That being said, I wish they had put a little more care into the setup for this raid. I don't know whether it is because Doomrooster is on vacation, but the raid briefing is one of the most unclear and error-filled in memory.
The Briefing is at: https://www.kixeye.com/forum/discussion/586845
And the Video is at: https://youtu.be/oY9ES6yHDDc
I'm frankly not totally clear on everything, so here's the best I can do for you:
In general, you will have to hit sets of targets on the world map. Hitting a complete set will give some bonus points. Hitting the convoy ships fleeing a target will give additional points. Players above level 60 will get reduced points for hitting C sets. There will also be "open" targets not in a set, and players above Level 45 will get reduced points for hitting those. Or they will get a popup saying they can't hit them at all. I'm not sure... I've seen both.
And then there are levels associated with each target set - A is 70+, B is 51 - 70, C is 40 - 50. But with the points info above, I'm not sure what this additional level information means.
I'll just move on to the Prizes:
This hull has some very interesting qualities - The Assault Deflection of 300 is huge. The Prototype Hunter has an Assault Deflection of 60, and I find that quite useful - the 300 will make this ship hard to kill with fleets. The Siege Deflection of 300 is not as strong as teh Neptune's 600 Siege Deflection, but will also be useful.
Maneuverability will be interesting with this ship. 18 Combat speed is incredibly fast, but that speed is paired with a turn speed of just 6. Although the Assault Deflection will make this ship hard to kill, it may be difficult to use this ship well in open water combat. If you have only short range weapons (like Scatterguns), a skillful driver may be able to keep you out of range by driving perpendicular to your path.
UPDATE/NOTE: Hydraulic Resistors (but not Speed System 5) can be combined with Ion Thrusters to get some good maneuverability on this hull.
50% defense against all damage types except Corrosive and Concussive is very good, but 0% base Evade is not.
Its (Kixeye, please note the correct spelling of "its" for your blueprint. It's not a hard word to use properly) only weapon buff is a 50% reload bonus to Scatterguns. With Scatterguns being short-ranged weapons, and no DPS bonuses on this hull, I would suggest that the best use of this hull would be to tank for other hitter ships (like Rhinos). I'll come back to that after looking at the new scattergun options.
Heavy Scattergun D81-H
The only previous options for the heavy weapon slots were the Scythe and Death Scythe. Although those weapons did decent damage, they had a long build time and also took a long time to land on their target, so they turned out to be unpopular when compared with the new missile options available.
The Heavy Scattergun gives bonus defense and speed to a ship that carries it, and also does good damage. Its big drawback is its short range of 76.
This new Scattergun's most interesting properties are not shown on its blueprint. Its build time with officer is just 2 hrs 48 min, but it also has a uranium cost of 27,500 to build. Kixeye has specifically posted that the uranium cost is a tradeoff for the reduced build time.
The real question is whether the weapon is worth using. The range has been reduced even from the other Scatterguns to 73, and neither this nor the D81-H will do any extra damage over time from corrosive stacks.
The Scattergun weapons compare as:
And I guess to really understand these weapons, I'll put them on the bubble chart:
Scatterguns on the Heavy Cruiser do a nice amount of damage compared to other weapons on their "best" ships. The Cobra Scattergun's long build time and the D81-M's short build time are pretty clear on this chart based on their bubble sizes.
The Heavy Scatterguns go real nicely on the Heavy Cruiser - even just for the buffs more than the damage. The regular Scatterguns do OK damage, but I'm really concerned by their short range. Base hitting with Scatterguns will be dicey if guard ships are placed out of reach. Without being useable by underwater subs, I'm just not sure where I really want to mount the new D81-M.
How to use them?
Well, I don't think I'd want to build a whole fleet of Heavy Cruisers loaded with Scatterguns. You'll have to sail into a lot of danger & front line turrets... and I think the damage will build up on you eventually even with the deflection. But you will kill everything as you take all that damage - remember nothing has corrosive resistance (yet), and Evade won't affect these splash weapons. (I still won't be refitting with cadmium just yet). So yeah, someone who does this will blast through stuff.
Me, I've got a Neptune I've been using as a tank for Rhinos, and it works great. I might try a Heavy Cruiser instead, in this sort of configuration:
I can get away with the Heavy Plate since the ship is so fast, and the Heavy Scatters make it even faster. The D98U would provide spotting for Rhinos. I thought about High Explosive Shells to give more splash to the Scatters, but the ship is really for tanking, not dealing damage, so the Shielded Tac System seemed more useful. I think that it is interesting that this ship is nearly maxed out on weight once heavily armored and having the three heavy weapons. Turn still sucks, even with Speed System 5. But with such a low base turn, I think that the percentage increases from using turn armor won't be too significant. Ion Thrusters would be a way to get better turn, but using those would require a different engine special... although using the regular researchable engine wouldn't be too bad since the accuracy doesn't matter in this design.
After designing the build with the 3 heavys and having just about no weight left over to fill the other weapon slots, what kind of pops out about this hull is that you sort of have two basic scattergun options: Either build with the Heavy Scattergun for the most range, damage, and defense, or do a quick build with the D81-M and no heavy weapons (save about 5.5 days). You can even tailor your build time by mixing the two.
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.
Heavy Cruiser (12.5M): Although it has some weaknesses (turn speed, offensive buff to Scattergun only), the Deflection and resistances of this hull will make it very hard to kill. Even if you feel like your "build list" is a mile long (which is a bad way to look at this game anyway), getting & building just one of these will make your other ships more effective.
Heavy Scattergun D81-H (6M): This weapon looks pretty powerful and also gives good defensive buffs. Unlike the Scythes, I would consider builds with this weapon. The range would be a concern, but the high speed & defense of the Heavy Cruiser should mean that you can get into the range you need.
Scattergun D81-M (6M): Although this weapon requires uranium to build, uranium is now easier to get and it also has a pretty short build time. Another interesting point about this weapon is that sometimes I end up looking for weapons to give a speed boost (for matching hull speeds), but all the other (surface) options like Siege Cannons or Blaze Throwers have a long build time... this one doesn't.
Compound Armor D6-A (1.25M, limit ???): I really like this special, since it is just a bit of a bump from D5-X without too much extra weight or build time. I loaded up on all I could the last time this was offered.
Agility System IV (1M, limit ???): I'm starting to come around on this one, but I still don't like the build time.
Fallout Armor IV (1M, limit ???): I still don't think this is useful in most situations, and lack of ballistic defense can be a real achilles heel.
Gale Defense System 1/2/3 (250k / 500k / 750k, limit ???): Gale 1 in particular is light and cheap, but I'm not so sure how critical mortar defense is for today's fast fleets. I prefer Phalanx with their higher accuracy for UAVs. These anti-mortars can come in handy in 85s if you want to creep through the centers, so they aren't all bad, and they are a big upgrade from Hailstorms (a Gale 2 is more effective than a Hail C).
Hydraulic Resistors (1.5M, limit ???): This combines a 15% concussive resistance with Speed System V. If you aren't getting Tier 4 in the Forsaken Mission, this might be a way to get that capability for a fleet. This is also a nice upgrade for "tank" ships, and wasn't available to buy last month. UPDATE: These can be combined with Ion Thrusters to get a decent turn speed on the Heavy Cruiser.
Cobra Scattergun (1.2M, limit ???): The best use for this hybrid slot weapon seems to be on subs like the Tiger Shark. Worth getting if you have a build in mind.
Tokens: Based on how much damage you take getting points, these may or may not be worthwhile redemptions.
Zynth Armor D5-E (5.5M): Although this has been available on Tier 4 of the Forsaken mission, if you are missing it, this is a real must-have.
Siege Battery 3 (5M): It took a little while for this to grow on me, but especially with the latest hulls having 5 special slots, this should find a place in builds for Base Hitting or Missions. Especially powerful when combined with Siege Deflection.
Charon Torpedo (5.5M): There's a a lot of back & forth about what to use for the "best" Tiger Shark build. The Styx does more overall damage with its corrosive stacks, but it takes longer to build up. You definitely want one or the other of the Scourge torpedoes, so get this one if you don't have either one and you are planning a sub build (or refit).
UAV Powercell (4.5M): UAVs haven't seemed too useful lately, but if you are planning a UAV build, you do want this special.
Apocalypse Mortar (12M): These take a while to land, and so you really want to combine these with Eruption Pyre on a Level 5 (or 6) turret... but these are an effective part of many base defense strategies these days.
Dead-Eye Executioner (20M Limit 1 Max 1): The (regular) Executioner is a top base defense weapon. This version has longer range and sucks down more power. On a Level 5 turret, it isn't that much more effective than a regular Executioner with Smart Warheads. That might change on a Level 6 turret when you will have enough power to add Smart Warheads to this one.
Compound Panels E (3M): This compound defense special may be useful on your front line base defense turrets if you don't like changing specials each time the game changes.
Siege Battery 2 (2M): If you can't get Siege Battery 3, this one might be handy for players to work their way up.
Zynth Armor D4-C (2.5M): Stick with E armor, especially when you get heavy.
Zynth Armor D4-P (3M): Stick with E armor on your sub-hunters, especially when you get heavy. For finding subs, just use Sonar or Sonic Targeting.
Siege Torpedos D65-S (2M): Nobody wanted to use these when they were new... they certainly aren't wanted now.
Countermeasure Targeting (3M): I sort of forgot about this special. It may be useful on the Drac Coaxial Turret... But I'm not sure if the 40% accuracy buff makes a difference in countermeasure mode since those are splash shots.
Compound Panels C (400k): This compound defense special is more of a stopgap until you get something better, but its low power use may even come in handy once in a while for some situations.
Siege Battery 1 (550k): If you can't get Siege Battery 2 or 3, this one might be handy for players to work their way up.
Zynth Armor D3-C (500k): Generally stick with E armor, but D3 armors are a little more useful for their weight/build time, especially if you are working your way up.
Zynth Armor D3-P (750k): Stick with E armor on your sub-hunters. For finding subs, just use Sonar or Sonic Targeting.
Assault Torpedos D63-V (400k): If you don't have any Scourge torpedoes, and you don't have the Assault Torpedo B, this is your next best option. But if you don't have those, you might just want to wait on your sub build.
Compound Panels A (50k): This compound defense special has a real mild defensive boost that you probably won't notice.
Zynth Armor D1-X (40k): This is a light way to add some explosive (rocket) defense to a Sub Spotter or Remote Targeting ship in your base guard.
Zynth Armor D2-C (150k): Generally stick with E armor.
Zynth Armor D2-P (150k): Stick with E armor on your sub-hunters. For finding subs, just use Sonar or Sonic Targeting.
Vortex Torpedos D61-M (50k): Maybe if you're brand new you could put these on Predators or something. As an aside, I am putting D61-Z on my Tigersharks just to rank them while building out the fleet. I'll refit once I get them all built.
So overall, this prize list seems a bit "top-heavy". I like the Top Prizes and the Tier 4 prizes, but there is really a lack of prizes for lower level players to work their way up. There are no hulls, and no decent lightweight weapons. Newer players should probably get the best Siege Battery they can, as that will be useful for a Forsaken Mission fleet (and base hitters). After that, maybe consider some of the limited components as a shortcut to getting ahead. Don't forget about doing campaigns at half repair too....
For for this raid, I'm hoping for some fun gameplay, and consistency from Kixeye. I'm tired of mid-raid changes. Recently we've seen changes to difficulty, points, schedules, prize lists, etc. Just make a plan, make sure its good, and stick to it!
Good luck Pirates... gaming is not a crime!