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.