Wednesday, March 16, 2016

New FM Content Part 1: Frontline Countermeasures & Zynth D5-X

There were five new items released for the Forsaken Mission this month.  This is a step up frm the usual three, but we will also have an extra week between Renegade and April's hull raid - so there will be the same number of opportunities to get ship build tokens between raids.  With the extra items, and the amount of time I want to spend with Frontline Countermeasure System, I'm going to break up the review of the new items into two parts.  I'll cover Zynth Armor D5-X and the Frontline Countermeasures in this article, and push Chromium Overlay, Cryo Battery, and the (amazing) Glacial Launcher Turret into the next one.

Zynthonite Armor D5-X

No surprises here - this armor is just like D5-M with 20 points of deflection, but protects against Explosive Damage instead of Missile damage.  Of the other D5s, D5-E and D5-R do not provide deflection.  We haven't seen D5-C yet, but it might be reasonable to expect that one to be coming next month, and for it to provide deflection with its protection.  What we won't know is whether it will have the same build time as D5-M & D5-X (1d 22h) or whether it will be on the reduced build time schedule we've seen for the C armors.  Also remember that the conventional damage protection armors (like M, X, and C) have reduced repair times when compared to other armors like E, R, or U.

Frontline Countermeasure System

(Oh oh we have a nerf.  Turret Defense is now 50%.  I'll have to rethink this.)

(Maybe I was a little too positive?  LOL)
This might be my new favorite special.  Those of you who've figured out my play style know that I really like building support ships like tanks or countermeasure specialists.  When this special was announced in the WIP, I thought it might be decent... but I didn't really consider how good it might be, as most of the combo specials are basically combinations of specials that are a 'step down' from the best versions of the dedicated specials.  Well check this out:

The Turret Defense is much better than Siege Battery 3, even at R15.  The Countermeasure Accuracy increase is tied for the best for anti-mortar, and pretty close to the best for anti-missile.  The Countermeasure Range boost is the absolute best.  The weight and build time is the same as Siege Battery 3.

So let's see how this helps a pure tank hull... I have been using a Punisher to tank for my Rhinos on Forsaken Missions, Armadas, and base hits.  The build looks like this:

I love it already.  But what happens when I swap FLCS for the Siege Battery?

My weight stays the same, I gain the accuracy bonus on my Gales, and the damage I take from turrets gets cut in half (or better).  I don't care about the loss of the building damage bonus, since that hull does pretty much nothing offensively but spot for the rhinos.

Slight detour for math: 
Turret resistance from Siege Battery R15 is 49.5%, and with the FLCS it goes to 74.4%.  Before, 50.5% of turret damage got through (after damage type resistance and before deflection), now 25.6% gets through (or just over half).  When the 500 Siege Deflection gets figured in, it is even better.   Let's look at a turret that does 2000 points of damage (after type resistance) when it hits.

With Siege Battery 3:
2000 * (1 - 49.5%) - 500 = 510 damage 

With Frontline Countermeasure System:
2000 * (1-74.4%) - 500 =  12 damage

So in that case damage is cut by way more than half... although there is a minimum passthrough damage value, and for turrets I suspect it is around 50 points of damage.  As the initial damage per hit goes up, your damage reduction would be closer to half, and as it goes down your damage reduction would be less, as you'd hit minimum damage which limits the reduction.

But not everybody likes tank ships, especially when looking at the new breed of siege target, where the splash & piercing damage does limit the usefulness of a tank.  I've built some Punishers that look like this:

They are tons of fun, and do pretty well in DUBs, the new Mine targets, and the new Drac Bases. (If I did them all over again I'd probably slow them down a little).

But what if I do the same thing with this build - replace Siege Battery 3 with FLCS?

Although I increase my turret resistance, I lose the 74.1% Building Damage bonus from the Siege Battery.  I don't get any benefit from Countermeasure Accuracy because I have no countermeasures (on this ship).

By the way, Siege Targeting over Autoloader and a PAC over the D33-DR would probably be good ideas on this build.

Well, since i haven't won the thing yet, I can't try it and see for sure... but I think it is still a win.  With the math above, I've already shown how the increased Turret Defense does even better than cutting my damage in half.  So would that make up for the reduced damage?  On a Punisher, 100% ballistic damage bonus is built in, so the overall damage bonus for ballistics against buildings goes from 2.74x to 2.00x.  So the building damage output of my ship is reduced by only 27%.   
(edit: I ran some scenarios in Huggy's, and maybe that damage dropoff is more like 40%... see it in the comments below)

In other words, I'm taking a little longer to kill turrets, but I'm only taking 50% as much damage while I'm doing so... it's still going to be a net win.

One more thought, on Launcher Punishers (which is another popular configuration), I'm not so sure replacing SB3 with FLCS would be a net win, since those don't benefit from the built-in damage bonus, and so the damage drop-off would be larger.

My one complaint about this special is that it seems like it would be a big help to the lower level players in the Forsaken Mission, but those players aren't reaching Elite Tier so they won't be able to earn it to help them.  On many of the specials with three different levels, I basically ignore the lower level specials as "garbage".  But if players had access to a FLCS 1 with a +20% CM Accuracy and a +25% Turret Defense bonus, and a FLCS 2 with +25% CM Accuracy and a +50% Turret Defense bonus, those specials would be very desirable for a lower level player's FM fleet (maybe on a ship with 4 specials like a DNX or Crusader).  

I'll get to the review of the Cryo Battery, Chromium Overlay, and the amazing Glacial Launcher Turret in the next couple days.