Thursday, October 15, 2015

Death From Below - the Prizes & What to Get

Death from Below is starting soon - the first raid since the Ascension clusterf**k, and the first raid since Kixeye announced their new attitude.

So what would I want from this raid?
- A more player friendly format
- No changes mid-raid
- New prizes that have reasonable build times
- New prizes that are not overpowered
- A good selection of older items for other prize tiers

I'll come back to this list at the end of the article.

Some useful Kixeye Links:
Briefing/Prize list:

I'm not going to rehash the whole briefing on the format, so you should read that one at least.

Raid Format:
The raid format is similar to what we have been seeing lately, with the three level-locked campaigns and an Elite Campaign.  Co-op is back per player request.  The ability to hit lower level campaigns for lower points is not back.  If I had to pick one, I would pick the open campaigns over co-op, as I don't like the dependency that co-op can breed.  (Although true teamwork in campaigns can be really fun).

World map targets will also be available at levels 35 & 55.  The 35 will have reduced points for players above a certain (unknown?) level.  I don't expect the map targets will be very popular unless the points / difficulty ratio changes drastically from the previous raid. The only reason to hit them in Ascension was to open the Sector Bar. 

The sector bar is gone, and Vanguard targets will be available two times for hitting.  
Vanguard prizes will be:
  • Ghostcrawler
  • Hellstar
  • Death Scythe
  • Cobra Scattergun
New Prizes:

Tiger Shark Hull Prize

The main prize is a new submarine hull - the Tiger Shark.  Its real standout capability is the Assault DPS of 2400, which essentially increases the FvF damage of each mounted weapon by 240 DPS... which is a lot.  Kixeye tried to explain DPS a little better in a forum post. That, with a little more info gathered through testing, has allowed me to finally figure out how DPS affects your damage output.  I plan to work through a few examples in an upcoming article.

The sub compares pretty nicely to our existing submarine hulls.

With all the weapon, special, and armor slots, combined with the new heavier torpedos, we see the first time since the original Barracuda that we've had to worry about Max Weight on subs.  Its submerge time is the same as a Spectre, it doesn't have the crazy low Banshee map speed, and this hull also has decent defenses in case you get in a situation where you are trading fire.

In all, we have a very good sub hull with great FvF damage output. I think we were all hoping for shorter build time.

Styx Weapon Prize

The Styx Torpedo has the same long range as the Charon.  Although it does less Concussive damage, it also does a good amount of Corrosive damage.  

Like the other Scourge torpedo, it doesn't give you a speed boost, and with modern subs having 4 special slots & the availability of Speed System 4 or 5... I don't think the Turn Speed boost is that amazing.

The number to look at is the bonus damage of 1080, which corresponds to the (potential) corrosive damage per torpedo hit.  Once again, Kixeye has given us part of the story in a forum post, but using data from our good friends over at Dark Alliance, we can figure out the rest.  The Death Scythe does the following:

If we assume that the "dotdamage" is done every "dotinterval", then we can figure that each corrosive stack will do 6 / 0.2 = 30 (actual) damage every second.  Multiplied by 135 Max Stacks, that works out to 4050 damage per second.  Since damage displayed on blueprints is doubled, we get a max Damage over Time of 2x4050 = 8,100 which corresponds to the number on the blueprint.  The DoT duration of 6 seconds defines the duration of each stack's damage output, so we can also tell that the total blueprint damage of each corrosive stack is 30 actual DPS x 2 blueprint / actual x 6 seconds = 360 corrosive damage per stack.  The Styx has a x3 Supercharge on its corrosive, which means that it will do 360x3 = 1080 corrosive damage per hit.  But not always... if you hit the max stacks, then the corrosive will not build up any more, and that damage will be lost.  I like to think about the corrosive damage much like UAV damage.  Once that UAV or torpedo hits its target, it will do the damage... it will just take a while to do it.

So overall, the build time is terrible, but the range and damage output is great.  Also consider that the new Scourge torpedos have a much faster travel speed than previous torpedos, similar to the new breed of missiles.  

Ghostcrawler Limited Hull (Vanguard Drop)

We all wanted our own Kraken, right?  This beast never surfaces, has a HUGE damage output (476 Assault DPS per weapon and +100% concussive damage), has high speed and good defenses against anti-sub weaponry.  88 thermal range means that no subs will be able to sneak up on you.

The deep submerge is interesting - I would suggest you do NOT want to use a Battery on this hull, because you want to deep submerge as much as possible to get the stun effect when you surface.
Although Scourge torpedos are an obvious choice for this sub, using Assault Torpedo B can get you some ridiculously high combat speed as well (leaving the GhostCRAWLER name a real misnomer).  The drop rate on this is supposed to be very low, so good luck trying to get this... unless you plan to use at against me, in which case I really hope you don't get it.

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
Tiger Shark (12.5M): I do think this is a great sub hull, but with the build time looking like 80+ days for a fleet of 4 with modern torpedos, it seems like a luxury item for a lot of players.

Styx Torpedo (7M): With long range and high corrosive damage, this is a powerful weapon, but the build time is a real drawback.


Cobra Scattergun (1.1M each Limit 6): Players who have used this weapon seem to generally like it, but I'm going to go back to the build time again and suggest that it isn't for everybody.

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

Tier 4:
Wendigo (25M Limit 1 Max 1): Kixeye added in this limited base defense turret after the initial prize list was announced. With the slowing ice field this turret adds, base attacking fleets without a Frosty or Aegis are often in trouble. The range is a bit short, so you will need to consider placement pretty carefully.

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

Mastodon (5.5M): With the new long range R5 remote targeting and the new breed of missiles, I'd grab it if I didn't have Rhinos.

Buzzard Missile (5.5M): An upgrade from Torrents, and I'm not sure these have been available since they were a FAT prize, but with the high salvo, these are not effective against the Scourge, especially compared to the Blade, Harrier, and Disruptor.

Concussive Upgrade (3M): This one might be useful in some sub fleets, but with Stealth Attack System 4 coming in the next Forsaken Mission, you might prefer that.  This also is inferior to researchable Concussion Warhead, so it is only useful as a second damage upgrade.

Evade Upgrade (3M): Sometimes useful if you have enough special slots, but again this is inferior to the first evade upgrade from Agility, Reflective Coat, or Scrambler.

Zynthonite D4-R (3.5M): I'd rather use D5-R - I just don't see this as all that desirable for the build time, unless you really need the R shielding and you can't reach the FM Elite Tier. 

Tier 3:
Mercury (1.6M): A great hull with low build time for players who are working their way up the build tree.  Consider that this might be easier to get from the campaign (Hunt the Nemesis #1).

Shielded Electronics 3 (3M): Useful in many situations, especially a base guard.

Compound Panels E (2M): For the power usage, I find these to be really useful in my base defense when I don't want to load up against anything too specific.

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.

Poseidon Depth Charge 3 (2M): Possibly useful against the Scourge, these are still sort of short range (64) and potentially outrun. Maybe combine them with disrupter missiles?

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:
Compound Panels C (400k): If you are really limited on power or cant reach the ones on Tier 3, these aren't bad either.

Shielded Electronics 2 (500k): You'd rather lave the one on Tier 3, but grab it if this is the best you can do.

Interdictor (100k): Possibly a useful ship against underwater targets, but I think it isn't worth its build time anymore.  

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

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.

Zynth Armor D3-T (400k): Bleh.. do you really need turn speed?  Use a D3 with some evade or resist.

Tier 1:
Zynth Armor D2-S (100k): Best prize in the raid.  Many many players have been asking for this... don't miss it.  This one is so good, it feels like Kixeye will bring out something to make it obsolete next week.

Compound Panels A (50k): If you are really limited on power or cant reach the ones on Tier 2 or 3, these aren't bad.

Shielded Electronics 1 (150k): You'd rather have the one on Tier 2 or 3, but grab it if this is the best you can do.

Battlecruiser (60k): You probably have it already, but get it if you don't.

Hydrodynamic Shells 1 (50k): If the HD Shells 2 & 3 is unsatisfactory, this will cause even less submerged damage.

Poseidon Depth Charge 1 (40k): Possibly useful against the Scourge, these are still sort of short range (64) and potentially outrun.  I think the PDC 2 is sort of the sweet spot for this weapon.

To wrap up... How is Kixeye doing?

I'll go back to the list from the top of the article:

A more player friendly format
Co-op is good, but the lack of level flexibility isn't.

EDIT: It also looks like many of the NPC (Scourge) weapon reload times have been reduced from what we had during Caustic Warfare.  BOO KIXEYE!  Go here for details & I'll summarize in my "One day in" post.

No changes mid-raid
We will have to wait and see

New prizes that have reasonable build times

New prizes that are not overpowered
I'm not so sure on this - the Tiger Shark & the Styx look reasonable, but the Ghostcrawler is going to break something.  Try loading up on cloak armor & see what happens...

A good selection of older items for other prize tiers
D2-S almost makes this one "yellow" by itself, but not quite.  Adding the Wendigo gets it there, and I'm glad that Kixeye has heard and responded (a bit). I still think the prize list from end-to-end is pretty weak overall, and if you are still getting your anti-Scourge fleet in shape, sitting out this raid isn't going to be the worst thing ever.  The Mastodon is the most desirable hull in there, and there really isn't any desirable weapon to go after.

Although I may get the new hull & weapon (depending on difficulty), I plan to focus on tokens for this raid. We will have to see if the Scourge difficulty is the same as during Caustic Warfare (lower than the initial raid difficulty).  An interesting thing is that although co-op is available... when I look at the prize list, I'm not sure what "must-haves" I would want to help lower level players get... maybe Mastodons?

Good luck Pirates... Gaming is not a crime!