Anyway we have a new cycle of raid targets and they are of the Assault class, which means we can expect a mix of fast moving ships and a few land based turrets. The videos from the preview look like we can expect Heavy Cruisers and Zoe Rhinos, along with Missile & Gargoyle turrets and a torpedo turret or two to keep the subs away.
Kixeye Raid Briefing: https://www.kixeye.com/forum/discussion/632391
Kixeye Preview Video:
I'm not going to go too heavily into describing the targets since there are a bunch of Youtube videos doing that, but I do have a few general thoughts on strategy:
- The fast missile fleets seem like they will be the thing to use - unaimed ballistics like Earthshakers and Arbalests will miss the fast ships.
- With those missile fleets, think about using a Wolfpack crew to get quicker kills. Steelheads and Sea Serpents might help on the defense, but I'm suspecting the offensive help will be better overall. Deadeye Destroyers or Disciples of Skullduggery might also be helpful if you have some of the higher end crews.
I'll go straight to the prizes.
This Tier 6 hull prize is purpose-designed for these Assault Targets. It only has Penetrative & Corrosive resist, which is just about the only damage types that you'll be seeing in this raid. It has good Deflection and Missile/Countermeasure buffs, but is missing built-in Evade. A 10/5/5 slot configuration makes it able to be well equipped.
The speed is the trickiest thing to figure out with the hull. With only 14 Combat Speed ("only 14" would have been really nice about a year ago), it doesn't seem very fast with a speed of just over 26 with Speed System 5 at R15, but the +150% speed bonus when it keeps moving will result in an extra 21 combat speed, bringing it up to 47 speed when it keeps moving.
The variable speed is going to make this hull very hard to match in a mixed fleet. It will be very difficult to run this hull with an Aegis (or Harlock's Aegis), and so you'll probably have to design this ship to run in a 4 ship fleet (with aura flagship like Savage Kodiak or Grimshine's Wrath) or a 5 ship fleet. The hull build time isn't that great at 4d 14h 42m (with officer), and you're looking at a 3 month commitment to build a full fleet without tokens/coining.
To stack it up against the options:
If you really want to build a fleet designed to go after these new raid targets, the Apollo may be the thing. But a non-coiner might not want to invest in such a specialized fleet. You should at least see how you do with the fleets you have.
Switchblade Countermeasure / Missile:
This weapon has a Primary Countermeasure mode and a Secondary Missile mode. From the raid video it looks like the weapon doesn't have to wait to reload before switching modes. Previous multi mode weapons have always been a bit disappointing to me where it seems like it wouldn't switch when you needed it.
Lets start with a comparison of the Countermeasure mode:
(Yes, I accounted for the fact that the Switchblade is Multi-shot instead of Salvo)
By weight or by weapon slot, the countermeasure capability of the Switchblade is dismal compared to any Phalanx. Since it's Multi-shot - Barrel System might help, but even making the 2 shot into an 4 shot with Barrel System 3 would only double its hits... still not enough to make it competitive with Phalanx.
And in Missile mode:
Its anti-ship capability is quite good, but you'll pay the build time for it. Damage per weight is in the same neighborhood as the Trident, but it doesn't have the short range penalty of that missile. Especially with deflection around, the high single hit damage should be very valuable, even when compared to the bypass capability of the Harrier.
If you want to use the Switchblade, I would suggest you concentrate on using it as a missile, not as a countermeasure. I would recommend using Strike Warheads with this weapon instead of the new Counter-Missile Extender, and use Phalanx on a specialized countermeasure ship instead (for Anti-Missile capability).
The range bonus from this special is the same as Solid Fuel Booster or Guided Missile System. With many recent missile hulls lacking retargeting built-in (Apollo, Rhino and Mastodon in particular), the Guided Missile System has become a critical special to use, and I would generally prefer that special on any of those hulls. If the hull already has retargeting, then it becomes a comparison between the 61.9% accuracy bonus of GMS (at R15) and the 30% reload / 30% anti-missile range of the CME. I think I'd still usually choose GMS.
The Prize List:
For the regular prizes, Kixeye has really cut the list down, and we have six tiers - at each tier we have two choices and can only choose one. The other wrinkle in this prize redemption is that to take a Tier 5 or Tier 6 prize, you must have taken a prize in the tier below that. So you may not be able to go for the top hull only, you have to also have a Tier 4 and Tier 5 prize before redeeming the Apollo (or Centurion). Note that prizes you have already earned count, so if you already have the Tier 4 Nuclear Accelerators or the Tier 5 PAC, you can head straight up to the next tier, even if you want the "other" prize of the Apollo.
The key to understanding this prize list is that there are two "tracks". I'm not going to go through each prize individually this month - it doesn't make sense to. But you should evaluate your capability and choose a prize track. Each prize in the track has utility for that fleet type.
The first track is Missile / Assault. This is where the new prizes are, and you want to follow this track if you already have a decent Siege fleet that was able to do the last few raids. This is important because the upcoming Forsaken Missions will have targets that are similar to those previous raids.
The other track is Ballistic / Siege. If you couldn't do the last raid, then you should focus on this track so that you can get the capability to do the upcoming Forsaken Mission targets.
The other thing to watch out for in the prize redemptions is that there are a lot of prizes that are currently offered in the Foundry (Centurion/Crusader), or recently in the Forsaken Mission (Arbalest / Trident / D4-M / D5-R), so choose carefully and don't waste points on something you might be able to get through other means.
On the limited side, we have tokens and shards available, but not very many of each. 5 days 10 hours of tokens is the limit, where we have seen a full week in many previous raids. The shards are limited to 20 per ship type, which will get you closer, but I don't think many players will be be put over the top with the 250 shard requirement needed for those Super Hulls.
The backtracking on the limited components is welcome - taking the components we already earned and built and making them obsolete was not the direction we were hoping for.
I don't know what to make of this raid. I don't really like the prizes enough to want to invest in them right away - and if I can do the raid with the ships I have, those might not be such a great investment for my shipyard time.
But there's one more twist... we know players are getting Mega Hulls of some sort, and if Apollos are going to be the best thing against the Mega Hull... can we afford to ignore them?
I'll leave you with an Apollo fleet build using my own advice:
- The attack & defense from the Savage should make it worth the fleet slot.
- Ships 2 - 4 use the Switchblade & Strike Warheads for maximum anti-ship damage. Countermeasures aren't a factor.
- Ship 5 uses Phalanx & Countermeasure Equipment 3 for maxing anti-missile capability. One missile gives it movement capability when targeting and I mounted Speed System 4 instead of 5 so that it wouldn't lead the fleet.