Thursday, January 29, 2015

One year of the BP Professor

Before I get into my self-indulgent one-year anniversary article... I'll comment on the glitch repair fix that came out on Tuesday.

Lots of people are complaining about the fix to a "glitch" that allowed players to repair their fleets for free.  I'll be very clear on how I feel about this - using that glitch was cheating.  Fixing fleets is supposed to take time or coin, and exploiting a game error to bypass that is cheating.  Some players used it regularly, some players used it only during raids, some players used it only when they felt they were "wronged".  It wasn't OK any of those times.  

Lots of players complain about the bugs and glitches and problems in the game.  You can't tell Kixeye to fix some and not others.  Lots of players feel that build and repair times are too high, and they say they glitched because it was "unfair". Tough... Kixeye is allowed to charge what they want for their product.  You're allowed to try it for free as long as you want, or you can spend as much as you want to get more stuff more quickly.  Don't like it?  Don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.  

A culture of cheating is a problem, since those that try to play fair are taken advantage of by those who don't.  The "fair-players" see that and can play as second-rate citizens or start cheating.  It's just an arms race of dishonesty, and the winners will be those who are willing to cheat the most.  

Kixeye uses "engagement" as a metric to gauge how successful their game is.  They will see it when players start playing less.  While Kixeye customers keep paying for the flood of content, and playing all day, there will be no change. So if you are unhappy about the loss of the repair glitch... go do something else while your fleet is repairing.  Read a book, watch TV, play a different game.  I wrote a blog post.  No need to complain in a Facebook group... there's been plenty of that.  


On January 29, 2014, I published my first article on this blog - an evaluation a new Forsaken Mission item - the Sawfish.  (I thought it was a decent ballistic hull, but no attraction if you already had the Stingray).  Yes.. that hull is only one year old.  I think the timing of when I started this blog was somewhat lucky - 2014 was when Kixeye really started the deluge of new content that shows no sign of letting up.  When I started, I was hoping to publish about once a week, but this is the 95th article I've published over the last year.

This blog grew out of a thought that it would be really cool if I could start a blog and share some of the advice I was giving to the players in my alliance to the community at large, and then maybe make some enough money from ads to cover my coining.  I'll say that I'm not coining fleets with blog money, but I'm covering my costs (even though i coin more now than I did a year ago), so I consider this blog a personal success.

My biggest worry when starting out was that I'd get a lot of hate from the community - from people that disagreed with me, or point out errors in an insulting way, or just vent some game-hate (yet why do they stick around???).  I thankfully have seen just about none of this on my site. I appreciate it when readers point out errors, typos, or omissions in the constructive manner that everybody here has been doing - it makes us all smarter.  I really appreciate it when people comment and add some new ideas I hadn't thought of.

For the 1 year anniversary, I thought about going back and evaluating each article I've written & seeing if my pronouncements have held up over time... but that would be kind of a big task for 94 articles, so instead I'm going to look back and point out a few "greatest hits and misses." For those of you who are newer to this site - you might want to go back & read.

Still good reads:
  • Armor building & optimization thoughts: These articles don't account for D5, but are still useful reads.
  • Fleet design philosophy: Start with a mission... I see this issue a lot when people are asking for advice on ship builds.
  • Countermeasure ships: Trying to make sense of whether a dedicated countermeasure ship is a good idea, versus spreading the CM weapons across a fleet. This is less relevant on base fleets now because bases don't use may weapons vulnerable to CM anymore, but still relevant to mission/dracbase fleets.  Tanks are the new CM ships for basers.
  • Revised weapon DPS: Not totally up to date with new items, but some thoughts if you are using researched/blueprint or other older weapons.
  • Ranking Guide: Describes how VXP is given, and some efficient ways to get it.  A lot of players still don't understand this.
  • BP for Noobs: This series looks at a new player starting out & gives some build advice
  • Base Turret Roundup: Although a few newer turrets have come out since, this article is useful for newer players that need to learn about the different types of turrets and their uses.
  • Retrofit Advice: General thoughts on where to start for best benefit from your Uranium
  • How to get to DPS: Details on weapon Cycle Time and Damage calculations
  • Launcher Comparison: After some articles based on flawed assumptions, I think this one is actually correct, and shows the effect of rank on launcher DPS for some different hulls, so you can see which launchers are best with various reloads and rank bonuses.

  • UAV Simulation: I tried to simulate how countermeasures would work against UAVs.  In the article I said that "all models are wrong and some are useful".  This simulation was neither correct nor useful.  The only useful message was that UAVs can quickly overwhelm countermeasures.
  • Launcher Comparisons: I didn't correctly understand salvo delay times and rank effects until recently.  I published a lot of incorrect comparisons before that, and I'm not even going to bother linking them.  The correct one (based on the best information I know) is in the previous section.
  • Kodiak Evaluation:  I evaluate all the new stuff; it's sort of the meat & potatoes of this blog.  When the Kodiak came out, I didn't like the hull because it performed better with launchers than missiles (the ones available at the time).  When the Siege Missile Z came out the following month... the Kodiak became one of the best hulls in the game (and still is), so I really regretted not picking up this hull when it was released.

Also: It's been really cool to see all the traffic on this site from around the world.  I get about 2000 hits per day (more during raids), and have had more than 600,000 page views over the last year.  The following picture shows top traffic sources for my site:

And to close this out, I'd like to repost a message from someone in my alliance (pardon his English - he isn't a native speaker).  Especially with the deluge of content over the last year, it's tough to "keep up" or be a "top player"...

Some general thoughts about the game …
The current raid learned me that Kixeye keeps introducing new and more powerful weapons, and by the time the small players are able to acquire these weapons, these weapons have become obsolete …
And why is that? Why does a small player remain a small player? Because he has a job and a wife and a kid. And because he is at work when his alliance brothers want to help him. And because he is asleep after a tiresome night shift when his alliance brothers want to help him. And because he will not and cannot sit in front of the flickering screen 24/7.
But I still enjoy the game. And after all these years my base has become a tough nut to crack. With conventional and almost obsolete weapons. It can be cracked and it is often cracked, but the aggressor always suffers considerable damage. That, is my comfort.
Bear this in mind when you encounter my ships on the high seas. And when my base is attacked, hoist the colors and man your guns. I say: "Forth to war!!!"
Someday this war's gonna end.
Greetings, captains.
Chief of Naval Operations.

I agree almost 100% - except for the part about the war ending.... BP FOREVER!

Find some allies, play only for as long as you're willing to play, spend only what you're willing to spend (read this blog to help you make it count), and HAVE FUN!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Forsaken Arena Tournament - Buzzard Missile

The Forsaken Arena tournament is back... and Kixeye has announced a new prize for it - the Buzzard Missile.

The Kixeye post explaining the tournament is here:

Every player gets put into a 250 person group.  Players who are ranked Captain or above get put into the upper bracket, and Veteran Lieutenants or below get put into the lower bracket.

Players who finish in the top ten of their bracket will win a blueprint - Torrent 3 for the lower bracket and the new Buzzard Missile for the upper.  Anyone in the top 125 will win at least one rogue crew.  (last time I won a Disciples of Skullduggery crew...)  Everyone participating will get a uranium payout based on their tournament points.   For more exact details of the points and prize breakdowns, see the Kixeye post.  Last time there was some weirdness about qualifying, and some players didn't get to participate.  This time it looks like everybody who has a combat rating will get placed.

At a glance, I looked at this weapon and it seemed like a Torrent missile with a slightly lower reload - so that it doesn't have the disadvantages at higher rank that Torrents have.  Then I noticed the +5% Combat Speed bonus (and a weight of only 524 tons each means you can pack a bunch of these into a hull).  Then I noticed the range of 66 (just under the 68 of a Siege Missile).  The detonation effects and critical hits aren't bad either...  Without doing the analysis... this looks like a pretty desirable prize.  But I'll do the analysis anyway.

Buzzard Missile w/SFB3Torrent Missile 3 w/SFB3Siege Missile Z w/SFB3Magma ThrowerBypass Chaingun 3 w/HB3
Max Range85.880.688.468.075.0
Bldg Damage231419142,1764,8284134
Bonus Damage57866935902067
Reload Time11.
Weight (Shipyard 2)5786691,1203201,075
Bonus Armor0060000
Fleet DPS185.9150.0202.6188.6326.4
Fleet DPS/hton32.222.418.158.930.4
Fleet DPS/hton @Legendary78.356.772.4110.952.6
Building DPS206.6184.5507.0377.2466.2
Building DPS/hton35.727.645.3117.943.4
Other+5% Spd, Detonate, CritFire Field, Detonate30% Ballistic Bypass
Build Time (w Off)17h 26m (?)17h 26m13h 46m 30s20h 56m20h 55m 33s
Build Time / ton (minutes)1.81 (?)1.560.743.931.17

I added a new line to my usual chart - the usual Fleet DPS/hton number is computed with zero rank and zero reload bonus (and no resistance or evade).  The new line shows the fleet DPS/hton at Legendary rank.  The high salvo Buzzard missile doesn't gain as much as the Siege Missile Z at Legendary, but it does still maintain an edge in DPS/weight.  On a high reload hull like a V2-H, Kodiak, or Mastodon, the Siege Z would probably edge out the Buzzard at high rank. 

The computed DPS numbers don't account for the critical hits - having a 50% chance of doing double damage would effectively add 50% more DPS, and doing it when the target is below half damage would mean that the 50% more DPS is active about half the time (well, not really since your target will be dying faster).  But maybe you could estimate that the average benefit is around 15-20%.

Although the "unofficial data" shows that the build time for the Buzzard is the same as the Torrent 3, I've seen those numbers revised before (remember the Magma?), and I strongly suspect that the build time of the Buzzard will go up before it is available to us... Kixeye has generally put a big build time premium on weapons with speed bonuses (remember the Siege Cannon).

So overall, I think the Buzzard is going to be a very desirable weapon... good against fleet and land targets.  I wasn't too excited for the previous Arena prize - the Cryonic Depth Charge, but I think the players that won it have been happy with it.  This prize is a good one - a missile that is competitive with the top missiles in the game.. and gives a speed bonus to boot.

Even if you don't think you will be competitive in the arena, I suggest you get in there and fight a few battles.  With the qualifying match requirement being removed, it might be easier to get into the top half than you think.  See how you do.. you might get a rogue crew out of it, and you may as well get whatever Uranium you can.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More retrofit R10, Thresher, MCX, Barracuda, Stingray, SCX

More R10 retrofits are out... To evaluate each one, I'll just put up some side-by-side charts.


StatisticThresher R10Thresher R5Hellstrike R5Hellstrike R10Mako R5
Weapon Slots66776
Armor Slots55663
Special Slots33443
Max Weight12,12512,12512,29212,2929,750
Base Armor3,9203,9205,5505,5503,280
Combat Speed1412131412
Turn Speed2014121220
Ballistic Defense30%040%40%0%
Explosive Defense50%50%50%50%40%
Penetrative Defense0%0%30%30%0%
Concussive Defense0%0%0%0%0%
Radioactive Defense30%0%0%40%0%
Tac Field Resist0%0%50%50%0%
Stun/Slow Resist35%35%25%25%0%
Rocket Range10%10%10%20%10%
Splash Bonus60%35%39%60%30%
Spread Bonus-20%-20%-19%-19%0%
Rocket Reload Bonus120%60%140%140%50%
Building Damage Bonus0%0%30%100%0%
Repair Modifier100%100%150%150%100%
Other---Armor Ability +30%-
Hull Build Time w/off4d10h38m4d10h38m6d15h58m6d15h58m4d10h38m
Total U needed150,0000200,000600,0006,281

After R10, the Thresher sits pretty close to the Hellstrike R5 although lack of a 4th special slot puts it at a small disadvantage.  60% splash is a very nice bonus, and also the 120% reload bonus means that you will hit the minimum inferno reload rate at around 45% rank (no CW needed).  I don't like its 0% base missile resistance.  Maybe if you are worried about the Uranium spend to get Hellstrikes past R5, and you have old Threshers to use, you would be interested in this retrofit.


StatisticStingray R10Zoe StingrayStingray R5StingraySawfish R5Sawfish
Weapon Slots777766
Armor Slots222222
Special Slots444433
Max Weight6,2505,2505,2504,9504,8604,860
Base Armor1,4931,4931,4931,4931,2051,205
Combat Speed171616161616
Turn Speed242424202218
Ballistic Defense0%0%0%0%0%0%
Explosive Defense0%0%0%0%0%0%
Penetrative Defense30%0%0%0%0%0%
Concussive Defense0%0%0%0%0%0%
Radioactive Defense30%0%0%0%0%0%
Ballistic Accuracy40%40%40%40%30%0%
Ballistic Range20%20%10%10%10%10%
Ballistic Reload20%20%20%0%20%0%
Repair Modifier100%100%100%100%100%100%
Hull Build Time w/off5d 9h 36m5d 9h 36m5d 9h 36m5d 9h 36m2d 6h2d 6h
Total U needed200,00000016,1990

Many people were worried that the Zoe Stingray would be "obsolete" after Stingray R10 came out.  At R6, the regular Stingray matches the only advantage the Zoe had - the ballistic range.  Although the Stingray got some "modernizations" like more weight for Dock 11 and radioactive defense, it doesn't make up for the fact that ballistic weapons have been obsolete for a while, and even more so with the release of the Magma Thrower.  Maybe with that speed, using a launcher-armed ray to kite targets will make a comeback, but I don't see this retrofit good for much else until ballistic weapons become competitive again.  So your Zoe Rays are only a little more obsolete than they were yesterday.

StatisticSCX R10SCX R5SCXBattleship R5Battleship
Weapon Slots66666
Armor Slots44444
Special Slots33333
Max Weight8,3348,3348,3346,2656,265
Base Armor4,5164,5164,5162,1002,100
Combat Speed131212119
Turn Speed2525151815
Ballistic Defense30%30%30%30%30%
Explosive Defense40%40%40%20%20%
Penetrative Defense40%20%20%30%30%
Concussive Defense0%0%0%0%0%
Radioactive Defense50%30%0%0%0%
Ballistic Accuracy0%0%0%0%0%
Ballistic Range40%40%20%10%10%
Ballistic Reload100%100%66%30%0%
Ballistic Damage50%0%0%0%0%
Stun/Slow Resist50%0%0%0%0%
Repair Modifier100%100%100%100%100%
Hull Build Time w/off5d 48m5d 48m5d 48m2d 16h 48m2d 16h 48m
Total U needed347,500100,000012,5730

Although generally the same ship class, even the R5 Battleship is no match for the SCX. With the extreme range bonus on the R5 SCX, it might make an argument for being useful with the new Bypass Chainguns.  But looking at the differences between R5 & R10, there really isn't much that is really attractive.  The stun/slow resist at R10 is particularly poor considering all the Uranium needed just for that (125,000).

StatisticMCX R10MCX R5KodiakMastodonInterceptor V2HMercury R10
Weapon Slots66101086
Armor Slots445543
Special Slots334443
Max Weight8,6958,6959,00012,3006,5486,920
Base Armor2,9652,9656,5053,5524,9542,665
Combat Speed121211111515
Turn Speed151513132022
Ballistic Defense35%35%30%20%20%0%
Explosive Defense30%20%30%20%20%0%
Penetrative Defense60%40%40%40%20%40%
Concussive Defense0%0%0%0%40%0%
Radioactive Defense30%0%20%20%20%40%
Penetrating Reload150%100%100%120%90%30%
Penetrating Damage0%0%0%0%0%60%
Building Damage0%0%60%0%0%0%
Anti Mort Range0%0%50%0%0%0%
Flak Evade30%30%30%30%30%0%
Other---Remote TargetingUnreactive, Thermal Img-
Repair Modifier100%100%100%100%100%100%
Hull Build Time w/off4d 20h 38m4d 20h 38m5d 16h 15m5d 16h 15m4d 23h 54m1d 3h
Total U needed450,000150,00000075,000

What I'm looking at for the MCX is how it stacks up against the Kodiak, which has a reputation for being able to handle a lot of punishment.  The R10 MCX gets higher built in resistances and evade than the Kodiak.  But, the Kodiak still has some inherent advantages - more armor slots allow more armor resistances, more special slots may allow another defensive special, more weapon slots allow plenty of countermeasures, and 3,540 extra armor points will let that hull simply last longer.  The extra 50% reload helps the MCX somewhat but not drastically - it works out to 25% more DPS than the Kodiak on a 1 salvo missile weapon against ships (independent of rank).  As another comparison, the Mercury R10, with its reload and damage bonuses, gets an 8% DPS improvement over the Kodiak .  So if you don't have the Kodiak - you could spend a bunch of uranium to get your MCX to a point where it will dish out a nice amount of damage and resist damage fairly well, but it still won't hold up like a Kodiak.

StatisticBarracuda R10Barracuda R5NighthawkReaper R10Reaper R5Spectre R5
Weapon Slots667776
Armor Slots113443
Special Slots333332
Max Weight3,9701,9706,1256,8656,8654,800
Base Armor6006001,7452,2502,2501,200
Combat Speed161611/16.5151410
Turn Speed252015252525
Ballistic Defense0%0%20%/36%20%20%0%
Explosive Defense0%0%20%/36%20%20%10%
Penetrative Defense30%10%20%/36%20%20%0%
Concussive Defense20%0%0%0%0%0%
Radioactive Defense0%0%20%20%0%0%
Concussive Damage19%0%0%0%0%20%
Submerged Defense100%100%100%95%90%100%
Building Damage0%0%0%50%50%0%
Missile Damage0%0%0%50%0%0%
Cloak Time 362448403060
Surface Time8814141412
Cloak Range353560555550
Repair Modifier400%400%300%200%200%300%
Hull Build Time w/off2d 16h 48m2d 16h 48m4d 21h 3m4d 16h 9m4d 16h 9m1d 3h
Total U needed100,00000250,000100,0000

My first thought when I saw these enhancements was that the extra weight and extra submerge time could make the Barracuda R10 into a halfway decent carrier for Deluge or Downpour missiles.  Its lower cloak range than the Reaper will help reduce the stealth penalty when firing.  But it still is a bit light, and it also doesn't have the accuracy or the missile damage bonuses the Reaper has.
I looked at these two builds to compare:!70ZZ02IA150I1G172122222222220K0A15151515171G0I222222222222220ZZ0ZZdB

The Cuda gets a little more speed and submerge time, along with its full immunity to non-underwater weapons.  The Reaper has more weapons, damage, accuracy, and stealth - for 4 extra build days (and more uranium).  I guess the cuda wouldn't be so bad at this that I would suggest nobody try it... but I'd like to see someone else try it first.  (Edit: it was pointed out that these builds are lacking Battery, which is important on a missile carrier.  To squeeze that in would mean using a combo special like Strike System or Magnus Drive... or dropping Caterpillar Drive).

All of the other enhancements seem to be focused on helping the Barracuda in sub vs. sub battles.  With a little sonar, the Cuda could be turned into a nice Nighthawk killer, but I think the R5 Cuda could as well.  The extra weight makes Cuda builds a little easier... with the 1,970 ton limit, you always needed to skimp somewhere, usually on a torpedo or armor.  At 3,970, you can load up with specials of your choice (even Magnus Drive) as well as an armor piece and 6 Assault Torpedo B (or even some Siege Torpedos).

None of these new retrofits would seem to make someone want to use/build one of these ships when they didn't before.  (a Barracuda Deluge carrier may be an exception) If you are using any of these hulls currently, the retrofits will make these hulls more effective, but none of these improvements seem to be as good as what the Mercury or Goliath got, which (I think) brought those hulls into relevance again.