Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wait till next month

Now that Ascension is over, I want to talk about two things:
- Why it was such a suck fest
- What to plan for going forward

What went wrong:
I'll share my thoughts, and try to be a little more detailed than "It was too hard"
  • As initially released, the only option for getting significant points was to do your own level-locked campaign.
The two biggest options for players who felt outclassed - getting help from other players, and doing an easier campaign for fewer bonus points were removed this raid.  Other options - hitting the start of a campaign & resetting, and grinding world map targets were made non-useful by the weighting of point awards towards the bonuses.  Non coiners really had no good options this raid.
  • The changes Kixeye made as the raid went on were positive for some, but also devalued the work (and coin) that other players had put in before those changes.
For a player who was able to deal with the raid as it was, seeing players who hit a single target & gave up earn 4 million points might not sit too well.  I think the players who put in a huge amount of effort (and coin) to hit those awful 55 targets and open their sector bar... only to see Kixeye release Vanguards to everyone... have an even more legitimate complaint.  And of course, many players grabbed a Scythe with their 4 million points, and then realized that they had no hull to mount a heavy weapon on. 

I don't understand how Kixeye could have been surprised at the player reaction to the point where they felt the need to make the changes.  They knew what they were putting out there, and one would think they tried it a few times to check how successful player would be.  The Siege Campaign strategy video by Raikan seemed like a good development, but the more I look at it, the more worried I am about Kixeye's level of understanding of their own game.

  1. Although non-functional, Raikan made the classic rookie mistake of mixing D4-E with D2-E.  Replacing that with 2 D3-E cuts build time and keeps your stats the same.  This shows a lack of understanding of the game's overall power curve.
  2. Having all components at "R16" invited claims that the demonstration had capabilities that no players have access to.  A follow up that their R16 was equal to R15 is fine, but even so, players at that level of tech would have few, if any, components at R15.
  3. Having the hull at R10 was not realistic given the timing of the V2-H R10 to the retrofit lab.  I started my V2-H with R6 not too long after its release, and reached R8 during the raid.  Having V2-H at R10 for this raid would be at least a 500 coin proposition.
  4. Strike Missile L is a waste of space against the Scourge.  I'll do the calculations below to prove it to you, but the game designers should know that without needing me to tell them.
Moving on from all of that... losing the fleet in the first combat and requiring 15 coins for repair, then going on to claim that 2-3 engagements per level are required, would result in at least 150 coins per campaign.  The siege campaign gave about 3.65M points on initial release... this is not a reasonable level of coin to points for most players.  24 Million points to get the hull + weapon would cost nearly 800 coins (let alone the Scythe, Harlock Aegis, tokens, or any catch-up prizes)..  Does Kixeye really think that's good for most players?  

Moving Forward:
There were a few options to do this raid...
  • Some players tried depth charges, some players tried rockets with Hydro Shells.
I didn't hear great things about depth charges for some reason... I wouldn't have expected them to do that poorly but perhaps they were just too slow and landed behind targets.  Rockets with Hydro shells have a significant problem - the Scourge has too much plate defense for explosives to be effective.
  • Some players used Arbalest or Launchers.
These did alright when the Scourge would surface.  Using a Subsonic Cavitator here would really speed that process... I'd prefer a Monarch for its low weight and ability to add defenses.  Some sort of underwater damage capability should be available to players who depend on this strategy since the Stonefish never surface.
  • Most players used missiles
I'm going to focus on missiles, since I think the majority of players who had success were using missile ships.  I'll compare the expected effectiveness of various missile types on V2-H, Mastodons, Proto-Masts, and the Rhino.  I used the resistances and evade of a surfaced Viperfish as my target for this sheet.

I put together a spreadsheet to compare, and made it interactive so you can run your own scenarios.  I calculated DPS/hton at close range, and then calculated straight DPS at various ranges, so you can see how the damage drops off when using remote targeting.  For Remote Targeting damage, I assumed that the missile will do 100% of its rated damage at its max range, then the damage is 60% of its rated damage at max remote targeting range, and then it is linear in between.  The 60% is taken from the data files.

That sheet is interactive, so feel free to play with your own ideas.  You can see that the Trident is the most weight efficient at doing damage (DPS/hton), but the Harrier isn't far behind.  The Siege Missile Z hits hardest when looking at straight DPS, but on the large ships with lots of weapon slots, the Harriers will still be a more efficient option.  One more interesting comparison is looking at the damage of the Harrier vs the Trident - in "normal" range the Trident hits harder, but once in remote targeting, the Trident's damage drops off more quickly so it falls a little bit behind the Harrier.

I just updated the sheet to include stats on the new Blade Missile from this Forsaken Mission.  The Blade looks like it could be the new "it" missile, and it even makes sense to refit in a 1 for 1 swap with Siege Z missiles.

One more important takeaway from this chart is the uselessness of the Strike, Achilles, and Assault Missiles.  Torrents are also an option in the dropdown - they are terrible against the Scourge too.  All of those missiles don't hit hard enough (per shot) to get through the plate defense with any significant damage.  (except maybe the Achilles, which takes too long to reload and is very inaccurate)

If you know what you are doing in Excel, you can download the sheet and change the weapon and hull options.
A few more thoughts on the prizes:
The Neptune has that heavy weapon slot we are all paying attention to.  I'm not impressed with the Scythe and Death Scythe heavy weapons - although they can hit hard, they take a while to land and do their damage.  I also have no idea how Kixeye could say "the Neptune is the perfect answer to the Scourge's aggression" on their splash screen.  It is a hull to use against land targets.  So wrong Kixeye.  It may be possible that more heavy weapons are coming... some may be better for anti-ship duty.

I'm more interested in the Siege Deflection stat on the Neptune.  I think the -600 against turrets could make it a great lead tank for hitting Strongholds in the weekly, and I may build one just for that.  (I declined to redeem any Scythe weapons).

The Trident has the intriguing dual mode with Countermeasures, but if you use SFB3 so that their weapon range is longer than their counter range, then the missile will fire first at any enemy in range before the counter-measure fires. With the damage-dealing capability of the Trident... I'm OK with that.