 raid points, 15 sector points
2x3 Drones, 1 Scout, 1 Hades
Platforms with Mortars, Napalm, and Rockets

43 Fleet target: 69,089 raid points, 100 sector points
4 Drones, 2 Scouts, 1 Hulk
Spreading out is key on this one.

45 Fleet target: 116,098 raid points, 150 sector points
3 Scouts, 2 Hades 
These ships start out non-moving and only trigger when you get close to weapon range. They seem doable with stealthy Deluge Reapers, but the Scouts' thermal will detect you even at Deluge range.

61 Fleet target: 335,926 raid points, 400 sector points
Shroud Hulk with 2 Hades, 1 Scout
Platforms with long range Napalm, Mortars, Javelins, and Rockets

I figured out a good strategy on these.  One difficulty is that the Shroud ship sits very close to the platform, so you will take fire from the turrets when you approach it.  To deal with at, I added a pair of instant repair SW to my Frostburn / 2 Mastodon fleet.  I sent the SW after the Shroud to trigger it, while my main ships turned away.  Once the ships were dead, I used Hellstrikes with Siege Battery and a HLNC.

My total repair time between the 2 fleets was under an hour.

65 Fleet target: 556,881 raid points, 600 sector points
3 Hellhounds, 2 Hulks, 2 Scouts
This one didn't seem too difficult, but the ships are durable and deal out a lot of damage.  Try to deal with them singly and don't let them group up on you.

I'm hearing some rumors on Spectre decoys being effective here, so think about how that might work.

Recon Campaign
Sorry guys, I don't have a base low enough to try this one.  Instant repair fleets should be your best bet.

Strike Campaign
~500,000 raid points + 700,000 bonus, no sector points. 
I was able to completely beat this campaign with instant repair BB-A.  I could also run through it fairly quickly with Siege Missile Mercuries for 1-2 hours repair total.  If I used my Battlecruisers with high countermeasures against the Hulks, I could get the total repair well below 30 minutes.

Mission 1: 
3 Drones, 2 Scouts, 2 Hades
These ships won't move until you trigger a group.  Engage them singly as you can.

Mission 2:
3 Drones, 2 Scouts, 2 Hades
Same roster as last time, but they all start moving, so they will gang up on you.

Compared to world map targets, these first two missions are pretty good points for their difficulty, so if you have trouble with the rest of the campaign, you may still get points faster doing these first one or two missions then resetting than doing the map targets.  (but not sector points)

Mission 3:
3 Drones, 3 Scouts, 1 Hulk
The Drones come after you immediately, but the other ships must be triggered.  I like to move down and trigger the Scout on the lower right so I can engage them one at a time.  This Hulk (and the others in this campaign) have 4 Locust UAVs.   Some sort of Countermeasures is the best way to cut the large amount of damage those UAVs can do.  My R10 Battlecruiser fleet uses a Countermeasure ship that has over 100% accuracy with its Phalanx... the Hulk can't scratch it.

Mission 4:
2 Scouts, 2 Hades, 1 Hulk
Platform with Mortars, Rockets, and Napalm
You start out under mortar fire so get moving.  The Hulk doesn't move at all, but the Scouts and Hades will come after you.  Get those ships taken care of, then circle the platform to take out the remaining turrets and the Hulk.

Mission 5: 
3 Scouts, 1 Hulk
Platform with Mortars, Rockets, and Napalm
The three scouts are circling the platform on a fixed path.  The best way to deal with these is to sit still and let them drive by you - this keeps you out of thrower range.  After those are dealt with, you can circle the platform and kill the rest.  The Hulk will move once triggered.

When using instant repair fleets against Reavers, it is very important to keep your ships spread out.  If you don't, the death of any one ship will mean the death of your whole fleet.  I generally peel-off a sacrifice ship to accomplish this:

Siege Campaign
~1,672,000 raid points + 2,000,000 bonus

Mission 1: 
Trigger Group 1: 2 Scouts, 1 Hades
Trigger Group 2: 2 Scouts, 2 Hades

Mission 2: 
Trigger Group 1: 2x(2 Drones, 1 Scout), 1 Hellhound
Trigger Group 2: 1 Hellhound, 1 Scout, 1 Sapper

Mission 3: 
Trigger Group 1: 2 Hellhound, 1 Scout
Trigger Group 2: 2 Hellhound, 1 Scout, 1 Sapper

For each of these first three missions, you'll want to trigger one group and try to engage those targets one at a time before triggering the rest of the ships.

Mission 4: 
2 Scouts
Shroud with 1 Scout, 5 Drones
1 Hades
Platforms with Mortars, Rockets, long range Napalm

The first two scouts start active.  After that there are some turrets on the front walls that should be taken out.  The ships around the Shroud can be triggered and drawn out without having to engage the Shroud ship. After that I went around to the right, around, and up at the Shroud once the Hades and all nearby turrets were dead.  This Shroud ships packs a bunch of Locusts which killed off my Frostburn after it died, so I decided to retreat and come back with a HLNC and Hellstrike to take out the last Napalm turrets at the back.

Mission 5: 
3 Drones, 3 Scouts, 1 Hades

This one looks difficult, but the only part that was really tough was the Shroud ship.  No ships stay within the Shroud field - the 3 Drones charge you at the start, the 3 Scouts orbit the base, and the Hades moves in your direction to fire at you when a Scout is in range.  After taking out the ships with Frosty/Mast, I used a HLNC and Hellstrike to come through and take out all the turrets except the ones covered by the shroud.  I'm still experimenting on how best to kill the Shroud ship.  Subs and Hellstrikes didn't work too well.  My best combo was a Grimshine with countermeasures leading my 2 Mastodons.   I think the key to killing the Shroud with low damage is heavy Countermeasures to stop the UAVs.  The Javelin turrets near the Shroud are actually short range, so don't worry about them too much, but I'm also thinking about using a small Pinch on the Shroud (once I'm in range) then quickly redirecting fire to drop the turrets.

Total to do the campaign was 14 coins, which isn't bad at all compared to the last few raids. 

Elite Campaign
xxx raid points + 2,000,000 bonus points, no sector points.
3 Sapper, 1 Hulk (2 with Shroud)
"65-style" platforms with Rockets, Javelins, Long Range Napalm, and Mortars

Oh yeah... lots of fire.  This is similar to the Elite campaign in the previous raid, but more fire.  The best strategy for these last raid was to charge for the center with a mortar or rocket fleet, and then deal with the ships afterward.  I'm not so sure on that this time.... I think this time the center platform has many more rockets, and there sure was a lot of fire as I came down the chute.  Unfortunately those 4 outer ships are fairly durable too, but they dont start out near you. Possibly the best strategy would be to take out a few of the turrets up front, then wait for the ships to come around and engage them in that front area where you've taken out some turrets.  Countermeasures will be useful against the Dragonflys and Mortars on those ships.  After the ships are gone, then go around the outside to clear the outer walls, then approach the middle.

I can't give you a benchmark on what it took to do this target - I only tried it once, and that included starting with half-dead Hellstrikes, then repairing overnight before finishing it off.

I'm not going to get into the Assault Platforms in this article (neither sector I'm in has unlocked them yet).  Honestly I'm not too interested in trying to win the Proto-Nemesis.

I feel like the raid difficulty is lower than the last few Reaver raids.  I'm finding points/damage is better on the Siege / Strike campaigns than the world map targets, but every player might have a different result based on their own fleets and techniques.  For me, the 61 would give me about 200k points per coin, but the Siege campaign would be more like 350k points per coin.  Every player should be doing that calculation for themself, figuring out what works for them, and estimating what they can get based on their time/budget.  I have been hitting some map targets to try to help out the sector, but the focus of my raid will be campaigns.

Good luck Pirates! Feel free to share some additional tips in the comments.