Sunday, June 26, 2016

Concussive - New FM prizes & next raid cycle

In this article, I'll catch you up with the new FM Prizes and also give some thoughts on what to do with the next raid cycle - we've just seen a preview of the targets that are being considered.

Zynthonite Armor CT

The new Zynthonite CT armor is pretty much like any other single-resistance armor, except it resists concussive damage.  It is really most like the R armor, where the smaller versions have lowered resistance.  It also has the same build time as the equivalent sized R armor.

So whether you want to use this armor all depends on whether you have a ship that expects to be shot at by (mostly) concussive weapons.  The two biggest potential uses are for an anti-sub fleet (hopefully they have no Cobras) and an anti-Revenge fleet (with Concussive Gatling Guns).  Maybe you want this armor for your base guards, but I'm not super excited for this one.

Oh, and a two letter name for a single resistance is silly and inconsistent.  There's no T in concussive.  Of course, this all stems from whomever made the bad decision to use "C" for ballistic waaay back when.  Bad design decisions come home to roost.  On the plus side, the picture looks cool - probably cooler than is warranted for a ho-hum armor.

Concussive Platform Plating

This armor could go on your turrets to help defend against concussive damage.  This would result in a very specialized defense against the Concussive Gatlings - but that is still the number one threat to your base. The question is whether this armor would be as effective as the current best alternative - Permacrete.  The armor points given by the CPP is the same as the Zynthonite Reinforcements that provides resistance, but like those plates, the armor provided is way short of the 52,080 armor points provided by Permacrete.  The power is a small bit higher than the other Zynth options (955 vs. 925) but not as good a value as the Permacrete (1665 power for Permacrete gives you less than 2x the power draw for more than 3x the armor).

So will it defend well against the CGG?

Well the biggest sized plate gives 60 deflection, and let's just consider the best case on a Level 7 turret with 3 armor slots.  So my choices are 328,120 armor with 180 deflection on a CPP-defended turret or 436,240 with no deflection on a Permacrete-defended turret (280,000 health comes from the turret itself).

On a revenge, the Concussive Chain Gun is rated at 700 building damage (in long range mode) with salvo 2, but the hull has a +315% damage built in.  So it does (700 / 2 * (1 +315%) ) = 1452.5 points of blueprint damage per shot.

When shooting at the Permacrete turret, you do 726.25 points of "real" damage per hit, resulting in 601 hits needed to kill the turret.

When shooting at the CPP turret, you do (1452.5 - 180) / 2 = 636.25 points of "real" damage per hit, resulting in 515 hits needed to kill the turret.  

So this means that if you are defending, a Permacrete turret will perform better than a Concussive Plated turret.  Also keep in mind that the calculation above was the "best case scenario" for the Concussive Plate... many Revenge have a damage booster like Siege Battery or Concussive Warheads, which makes the deflection even less effective.  Or if you have a lower level turret, you have less built in health, which means that the ratio of the health difference between the Permacrete and Concussive will be larger, also making the Permacrete perform better.

So - for anyone who has Permacrete, Concussive Platform Plating is useless.

AT:R Transformer

This is our third Transformer option for a Level 7 turret.  The other two give increased damage at the cost of resistance (A-T), or increased resistance at the cost of damage (D-T).

In the current game, high Damage per shot is critically important when defending your base because it is needed to overcome high deflection stats on the Conqueror hulls.  That means that I choose the A-T (Offensive) transformer on my frontline turrets over the defensive - I want to make sure that the shots fired will count. 

So when looking at this turret, which cuts damage AND resistance to get range, you have to think carefully about where it might be useful.  I think the answer is on those mid-range turrets that lay down (or suppress) field effects - The Glacial Launcher, Wendigo, and the Coldsnap are all likely candidates for this transformer.  I find that it is particularly challenging to find a good spot to put the Glacial Launcher and that extra 10 range may come in handy.  I know that some players really like the damage done by  the Glacial, but for me it is the ice fields that slow enemies nearly to a stop and set up a huge amount of resistance bypass that I like.

I'll just say that this one is an option to keep in your toolbox, but think carefully before using it.

Reaver Holdout Targets

In this latest VXP weekend, we got a first look at the "Reaver Holdouts", which was claimed as a sneak preview of the next type of raid target (coming in September).

So the way the target worked, is that you are faced with 3 Reaver Scouts and 1 Reaver Hulk.  The Scouts have a Cavitator field (surfaces subs) that blinks on and off, and fire a concussive cannon.  The Hulk has a multishot mortar that sets up permanent cavitator fields when it lands.  The Reaver ships also have very high resistance to damage types besides concussive and corrosive.  

The intended way to engage these targets was by using subs.  If you could watch the Scout Cavitator fields, you could come in and kill the Scouts with just 1-2 torpedo volleys while the field is off.  The other key is to be able to watch the Mortar shots, estimate where they will land, and stay away from that area.  I did two Holdout targets with my Tigershark fleet to get an idea of the difficulty, and I was able to complete the target both times for under 2 hours repair - and all of that damage was done by the ships exploding.  You were able to retreat and re-enter to erase the Mortar Cavitator fields if they got too inconvenient - I did take advantage of that.

Just in case you're wondering what I'm using on my Tigers, here's my build.  I use Styx with Interception System to maximize my DoT damage, except one ship that has Sonic Targeting for spotting other subs (remember the Scourge?).  The Phantom has a few Cobra Scatterguns, but I never really put the shipyard time into those.  You'll also note I didn't max out my stealth armor... that's just a design choice that most players didn't make.

Looking at the resistances, it is possible that a Scattergun fleet could be effective too, but I don't know anyone who tried that.  Those targets with their concussive damage might also be best attacked with a ship using the new CT armor, but you'll still need to do some damage... once more, my head returns to V2-H with Concussive Gatling Guns. I'm not saying you gotta go out & build those... but it keeps tempting me as a refit.. let me know if you try it.  And next time I get on a preview server, I just might give it a shot.  On second thought, CGGs might have some trouble against fast moving ships.

Most people used these fleets for ranking - killing a full health ship on these fleets gave about 4k VXP (per ship, no crew), which was a very nice payoff.  But we want to understand how to beat these targets going forward, so let's look at what we know from Kixeye... They put these targets out early so that we can get a taste for them, and so that they can start to learn about how we would approach them.  There will probably be changes between now and September.   

What we do know is that the September raid target will be Skirmish-type, and probably sub friendly.  We will probably also see Skirmish ships go into the Foundry.  We may also see build time reductions for the hulls and some of the related equipment (Scourge torpedos desperately need a build time reduction). 

What Skirmish hulls might we see in the Foundry?  Looking through the Skirmish tab in the Shipyard at the non-limited hulls we have:

Tier 4: Tiger Shark
Tier 3: Nighthawk
Tier 2 - 2.5: Stingray, Interdictor, Spectre
Tier 1: - 1.75: Sawfish, Battleship, Battlecruiser X, Battlecruiser, Barracuda

It is very possible that the Skirmish Foundry hulls will be sub-only, resulting in the Barracuda, Spectre, Nighthawk, and the Tiger Shark being the choices.  If you have nothing built yet, the Barracuda on Tier 1 might be quite intriguing (as a quick build), especially with the likelihood that its stats will be improved to the R10 version with extra weight.  I would probably choose that hull over the Spectre on Tier 2 just for the extra special.  The Spectre would need more speed and an extra special slot to be chosen over the Cuda... its submerge time is nice, but I think in most anti-ship situations, I'd rather have a Cuda fleet.  (like this?) My thoughts might change when we see the Foundry updates.

In the short term, you might want to start some hulls for ranking, but I wouldn't go overboard until we see the Foundry release.  When I built my Tiger Sharks, I did the inital build with Vortex Torpedos just as a quick way to get them in the water.  The DPS stat took care of damage dealing for a while.  In addition, spending Uranium to retrofit the sub hulls probably isn't a good idea. 

For the long term, it looks like you will need a sub fleet.  You will do better in that upcoming raid cycle with subs, and then it is very likely that the target we fight in the raids will move to the world map to replace a "chore" type activity (in early 2017?).  

Overall, I'm kind of looking forward to these targets - they were creative and a change.  The thing I didn't like was that the only time they do damage is if either... the player messes up, gets surfaced, and dies ... or ... the ship does some damage when they die.  The nature of sub warfare in BP has always been like that - subs win easily or die horribly.  The raid design will be quite difficult, since they will need to find some middle ground - cause enough damage so players won't do it for free, but don't just destroy fleets.  Good luck Kixeye!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Escalation: Two days in

Can you imagine anything worse on a Friday night than...
- There's a raid on
- Your shipyard is idle
- Your Retro Lab is idle
- Your R&D is idle
- You are at a concert with a Neil Diamond tribute band

Yeah me neither.  At least I was able to fire up Remote Desktop & take care of the Shipyard & Retro Lab.

There's not much I know of in terms of secrets or tricks to this raid.  The players with an Apollo (or Apollo fleet) are doing it pretty easily.  Those without the Apollo are not.  Yes, I'm sure there are exceptions.  

As an example, my fleet with an Apollo spotting for 3 Rhinos can complete a S target for 2-4 coin repair.  When I took that fleet and swapped out the Apollo for a Harlock Aegis / Punisher combo, beating the S involved the Punisher getting sunk and needing to use my Rhinos to spot for each other to finish the target.  It was more like 12 coins that time.

One interesting observation - I've been talking for a while about how key it is to have 100% accurate Phalanx to beat a Mega Ship... so that you can stop all of the incoming missiles.  If you have a ship without an accuracy bonus, like an Apollo a Punisher, using Phalanx 4 and Frontline Countermeasures, your accuracy will only be 65% * ( 1 + 35%) = 87.75%.  However, if you are in an alliance with full gunner bonus, you get an additional 20% accuracy bonus, resulting in a final accuracy of 100.75%.  It's a big disadvantage for the players who choose to be in no alliance (or a small one).

A few other tips:
- When getting close to being in the maximum missile range of a Mega Ship turret, your ships will get an orange debuff marker.  I'm not sure what the debuff actually is, but it is a nice signal that you're almost there, helping you stop outside of the Scattergun activation range.
- Moving fast when engaging the Scatter turrets will cut your damage because you will outrun many shots.
- You can use a Concussive Gatling Gun to outrange Scatter turrets (drive carefully), but I find you still are taking missile turret fire while trying to kill the Scatters.  Those missiles have some sort of flak evade so that you can't get them all, and so Revenge will take a lot of damage, even with Phalanx cover. I'm sort of intrigued by the idea of V2H armed with CGGs, but I probably wouldn't spend the shipyard time.

I've been trying to use a Savage Kodiak for its aura to improve that fleet, but it seems to just get in the way (damage magnet) without helping much. 

More thoughts on Vendetta builds:
- Hydraulic Resistors are a waste because the Defense Handicap.  Use Speed System 5 instead.
- The Turn Armor on the build I showed in the previous article is probably not super-useful, and will slow your repair time.
- With such high health, those are going to be tough to rank quickly.
- With such high health and short repair, those are real convenient when you have an objective that needs a bunch of armor points repaired.
- I was asked about Agility System instead of Shielded Tactical.  The Agility bonuses help against the duration of slow/stun effects (only), but the Vendetta is already unreactive to ignore those effects.   The Shielded Tactical system helps you against fields in the water, which is what you need to reduce the effects of debuffing ice fields from the Wendigo/Glacial and damaging fire fields from Apoc Mortars.  Siege Targeting and maybe Splash Upgrade could find their way onto Vendetta builds somehow.

Remember... Work like a captain, party like a pirate!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Escalation - What to get

The next raid in the Civil War series is coming - Escalation.  With it come new prizes, including the newest Conqueror hull - the Vendetta.  I'll take a look at the new prizes and make some recommendations


The Conqueror hulls are built for base hitting.  With High deflection stats and low resistances, they are made to stand up to base turrets and their defense bypass statistics.  The (previous Conqueror hull) Revenge can easily beat a lot of bases that don't have top-end turrets, but it still has a few weaknesses.  The Vendetta seems very specifically designed to be strong where the Revenge is weak. 

(quick note - this blueprint from the raid brief shows 1h 10m repair - the shipyard in game shows 30m repair time)

There's a lot going on there - let's break it down:

Attack Capability: This hull is built for explosive weapons (Mortar / Rockets).  It has remote targeting for mortars, good reload, and a good splash bonus.  It has only 7 weapon slots, but a very high combat speed.  Its friendly aura gives a 5% critical hit chance, so each stacking aura will essentially add 5% to DPS.

Defense Capability: It has no capability for resistance except the built-in Turret Defense.  Any other resistance percentage that you try to add, whether it is through a special, weapon, armor, field or aura is nullified.  What it does have is high deflection against Penetrative, Corrosive, Concussive, and Radioactive weapons.  That leaves it vulnerable to Explosive and Ballistic damage (as well as DoT damage like the Revenge).  It also has a very highly negative evade - adding evade armor and an evade special will still result in a low evade number.  Bloodthirst will also give it some field resistance, which helps against weapons like the Glacial Launcher Turret and Wendigo.

Build / Repair Times: The short hull build time (6 hours with no bonuses) is amazing for a hull this capable.  it also has a lot (36,000) of armor points with only a 30 minute repair time for the whole lot.

Looking at the Revenge, that hull has high deflection against Penetrative, Explosive, and Ballistic Damage, but it has no deflection against Radioactive, Concussive, or Corrosive (until it gets some with Bloodthirst).  Enforcers getting Shockwaves are a good way to kill Revenge, but do nothing against the Vendetta.  

In the 2nd raid preview I got a chance to try and see some base hits with this hull - what became clear very quickly is that hits using all-Vendetta fleets were not too effective, but combining the Vendettas with some Revenge resulted in a very effective base hitting fleet.  I pulled it forward against the specific targets that could hurt my Revenge, like Enforcers and Scatterguns.

(screenshot of my preview build)

With the short build time and its remote targeting for mortars, the Vendetta can operate like a Citadel, but even faster to build.  If kept protected out of the way, its low defenses shouldn't hold it back and it can possibly be an effective support ship for the FM and maybe for other targets like DUBs.  

Coaxial Firestorm
We already have a Firestorm Rocket.. have we hit name overload?

This weapon has both a rocket and mortar mode - for now I'll reuse the chart El Jefe made for the Wednesday Battle Pirates Crib show:

Fullscreen capture 6152016 12417 PM.bmp.jpg

This shows the Firestorms as being 2 - 3x as effective (by weight) as the next best options for mortars or rockets.  In mortar mode, the Judgment will do more damage per hit which helps it against deflection.  The Firestorm may also be held back in rocket mode by its slightly lower splash, but the potential splash bonus on the Vendetta will buy a lot of that back.  Its build time is on par with its weight - so no bargains on this weapon.

Quick Add: although the previous dual mode weapon (the Switchblade) was not able to use Remote Targeting in secondary mode (becuase secondary weapons don't do that, right Kix?), this Coaxial Firestorm is able to fire its secondary mortars in Remote Targeting.  Thanks for asking me to emphasize that one readers!

Resonance Capacitor

The previous version of this - the Resonance Battery - had a tough time finding its way onto builds because of the relative rarity of a ship that would activate it, the fewer special slots available on most ships, and the relatively mild bonus.  With the special slots being less in demand on the Vendetta (no need for resistance, and evade doesn't help much), this special may be pretty common on those ships with their friendly aura.  The bonuses are decent but not amazing.

What to Get

Once more, the prizes fall into two "threads".  The new prizes are in an Explosive/PvP thread, and the Apollo and other missile hulls/weapons fall into an Assault thread.   Neither thread will help you much with the Forsaken Mission... although the Vendetta remote targeting might be combinable with a tank....

Essentially each player who has a choice will need to decide which part of their game they want to focus on more.  The Apollo is quite effective against the current generation of assault targets, either as a tank for Rhinos or as a full fleet.  Novastorm is available in the Foundry, but 1,750,000 points might be a decent shortcut for collecting all those fragments if you are missing the hull.

For other prizes:

Ship Build Tokens are always nice, and the Executioner or Basilisk will help those players wanting to upgrade their base defenses to something that might have a chance against Conqueror hulls.  For the Assault Fragments, all but Tier 5 should be reasonable easily available to collect and probably wouldn't be a great choice to spend points on.  The Tier 5 Assault fragments have just been made available for direct purchase ($50 for 80 or $100 for 196 + 4 Rhino Hull frags + 100 gold).   The direct purchase seems like a bad deal (to me), but the 40 fragments available in this raid won't get you near a R5 Rhino (196 needed).  

The Super Hull shards - 20 max - won't get you too far, but they aren't too expensive either.  The Dead-Eye is a bit controversial - with its higher salvo the Dead Eye is often less effective than the regular Executioner against the Revenge.  And my Citadels are not R4 yet, but I bet 70 T6 Garrison fragments won't be enough to get them to R5... and 36 million points is a big investment. 

So what to get... short answer
If you want to have some fun with hitting bases or Remote Targeting mortars- Vendetta 
If you need a boost in the Assault targets - Apollo

Good luck in the raid pirates!

Monday, June 13, 2016

The New FM & Beating a 97

I've been pretty silent on the new Forsaken Mission in the blog.  That's because I haven't been very good at the new targets.  I will say that I have greatly appreciated the "soft" launch of the new FM, where no new targets were in the 150 million point Tier 5 and old targets were still available.  I've taken advantage of the time to do some much needed experimentation and tuning of fleets.   

So I'm certainly not the first, second, or third (etc etc) player in the community to figure out the mission, or to post videos or instructions.  And I'm certainly drawing on what others have done.  But I'll try to break things down in detail and hopefully I will help those players who are still having trouble.  Even if you're not big enough to have some of the ships I have to work with and to go after Tier 5, I think these details will help you go after the smaller targets as well.

So first of all, let's look at what you need to defend against:

Mortar defense is very important in these new targets.  There are mortar turrets and remote targeting Citadels. You must have enough Gale or Hail coverage to be able to choose your own paths & speeds through the target. Some players prefer to spread their coverage across their fleet - I prefer a countermeasure ship so I only have to use a countermeasure special on one ship.  

Once you have the mortar defense taken care of, missiles are the next biggest threat.  Zoe Rhinos with remote targeting missiles have flak evade and are fairly tough to kill.  Missile turrets are on the island as well.  High accuracy Phalanx are important too, and so that means a countermeasure special.  You still won't shoot down all the incoming missiles, which is why most players recommend high missile defense for a "new" FM fleet.

MIRV Missile (Angry Arc)
I didn't coin the "Angry Arc" name, but I really like it.  These Angry Arc missiles do a whole lot more damage than the Arc missiles we get.  At long range they can be outrun for low to no damage, but when you get close enough to shoot at them, their missiles fall much more quickly.  These are great targets for pinch rockets.

Coldsnap Rockets
Most turret platforms include a coldsnap rocket.  These don't do a whole lot of damage to decent fleets, but will make ships like the Aegis much less useful.

Iron Curtain
These flak guns don't stop a focused mortar attack, but missiles do have a tough time breaking through.  Most players have not been able to use Rhinos effectively in these targets.  If these turrets have a secondary ballistic mode, most players ignore them.

Torpedo Towers
The torps from these towers aren't too deadly, and you can often use good pathing to hit these without taking any fire.  I'm pretty sure the primary purpose of these is to prevent Cobra/Deluge subs from having any chance in these targets.

Some of the best videos I've seen before on the New FM are: 

Insector Gadget was definitely one of the first to share a decent approach for the 97s, although this video does use a Grease Monkeys crew... and those don't exactly grow on trees.  His path through the base is good to watch.

I really liked this one from Deathmatrix, using a spotter & some Citadels.   However, it is pretty tough to reproduce the driving.  I found that when my spotter would get close to the island, the Angry Arc missile would shift targets and destroy my Citadels, or I would bring my Citadels too close (drawing Arc fire) before getting my spotter on its run (I had to account for different speeds).  

And lots of players suggested pinching the Angry Arc missile... so will I.

The Fleet:
So let me explain my approach.  I started with the Punisher fleet I built for the DUBs, which relied on Earthshaker Cannons to get the fleet up to high speed and Heavy Plating for resistance. I also brought a Neptune loaded with Gales and an Omega giving the fleet additional firepower with its aura.  This fleet did pretty poorly - taking 7+ hours repair from a 97.  Missile defense (both resistance and Phalanx) was a big weakness of that fleet.  I also never liked the Earthshakers as much as I thought I would - since DPS/hton has equalized between most weapons, using the (relatively) light Earthshakers meant that my fleet ended up light and so I was losing out on firepower.

My refit involved replacing 4 Earthshakers with Arbalest and replacing my Heavy Plating with MX-3 alloy (yes maybe full Reactive (anti-Missile) armor special would have been better, but I'd like to preserve SOME capability to do DUBs).  Then I had to find a new Countermeasure ship to replace the Neptune, which couldn't keep up any more - I grabbed a Centurion that I built (and then didn't follow up with a fleet).  Side note: every once in a while I build random single hulls, dislike them or I am not sure how I'll use them, but I still throw them at VXP weekend targets to get rank anyway.  Paid off this time.
The Centurion refit added 3 Phalanx 4 for anti-missile defense and 6 Gale 2 for Anti-mortar (and Explosive resist).  I also had to rework the specials and ended up spending over 9 days of shipyard time on this ship. 

The final build is:!B06L00U0Y0U0X0U400X68555Z5Y12000000000000000NH01W130Z342U6A5K2F23232323AKAKAKAKAK2C0NH01W130Z342U6A5K2F23232323AKAKAKAKAK2C0NH01W130Z342U6A5K2F23232323AKAKAKAKAK2C07401P1P1P132534445R6F682A2A2A56AK5656565656dC

Please understand... this is a fleet that has been through many rounds of refit.  Not everything is optimized for this FM target (especially the R armor).  Use your head & don't copy my builds exactly (or go ahead & copy them, but don't bother asking questions about every single detail). 

The Plan
My basic plan was to use a pinch on the Angry Arc, close in, and kill it.  Then retreat, do the same to the one on the other side and then kill the rest.  As you'll see in the video, I tweaked that somewhat.

First of all, the entry point is key.  To hit the lower Arc island I enter almost from the 6 o'clock position but just a little left of that (maybe 6:30 or so).  This gives me enough space to line up my ships for their run without taking Arc fire.  I also get my Omega moving out of the way.  If you enter wrong (the Arc fires), just retreat and try again.

Then the timing of the Pinch & the run in is also important.  When using XL Long Pinches, 28 seconds is plenty of time to approach and kill the island.  But if using Small Long Pinches (that take 15 minutes each to build instead of 8 hours), you only have 16 seconds.  When I start my run before the pinch drops, the Arc gets off a shot or two before the pinch falls, but I don't take any damage from it because I am still far away and moving fast.  I found that starting my run with 8 seconds left on the timer worked best for me.

When I get to the island, I target the rear building that protects the turrets, then target the Arc next.  After that the rest of the island falls pretty quick, but I'll also try to get the Coldsnap early since it recovers from the pinch before everything else.

After that my fleet makes a left turn.  The good anti-mortar coverage is important here since a lot of mortars are generally falling at this point.  I kill the Citadel and the Torpedo Tower while on the way to the island next door.  Again, targeting the rear building first results in the whole island going down pretty quickly.  As I finish off the island, I start turning away to make my retreat.  That path results in very little incoming missile fire - most of it is while I'm in range of the Citadel.

I come in and kill the opposite side (the top) in the same way.  (except I was having a bit of mouse/computer trouble on the run in the video...)

Then the twist I haven't seen others do ... I bring the Harlock Aegis/Punisher/Rhino fleet that I used against the previous generation of FMs to finish the job.  All that is left are the two Rhinos and two Torp Towers.  The Punisher tank is be able to repair instantly after finishing it off.  Although that last bit is (only) worth a million points or so, be a good neighbor and take care of it.  You have 9 more 97s to go, right?  Better yet - offer it up to a alli mate who might be having trouble with the new 97s.  Also remember you earn Tier 5 / Citadel fragments from the 97.

Overall, I ended up with under half an hour of repair from that 97, after instant repairing a couple ships.  I think that's pretty good - if I keep the small pinches building, I could run through a single FM to tier 5 in a single sitting & no coins.  If you have a fleet that is less effective offensively, you might need larger pinch rockets, in which case you could build those in advance and use them up to get through the mission.  I'm thinking Crusaders & Centurions could use that technique with ballistics, and possibly even mortar fleets using Citadels, Berzerkers, or even Dreadnaught X.    

As another point of reference, I tried my fleet without using the pinches & without using the Rhinos to finish things off.  I still used two hits, and took out the bottom Rhino/torp after the first hit.  I ended up taking 2h 16m worth of damage, with the Centurion taking the brunt of it (probably about half damaged).  One thing I noticed was that the Rhino was particularly well placed to be covered by the mines while I attacked it.  If you are trying to find a way to beat these targets with fewer hits, I suggest having a way to detect & kill the mines without entering that ice field (Maybe use a CM ship that has sonar & a couple missiles?  Like a Rhino???).

I hope this breakdown helps the players that are still having trouble with these new targets.  The raid is this week, and next week the "old" FM targets go away along with new prizes being introduced in Tier 5.  Kixeye has also said that the point values are going up.  You'll still be able to hit Tier 5 with 5x97s (supposedly) but it will be much harder to grind your way there with the smaller targets.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Repair Times & more on the Apollo

I was talking to a player the other day and he was asking about why the Revenge seems to take less damage when it has no armor.  I think he was going in a direction different than my explanation, but I think a lot of players don't quite grasp what's going on with what I'm about to talk about so I hope it helps you.

My first statement back to him was:  "It's sort of like the Revenge has a 19% repair modifier."  

He said: "No - it's 100% on the blueprint."

I said: "Well do the math."

The blueprint Repair Duration on the Revenge is 1hr 10m, and the base health is 22,000.  Since 100% repair modifier mean your repair rate is 1 second per health, taking 4,200 seconds to repair 22,000 health is like 4200/22000 = 19.1% effective repair modifier.  

The difference is that when a hull has an non-100% repair modifier, that repair modifier also applies to health added from other items like the armor & weapons.  On the Revenge with its 100% repair modifier statistic, the added items repair at their nominal speed.  

So what happens when you put on some armor?
(Huggy's link here)

My Revenge build has 7 Gatling Guns, 1 D98-U launcher, D2-E, and D5-E on it, so its total repair time is 2h 50m 20s for a total health of 29,525 (interesting note - I had to do this in Huggy's since when I looked at my built up ship, it included the repair time of the weapons but not the armor in the repair duration shown in the ship stats block).  This works out to an effective repair modifier of 34.6%.  If you compare the ratio of those two, then you can see that the built out Revenge is taking 81.1% longer to repair each armor point than it would with an empty hull.  That comparison is a little unfair, since you aren't really going to build a Revenge with nothing on it at all.  Maybe the better comparison is with weapons but no armor, 26,525 health for 2h 10m 20s, resulting in a effective repair modifier of 29.3%.  So now comparing the no-armor build to the armored build (both with weapons), you are taking 18% longer to repair each point of damage.

So when you put armor on a Revenge, you are increasing your survivability because you are increasing your total health, and the armor bonus might also reduce the amount of damage you take, but you are also increasing your repair time for that damage.  This math is why Cadmium armor is ALWAYS a bad choice on the Revenge - it has the opposite of the intended effect.  So the real explanation of the original question is that you aren't taking less damage, but you are able to repair that damage more quickly.

Another ship with a low repair time is the Apollo.  Its blueprint repair time is 1h 30m for 12,000 armor points, resulting in an effective repair modifier of 45%.  This means that adding health to this hull through armor and weapons will slow your repairs on this hull too.  Luckily, the missiles and the Phalanx you would generally want to add to this hull do not add any health, but whether or not to add armor is an interesting choice.
(Huggy's link here)

I've been running around with the build shown in the link above (armored version), so I have given myself health of 15,750 for 2h 20m repair, resulting in a 53.3% effective repair modifier.  I've slowed my repairs down by 18% but moved my evade from 57.1% to 73.7%.  This might be a good tradeoff, so I'm keeping it, but it's food for thought in your own builds, and as more ships come out with reduced repair times, keep it in mind in the future.

More about the Apollo:
When the Apollo was introduced, I really liked the concept, and I built a bare hull during the raid, but after more thought, I couldn't figure out how to use it.  I have seen some players use it against Mega Hull targets quite well, and I eventually built it out as I showed above.  I've been using it as a tank for my Rhinos against Legion Assault Forces and Mega Hulls.  After getting some driving experience, I'm starting to really like it.  

There are some driving techniques are working well for me - the two I've found are "Stutter-Step" and "Serpentine".

Stutter-Step works by stopping and moving the hull quickly.  If you don't stop for long, then you don't lose your speed boost.  This can be tricky because you have to control only the single Apollo tank, and so you can't see where the remote targeting ring sits.

Serpentine can be used with your whole fleet selected.  As your Apollo leads the Rhinos, keep clicking to the side and only a little bit ahead of the Apollo, so the Apollo keeps going back & forth and forward a little, but the Rhinos keep moving ahead.   With this technique you can watch the outer edge of the Rhino's remote targeting and keep the Apollo's range inside but near the edge of your remote targeting.

(I call it Serpentine because it reminds me of this old movie clip...)

Once you get those driving techniques down, you can try some interesting tricks to reduce damage by taking advantage of the very high combat & turn speeds when the Apollo is boosted.  A "hit and run" attack on the Zoe Rhinos is possible - with a normal tank, you get your shots in the air when you get into range, and the Zoe starts firing back.  It can get 2-3 volleys back at you before your missiles land.  With a hit and run, you can turn & get back out of range as soon as you fire some shots, so the Zoe only gets off one volley before you are out of range again.  This is tough to pull off, and sometimes you get out ahead of your own Rhinos' circles resulting in your ships not firing at all.  With some practice though, this can be used quite effectively.

The high speed of the Apollo is also effective for avoiding Scattergun damage.  Just make sure you are speed boosted as you come into range, and keep sailing in a straight line.  The shots will land significantly behind you.  Make sure you don't sail into range of another Scattergun though - stop or turn as soon as the enemy shots land.

If you've built a whole fleet of Apollos, then these tricks are even easier to pull off since you don't have to worry about keeping your positioning relative to the remote targeting ships.  You do have to worry about splash affecting your whole fleet.  I'm reminded of when we were first fighting Reavers with their splash weapons, and we didn't have remote targeting to use.  The technique commonly used back then was to simply keep your ships spread out - using the V formation you started the battle with, or even sailing them into a straight line.

Wrapping it up:
I hope you are enjoying the double fragment weekend - I got my Rhinos up to R4, which should be a real nice boost, both in offense & reducing collateral damage they take.  I plan to go into the next raid with the following fleet:!90M000000000000550G00001200000000000000000007700U0U0U0U0U031738440C532A2A2A2A2A4Q4Q4L4L06V01W1R0V1R1R2L6F35346D54545454545454545453535352525206V01W1R0V1R1R2L6F35346D54545454545454545453535352525206V01W1R0V1R1R2L6F35346D545454545454545454535353525252dC

Yes, I'm finally building a Savage.  Note the Engine 1 & Hull Streamlining 3 on there keep it from slowing down the rest of the fleet on the map.

We will see about this new Vendetta hull - feels like it might be another Conqueror-class hull, giving players who missed out on the Revenge another chance to get back into the base hitting game.  I also noted that the WIP showed there will be a building special providing Concussive Deflection - this might end up being way to defend against the Revenge just as this new hull and (explosive?) weapon hit the water.