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.