Friday, July 24, 2015

New Forsaken Missions - What's up with that 85?

Well, the new mission format is here, and we're all going to have to deal with it.  I'm not going to break down the new format in detail.  If you still are unclear on the concept, I suggest you head over to either:

The Kixeye Forum post at: https://www.kixeye.com/forum/discussion/559990

Or 

Watch URF and I on the Battle Pirates Crib show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syFTyhsvlsM

A couple notes on the new format...

- The 4.5 Million point level to reach Tier 3 in the new format will give you slightly more uranium (26,500) that you used to get (25,000) and access to the same prizes that you used to have, with the exception of new prizes that will be released.  Two of three new prizes are in the Elite tier, and I expect that trend to continue.  
- Eight (8) level 85 targets are needed to complete the Elite Tier the first time.  Resetting and doing a ninth will allow a repeat of Tiers 1 - 3.  Doing Elite twice will require a total of 18 level 85 targets plus a little more.  This is theoretically possible over 72 hours without coining if you can do a target with under 4 hours of repair, but will be difficult in practice for anyone with a life.  Nine Level 85 targets (3 per day) is more reasonable without coining, and will probably end up being my usual goal.
- If you go for the reset, make sure that you have room in your token inventory before earning more.

I'm not going to do a detailed breakdown on the new prizes either.... again, check out the webshow or the Kixeye forum post. In brief we have:

Lockdown Rockets (Tier 3): With a 75% slowdown, these are a good way for rocket-enhanced hulls to get the same advantage that ballistic hulls can get using the D33-DR cannon.  Combine them with Dragonfire or Inferno rockets so that you deal out some hurt to the ships once they are slowed.  May also be really useful in a base guard.

Zynthonite Armor D5-R (Elite): Same armor points, weight, and build time as the other D5 armors, but giving 14% radioactive defense per piece instead of the 10% from the D4-R.  On a build where you are worried about incoming launcher fire, and your evade is much higher than your radioactive defense, then D5-R may be more useful than D5-E.  Also depending on your retrofit levels, swapping D5-R & Guidance Scrambler for D5-E & Reflective Coat may give you similar bonuses with less build time.  Play around with that one in Huggy's (thanks for the reader tip on that one).

Fusion Charger (Elite):  With a 3x charge for 20% weight, compared to a 1.5x charge for 14% weight, the Fusion Charger makes Gauss obsolete.  And it also ups the Shockwave damage... so there's an even bigger bonus.  I would like to do a study on the various hull and charger combinations, but I'm not yet sure everything is working as advertised, and I'm not sure how all those charge multipliers stack yet, so I'm going to hold off until these things are better understood. (good thing I didn't try to do the full DPS calculation - they changed the "display" on the shockwave damage between the time I wrote this and now.  It now says +6% Shockwave damage and +30% max Shockwave damage instead of 106%/130%.)

So after all that, what I really want to do in this post is break down the Level 85 Military Stronghold.  (new XL rockets will have to wait for another post)

Fleet Design
Although these Strongholds are daunting, they fundamentally require the same type of fleet that the previous generation needed. 
  • High evade
  • Long range weapons with good building damage
  • Missile and Ballistic defense
  • Phalanx countermeasures.  
I prefer Speed and light Hail coverage, but other players use lower speed fleets with good Hail coverage.  The 85 target does have lighter mortar and missile density, but the radioactive launcher weapons compensate.

I've been attacking it with (mostly) my Frosty Crusader fleet ... it has really been my "do-everything" fleet for a while.  I'll share the build again in case you don't have it: https://www.dahippo.com/bp/ship/#!70MI00V0U400V1V2B5B684L191B0L1B1B1B1B06G01R1R401R5B686A1S4L5123232323000006G01R1R401R5B686A1S195123232323000006G01R1R401R5B686A1S195123232323000006I000000000001S0000000000001900000000000VdB
(I usually leave the Monarch at home, but it's really handy in dredges.  In targets like this it tends to be a mortar magnet.)

A really important element of the fleet is the countermeasure ship.  Although not usually useful in PvP, a dedicated countermeasure ship can do wonders in PvE targets.  Many hulls can be made into good CM ships, but the best have two traits - speed matched with the main fleet (whatever you have), and accuracy increase on the hull.  Note my Frostburn doesn't have that second trait.. but I make do.  Great hulls for CM ships include the Aegis (+20%), V2-C (+15% at R2), Vindicator (+20% at R5, +40% at R9), and the Battlecruiser (+20% at R4, +40% at R7).  The Battlecruiser is a little light on weapon slots - you might want two if using that hull.

(In the comments, a reader pointed out that the Avenger makes a great CM ship.  With the +20% accuracy, speed matching, 4 specials, and 8 weapon slots, I totally agree)

Target Breakdown:
I'm going to go through each part of the 85 target and talk about how to attack it.  

One great resource for this is the info dump at bp-information: http://bp-information.blogspot.com/2015/07/fm-lvl-85-fleet-breakdown.html  
I've used the data from that post for DPS and range information.

Charger Fleets: The first element of the 85 is the fleets that come out at you.  These consist of two groups of ships, each group has 2 SCX and 3 Interceptors.  The SCX are armed with HB3/AL3 Scrambler and Disruptor Cannons, and the Interceptors are armed with SFB3 Strike and Achilles missiles.  The Interceptors also have a thermal range of 80 - so using subs is pretty much out.

I like to approach from the SW/NE sides to attack these fleets.  If you come in straight from the corner, the SCX will reach you simultaneously, so coming in a bit above or below the compass direction will help spread out the times when the ships reach you.  Unlike most Reaver ships (and even the DNX in 65s) these ships don't have any surprises for you if you get too close, but moving away to keep them at range will reduce the number firing at you at a time.



One more thing I show on this picture is that I keep my Frosty just a little bit closer to the enemy than my Crusaders.  Although I don't want my ship fired on before the Crusaders are in range, I do want the Frosty to tank fire.

After the first group is killed, it is generally better to wait for the second group to come down, because they will be spread out even more.  I also pick off the two torpedo turrets on the SW/NE sides with this fleet to get ready for the next part.


Stay-Home Kodiaks:The eight Kodiaks remaining after the charger fleets are gone are not particularly tough, but they are armed with Siege Missile Z, so they will deal out some hurt, and may evade a lot of countermeasures.  With no sonar or thermal in the area, the best strategy for these is to use subs.  Some players use Phantom/Nighthawks and drive into the base.  I used my Magnus Drive/Battery Spectres.  With a flagship sitting out of range, the Kodiaks will come fairly close to the edges of the base, giving you plenty of time to enter and kill two, then get out of range before surfacing.  The other two are easy pickings once you dive again.  One of the ships sometimes sits a bit too far in to hit without driving into the base, but don't panic, you really do have plenty of time.




Time for a Rim Job: After all of the ships are gone, I take my Frosty Crusader fleet and go around the outside rim.  I do not go after the smaller SW/NE islands protected by the Wendigo.  A few things to watch out for on the outside:
Rocket and Coax Turrets:  The Rockets have a 72 range, Coaxs have 76.  Getting too close to either one will result in unnecessary damage, so don't do it.
Cryo Launchers:  There are two clusters of cryo launchers.  Since these have long range and are not interceptable, I regard them as a top priority target, and will shift click to target them when I can.  I do still watch my driving to stay away from the Coaxs protecting them.
Torpedo Towers: There will be 2 left.  If you use the walls (and have enough range), you can kill them while avoiding being fired on.
Mortars: Most of the time, you will be out of range of the center island mortars.  Just keep moving as you go down the long sides.



Move in for the Win:

After the rim job is complete, I move in to finish the job.  I start with the smaller island, and I stay very aware that the Wendigo is my biggest threat unless I drive stupid, in which case I'll take Coax and/or Rocket fire.  I am also in mortar range in this location, so I can't stop for too long. If you don't have a Frostburn or an Aegis, you might want to come at these islands from the ends, where you won't be susceptible to mortar fire while you are slowed from the Wendigo.  You'll just have to work your way through the short-range turrets...

 

After the side island is killed, I come around to the long side of the main island.  On this pass, I watch out for the Coaxs again - there is plenty of room to drive a path angled away from the island if I need to.  I then loop around the second small island, again focusing on the Wendigo while staying away from the short range turrets.



A final pass down the other long side finishes the job for a total of 6.4 million points.

On this run, my total fleet repairs were a little over 3 hours. The best I've done so far (with this method) is just over 2.  My Frostburn was just about half damaged, so it should be possible for me to do a second one (maybe with a little less tanking) and then do a longer offline repair.  

Overall
I'm sure there are plenty of readers who are saying "I don't have Frostburns or Crusaders!"
I hope the methods and driving techniques I discussed can help players who have a wide range of fleets.  I suspect you're going to have to have something better than Mercuries (please go ahead and prove me wrong) to beat these, but this article should help all players get a better understanding of the techniques and fleet designs to be going for.  

One more special that would help a lot, (which I didn't use) is the Siege Battery.  The extra turret resistance and damage could make up for a weaker weapon set.  Especially on a 4 special hull like Interceptors, Siege Battery should be a special you consider if building a "weekly mission" fleet.

Yes, the weekly mission got harder to complete.  I'm not sure I'll be doing much else during the three day mission period.  This week a couple of neighboring pirates managed to give me 24 hour bubbles while leaving my dock untouched, so I thank them for that - it helps keep the heat off while I figure this stuff out (no not a frubble, they just failed despite me being in the middle of an Enforcer refit).  

Kixeye has justified this by saying the new Elite Tier items are "event-level" prizes.  That's all well and good, but if we call this weekly an "event", then in very recent months, this game has gone from 1 raid per month, to 2 raids per month (add the FAT), to 5 raids per month (add 3 weeklys).  I'm not sure the harder mission is the "right" direction for the game right now, but it's here and we are going to have to adapt.  If you're here, then I hope that's your plan.

Side note: What's with the trolls who bother to follow & read this stuff, then post how much the game sucks?  Don't they have anything better to do?  I came up with a few theories... vote in the poll up top.