Monday, September 5, 2016

Mega Ship Builder's Guide

I've got my Mega.  I was unable to beat any of the Clash of Titans campaign.  Part fo my problem was that my Mega was completed too close to the start of that campaign, but I did have a little bit of build time to work with before the campaign ended.  If I knew a little more, I might have been able to do better.  I still haven't done much with my Mega - I don't consider myself an expert in Mega Ship Combat, but I'll share what I know and hopefully this article will help you avoid big mistakes.

The first thing I want to get out there is that the Hyperion Build tokens only work as your Hyperion is being built in the Gantry.  Once complete, those tokens are useless for building and refitting modules on your Hyperion.  BOO Kixeye!

The basic view of the Hyperion looks like this:


You can see that there are 10 slots for Weapon modules, and 1 slot each for a Bridge and Engine.

Upgrade Options:

Within a Weapon module, you can upgrade the module, or upgrade the weapon.

Upgrading the weapon will make it hit harder - the Level 1 to Level 2 upgrade looks like this:

This upgrade shows about a 25% increase in damage.  (I'll summarize costs & such later)

Upgrading the module will allow more equipment to be mounted to the module

This upgrade increases the armor (health) of the module by 25%, increases the number of weapon & special slots by one each, and also increases the maximum weight allowed.

Building a new module starts with two basic weapon options: the Culverin Cannon and the Titan Mortar.  Conger Rockets were available from the campaign.


The Cannon isn't too difficult to understand:


It is a splash (un-aimed) cannon weapon that shoots with a small amount of splash and a lot of range.  8110 damage is nice, but in the big picture, it isn't too much all by itself.

The Mortar weapon is a bit more tricky to figure:


The Titan Mortar needs a bit more study.  At a glance its damage looks huge, but the damage will be spread over its projectiles, and those projectiles will be spread over much of its firing area.  With 4 simultaneous salvos of 15 projectiles, its damage per projectile will be 288,800 / (15 * 4), or about 4800 each.  The weapon also has a large reload time of 30 seconds.  Without having seen this weapon in action, I can't tell yet whether it will be more or less effective than the cannon.  Even against moving targets, if it covers a large enough area, the shells may be difficult to avoid.

Overall, I would count on the Mega Ship weapons to be more effective against other Mega ships, but to deal with the incoming "regular" ships we can see in Mega ship combat, you will need to mount "regular" weapons to your Mega Ship modules.

The interface to add regular weapons and specials to Mega Ship modules is accessed through the "refit" command.

NEED PICTURE

This interface feels more like a traditional ship building interface, you can add weapons and specials (but not armor).  You are limited by weight.  Adding each weapon will cost Titanium.  The Titanium costs can really add up - weapons generally cost 5,000 - 30,000 titanium each, and specials can cost 6,000 - 40,000 titanium.  Build times look like the build time needed when mounting on a regular ship (without any R&D or officer bonus).

Build Strategy:
So without much experience, I can't be sure what's best, but I'll share my initial thoughts.

One more note: a module that is building, upgrading, or refitting will not fire.  So consider that before starting any combat.

Right now, it seems like the real hazards in Mega Ship combat are the incoming regular fleets.  Defending against those has to be a priority.  When adding regular weapons to a module, I plan to specialize a weapon type per module, in order to take advantage of the synergy between specials and weapons.  I'll go through some of the options:

Most hulls we see incoming will be Apollos, or other conqueror hulls.  Deflection is expected to be their primary means of protection.  It looks like weapons mounted to Mega Modules get 100% defense bypass, so high damage per shot is desirable to overcome any remaining deflection.  Old school DPS calculations may come back into play here when choosing weapons.

Radioactive: 
Cyclone Launchers are your best bet here, and adding Atomic Targeting for accuracy and damage is also a good choice.  For a second special, a multishot booster like Emission Generator is desirable, but also titanium expensive.  In comparison, Barrel Loader costs an outrageous amount of Titanium.

Ballistic: 
I tried some D33-DR cannons in conjunction with Concussive Reciprocator weapons - I wasn't too thrilled with the results.  Bypass Chainguns are sometimes used effectively against incoming Conqueror hulls and could be a good choice here - most lack ballistic deflection.  Nuclear Accelerators add accuracy as well as range (and a useless speed bonus), so they present an advantage over Hardened Barrels (which cost more anyway).  With no rank bonuses available, decreasing your reload time with Auto-Loader is a good play.  Armor Piercing Shells aren't too expensive here as a third special choice.

Missile:
Switchblades are the intriguing weapon to use here here.  Not only do they do a high per-shot damage against ships, but they also give the anti-missile defense which could help against incoming Apollos.  Guided Missile System is a must for range and accuracy.  For a damage boost, Strike Warheads are the top choice, but awful expensive.  Interception System and Enhanced Warhead are much cheaper.  Anti-Missile Proliferation System would help your defense if you prefer that route.

Mortar/Rocket:
Since your incoming targets are fast movers, Mortar & Rocket weapons probably are not the way to go on your Mega Ship Modules.  If you want to try these, the Coaxial Firestorm is a much better deal than the Judgment Mortar.

Depth Charge: 
I was hoping for great things from my Concussive Reciprocators, but have been disappointed so far, even against the computer-controlled targets that sailed into range.  I mixed them up with ballistics, so maybe concentrating them with Strike Warheads (Concussion System is the value play) and a splash upgrade like Combustion System 2 would be the thing.  Note that CS2 is a better deal than Explosive System 4.  I think that these have potential due to their Wind Up capability - remember your Mega Ships do not get a rank bonus.

Scattergun / Thrower:
The short range of these weapons makes them unlikely to be effective in most combats.

Countermeasures:
Phalanx might help against incoming missile fleets like Apollos, and Gales might help against incoming Vendettas, but I'd start with some offensive-focused modules before turning to these.  I'm really not liking the long build time of the Phalanx in this context, maybe stick with the cheaper, faster Switchblade for Anti-Missiles.

UAV/Torpedo:
Can't use these.

Defense:
Although armor specials won't affect these modules (Defense Handicap), evade... might.  Just keep in mind Mega Ship weapons aren't aimed, so evade upgrades like Guidance Scrambler would only help against incoming aimed weapons from regular ships (and I'm not 100% sure they would do that, although the evade statistic does show up in the module defense block).

I collected this data from my Mega - I am at R&D Level 30 with a shipyard officer- I'm not sure what effects carry over from the shipyard to Mega Ship refits... .at a quick check vs the in-game shipyard, it looks like none of them do.

Weapon Cost Summary


Special Cost Summary


Economy:

Mega Ship improvements are mostly Titanium-based (with a little Uranium too).  Titanium is collected from 91 Mega Ships (currently), or looted from enemy Megas.  At 8,000 per 91 target, collecting Titanium is a slow process (but not too damaging) for most players and I think that is the biggest slowdown to try to improve Megas.

The other two basic resources are Advanced Components and Metal Alloy.  These are produced from Titanium and Uranium (for Alloy only).  This is done through a new Manufacturing tab in your Outpost R&D interface.  

Advanced Components are relatively cheap, but take a full day to build.  Metal Alloy takes 25,000 titanium and the same amount of Uranium, but only takes half an hour to build.  

The following table summarizes the basics:


Further upgrades past level 2 may take more resources and/or time.

Upgrade Strategy:
These are my random thoughts about how to increase the effectiveness of your Mega the most quickly:

- With Advanced Components being (relatively) cheap but long to build, I try to keep my Manufacturing busy building those.  If I can build up a surplus, then losing them won't hurt too much.  Losing the resources associated with the Metal Alloy will feel more painful (I think), and the Advanced Components are going to need to be built up in advance anyway.  

- Building a new Mega Module seems like it will add more damage output to a ship than improving an existing module.  It's cheaper and faster too.  So I likely will build out my modules before doing much improvement.

- Like I said earlier, building a single weapon type within a module will be the best way to optimize the weapon effectiveness.  I think I'll be building out the weapons on each module before building another.  After I get enough regular weapons to hold off a regular fleet, I may change that strategy, but I'm not sure how many weapons that will be.

I hope this helps those of you with new Mega Ships figure out the basics.  I'm going to need a lot more experience with Mega combat before being able to tell which items are really the most effective... so watch those hulls!