Saturday, March 18, 2017

Ranking the Rank Icebreaker

There's some great videos out there on how to do this raid.   My favorite is Forsaken Cove's article on how to do the 107.  On the 100, I do a loop for the long range turrets, a loop for the short range ballistics, a loop for the big launcher, and then pick off the outer launchers.  I'm sure there's some videos out there from the last raid.

All that assumes a ranked Harlock Cannoneer fleet... without that, well-driven Cannoneers can hit lots of targets in the 70s before repairing (I collected nearly 50 million doing that on Thursday night), and many Ironclads can do targets in the 50s with instant repairs.

But I'm going to write this article about the Icebreaker.

First off, you need to understand Kixeye's raid structure for the foreseeable future.  It started with the Reaver Skirmish raid series, continued through this Scourge Siege raid series, and will continue with the upcoming garrison series.  Each of those raids had a Skill hull and a Blitz hull.  The Hellwraith and the Cannoneers are the skill hulls we've seen so far. The Tideseeker, Ironclad.and now the new Icebreaker are the Blitz hulls.  So far, we've seen well driven skill hulls can do high end targets with no damage, and Blitz hulls have had mixed results (although I suspect the damage output of a Tideseekers with Calamity was an unforeseen combo on Kixeye's part).  

So we need to think about the Icebreaker going forward.  Each player should be able to assess their own game.  On my part, I like the skill hulls, and have only built the Blitz hull with tokens.  This raid we've seen the order from last raid flipped, and now we have the Blitz hull available at a high point price, and we can expect the skill hull to come up in a TLC soon after the raid.

Since I like the skill hulls, I'm not really excited about the Icebreaker in general, and at approximately 2 week build times per ship, I'm not going to devote my shipyard to building a full fleet of those (and note they have a stacking bonus).  So I strongly considered not redeeming it this raid.  I did and I started on.  My plan is to build only one Icebreaker in the near term (see it below), and save as many tokens as I can out of this raid to be ready to build the upcoming skill hull ASAP.  

(Important Note: I've heard that the Charged Armors are not currently working.... hold on buying & installing those until we know more)

The only real non-obvious part on this build is the High Velocity Rounds.  Those give me building damage and help my rockets land quickly.  Other choices could be made to increase damage.  Agility 4 could easily be replaced with Guidance Scrambler 3 to save 5 hours of build time.

You also need to be concerned about what we don't know in the upcoming Garrison Raid targets.  I think the biggest question is whether you will want countermeasures.  The way most players are attacking FM Garrison targets right now, we have a tank hull with countermeasures and mortar hulls to deal damage.  But if you are blitzing with Icebreakers, anti-mortar defenses may not be needed, and whether or not anti-missile is useful will really depend on the target.  We might even see a return of countermeasure specialist ships with the Icebreaker (I was always a big fan).  

For that type of build, Frontline Countermeasures would replace the Garrison battery,  Evade Upgrade or Deflection Upgrade SA (limited component I didn't see a need for at the time) could replace the HVR.  Then I'd probably put 4 Gales or Hail D, 3 Phalanx 4, and keep one rocket.

So one more thing - let's talk about ranking these Icebreakers.  The new Siege Rocket has a one second reload, a +100% built in rocket reload bonus, and then a +10% stacking aura reload bonus (per ship).  So a solo Icebreaker gets a 110% reload bonus, and a full 5 ship fleet gets 150%.   The means the reload time for 1 ship is 0.48 seconds, and for 5 ships it is 0.4 seconds.  My long-time readers may remember when I demonstrated that the minimum reload time for any weapon is 0.2 seconds, and also may remember that rank bonuses are applied differently than hull/special/aura bonuses:
reload = base reload * (1 - rank bonus).  
(note that the additional 0.2 seconds per salvo shot isn't affected by this)

So any bonus that puts your reload under 0.2 seconds is wasted.  For the 5 ship fleet the math works out really easily 
0.2 = 0.4 * (1 - rank%) 
Any rank bonus above 50% is wasted on a 5 ship Icebreaker fleet.

For the 1 ship fleet - I broke out the calculator to determine that 
0.2 = 0.48 * (1 - rank%) 
Any rank bonus above 58% is wasted when you only have 1 Icebreaker.

I'll leave the other cases for the reader.  Also remember that if you use Cluster Warheads to increase your reload bonus further, you will just max out your fire rate at a lower rank.  Keep in mind that this applies to Icebreakers using the new Siege Rockets D100S only.  If using other weapons or other hulls, you will max out differently - remember Goresabers with Infernos maxed out at even lower ranks.  

Another case to consider is if you are using countermeasures.  Those will not max out their reload at any rank, so it may pay off to rank ships with CM all the way to legendary (another reason to concentrate those defenses on one ship).

Good luck in the raid - keep grinding!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Navigating Utopia's Big Ole Store

Well, if you buy into the whole consumerism thing and paradise is a huge shopping mall, then this next raid really will be Utopia for you.  

Since Kixeye was kind enough to post the prize list early, I'll try to make sense of this store and break things down. I'm NOT going to go with a full red/yellow/green breakdown... that's crazy.

I'm going to start with looking at it from my own point of view - a player who is pretty much caught up.  For players like that, the major priority will be to get set up for success in the next raid series (which will be Garrison).  Actually, that should be all players' priority.  As the game has moved towards a very predictable rotation of target types, you need to try to jump on to that hamster wheel so set yourself up for continued success.

So the first things to look at are the new equipment.  We don't have full blueprints, but we have some general ideas.

To get the new equipment, you first need to take the Empyrean generalist hull.  A valid question is - why do we need another generalist hull after the Zelos?  The answer is that the Empyrean is a remote targeting hull, so that you can build up the Zelos as a tank, and use Empyreans behind that to rain down fire.  With the new weapon and special being released for that hull (Advanced Imperial Mortar D100-Z and Advanced Trajectory Plotter) - the Empyrean will have remote targeting for mortars.  My hope is that in the spirit of true 'generalism', that hull will ALSO remote target for missiles, but right now only remote targeting stats for mortars are shown in the raid video.  (and a heavy weapon slot...) I also expect that new Imperial Mortar and Trajectory Plotter special will be relatively quick building and Generalist only (just like the previous Quake Cannon and Seismic Rounds released with the Zelos).  Players who are caught up are probably interested in taking the Empyrean only because they have to be.  I'm plenty happy with my Citadels for remote targeting of Mortars, and Rhinos for remote targeting of Missiles, and I don't think I'll be devoting shipyard time to that hull.  I've been quite happy with my decision to build no Zelos hulls so far.

Instead, I'll be devoting time to the specialized Garrison hulls - the first of which is the Icebreaker, which is described as the "Auto" hull.  This puts it in the same genre as the Ironclad and Tideseeker, which means it will be sort of a 'charge in and blow stuff up' kind of hull.  Released with the Icebreaker are the Siege Rockets D110-S and the Garrison Battery Mk-X.  These rockets and (likely) explosive-enhancing special should go with the Icebreaker.  Rockets haven't been really effective in this game since players were loading up Leviathans with Hydras and blitzing them into Sentinel missiles... but we will see how these look when we get the full blueprint.  Right now we have some hints from the video:

Rocket Range: +30%
Rocket Reload: +100%
Explosive Defense: +80%
Penetrative Defense: +80%
Field Resistance: +90%

Note the last rocket hull we've seen, the Goresaber, had +25% Rocket Range, +160% Rocket Reload, 50% Exp/Pen resist, and +67% Field Resistance.  

Range: 57
Damage: 6672
Splash: 20

The previous generation of rockets, Dragonfires, Lockdowns, and Coaxial Firestorms (who remembers they fire rockets in primary mode?) all had range of 68.  Old school Siege Rockets have the 57 range.  Dragonfires also have that 20 splash, although they are a low damage, fast firing rocket.  If our targets have any deflection, Dragonfires will be near useless.  


So to start off with, players who are 'keeping up' will need:
Empyrean: 15M
Icebreaker: 60M 
Siege Rocket D100-S: 20M
Garrison Battery Mk-X: 10M
Total (new stuff): 105M points

That's kind of a bare minimum, unless you want to take a 'high-risk' approach to this raid.  That would be to wait for the Specialist hull, which should be released in an upcoming TLC. Even so, you may also want the Rocket weapon and Explosive special.  You don't know how much time you'll have to do that TLC before VXP weekend (with a 6 day raid). I'll just suggest that the 'high-risk' approach is too high risk for me.

Then I looked down at the rest of the prize list and I saw a bunch of tokens I wanted:

11d 3h ship build tokens: 30.9M
4x Liberator 25k VXP tokens: 24M
4x Oppressor 25k VXP tokens: 24M
8x 2 day Structure build tokens: 32M
Total (tokens): 110.9M

I would prioritize the Ship Build tokens very highly so I can get at least 4 Icebreaker hulls complete before VXP weekend.  I also really want those Liberator VXP tokens... since I already armored those 2 of the 3 I've built (even the Prof makes mistakes sometimes).  The structure ones I could probably do without if the points get tight.

I also saw some limited items:  
First off are the new Charged Zynthonite C1-X and C1-M Armors.  These new armors add no repair time and have some stats released in the video:

Charged Zynth C1-X
Explosive Dmg Reduction: 10,000
Explosive Armor Pool: 170,000

Charged Zynth C1-M
Penetrating Dmg Reduction: 37,725
Penetrating Armor Pool: 700,000

From the scant description we have, these seem to work like some sort of 'pre-deflection' damage reduction, but I'm not going to attempt any detailed description or analysis until we hear more from Kixeye.  But with the reduction of M & X damage, they certainly seem like they will be useful in these Garrison targets (which do primarily M & X damage).  I suspect you'll want one of each of these armors on ships being built for Garrison targets.  This means I'm going to want at least 4 of each ... if not 8 - 10.  I also want to restock my Agility system IV and Hydraulic Resistors.  I'm less concerned about Gales (Hail D is at least... useful) and Cobras.

4x Charged Armor C1-X: 40M
4x Charged Armor C1-M: 40M
5x Agility System IV: 5M
5x Hydro Resistors: 7.5M
Total (Limited): 92.5M

So, even not going for everything... I really want a bit over 300 million points this raid.  and I think a lot of players will be in similar situations.  WOOF! 

So what else is out there?

If you are going the "generalist" route, you will probably want:

Empyrean Hull: 15M
Advanced Imperial Mortar D100-Z: 9M
Trajectory Plotter: 6M
up to 15x Zelos 1 day Build Tokens (refit one to M/X defense): up to 30M
1x Charged Armor C1-X: 10M
1x Charged Armor C1-M: 10M
11d 3h Ship Build Tokens: 30.9M
Total (generalist):  30M - 110.9M

Lower end players who can't go after those big ticket items should make sure they have some sort of Garrison fleet in order.  If you can't get those Generalist hulls, then the Citadel / Punisher combination are the next best thing.  Hopefully you've gotten the hulls from the low end FM tiers, but you should make sure you have the equipment you need for them too.  If you don't have a Punisher tank (WHY NOT???) or Citadel mortar chuckers built, Berzerker build tokens are available.  If you are in this category, I would plan your fleet / refits very carefully so you can take only the tokens you need.  Note that the ship specific build tokens are cheaper than the general build tokens.  Consider:

up to 11d 3h Ship Build Tokens: up to 30.9M
up to 10 Citadel 1 day build tokens: up to 15M
up to 10 Citadel 5000 VXP tokens: up to 10M
Berzerker Hull: 0.75M
up to 10 Berzerker 3 day build tokens: up to 15M
Judgement Mortar: 0.9M
or Pandemonium Mortar: 0.6M
Explosive System IV: 0.6M
or Combustion System 2: 0.6M
No total here - too situation specific

Lower end players who have been having trouble in this raid cycle need to get a Siege fleet in order.  The best plan here is Ironclads with Mausers - Cannoneers and Millenium Guns are too expensive.  If you haven't been able to do the TLCs to win Ironclad/Mauser, get them now.  High Velocity Rounds are worth the splurge (for mortar/garrison fleets too).    Take build & VXP tokens to get them done.

up to 11d 3h Ship Build Tokens: up to 30.9M
Ironclad: 1M
High Velocity Rounds: 5M
up to 20 Ironclad 1 day build tokens: up to 10M
up to 20 Ironclad 5000 VXP tokens: up to 6M
Mauser Cannon: 0.75M
Nuclear Accelerators: 0.5M
No total here - too situation specific

Lower end players who have been having trouble getting Uranium need a Skirmish fleet.  Hellwraiths or Tideseekers are the thing here, but since Hellwraiths are comparatively expensive in the store, I recommend the Tideseekers.  The Conflagration Scattergun that is most effective isn't in the store, and neither are the concussive cannons, so torpedoes are the next best idea.

up to 11d 3h Ship Build Tokens: up to 30.9M
Tideseeker: 0.5M
Fire Twister Torpedo: 2M
Sealed Fire Charge: 1M
No total here - too situation specific

Going after Megas needs an Assault fleet, basically Apollos.  Phalanx 4 are preferred as your anti-missile solution, since switchblades can get overwhelmed, but they aren't available.  If you don't have Phalanx, don't go all Switchblade, make sure to mix in some Blades to maintain offense.

up to 11d 3h Ship Build Tokens: up to 30.9M
Apollo: 3M
Blade: 0.6M
Switchblade Anti-Missile: 0.9M
Interception System: 0.3M
Counter Missile Extender: 0.6M
No total here - too situation specific

If you want to get into Base Hitting and PvP, the tier 5 Conqueror hulls can still smash a lot of bases (just not the best ones).  If you're starting from scratch, I'd recommend taking the Vendetta and at least one other hull type, so you can use 2 tanks and 3 remote targeting Vendettas. If forced to pick one tank, I'd probably go with the Spite, but Malice are decent too (if you equip with Radioactive Plate).  All the "PvP" components are pretty cheap, so make sure you have weapons and specials to complete whatever hull you grab.  

Vendetta: 1.5M
Spite: 2M
Malice: 1.5M

For Base Defense we have the Valiant and Vanquisher.  Pick one and make sure you can equip it. Avoid the Alpha Behemoth and Cesium Scarab - they are really underperforming in most situations.

Valiant: 2M
Vanquisher: 1.5M

Whether to get Turrets is an interesting question.  The latest generation of turrets like Gargoyle 3, Hyena, and Explosive D99-S are not available, and they really are a step up in capability from previous versions.  Cataclysm is available and worth getting. I expect more improved turrets will be available to round out the damage types, so unless you are desperate, I would focus on the 'better' Limited turrets in this store.  

Glacial Launcher: 2M 
Coldsnap Rocket: 2M 
Cataclysm: 4M

Ferox Fury will be a flagship for Fury hulls.  Without seeing it, it's tough to figure out if it will be desirable to build.  Right now, the only people I could see really wanting it at its 40M point price tag are those who have a full fleet of Furys but are missing out on the Tier 6 Conquerors.

Well, although there are a lot of good prizes available at good prices, the massive size of the store and the high prices on new equipment mean that a lot of players will be wanting a lot of points.  Remember it will be a 6 day raid and you should try to use all 6 days if you can.  Also remember Alliance points reset on Monday, and so you'll probably be hit.  Deal with it.