Thursday, June 18, 2015

New Forsaken Mission Items - Permacrete Reinforcements, Firebat Drone Module

And in this week's edition of Good Kixeye / Bad Kixeye (well I've never done it before)...

Good Kixeye: Delayed Forsaken Arena Tournament for quality reasons:
Based on the poll I recently held, most of you should agree that this is a good thing. 

Bad Kixeye:  Tokens spent are being "undone" (time reverts back to the pre-token time when you leave the game too quickly)... watch out. This happened to me yesterday, and I would bet it is happening to a lot of players without them noticing.  Also remember your max token limits.  There is a Ship Build token campaign this weekend, and in order to be able to earn all of the tokens, you cannot be holding any, so you will have to spend any you may have purchased in the raid.

On the "new" Forsaken Mission content schedule, new items are released on the first post-raid Forsaken Mission.  So here we are with the Permacrete Reinforcements on Tier 4, and the Firebat Drone Module on Tiers 2, 3, and 4.  I heartily endorse this new schedule - with 2 new items every 3 weeks, all players will get a chance to catch up, and players who have caught up will be able to earn tokens.

Permacrete Reinforcements
This armor for turrets is much like the Reaver Bulkhead ship armor.  It is a power-efficient way to put lots of armor on a turret, but doesn't give any resistances.

The biggest differences between the analogy to ship-based armors is that you generally have much fewer armor slots to work with on turrets, and the non-resistance based armors (Depleted Uranium) are used much more frequently on turrets. 

A straight comparison shows that Permacrete is much more power-efficient than the alternatives.

(D4C/R/X have similar statistics with a different resistance)

When considering this armor, center-island turrets are generally too power-constrained to have space for this armor (or any armor at all), so this will be most useful for front line turrets.  

I'll be comparing use of this armor against some of the other options... one of my favorite anti-ballistic turret combos at the moment is a Level 5 Pyroclastic Thrower turret with two Zynth D4C armors and Compound Panel C (level 2) as the special.

This example results in 46,480 armor with 56% Ballistic defense.  In a recent hit by a Crusader fleet, three Arbalest volleys were needed to kill this turret.  Meanwhile, my attacker drove into the turret & took significant thrower damage.

Although the Permacrete takes too much power to be able to use two in a single Level 5 turret with any decent weapon (not even a Cerb 4), a few other options are available:

With a Pyroclastic on a Level 4 turret, Permacrete can be used with Compound Panel A (1% power for 10% C/M/X resistances) for a total of 3607 power and 62,880 health.

With a Pyroclastic on a Level 5 turret, Permacrete can be used with Compound Panel E (12% power for 33% C/M/X resistances) for a total of 3999.5 power and 66,480 health.

With a Cerberus 4 on a Level 5 Turret, Permacrete AND a Zynth D4C can be used with Compound Panel E for a total of 3667 power and 82,520 health.

For a Level 4 Turret, switching from Depleted Uranium 3 to Permacrete, even with a less capable resistance special, gives better protection across all weapon types for just a little more power.  (when I looked at Zynth D4 Panels compared to DU3 on a Level 4 turret, I generally found that the extra resist wasn't worth the lower armor for the single panel).

For a Level 5 Turret, switching from the two Zynthonite Panels to the single Permacrete and upping the Compound Panel special results in almost the same defense against Ballistics, with a significantly increased defense against other damage types.  Moving to a less power-hungry Cerberus 4 weapon will allow even more protection, although the Cerb is less deadly than the Pyroclastic.

Some other front line turrets, like Gargoyles and Coaxials, are too power-hungry to even allow one Permacrete.  Too bad.

On Compound Panels - I'm not sure if these are commonly owned by newer players - I used them in my examples because they are much less power hungry than the specialized defense panels.  Compound Panels give 10%/22%/33% resistance for 1%/5%/12% power.  The specialized panels (layered/ablative/explosive) give 20%/35%/50% resistance for 3%/12%/25% power.  When comparing the level 3 Compound to a level 2 specialized, the benefit is obvious.  If you don't have compound, bummer.  But I think my conclusions still apply.

Overall: Yes, you want to win and use Permacrete on your front line turrets. I didn't win it this week so I can't show screenshots, but especially with build time the same as Zynthonite D4, this turret armor is a great deal.  Imagine if Reaver Bulkhead didn't increase your ships' repair times!

Firebat Drones
A new type of Reaver Drone module is available: The Firebat Drone

A drone module comparison is here:

The Firebat module is slightly faster to build at each level than the other types.  Its weight and drone launch characteristics is similar to the Piranha drone module, but it will not get the Shipyard 2 weight reduction because it is Reaver tech.  Although the Blitz and Siege Modules put out more drones at each level, those drones are much less capable as shown below:

Although all of the statistics of the drones are unknown (if anyone has pointers to more information, it would be appreciated in the comments), the statistics of the new Firebats "feel" like they will be more like the Piranha drones, rather than the less durable Blitz & Siege Drones.

When considering how to use these drones, the DPS numbers are important - if looking at a level 1 module, it puts out a single drone, and has a weight of 2150 tons.  That results in a DPS/hton of 9.0.  Consider that capable ship weapons these days have DPS/hton numbers of 50 - 100 or even higher, then you start to realize that these drones are not going to be your primary damage dealers.

Overall: The reason to use drones is to distract the weapons of your enemies while your ships do damage.  When considering this usage, you start to see that the Firebat and Piranha drones are the way to go (instead of Blitz/Siege), and that the decision between them should be made based on whether you want the drones to get up close and personal with them (Piranhas) or stand off (Firebat).  Usually I think you'll prefer the Firebat, but for those of you who try to deter attackers in your base with drones, Piranhas may still be the way to go due to the higher damage potential.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Abyss - One day in

Well to start with - it's my blog and I'll post some unsubstantiated opinions when I want to.  Like on the Phantom Nighthawk.  That got some pretty significant response, and a few people pointed out "valid" reasons for using the ship.  
Most notably:
  • The PNH increases the firepower of your sub fleet by adding a 5th ship
  • It can stay on the world map and allow you to keep playing even if your dock is dead.
I'm sticking to my opinion on sniping. Even in a "war" situation, sniping fleets usually tends to escalate things, and the players who end up paying the price are the ones who have the least ability to deal with it.  Anyway, get it if you want, don't if you don't.  I don't mind feedback so keep it coming.

A few more notes about the prizes:
  • Explosive Plate 3 might be more necessary than I thought to deal with Dragonfire rockets, especially in base guards.
  • I've seen Hellstrike build stats look very similar to a Goresaber, with the only real Goresaber advantages being the range, splash, and repair modifier.  The "get Dragonfires and refit HS R10" option is really not too bad.
  • I still think token costs are too high - the players that need them the most won't be getting much.  Since they are limited to 1 week total, Kixeye could have priced them lower without worrying that whales were going to build everything they ever wanted "on sale".  By raising the price (typo or not... it was an increase from the initial value announced in the briefing) just before the raid, I think Kixeye really turned an opportunity to improve player mood about the game into something that just made players more upset.  By pricing tokens dirt cheap, they could have significantly raised player participation in the raid, and "engagement" is supposed to be a metric they care about.
World Map:
These raid targets are very similar if not identical to the previous raid.  World map target points seem to have been tweaked a bit... I got: 

23: 8,526 raid points 10 sector points
25: 12,747 raid points 15 sector points
43: 67,649 raid points 100 sector points
45: 101,600 raid points 150 sector points
61: 329,850 raid points 400 sector points 400 uranium
65: 493,500 raid points 600 sector points 600 uranium
85: 500,000 raid points 2500 sector points

You can look back at my Perdition article for breakdowns on the world map targets.

For players that can do the campaigns, I think you'll generally find a better point/repair ratio on the campaigns, but for players that can't, the 43 or 45 are probably best bets.  It seems like the 23/25 are just too low point payout for the time taken.  I also think the platform-type targets (25/45/61) go much slower than the fleet targets, so it may take more "butt-in-the-seat" time when hitting those targets.  Hitting the 61 & 65 will pay out better, but those will do a lot more damage, and I think most of the players hitting those are more interested in Sector points than Raid points.  I did notice that the Sector bars I've seen seem a lot smaller than last time - I'm not sure if that is just a function of the sectors I'm in this time or if that is true across the board.

Siege, Strike, and Elite campaigns have no obvious changes, except I did notice that the "Short range Javelins" now have a new image so you can tell them apart from the normal long range Reaver Javelins.  Look back at my Descent article for the Campaign breakdowns.

I've seen more Youtube videos of people doing Elite with Frosty Crusaders for 6 coins or so (with Grease Monkeys).  I'm not so skillful (I guess)... and my Frosty Crusader fleet didn't fare so well (although I wasn't using Grease Monkeys).  I did notice that I could not abort the Elite Campaign... I had to repair & finish it off.

My best plan is still to do the Siege Campaign.  I've improved on technique and can do that campaign for about 7 coins worth of repair.  I use Frosty / Mastodons on the first three targets.  One trick I've been using to reduce damage with that fleet is to bring 2 instant repair Sea Wolves.  I use a SW to trigger the groups and to take the first blast of the throwers.  The 4th campaign I take very little damage with Frosty Crusaders, and then on the 5th campaign I start with Frosty Mast for the mobile ships, then finish with the Frosty Crusaders (or just blast through with the Frosty Crusaders).  For the Shroud Ship on the 5th target, remember to come at it from the inside of the base, so the short range shrouded guns can't hit you.

This Kixeye Forum thread talks about using subs in places to do Siege even more inexpensively:

Assault Platforms:
Sorry - I can't help you guys out here.  I have noticed a LOT of Proto-Nemesis drops as well as a few Hellstars.... so it seems quite a few players have figured these out.

Keep grinding!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Abyss - Raid Info & What to get

If you didn't see them, there were a couple corrections to Monday's article on the Goresaber and the Dragonfire.
  • The limited version of the Goresaber with the Pinchstrike rocket isn't happening (yet?)
  • The Goresaber repair modifier is 100%
If the limited hull was pulled because it wasn't ready yet... good job Kix.  You might have noticed the poll on the right - Players are overwhelmingly willing to wait for higher quality content.

The repair modifier on the Goresaber makes it look even more attractive when compared to the Hellstrike.

Official Raid Info:

Overall, the raid is similar in structure to the last one, with three level-tiered campaigns + Elite campaign, map targets, and a Sector Bar.

A few notable changes:
  • 61 & 65 Map targets will give Uranium (400 from 61, 600 from 65)
  • Assault Platforms will have a new layout.  They are single hit, no-retreat targets
  • Every day at 9 AM PDT (Noon US East Coast, 5 PM UK), defeated Assault platforms will respawn unbubbled (assuming your sector has unlocked them) 
  • Assault Platforms MAY give a Hellstar OR a Proto-Nemesis OR nothing as a prize

What to Get:

The new hull and weapon are detailed in a previous article here.

Overall, this prize list is similar to last time - a few prizes were pulled, like UAV Powercells and Incendiary Shells.  The sector store prizes are notably better - I'll get into that... but the biggest new prize that players are excited about is...

The Token Store:

Update: The price of the 24 hour token has increased to 2,750,000 points.  It is still the best value at about a cost of 114k points per hour.

I've recently been coloring prizes red/yellow/green depending on my recommendation of whether you should go after them.  Whether you should be going after tokens depends on how much damage you take to get points.  For example, in the last few raids I've been able to do Siege campaigns for about 15 coins, getting about 3.7 million points.  That would almost get me about one 24-hour and one 12-hour build token, worth 72 coins, so that's a pretty good return.  If I take 40 coins worth of repairs to beat that campaign, my return is still positive, but not nearly as good, so it might be better to spend my points elsewhere.  The important thing is to be sure that you know how much you are spending to get those points. 

The other important point on these tokens is that the limit is an actual limit on the number of tokens you can buy for the entire raid.  Initial information in the raid briefing said that you could buy more than the limit as long as you spent them.  This was incorrect.

The total amount you can spend on tokens is 18,440,000 19,440,000 points, for a total of 7 days speedup.

Prize recommendations - Green is "all players probably should want this", Yellow is "Maybe get it", and Red is "probably useless".

Tier 5: 
Goresaber (12.5M): This Hull is a very powerful rocket enhanced hull, with a never-before-seen 25% range enhancement for rockets.  Its repair modifier of 100% is better than any other Reaver hull.  I think players are going to like this one.

Dragonfire Rockets (5.5M): These rockets do much more damage and have longer range than any previous rocket weapon.  Even if you can't get the Goresaber, these will be an upgrade over Infernos for Hellstrikes or Threshers.  Their expected build time of just over a day is also much better than Infernos.

Sector Store:
Monarch (12.5M): This limited hull (limit 1 in this raid) has a bit of everything, including drone / tactical module enhancements.  Remember there is a new Reaver Firebat drone coming out in the Forsaken Mission after this raid, and the Monarch is the best hull out there for drones. This is the first opportunity to get this hull since they were a prize in the Forsaken Arena Tournament.  12.5 million points are a bit expensive for what they are... but possibly worth it.

Cryonic Depth Charge (5M): These do a huge amount of damage (to surface or underwater ships) and have decent range, although they do have a very long build time.  These also are just seeing their first availability since they were a Forsaken Arena Tournament prize.

Locust UAV (4.5M): Although their damage takes a while to build up, and the UAV Powercells are pretty much a must when using these, they really are the best UAV out there.

Phantom Nighthawk (35M): Buying this limited hull will also increase your PNH capacity to 2.  I colored these yellow because I just can't recommend these.  I think sniping fleets is dirty pool and bad for the game.  But some people like it.  Desperate, unprincipled people who have nothing better to do.

Nighthawk Model (5M):  This model won't even be visible to your enemy most of the time.  It looks cool, but it really seems like a last choice for spending points.

Tier 4: 
Siege Missile D55-Z (4.5M): The best value missile in the game, just a 15 hour build time.  Get these if you haven't already.

D4-R Armor (3.5M): This armor is the top-end armor for adding radioactive defense.

Nighthawk (9M): Best overall sub in the game right now.  I think it is very important for every player to have a "prize" sub fleet of some sort.

Mastodon (7.5M):  Although the Proto-Mastodon is available from the Snowfall Campaign, many players have trouble beating the Kraken.  Tough to fault a player who wants to take this hull.

D4-M Armor (3.125M): I'd rather use E armor in most builds.

Explosive Plate III (3.5M): When people are running scared trying to stop Dragonfires, this armor might help, but it does make your ship sort of specialized.

Maelstrom Rockets V (3.5M): I sort of want to recommend these if you get the Goresaber, but can't quite reach the Dragonfires as well... but the cost difference isn't that much.  However, these can take full advantage of the reload bonus WITH Cluster Warheads & Legendary rank because of their longer reload time.  They are still inferior.

Brimstone Missile (8.5M): Not really worth the points, there are much better options for base defense.  These aren't scaring anyone off.  Also available from Ashes to Ashes Campaign Pack 1.

D4-U Armor (4M): Not worth the build time, try using M / C / X specialized armor instead.

Tier 3:
D3-E Armor (1.9M): D3 Armor falls in a real nice sweet spot for weight, protection, and build time.  Two D3 armors will give the same weight and protection as a D2 and a D4 armor, but build in 17h 16m instead of 30h 14m.  If for some sick and twisted reason you missed this armor last time... GET IT!

Vindicator (2M): At R10, these can be very capable for ballistics (+30% range) or countermeasures (+40% accuracy).  Just remember there are better ballistic hulls out there (SCX from Snowfall Campaign Pack 1), and only take this if you have Bypass Chainguns or Arbalest to mount.

Poseidon Depth Charge 3 (2M):  A bit specialized for sub-killing.  If you know you want these, then they are worth getting, but the Poseidon 2 might be a better value for points and build time.

Unstable Core III (2.2M):  This might just be my preference, but I hate building ships just to blow them up. 

Achilles Missile D55-B (1M):  Yes, some players use these and like them... they do have good range.  But for the build time, I just couldn't ever recommend building a fleet with these over using the Strike Missile B or  Assault Missile Z.  Siege Missile Z makes these look like garbage.

Siege Rocket D95-S (1M): I dunno, maybe as a last resort, but if you can't afford a better rocket, then you probably don't have a good rocket hull for these anyway.  And remember that the Mako is NOT a good rocket hull.

Tier 2:
Strike Missile B (70k): These little guys have long range and a little bit of bypass.  The low reload time and relatively quick build makes these a lot of fun to use on hulls with reload bonuses and retargeting.  At this cost, these are a must-have.   If for some sick and twisted reason you missed this missile last time... GET IT!

Poseidon Depth Charge 2 (100k): At this price, it is tough to tell someone not to get these really capable sub-killers.

D2-E Armor (150k): Yes, you really want this, but if you haven't gotten it from Shell the Shore Campaign Pack 2, why not?

Battlecruiser X (150k): These aren't that great with ballistics, and I just think there are probably other hulls you should be building instead, like regular R10 Battlecruisers.

Assault Rockets D93-S (400k): Meh.  Kinda heavy, not that good.  If you're using these, you probably could use  non-S Assault rockets instead.  

Unstable Core II (200k):  This might just be my preference, but I hate building ships just to blow them up.  With the slower speed, you won't get in range anyway.

Tier 1:
Battlecruiser (60k): A solid starter hull, and with the R10 upgrades this is useful even to high level players.

D1-M (40k), D1-C (40k) Armor: These armors can be useful when you want to add resistance without adding a lot of weight.

Poseidon Depth Charge 1 (40k): Sure, pick these up, but I think PDC 2 are in the sweet spot for this weapon type.

Unstable Core I (30k):  This might just be my preference, but I hate building ships just to blow them up.  With the slower speed, you won't get in range anyway.

Strike System 1 (30k): For the super mild range and speed boosts, just stick with Engine and SFB until you get something better.


So compared to last time, I think the sector store has much better options, but the Tier 4 prizes aren't quite as good (we lost UAV Powercells and Incendiary Shells without equivalent replacements).

The "must-haves" are pretty similar to last time.  Get the new hull and weapon.  If you haven't already, get Siege Missile Z, D3-E Armor, Strike Missile B, and the Battlecruiser.  The Locust UAV is also a good pick up in the Sector Store.  Obviously, tokens are a great way to spend points as well. Shipyard time is the most valuable resource in the game.  Lots of players will be going for 36 Million points or so in order to get the new items + 7 days of ship build tokens.

Good luck Pirates!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Abyss Prizes - Goresaber & Dragonfire

Some info is coming out about the new prizes in the Raid.  

We also have a (very light) tips post here:
The only actual tips are a few changes to the Assault Platform and the Nexus targets.  I am quite in favor of the rebubble / unbubble behavior after 24 hours for Assault Platforms. 

Looking at the upcoming prize blueprints, it seems the rotating wheel of weapons love has stopped on Rockets this month.  We have a new rocket-enhanced hull with (possibly) a Limited version, as well as a new Inferno-style rocket weapon and a brand new long-range pinch rocket.

UPDATE: The raid prize info and video is out, no Limited Hull, no Pinch rocket, and the Goresaber DOES have a 100% repair modifier, not 150%.

The Gorburger

I mean Goresaber:
The Goresaber is a rocket enhanced hull with some changes from the Hellstrike.  Most notable are the improved rocket range and the increased resistances, but the reduced Evade looks like it might be a big drawback.  For the chart below, I am including a little bit of unofficial data as well as unofficial info about a limited version.  To chart it...

The Limited version, as well as the repair modifiers and the build times are not on the prints provided to Battle Vortex, so they may be changed, or may not happen at all.  I didn't include Borba's version in the red/green highlighting for that reason.  

The Pinchstrike that shows up in the mined data has a range of 81, reload of 6, and almost no damage.  But the name implies it has a pinch effect.  It is unclear whether the Borba bonus will apply to the Pinchstrike stats, or if this hull/weapon will even show up for us.

NO BORBA'S & NO PINCHSTRIKE.  However, the Goresaber Repair Modifier is 100%.

The original mined data is at the Dark Alliance forums:

As an overall evaluation, the Goresaber is a little bit better than the Hellstrike in most areas except evade, and in some situations, the loss of evade is a big drawback.  The question is whether we are going to see rocket attacks come back in vogue with this hull - we will have to look at the new weapon first.

Dragonfire Rockets:

When these rockets get mounted on a Goresaber, they start to get range equivalent to a mortar, so I'm going to compare these to both rockets and mortars.

Well those have some crazy high DPS and DPS per weight numbers (at zero rank). The reload of these rockets on the Goresaber will max out at around 33% rank bonus (reload time can't get below 0.2), but the slower firing Rocket and Mortar weapon DPS will keep increasing as the ships approach Legendary rank, so that will close the DPS gap somewhat.

Some people like this chart style... one guy didn't. He will just have to deal.  Sorry I haven't updated for the new hull yet, but I think you'll get the idea.

This chart shows damage per weight versus range at 45% rank.  The bubble size represents build time per weight.  This chart not only shows how effective these rockets are expected to be, but also highlights the attractive build time of these weapons versus the Infernos.  The build time info comes from the mined data, so we will see if it changes before release.

So will we start seeing Dragonfire-armed Goresabers running around ruling the high seas?  Maybe... the range increase combined with the very high Wall/Building DPS should allow these ships to crack bases more effectively than current Hellstrikes.  Evade might be a bit of an Achilles heel for these ships, but many base defenses have been moving away from aimed weapons recently (Locust UAVs, Apocalypse Mortars, Arbalest), so the extra resistances might more than make up for that.  In FvF, rockets have been difficult to use for two reasons - range and outrunning.  The Dragonfire range still won't match Arbalests on Crusaders, but maybe in combination with a D33-DR armed 40% range bonus ballistic ship... these might start to be effective.

For those who can't reach the Goresaber in the raid, the Dragonfire rockets may be worth going after anyway... with their high damage and more reasonable build time, they could be effective on Hellstrikes or Threshers.  Remember that the "elite" weapons we have seen recently can be effective on a wide range of hulls, but "elite" hulls without good weapons often seem like a waste of build time.  When we see the prize list, I'll publish some recommendations.  Hopefully we'll also get some more information on being able to purchase tokens with raid points.