Friday, September 11, 2015

Ascension - One day in

Yeah... players are upset because this raid is hard.  I've got no magic bullets and I'll play the game in from of me... I've done a 35, a 55, 3 Siege campaigns and poked at the Elite a little bit.  I've spent a bit over 100 coins and I'm just about done.  I'll share what I've learned.

Strategy:

I tried a few things... I'll start with what didn't work.

My CM Frosty with V2-H (R7) was not as successful as I hoped - the problem was not the lack of Agility System, but instead it was just a lack of punch.  Stacking up also left me pretty vulnerable to some of their splash weapons. 

I also tried some drone distraction with a Monarch/Firebat ship - that didn't seem to help too much because the Scourge ships just seemed to carry on with their paths and ended up firing on me anyway.

Although the Antipode Launchers can do a lot of damage, I found they weren't very effective, especially against the smaller ships.  Flechettes launched while the target was underwater didn't seem to land even when it surfaced, and of course ones that land after the target dives also didn't land.  So the launchers had a very short window of effectiveness against these ships that dive & surface often.

My most effective strategy was one I've used during some old Reaver raids - Zombie Rhino/Mastodons with a Frostburn spotter.  My actual fleet was 1 ProtoMast with all Harrier missiles, 2 Mastodons with a mix of Siege Z and Strike B, 1 Rhino with 13 Harriers (and only Laser & SFB specials), and my trusty CM Frostburn, loaded with Phalanx and CM Equipment 3.  

Some thoughts for using this fleet effectively:
  • Use the Frosty to shield your zombies.  This is tough to do and takes some practice. 
  • Focus on one target at a time.  Kill it and move on.  Ten half dead ships will fire twice as many shots at you as five full health ships.
  • Get the Frosty's field onto your target.  This gives you a bypass effect that is a big advantage to your DPS (remember the article with the graph?).  An exception to this would be if you can keep a Goblin Shark at max range and you don't have countermeasures for their depth charges.
  • I found that a Wolfpack crew was very helpful.  Increasing the damage done kills your enemy faster, and keeps them from ganging up on you.  When you are driving well, a 14% damage increase cuts your damage taken in a target by more than 14%.  I would prioritize the "offensive" rogue crews over the defensive ones (Steelheads or Sea Serpents).
  • The Phalanx on my Frosty really helped cut damage from incoming missiles and depth charges. I still don't think the "CM ship" is a very popular configuration for them, but it really helps me out a lot.
So more detail on...
The Targets:
Many thanks to Dark Alliance, who is able to distill the data downloaded to our machines into information we can use.  Their detailed target breakdown for this raid is at: http://bp-information.blogspot.com/2015/09/ascension-raid-fleet-breakdown.html

If you don't know your Viperfish from your Daggertooth, check out: http://bpprof.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-scourge-what-do-we-know.html

World Map 35: 2 Goblin Sharks, 4 Viperfish.  
This target is worth only an insulting 322 points and will still deal out a fair amount of damage.

World Map 55: 5 Goblin Sharks, 6 Viperfish.  
It is worth about 40.5k points, and you will take a lot of damage getting those as well. 

I predict many sector bars will remain closed... these targets have just awful payouts considering their damage.

I'm only going to go into detail on the Siege Campaign here.

Siege 1: 4 Viperfish, 1 Goblin Shark 
These guys will come at you, but you can isolate and engage them one at a time.

Siege 2: 6 Viperfish, 2 Daggertooth
The ships in this target will organize into 2 circles - the inner circle has the 2 Daggertooths and 2 Viperfish, and the outer circle will be the remaining 4 Viperfish.  My recommendation is to pick off the outer ships first, then close in to get the Viperfish and finally each Daggertooth.  A lot was made of how the Daggertooth would fire EMP torps and run at a certain damage threshold - I didn't have too much trouble with that tactic because at that point they were in my Frosty field and a whole lot of missiles were in the air already, so they couldn't run very quickly and the in-air missiles would finish them off.

Siege 3: 5 Viperfish, 4 Goblin Sharks
These guys would all close in in a sort of line, and I would often find myself cornered and out of room to maneuver.  Possibly faster zombie ships would help me get to the outside of the formation, but I was often engaging many ships at once which is non-ideal.  I just tried to focus on my targets and protect the zombies while killing as many ships per run.  Usually I tried to kill the Viperfish first. 

Siege 4: 4 Viperfish, 1 Daggertooth, 3 Stonefish
The Viperfish and Daggertooth charge straight at you, and then when they start to circle it is tough to protect the zombies because they will circle in different directions. While you are worried about them, the Stonefish will be sneaking in and firing corrosive missiles at you.  I always focused on the Viperfish first (again), since they were most likely to sneak around and take out my zombies.  The Stonefish were the smallest threat due to my countermeasures.  When they were the final ships remaining, I would find them by looking for the missiles they launched, and just charge in to kill them relatively quick.  I never had a problem with them "deep diving".

Siege 5: 9 Viperfish, 6 Goblin Sharks
Sort of like Siege 3, but even more enemies.

Elite: 
This looks like a whole lot of ships, but most of them do not start out mobile.  There is a group of Viperfish and a Daggertooth that starts mobile, along with hidden Electric Eels and Stonefish that I think also start moving.  A lot of Goblin Sharks and Viperfish will start untriggered.

I think that this target might be best attacked by taking out the mobile visible targets, then being patient with the Eels & Stonefish, trying to take out as much as possible without triggering more enemies.  If you can take out all the mobile enemies, then you might be able to kill the immobile enemies with subs without triggering them.  It's just a theory though...

I saw a video posted (embedded below) of a player killing an Elite for 20 coins with a Frosty, Aegis, and 3 Rhinos. Even though he didn't "zombie" the rhinos, he illustrates a lot of the driving techniques I talked about in the strategy section (except getting the Frosty field on the enemy...) so it is worth watching.  Nice work VIPER_1!

 


Ship Detail:

I'm going to try to distill the info that was extracted at Unofficial BP Info into a more readable format.  Maybe with this data you can do a better job of trying to formulate your own strategies.  This data is all for the "A Tier" ships which you see in the Siege and Elite campaigns.  Strike and Recon campaigns likely have the weaker B or C tier versions.

Ships:


Weapons:


I don't totally understand how the corrosive statistics translate into damage.  The 6 damage might be applied every interval, every second, or every hit.

With this data, you can start to understand why the offensive crews like Wolfpack are so helpful.  Let's look at what the math of firing Harriers on a Viperfish.  

The Harrier (on a generic ship) does 316 penetrative damage per hit, with 40% bypass.  

The surfaced Viperfish has 60% penetrative resistance with 108 damage reduction, which becomes 36% resistance and 64.8 damage reduction after bypass.

So the basic Harrier will do:
316 * (1 - 36%) - 64.8 = 137 damage per hit

If you put the Harrier on a Rhino with 20% built in penetrative damage boost, and use Interception System for another 45%, it becomes:
316 * (1+65%) * (1-36%) - 64.8 =  269 damage per hit
against the "plate-like" defenses, increases in damage are multiplied, so a 65% increase in damage results in damage doubling.

Critical hits from a Wolfpack rogue crew become:
316 * 2 * (1+65%) * (1-36%) - 64.8 =  603 damage per hit (more than double)

And if you get another 40% bypass by putting your Frosty's field over your target, your total bypass becomes 64%. 

So the Basic Harrier damage goes from 137 to....
316 * (1 - 21.6%) - 38.9 = 209 damage per hit 

And the Rhino Harrier damage goes from 269 to...
316 * (1+65%) * (1 - 21.6%) - 38.9 =  370 damage per hit (more than double)

Remember that if you are trying to somehow count missile hits against the ship's health, you'll have to cut all that damage in half.  The two articles I've written that really go into DPS calculations are at:

http://bpprof.blogspot.com/2014/12/cycle-time-rank-salvo-and-minimum.html

and

http://bpprof.blogspot.com/2015/01/plate-armor-minimum-damage-and-half.html


Final Thoughts:
This raid is very hard... no doubt about it.  Kixeye has tailored the difficulty to the players with the top end equipment, and so players that don't have it are really struggling.  This is a result of the power creep (or sprint / flood / whatever) that has been accelerating over the last year and a half... resulting in a larger and larger gap between top end players and everyone else.

The loss of campaign choice, co-op, and tilting the point balance towards completion bonuses has made it so that players who can't beat their level's campaign have no reasonable options to play this raid.  

That said... none of the tech I'm using is really very creative... I'm using my old "fire support" Mastodons and a partially done Rhino along with a Frostburn design I've been talking about (and using) for ages.  These are the sorts of ships that all players should have in their dock.

I've basically ended up following my own advice to players that can't blow through a raid... go for the weapon.  I've spent just about all the coin I'm willing to spend this raid (which is in my usual 100 - 200 range), and I've got enough points to get the Trident Missile and a couple of smaller build tokens.  As much as I like Harlock's Aegis, I'm not going to break my bank for it.  On last night's Battle Vortex show, Nash basically told players to sit this one out (skip to about 57:20).  I understand that perspective, but I've never had any presidential aspirations and I don't tell people what to do.  My advice is to not to freak out.  Don't spend more than you are willing to.  Missing a few prizes will not be the end of the world... or even your game.  Nash is absolutely right when he says that Kixeye will not learn a thing until their revenues plummet, so consider that as well.

Gaming is not a crime.  Have fun.