The update on Kixeye's response is:
I messaged CM Doomrooster and eventually got a response. I would have preferred to publish the exact exchange, but he asked me not to. There really wasn't anything proprietary, incendiary, or shocking in the exchange, and I would think he would rather have his exact words published instead of my summary. But we can't really understand a lot of Kixeye's behavior, can we?
He started off saying he could not speak about the difficulty increase, and I tried to follow up and press some more:
Doomrooster (essentially) repeated the same responses, with a little bit of clarification that the subsequent reduction in difficulty (not the initial increase) was supposed to increase engagement, and again said that he could not discuss any further.
Doomrooster's response was that he had not given permission for me to publish his responses in a public forum. I have decided to respect his wish here, and hopefully he feels I have not misrepresented the content of his responses.
Now, I feel a little bad for him - my assumption is that he doesn't make Kixeye's policy, but he has to follow it. Like I said above, I would really have preferred to speak with someone about it and try to understand if there was something going on besides "players aren't coining enough". I WANT to hear their side of the story. Without it, it is becoming more and more clear to me that Kixeye does not care what we THINK, they only care what we DO. Please remember that short-sighted view the next time you are considering opening your wallet for this game.
I'm still willing to talk with anyone at Kixeye that is allowed to actually speak with me.
So... on to the new Forsaken
Disruption Missile D53-D
Why is this one called a D53 (like Assault Missiles), and not a D52 (like the Harrier Missile), when it is clearly similar to a Harrier missile? Those wacky Draconians... OK moving on.
This missile has the same Damage/Reload/Accuracy/Bypass statistics as the Harrier Missile, but it adds the slowdown capability (5% per hit up to 35%) at the expense of more build time and more weight.
Some players may consider the Harrier a waste now that this more capable missile has been introduced, but with the extra weight, the best way to use these Disruption missiles is in conjunction with the Harrier. 7 hits is enough to max-out the slow effect... with the high accuracy and the likelihood that you will be using Laser or Guided Missile System as well... 15 is the max per fleet that you would likely need even against very high evade targets. I may even plan to use fewer.
However, if you don't have the Harrier, the Disruption Missile is the next most efficient in DPS/hton, so it isn't a bad option. One more advantage of the Disprution (and Harrier) missiles is that they have a faster projectile speed than previous missiles. Siege & Strike Missiles have a projectile speed of 110, and the Harrier/Disruption have a speed of 180 (I haven't been able to confirm the Disruption speed yet). This means that they will reach (and kill) their target sooner than other missiles.
One more topic to discuss is the Bypass statistic. The Strike B and the Achilles have some bypass which I usually ignored. The Harrier and Disruption have 40% bypass which is making me start to pay attention. Bypass reduces the defense percentage of your target by the bypass percentage. So a target with Penetrative Defense of 60% has that defense reduced to (60% * (1 - 40%)) = 36% against the Harrier Missile, and then instead of 40% of the damage getting through, 64% of the damage gets through, and so your effective DPS is increased by over 1.5x. The chart below shows the effect of 20%, 40%, and 49.5% (new missiles with Bypass Missile at R15) bypass on DPS as resistance increases:
Speed System 4 & Speed System 5
Of course, the week after I recommend that anyone who doesn't have Speed System 3 yet should pick it up in the raid... Kixeye releases better versions in the FM. I am comforted by the idea that most players who did not yet have Speed 3 are probably unable to reach Elite Tier and also probably have a lot of items left in Tier 3 making Speed 4 an uncertain proposition... right guys?
Although the additional speed and evade from these higher level speed systems could have been expected, the other big improvement on these is that there is no accuracy penalty. Lets see how they stack up:
The build time for these newer systems also remains relatively reasonable. Other than the slight 1% weight increase, these have no significant drawback. Players using Speed 3 would be well advised to refit these onto their ships as soon as received. If the weight is a problem, weapon tweaks would be the first place to look, since the accuracy "increase" will add to your DPS (for accuracy-based weapons) anyway. With the recent emphasis on speed for newer hulls and specials, I think every little bit you have will help in upcoming events.
Compound Engine Systems retrofit also applies to these new engines. That was already one of my favorite "Advanced" retrofits so even though it is one of the more expensive ones, it is probably worth investing Uranium into it.
Guided Missile System
This new special combines Solid Fuel Booster 3 with Laser 2.5:
This is particularly useful on the missile hulls which do not incorporate retargeting, such as the Rhino or Mastodon. Especially for those players who might not have a lot of hulls, I see some using the Mastodon as a "front-line" ship, and opening an extra special slot (or replacing Strike Sys + Laser with Speed Sys 4/5 + Guided Missile System) will be really helpful on those builds. To compare it with the previous options:
The total weight (19%) of GMS is less than combining the previous Laser + SFB options (22%). For those players who were not using Laser, just SFB, the accuracy increase will make it worth the increased weight due to the increased effective DPS against targets with good evade.
Also note that this new Special is already in the Retrofit Lab under "Missile Systems" giving increased Accuracy bonus on retrofit.
This special is really interesting. It is sort of like Nuclear Accelerators for missiles or launchers, where it gives a Weapon + a Speed boost... but it is less critical. For Ballistics, you absolutely need the range boost, so using Nuclear Accelerators is a no-brainer over Hardened Barrels. For Launchers, although a Fusion or Gauss special is really nice, it isn't quite as critical. For Missiles, using Enhanced Warheads isn't all that common, except on "Fire-Support" Mastodons. Here's how it stacks up:
Against the Fusion Charger, it gives the same Supercharge with less weight & less build time. It loses the Shockwave damage bonus, but gives that extra speed... I'd certainly want it for any open water ships over the Fusion Charger, leaving the Fusion Charger as most valuable only for base guards. Since Launcher builds don't need a range special, this Interception System will certainly be earning a place on many Fusion Cruiser / V2-C builds.
For Missile Ships, the key to using this is having the special slot available... if you've got it, then the special is a nice addition. With 5 special slots available, the Rhino will be a hull where this is used quite frequently. Given the very high inherent combat speed of the Rhino, some players were even talking about using this and leaving off the engine special in order to use special slots for other tasks. This would result in a 19.2 combat speed... which isn't terrible but is still a bit slow compared to many newer hull builds.
As far as I can tell, this one is not in the Retrofit lab (not even under Compound Engine like Nuclear Accelerators), so you might want to keep that in mind if you are comparing it to Gauss (under Launcher Systems) or Enhanced Warhead (under Missile Systems).
It seems the rotating wheel of weapon love has stayed on Missile for a little longer. If you planned a Rhino build during the Raid, you will want to rethink it based on these items. My original plan was to build a fleet with a Grim Wrath lead, 2 Rhinos with a mix of Siege Z and Harrier missiles, and an Aegis.
Now, with the new items giving the Rhino a higher speed, the Wrath just can't match the speed. The unreactive capability of the Rhino makes it nearly impossible to get a shockwave on it. My new build plan is to use an empty Savage Kodiak for the missile reload boost, 3 Rhinos, and an Aegis (now with Reaver Scout Engine so it can keep up).
I'm using 3 Disruption Missiles per Rhino for a total of 9. This fleet may not have enough armor points to beat high end bases, but 33 combat speed!?! Awww yeah! (lower quality link for non-US)
The new "Sea of Flames" campaign is out too... but that will have to wait for another post. In short, the Templar is only a little bit better than a Crusader... I wouldn't go scrapping all mine for that new hull. But if you are missing items from the first two prize packs, you should think about trying to go get those. Raids are a great time to do that at half repair.