Saturday, December 19, 2015

New FM Prizes: Phalanx 4, ES 4, Oil Slick, & UAV Battery

New week, new FM Prizes.

Despite having about 10,000 readers of this blog (and I appreciate all of you), this week I had that moment where my kid is better known on the Internet than I am.
And in a good way.

So moving on to the new Forsaken Mission Prizes (and we have 4 this week - we'll see if we have 3 or 4 FM opportunities between the next raid), I'll give them all a once over.

Phalanx 4
I love using countermeasures and countermeasure ships.  Good Phalanx coverage is critical to doing the Forsaken Mission for low damage, so I was looking forward to seeing what these Phalanx 4 would look like.  

It's certainly a lot heavier than the previous Phalanx, But it has more shots per salvo, higher accuracy, higher missile defense bonus, and lower reload time than the previous options.  I compared them all in the table below (no retro, Shipyard 1):

Hits / sec is the expected number of non-evading missiles/UAVs hit per second (assuming enough shots come in to force continuous fire), and hps/kton is that number divided by the weapon weight multiplied by 1000.  The Phalanx 4 certainly comes in able to shoot down more missiles and do it just as efficiently as the Phalanx 3.  With weapons having lower weight these days, having the countermeasures be concentrated in fewer weapon slots opens up more build options too.

The other consideration for this weapon is the higher accuracy.  Since each incoming missile only gets one shot from a Phalanx a higher accuracy is important for any case where the incoming missile count is NOT enough to saturate the defenses.

Although the extra 5% accuracy seems like just a little it is actually important - looking at the case where there is no evade and no bonuses, the difference is that 40% of the missiles get through a Phalanx 3, but 35% get through a Phalanx 4, which is a 12.5% reduction in damage.  If you have accuracy bonuses, the difference is magnified - accuracy bonuses work as a percentage of base accuracy, so on an Aegis (+20%) with full Alliance bonus (+20%), the Phalanx 3 accuracy would be 84% (16% of missiles get through), but the Phalanx 4 would be 91% (9% get through), resulting in a 44% reduction in damage.  Of course against blades the difference would be lower because of the 80% flax evasion.

The real drawback of the Phalanx 4 is its build time.  With players still waiting for Kixeye to deliver on their promise of build time reductions, having this weapon take nearly twice as long to build as a Phalanx 3 (1 day 2 hours vs 14 hours) is NOT a step in the right direction.  So the new counter is worth building, but you're going to have to be willing to suck up the build time.

Explosive System 4:
This new special is more than just an improvement on Explosive System 3 (which would have gotten a big ho hum from players), it also incorporates a projectile speed improvement.

The stats of this new special are as good as (or better than) the best of any other in the category.  The weight is a little bit more and the build time is not outrageous considering the capability you get.

The obvious candidates for this special are mortars and rockets, but Scatterguns and Scythe/Death Scythe missiles will also greatly benefit from it.  In fact, any weapon type will benefit from the projectile speed (as no weapon type is given), but it might be a hard sell for this special to find a place on a ship for that reason only.

One more place where this special could be used is on a Proto-Nemesis, where the missiles are given splash by the hull.  Just remember that this will not give splash to weapons that don't have it, since +50% from zero is still zero.

UAV Battery 
Kixeye was helpful enough to let us know that a new UAV-related special would be out for this Forsaken Mission post-raid, and it is the UAV Battery.  

The Battery affects the new "Chain Count" mechanic, which allows UAVs to hop to another target (within their chaining range) once their initial swarm is completed.  The new Drac UAV Carrier gives UAVs a Chain Count of 2, but all other UAV ships have a Chain Count of 1.  This actually means that the UAV Battery has a higher percentage effect on the non Drac Carrier ships, since going from 1 hop to 2 will double UAV damage output, but going from 2 hops to 3 will only add 50%.  At 11% added weight, the Battery seems worth it in either case, but....
One important thing to consider when using the Battery is the Chaining Range.  If the UAV has no Chaining Range, it won't be able to complete a hop (unless the target ships are perfectly stacked, which seems unlikely).  

Sources of Chaining Range are:
UAV Drac Carrier: 10
Scarab UAV: 4
UAV Powercells: 30

If you aren't using one of those Chaining sources, then don't bother with the UAV Battery.

It certainly seems that the best use of these is for Bombers on the Drac Carrier.  If you are trying to improve your Locusts on Valkyries, you will have to use the UAV Powercells and the UAV Battery to get the second hop, which will take 2 of your 4 special slots.  Also with extending the chaining of non-Bomber UAVs, the additional damage will be occurring much later than when you launched the UAV, so you will be taking lots of incoming fire before all that damage happens (back-loaded damage).

UGGGGGH I got this wrong (except "best use for Bombers is on a Drac Carrier") - if you are coming back here for reference, ignore all that stuff.  
Read this forum post:  
I may have to come back to this topic in a later post.

Watch out for the (long) 2+ day build time with this special.  Those long specials can be a big driver of fleet build times.

Oil Slick:

This base tactical module will cause (surface) ships to speed up but not turn as well.  It seems like the idea is to make them beach against corners.  It can be mounted on Oil Rigs that are level 10 (level 9?) or higher, or your dock (don't do that).

I haven't seen this in action yet so I don't know how well it will work, but the obvious ship this seems intended to defend against is the Heavy Cruiser, which is fast but poor at turning.  

If trying this special out, I would suggest you put it in a 90 degree bend corner, since if it isn't, then the ship just ends up blowing through your base even more quickly.  One thing to watch out for is that you may give enemies a target that would allow retargeting missiles to hit turrets that they wouldn't be able to normally reach.  

UPDATE:  In the forum, Kixeye has confirmed that the Frosty & Aegis fields negate the oil slick effect.  I think that most fleets that this MIGHT be effective against are using one of those ships.  Thanks to a reader for pointing me in that direction.

Although the humor of watching people slip and slide is pretty good, I think it's even funnier to watch em get hit in the nuts.  So I think I'll be allocating my building time to things like upgrading my turrets and buildings, rather than building this special.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Weapon Rebalance

Well, Kixeye said it was coming and here it is... or at least part of it.

I don't see the point of a weapon rebalance without the build time adjustments that are needed.  I am also really not sure why Kixeye put this out in the release just before a raid.  It feels rushed.  The weirdest part is that there were a few weapons that had their build times reduced with this, but most were unchanged.  There are some really weird artifacts in this release, and I have no idea if it is intentional or not.

My plan here is to go through the weapons by class, show the new DPS/Range"bubble chart" for the class, and try to describe what I think are the most important changes.  

I have made a change to my chart format.  (so read below)
X axis = weapon range (with special)
Y axis = DPS/hton (meaning damage per second per 100 tons of weight).  This is like the weapon efficiency
Bubble Size = proportional to DPS (diameter, not area)

So weapons to the upper right are more effective because they do more weight per ton, and can do it at longer range.  Weapons with a bigger bubble hit harder per weapon.  Raw DPS as a statistic is much more important now that many weapons are lighter.  Using a light, efficient weapon will just mean that your light fleet doesn't hit very hard.

I used to make the bubble size based on build time per ton, so the big bubbles were weapons that took longer to put on your fleet.  With the rebalance, some build times were shortened, but some weren't.  With the generally lighter weight weapons, some build times got really out of whack and made the charts pretty useless at showing that statistic.

To try and make these plots SORT OF real-world, I compute damage, weight, and range numbers based on the weapons being mounted on a hull that is suited to the use of that weapon, with appropriate specials mounted, at 45% rank, and against a target with 45% evade.  The specific hull & specials used are listed on the chart.  

Also in each weapon section, I used the Kixeye data, but calculated the percentage differences in damage & weight.  You can see the biggest changes by color.

I used to split this category into "Heavy Missiles" and "Light Missiles".  The Blade broke that classification, and now that most of the "heavy" missiles are now "light" I've decided to combine all the missiles into one chart.

So I'll start with the good... Kixeye drastically reduced weight while bumping up the damage on the old Draconian & research missile weapons.  So now there are a lot of missiles in the same efficiency neighborhood as Harriers and Blades (all around 200-300 DPS/hton).  Even the Achilles has joined the party.  Harrier and Disrupter damage increased as well, so you have a real choice to make between the Bypass on the lighter Harriers versus the Flak Evade on the heavier Blades.  The Trident also had its damage drastically increased (look at that huge bubble way up there on the left), so that it may be a consideration if you can deal with the lower range (maybe using Remote Targeting?).

But the bad?  With the build time staying the same on those "old Drac" weapons, the time to fill a fleet with those weapons would be outrageous - you're paying a lot more build time for the same amount of efficiency. Until build times are changed, it would be very difficult to suggest that a player start building with those Siege/Strike/Assault missiles.  For now, stick with the Blade/Harrier/Disrupter family, or newer players should possibly try out Cutlass.  If build times are fixed, then the story may change, and the Siege/Assault/Achilles Missiles may also be viable "Step-up" missiles.  Torrent had their stats improved, but they stil fall behind with rank, and the Deluge/Downpour missiles are unchanged.

Same story as with Missiles - The Heavy/Light distinction wasn't useful anymore, so I combined them all into one chart.

There is a much bigger DPS spread here, with a lot of the mainline ballistics in the 50-200 DPS/hton range, but some of the smaller ballistics being much more efficient.  Still you won't get away with an effective Thud 4 build until you get a ship with 100 weapon slots.

One weapon of note here is the Siege Cannon S.  Its weight & build time was drastically reduced, making it a light, quick way to get a ship's speed up.  For example, if you want to match a Drac Carrier to tank/spot for some Rhinos with Interception System, a bunch of S cannons will get the Carrier (with 13 base speed) up to match the Rhinos without resorting to Reaver Scout Engine (and halving your range).

Crossbows are getting competitive with Arbalests, making up for their short range with good DPS/hton, but their prohibitive build time has not been fixed.


The new launcher chart is still dominated by the D98U:

Although the older launchers have had their weight reduced and/or their damage increased, the D98U is still the clear king.  Note that these charts do assume that you are getting shockwaves on a non-unreactive target.  Their actual DPS/hton of 500+ stacks up nicely against the other weapon classes we've seen so far, but they are handicapped a bit by the need to do shockwaves to reach that potential DPS, and they also have (relatively) slow travelling shots compared to missiles or ballistics.

No changes here, but I figured you'd want to see it anyway.  DPS/weight is surprisingly low compared to other weapon classes, but those are big weapons.


S rockets got a big weight cut - remember that these DPS numbers are based on fleet damage, so Siege Rockets will be doubled & Assault Rockets will be halved.

Maelstrom V got a big damage bump but it still doesn't put out as much hurt as the quicker firing Dragonfires.

But yes, an Assault Rocket S will do just as much damage (at lighter weight) than a Dragonfire (against a non-moving ship).  It doesn't have the range though...


Yes, the Locust can hit harder than the Drac Bomber, but it doesn't have the splash and it takes longer to do all of its damage.  The Dragonfly got a big efficiency boost with its weight drop.  As a class, UAV DPS/hton is in the missile neighborhood.


The Blaze did get a little lighter.  Yes these weapons make a cool fireball, and can hit multiple targets, but their raw damage just isn't there to make up for the short range. 


Even the old Peacemaker & Diplomat are in teh same neighborhood as other mortars now, but I think the big non-news here is that their DPS/hton is still not nearly high enough to make up for their long flight time.


Damage was always more important than DPS/hton for most sub builds, but the heavy Styx changed that.  But since its DPS/hton is good compared to most other torps, the highest overall damage option is generally to max out your weight with Styx.  

Assault Torpedos got a lot lighter, making Cuda builds easier.

If you notice that the overall torpedo DPS/hton is significantly lower than missiles, you'll understand why I'm not too concerned about the torpedo loadout on those mixed Torp/Missile hulls like the Protohunter & Interdictor.  Most of your damage will be from the missiles anyway.

Depth Charges:

I know you weren't anxiously awaiting this chart, but Poseidons get an efficiency boost from their weight drop.  Piranhas didn't change much, but they can still deal out more hurt per weapon because of their larger size.

I'm not totally sure what to make of this change yet.  The "old" top weapons are still the top weapons, so I don't see (or suggest) high-end players make a big change based on this rebalance.  For lower end players without all the toys, there certainly are more options, but it is really tough to make recommendations without knowing what will happen to build times.  Once we get the whole picture, maybe some more of the "value weapons" will pop out at us.

I guess the big think is not to overreact to this change.  Kicking off big builds to try to take advantage of some old wepon that got a big buff might not be your best idea right now, since the build times are all up in the air.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Revenge Raid 2 - One day in

Well the big news on the raid - which you may or may not have missed - was the vulnerability in the 86 where a player who drove ships into the lower left corner wouldn't be shot at.  It's gone.

So to play the raid straight up, I'll talk about some of the targets.


Level 80:
This target, along with all the other "A" targets, has a Heavy Cruiser that will charge you at the start.  If you have a fast fleet with very high damage output (legendary Rhinos), you can take it out before it gets into its scattergun range.  Otherwise I found that the best strategy for this HC is to use subs with an expendable flagship.  

Most of the rest of the ships are V2 Interceptors with Launchers & Torpedos, and Kodiaks with Blade missiles.  I was able to keep the V2s out of range, but would end up trading fire with the Kodiaks.  Although the Kodiaks are vulnerable to subs, I find that it is pretty difficult to get enough separation between the Kodiaks and the V2s to get a clean shot at them without detection.  There are only 4 ships that do not start triggered - 2 V2s, a Kodiak, and a HC. If you avoid triggering them while killing the other ships, you can send subs around the backside to pick off the Kodiak & HC.

Level 83:
Although this target has a different layout than the 80, it ends up playing out about the same way.  At the end, there are 5 ships that aren't triggered - 2 V2C, 1 HC, 1 Savage Kodiak, and 1 Kodiak.  Again, the HC and Kodiaks can be subbed out if you are patient.  With only 1 moving Kodiak, I tend to take the least damage from this target.

Level 86:
This target has no ships that are not triggered, but otherwise works the same as the other ones in the A set.

Level 89:
The Draconian Mega-Hull sits stationary in the middle here, and has a group of 2 V2-C and 1 Kodiak on each side.  For this one, I enter from the SE and take out the first 3 escorts then retreat.  I am extra careful to stay out of the range of the V2s, since the Mega-Hull has log range remote targeting.  Only the Kodiak will trigger that if I am careful.  After taking out the first group of escorts, I enter from the opposite side, take out the remaining three, then head for the Mega.  If you don't do that, the second group of escorts will trigger as you approach the Mega, and you'll be fighting those while fighting the Mega.When on that final approach, I make sure to keep my Tank (Proto-Hunter) close to its other ships (Rhino/Aegis) so that the mortars don't hit my trailing ships. The phalanx on my Aegis do a good job of killing the Draconian UAVs (although they have longer range, they don't have the Flak Evade like ours).  The Mega-Hull is actually killed surprisingly quickly once I'm in range.  Just one note - it has thermal to see your subs and plenty of weapons to kill them, so don't bother with those.

Overall, doing the A set isn't too expensive, but it does feel like it is going pretty slow for me this raid - Skipping the sub preps would speed it up, but probably result in more damage.  Compared to the last one (which was really very easy), and the Scourge ones before that (pretty hard), I feel like the difficulty level on these targets is about right... it's just that with an 85 million point target (new stuff + a Harlock Aegis), I wish it would go faster.


Level 60-67:
With the slower Kodiaks, V2s, and Reapers, all untriggered, these feel just like targets from the previous raid, and a long range missile fleet can do these for little to no damage.

Level 69:
This Scourge boss target has a few Viperfish, Goblin Sharks, and 2 Stonefish.  If you are doing Bs because you can't do As, I suspect this boss won't be worth the damage or time.  The Stonefish can be tricky to find, and the corrosive damage is significant.


Level 40-47:
These targets have lots of weak ships.  The biggest "newsmaker" is the Missile Cruiser with missiles that outrange anything available to players (and they aren't using remote targeting).  However, if you have some Phalanx & decent evade, those missiles shouldn't hurt you too much. I suspect they do make it difficult to spam weak instant repair fleets.  Other ships in the C sets are Interdictors with Torpedos and a missile, then Dreadnaughts, Battleships, & Destroyers with short range launchers.

Level 49:
This Scourge target has some Viperfish & Goblin Sharks.  Not too extreme and not much corrosive damage in this one, but again, players limited to the C set will likely have some trouble.

General Raid Tips:
I think the most important tip for this raid is to remember that you do have the full 6 days, although alliance points will reset on Monday.  For those of you who want to go out & get those points - one request - be gentle with docks.  Thank you.  And those of you who put your docks between your entrance and OP might want to reconsider that.

And a little more on the weapon rebalance...
With the amount of time this raid is going to take me, I don't think I'll be putting enough time into analyzing the weapon changes to put out an article (before the end of the raid).  The missile chart I showed in the Crib show was incorrect (for once Kixeye provided better data than the miners) - it didn't incorporate the changes to research missiles (like Cutlass)... in the end, all the missiles are in the same DPS/hton neighborhood, except the Trident (with its short range), the Deluge & Downpour (didn't get a buff so fell behind), and the Torrents (buffed but still fall behind with rank).  Fundamentally, the heavier missiles are better than the lighter missiles - which was one of Kixeye's stated objectives in the rebalance.  I have a hunch we will see the same thing in other weapon classes.  I also don't want to put to much effort into these charts until we know what's going on with build time - Kixeye changed some build times but left others the same, making some weapons horrible build values.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Revenge Raid 2 - the Pre-Raid post

The December hull raid is coming up this week, and somehow... Kixeye has managed to put a real buzzkill on the usual level of excitement for this bi-annual event.  (for me at least)

How?  The weapon rebalance.  (and posting the prizes real late...)

I plan to finish a post with the "bubble chart" analysis of the various weapon types & post it later this week - so far I have completed the Missile & UAV charts, which you can see in this week's Battle Pirates Crib show.  (Sorry I missed it pirates!)

But right now, I have no idea what hulls you should focus on getting.  Although the stats have changed for a lot of weapons, build times have mostly not.  So I don't know where the good values are yet.  Between that and the lack of significant change in raid format, I'm going to keep this post short.  (well shorter than usual.)

For the raid format, see 
The Kixeye forum post
Last month's BP Prof Article (actually don't - I wasn't too clear on the format when I wrote the article)
Or watch this week's Battle Pirates Crib show

The biggest change I can see is that the Boss target for completing a set will be Draconian, not Scourge.  We have early warning that the Draconian boss target will be a "Mega-Hull" and quite difficult.

The Level ranges for the targets have also changed, so if that's a big deal to you - look it up in the forum post.

There is a new NPC Draconian Bomber UAV (so not ours) with 110 range in the data files at Dark Alliance.  I don't know where we will see this UAV (Boss target?  A Sets?), but clearly we need to watch out for it.

New Prizes:

Draconian Carrier

This carrier isn't really comparable to earlier carriers so I'm not going to bother with a chart.  The biggest change is the "Chain Count" which allows the UAVs to move to a second target once they have completes their swarm against the first one.  This effectively doubles the DPS of the Bomber UAV.  However it also has a Swarm Time Cap of 1 second, which means that any UAV which has a swarm time longer than that will be neutered (which is all of them except the new Draconian Bomber).  It also means that any UAV weapon retrofits will not be effective, since those retros increase swarm time.

The other points to notice on this carrier is its extremely high defenses - Evade is at 30% along with all weapon defenses (except concussive).  This will work well with the Assault & Siege Deflection stats - at 450 each, those are even higher than the Heavy Cruiser.  I could see using this hull as a tank/countermeasure ship even without the UAVs.

Its big weakness is that this hull will be vulnerable to subs since it has no built in sonar or thermal defense.  I'll talk about how to use it with UAVs after introducing the new UAV...

Bomber UAV D100-S
This UAV works radically differently than previous UAVs - with a swarm time of 1 second and a reload of 1 second, it will only fire once when it reaches its target.  This is actually an advantage... as the other UAVs take longer to do their damage when they reach their target.  Also, the one large hit from the Bombers is less vulnerable to being negated by by plate armor or deflection than the multiple small hits from other UAVs.

The splash of 20 is very important too.  The UAVs should track to a moving target, so its splash won't be outrun like other splash weapons like rockets or mortars.

Don't forget the submerged damage is the same - so subs (and Scourge) will be vulnerable to this UAV if you have a spotter to see them.

What it really looks like is that the new carrier hull is very tightly tied to this new weapon.  You really shouldn't use any UAV besides the Bomber on the Draconian Carrier, since the swarm time cap will drastically reduce the effectiveness of any other UAV.  With the "chain count" of 2, the Bomber will be twice as effective on the Draconian Carrier, but will also be good on older carrier hulls.

Comparing the UAV options (post rebalance) on the Atlas (just as a comparison), you get:

The UAVs have been brought much closer to each other in terms of damage per weight, but the build times still need to be addressed, as the Locust and Drac Bomber seem to be a much better deal than the other UAVs.

One more quick note - there is a "UAV Battery" announced as a Forsaken Mission prize after the raid, so you might want to hold off on carrier builds until that is revealed.

From DOOMROOSTER on the forums:
The Battery will increase the chaincount and splash damage for UAVs and will be available in the next FM. There are no specific data for this item at this time but I will have info before they enter the FM prize list.

Phantom Tigershark

This sub gives the same map-hiding capability as the Phantom Nighthawk, but with Tiger Shark capability.  It also gives the additional Concussive Damage, Scattergun Reload, and slightly improved defenses. 

I was very against the introduction of the hiding capability of the Phantom when it was first introduced.  And although I do think it is abused sometimes, we have all had to come to terms with it, so I won't tell people not to get this... I will be getting it.  I'm currently arming my Tiger Shark fleet with Styx Torps (had done Vortex Z for ranking), and I may take a quick break to build the Phantom Tiger with 10 Cobra Scatterguns.  Remember that only the hybrid Cobra Scattergun will fire from underwater - the quick-building D81-M Scattergun will not. 

What to Get:

Like I said before, I don't feel like I can make any informed recommendations with the large amount of flux in the game right now.  There are wholesale changes to the weapon damage statistics, but none of those weapons are available as prizes.

I will just mention a few of my favorite ships in each tier.  When making choices, make sure you have a good weapon to use with any hull you are thinking about purchasing.  I'll try to get the revised damage tables posted before the raid is over.

Tier 1:
There are actually quite a few good values in here... 

Light Cruiser X: makes a nice instant repair hull, you can build it with some Strike Missiles and maybe one of the newly lighter Assault Torpedos.  Be careful when adding armor to keep it under the 5 minute repair threshold.

Barracuda: has been available in the FM but can be a really good sub to make the most of whatever torpedos you have.

Goliath: is a solid choice for base defense if you have some ballistics.  It also has been known to be fitted with launchers.

Tier 2:
Between stuff that is available in campaigns (Mercury), the Forsaken Mission (MCX), and having a better alternative on a lower tier (Spectre), I can't really recommend spending points on any of the hulls on this tier except the...

Reaper: If you can't reach the Tiger Shark, this might be a good alternative with its hybrid slots and effective retrofits.

Tier 3:
Juggernaut X: This hull is a great choice for a tank/spotter, especially once retrofitted.

Viper: You may want one of these for sub spotting in your base.

Enforcer: Another base defense hull, specifically for launchers

Mastodon: If you can't get Rhinos, and couldn't get the Mastodon from Acid Reign, get it now.  Having remote targeting is critical in the game today.

V2-C/V2-H: good hulls, but available through campaigns.

Tier 4:
Tiger Shark: Torpedo, Cobra Scattergun

Fusion Cruiser: Launcher

Crusader: Ballistic

Rhino: Missile, Remote Targeting

Those hulls above are the top hulls for their respective weapon types (currently the most effective weapon types).  Look at the weapons you have available and make your choices based on that.

Tier 5:
Frostburn Interceptor: An oldie but a goodie.

Borbas' Goresaber: Yeah the stun works pretty darn well.

Aegis (and Harlock's):  The Harlock's Aegis is worth the premium if you can swing it.  But any Aegis should be a top priority if you don't have one.

Prototype Hunter (and Vassago's):  I love my Protoype Hunter as a spotter/tank.  It can also be an effective hull in base defense as a sub spotter.  I'm not sure the Vassago's version is worth the huge points premium.  BTW - I skipped the Scourge torps on my build.  It's a much faster build & I don't miss them.

And a few cautions on this tier - I would stay away from all the carriers, since the new Draconian Carrier outdoes them.  The Destroyer ECM isn't as useful as it used to be, since thermal is now the primary way people detect subs.  It may still have a use if you are using Deluge missiles to prep.

New Prizes:
All of them are quite powerful, but don't get the Draconian Carrier if you won't be getting the Bomber.  Or maybe you should, just as a tank (especially if you missed the HC).

The Phantom Tiger Shark will be quite useful for those with Tiger fleets.