Sunday, April 24, 2016

Read the Pins & New FM Prizes

There's a lot of changes going on in the game right now.

It's been confusing for a lot of players, and those that don't understand what's going on are getting frustrated.  Last night on comms a player said something like "oh great look what Kixeye did.  No more VXP weekend."

Now, those who are paying close attention know that the discounted buying of rank was this weekend, and VXP weekend would be next weekend.  But not everyone can do that.  Here's what I'm going to say about it, and unfortunately, the readers of this blog probably aren't the people who need to hear it.

Read the Kixeye pinned forum posts.

I get that a lot of the posts on the forums are complaining or noob questions.  But every Tuesday we see the weekly release notes (except when they aren't on Tuesday... see the pinned forum post about that).  You should read them, and look for any other info pinned there too.  Read the pinned raid briefings.  I know that Kixeye has neither been the most clear nor the most consistent communicators... I have spent a fair amount of time trying to pick up the pieces.  But they are trying, and if you can only read one thing, the official Kixeye communications are a good place to start.

If you want more in-depth opinion and analysis, there is this blog.  There are three weekly YouTube shows if you prefer the video format (BP Crib, Battle Vortex, and Forsaken Council).  There's a blog starting up that's targeted at newer players.  They all have their place.  But if you can only read one thing... read the pinned posts.

I'm not going to be able to touch the Foundry for a while (and the Crusader is the only relevant change for most players anyway), so go read the pinned post if you don't get it.

OK, on to the new Forsaken Mission Prizes.

Combusion System 2:

This is the new FM item that I was most anticipating, and I left empty spots on my Citadels & Revenge hulls I'm building (in prep for the upcoming VXP weekend) for this special.  Now that it's here, it seems to continue Kixeye's practice of making new items NOT the greatest, but competitive.  

The choice between Combustion System 2 and Explosive System 4 is not obvious, as you can see in this chart:

(If you saw this chart on the BP Crib show, the build times have been corrected)

My opinion on this is that the increased spread and extra splash will really help the new Gatling Gun.  I see a lot of players planning Revenge / Gatling builds with Strike Warheads... but with the high built-in concussive damage bonus on the Revenge, the marginal amount of extra damage might not be worth the weight/slot for that, and the Combustion System would be more helpful instead. For Citadels, where you are often firing at the longer remote targeting range, the higher speed of Explosive System 4 might be more beneficial.  I like having shells land sooner, so my enemies stop firing sooner.

Alloy Armor CL:

This alloy special protects against Ballistics and Radioactive damage at the expense of leaving off Penetrative & Explosive protection.

This one might be good in a few specialized situations:

  • If you want to build a ship/fleet specifically for mines, those deal out exclusively Ballistic and Radioactive damage.  (try just a single ship in 60s & 70s by the way)
  • The new Revenge hull is weak against Enforcers and Shockwaves - this high radioactive defense may help, but you will set yourself up to be weak against ship's missiles.
  • The Citadel hull has high (70%) built-in Explosive & Penetrative Defense but 0% Ballistic and Radioactive.  This special balances out those weaknesses.
Zynthonite Armor D5-C:

This has the same general stats as the D5-M & D5-X we've seen, but with Ballistic protection.  

I was hoping this armor would have reduced build times compared to the other D5 deflection armors we have seen (because C armor got a build time reduction compared to M & X), but D5-C has the same build time as D5-M & D5-X (1d 17h 24m with officer).

Even so, this may be a tool for builds in some situations, just like the rest of the D5 armors.  One caution though - when deflection bypass becomes a thing in PvE targets, the only place we expect deflection to be useful is in player bases.  So the extra 20 deflection compared to the huge damage numbers going around there might just not matter at all.

Until next time... stay Frosty.  Or Revenge-y.  Or Punish-y.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Defiance - Two days in

First off, a correction.  If you didn't see it, on my previous post I forgot to account for the "half damage".  All weapons do half the damage listed on their blueprints when you are actually comparing to the amount of armor/health lost by a target.  So on the offensive side, when I said that one volley would kill a target, it really would take two.  The hull/weapon combo is still very destructive, just not quite as destructive as I said.

It's too bad the initial evening of this raid was a real mess, but it's been extended a full day to make up for it.  Just remember the alliance points reset on Monday (the raid will seem harder).

So we are two days into this raid, and my overall impression is that it is easier than I thought it would be.  Maybe I was just planning well, as I did spend much of my last month's shipyard time tweaking my Punisher / Neptune fleet for this type of raid target.  I started this raid using the 3 Punishers with Earthshakers (and 1 PAC) and a Neptune with mostly Gales and a couple Phalanx (and refit with the Frontline Countermeasure System).  I experimented a little between using the Highlander Nuke Cruiser and the Omega Behemoth as flagships, and found I took a little less damage with the Omega.  I don't think the exact build is too important, but if you're really interested I've published it in an earlier article.  With that fleet, I could do a full A set for about 7 - 9 coin.  That was a lot less than I could do these types of targets in previous iterations of this raid type, where hitting just the 86 would do more damage than that.

Very important concepts for this raid:

  • Hit the flagged building first - the turrets become much easier to kill once it is down.
  • You need enough countermeasures (Gales) to hold of the mortar fire.
  • Driving is important - you want to be taking fire from just one group of targets at a time (preferably the one you're shooting at).  If you are taking fire from multiple directions, rethink your driving pattern through the target.  Check Youtube/Facebook groups for some videos if you need better patterns & don't want to come up with your own.
  • Once you have enough Gales/Hails to ignore the mortars, missiles are your next biggest threat.  Shift-click the Zoe Rhinos and Missile turrets - they are your most important targets.  Phalanx help, but are generally overwhelmed.
But the most useful ship for this raid is the Revenge.  I got 15 million, redeemed the hull, and started the following build:

Huggy's doesn't show the huge deflections against Ballistic, Penetrative, and Explosive damage that the hull gets.  The speed also works out very nicely - just a little bit faster than the rest of my fleet which is perfect for a tank.

After starting this build, I put on a Grease Monkeys crew, hit more targets, and started redeeming tokens until I could finish this ship.

Once finished, I replaced my Omega with the Revenge and continued hitting A set targets, using the Revenge as a tank.  The result is that I can play for a long time & hit lots of targets without repairing my fleet.  Or I can come home after each hit to unload resources, keep upgrading walls, and do some instant repairs on individual ships.  So right now I've spent about 60 coins on this raid, and don't see myself needing to spend any more to get all the points I want.  Again, I was expecting this raid to be much more pricey for me.

Remember - Kixeye has said that we will start seeing Deflection Bypass in PvE targets.  I expect this type of tank will not be effective for long.  But once the PvE targets update, I will continue to refit this ship into a base hitter, which is what I want this hull for anyway.  I'll replace the D2-E with Shockwave Plate, add Siege Targeting (maybe) or Explosive System 4 (maybe) or Combustion System 2 (once we see it), and add on a bunch of Concussive Gatlings.

This article has been targeted at players who can basically do the raid.  If you are having trouble, I bet the primary problem is not having enough anti-mortar.  Having to keep moving makes these targets much more difficult (especially if you have to crack walls with ballistics).  If you just don't have the fleets, you have two options - hit easier targets or find a friend.  Someone who has followed my advice to build a Revenge quickly (whether they read about it here or not) should be feeling pretty generous and able to prep targets.

Quick Edit: Man-o-War targets just started spawning.  DO NOT try them with a fleet optimized for the Raid Strongholds.  My old Harlock Aegis / Rhino / Punisher tank fleet did fine.

Good luck on the raid everyone - keep grinding!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Analysis of the new Revenge Hull & What to get

Well I'm busy.  And I'd like to be writing a lot more than I'll be able to complete in this article, but I think I'm going to focus on what I think is most important. In this article, I'll take a look at the new Revenge PvP hull, and see how we might expect it to perform in various offensive & defensive scenarios.

If you want to see the blueprints (and you haven't yet), go to the forums:

First off, I'll have to start with a "reference" build.  I don't know whether this will be the best build, or even a very good build, but it's the best I'm going to come up with this evening.

"Reference" Build Thoughts:
You can fit 5 of these in a fleet, but I'm not sure whether that's the best idea.  Some Countermeasures might be helpful - if going for CM I'd probably replace an offensive hull with a hull with 7 Gail/Phalanx, 1 Gatling Gun, and use Frontline CMS instead of Siege Battery.  Rad Coating might not be the best idea, but I have a instinctive bias against negative resistances.  Heavy Plating would give more resistance than D6-A, but this hull isn't really about resistance and I like the speed and lower weight.  I chose Evade armor since Evade will help against many center island turrets I expect to see like Executioners and Ballistas.

I don't like the nearly 19 day build - I'd like to see ships to be closer to 2 week builds in the new "post build time reduction" world. 

Revenge on Offense:
For this article, I'm going to consider the fleet performance, so I'll compute the performance of one Gatling gun and multiply by 40 to get the fleet performance.  

This build has the built in +315% Concussive damage from the hull, then also +55.7% Concussive damage from the Strike Warheads (at R15) and +74% Building damage from Siege Battery (R15).

The Gatling has two fire modes - Short Range Primary & Long Range Secondary.  The Primary fire mode takes "priority" so that if any target is within the 68 range, then the Primary mode fires.  Otherwise the secondary mode will fire with the 104 range.

104 range... hello base redesign... or hello outpost snipers?
(note that a Mod in forums has stated that Remote Targeting will only trigger from the primary range)

(Note that my usual Splash/Spread damage formula gives an accuracy of higher than 100% with this small spread.  I assumed 100% equivalent accuracy, meaning every shot lands within its splash radius of the target)

The concussive damage type is very important - turrets have plenty of ways to buff up against conventional damage types, such as Zynth Reinforcements, Panel specials, or Combined Defense fields.  None of those help against Concussive Damage.

DPS isn't too meaningful here because the windup effect will vastly increase the DPS, and I'm not totally sure how that kicks in. 


Offense Against Turrets:
One volley from the Secondary fire mode will do 3,814*40 = 152,560 points of damage.
One volley from the Primary fire mode will do 14,797*40 = 591,880 points of damage.

A level 6 turret has 57,600 armor built in, and installations with 125,720 armor are common (one Permacrete and one Zynth).  Yes, that turret dies at long range.

A level 7 turret has 280,000 armor built in along with 3 armor slots and a transformer slot.
Level 7 with 3 Permacrete has 436,240 armor.  Interestingly enough, the Defensive Transformer won't help at all, since its defense bonuses don't affect Concussive damage.  

So a Level 7 turret might be killed after three volleys from long range, or just one short range volley.

Offense Against Ships:
I'm going to skip straight to the Punisher.  With 500 Assault Deflection, that ship might be the only one that has a prayer.  

If I look at a build with Hydro Resistors, we get 15% Concussive resistance, and remember Evade doesn't make a difference against this splash weapon. 

So with 15% resistance and -500 from the Assault Deflection, the gun is doing 400 damage per volley in secondary mode.
(1647 * (1 - 15%) - 500 * 2) = 400
Standing still, it might stand up to one volley from a fleet (16,000 damage), but it won't survive the second.

In primary mode it is doing 2,933 damage per volley.  
(6392 * (1 - 15%) - 500 * 5) = 2933
If somehow the Punisher closes to primary range, 2933*40 (over 100,000 damage) will be a one shot kill against it.

Offensive Summary
I think a full fleet of 40 Gatling Guns, fully buffed with damage specials might be overkill for anything.  Mixing in some countermeasures, and possibly trying something besides the Hunter special (Splash Bonus?, Projectile Speed? Combustion System 2 is coming after the raid or even consider Explosive System 4 if you are in a rush), will probably result in a more effective fleet than one heavily tilted toward damage.


Revenge on Defense:
The "reference" build above has the following defensive stats:
(from the in-game shipyard, I don't think Huggy has all these new stats coded)

Defense against Turrets

Center Island Turrets:

The Executioner doesn't get anywhere until you add Smart Warheads, Thermobaric Casing, and the A-T Transformer.  A Fire Support field would help even more.

The Apoc Mortar gets nowhere even with the A-T Transformer and the Fuel Air Explosives field.  One way to get damage would be the 15% Critical Hit chance with the FAE.  

I didn't show the Ballista analysis, but starting with 1826 damage and 74% bypass, the Supercharged EM Rails giving a 25% chance of a +300% damage critical hit seems like the best bet there.

Frontline Turrets:

So.... the only turret that does any significant damage is the Drac Scattergun... the Basilisk might tickle it a little too and the A-T Transformer helps there.  Turrets doing conventional damage types are nullified by the combo of Siege Battery and the huge Deflection... although 0 will actually be some sort of minimum damage, that is around 50 points of damage and won't make a significant dent.

Defense against Ships

The Shockwave from D98U launchers is a great way to damage these (note the accuracy refers to the shockwave effectiveness, not the accuracy of the launcher shots), although some Shock plates might be an option for some players.

The Gatling on the Revenge illustrates the usual advice, that the best way to stop a new ship/weapon combo is with often that same combo.

And even the high damage Blade can't crack through the huge deflection.

Will this ship be effective?  YES
Will it be hard to kill? YES

What to get:
I'm going to do an abbreviated version of "what to get" - I'll just list some of the highlights.

Top Priority: The new stuff
Revenge (15M): I don't want to be locked out of any aspect of this game, and right now, the Revenge Hull is the only tool for base hitting.

Concussive Gatling Gun (9M): This new weapon will be very effective in conjunction with the damage bonus on the new hull.  Even without the hull, this weapon mounted on any other ship will be able to use its 104 secondary range to outrange many targets, and its Windup ability means that it will very quickly reach its maximum fire rate (0.2 second between shots) and keep firing until its target is dead.

Next: Unique Hulls 
Consider the Harlock's Aegis, Phantom Tiger Shark, Frostburn Interceptor, Highlander's Nuclear Cruiser, or the Omega Behemoth.

Next: Useful components
Siege Battery 3:  looking like a must-have on base hitting fleets.
Speed Upgrade, Splash Upgrade: Occasionally useful
D3-E Armor: I like this one for low-end builds

Next: Weapons you might build
Styx/Charon Torpedo: For subs
Judgement/Pandemonium Mortar: For Citadels.  The Pandemonium's radioactive resist occasionally is helpful too.

Next: Catchup hulls
Punisher: Its combo of deflection and high resistances make it likely to be the most valuable PvE hull for the forseeable future.
Tiger Shark: If you like subs 
Rhino: A great deal at 3 million if you don't have it yet
Mercury, Triton, Dreadaught X: Cheap buys & quick builds for the low end players

The total token limits are increased from previous raids, but the prices are the same.  These will definitely help you get a headstart on the Revenge fleet you might want.

Limited Components:
Kixeye is saying this is the last time these specific components will be available.  D6-A, Hydro Resistors, and Gales are my favorites.  Cobra Scatterguns give a real unique capability, although they have a long build time.

Being able to buy 1/5 of a Super Hull doesn't excite me too much, but if it's your thing, go for the 20 million points and remember that you'll have to stick with it and so will Kixeye before you get anywhere with these.

Hopefully this gives you enough info to plan your raid and start to understand how to use these new Revenge hulls more effectively.  Good luck Pirates!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

An irregular opinion piece

I haven't written in a while, and there's been a lot going on in the game.  Usually I can get my random opinions out there in the weekly Battle Pirates Crib show, but we kind of flaked out this week (sorry) and I'll just put this stuff out here.

The Anti Hack update:
The big anti-hack update is a mess.  I hope it works and I hear it is (mostly) working so far.  But everything else that was messed up from this update is pretty poor.  Now I know that a fundamental architecture change (which this change was) is difficult, but the level of chaos in-game following the update is just not good.  If fixing the integrity of the game were not so critical for it being viable in the long run, I'd be a lot more upset.  But I guess I'll take the couple weeks of chaos, as long as this change works.

I've seen a few posts here and there suggesting that "the hackers only exist because Kixeye is so greedy."  I think that is a real load of garbage - Kixeye has created this game, and they are allowed to charge what they want for it.  You're certainly allowed to think that they charge too much, but the fact is that nobody ever makes you pay.  You can always choose to walk away today, spend nothing, and play tomorrow.  Some people disagree with Kixeye's management of this game, but if you buy a hack, then you're paying a thief and there's no question on that.

The Double Dragon campaign:
On the prizes - each of the turrets is absolutely worth getting.  For the anti-rocketeer turret, going from 50% to 75% accuracy means that an incoming rocket is half as likely to get through, so I think it's totally worth it.  Defending a ship or turret against two incoming Daisy Cutters or Bunker Busters is much easier than against four or eight.  Or with a 75% chance to shoot down a Pinch, pinching that key turret mid-hit and continuing on your way is a much riskier proposition.  Although Kixeye is letting players run the mastery round twice, I think one of these turrets should be enough for most bases.

For the campaign itself, my biggest complaint is that the best way to win seems like to be using subs.  That isn't really feasible for ACTUAL base defense.  My next biggest complaint is the HUGE range on the carriers for encounter 3 - that also requires a non-realistic base defense to beat.  I had to move my Outpost far away from the center island turrets in order for it to survive (long enough for my subs to sink the attackers). 

The thing I like about the campaign is that I have all week to beat it.  I beat encounter 5 this morning, so I'm slowly working my way through without spending much at all (just a few coins here & there to fix my dock so I can start fleet repair before going to bed).  Yes, like most other successful players I'm using subs.  My fleet has four Tiger subs with Styx torps & a Phantom Tiger with Cobras.  I also suggest that if you want more intel, find one of the You Tube videos showing the campaign so you know what's coming each wave.

More on the turret update:
Kixeye should have implemented the turret update later - the week of the raid or even the week after, and given us a little advance notice (so that we still knew the importance of winning this upcoming hull).  Game's been a bit boring last couple weeks, right?

I thought about doing a DPS roundup post-change, but it doesn't mean much until we know more about the PvP hull stats, so stay tuned.

Raid this week:
The Hull raid is coming up this week, and I'll say it again, the most important thing to go after is the new Revenge hull so that you can get into (or back into) the base-hitting game.  I expect it to have at least 1000 siege deflection, and possibly more (2000+?).  The interesting thing I'm waiting to see is how that hull is tailored to stand up to the new turret statistics, while also standing up to guard fleets, but not being overpowered in the PvE game.

Early info post:

Kixeye calls it Tips & Tricks, but the only tips relate to the new Man-O-War target.  Some of that early info coming out about the Zoe's new "super hull" is kind of interesting, but making that target only pay out Uranium seems sort of weak - players would be much more likely to hit it for shards, event points, or other blueprints.  I guess Kixeye hasn't said it won't pay out shards or prints - we will see.

I'll be posting next when we get some more specific raid & prize info - I expect that to be available with Tuesday's update (as usual).