We have a new mortar, a new mortar hull, and a limited flagship version of that hull.
The Pandemonium Mortar is an upgraded version of the Reaver Chaos Mortar. This heavy mortar has longer range and more punch. With the (very good) Searing Barrage Mortar (called SBM from now on) just released as a Forsaken Mission Prize, we can see how all the mortar options stack up:
|Pandemonium Mortar||Chaos Mortar||Searing Barrage Mortar||Siege Mortar B||Shock Mortar Q||Negotiator 3||Negotiator 2|
|Weight (Shipyard 2)||1340||1300||350||1800||350||530||265|
|Build Time (w Off)||?||1d 11h 38m||2h 49m||1d 17h 52m||2h 49m||2h 49m||2h 33m|
|Other||Radio Def: 10%||Radio Def: 5%||Radio Def: 2%||Ballist Def: 10%||-||-||-|
The Pandemonium doesn't have the DPS/hton efficiency of the smaller SBM, but we wouldn't expect it to. It is still better and any previous mortar, especially the heavy mortars. It does do a lot of damage, and has a huge amount of splash. The large amount of armor, and extra radioactive resistance also are very helpful. So what you are wondering is probably... is this mortar worth using, or do I just throw on a bunch of SBMs? Back when DNX were the fleets to use, most players settled on using all Shockwave Q mortars, rather than mixing a Siege B or two with fewer Shock Qs. The shell volume and faster speed of the Shock Qs were more important than the extra splash of the Siege B. I think players will find the Pandemonium really useful, either on its own or paired with SBMs... I am making a couple assumptions though. I think that Kixeye will make the shell velocity of the Pandemonium similar to the SBM (fast), and also make the build time similar to the Chaos. We will see.
Novastorm and Dante's Novastorm
I think it's a little odd that Kixeye calls these hulls "Attack Cruisers". Their 7/6/4 slot configuration puts them pretty solidly in what I would consider the Dreadnaught class (Dreadnaught, Kodiak) rather than a Cruiser class (which usually have a 6/4/3 configuration). But it's just a name, right?
Most people can recognize these hulls as an enhanced Dreadnaught X, so let's compare:
|Statistic||Novastorm||Dante's Novastorm||Dreadnaught X R5||Spader's DNX||Strike Cruiser R5|
|Fire Field Resist||25%||25%||0%||0%||0%|
|Fire Field Speed Bonus||60%||60%||0%||0%||0%|
|Other||-||Aura: 50% Tac Field Resist, 50% Mortar Reload||-||-||Rocket Reload 50%|
|Hull Build Time w/off||?||?||5d 9h 36m||5d 9h 36m||4d 1h 12m|
|Total U needed||0||0||182,087||0||100,413|
Why did I put in the inferior Strike Cruiser? Well, since Kixeye called the Novastorm a cruiser, I wanted to remind us all what a cruiser looks like.
If I look at the Novastorm carefully against the DNX R5, I don't see a huge amount of advantage... the evade and defense are slightly improved, the splash is improved, and the anti-mortar evade is added. The big unknown is how valuable will the fire (and ice) field effects be? It is certainly dependent on your enemy. As I was working on the Let It Burn campaign earlier, using my Hellstrikes to take out the center island, I thought that the napalm trails would make nice runways for the Novastorms to race up and kill dredge centers. But I already can do that with my Hellstrikes for very little damage. Player bases with napalm may also be vulnerable to Novastorms racing ahead, but I'm not sure that blitzing will be the best way to use these hulls against bases.
The aura effect of the Dante's Novastorm will enhance any mortar fleet, and 6 armor slots give a lot of opportunity for adding resistances, but I think that if a player already has a mortar armed DNX fleet, it would be a lot quicker to refit them with Reaver mortars and add the Dante's Novastorm, than it would be to build a new Novastorm fleet for the incremental gain and increased repair time.
See, this is gonna be fun. Launchers and the Nuclear Cruiser made all the other weapons obsolete for a while. Then we got UAVs. Then missiles came back with the Siege Missile Z and the Kodiak, ballistics came back with the Arbalest, Bypass Chainguns, and the Crusader, and now mortars just might be back with the new Searing Barrage, Pandemonium, and the Novastorm. Diversity is good - lots of players can try different attack strategies, and base defense is tough with all the different potential damage types. I am really interested to see how all this will play out.