Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Revenge Raid 3 - Punisher, Railgun & What to Get

Revenge Raid 3 is coming this week.  The Kixeye briefing is here:

The raid format seems like it will be pretty much like the last two - there was some word that Kixeye was converting the A set to be a 5 target set like the B and C sets, but the briefing still describes it as a 3 target set.  I'm pleased about this non-change, since that would likely slow down the raid, and good drivers don't take on the whole target at once anyway.

Changes that they tell us about are:
  • There will be a new "S" Level target, which will be like an Elite Target 
  • B & C Set boss targets will be Draconian Mega-Hulls, not Scourge
Read Kixeye's briefing for a full description of the Mega-Hull target, but one important element to note is the existence of power structures.  Destroying the power structures will slow down the fire rate of the Mega Hull.  As a tip, the lowest damage way to attack these targets will very likely be to pick off all of the support ships & power structures first, then attack the Mega-Hull.  

My experience with the A-level Mega-Hull last time was that spending the time to pick off the support ships first was time well spent - I hit the ships on one side, retreated, then attacked the other side before engaging the hull.  When I didn't take out all the ships first, I seemed to be attacked by the ships coming from the other side at about the same time that I was in range of the Mega.  I suspect that a similar strategy will be useful this time.  Those of you with Deluge or Scattergun subs may also be able to pick off the ships first (with a Scourge Torp sub fleet or a surface fleet), then use land attack subs to take out the structures, then enter with a main fleet to hit the Mega.

One more thing to remember for the raid, is that I was able to use Tigers (even without Scourge torps) to prep A set targets quite nicely.  Many players had trouble with the Heavy Cruisers charging in at the start.  In each target I was able to use an expendable flagship to draw those charging HCs into torpedo fire, and also pick off a couple more Kodiaks as a bonus.  If you have decent subs, this is also a nice way to help alliance mates do the raid a little more easily with no cost to you.  We will see if it works again.

New Prizes:

Punisher Hull

Yes, the rotating wheel of weapon love is back on Ballistics.  This hull is a high speed, high weight, high defense Ballistic platform, in the same class as the Heavy Cruiser and Draconian Carrier that we've seen recently.  Its high defenses, high evade, and 500 Assault / Siege Deflection will make it just as hard to kill (if not harder) than those other recent Draconian hulls.  Just like those other two hulls, it will make an excellent tank platform even if you don't want to marry it up with its "partner" weapons.

Compare to Crusader (for Ballistics) & other recent hulls (for tanks):

The only real drawback of building a Punisher compared to other hulls is the relatively low number of armor slots, but it makes up for that weakness with very high built-in armor points, evade, and defense percentages.  It also has the highest deflection of this group (although not the 600 Siege Deflection on the Neptune).  It certainly could be built as a very effective hull to tank and spot for Rhinos.  It is very fast without the punishingly low turn speed of the Heavy Cruiser.  The Heavy Cruiser still has the advantage of the heavy weapon slots, which can be used to mount D81-H Scatterguns giving the HC very high overall resistances.

As a Ballistic platform, I think the Punisher's higher damage will make up for its lower reload boost and at Legendary rank it should be approximately equal in terms of theoretical DPS output.  The Punisher would be more effective against targets with Assault Deflection because of its higher Damage boost, but the Crusader might be more effective against clusters of targets because of its reload boost.  It also has the same hull build time & range as the Crusader.

I'll talk more about the range and piercing in conjunction with the new weapon...

Railgun D-110

Comparing this to the previous Arbalest we get:

Update:  The new Railgun is already in the Retro Lab under Railguns.  So if you have Arbalest R15, then you have the Railgun R15 too.  The DPS numbers for the Railgun should be increased by 23.8% for a fair comparison.  This puts its DPS/hton at 30.9 vs. fleet & 79.1 vs. buildings.

Note that the Build time on the Arbalest is reduced (halved) with the latest release.  In some random thread, Kixeye let it out that the Railgun has a accuracy of 80%, as opposed to the 70% that the Arb has.  As we've seen with the Arbalest, the weapon fires at a point instead of targeting a moving hull.  But the Arbalest shot also goes wide sometimes... I'm ignoring the 10 spread shown in the blueprint - I assume it really is just there so the pierce damage actually has a chance at hitting something that isn't PERFECTLY lined up.

I threw the Crossbow 3 in there as well - since the weapon rebalance & build time reduction it has become usable.

In fact, at R15 the Crossbow has the best DPS/hton of the three weapons I compared, and the Arbalest and Railgun are pretty comparable.  Against buildings the Arbalest has a higher damage output.  The build times per ton are also fairly similar, and so my instinct would be to stick with Arbalest.  What we don't know about is the projectile speed.  Kixeye claimed the Railgun would have a "near instantaneous" projectile speed, so it MIGHT be more effective in use, but we will have to wait and see.  The Crossbow has a range disadvantage, so I still wouldn't recommend the Crossbow to players that have either of the other two weapons available.  

On piercing, the Railgun has less Pierce Decay.  Right now, I don't see Piercing as being hugely useful in practice, and I also don't see a huge difference in the 5% difference in the decay.  The extra 35 pierce range from the Punisher hull, and possibly additional Pierce range from a special expected in the next Forsaken Mission prize group may change my opinion of its usefulness.  When Piercing is up to 97 or more range BEYOND the initial hit, that may start to impact base design and Guard Fleet layout.  Again, it is something we will have to see on the water.

So I'm going to move right into the "what to get" section while this is fresh in my mind...

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.

Top Tier:

Punisher (12.5M): This hull will be a very useful tank to protect any fleet, and it will be a fast, hard-to-kill ballistic platform for anyone wanting to build a full fleet of these.

Railgun D-110 (6M): This is the first time in a long while that I've recommended the raid hull more than the weapon.  Right now, the Railgun seems to be on par with the Arbalest, and so I like the hull more.  Still, we might learn more about this weapon in the near future, so I wouldn't pass it up just out of spite.

Tier 4 (2 prize limit):

Assault Disrupter D33-DR (6M): This weapon is extremely useful in conjunction with railgun-type weapons to slow down your target and make your shots more effective.  With a recently reduced build time (from xxx to xxx), it is a fair deal to build now. 

Neptune (9.5M): The best attribute of this hull is its 600 Siege Deflection.  I've been using one as a tank for base hits & Forsaken missions, and it has been quite effective.  The only fleets I've (personally) seen complete the new Drac Uranium bases are full Neptune fleets.  Use with Siege Battery 3.

Siege Battery 3 (5M): See above, but it is useful on more hulls than just the Neptune. 

Apocalypse Mortar (12M): Despite fleets getting faster, this mortar is found in many top-tier base defenses.  Retrofits & Eruption Pyre help it quite a bit.

Zynthonite Armor D5-E (5.5M): Although D5-E has been on the Elite Tier of the Forsaken Mission for a while now, this may be a sign that it will be rotated out.  Even if it isn't rotated out, getting this is a commonly used armor and you want it.

Harrier Missile D52-R (7.5M): The Blade gets a lot of attention, but the high bypass, light weight, and good build time make the Harrier EXTREMELY desirable, especially against high resistance ships.  See my recent missile comparison if you missed that. 

Trident (9M): You have to have a good plan to use this short range missile effectively.  It packs a huge punch, but you really need remote targeting to be able to get any useful range out of it.

Scrambler Cannon (5.5M):  I'd rather just kill my target faster.

Tier 3 (3 Prize Limit):

Nuclear Accelerators (2.5M): If you want to play with the new ballistics (or even the old ones), this is a must-have.

Crossbow 3 (3M): maybe not a top choice in ballistics, but with reduced build time & the removal of the "stop-to-fire" requirement, it is usable.  Make sure you can rank your ships if you use this weapon because it has a very long reload time.

Siege Missile D55-Z (4.5M): Still desirable in some situations, and with a newly reduced build time.  The lower range isn't so bad if you have Remote Targeting.

Compound Panels E (3M): Railguns are Ballistic, Drac Bombers are Explosive, Harrier/Blade are Penetrating... even on your turrets, you probably shouldn't load up on a single defense type these days.

Achilles Missile D55-B (1M):  One of the worst weapons ever in this game finally got a build time reduction to match its reduced weight, and it is now usable.  But now it's kind of light... more like a starter missile.  Harriers, Blades, Disrupters, and Siege Z are more useful.

Depleted Uranium Shells 3 (2M): Good for Javelin & Ballista Turrets

Countermeasure Targeting (2M):  This turret special is only really useful on Coax Turrets, which aren't too useful anymore with or without this special.

Tier 2 (3 Prize Limit):
Zynthonite Armor D3-C (500k): I always sing the praises of D3 armor as being a nice trade-off between weight & build time.  Ballistic protection just might be more of a thing.

Mercury (750k):  A useful missile hull if you don't have any of the premium hulls.  A short build time and good retrofits make this a great hull for moving up in the world.

Crossbow 2 (750k): With the rebalance, the Crossbows are all similar in performance, just varying size. See what I wrote about the Crossbow 3.

Siege Battery 1 (550k):  You might want some options if you are weight-limited, but using less armor and a bigger Siege Battery might be a better choice.  And why isn't Siege Battery 2 on Tier 3?

Compound Panels C (400k): Usable if you can't get the bigger version.

Interdictor (500k):  Without comprehensive ship build time reform, this hull usually works out to be a terrible deal in build time.

Tier 1 (3 Prize Limit):

Battlecruiser (60k): A very useful utility hull for stepping up.  Retrofits also are a big improvement here, but often available through the Forsaken Mission.

Crossbow 1 (75k): With the rebalance, the Crossbows are all similar in performance, just varying size. See what I wrote about the Crossbow 3.  This might be a good weapon for intro ballistic hulls.

Compound Panels A (50k): Usable if you can't get the bigger version.

Zynthonite Armor D2-C (150k):  Armor options are good, but Evade is usually better.

Zynthonite Armor D1-X (40k):  Maybe you need a little bit of explosive resistance on something, but you don't want to use a lot of weight.  Because... you know... Daisy Cutters.

Vortex Torpedo D61-M (50k): With the rebalance making all the weapons perform a lot more closely to each other, you usually just want the biggest torpedo you can find, and this isn't it.  For example, I'd look at using Havok 4 instead unless you are totally weight-constrained.

Limited Items (Limit 5 of each)
Compound Armor D6-A (1.25M):  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.  

Agility System IV (1M): I've kind of come around on this one because it can be really useful, but I still don't like the build time.

Fallout Armor IV (500k): Even with the big price cut from last time (1M), 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): 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).  These are also pretty useful in those newfangled Draconian Uranium Bases.

Hydraulic Resistors (1.5M):  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 it can be combined with Ion Thrusters to get a decent turn speed on the Heavy Cruiser (or other ships).

Cobra Scattergun (1.2M): 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, but the build time is a bit extreme.

Token Store!  7 days of ship build tokens for 19.44 Million points.
  Remember you are still subject to the token limits, so you will have to spend the tokens to keep buying them, and you should keep an eye on the point / coin ratio you're getting in the raid to figure out if this is a good deal for you

Final thoughts:
If you are worried about power creep, the new Railgun is a good thing - it is just a slight improvement over the weapon choices we have now.  You could argue that for it to be attractive, bumping its range from 50 to 51 or 52 (putting it in the 97-99 range class as the Drac Bomber & the SFB3 Blade/Harrier) would have done it. Just remember that you can't have it both ways - either the weapon is pretty close to the same level of destructiveness as the ones we have now (and so it doesn't seem like a must-have), or it is super awesome & blows everything else away and continued the power creep/sprint we've been experiencing.  Let's try a month like this.  The new Punisher hull has similar offensive output as the Crusader, but it has defensive capabilities in line with the latest generation of hulls... although it is a step forward, I don't think it is out of line with what we should be seeing.  The 100% damage bonus combined with Railgun hits may make this hull more effective against ships with Assault Deflection.  One more thought - there is a new Armor Piercing Shells special planned for the Forsaken Mission cycle after the raid, giving a damage boost and more piercing range.  Keep that in mind if you plan to coin some builds.

The rest of the prize list is pretty good overall as well.  I put a lot less red out there than I have been doing in previous raids.  In fact, I think a lot of players will be "stuck" between which prizes to choose on Tier 4. My advice is to look at what fleet you are interested in building next, and decide whether ballistics (and the DR cannon) or missiles (and the Harrier) will be your thing.