Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Game Changed! What now?

Yes, the game changed.  You can complain about it or not complain about it, but no matter which you choose, if you want to keep playing, you should plan for the future.  I will use my professorial crystal ball and try to make some suggestions about how you should get ready.

If you haven't seen the post from GD Raikan explaining the changes, you can find it here:

The most important parts are:
- Resistance is going to be (continue to be?) most important in PvE targets going forward
- Base Hitting just got a whole lot harder, but it's only temporary.  "PvP" hulls will be released to make base hitting reasonable again.

One important note - when Kixeye is talking about PvP - I'm pretty sure they are talking about Base Hitting.  Fleet vs Fleet combat on the map may be a whole separate story.

So if you want to be able to keep up in all aspects of the game, you are going to need a PvP hull.  None exist yet, but the first one we know about is the "Revenge" to be released in the next hull raid.  We don't know much more about it than its picture, but if it is the first PvP hull out there, then that's what will be the most critical prize to get in the next raid.  Everything you do in-game for the next two weeks should be aimed at enabling you to be able to do that raid & win that hull.  Out of game, if you're going to be prostituting yourself for Facebook cards, that's your own business and I won't be giving any advice there.

Luckily, we have seen the preview for the next raid.  Not so luckily (for many of us), it looks a lot like the last two raids, with the exception that the Mega Hull was nowhere to be found - replaced by a Level 110 Siege Target.

You've got two weeks to tweak your best siege fleet to be ready for this raid... what can you do?

Start with understanding the enemy:
These siege platforms combine elements of the Mines, DUBs, and some missiles thrown in for good measure.  You have to defend against incoming Ballistics, Cryo Throwers (with ice fields), Coldsnaps, Torpedo Towers, Mortars (from Turrets and Citadels), and missiles (from Turrets & Zoe Rhinos).

Punishers are a good start for your hull platform, since you want both Assault & Siege Deflection.  The targets are not segregated enough to be able to separate the ships from the turrets in separate hits.  Drac Carriers or Heavy Cruisers are your next best option.  

Aura flagships can also enhance the durability and offensive power of your fleet - a Highlander Nuclear Cruiser or an Omega Behemoth is worth the ship slot it occupies.  An Aegis will spend a lot of time being suppressed by Coldsnaps, so it probably isn't worth it.   Same with trying to rely on Centurion auras.

Arbalests are probably the best weapon option, since they can pierce walls and get turrets down quicker (and they are better against buildings than Railguns). PACs with their blast aren't too shabby either.  D98U Launchers aren't a bad option either.

Siege Battery or FLCS is going to be key, but after that, you can't load up with resistance against any one damage type, since you could see all types.  Evade helps but isn't as key as it is against many other enemies we've seen.  Countermeasures should be tilted towards anti-mortar, but don't ignore Phalanx either.

So when I look back at what I wrote above, you need a little bit of everything.  

Sorry... I'm sure he's human.  

Anyway... you've only got two weeks in your shipyard so you're going to have to work with what you've got.  Rank is key since you need to deal out a lot of damage against these targets... start there.  I'll be working with the fleet I'm using for mines & DUBs.  It is a bit flexible, with three Punishers carrying mostly Earthshakers, then I use another slot for a flagship & the 5th slot for a support ship.

In the Flag slot, I may try both the HLNC & the Omega, but I suspect an Omega-led fleet will do better since I need the firepower.  For the Support slot, I've tried an Aegis, Centurion, and a Neptune.  In my case, the Neptune carries all the Gales, so it is my best choice, but it was reworked for DUBs and has very low evade.  In the preview it was torn up by missiles.

My other issue is that the Punishers use CX alloy, so they are also a bit vulnerable to missiles, specially since I have no Phalanx in that fleet.

So my key work over the next two weeks will be to tune up the armor & countermeasures in the fleets I have to be more balanced against these raid targets.

Here's where I'm going:!B06L000000000000000000000000000000000000000PNH0131W0Z346A2F5Y2UAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAK2CPNH0131W0Z346A2F5Y2UAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAK2CPNH0131W0Z346A2F5Y2UAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAK2C07002525250V250U345R6F4468251A2A565657565555555500dC

If you keep track of all my fleet builds, you'll notice that the Punishers are tweaked a bit from what I've been using.  

For the Punishers - I used to have a D33-DR in the slot where the PAC is.  I've accepted that these ships are going to be totally useless against fast targets, so the PAC helps me offensively - the occasional blast is always welcome.  I've replaced the Autoloader with Siege Targeting - at high ranks with the salvo 3 Earthshaker, the extra damage helps me more than the quicker reload (again, not against ships).  I've also slowed them down a little - I need the balanced resistance from Heavy Plating, and the slower speed also helps me build the support ships a bit stronger (without having to worry so much about speed boost).  What I really don't like about this Punisher build is the weight.  Having so much weight to spare means that I'm missing out offensively since weapon power is so closely tied to weapon weight.  A more ideal build would use heavier ballistics like Arbalest in place of some Earthshakers, and then maybe get speed back with D6A instead of Heavy Plate.

The Neptune also reflects some compromise - it's been through a few cycles of refit since it led my Rhinos into Strongholds & Player bases.  I have a few Phalanx I'm adding, but mostly sticking to the Gales.  I'll just admit it - the hodgepodge of armor sizes & Gales was driven by the cycles of refit & making the weight work (and the early Gale drops), and not really any sort of optimized plan.

The Omega isn't really empty, but it's staying away from the fight so it doesn't matter. OK?!?

Well - that's the best I'm going to do for this upcoming raid.  Stay focused - hit 200 salvages next week if you have to.  PvP hulls are coming!  I wouldn't start anything major in my shipyard until there's a little more clarity as to what is next.

And the personal note:
I'm starting a new job soon... with a much longer commute.  I'm very excited for the new opportunity, but the loss of 10 hours out of my week means that something is going to have to give, and I suspect that some of it will be Battle Pirates related.  I will very likely be less able to give timely commentary.  I'm still committed to playing this game, running this blog, and being on the Battle Pirates Crib show, but we will have to see.  

This change is all about my career, and has nothing to do with "the state of the game", Kixeye, or the Battle Pirates community.  For the community in particular, I really appreciate all the readers of this blog, and the encouragement, thanks, comments, and even corrections that you provide.  As you may know, the community can be a bit pirate-y at times, and when I started this blog I was expecting quite a bit of salty response. All I can say is that I don't get much saltyness & I get a whole lot of positivity... even when I think I deserve a little more salt.

Thank you pirates - you keep sailing & I'll keep publishing.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The FLCS Nerf & New FM Content Part 2

Before I get to part 2 of the Forsaken Mission new item review, I should revisit part 1.

The Frontline Countermeasure System was nerfed - its Turret Defense was reduced to 50% from 74%.  In a forum post GD Raikan said that ship design was supposed to be about choices, and with the FLCS defense stat where it was, there really was no choice.  In my original article about this special, I said that this was my new favorite special.  Fundamentally, I agree with Raikan that the FLCS makes more sense at 50% and at should have been nerfed.  A special that you'd want to use on every ship becomes essential.  Remember when we had "haves" & "have nots" with the Blade Missile?  With FLCS at 74% Kixeye would have had to tune the siege targets to damage those ships with 74% extra turret defense, and so everyone who didn't have FLCS on their ships would have been SOL.

As it stands now, I still like FLCS, but I won't use it everywhere.  It's a choice, and the choice is pretty clear - on the offensive ships, use Siege Battery 3 (and refit it to get up to 49.5% Turret Defense).  On the defensive ships use FLCS.

 There's still one problem though... how did FLCS get released the way it did in the first place? This one doesn't feel like a QA slipup... where they meant to have it go out the door at some other value and it didn't.  It feels like a failure in the design process... but I guess we will never know.  And for those of you who coined a bunch of FLCS on day 1... all I can say is that you shouldn't spend money on this game that you aren't willing to set on fire.  It better be disposable income.  

On with the new stuff.

Chromium Overlay

Chromium Overlay is a tactical field that will help your walls stand up against fire from Tiger Sharks loaded with Cobra Scatterguns.  To use this effectively, you will need to embed buildings with this special (preferably your Naval & Advanced Labs) into your rows of turrets so that the walls can be buffed up.  

There's two problems with this:
1. Can you get enough defense on your walls?
2. Would you be making your defense vulnerable to splash & retargeting with the embedded labs?

This seems like a big change for a solution to a problem that perhaps isn't everyone's biggest defensive problem.  Although... I'm wondering... after the Glacial Launcher Turret gets out there... we might start to think differently.

Cryo Battery

So every 15 seconds, a Cryo-battery equipped ship can create a projectile that causes a 10 second ice field.  The place where this special would seem to be really useful would be on the remote targeting ships in base defense.  I looked at a Mastodon build, and with an Laser, SFB, Enhanced Warhead, and an armor special (because rockets), there wasn't a place for this... but with the use of Guided Missile System, there would be room for this one.  On a Rhino build it gets even easier to find a place for the Cryo Battery. 

Although an Aegis or Frostburn field would clean up the ice from this special, Coldsnaps take care of that pretty well.  Whether this special would find wider use on other ships intended for FvF, I'm not so sure.

Glacial Launcher Turret

The first thing that pops out at someone when they look at this LIMITED turret is the 65,000 damage.  Surprisingly enough, I don't think that's the most important stat here.  That number is made less important by two things:  the Salvo (20) and the Spread (350).

This turret is actually going to spray 20 ice fields all over the place.  I bet its going to look awesome.  With that much spread, no ship is actually going to be subjected to the full 65,000 points of damage.  But if we consider that we're going to have ice fields all over the place, let's look at what happens in those ice fields.  The debuff stats start low, but get up to their full strength in 15 seconds, and last for 15 seconds more.  A ship in a full strength field will have: -90% combat speed, -70% defense and -60% reload.  So, you come to nearly a complete stop, fire less than half as much, and are 3 times more vulnerable to enemy fire.

Stay out of the ice.  Sure an Aegis or Frosty will clean it up.. but Coldsnap stops that.  Ice Field resistance and possibly Tactical Field resistance (who remembers Shielded Tactical Systems?  It's back on Tier 2 of the Forsaken Mission this week) might get a lot more important.  Agility System will NOT help you in these fields.

When using this turret in defense, you will need to notice the 131 range (same as Wendigo), and the 33 second reload.  Base layouts might need to be tweaked to make room for another medium range turret, but this one looks to be worth it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

New FM Content Part 1: Frontline Countermeasures & Zynth D5-X

There were five new items released for the Forsaken Mission this month.  This is a step up frm the usual three, but we will also have an extra week between Renegade and April's hull raid - so there will be the same number of opportunities to get ship build tokens between raids.  With the extra items, and the amount of time I want to spend with Frontline Countermeasure System, I'm going to break up the review of the new items into two parts.  I'll cover Zynth Armor D5-X and the Frontline Countermeasures in this article, and push Chromium Overlay, Cryo Battery, and the (amazing) Glacial Launcher Turret into the next one.

Zynthonite Armor D5-X

No surprises here - this armor is just like D5-M with 20 points of deflection, but protects against Explosive Damage instead of Missile damage.  Of the other D5s, D5-E and D5-R do not provide deflection.  We haven't seen D5-C yet, but it might be reasonable to expect that one to be coming next month, and for it to provide deflection with its protection.  What we won't know is whether it will have the same build time as D5-M & D5-X (1d 22h) or whether it will be on the reduced build time schedule we've seen for the C armors.  Also remember that the conventional damage protection armors (like M, X, and C) have reduced repair times when compared to other armors like E, R, or U.

Frontline Countermeasure System

(Oh oh we have a nerf.  Turret Defense is now 50%.  I'll have to rethink this.)

(Maybe I was a little too positive?  LOL)
This might be my new favorite special.  Those of you who've figured out my play style know that I really like building support ships like tanks or countermeasure specialists.  When this special was announced in the WIP, I thought it might be decent... but I didn't really consider how good it might be, as most of the combo specials are basically combinations of specials that are a 'step down' from the best versions of the dedicated specials.  Well check this out:

The Turret Defense is much better than Siege Battery 3, even at R15.  The Countermeasure Accuracy increase is tied for the best for anti-mortar, and pretty close to the best for anti-missile.  The Countermeasure Range boost is the absolute best.  The weight and build time is the same as Siege Battery 3.

So let's see how this helps a pure tank hull... I have been using a Punisher to tank for my Rhinos on Forsaken Missions, Armadas, and base hits.  The build looks like this:

I love it already.  But what happens when I swap FLCS for the Siege Battery?

My weight stays the same, I gain the accuracy bonus on my Gales, and the damage I take from turrets gets cut in half (or better).  I don't care about the loss of the building damage bonus, since that hull does pretty much nothing offensively but spot for the rhinos.

Slight detour for math: 
Turret resistance from Siege Battery R15 is 49.5%, and with the FLCS it goes to 74.4%.  Before, 50.5% of turret damage got through (after damage type resistance and before deflection), now 25.6% gets through (or just over half).  When the 500 Siege Deflection gets figured in, it is even better.   Let's look at a turret that does 2000 points of damage (after type resistance) when it hits.

With Siege Battery 3:
2000 * (1 - 49.5%) - 500 = 510 damage 

With Frontline Countermeasure System:
2000 * (1-74.4%) - 500 =  12 damage

So in that case damage is cut by way more than half... although there is a minimum passthrough damage value, and for turrets I suspect it is around 50 points of damage.  As the initial damage per hit goes up, your damage reduction would be closer to half, and as it goes down your damage reduction would be less, as you'd hit minimum damage which limits the reduction.

But not everybody likes tank ships, especially when looking at the new breed of siege target, where the splash & piercing damage does limit the usefulness of a tank.  I've built some Punishers that look like this:

They are tons of fun, and do pretty well in DUBs, the new Mine targets, and the new Drac Bases. (If I did them all over again I'd probably slow them down a little).

But what if I do the same thing with this build - replace Siege Battery 3 with FLCS?

Although I increase my turret resistance, I lose the 74.1% Building Damage bonus from the Siege Battery.  I don't get any benefit from Countermeasure Accuracy because I have no countermeasures (on this ship).

By the way, Siege Targeting over Autoloader and a PAC over the D33-DR would probably be good ideas on this build.

Well, since i haven't won the thing yet, I can't try it and see for sure... but I think it is still a win.  With the math above, I've already shown how the increased Turret Defense does even better than cutting my damage in half.  So would that make up for the reduced damage?  On a Punisher, 100% ballistic damage bonus is built in, so the overall damage bonus for ballistics against buildings goes from 2.74x to 2.00x.  So the building damage output of my ship is reduced by only 27%.   
(edit: I ran some scenarios in Huggy's, and maybe that damage dropoff is more like 40%... see it in the comments below)

In other words, I'm taking a little longer to kill turrets, but I'm only taking 50% as much damage while I'm doing so... it's still going to be a net win.

One more thought, on Launcher Punishers (which is another popular configuration), I'm not so sure replacing SB3 with FLCS would be a net win, since those don't benefit from the built-in damage bonus, and so the damage drop-off would be larger.

My one complaint about this special is that it seems like it would be a big help to the lower level players in the Forsaken Mission, but those players aren't reaching Elite Tier so they won't be able to earn it to help them.  On many of the specials with three different levels, I basically ignore the lower level specials as "garbage".  But if players had access to a FLCS 1 with a +20% CM Accuracy and a +25% Turret Defense bonus, and a FLCS 2 with +25% CM Accuracy and a +50% Turret Defense bonus, those specials would be very desirable for a lower level player's FM fleet (maybe on a ship with 4 specials like a DNX or Crusader).  

I'll get to the review of the Cryo Battery, Chromium Overlay, and the amazing Glacial Launcher Turret in the next couple days. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Charting Ballistic Weapons

I usually post my "One Day In" articles around now, but these targets in Renegade are just about the same as last time.  

Read that last article at:

The biggest difference I've seen is that the Mega Hull has much longer range thermal, so you can't prep the power platforms with Cobra / Deluge subs anymore.  Also, it is possible that the Chain Range on the Mega Hull UAVs has increased - this time if I drive my Punisher back into the Aegis field like in that last picture of the article last month, they will chain onto my Rhinos & do big damage.  A key strategy for this whole raid is to keep ships as spread out as possible.

So instead of all that, I'm going to publish some DPS charts for Ballistic Weapons.  For this week's Battle Pirates Crib show, I showed the updated fleet damage chart with the new Particle Accelerator Cannon.  I also mentioned that I had run the Building Damage numbers and there was a surprising DPS champion.

First the usual Fleet DPS Chart - I have updated this chart so that it is comparing weapon performance on a Punisher at 75% (Legendary) rank, and with Nuclear Accelerators installed.  The bubble size is proportional to the DPS (per weapon) - since Build Time is no longer an interesting comparison (more on that later)

The second chart is the same, just zoomed in on most of the weapons of interest so you can see the differences.  Against fleets, the D-110 Railgun is most efficient (as long as they aren't moving) among the long range ballistics.  The Earthshaker can be more effective if you are willing to sacrifice some range.  Also the lower damage per shot can make it less effective against deflection hulls.  The new PAC comes up lower than the railgun weapons, but isn't as totally terrible as I thought it would be.

Moving on to building damage, which we all care about now because of the DUB and Mine targets, where the turrets can be hard to kill:

This chart shows a clear tradeoff between DPS/hton and range.  The Siege Cannon Z is the DPS/hTon champ against buildings, but loading up a fleet with Siege Cannon Z would result is a very light fleet.  We also care about DPS per weapon when building ballistic fleets, since many fleets can end up under maximum weight.  

So I made the next chart to compare DPS and DPS/hton...

So to read this chart, weapons toward the right do the most damage per gun and weapons toward the top do the most damage per ton. 

This chart can help you maximize your damage in a few ways... first of all, if you really don't care about range, filling a fleet with Siege Cannon X will maximize your ship's building damage output.   Arbalest is next best, but you often can't fill a ship with those without hitting weight limits.  If you end up with a bunch of empty weapon slots & max weight, you might want to think removing one heavy gun and filling your weapon slots with a high DPS/hton weapon like the Siege Cannon Z or even the Impact Cannon R (which also gives some defense bonus and has 49 base range).  The new PAC isn't a world-beater on these charts, but they don't account for the extra damage from the occasional Particle Blast.

Let's talk about build time... the additional ballistic weapon build time reductions in February basically levelled out these weapons so there weren't any left that seemed like their build time was out of whack.  In general, when you include the extra weight from Nuclear Accelerators, Ballistic Weapons are taking 130 seconds / ton to build.   Some are a bit quicker at 110 (Earthshaker & Reaver Chainguns) or 123 (D-110, Siege Cannons, & Assault Cannons, Impact R), and a few of the really small ones are quicker yet... but in general the build time is fairly proportional to the weight no matter what you choose.  

Sorry I don't have any great ideas for the raid - with some teamwork I think the Mega Hulls are really your best bet.  A player who needs help can really be helpful back by running a decoy (subs or instant repair) on the Mega weapon and so cut the damage that the helper takes.  I highly recommend it.  Good luck!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Renegade - what to get

Renegade starts this week, and we have a new prize list.

I already went over the new Centurion Hull and Particle Accelerator Cannon prizes in my last article - see it here if you missed it.

Kixeye did tweak the build times of those items since the preview - the Centurion Hull is 2 days 6 hours and the Particle Accelerator is 8 hours 44 minutes (times with officer).  The hull build time seems about right for its capability and the Particle Accelerator seems a bit long, but all the ballistic weapon build times have been leveled based on their weight and the PAC is right around all the other weapons when using that measure (130 seconds per ton when you include the Nuclear Accelerator & Shipyard 3).

The raid is expected to be pretty much like the last one, with the addition of co-op to the A/B/C set targets.  Kixeye explained a "priority" system for giving credit for the kill (towards bonus).  Their explanation seemed more complex than it had to be - when the target is killed, the player with the fleet that has been in the target longest gets the credit.

You can see my article from the last raid, but I'll try to summarize it.

If you have a good tank/Rhino/Aegis fleet, the Mega Hulls were probably the best way to go - use the safe lanes to kill the platforms, then decoy the splash missiles to close in on the Mega.

If you've built (or made good headway on) a "Siege fleet", you might have better luck with the A/B/C set targets.  Good countermeasures are important for those targets because the missiles (from turrets) had no flak evade, and the mortar fire was fairly thick.  Also remember to try to kill the flagged building quickly to reduce the defenses of the others.

It doesn't seem like there will be many big changes from last time, but we will see if Kixeye throws any twists at us.

So looking at the prize list, the limited components are back, and we have a reduced (7 days -> 5 day 10 hour)  token store.  We also have a reduced prize list with more tiers, but only two choices per tier, and you can only pick one of them.  I'll run through each Tier, and instead of the Red/Yellow/Green, I'll just list them in order of which I'd choose.

I'll say it up front - Kixeye seems to be flagging the Mortars as their "core tech", but everything I've seen in the game still says to me that I'd rather have a good ballistic fleet for the Siege targets than a mortar fleet.  So my choices will reflect that...

Tier 1: 
Dreadnought X (150k): Ok, here I chose mortars over ballistics - but what I really chose is a 4 special ship over a 3 special ship.  If you're just starting out, launchers might be your best choice for this hull.

Vindicator (150k): Build time on this hull has been reduced to 12 hours.  It has a 30% ballistic range bonus, not a 40% like the high-end ballistic hulls.  Retrofitted, this hull has an accuracy bonus, making it a good choice for a countermeasure platform.

Tier 2: 
Zynthonite Armor D5-R (550k): Build time has been reduced on this armor from 1 day 22 hours to 1 day.  Too bad it doesn't include any deflection like the newer D5 armors. Radioactive Resist will help in the mines.

Siege Battery 1 (550k): Siege Battery is a really good special for the Siege targets, but you will want Siege Battery 3 in most situations.  Occasionally you'll need the lighter version to make your weight work.

Tier 3: 
Reflective Coating 3 (1.5M): The combination of Evade and Radio defense will also help in the Mines - The Slow Resist from Agility System does not reduce your slowdown effect, it reduces the slowdown time from things like Disruptor Cannons.  You need Shielded Tactical System to reduce Tactical Field effects.

Siege Battery 2 (1.5M): Siege Battery is a really good special for the Siege targets, but you will want Siege Battery 3 in most situations.  Occasionally you'll need the lighter version to make your weight work.

Tier 4: 
Siege Battery 3 (3M):  This is the special you want for Siege targets.  Don't forget to retrofit it.

Nuclear Accelerators (3M): If you somehow haven't gotten this from the Forsaken Mission... maybe you should get this instead, but maybe you should just keep at it because I think Siege Battery will be harder to get.

Tier 5: 
Crusader (5M): I really liked my Crusader build - with Arbalests & Nuclear Accelerators in tier 3 of the FM, a decent Crusader build should be really achievable for a lot of players now, and probably still fairly effective.  Adding deflection armor would be really great if you have it.  The build time reduction on this hull is appreciated.

Novastorm (5M):  I'm still choosing ballistics over mortars, but this hull speeds up in fire/ice fields instead of slowing down... I'd like to see how it does in mines.

Tier 6: 
Particle Accelerator Cannon (10M):  Although this weapon is tuned for building targets, its fleet DPS wasn't quite as terrible as I thought when I actually sat down & ran some numbers... but it's still not as good as the Drac Railgun or Arbalest against fleets.  The big blast looks cool and really messes up a group of buildings.  This weapon seems expensive at 10 million points though... remember when the new weapon was usually 5-6 million?  And it was the best thing ever?  This weapon is decent, but it is not the "best thing ever".  And that's a good thing - I love the weapon parity since the rebalance & it should not be broken... but I still don't get the price on this one.

Judgment Mortar (7.5M):  This is discounted from 9 Million points last month.  I think a lot of players have been choosing the Pandemonium Mortar over the Judgment on builds.  I didn't get a chance to see - did the MIRV effect of this weapon have any success against those evil Iron Curtains?  Or was spreading out /staggering fire still key to getting any shots through?

Tier 7: (edit: you can actually take both prizes on this tier if you want)
Centurion (15M):  ...and remember when the new hull was usually 12.5 million?  Again, I like that this hull isn't the "best thing ever" and its build time reflects that.  But the price is a little high.  This hull may make a useful support ship, and will certainly be good at hitting the new Drac Mines since that is what it is purpose-designed for.   This hull is not a base hitter, so just be aware of what you are getting into before you blindly grab it.

Citadel (13M):  So my first thought was... "If you missed out on the Citadel last month, the Centurion will likely be more useful. Take the Centurion since you can't get both, or just grab tokens and components."  But then I spoke with the rest of the group on the Battle Pirates Crib show this evening, and they all preferred the Citadel, for its base hitting capability and better overall defenses.  So I'm a little stuck on this one, and I guess each player will need to evaluate their own situation.

Tier 8: 
I've gone over these limited components a few times before, so I won't do it again.  They all have their uses except the Fallout Armor - leaving out ballistic defense is a really bad idea against the targets we've seen lately.  Going back to that article, you can see that prices for the Gale Anti-Mortars and the Cobra Scattergun have increased.

Tier 9:
I'm not sure why the token limits have been reduced, but it is disappointing.  In exchange - it seems like the 3 day tokens are dropping more frequently from the Forsaken Mission. When they were first introduced, it felt like a 20% drop rate or so.  These days it feels more like 50%.
(edit: DOOMROOSTER has said that the reduction is based on the build time reductions we've seen.  I agree we have seen build time reductions, but they aren't done yet...)

Good luck on the raid pirates - I'll try to make a "One Day In" post to update how it looks.  I'm also planning an article comparing the all the ballistics, particularly for building damage, and also may be writing an updated turret roundup in the not too distant future.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Centurion, Particle Accelerator, and new Mine target preview

This weekend, Kixeye ran a preview server that open to all for a couple hours, as well as a VXP preview.

On the Preview server, we could try out the new hull and weapon prizes planned for the next raid against the new mine targets.  We also have been able to hit those targets in the "real" game for a 24 hour period and earn VXP instead of the "base parts" planned for the rewards from those targets.

I'll start with a look at the new prizes:

Centurion Hull

Sorry I didn't grab the whole thing - the friendly field of effect reduces splash damage by 20% and will stack multiplicatively.  +20% splash resistance is a good way to think of it... this means that 5 Centurions supporting each other would have a 67.2% splash resistance (not 100%).

This new hull is a ballistic hull with Siege Deflection, but it isn't the "best thing ever" offensively.

It has the 40% Ballistic Range bonus that is a must-have these days, but its reload and damage bonuses leave it starting with inferior damage output when compared to a Punisher, Crusader, or likely even a SCX R10.

This hull is clearly purpose-designed to engage the new mine targets we saw this weekend.  Those targets deal ballistic & radioactive damage - the only damage types this hull has built-in resistances against.  It does have higher speed and more armor slots than the Punisher, but it lacks any Assault Deflection.  Overall, players that used this hull against the mine targets liked it, but without Penetrative Defense, Explosive Defense, or Assault Deflection, and aura suppression by Coldsnap/Frostbite turrets, I would not want to take a fleet of these into any decent player base.  

I could see this hull making a nice support ship - one of these could run behind some ships that have better offensive output and help cut splash damage.

Particle Accelerator Cannon

This new weapon has good range, reload, and building damage output, but relatively low ship damage.  It can deal out a particle blast that pretty much seemed to level anything in its radius.

 Again, the Particle Accelerator seems purpose-designed for the new siege targets, but the Earthshaker Cannon is the real standout here.  The Particle Blast will level a large area, so it makes the weapon more effective against grouped buildings than these single-target DPS numbers imply.  But you do need to keep in mind that this is NOT an effective anti-ship weapon.  Even the blast does much less damage against non-building targets.

On Earthshakers... those Reaver Siege Cannons used to take a real long time to build, but with the weapons rebalance, they now are pretty quick builds... and a great choice.

New Mine Targets

The new Mine targets are, as promised, land-based targets only.  They combine long-range ballistic and radioactive weaponry with extremely effective countermeasures.

The picture above show a Level 80 platform, but they were all fundamentally the same - groups of turrets arranged around a long, curved, single platform.  Inside the platform are torpedo towers.

I'll describe each of the platforms in order of what I think are the most dangerous:

The Wendigo / Glacial Launcher fires cryo shells that leave a in ice patch that slows you down by a lot.  The ice patch also does significant damage, including damage to underwater targets.

This long range railgun does ballistic damage but also does some splash.

The Cryo Launchers didn't seem too deadly, but if you ignored them for too long, they would build a shockwave.

These howitzer-type weapons weren't too deadly either - they often missed.

The torpedo towers don't do very much damage with their torpedos, but their primary purpose seemed to be to spot subs (with extremely long-range thermal) and allow the launchers to target them.


This "Iron Curtain" Flak gun pretty much shot down everything but ballistics.  Missiles, UAVs, Mortars, and Rockets were all mostly useless against anything protected by this turret.  I even saw Launcher shots being shot down by this gun (edit - this may happen when combined with other projectiles they can hit, like missiles), and heard that it was defending against Scatterguns as well.... not sure if that was hyperbole or not.

With the Iron Curtain on defense, a ballistic fleet was pretty much a must against these platforms.  We will see if the Iron Curtain gets toned down at all for the actual release... defending against Launchers seems a bit extreme.

Since I am in the process of building a ballistic fleet to beat Draconian Uranium Bases, I used that fleet against these targets, and ended up putting on quite a show.  Although that fleet is definitely tailored against the DUB with its emphasis on Ballistic and Explosive resistance, and no Evade special, it still did well against these radioactive/ballistic aimed turrets.  Oh... and I was only using three Punishers (and no Omega) so far.!B06L00U0Y0U0X0U400X68555Z5Y12000000000000000NH025130Z342U6A6F0UAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAK570NH025130Z342U6A6F0UAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAK570NH025130Z342U6A6F0UAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAK570NH025130Z342U6A6F0UAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAK57dC

With a (retrofitted) Combat Speed of just under 45, these ships close on their targets quickly, and the Earthshakers + Autoloader result in a huge amount of damage output.  I chose some light, quick-building armor so end up with builds in the 11 day range, but if you want to take the time to put D5 armor on there.. it wouldn't be a bad idea either.

If building specifically for these mine-type targets, I might try to work in some more evade and radioactive resistance, but it is tough to argue with success.

I wanted to publish a few other builds suggested for lower end players, but the best strategy will be to wait and see what happens with build times in next week's raid.  The hull build time on the Centurion is very low, but may change before release.  I would expect that Kixeye does a review on ballistic hulls & specials similar to what was done on the mortar hulls last month, so starting a lower end ballistic hull this week might not be such a good idea because it may be cheaper next week, and we may have specific hulls for focus on.  But if you have the Earthshaker, refits for those might be a good idea right now.