Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ascension - What to ... do?

Before each raid, I usually try to post some sort of review of the prizes along with recommendations on which prizes to go after and which to avoid.  The information available to me (which is the same as the information available to you... Kixeye does me no favors) is not sufficient for me to evaluate the new Hull and Weapon prizes.  So I'll try to keep it short.

Thoughts on the raid:
We've seen some previews of the Scourge ships and weapons already - I described them in my last article

For advice, all I can say is that I think Speed, Evade, and Pinch Resist will be your friends.

Campaigns will not be co-op anymore - I think that's a bit of a double edged sword.  It's good because low level or "weak" players will not be begging for other players to do a campaign for them.  But it also denies players who are behind (perhaps they made a bad fleet build decision or took some time away from the game) a chance to catch up more easily.  Co-op play can be one of the most fun and engaging aspects of this game.  I think Kixeye could have restricted co-op without taking it away entirely.

Level-locked campaigns where most of the points are in the completion bonus will be the real bane of players who try to play for free (or cheap) - this will really restrict their options to grind out points.

On the Prizes:

Harlock's Aegis:

This upgraded version of the Aegis adds just about everything the original was missing... 

  • Speed to keep up with the latest ships
  • 4th special slot
  • Unreactive
  • More Evade, Armor Points, and Defense
It is flagship only, but the upgraded field and missile reload bonus might just make up for that.  For matching with Rhinos, Neptunes, or possibly any other fast ship, this is going to be a real help.

The build gets real long on this one though... 10 days, 22 hours, 27 minutes with officer.

Neptune Hull:
This hull has a new Heavy Weapon slot as one of its 12 slots, which is usable with the new "Heavy Weapon" type of weapon, which is currently just the Scythe (and the variant Death Scythe).  Kixeye's release notes are not sufficient to really decode how the new "Siege DPS" works.  We do know that it adds damage when the Neptune is firing against turrets or buildings, but it isn't clear how often/when that 1200 is added.  The 600 Siege Deflection is a bit more clear - I'm fairly sure it subtracts 600 from turret damage done (after all other resistances are applied).

Build time on this hull (via Kixeye's Shipyard Design mode) is 5 days 0 hours 48 minutes (with officer). This is average for hulls these days, but does not follow the downward trend we saw with the Artemis and Rhino (both shorter builds). 

It is unclear if this ship is better than the Rhino.  It is lacking Radioactive Defense and Underwater Detection, but it does have the Unreactive trait (how unreactive you may ask... who knows?).  For open water combat, the Rhino seems better, but against bases the new traits of the Neptune may push it ahead.  Of course, it's all about the weapons, so let's look at the "Heavy Weapons"...


This Heavy Weapon seems to deal a lot of damage, but its high salvo might be a disadvantage as it ranks up.  The Splash/Spread characteristic (instead of aimed accuracy makes it hard to compare exactly with the aimed missiles, but I'll fall back on my old Splash / (3/8 Spread) formula:

(ignore the Trident column for now... OK?)

I could be way off here, but the initial look at DPS seems like it is in the same neighborhood as our existing missiles.  Of course, as a splash weapon it will be much less useful against moving ships, and much more useful against clustered, slow or non-moving targets.   The high salvo will put this weapon at a disadvantage at higher ranks.  The big unknown is how the Neptune's DPS statistic interacts with the weapon's. If it only applies to the Heavy Weapon, then obviously that will be a big advantage.  But if the DPS also boosts the regular weapons in a similar fashion, then those might be even more advantageous to use.

Build time for this weapon again does not follow the downward trend, but instead seems quite long - at over 2.5 days.

Note that this weapon is a limited weapon, so each prize redemption allow you to build it ONCE.  You'll want at least three for a full fleet.

Death Scythe:

Still a limited Heavy Weapon, this one is only available from the new Scourge Vanguard target.It does lower Penetrative Damage, but adds the new corrosive damage.  The blueprint was revised from the initial release, where the "old" special ability for corrosive damage was described as doing 36 damage  (this didn't seem too bad, but could build up with a lot of hits).  The "new" description of the special ability is described as 8100 damage per second for 6 seconds.  This results in 48,600 damage points, which actually does 24,300 points of damage to armor that can't be resisted (who remembers that everything does half damage?  I was recently reminded of this when my 19,000 HP, 78% exp resist Enforcer got hit with 4 Daisy Cutter XLs and lived.)  So a single hit from this weapon should kill just about anything?  Not even worth analyzing.  I think we haven't seen the last of statistic clarifications on this weapon.

Build time for this one is even longer - 3 days 10 hours 44 minutes.

Trident Missile:

Apparently Kixeye had this extra weapon up their sleeve, and didn't think it would quite be ready for this raid.  I'm not sure if they released it based on the popular outcry that having only a limited heavy weapon and a couple high end hulls available this raid would be a real turn-off for many players.

Well. I like countermeasures, so I thought I would like this weapon off the bat.  But then I noticed its very limited range (55 base vs. 76 for newer missiles), and its single shot countermeasures.  So I started to think it was useless... but then I thought that Remote Targeting just might be its saving grace, and so maybe it is worth comparing.  The raw damage is quite large for such a light missile. On a Rhino (for example), 1 weapon slot could be used for a Harrier, and then the other 14 slots could be used for this Trident.  The Harrier would allow the Rhino to "self-spot" for its Tridents (remember all the Mastodon builds with a single Cutlass to extend the Siege Missile range?)... so I'm going to compare the Trident to the other missiles with a 60% damage multiplier for its remote targeting damage reduction.  I did document its "non-remote" range in the chart below:

(yeah, same chart as before)

Even with the maximum remote targeting damage reduction, the Trident has the best DPS/hton of any missile out there.  I wouldn't try to build a fleet with all Tridents - large amounts of incoming missiles might suppress your offense by forcing the Tridents to switch to Countermeasure mode.  As a countermeasure, 60% accuracy matches the Phalanx 3, but it does have only 1 salvo, so it may get overwhelmed.  But this is not a missile to overlook... you'll just have to use it intelligently.  Its build time is reasonable for its capability, and its weight matches the Harrier.  

I'll leave you with an updated bubble chart comparing build times with the DPS/hton & range statistics:

The huge build time of the Scythe and the huge damage/short range of the Trident (these are all unmodified statistics) really make this chart much less pretty...

The Scythe is helped on the chart by the fact it is a splash weapon, and is not affected by the target's evade (assumed to be 40% on this chart).  It would be hurt at higher ranks due to its salvo of 8.  Without a good understanding of the corrosive damage and the Neptune hull Siege DPS effects, this chart might not be the best comparison, but its all I have right now.  Hopefully I can get more detail on the DPS effects and update in the future.

Green / Yellow / Red prize eval:

My color coding for prizes is:
Green  Most players should want this prize.
Yellow  You may want to buy this prize if you have a plan for using it, but consider "green" prizes first.
Red  I'm not sure why this prize would be worth the points it costs.

Tier 5 (max 2)
Harlock's Aegis (35M each Limit 1 Max 1): This flagship-only upgrade to the Aegis corrects all of the original's shortcomings.

Neptune (15M): This ship might be great, but I don't understand it well enough to make it a "must get".  With a Death Scythe it might be a real killer though.


Scythe (3.75M each Limit 5 Max 5) : Based on the analysis I have, these are pretty lousy compared to our other options, but a better understanding of the new Siege DPS characteristic may change that.  I'm very concerned that it isn't worth its build time.

Tokens: Based on how much damage you take getting points, these may or may not be worthwhile redemptions.

Tier 4 (max 2):
Trident Missile (9M): This one is sort of conditionally green.  If you have a hull with remote targeting, then it will be awesome.  Otherwise its short range will be a real drawback.

Sonic Targeting 3 (4.5M): The long sonar range is unmatched, but the long build time isn't appreciated.

Zynth Armor D4-R (3.5M): This ship armor is eclipsed by D5-R, and isn't as useful as Evade right now... I think.

Compound Plate IV (4.5M): A good deal for armor points / ton, but its conventional damage reduction isn't all that useful very often.

Cryonic Depth Charge (5M): Unmatched damage, but a 3 day build time per weapon makes this unattractive to a lot of players.

Evade Upgrade (3M): With newer hulls getting more specials, the opportunities to use this special are expanding.

Kodiak (5M): A nice durable missile hull, but better ones are out there.

Mastodon (5.5M): With the new R5, and the combination of Remote Targeting with Tridents, I'd hit it if I didn't have Rhinos.

Tier 3 (max 3):
Mercury (1.6M): Although it may be easier to get from Hunt the Nemesis Campaign Pack #1, lower level players will want this quick building hull with nice retrofit options.

Hydrodynamic Shells 3 (1.8M): You may be tempted to try this with mortars or rockets to hit underwater Scourge targets.  I suspect that between their resistances and speed, you will be disappointed.

Assault Torpedos D63-B (2.5M): These are the best all-around torpedos out there now, but I do expect better ones available in a month or two... just a hunch.  If you need to build subs now.. get them.

Sonic Targeting 2 (2.3M): For these lower levels of Sonic Targeting, consider just using the regular Sonar Pod instead.

Poseidon Depth Charge 3 (2M): Possibly useful against the Scourge, these are still sort of short range (64) and potentially outrun.

Zynth Armor D4-V (1.5M): I'd just rather use armor slots for resistances.  I find D2-V more attractive when I'm desperate for speed anyway.

Tier 2 (max 3):
Hurricane (400k): I'd rather have a Monarch for drones, but the Hurricane might do alright.

Hydrodynamic Shells 2 (350k): If the HD Shells 3 is unsatisfactory, this will cause even less submerged damage.

Sonic Targeting 1 (400k): For these lower levels of Sonic Targeting, consider just using the regular Sonar Pod instead.

Poseidon Depth Charge 2 (100k): Possibly useful against the Scourge, these are still sort of short range (64) and potentially outrun.  However, compared to the level 3 PDC, these are way cheaper and a quicker build.  Possibly worth the risk to give them a try.

Strike System 2 (200k): Don't do it.  What is this even going to be useful for?

Zynth Armor D3-V (100k): I'd just rather use armor slots for resistances.  I find D2-V more attractive when I'm desperate for speed anyway. (yeah I'm copy-pasting.  It's late.)

Tier 1 (max 3):
Battlecruiser (60k): You must already have this hull... but get it if you don't.  You can do a lot with it.

Poseidon Depth Charge 1 (50k): Kinda small.  I think the PDC 2 is the "sweet spot" for this weapon class.

Zynth Armor D2-V (15k): I'd just rather use armor slots for resistances.... but if you need speed armor, this is the one to use.

Zynth Armor D1-M (40k): If you have an empty armor slot and want some resistances to fill it for little weight/time... here's your armor.

Hydrodynamic Shells 1 (50k): If the HD Shells 3 is unsatisfactory, this will cause even less submerged damage.  (yup... more copy/paste)

Interdictor (100k): Although these hulls used to be the basis of some very cool FvF and Sub Hunter fleets, they just aren't worth the build time any more. 

My final recommendations... If you can get the Harlock Aegis, get it.  I also think that the Trident may turn out to be very effective when used with Remote Targeting.  On the Neptune / Scythe combo, it is difficult to really recommend them at this point.  For myself, I'll take a pass on those two to keep focusing on my anti-Scourge & Rhino fleets.

Wow... this turned into a real long article even though I thought I didn't have much to say.  Good luck in the raid Pirates... and remember... GAMING IS NOT A CRIME!