Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Scourge - what do we know?

Kixeye has released some information on the next faction for the upcoming raid - The Scourge.

I'll try to summarize what we know, and what we might want to do about it.  The info is mostly from the Kixeye post here: https://www.kixeye.com/forum/discussion/570631

I'll start with the hulls / tactics, and move on to the weapons. 

Hulls: 

Viperfish:



Damage: Extreme
HP: Low
Range: Long
Speed: Extreme

Short range (duration?) submerge and surface times make it difficult to track.

These seem like they will be taking the place of the "drones" we are used to from the Reavers.  

Daggertooth:

Damage: Moderate
HP: Moderate
Range: Short / Medium
Speed: ?

At some damage level, it will submerge, launch a volley of special (pinch?) torpedos designed to disable the attacker.  Then it will employ long range weaponry.

These seem to be taking on the role of Reaver Scouts - with the exception of their new "runaway" tactic.

Goblin Shark:
Damage: High
HP: High
Range: Short
Speed: Moderate

"Cruiser Class" Alternating submersion timers to disrupt expected behavior, chemical weapons with long reload (will reload while underwater).

This one sounds more like the Reaver Hulk.  It will likely try to close in to do heavy damage.

Electric Eel:


Damage: Low
HP: Extreme (with high resistances)
Range: Short
Speed: Medium

"Cruiser Class" Begins as shallow submerged (like Reaper?), then ambushes with pinch blast and rockets (or depth charges).  This one seems to be taking the role of the Reaver Sapper.

Stonefish:


Damage: High
HP: Low
Range: Extreme
Speed: Low

Remains submerged for the entire battle, and can deep dive to escape close enemies.  Carries corrosive missiles to deal damage over time.  This ship is obviously like the Kraken.

Weapons: 
So to start, we should talk about corrosive weaponry.  Corrosive is a new damage type - we don't have any resistances to corrosive damage, and it is supposed to deal heavy damage over time.  We still don't know a few things about it: Will its damage be "Unlimited" over the duration of a battle or will it have a preset total amount of damage?  Will it affect systems or resistances other than ship health?

One thing I have noticed about the weapons that deal corrosive damage - they are all "single target" weapons.  This implies that they are aimed weapons, and thus evade should be useful to evade the weapons that do corrosive damage.

Typhon Cannons:
Damage Type: Ballistic / Corrosive
Aiming: Single Target
Depth: Surface-to-Surface
Usage: Common
Range: "Decent"

Charon Torpedos:
Damage Type: Concussive
Aiming: Splash
Depth: Underwater
Usage: 2nd most Common
Range: ?

Hydra Depth Charges:
Damage Type: Concussive
Aiming: Splash
Depth: Surface-to-Underwater
Usage: Electric Eel (most common)
Range: Relatively short

Harpy Missiles:
Damage Type: Penetrative
Aiming: Single Target
Depth: Underwater-to-Surface (can fire while moving)
Usage: Daggertooth (most common)
Range: Long

Medusa Torpedo:
Damage Type: Concussive / EMP
Aiming: Single Target
Depth: Underwater
Usage: Daggertooth (only)
Range: ?

Manticore Missiles:
Damage Type: Corrosive
Aiming: Single Target
Depth: Underwater-to-Surface (can fire while moving)
Usage: Stonefish (only?)
Range: Extremely Long

Ideas:
Looking at the damage types, we see Concussive, Ballistic, Penetrative and Corrosive.  We do not see Explosive and Radioactive, so consider that if planning resistances to focus on.

We see a mix of aimed weapons and splash weapons, so evade combined with high speed should be your best bet to avoid damage.  I would really focus on evade, since that might be the key to avoiding corrosive damage.

There seem to be a few ships that will try to close in and surprise you - particularly the Electric Eel and the Goblin Shark.  Although Thermal Imaging is the most reliable way to detect submerged targets, the max detection ranges for thermal might not be enough to detect and keep those ships far enough away to avoid their strikes.  Long range Sonar might be critical for success.  We really don't know how much cloaking they will employ, or even if they will have some sort of defense against thermal detection.

So what characteristics are we looking for in our ships for this raid?  
- Underwater detection and damage
- Evade
- High speed
- Concussive Resistance
- Stun Resistance

Artemis, Valkyrie, and V2-H hulls should be good bets on that front.

Before my Crusaders, I had a V2-H fleet that was my "daily driver".  I managed to plan a refit that was under 2.5 days per ships to get to the following (hull at R8, no component retros):

With more time, the best mod to that (I think) for the Scourge would be to replace the Reflective Coat with Agility System, but that would be just as long per hull.  Sonar range of only 32 is a definite weakness.  I have four of those, and I was planning to include my Phalanx Frostburn as a flagship (to provide more sonar range and possible defense against those long range missiles).  

Another possibility would be to include an Artemis as a spotter.  Something like this would be a quick build... I considered using missiles on this one as well, but didn't want to use a special for a range boost.
Speed 3 matches the speed for the V2-Hs it will be paired with... there are plenty of more optimized builds for pirates willing to spend more Shipyard time with it.  I would even consider losing some sonar range and using the Sonar Pod instead of Sonic Targeting to get this one done faster (dropping Sonar Range to 97).  I didn't like the build with missiles, since I needed to give up a special or switch the Speed to Strike System to get some range.  I think Turn will also be important to keep after these enemies.  Torpedos might be good, but I'm not sure I like the idea of just trading volleys with these guys.


Other Hull options to consider would be:

Rhinos: with 5 specials, Shielded Electronics could be used for maximum pinch protection, and the Scrambler or Coating (retrofitted) specials would also have more evade than Agility.  Be sure to include Guided Missile System or Laser Targeting to hit underwater ships, and you'll definitely need more sonar.

Interdictors: The Viper has excellent sonar capability, and the Vassago retrofits optimized its sub-hunting capability.  3 specials will hold you back though.

Aegis: Use it if you've got it... the defense field won't help against corrosive, but it will against concussive and everything else.  It also has Sonar (50) & Thermal to build on for a sub spotter.

Subsonic Cavitator: Even though the Subsonic Cavitator 3 has a fairly short range (60), it does also give you some good starting sonar capability (60).

Battlecruiser and Mercury:  For the low-end player, one of these hulls should be your basic starting point for an anti-sub fleet.  Both of these have low build times & useful retrofits through R10, so are worth investing in (early).

Stay away from:

Reaver Hulls: Since there is no protection against corrosive damage, the 150% repair modifier will make the use of Reaver Hulls that aren't generally aren't optimized for anti-sub combat anyway quite costly.

And I'm not sure about:

Subs:  We don't know whether the Scourge will have strong underwater detection abilties of their own.  You will want sonar on your own subs in order to detect the underwater enemies.  I would also be concerned that the subs would be very vulnerable to the concussive splash weapons described.

Drones:  Piranhas or Firebats might be able to scout out & find those Scourge enemies for you.  Possibly they will decoy their weapons or even trigger the sneak attacks they have planned.

So what's my REAL Advice?

Don't go overboard on early refits for this raid.  We don't really know what will work best.  With less than 5 days left, you don't have much time to wait on refits.  If you are coining refits, your shipyard coin might be better spent once the raid starts once some players deomstrate what is working and what is not.  You might be even better off limping through this raid, and seeing what prizes might be available. We don't know what is coming, but if the prizes are "Scourge Tech", they might be more effective than what is available now.  I also expect the 'rotating wheel of weapon love' to move on from missiles and possibly move to submarine/torpedo/concussive tech... we will see.

Take stock of your sub hunters.  Hopefully you won't have to depend on waiting for Scourge to surface.  The expected frequent dives will make non-underwater weaponry even less useful, since "in-air" weapons won't damage enemies that are underwater, even if they were above water when fired.

Look for the weaknesses.  Especially on the first raid of a new cycle there might be some sort of tactic that works extremely well.  The very first Reaver raid, players with Engine Disruptor Arbiters could kill everything while taking no damage.  Play within the TOS, but if you find or hear of a weakness, exploit it as quickly as you can, as much as you can. We've already seen that Kixeye will tweak this game without warning. 

I'm sure I missed something important.  I am looking at the same information as everyone else.  Use your own judgement and don't overreact to anything I (or anyone else) might suggest since we are all guessing.  If you have any other ideas, please leave them in the comments.