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.
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: https://www.kixeye.com/forum/discussion/598024
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tiger Shark: Torpedo, Cobra Scattergun
Fusion Cruiser: Launcher
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.
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.
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.