Sunday, July 31, 2016

Preparing for the September Raid

I was going to write about the rest of the new FM prizes next... bigger Stealth Armors, Limited Minigun Turret, and the Expanded Concussive Charge.  But I think it's more important to start thinking about what to do for the September raid.

First - just some quick thoughts on the FM prizes:

Stealth Armors:
All we've had for a long time is D2-S.  Now we get D3-S through D5-S.  They all give the same Cloak Efficiency increase... 5%, but the larger ones also have some explosive resistance.  I'll come back to this later in the article.

New Minigun Turret and Special:
The new Minigun turret and the Concussive special clearly go together.  You could also use the new special effectively on Gargoyles (if you think they will fire), or possibly even any non-concussive turret just for the splash (+60% splash  is a lot).  The Minigun has 150 range to cover a big piece of a base's channel from the center island (compare to 131 for a Glacial and 140 for a Coldsnap), and this can even be improved if you use the AT:R Transformer.  Build it if you get it.

On the September Raid:
Most of us have seen videos (at least) from the preview, and hopefully you have tried the new Reaver Armada targets.  Also, subs have gone into the Foundry under the Skirmish Category.  So to prepare for the next raid, you've got quite a few options to think about, depending on what you have:
  • Build / Refit 3 Special subs (Cuda / Spectre / Nighthawk)
  • Refit Tiger Sharks 
  • Wait for August Hull Raid prize
  • Build / Refit a surface ship with Concussive Reciprocator

The targets have a couple pieces to them... 

First there is a central Reaver Hulk.  This ship spawns drones (in the Reaver Armadas) and also fires a mortar that lays down Subsonic Cavitator fields.  Subs that enter a Sub Cav field are surfaced and then have to wait for their dive timer to reset before diving (even if they leave the field).  The drones are pretty fast, and if you are not pretty far out from the center when you surface, they will catch you and fire a concussive splash cannon.

The other ships are Reaver Scouts that emit a Sub Cav field (occasionally) and have some sonar too.  If the scouts see you (when close enough), they will start moving and fire at you with a concussive splash cannon.

All of the ships also have an explosive death weapon that has a larger splash radius than torpedo range.

My general strategy (not that it's unique) for dealing with these targets is to find a gap in the initial sub cav fields, kill a few Scouts, kill the Hulk & Drones, then kill the rest of the Scouts.  Patience pays off - I usually sit outside of the Scout Sub Cav range, wait for it to come on then blink off, then go ahead and enter my torpedo range.  If you are in range when those fields come on, then you'll take fairly heavy damage from the cannons, and it is also tough to get out of range when the ships explode.  I have found that on my build, it takes 5 volleys to kill a Scout, so I count those volleys and try to be pointing the other direction and moving away when that 5th volley fires.  This minimizes my damage from the death weapon.  Each player's sub build might deal damage differently, so I recommend that you count volleys for yourself so you understand how your subs perform.

Now that we understand the enemy, lets look at our options.

Build / Refit 3 special Subs
I lump the Cuda, Spectre, and the Nighthawk together because now that they all have three specials, the builds are pretty similar for each.  If you have none of the subs built yet, I recommend building the Cuda, since it is the quickest build & shortest repair (and still pretty effective).

The upgrades for each sub as brought into the Foundry are nice, but the additional Retrofit upgrades aren't very good (for R1 - R3 at least).   R4 tends to give more resistances and the DPS starts to get noticeable (maybe)... but it's going to be a long grind to get there.

I show a few builds in the following Huggy's link:

Notice the Basic Cuda build is just about 1 week per ship, so there is still time to build these before September's Raid.  Even the Magnus version is under 8 days (no officer, tokens, or R&D upgrades)

The basic build uses Speed 5, Cat Drive 3, and Stealth Attack System 4 (Use Nautilus Battery 3 if you don't have SAS 4).

As an upgrade, using Magnus 2 & Ablative Armor 3 will give you more resistance against the explosive death weapon at the expense of some turn speed.

You could use Styx, but I think these enemies have decent corrosive resistance.  The DoT damage just doesn't seem as effective as I am used to on other targets.  

If you don't have any Scourge torpedos, then you could use Assault B, but you might want to use some Stealth Armor in that case, since you will need to get closer to the enemy to fire.

Refit Tiger Sharks
In my case, I have some Tiger Sharks that I've been using for a while, and I've been fairly happy with them.. until now.

This is my build:

 The Sonar ship was built for Anti-Scourge (and it worked well for that).  The Phantom uses mostly Cobras, but I was never motivated enough to build an all-cobra fleet.  Anyway, that fleet will do a Level 70 Armada, but take 3-4 hours of damage, mostly from the Death Weapons.  So to improve it, I plan to refit it in a similar way as I described above... replace the Speed 5 & Cat Drive with Magnus 2 and Ablative 3.  I don't think I'll be giving up offense to add more Stealth or Concussive Armor.  

Also notice that I didn't suggest building these from scratch... at over 13 days each, even with weapon build time reductions, they are a bit long to build.  That's why I talk about the next option...

Wait for August Hull Raid Prize
If you are building from scratch, we have had it confirmed that there will be a new sub hull prize coming in the August Raid.  If you've been successful in the current Assault raid cycle, it may be worth while to wait & see what that sub is like, then build & rank them (maybe even just one) for the September Raid.  Some players have been successful with just a single sub against the Armada targets - it might take a while, but splash does less total fleet damage against just a single ship.

Build / Refit a surface ship with Concussive Reciprocator


This one is a little radical, as these new targets are "designed" to be hit by subs.  But watch this video:

Ruube's build is here:!B0N80292929293863066E392G2G2G2G2G2GC0C0C0C00ZZ0ZZ0ZZ0ZZdC

This was pretty effective - I noticed a couple things:
- He mounted Resonance Battery on his build, and used the static Sub Cav fields to trigger it.  He stayed within that area to keep his battery triggered.
- His shots generally fell behind the target - a projectile speed boost or a slowdown field would help.
- The Reciprocator is nice because it has the longest spinup decay time of any of the concussive cannons available.

On that build, I would replace the Agility System (where Evade & Stun/Slow resist isn't helping vs. those splash weapons) with a special like Combustion System 2 or Explosive System 4.  

Even before seeing this video, I was thinking about trying it, and it's nice to see it being used effectively.  I was thinking about builds like this:!B0MI02929292938066M6E2G2G2G2G2G2G2G2G0M6E2929292938066M6E2G2G2G2G2G2G2G2G06S02929292938066M6E2G2G2G2G2G2G2G2G0N602929292938066M6E6L2G2G2G2G2G2GC0C0C0C00ZZdC

All the ships share:
  • Concussive Reciprocator to deal damage.  Its long decay time and high damage at medium range make this a better choice than the Concussive Gatling.
  • D5-CT armor gives Concussive Resistance (which is the main source of damage in this case) and also some Assault Deflection, making it worth the build time.
  • Hydraulic Resistors give more Concussive Resist - use Speed 5 if you don't have this available
  • Ablative Armor 3 resists the Death Weapon
  • Strike Warheads add 45% additional concussive damage (use Concussion Warheads if you don't have this... or to save build time)
  • Combustion System 2 gives more projectile speed & splash
Your hull choices also result in some tradeoffs: 
  • Frostburn Interceptor has the field that debuffs your enemies' speed, defense, and fire rate.  But it has lower Concussive Resistance than the other choices.  (and the field will clear the Sub Cav fields)
  • V2-H Interceptor (R15) have the highest Concussive and Explosive resistance of these options and also adds Assault DPS.
  • Artemis has the mines which you might be able to use effectively (although I suspect they will be spotted from range and may just add repair time).  It has the highest speed, but the lowest defenses of the hull choices here.
  • Prototype Hunter has an extra special slot that could be used for Resonance Battery (20% Speed, Offense, Defense) or Resonance Capacitor (20% Speed, 36% Offense).  It also has extra built in Assault Deflection and slightly higher built-in Concussive Damage (50% vs. 40%) than the other choices.  With fewer surface weapon slots, torpedos are needed to make up the DPS difference.
One more idea with these - I was thinking about building just one and sending it solo (like Ruube did).  But another idea is that if you have some of the newer Conqueror or Defense hulls that put out friendly fields (like Vendetta, Vanquisher, or Retribution) you could bring those ships with the solo ship, and use those (overlapping) fields to really juice up a Resonance Battery... Obviously you'd need to use that instead of one of the specials on my builds (probably the Combusion System).

I'm not really sure what will work the best... I'm leaning towards the Frosty with its field, but I've heard good arguments for the V2-H and the Proto-Hunter.  I think each player will need to decide based on what they have available to try.

Well... those are my thoughts... if you have something else to add, please leave a comment below!

Monday, July 25, 2016

New FM Prize - Reciprocator vs. Gatling Gun

Well I had a nice vacation week - and yet still managed to rank my Vanquishers on VXP weekend through Photon Browser (someone unplugged my home router before we left & I couldn't use my preferred method of Chrome Remote Desktop).

Anyway we have new FM prizes to run through.  Given my time constraints and the lateness of this article, I'm going to write an article on the new weapon, and try to give it a good comparison against the CGG.  Later this week, I'll write another article on the new Minigun Turret, and compare its effectiveness against common attackers.

Concussive Reciprocator

It does seem like a little brother to the Concussive Gatling Gun with lighter weight, but its only fire mode with an 86 range will do the same amount of damage per salvo as the CGG will in its 68 range primary mode.

The following chart shows a comparison of the weapon performance when mounted on a Revenge with fully retroed Siege Battery 3 and the Strike Warheads.

Above the black line, I did a standard DPS comparison while ignoring the windup.  Below the line, I tried to compute the time each weapon (mode) would take to deal out 50,000 points of blueprint damage.  I chose that number because it was 1/20th of 1 million points of damage, which would sink a Vanquisher (remember half damage).  The interesting thing is that although Kixeye seems to have gone into some effort to choose stats for windup and reload stacks, the minimum reload time of 0.2 seconds and the salvo time really are what seems to drive DPS over time for these weapons.

So the results are that the Secondary mode of the Gatling takes the longest to do a given amount of damage, but it can do so at the longest range.  The Reciprocator does the most damage with shorter range. It also has the longest decay time, so it has the best chance of staying wound up for the next target.

So if building a Revenge, which weapon should you choose?

For now, I don't think the weight matters too much - the Revenge with some armor and the heavier CGG isn't quite at max weight, but if you are weight-sensitive, the Reciprocator is significantly lighter... so keep an eye on that.

The range of the Gatling is extremely valuable for sniping targets at long range, and it is tough to pass that up.  When driven well, it can even outrange 105 range turrets due to the varying footprint size of ships vs. turrets.  Just keep in mind that if spotting for Vendettas, you cannot remote target off of the 104 Secondary range, just the 68 Primary range.  You'll want a launcher for spotting.

The Reciprocator does really good damage at medium range and it won't cool off like the Gatling's primary mode (which does similar damage).  But you'll have to utilize more of a rushing driving style in order to take advantage.  The Reciprocator also has a shorter build time.

Overall, you'll have to pick the weapon that suits your attacking style.  I consider this a benefit considering the new BP philosophy to control power creep.  Each new weapon should NOT obsolete the one before it.  But the flip side of that benefit is that shipbuilding is getting more complex, and you'll have to think carefully when building your fleet, instead of just picking the newest blueprints you have.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Quick post on Allegiance Prizes

Sorry dear readers, but I don't have time to give this raid a write-up at the level of detail it deserves.  I'm not going to promote this article, but if you come here looking for ideas, here they are.  I'll share some quick thoughts:

The Vanquisher:

The hull is sort of weird - you have 500,000 armor points, but no resistances and no capability to add resistance.  With only a 2 hour repair time for those armor points, do not add armor to this hull.  All you will do is add a small percentage to your total armor, but you'll multiply your repair time greatly.  Not worth it.

On the offensive side, Launchers and Countermeasures are your best bets.  The new Cyclone Launcher, with its high damage per shot (but low Shockwave) is the best way to damage the Revenge.  It still doesn't do enough damage to crack the 9000 deflection of the Vendetta, but adding Cryo Battery may slow them down enough for explosives to land more effectively.
For Countermeasures, use as many Gales as you can - you want to hold off those Vendettas from doing damage.  I would start with an offensive ship before CM though.

Here's what I'm thinking for a damage dealer in your base

The Emission Generator increases damage by increasing the multishot (more launcher flechettes doing the same amount of damage each).  It and the Interception System may also increase shockwaves, but I wouldn't rely on it.  The Cryo Battery will slow and debuff the enemy.  Agility System reduces the pinch vulnerability (Shielded Electronics is too heavy with the weird armor).   Resonance Capacitor increases damage even more.  I'm not sure if the ship's aura will activate itself, but the Vendetta's aura (I'm using one in my guard) will.

Emission Generator
This special obviously enhances the Cyclone Launcher, but it also will help Cobra Scatterguns with both multi shot and DoT damage.

In terms of what to get, its tough to recommend against the Vanquisher and that side of the prize list.  This ship will be key for base defense going forward.  If you go the assault route to "catch up" with the Apollo, you're kind of too late - this will be the last raid of this format and you might as well stick with Rhinos for Assault targets.  (whoops - as said in the comments.. we probably have one more raid in August of this format)

Raid - Harlock vs. Zoe
Players will need to choose sides: 
Harlock gives more defense at the cost of offense.
Zoe gives a similar amount of offense at the cost of defense.

I think the choice depends on how you do against the targets.  I use R4 Rhinos that deal a huge amount of damage.  Most of my targets sink quickly, so I'll be choosing Harlock since I can handle a little less offense when I get extra protection.  Players who find they have to shoot at the enemy for a while before they sink will probably be better off choosing Zoe.  You'll have to make your decision based on your assessment of the fleet.

Good luck in the raid pirates - If you're looking for more info - check out some of the YouTube shows out there - links to their sites are in the right sidebar.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Dark Reign and New Flagships

The new Dark Reign Time Limited Campaign (TLC) is here.  It brings lots of limited goodies - Gale Anti-Mortars, the Omega Behemoth, and 2 new flagship hulls.

There really isn't much to say about the campaign targets that hasn't been said.  They are basically targets from the raid, so Apollos & Rhinos are still your best options for fighting it.  I've gone through the first three runs so far with my current raid fleet: the Savage Kodiak, Apollo tank, and three R4 Rhinos.  I've had mixed results with the Savage, but since I got it to legendary on the last VXP weekend, it matches speed & turn with my Rhinos and so it has been much easier to keep it out of trouble.

I know some players like to rush through these sort of things, but I see no reason to coin repairs if I don't have to.  I've been slow repairing my fleet after each run - my third run was about 6 hours to repair.  With my fleet setup, my repairs are basically dependent on how well I drive to keep my non-Apollos out of trouble.  Some of the targets are setup to get ships coming in from different directions and so get some damage through to my rear ships.

If I have to coin some repair on my Apollo to complete the last two campaigns, I guess it won't be so bad - I feel like these ships can be acquired more cheaply than they would have been if they were limited prizes in a raid.

Let's get to reviews of the prizes ...

Gale Anti-Mortars:
Most players are pretty familiar with these by now, but if you are not, these limited anti-mortars are significantly more effective than the Hailstorms.  Yes, you want them.  If you are a beginner player and missed out on these, you will really want to try to work through the first couple campaigns to get a few of these.  If they are the only ones you have, concentrating them on a ship built for countermeasures would probably be your best option. 

For higher level players, these are really more of an annoyance, since when you have all of the prizes in a campaign's prize pack, you can skip it and start at higher levels. In this case, the limited prizes mean that all players have to do every level of the campaign.

Omega Behemoth (flagship):
Again, most players should be familiar with this hull.  When it was released, it was a great option for base defense, with its powerful ballistic capability against ships and good thermal detection for sub spotting.  These days it is mostly used as an empty shell, providing its aura effect to enhance ballistic fleets when hitting Forsaken Mission, Mine, or Draconian Base targets.  

This flagship hull has a 6 day bare hull build time.  (remember this in a couple paragraphs)

Harlock's Citadel (flagship):

This enhanced version of the Citadel is described as a frontline spotter.  I don't like the Citadel in general as a spotter - its defenses are too specialized (Explosive & Penetrating only) and its assault deflection isn't very good compared to the Punisher.  Its 50% defense handicap means that trying to add defenses isn't too effective.  But with its limited range aura effect, it would be great in a group of other Citadels when using another ship as spotter.  Also note that it does not have any sort of enhanced repair time over a regular Citadel.

+200% Explosive Damage and +200% Projectile Speed results in triple damage and a projectile that lands three times as fast as it otherwise would.  In fact, with that much speed bonus, adding a combustion system-type special isn't really helping your speed much, since the actual landing time difference between a projectile at +200% and +240% speed isn't that large.  But you would still like the large splash bonus... so don't go pulling those ES4 & CS2 specials.

The limitations of the aura are its 100 range and its effect on Citadels only.

The most puzzling trait of this ship is its build time - about 15 days (no bonuses) just for the bare hull.  By comparison, build times on other high-end (at the time) limited flagships like the Grimshine's Berserker are 13 days 22 hours, and the Harlock's Aegis is 12 days 3 hours.  I would argue that those hulls were more 'dominant' at the time of their release than the Harlock's Citadel is in today's game.

I'm not going to try to make a build for this hull now - I would want to specialize it too much.  My one piece of advice would be to use Combustion System 2 over Explosive System 4.  CS 2 has higher splash and adds to the spread instead of subtracts from it.  When doing the aura-boosted amount of damage, I think doing it over the maximum possible area is the best idea.  My previously built Citadels use Explosive System 4 because I wanted to maximize their projectile speed when firing from remote range.

I could see this hull in a couple roles - artillery (enhance offense), FM spotter (use Evade armor), or base defense (remember Vendetta have no Explosive deflection).  For mines, you'd want to try to add radioactive defense and probably field resistance.  Maybe you can spend the coin you saved by doing the campaign over a few days on speeding the build?

Zoe's Apollo:

This version of the Apollo is designed to run with other Apollos - it has a shorter (40) range aura that affects Apollos only, giving them better defenses & Penetrative Reload.  The aura isn't a whole lot better than the (unlimited range) Savage Kodak, but it also gives Corrosive Defense.   

This version of the Apollo has +1 multi-shot, which will make the Switchblade more effective in antimissile mode.  It also has a slightly higher Anti-Missile Accuracy bonus (+40%) than the regular Apollo (+35%).  On the negative side, this hull also has the same +50% Defense Handicap as Harlock's Citadel (to offset better built-in defenses).

It gives better repair (in a way) by maintaining the same hull repair time (1h 30 min) as the Apollo with more armor points (15,000 instead of 12,000).

Unfortunately, like Harlock's Citadel, Zoe's Apollo also has a punishing build time at nearly 17 days (no bonus).  

Really the use and builds of this ship are very simple - build it the same as the Apollos you run it with, and use it for the same tasks.

In closing
These new hulls seem really cool, but I think a lot of players will be turned off by the extremely long build time for non-game changing capability.  By comparison - the other long building flagships I mentioned like the Grimshine's Berserker and the Harlock's Aegis were game-changing when released.  I will be working to win these hulls, but I likely will not build them.  My advice to most players would be to consider very carefully whether you would build these before working (spending coin) to win them.  Remember you're going to need a sub fleet very soon. (My general recommendation there is get some hulls built to start ranking, but wait & see if the component build times drop.)  Overall, hull build times have been going down but these two flagships have really bucked the trend.  Let's hope Kixeye gets back on track with the next batch of hulls we see.