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!