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:
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).