Friday, December 16, 2016

Uprising - What did we do wrong?

Well, it's Friday night, I have about 60 million points... I feel like I should write an article.

When I looked at the prize list, and the points/structure to get the Cannoneer, I feel like asking Kixeye what we did wrong.  Why are we being punished?  Is the Zoe Vendetta like the vegetables we have to eat before getting dessert?  Players have never liked 'locked' prizes, where you have to get something before being able to get something else.  When the prizes are related and laddered, we kind of understand, but having to get a niche Limited hull before getting the mainline hull before the next raid... well it just isn't right. 

Anyway I'll start off with my process for doing the 107.  I use a 4 Hellwraith fleet, armed mostly with Fire Twisters (and a couple Mayhems).  What I heard / read was that it was easier to do the bottom 'pancake' first and with some practice I found that was correct.  My process for the 107 is:
  • Clear the bottom five Scouts on the first two dive cycles.  Do not kill the Hellstrike - the oil slick makes it more difficult to complete the rest of the target.  (I find this also holds for the 105)  Don't kill any drones either.... they will respawn exactly where you don't want them.
  • About halfway through the third dive cycle, there seems to be a spot where the drones seem to be clustered at or heading toward the top.  This opens the bottom side of the Southeast pancake. I target it by clicking on it - I don't want to get too close or I'm seen by the drones above the pancake.  (your window is from about 7:25 to 7:15.  Follow the last set of drones on in... but not too close)  Heading towards the right a little bit as you go gives you a little more time.  Once it's dead I head back to the bottom.
  • Clean out the ships that are orbiting the (now sunken) lower pancake.  Also kill drones and then go after the four scouts that started between the Pancakes.
  • There should only be two groups of drones left.  Wait until they are on top, then hit the remaining pancake from the bottom.
  • Clean out the rest.
I can do a 107 for zero damage using this process, but usually end up with 2 - 4 coins repair.  Sometimes I'll take a couple hits from drones when hitting the first pancake, and sometimes I mess up a little with the scouts.  Again, just like last time, the Scouts are best hit by sailing alongside of them so you have more time to stop between your torpedo range and their thermal range.. 

So on to the prizes:

The Cannoneer certainly will be the go-to hull for the next raid with its resistances and ballistic weapon output.  I think the real question is whether they will work best singly or grouped.  I'm wondering this because when hitting mines, I find my Punishers are most effective when working alone.  Since they have enough offensive output to clear turrets in two hits, much of the firepower they would have when stacked up is wasted.  The splash weapons in the mines mean that the stacked ships just end up sharing more damage.  When I use Centurions, they have less offensive output, and also have the stacking field for splash resistance.  They work best stacked up so they can kill turrets faster.

The Cannoneer has the (new since preview) stacking field that provides speed and offensive output.  Whether they will work better stacked or not will remain to be seen, and may even depend on the target.  

The Zelos got better since the preview (when I panned it).  They've added resistance across the board, more deflection, combat speed, and more DPS.  I think with the new launchers or with ballistics (and its +45% ballistic range), it could be effective in the new Siege targets. 

One point many have seen on these new hulls is they have increased repair and build times compared to the times of many hulls since Kixeye made some reductions.  The Cannoneer is back to the old one point per second repair time.  I think what is going on is that we are getting back some power creep.  The longer build and repair times are reflective of the higher power level (performance) of these new hulls.  The alternative is to release hulls that are just as powerful as existing hulls, but the problem is that those aren't really very attractive to the players.  Power creep is necessary, let's just hope it doesn't get too bad again.

If you're unsure what to get in this raid, and you won't have the points to get everything, make sure you come out of this raid with the right hulls & equipment to do the following:

Siege Targets:
You need Radioactive and Ballistic resistances along with a weapon that won't get shot down.  After the Cannoneer and Zelos, Centurion, Punisher or Crusader are your choices (in that order).  If you're going with ballistic weaponry, the Arbalest is a great price this raid and still very effective.  CL-3 Alloy is key, or go after Reflective Plate (and pair with Layered Armor).  Also keep in mind that I, like many other players, expect some new Ballistic weapon + special to be released in the next FM or an upcoming TLC... so make sure you have a backup, but don't overcommit to ballistics right now.  Launchers may also be effective, and the new Squall Launcher + Flechette Feeder will be the best of breed there.

Reaver Targets:
The latest raid target style with these Reavers is expected to replace the current Draconian Armadas as the primary way to get Uranium.  Make sure you have the right equipment to build a fleet to go after these targets too.  If you are using subs, the most important thing is to have 88 range torpedos.  Mayhems are not available (coming from the FM Tier 5), but Fire Twisters are.  You could also go with Tideseekers and either Calamity Scatterguns (if you already have them), or the Concussive Gatling Gun (available in this raid).  

If you want to hit bases and haven't gotten any conquerors yet... the Fury is the best all arounder, but the revenge is probably best against low end bases and the Vendetta will still be effective as a remote target mortar chucker against bases that don't have the new Cataclysm Mortar or Maxim guns.

Base Defense:
A whole lot of base defense weapons are available.  Glacial Launcher and Coldsnap should be top priorities if you don't have them, but the Executioner and Drac Scattergun are still effective.  The Wendigo isn't totally obsolete yet, but I wouldn't spend on it compared to many other turret choices.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Prepping for Siege Part 2 - the preview

There was a raid preview on Friday.  I wasn't able to participate since I have to work during working hours, but I did see some of the outcomes, so I'll share some more thoughts as a follow-up to my last article on getting ready for the next raid cycle.

First of all, I want to follow up on my progress from last time.  I was planning some Punisher refits to specialize those hulls in mines.  Those are complete and I'm pretty pleased with the results.  With an Omega Behemoth flag, I was hitting Level 70 mines with a single ship and taking about 20 minutes damage.  For Level 90 mines, I'm taking about 38 minutes damage when entering from the NE side, and sending one Punisher around in each direction.  I've also been hitting 97s for about 1 hour 15 minutes damage with a similar strategy, but sending my third Punisher through the middle.

I also finished 3 (mostly) blank Centurion hulls - right now they have 2 PACs, 4 D30-R, Hydro Resistors, and Nuclear Accels.  The build worked out to about 4 days 1 hour, so it was real convenient to build with the FM tokens.

Centurions have the splash resist field and lower offensive output than the Punishers - so I tend to use a different strategy with those.  I keep them stacked up to kill turrets more quickly and buff each others' resistance.  The hulls didn't look good in a Level 60 mine (pinged away at a single turret for over a minute) so far, but unranked and unfinished isn't really a fair comparison.  The Arbalests on the Punisher works great - with 4 Arbs per hull, Siege Battery and Siege Targeting, two Arbalest blasts take down a turret and often damage another one behind it.  See the builds from the last article.  (if you do want to use that Centurion build, swap the AP shells for Siege Targeting and drop one PAC... better yet try Arbalests).

I had guessed that this next set of raid prizes would be some new toys to help us in the Siege targets, and from the preview, I wasn't completely wrong.  We saw some new hulls, but no new ballistic gear.  The hull of most interest is the Cannoneer:

The best (or most alarming) stat on this hull is its Siege Deflection of 900.  Compared to the 475 from a Centurion, or 500 from a Punisher, that's a lot of deflection for a PvE hull.  It's alarming because that means that the Siege raid targets will be 'tuned' to give damage to a hull with this sort of deflection, so the Centurions and the Punishers are going to be hit HARD.

The other significant stat of note is the built-in ballistic range bonus of +50%.  This is the first 'open water' PvE hull we've seen with that boost, and it means that 50 range ballistic weapons (like Arbalest & PAC) can have their range boosted to 100 instead of 95.

Another new hull we saw in the Preview was the Zelos, which was a called a "generalist" hull, which is a type we haven't seen before.

It has no built in defensive or offensive bonuses besides the 650 (high) deflection and the 300 (low) DPS.  I'm thinking this hull might serve as a tank for PvE Targets, but I'm not sure it would perform better than a more specialized hull with built-in defense bonuses.  With no weapon bonuses, Launchers (see below) might be the best option here if you are determined to build this... but it doesn't seem as desirable as any of the other options we've discussed as a raid hull. 

We also saw the Zoe's Vendetta, which isn't relevant for the raid.  And for base hitting, I'd rather bring in a Harlock's Revenge.  As more bases get Maxim Guns and Cataclysm Mortars, base hits with Vendettas ringing the outside are going to be a lot less successful anyway.

The new equipment we saw is Launcher-related: 

Flechette Feeder

Squall Launcher

This new equipment looks solid for launcher users, but not game breaking.  The utility of Squall Launchers will depend on how quickly they build a shockwave.  Launchers in general may be an alternative to Ballistics for Siege targets, but the slow speed of the flechettes means that you tend to take more damage when using launchers since they won't land on target as quickly as ballistics (similar to why the Harlock Citadel helps so much in the FM).

But given all this new equipment... what is a player to do?  

The big decision I (and possibly some of you) need to make is whether to keep working on Centurions or whether to go for Cannoneers.

Here's how I'm breaking it down.  The build time of the Cannoneer hull is pretty short, and with another 9-10 days per ship needed to finish out my Centurions... and the ranking... I think I'd rather just switch ASAP to building the Cannoneer and only worry about those.  If they aren't ready for the first Siege Raid, then my Punishers will do.  Because of the overall power boost (creep) associated with the Cannoneer, I really think I'll want them eventually, so why not start now?  If you are trying to make a similar decision, I think the key is whether you think you have something that's 'good enough' for now.  If you don't, then maybe you should keep working on Cents.

I'm not going to decide on a Cannoneer build yet, since I still have a lot of time before I need to come up with it... who knows what Kix will release in the interim through the raid, through the FM, or even through a TLC.  I plan to build 4 REALLY blank hulls as close to 10 days total build as possible... with 5 days of tokens (hopefully) from the raid I might be able to finish all 4 before VXP Weekend.

One more note on the Preview... did they REALLY need to change the S targets?  They are supposed to be fast moving, high damage targets.  If they felt the damage players were taking from the previous raid's S target was too low (on average), the answer should have been to revise it... not add a second one where the only players having success seemed to be those with Calamity Tideseekers (a pretty unusual build as far as I know).  

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Prepping for the next raid cycle - Siege

It's been a while since I posted... I've been busy, and I haven't been able to find the time to put together articles like I used to.  So I was thinking about this, and whether I should put together a 'goodbye post'.  But I had another idea... I'm not going to be able to do the sort of in-depth articles that I have been doing, but I still have stuff I want to say about this game.  So I'm going to try shorter articles that are less based on math & graphs & more on opinion.  Let's see how it goes.

So a lot of people have been talking about the raid cycle that will be starting up after this final Reaver hull raid we've got upcoming.  So far we've gotten pretty strong signals that it will be a Siege-style raid, with targets that look a lot like the Draconian Mines we've been hitting for a while.  It's even possible that the new 95 & 97 mine targets are Kixeye's first 'trial' targets for the next raid type. 

So we've also seen the Centurion enter the Foundry, and a new Harlock's Centurion be available through collecting shards.  We also had the ballistic-based Malice Conqueror hull show up in a TLC. What we don't know is whether there will be new ballistic gear, or potentially even a hull, show up in the next raid to prep us for the cycle to follow.

So with all that, I think it's still a little early to plan a fleet and say "this is my next raid fleet".  But I think it isn't too early to look at what you have, and the fleets for doing mines are the logical place to start.  I never built a full fleet of Centurions, I only built a single hull and use it as a countermeasure platform with Punishers in a DUB fleet.  In fact, after the Foundry Centurion upgrades, I messed up that fleet because of the increased speed of the retrofitted Centurion.

What I have used for mines is a Crusader fleet that I refit from base hitters (way back when), and also the Punishers from that DUB fleet.  The Crusaders were refit to improve their performance in mines, and they look like this:

The armor wasn't really optimized, but these ships did all right, and since I didn't use them for anything else, I didn't mind if I took a while to repair them after getting shot up.  The Alloy CL-3 was the key refit on these.

The Punishers for the DUB look like this:

And even as-is, they would do better in the Mines than the Crusaders... deflection was the key.  But I'm looking at a 2 day 5 hour refit on the Punishers that would look like this:

Swapping the CL-3 for the MX-3 and adding 2 D5-R armors will really help me optimize this fleet for mine-style targets.  (a D5-C might be even better with its bit of deflection, but would take longer to refit) I got all my Gamma Shards, so I'm not too worried about ruining this fleet's performance in DUBs (and I would have to find a new CM platform anyway).  One week of shipyard time for the three Punishers will help me hit the early mine targets to collect Centurion shards with much less damage.  My existing ships are fully ranked, so that will save me even more time since they will be all set to go.

My first refit will finish tonight, so I may post a quick update comparing a refit Punisher against an old one and see what repair benefit I get.  I'm guessing damage will be cut in half.

I'm still looking at Centurions, and after I finish the Punisher refits I will start building some blank Centurions to rank in the next VXP weekend.  If it turns out that we get new ballistic gear in the next raid I'll take a revised look at my plans, but with no new gear I'd start working towards something like this:

Compared to my Punishers, these have slightly better defense (resistance AND deflection), but lower speed and lower DPS output.  The splash defense field will be nice too.  I used PACs instead of Arbalest on this build mostly for weight... with PACs instead of Arbalest / Railguns, I'm not sure the Armor-Piercing shells is the best choice.. I'm thinking Shielded Tactical System would be nice, but would add a lot of build time.  Anyway, the whole point is not to stress over a optimal build right now, since we still don't know what else is coming.  

One more note - although the mines do  a lot of radioactive damage, the Radioactive Plate will give you deflection in PvP targets only.  That deflection will be bypassed in the mines and upcoming raid targets. Don't use it for your raid fleet.

Here's the Huggy's link for all the ships in the article:!B06G51R1R401R346A2U6P00232323232323230NH01W130Z342U6A5K2F23232323AKAKAKAKAK2C0NH01W1W1W342U6A6P2F23232323AKAKAKAKAK2C07401W1P1V1P1V382U6A436P2C2C2C2C2C2C2C2C2C2C0ZZdC

Anyway I hope this new article format works for you, I'm also going to spend less time sharing it... probably just in the the 3 'show' groups, so feel free to re-share as you see fit.

(And would you believe this is my 200th post!)