Friday, October 23, 2015

New FM Prizes - Cadmium Armor analysis

The Death From Below raid is over, and we have a new Forsaken Mission cycle and a new Campaign to try.  (Sorry guys, Dragon Strike stuff will have to wait for a later article)

Kixeye has changed the Forsaken Mission a bit - it is now easier to do the repeat run through because:

  • The three day timer is reset when you reset for the second run
  • Points for the second run are now the same as the first

Although I could previously do Elite tier twice coin-free, that meant that I was doing nothing in BP besides the Forsaken Mission for that three day period.  The timer reset allows players a bit more flexibility in their BP activities.  However, this change does not help the players that couldn't reach a particular tier at all.

Another change is that the number of prizes in the first three tiers has gone up quite a bit.  This might help players who are newer and trying to acquire tech, but only if those prizes are good.  I went through each tier and tried to determine how good the prizes were on each tier. For Tiers 1 & 2 I tried to "adjust" my rating based on how useful those prizes were for early players.  I'm sure some of you will disagree with my ratings, but I'm just trying to provide a rough idea.

Forsaken Mission Prize Ratings:

I suppose it really isn't a surprise that I find the higher tier items more useful.  Some things worth pointing out: 
  • Why is Radiation Suppressor on both Tier 2 & Tier 3?
  • Fusion Chargers are nice, but I like Interception System much better.
  • When I made these pictures, I thought that the larger Cadmium armors might have been useful.  I did the analysis below... and I should have made all the Cadmium red.
  • Tier 3 has a lot of really useful stuff, particularly the D53-D, Speed System 4, Reflective Coat 3, Pyroclast Turret, and Reaver Bulkhead.  A new player should be trying to get Tier 3 ASAP.
  • Tier 2 also has useful stuff for the newer player.  Just about everything that I marked green, except Firebat 2, is a high priority for a new player.
So the real question is - do we like all the extra items in the Forsaken Mission?  I have mixed feelings.  Many key items are in there, and hopefully will stay in there.  But a player's chances of getting the thing they want is lower because of the chaff.  It has been suggested that players be allowed to choose their prize, or be able to pay Uranium/Gold for a re-roll.  With more items in each tier, that suggestion looks better and better.  If charging Uranium for a re-roll, a reasonable pricing (in my opinion) would be to make each re-roll cost the amount of Uranium awarded in that tier.  

So let's look more in depth at the new prizes... you'll see that I already rated the Stealth Attack System 4 and the Gargoyle Depth Charge as Green, and the Cadmium Armor as Red/Yellow:

Stealth Attack System 4:

This special is equal to Concussion Warhead 3 and Nautilus Battery 3 combined into a single special slot.  This is exactly what I was hoping for when this item was teased in the October WIP.  The pleasant surprise on SAS 4 is that the build time for the special is just under 10 hours, where most combo specials can be 1.5 - 2 day builds.  Use of this special on subs is pretty much a benefit in all situations, except for a few considerations:

  • The retrofit of SAS is with Concussive Systems, but Nautilus Battery is in Stealth Systems.  If you have already retrofit Stealth Systems but not Concussive, then you will also have to complete the other retrofit in order to match your previous cloaking time.  Concussive is a "moderate" uranium cost for retrofit (4k/12k/24k), compared to Steath (8k/24k/48k).
  • The Concussive Damage bonus won't be so helpful if you are using Styx torpedos, since those do most of their damage as Corrosive. Otherwise, even if you are up against your weight limit, it will be worth it to use fewer torpedos to be able to add this special.
  • Don't use a Cloak Time special on Ghostcrawlers.
  • Strike Warheads does have a higher concussive damage bonus, but much more build time.  You won't be able to combine SAS 4 with Strike Warheads.
Gargoyle Depth Charge 2:
This is an improvement on the original Gargoyle Depth Charge turret, giving more range, more damage, and quicker reload.

This damage chart is a little bit of a spoiler, since I also included the Draconian Coaxial turret prize from Dragon Strike Elite.  The expected damage output from a Gargoyle 2 is twice that of a Gargoyle 1 (or a Pyroclastic Turret).  However, the short range when compared to a Pyroclast means that you probably want to keep those Pyroclasts as the basis of your front line defense, and only use Gargoyles where you want to provide sub defense (and don't forget your spotter).

Cadmium Armor:

Just as an aside, how is Cadmium Armor easier AND quicker to repair?  I understand how it is quicker, but does the repair button grow larger so it is easier to press?

Anyway, this armor was promised as a way to improve our repair times, and the short story on this armor is that armor points that are provided by Cadmium take half time to repair (2 points per second instead of 1 point per second).  However, that improved repair time is averaged over the total ship repair time, so you are never repairing damage twice as fast (even if you use 100% cadmium armor, your ship has built-in armor points). 

In Battle Pirates, you can't ever really tell if something is good on its own - you have to compare it against the alternatives.  In this case, the usual alternative to Cadmium armor would be Draconian Zynthonite Armor.  Evade armor is the popular alternative. 

On the forums, Doyen already worked out a comparison of a ship with Cadmium vs. a ship with all Evade.  His thread isn't openable for some mysterious reason... but I'll reproduce his analysis here: 

"A ship with 7000 base armor and 4 armor slots, using 4 armor plates with 750 armor each. (10000 total armor points) One has Evade armor for +28% Evade, the other has Cadmium." 

Other than a change in how I account for the stacking of the evade armor resulting in a slightly different evade number, the first two columns of the table below are the cases from Doyen's analysis.  I included other cases where I thought the Cadmium might be more beneficial, combining large Cadmium armors with small evade armors. 

And yes, the cases where I combined Cadmium Delta with D2-E result in slightly reduced repair times, but at a cost of additional weight & ship build time.  I'm going to take a closer look, but use my real Proto-Hunter build (still 7000 ship armor & 4 armor slots), include my actual retrofits, and look at whether it is worth modifying:

Baseline Ship (4xD2-E):
74.1% Evade, 63% Penetrative Defense, 5192 tons, 10,000 armor 14d 18h 42m build time

Revised Ship (2x D2-E, 2xCad-D):
68.6% Evade, 63.0% Penetrative Defense, 6039 tons, 13,000 armor 16d 19h 58m build time 

(I ignored assault deflection since we didn't choose a specific weapon type)

Nope!  Nope nope nope!  Why would I incur that extra build time & extra weight?

Since my Evade armor is at R15, it is more valuable than it was in the initial baseline analysis.  Also, when you are talking about just a couple percent benefit, rounding can be a big deal. My initial cut used the 69% Evade number shown in the in-game stat window, and I calculated a 1% benefit (the 68.6% came from Huggy's).  But even a 1% repair time benefit would not be worth the additional 2+ days of build time and extra 847 tons of weight.  I'm certainly not going to burn 2+ days of refit time and allocate weight that could be used for weapons to get a slim (at best) repair benefit or (even) more likely longer repairs.  

Also - note that the fact that the incoming damage is penetrative doesn't make a difference.  Revising the penetrative resist to zero does not change the percentage difference in repairs.  This means I don't have to do another analysis for incoming Charon Torps, where some damage is Concussive, and some damage is Corrosive... Evade works against all of it.

Just for fun, I also tried a Mercury R5 with 3 Siege Missiles, and compared adding Cadmium Alpha armor against 3xD2-E (as a build for a low level player).  The Cadmium builds added 2%, 4%, and 5% more expected repair time (respectively) with 1, 2, and 3 pieces of Cadmium Alpha armor.

The case where Cadmium might do better is against splash or fire pool damage, since your Evade armor won't help you avoid that damage.  But I would say that splash & firepools are mostly specific to the Reavers, and even against Reaver targets a large percentage of the incoming damage is still aimed.  But if insist on wanting to load up against that type of incoming damage, then armor that resists the incoming damage type will do better than Cadmium, for the same reasons Evade did best against aimed damage.

So is Cadmium Armor a Hoax?  Well.... I'm not going to use it.  I would also say that someone who states "Using Cadmium Armor will reduce your ships' repair times" will be incorrect.  Send them to this article.  And no, I'm not going to do a specific analysis for your ship... do your own.

So here's the last question - did the designers just choose a 50% damage reduction because it seemed like it might be a pretty good benefit?  Or did they do some kind of analysis that showed (what I did) that the armor was basically a wash?

Two possible suggestions on how to improve Cadmium:

1. Make it so that the Cadmium takes damage first and repairs last.  Ships that are lightly damaged (for less damage than their cadmium armor points) would then repair at double speed.


2. Make the Cadmium repair time reduction much larger. 80% to 95% should do it, but I don't have numbers to back that up.