Friday, January 13, 2017

Awakening - what to get

Awakening has started - and it's definitely a have or have-not kind of raid.  Cannoneers are working great. Ironclads were perhaps a bit oversold, and players with neither of those two ships are definitely in for a grind at best.

I'm not going to go into much detail on tips - there are a lot of videos with driving & build tips on YouTube.  

I will share with you my final Cannoneer build.

I refit my 3 Cannoneers with the 8th Millenium Gun and the High Velocity Rounds after getting enough points to grab that special and enough tokens to make the refit cheap.  After that refit, I can put a Creeping Death crew on, and go hit Tier 5 targets for the 40 minutes, earn 10-12 million points, and not have to repair during that time.  This is a case where the high repair time works in our favor.  I can hit a lot of targets, get a lot of points, and walk away to do something else while my fleet repairs for a few hours.  This makes for a very cheap raid (except the LTOs and refits). 

So in terms of what to get for this raid, it's clear that I've chosen the High Velocity Rounds over the UAV Overdrive special.  The fact that players can't get every new prize is a clear sign that Kixeye screwed up in how they released the tech for this raid.

In terms of what else to get... I think the next question on a player's mind would be 

If I don't have the Cannoneer already, should I take it?
Maybe.  Although there are only two raids of this style left, you could probably get two of these built before the next one, although you'll probably have to skimp on armor, and ranking might be an issue (more on that later).  One or two Cannoneers are still effective in Tier 5, although it takes longer.  Also remember this style target will probably be replacing the Draconian Mines after the three raids of this cycle are over, so you'll need to think about your future.

Should I take the Harlock's Cannoneer?
Maybe.  This is the question I've been thinking about for myself - I started a 4th Cannoneer already, and so I'll need to decide if I want to build the Harlock's version after that.  The only real flagship bonus is the +60% Ballistic Damage, and I'm doing pretty good with what I've got already.  I do expect the targets to increase in difficulty as this raid cycle goes on for two more iterations, so the extra firepower may be helpful.  A blank build of the Harlock will not be helpful because it is very difficult to keep a flagship out of trouble with the driving style needed in these targets, so a fully built and ranked ship will be needed.

Is the Millennium Gun good on ships other than the Cannoneer?
Yes.  Don't miss out on this weapon.  The Millennium and the Mauser are significantly more effective (from a DPS perspective) than previous ballistic weapons.  If you missed the Mauser, you really want the Millennium for any ballistic ship you are building.  Even players with Ironclads are liking the Millennium (over the Mauser). The exception is probably base hitting - with neither splash nor penetrating, I wouldn't choose the Millennium to put on the Malice for base hitting... there I'd go Mauser.  Of course with Level 9 walls... I think all Ballistics are pretty useless.

What is Harlock's Ironclad good for?
Meh. One obvious option is to lead Ironclads.  Another option might be is if you missed out on Ironclads and Cannoneers... just take this and build the one.  You could put Earthshakers or PACs on it... or if you get another 6 Million put the Millenium on it  (nope... it's locked behind the Cannoneer.  Everybody loves that).  However, I think I'd rather spend the 30 million on the whole ballistic tree, and build a nice Cannoneer instead of a low tech Harlock's Ironclad.

How about the Alpha Behemoth and the new Cesium Scarab UAV?
Maybe.  Without the UAV Overdrive special, I'm not super sold on this ship as a damage dealer, and the countermeasure capability is not unique to this hull.  If you already have the Millenium Gun, I wouldn't skip the UAV though.  It is clearly better than previous UAVs, and we will see if the rotating wheel of weapon love stays on UAVs for a bit longer to leave us a new UAV hull or other opportunities to use that weapon.

And how about the other stuff?

  • I always recommend build tokens if you are halfway decent at the raid.
  • Superhulls (Ghostcrawler, ProtoNemesis, Man-of-War, and Hellstar) are pretty much obsolete, and I wouldn't tie up my shipyard building one.
  • The Gamma Behemoth can be earned for just 4 million points - if you want an option for countermeasures in your base besides the Alpha Behemoth, here it is.
  • Vassago's Punisher got cheap, but probably isn't worth building.
  • On the lower tiers, I'd probably go Punisher, PAC, and Nuclear Accelerator if forced to choose.  Punisher is the original generalist hull even though Kixeye calls it a Siege class.

Is the VXP token LTO any good?
I'm kind of sick of the Limited Time Offers (LTOs).  The Millennium Gun ones were good deals, but now I'm looking at the VXP tokens.  I've got one Cannoneer left to build and maybe a Harlock.  (But I do need to keep in mind that the "Cannoneer" tokens won't work on the "Harlock's Cannoneer"

A Cannoneer needs 47,425 VXP to hit legendary.  So the 25000x4 offer for $29.99 will get two Cannoneers to Legendary.  The 5000x10 offer for $19.99 will get one there.

On a VXP weekend, a ship might get about 5000 VXP per hit (with a Salty Dog), and a Cannoneer will take 7 coin to repair, meaning it should take about 63 coin to get a Cannoneer to Legendary over that time.  This means that ranking through the token offer will cost about 2-3x more than ranking through the VXP weekend.  Sure those tokens may be a 90% reduction from coining the rank directly, but I think I'll skip this LTO.

Well, the first raid of a new cycle is generally pretty screwed up.  This one is no exception.  There were lots of problems with point awards in the first hours of the raid (some in players' favor, some not), that once more made it seem like Kixeye is doing ZERO testing.  Like the last raid cycle, this one seems to be sorting players into haves & have nots.  The campaigns are an effort to dull that a bit, but you can't get enough points through those to earn the needed tech.

The Reaver Skirmish cycle went through three iterations before getting it into the current format which players accepted.  I guess the burning question is - How many iterations is this Scourge Siege style going to go through?  After all, we're only getting three shots at it.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

And then there was the Ironclad...

We've got another new hull available for the next raid cycle - the Ironclad.

To win it, you need to beat the first round of the Iron Maiden TLC.  The second and third rounds give you equipment that helps you fit out the Ironclad - the Cannon System 4 and the Mauser Cannon.  I'm not going to go in depth on the stats of all of these... you can find that stuff on the Facebook pages and YouTube shows.  If you watch the Battle Pirates Crib show, you can see a chart with the DPS and DPS per ton numbers.

We've also seen the Tips and Tricks post, giving you a raid preview.  If you haven't read it, go here on the Forums and read it now.   I'm not going to summarize it here, but I'm going to assume you've read it.

There is a mechanic with platforms and land rising up out of the water as you approach, but that's not really what I'm going to focus on in this article.  The key point I'm going to focus on is the descriptions of the weapon ranges and of the driving techniques.  They describe Short Range & Long Range Ballistic Turrets and Short Range Radioactive Turrets as your main targets, along with a Very Long Range Tracking Radioactive turret and an EMP building.  The quote "the real test will be skating the razor's edge with your ships's range" is indicative that if you are using Cannoneers, you will need to drive an a way similar to the last raid (if you used subs).  Your weapons on the Cannoneers, with max possible range, will likely just barely outrange the Short Range turrets.  You'll need to drive alongside the turrets (instead of straight at them) to have the best chance of hitting them without being hit back.

Overall, it seems likely that the ranking of hull quality for the next raid (starting from best) will be:
1. Cannoneer
2. Ironclad
3. Centurion (with Harlock Centurion)
4. Centurion (without Harlock Centurion)
5. Punisher
6. Zelos

But there's an exception - if you had subs with 88 range torpedos in the last raid cycle, and you still couldn't do the raid successfully because you couldn't quite get your subs stacked up and in range without getting shot up... then you likely won't be able to use the Cannoneer successfully in this raid cycle either.

I'm not totally sure how effective the Punisher will be compared to the Centurion - it may depend on your Centurion retrofit level and how much splash vs. how much aimed damage we end up with.  For now I think they are in the same neighborhood, and I'll talk about why further down in this article.  For the rest of this article I'm going to talk about build strategies for each of your hull options, starting with the Cannoneer.

Zelos, especially with 94 range launchers, will probably be in big trouble as it will likely end up in range of the "short" range turrets but the launcher flechettes will take a while to land and build up a shockwave.

Cannoneer Build Strategy


I've been building up a 3 Cannoneer fleet for the upcoming raid.  My general plan was to build it with a mix of Arbalest and Earthshaker cannons, which is a mix I use successfully in Draconian Mines on my Punishers.  My specials were Nuclear Accelerator, Alloy CL-3, Agility System 4, Siege Battery 3 and Drum Reloader.  I planned to use a mix of D5-C and D5-R armor.

A couple things I learned from the Tips thread.  
1. I wanted all of my weapons (on the Cannoneer) to be 50 base range.  Anything shorter might be useless, or at least be more difficult to bring to bear.
2. I want more speed to keep me ahead of the tracking turret.
3. (not from the Tips thread, but Ren from TFC reminded me...) Siege Targeting will put out more DPS than the Drum Reloader because the building damage bonus compounds multiplicatively.

So after last night's BP Crib show I did a few refits with FM tokens, and changed my build to:
3 Arbalest, 3 PAC, 4 D35-S
Speed 5, Nuclear Accelerator, Alloy CL-3, Siege Battery 3 and Siege Targeting 3
3xD5-C Armor
(still not done yet, but that was the plan)

I ran this through some mines, and found that mixing the Arbalest & PAC wasn't useful - the PAC projectile speed is much slower and thus the PAC wasn't doing much damage because the Arbalest would kill the targets before the PAC landed.  

So I am planning another refit to pull off the PACs, add one more Arbalest, and end up here:

The S cannons are just for speed - I don't have enough weight margin to add another Arbalest or even a D-110.  I could fit a Crossbow 1, but I don't think it will be effective.

The emphasis on Ballistic resistance is for two reasons: one is that I will be using a HLNC to add Radioactive resistance, and two is that the Tips description sounds like the Long Range Ballistic Turret will be the one that will be least likely avoidable through driving.  I also like the bit of deflection and lower repair time of the C armor vs. the R.

I think the biggest risk with this build is the lack of Agility 4.  Adding it back would mean removing either Speed System 5 or Siege Targeting 3...  This choice will just have to wait until we see the raid targets.  We don't know how much aimed weaponry there will be and what the range of the EMP blast will be.  Another option would be to use Layered Armor 3 and Reflective Coat 3 (instead of the Alloy CL and (ST3 or SS5).  That option would better if there is more aimed weaponry, but I can stay outside the stun range.

Ironclad Build Strategy:
The biggest features of the Ironclad are the huge splash bonus (positive), and the low ballistic range bonus (negative).  This hull will have to come into range of the short range turrets and the EMP, but it has the high ballistic/radioactive resistance and 100% stun resistance to offset that a bit.  An Ironclad build should take advantage of the splash with the new special and cannon if possible.

First of all, since I plan to rely on the Cannoneer, but also plan to complete the TLC for 12 days of Ironclad tokens, I'm going to build this:

With the lower ballistic bonus range, Earthshakers at 47 vs. Mausers at 50 won't make much difference, but the lower build time helps me get close to my 12 day build time goal.  Other than Cannon System 4 being used to help my splash a bit more, the specials and armor choices are pretty similar to the Cannoneer.  If finishing this build, I would try to balance the Radioactive and Ballistic resistance, since this ship will be taking both types of damage.  I may play with the armor a bit - using more smaller R & C plates to fill my armor slots.

A full-up, high end build with all the goodies would look more like this:

Mausers (splash 7) are the weapon of choice here, but if you can't get to Prize Pack 3 of Iron Maiden, then PACs (splash 6) or Earthshakers (splash 7) are also decent choices that will benefit from the splash bonus.  If you need something REALLY fast... maybe even think about the D35-Z (half hour each)?

Centurion (Punisher) Build Strategy
Without the full range of the Cannoneer, and without the huge splash bonus of the Ironclad, I think older hulls may be in trouble.  I think for this hull class, speed is definitely needed, and PACs may be the best best - hope for the big boom.

Nothing else should be too new here if you've read the rest of this article.  I chose Cannon System 4 over Nuclear Accelerator because the lighter weight lets me add more weapons.  I don't think the +35% splash bonus will make much difference when applied to the 6 Splash of the PAC.  Note the Accuracy Bonus of Nuclear Accelerator won't help you at all.

If planning to use Centurions, you definitely want to try to get the retrofits and a Harlock Centurion.  Once you hit R5 on the Centurions in the Foundry, then build out the Harlock to run with your other ships, but until then, just build the Harlock with a single Hellstorm to get the Flagship bonus (differing speeds will be a disaster). 

You will need a fully upgraded dock to build a fleet with 5 of these, but let's talk about... 

The best flagship choice, the Omega Behemoth, will be unusable in the upcoming raid due to the PvE restrictions announced in the State of Game post.  The next best obvious choice is the Highlander Nuclear Cruiser, and it can be built with just a single countermeasure to give the Radioactive Resistance.  If you retrofit that hull to R5, its Flagship resistance bonus goes from 50% to 55%, which will cut your pre-deflection radioactive damage taken by an extra 10% (compared to R0 HLNC... trust me on the Kixeye math here.)

If using Centurions, the Harlock Centurion is an even better choice if you have that available.

But... especially with the Cannoneer, it seems like the Ballistic damage might be the emphasis, so are there other choices?

The only other one that looks potentially usable is... the Avenger.  Remember the Avenger?  It gives an effect like the Midnight Marauders, increasing speed, damage, and resistance as you take damage.  Use some caution though.... if you are using multiple Cannoneers or another ship where you depend on stacking up precisely, your ships will diverge as they take damage and their speed bonus changes.  It might be most effective with the Ironclad, but I probably wouldn't build an Avenger just for this raid cycle.

Don't forget to use crews!  Even uncommon crews (or their common versions) will help cut repair time.

For Uncommon crews, consider Steelheads for Radioactive and Ballistic defense, Creeping Death (or the common Wrecking Crew) for Building Damage, or Molotov Maidens for Splash (Ironclads only).  Midnight Marauders might help, but if you're relying on precision driving of Cannoneers... don't do it.  Sea Serpents may be useful if there is significant aimed damage, and especially so if you also skimped on evade (like I plan to).  Cannoneer, Ironclad, and Centurion are all Forsaken hulls, so they will get the 15% reload bonus from a Salty Dogs... but there's no VXP for doing damage in a Siege target, so think about that.

For Rare crews, Dead Eye Destroyers give you +15% critical hits, but the 19% building damage from a Creeping Death will likely be just as effective overall.

For Legendary crews, Demolition Squad will give Resistance and Building Damage.  Disciples of Skullduggery will give you more damage at the edge of splash, but I'm not sure that will be totally useful here (and definitely Ironclad only).

In closing, I know there has been a lot of uncertainty about the next raid's emphasis, and also a lot of frustration about the lack of weapons / specials "for" the Cannoneer.  I'm frustrated too, but if you think about how things used to be 6 months or a year ago... we would have even less advance information about a new raid format, and ZERO opportunity to build ships in advance.  You'd build whatever came out most recently and hope it works.  I'm not trying to be a Kixeye apologist here, but it seems like the dribble of info and equipment that they are letting out just makes us want yet more.  Yes, the communication should be better and a WIP or other roadmap would really have helped us out over the last month.  Kixeye tries (and doesn't always succeed) to tune the raid target damage to the equipment we have, so it might not matter in the end.  As always, I'll do the best I can with the information I have in front of me.

Huggy's link to all the builds in this article:!y3307I01V1V1V342U6A6P2F232323233737373737370ZZ07J01V1V00004D2U346P2FAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAKAK07J01V1V1V1W4D2U346P2F2M2M2M2M2M2M2M37373707401V1V1V1W1W4D2U346P2F2C2C2C2C2C2C2C2C2C37dC

Well, there's one week until the raid.  Use it wisely.