Saturday, June 23, 2018

Happy Sailing Prof


Fair Winds and Full Sails


By: Brian Randich

As many of you have seen, Larry, aka the BP Professor, recently quit the game. He was more recently known as a town hall member, a host, and one of the mainstays of the Battle Pirates Crib show. Before that, he was known for his blog. While it was not updated recently except for the announcement of him quitting, the blog holds a wealth of information and tips collected over the years. It had tips and builds for the raids and what to get, explanations of mechanics (and the first explanation of how vxp affected reload after it got changed to 75%), and personal thoughts and ideas about the game and the direction it was taking. It was a one-man TFC before TFC existed.
I don’t know how I first found his blog. I think I googled “Battle Pirates help” or something similar. The first memory I have of seeing an article of his was the Riptide raid tips back in April 2014. As a new-ish player who had no idea what to do, I started to learn from what was out there. I liked the way he explained things, and it made sense. I looked back through the archives and found his old articles, and while some didn’t exactly have use at the time (old raid tips/prizes), I learned quite a bit, and I started to form a base of knowledge on this game and what to do going forward.
Here are a few links I found to be helpful, or at least entertaining, along with a brief description:
This is how I learned to build ships. While a lot of ship-building changed with hull classes, these ideas still hold true. Figure out what you want a fleet to do, then build it to do that. It’s easier these days with hull classes and weapons and specials given out with hulls.
This is how I learned the equation to find a weapon’s actual reload, how much Kix screwed up that math relating to reload, and how important rank really is.
The professor does not mess around.
Even though his blog updates became further and further apart due to real life and disillusionment with the game itself, the professor was a prominent community member. With a mix of math, knowledge, and humor, his blog was a great read, and he was someone I aspired to be like in the game and on the shows.
Happy sailing, prof.



Friday, May 18, 2018

Defense Calculator

The Stats That Kixeye Cherishes




By: Wayne Gilliver and 
George Argyropoulos


Let me make this perfectly clear: Kixeye doesn't generally like us ripping their stats apart to the basics at times. I think in this instance though, we will be forgiven!

A lot of angst has been floating around because trying to calculate exactly what s going on with turret damage is a bit... complicated. I wrote an article a while ago reviewing that here and that engendered some good discussion and a lot of questions, so...


Wayne Gilliver and I have been hard at work over the last couple of weeks creating a calculator to show just that. What's happening. Wayne busted his ass taking this to the next level and I hope everyone can benefit and enjoy!

Special thanks go out to Templar and Vengeful one for testing and catching a few things!!


This version of the spreadsheet is only version 1 so therefor may contain some issues like Salvos and Critical hits, but rest assured, we have made sure Executioner2 and Howie6 figures are correct insofar as we could putting this together. Please have some patience and help us get this into full gear for you.

The calculator calculates DAMAGE PER PROJECTILE which is what is important in the game for PvP as that is what you need to know to know if you can break a deflection value.

CURRENTLY: We put in a mix of values because Wayne and I have different retro levels on items. What we would like to eventually do is have ALL the values at an R15 level (both weapons and specials) so if you find that some of the numbers are off please let us know. If you are like Venom who has this down to the minutia, please let us know what part needs to be updated and if you have the values for the R15, please include them for us to update the calculator.

Because of how we had to set it up and the amount of diversity in the turrets, critical hits will show for anything you put in. TURRETS DO NOT INHERENTLY CRITICAL HIT!!! You have to have a special that does it or it has to be part of the weapon, such as the Vulture Missile. I would hope everyone using this can make the distinction and keep this in mind.

Additionally : Do to a few things behind the scenes, in order for the calculator to work and not run super slow, you can put options in that you can NOT in game. Again, I presume everyone will be mindful enough to check in game if the build you are calculating is a legal build.

Please message Wayne or myself with your thoughts on this calculator and errors that you think maybe in there. Or post a comment on the TFC page where this will be posted as well. We are still working out a few bugs and errors should be apparent.

Waynes file can be found at http://ahoymearty.co.uk/defenceCalc.html

You can view his complete website with MOAR calculators, a turret builder/planner and more by clicking this image:

www.ahoymearty.co.uk

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Tweaking the Buccaneer

A Lazy Pirate's Observations

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   


Let me preface this by stating: I mostly auto my Buccaneer targets. For the most part, I like to auto anything in the game that is abnormally time consuming or annoying. It began with chores. This is supposed to be a game. To me that means whiling away my free time playing something enjoyable and fun. 

Chores were too many taking too much time. We started seeing raids climb into the stratosphere in terms of points requirements, and hence, seat time. It used to be that you could invest in the top tier stuff and have the reward be a quick raid. No more. Now it is a grind at any level. So I began heavily leaning towards auto hulls for the raid when that became a truly viable option.

That all said, my Buccaneer build from the first raid to today has revolved around that concept. They were initially tuned to run on auto in the S targets in the raid. They perform very well when driven.


What I have observed from the first raid to the last raid is that the targets for the Buccaneer seem to be tuned far more towards resistances than charge. This is opposite of what I've observed in the Hydra targets.

That is not to say charge is meaningless, only that the targets seem designed to deplete your charge about halfway through the target. Given that this is an auto hull and tested observations, the conclusion is apparent. 


>>>Charge still works to mitigate damage but the targets are designed in such a way as to deplete your charge quickly. You can take advantage of this and minimize damage in the targets by jumping out halfway through to recharge your armor.<<<

My clear presumption here is that this trend will continue into the next raid. With that in mind, I decided to use some of my Buccaneer tokens from last raid to tweak my build. I have 2 versions based on the same idea and will likely test the theories out on the first day of the raid. 


In addition to tweaking the resistances, I and a few others (Thanks to Templar and Vengeful One) also tested the way critical hits worked in game. Apparently, and counter to what many of us thought, if any blueprint states a +X critical hit modifier, it is reflecting the actual critical damage. It is not increasing the critical damage by an additional amount. That means that MAN special is truly only giving you a +10% critical chance and the 40% splash. That's it. Your critical damage is not increased by the special.

So this brings me to the current tweaking of the hulls. We had the opportunity to earn a new styled charged armor in the FM. The new Charged Zynthonite C1-CR brings a new aspect to the charged armor family. It offers a dual defensive buff at the cost of both charge pool and damage reduction.



Interestingly, it stacks with the regular styled charged armor in such a way that the higher damage reduction number is used when they are combined on the same ship. This brings up interesting design opportunities.

The main question when looking at this armor, to me, was whether to swap out all four armors to maximize my resistances across the hull, or whether to swap out just two in order to boost my radioactive resistance a bit and use the higher damage reduction number to my advantage.

My conclusion is that I am likely going to swap all four out. If I were to hop out halfway through a target (presuming the same mechanic as last month's raid) to charge my armor, then I'd likely just swap two panels out and minimize my damage by maximizing the use of my charge.


I don't plan on doing that however. I plan on flat out autoing those target while I play in the Hydra targets. I have two builds listed below. I will be testing this a little the first day of raid merely to ascertain the viability. I'll more than likely tune my own fleet towards full auto.

In either case, the Boon will continue to use the Lowered Cannon Mount to scoot ahead of the other hulls and tank some damage. Because of it's health and repair efficiency I'd also swap all four of the armors on the Boon regardless of the build path. If you are planning on hopping in and out, keep in mind that the Boon is significantly faster and you'll have to stack up somewhere upon re-entry.

Because of the nature of the MAN, I've decided to forgo that special and go back to the Auto-Loader 2 I discussed pre-raid. I'll be implementing this change for the whole fleet. If I get a critical, the damage remains the same, so I'd rather increase my 'chance' for a critical by shooting more. While I'm not rolling a critical, I'll be doing more damage per second.

Where I can, I'll likely fit a couple of the new cannons on as well. I never got around to refitting those on before last raid. Hope this helps and good luck!!
 











Sunday, March 25, 2018

So how does Turret Damage Work Again?

A Quick Peek at Turret Damage Calculation


By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   


With the introduction of the new armor in the FM hot on the heels of the new Howitzer turret release from the raid, there seems to be an awful lot of players scrambling to understand just how damage calculations work on turrets.

Some of the damage calculations are not what many would consider intuitive in nature. There also seems to be some confusion with regard to how some of the bonuses stack and the interaction within bonus types. Let's see if we can't shed some light on these things.

To preface, I have asked a lot of questions trying to get a clear understanding for dissemination to the player base. This is, as much as I've been able to, verified information and MY understanding of the mechanics and functions of all of this.



Fire Supports :

The first thing we need to cover is the Fire Support auras and how they stack. While the display shows an additive stacking within the bonus group in the turret stat block, it really isn't - sort of.

What the Fire Support does is multiple off of each other so that if you have 5 Fire Supports, the math would look like this:


Howie VI BaseFS1FS2FS3FS4FS5
0.150.150.150.150.15
106,738.00122,748.70141,161.01162,335.16186,685.43214,688.24

You see the interaction here? The bonuses build off of each other. Where a straight additive 75% would net you a total of 186,791.5 damage, you really get 214,688.24 damage.

Uncle Ren Pro Tip: An easy way to do it is  FSBonusFSFields  (ex. 1.155).




Group Bonus : 

***Edit 3/26/18 - I and some other players (including one of the Mod team - Thanks Templar!!!) have been testing this and while the intent was for the Group bonus was to be additive stacking(1.5 instead of 1.25*1.25), it is stacking just like Fire Support. ***

With the introduction of both the Executioner II and the Howitzer VI there came a new damage bonus called Group Bonus. These are bonuses that are applied with specificity to the group the weapon is in (ex. T7-Ballistic). These work exactly the same as Fire Support bonuses. Group Bonus is additively stacked and then applied multiplicatively, calculated like Fire Support so these look like this:

Howie VI BaseGroup 1Group
0.250.25
106,738.00133,422.50166,778.13

The Rest :


Is calculated as we intuitively would. Base * 1.xx for the calculation. You can see a complete calculation for the Howie VI below. So, for example, the A-T Transformer Would be 106,738 * 1.35 to get your resultant damage. Calculations for the intuitive ones would look like this:


Howie VI BaseHBSForsATT
0.850.200.35
106,738.00197,465.30236,958.36319,893.79


Supercharged EM Rails III :

This is another one that seems to have caught a few people out. Many believe that this special is +300% applied to a critical hit allowing you to multiply the calculated damage by 5 (200% +300%=500%). This is incorrect.

Part of the issue is that players are basing the 300% against a typical critical hit and then taking that critical hit and assuming +300% against that. In reality, the special is tied together and the stats are co-dependent because turrets have no inherent ability to critical hit in the first place so the +300% is the critical hit multiplier, hence, X * 4 instead of X * 5.


Soooo... :

This is what the calculation will look like for a Howie VI sitting in 5 Fire Support fields, with a Forsaken faction bonus, 2 Howie VI weapons built (group bonus 50%), an AT-T transformer, and Heavy Ballistic Shells with a critical hit from the Rail III.


Howie VI BaseFS1FS2FS3FS4FS5
0.150.150.150.150.15
106,738.00122,748.70141,161.01162,335.16186,685.43214,688.24
Carry OverFaction + GroupGroup 1Group 2ATT +HBSRail3
0.200.250.25.35 + .853.00
214,688.24257,625.89322,032.37402,540.461,005,344.794,021,379.16

I hope this helps players better understand the interactions of the bonuses and how to calculate them for turrets and clarifies some of the questions floating around right now.









Sunday, March 11, 2018

Early Bird FM 117 Review

In the murky water of the seas, the 117 looms...


By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   



As many know, I've been trying to test the new 117 FM target as my Inferno Dragons build and see if anything pops up.

Rum Runner and Padre Prince were kind enough to run a few of the tests for me concurrent to my own testing. They'll confirm - this is a pain and pricey!

That said, I have gotten a fleet out. I'm not sure it's a 'best build' though. There were some assumptions I made that were not completely accurate when tested and there are some wonky results that make some of the selections questionable.

That said, what I'm going to do here is go over the build and the theory behind it and then some observations about the target and hopefully it will help you decide which way you want to build your fleet and perhaps find a better combination, because I'm about burnt out tweaking this fleet.

The Build :

(Currently I am running this build EXCEPT I have replaced the ES4 special with Lowered Explosive Mount.)



This is the Huggy's link for the build.  I'm still toying with a few things and I believe that rank on this hull is absolutely essential. This has hurt me in testing because I just didn't get them ranked fully during the VXP weekend. For now, let me explain the build as it sits. There are 2 pairs of hulls in this fleet and both run on the same theory.

This is the Huggy's link for the build with the Savage lead.

FLCM and SB4 :

Two hulls have Front Line Counter Measure. Originally this was for two purposes. The first was because I was running a Sprint on 2 of the hulls.

As most of you know, I run the Phalanx and Sprint ranges in such a way that the Phalanx would have priority for firing. In this target that might not be all that important as the primary missiles do not seem to have flak evade.

I also found that if I kept the fleet moving, the use of Gales in those spots mitigated more damage than when I ran the Sprints. Weird, yea?

That said, the second purpose is one that seems to work fairly well. Offsetting the firing of the Gales. With one pair firing at a further range, it allows for a bit of overlap in the reloads while the other two hulls use Siege Battery 4 for increased building damage to help my Time To Kill (TTK), which works well because of...

Damage Density :

As we covered in a previous article Spread and Splash - A Story of Co-Dependence we reviewed how spread and splash work and their interaction. Given the strength of the walls I wanted my design to focus as much damage as possible where I hit. For that I needed low spread and high splash - exactly opposite of what the rocket inherently has.'Stock' values (15 splash, 150 spread) are a Coverage Efficiency of 25% and a Damage Density of 12.5%. This build (32.5 splash, 75 spread) brings that up to 108% and 54% respectively. Think of it as 'focusing' your rocket damage.

What the numbers don't reflect however is that at target point, 100% of every rocket will have the splash radius overlapping said target on the inside of the 50% splash mark ensuring optimal damage at the target point.

To do this I used Explosive System 4 and Narrowed Firing Aperture to reduce my spread significantly and increase my splash to get the desired effect. This also allowed me to use Siege Battery 4 to increase my building damage significantly as well which in turn helped increase my actual damage density and reduce my TTK.

What that really means is that every time a rocket lands, more of the 'inner circle' of splash damage (damage drop off is linear remember) covers the spread area increasing the damage done in that area allowing me to kill an intended target much quicker, which enabled me to forgo rocket reload and...

Magnus Drive 3 :

I use Mag3 in place of the special that was released with the hull. Again- I do not know if this is the 'best' build- it's just what I've built. The reason I wanted Mag3 was that, initially, it seemed as though we would not be able to shoot down all those mortars, which have YUGE splash and spread, so I wanted to be as far away from them as possible when they landed so I was at the tail end of the splash radius. It also allows me to mostly outrun the coldsnaps.

One thing I did note when using Mag3 over other options was that it changed my targeting on the incoming mortars so that I had a better chance at firing at the tail end of the mortars rather than waste all my salvos on the first ones out- which had a better chance of falling away from me and causing less damage. I don't know if I'm paranoid, but it looks like the first half of the volley of mortars fires with less spread than the last half of the volley. I'll try and test that out in the future.

Given how dependent this hull is on rank, one possibility for a build would be to add another Gale or two which may mitigate more damage that this current setup. Unfortunately, I don't know how that would affect my TTK on the turrets, but if the additional Gales can counter all the mortars, you may be able to run RF-X engine instead and bring the TTK back to the same area. If I hit the lottery and can refit to this idea, I'll test it and report back, or, if anyone is building this fleet in the article and wants to test that for all of us, please let me know the results!!

MX3 v. AA3 v. RA3 :

This one is a very interesting conundrum. On first blush I was very tempted to go with AA3 because of the mortars. What I've found through testing, particularly when you have a full complement of armors, is that AA3 is the worst of the three. Counter-intuitive? Yup.

The other two have yielded some interesting results. They seem to be performing neck and neck when running a Dragon fleet. One will outperform the other by small amounts and they also perform differently in different positions in the fleet (which interestingly enough- is repeatable often).

What gets really interesting is when you run a Savage flag. In that instance, the MX3 reliably outperforms the RA3. Again counter-intuitive. One would think if the Savage reduced the projectile damage a significant amount that the RA3 equipped hulls would clearly outperform the MX3 hulls when running just Dragons. Instead the biggest disparity I've had between the two specials was about 600 damage. Typically they have been around 50. This is another area where improvement can be found.

Charged Armor :

Needed? Yes. I found that 3 Charged X and 2 Charged M was the happy balance point in testing. I tried a few other configurations and did not find a better combination. If you plan on running a Savage with the fleet you may be able to toy with this as well, but I'd hate to have to refit AGAIN once the Flagship comes out.

Phalanx, Gales and Sprints :

As I mentioned above, I forewent Sprints and rely on speed. I'm running only 2 Phalanx 4's in the fleet. Between the remote targeting evade and semi-decent driving I'm finding that even with the occasional 'oops!' in the target the 2 Phalanx work fine which lets me load up on the Gales. I do run 2 Gale 2's though just as another offset cushion to the reload of the Gales.


Random Thoughts :

I hate to say this, but this is easily the most refit and tweaked hull I've had to play with. That is not good. Part of the issue was, and is, the large changes in performance and mechanic interactions with the addition of rank and charged armors. What was working early in the build, did not work later when there was some rank and armor. This is a very poor interaction for the player and thought should be given when designing a target and hull. Unless there is some avenue in which to test builds out, players will be chasing down poor build paths until the 'final', and planned, interactions become clear. I think part of this issue is that the targets are tuned for full ranked hulls (which mine are not as yet) and testing is done on final versions and no thought or planning was given to the interim time a player spends with the fleet and target. It may be an oversight or something that never manifested in testing but should be looked at in the future when developing targets and hulls.

The other aspect that troubles me a bit is that this seems to be exactly what many players complain about - you have to have a top flight build in order to perform even acceptably. Many players complain about the complexity involved in building a fleet and that for many targets you have to have the 'perfect' build in order to succeed or a degree in math to understand what is happening. This target reflects that sentiment.

If you haven't gathered yet, I am not 100% confident in this build because the damage still seems too high given the application the hull is intended for. I know I don't come up with the best builds, but generally speaking, I think I come up with acceptable performing designs and am confident in those designs. This one sets my teeth on edge for some reason. Perhaps because I can still see many items/ideas I'd like to test or possible flaws in my analysis. We'll see...



The Target :

The 117 is, as everyone is aware, a new target and not at full strength yet. This is worrisome given the damage I'm taking and that I will need at least 7 (SEVEN!!) of these targets to fully complete an FM mission when there is even 1 new item added into the Tier 5 Prize Pool (~3.5 million points). I am less than amused. If this were a target where I could do 3 and be done, perhaps the damage would be appropriate, but as it stands now, given that the target is not at full strength, I do not think the payout is appropriate for the anticipated damage output of the target.



There is a new mechanic in these targets that took some of us by surprise. There is a secondary missile that fires from the missile turret. It fires when the primary missile is shot down and targets the hull that shot down the primary missile and can not be countered. I have tested a Zelos running with my Dragons and had some decent success, however, I am NOT going to be driving my FM like that.



Another new twist is the insane projectile speed and flak evade of the mortars. A picture is worth a thousand words and the picture above does that and more. What makes it even more vicious of a mortar is the insane splash radius and spread of the mortar with no appreciable splash damage fall off.



The target itself is also a fairly good sized target. With the ECMs in place, it certainly is not a blitz target like we expected when we saw the Inferno Dragon. This does sadden me some, but, you can still blitz it and with the hull's native Remote Targeting Evade you don't get dinged up too badly, sort of, but certainly not what I'd consider acceptable, particularly given how many I have to do to complete my FM.


The path - this is where I think improvement likely can be had. I think once we find the 'right' path some of this damage may come down. For now, this is the path I'm using and when I go into the target I target the opposite side mortar (you can see me doing this in the video) so the turrets get targeted and killed as well as the Mastadon before I go through the next gate. You can watch the video here:



And I've added a video of a run with the Savage. Hopefully after this VXP weekend I'll get some runs done with full VXP on the fleet and see how much this improves...




I hope this helps some of you finalize your builds and helps you succeed in the new FM targets. I wish I had some more time to write more, but alas, I do not.

If you find something that works well or any good tips or tricks, feel free to post them in the comments, on the video or on the TFC page for the community to see. Good luck fellow pirates!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Buccaneer's Trap - Observations and Build

A Lazy Pirate's Diary


By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   



Is it really a trap? Maybe if you don't have your fleet squared away, but for those that have their Bucky fleet done, you were in for a pleasant surprise- at least at the start of the raid.

Going in, the new target has some mechanical differences. Where you did not need a Phalanx last month, this month, you will need them.

The next thing that was very interesting is that Time to Kill (TtK) is an important aspect in these targets. I tested a few builds and noticed that as I played with the resistances,using weapons that added resistance, there was a clear tipping point where damage started going up as my main damage weapon count went down.

The build is very close to the one I put forward in last month's article. The trick was finding that fine line balance point where TtK was fast enough so I didn't take additional damage, but still had my resistances high enough to mitigate both damage types in the proper proportions that were dealt in the target. It looks something like this:



Errr... wrong Bucky, how about this:


I did keep a pando mort on each hull. It helps 'dilute' the repair time a little as well as add a bit of radioactive resistance. It is also why I didn't stick the the B mort on the Boon. That choice did the exact opposite and made the repair time less optimized, so out with the B and in with the Pando.

Edit: I'm getting quite a few questions on the addition to the Pando and people wanting to know exactly why, so let me try and explain.

I initially had a Siege B mortar on the Boon and I pulled the Siege B off and put the Pando on because the repair modifier of the B was worse than the Hull's native repair modifier. What do I mean by that?

The Pando repairs 100hp/sec, the B 1.25hp/sec. The regular Bucky hull repairs at 1.25hp/sec so the Pando 'dilutes' the repair time (making the repair time better) overall to increase the hp/sec repair time.

On the Boon, the repair is 10.42hp/sec so the B would actually hurt the repair time, but the Pando doesn't, it still helps dilute it, just not as much so I swapped it.

Really, if I were edge tweaking further, I probably should use the Ballistic Resistor on the Boon to make up for the resistance disparity. Maybe next month. lol



The trap? The targets are consistently inconsistent. Or rather, are until you really start knocking the mechanics around a bit. While I would get 2 out of 3 hovering in the vicinity of 35 minutes of damage on auto, I'd also get that 1 out of 3 that came back with 1 hour 30 min of damage. I'm not 100% sure what is going on as the damage seems to be coming from the same instances of attack that do not cause nearly the same amount of damage in other engagements. A weird pattern that seemed to be holding as well is that the first engagement coming out of base seemed to be that 1 out of 3 and any map repair and then engagement seemed to be the 2 out of 3.

EDIT: That was around dinner time. Since that time I've seem my average creep up AND there seem to be 'super' missiles in the targets. In some instances when they hit, you take a decent shot of damage, and some instances... not so much until the fire field they produce expires - then you take significant damage if you are in the field when it expires.

Note to Kixeye: These are the exact types of inconsistencies that absolutely infuriate the player base. Just sayin'. I am not amused either.

Looking at what was happening made me decide to refit my 'anti' Buck so that the Phalanx's accuracy was more optimized. This change is reflected in the build above. It took that 1/3 out and made it more like 1 out of... wel, I don't know. As of this writing I haven't gotten the wonky uber damage runs... yet.

I also have a couple videos of the fleet in action. The first is the fleet running on its own with no crew, on auto of course in the middle of my refits. (If I could kindly ask people to subscribe I would appreciate it - YouTube is requiring 1,000 subscribers to allow the monetization, which helps me do this testing.)



The second video is of me running the target, on auto of course, using my favorite crew for this raid set- The Demo Squad. (Did I mention subscribing would help me a TON? Thanks!!)



What I found was that IF I didn't get whacked by a 'super' missile, I was under 30 min consistently, even though it did not look like the damage buff was really working. IF I got whacked by the 'super' missile, it was like the crew didn't exist. The same 1-1.5 hours damage as though I wasn't running a crew.

It requires further testing, and the wonkiness did appear to happen during a rolling hotfix for a glitch repair that unscrupulous pirates were using, so maybe that's it. I'll try and test a bit more again tomorrow afternoon. Maybe I can play tomorrow night some. :)

After running all this, I decided to do what I did last raid with the Hunters - run the fleet until the Flagship needed repairing, and then see how many I could pull off with just repairing the Boon. The answer?

Full fleet did 12 targets with a Demo for a full fleet damage of 2.5 hours. The Boon had 1 hour 20 minutes of damage.

After repairing just the Boon and running targets, this time with a 15% Steelhead, I squeezed out 9... well, I squeezed out 10 but the Boon died in the 10th one.

It seems that if you want to auto, this is one of the exceptions where it is better to NOT enter the target to force a population of the battle map.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Welcome to the New FM Cycle

Are You Ready?


By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   



Back in December 2017, we had the Winter State of The Game drop on us. One of the things that was expressed to us in this SotG was the change of the Raid cycles to 4 months and the pulling of the Garrison cycle out of the raid cycles and into its own little cycle. It was, to quote, "...spice up Garrison every four months and offer specialist hulls for new top targets."

Let's keep this in mind.

At the time, many players (the possibility does, in fact, exist that I was one of them) expressed concern at the time requirements of building Garrison fleets concurrently with Raid fleets and/or escalation refits of Raid fleets.



I'm sure none of those players will stoop to "I told you so.", right? Right?

Tonight we had a posting on the Forums of a slight modification to the timeline that was, at least a little, designed to mitigate the issues and relevant concerns many foresaw with the release of the SotG post.

"When we originally announced the change with the Garrison class, we mentioned that a new Garrison hull would be offered in the 3rd month of each cycle. Given the fact that we still plan to do an early-access offering of the next cycle’s hull in the 4th month, we just didn’t feel that there was enough time for players to both build their new Garrison fleet, as well as the next cycle’s fleet."

Fantastic, right? There is an acknowledgement of the fact that we just do not have the time to do this and that it would impact a concurrently running raid cycle. I greatly appreciate the forthright acknowledgement, yet... I have concerns still that I hope are also addressed going forward.

The second raid of this cycle is upcoming this week. I quite literally have not a single completely built Hydra yet. I have two partially built (the second is still a few days out) and still need to finish the builds, build 2 more hulls and then the Flagship. Add to this a new FM fleet now? I may have grave concerns.



Let me meander back a moment however. Another bit I truly appreciated was another forthright, and rather blunt, declaration. I have to give huge kudos for acknowledging this and not trying to blow smoke up our collective... chimneys.

"Given the history of the Forsaken Mission, we’re more conscious than ever how important those targets and hulls are for players, and are committed to making any target or content adjustments as smooth of an experience as possible. Once we’ve found the right rhythm for how to handle these transitions, we’re hoping to be able to replicate it each quarter so that the player experience is fairly seamless. We’ve know we’ve messed up Forsaken Mission transitions in the past, and are not looking to do a repeat performance in 2018."

That's manning up. It is. There is an acknowledgement of screwing up as well as validation of player concerns over an aspect of the game that is still considered by the community as the cornerstone of Battle Pirates in its current iteration.



We have seen a sneak peek f the apparent new weapon and special intended for our use in the upcoming FM target change. We have the name of the hull (Inferno  Dragon) and can conclude a few things from these hints, so, let's speculate a teeny bit before we get to the real concerns.

The weapon is named the Twinfire Rocket. Don't expect it to be a cannon, yea? It also seems to have a special ability called the Dragon's Flame. This could be interesting because I take that to mean some sort of funky secondary damage added to the rocket. Either type or function. Does it double the fire rate? Increase the damage? Have a distance factor like the Phoenix? Or is it literally a secondary special like the Co-Axial Firestorm or Spitfires? While it sounds very 'cool' I hope that there isn't a layered complexity involved with this special ability.

By necessity, that means we have ourselves a rocket hull in the Inferno Dragon. Which generally means... blitz hull. A fun hull, but generally not the first choice for mitigating damage in an FM environment. I'll be the first to admit- I love driving my Icebreakers for the fun factor. I'll also be the first to admit - I hate driving my Icebreakers for the damage factor.This paragraph is likely indicative of the majority opinion of the community in this regard. Take note.

We then go to the special, the RF-X Engine, that looks a lot like a cannon with little rockets around the rim. The name denotes an engine however, and I wonder if it isn't the rocket version of Nuclear Accelerator. Maybe some extra damage or reload on top of a speed boost? Though it is called an engine so maybe this is more in line with Strike System?

Isn't speculating fun?!? Yea... maybe I'd rather just have the bloody info. Given the inordinate amount of time we spend designing some of these hulls and fleets, and poring over the combinations (even when artificially limited), I was hoping for some more info because it is, after all, the FM cycle we are talking about here. This is, quite literally, going to stop everyone's progress on their raid fleets so that they can start the next FM fleet. At least those players that manage to get the hull, weapon and special.

On to the concerns!


Topics of concern going forward are going to revolve around the timing of the cycle change, the time investment for the fleet and the ancillary loss of time for the concurrently running raid cycle as well as the functionality of the FM itself with relation to the players and the level of difficulty adjustment necessitated by the escalation of power of the next Tier level of hull(s).

Timing of the Cycle Change : 

The concurrent overlap of FM cycle change with running raid cycle poses problems for players in both build time, build queue and prioritization of the game. The FM is the cornerstone of the game in terms of tech availability to 'keep up', however, we have seen in the past the ramifications of missing out on tech in the raid itself. This will likely be borne out in this raid wherein the FM hull is going to be offered as a prize. What do players do that can not get the trifecta of the new FM fleet? Do they then concentrate on the current raid cycle and pray they do not fall too far behind in the FM?

We enter a new era of cycle events and timing, which may pan out well for the game and players, however, there is a very, very steep precipice that exists when trying to run cycles concurrent and overlapping.

Time Investment and Ancillary loss of Build Time :

There is no simple solution to this as the game is currently laid out. With the loss of overall token availability, the gating of tokens behind inordinately long TLCs and sheer build times, the cycles are going to clash. There is no easy way around this. The rules of math preclude a simple solution short of cutting build times drastically, or reducing the needed amount of fleets - or both.

This is my planned Hydra fleet build. 103 days for the fleet - with an engineer. Without, it is a build out of 115 days. 115. That is almost 4 months of build time. For just one of the fleets of this raid cycle. Which lasts 4 months. And includes an FM cycle change.

This is my planned Bucky fleet build. 100 days without an engineer. Why do I use without an engineer? Because the engineer was supposed to be a 'bonus' not a standard. Many players do not have the option, and quite frankly, I want to keep the context appropriate.

The apparent concern here is a little tricky because it is another instance wherein one issue cascades into another. I know many people are going to start screaming TLCs!! Awesome. I'm glad that option is out there. Unfortunately this starts delving into the time investment the game dictates as well as the trend of necessitating the previous two fleets of a cycle. The game literally blocks players from participating in some fashion or another. It should create opportunities for revenue rather than limiting them, but again, another issue.

The base issue here is again the time needed to build these fleets in order to even participate in this aspect of the game. In 4 months time, we have 215 days (over 7 months) of build time required for two full fleets for a 4 month cycle - and then we have to add in an FM fleet- only one of three planned for the year. Clear enough?

We then need to address the 'lost' time to the raid cycle fleets necessitated by the abrupt interruption of the necessary FM fleet build. If the new FM fleet build takes another 100 days, where does that actually leave us? We have more FM hulls due to be released - that will have corresponding targets of increased difficulty while old 'top end' targets are removed. For one raid cycle and one FM cycle change, we are already at a gross build time of 315 days. Where does this particular cycle end?

Can this be addressed and corrected? Sure, but again, at what balancing cost to the game and community? 315 days and we have 2 more raid cycles this year as well as two more FM cycles this year. My hackles are raised.

FM Functionality & Difficulty Level :

This needs some clearing up. In 2017 we saw some shenanigans with regard to the FM. There is a general assumption the players have of the function of the FM. That function is not a three times a month raid. Nor is it supposed to be a chore. Many players have invested heavily on their FM fleet in order to alleviate exactly that feel from the FM, and yet, the last change to the FM caused exactly that feel to come back.

Putting the latter issue aside for now, the former speaks to the presumed intent of the FM for the players of the game. Barring any clarity on the matter, we procede with this presumed intent of: a function in the game where a player can 'catch up' on tech as well as gain new tech that will be useful in their day-to-day engagement of the game. N'est-ce pas?

The escalation to higher degrees of difficulty necessitated by the introduction of Tier 7 FM hulls may change this functionality. Given the above referenced build times as well as the sheer number of planned changes leaves a huge amount of room to lose players in the shuffle. Once fallen behind, we know nothing of any mechanism that will be in the 'new' FM to help struggling players. In fact, the simplest option - leaving the old targets on the map and increasing the worth of the new ones, seems to not be an option going forward. The stated intent is to remove the high level targets and replace them with the new ones, which would mean that if you do not get the new combination, your top-of-the-line current FM fleet will be devalued doubly with the change. You will not be able to hit the 115 for those points, and you will be relegated to hit lesser targets as well.

Concurrent to those 2 aspects of devaluation, you likely will not be able to use your fleet ion the shiny new target putting you further behind. We also do not know the intent for the lower level targets in the FM. Are they changing? Will lesser fleets be 'locked out' of the FM? Are there plans for players to gain access to the FM going forward after the debacle of 2017?

This seems a bit counter-intuitive to me, and I hope that this is not the case or that this has been addressed prior to the implementation of the FM escalation.



Conclusion :

Holy crap, you're still reading? Fine, I'll not mince words anymore. (read: CAUTION- Swearing Ahead!)

While these are very valid concerns, the fact that there is validation for the community in today's post is a good sign. That said...

The conclusion here is simple, the horse has been running wild in the field and it has to not only get reined the hell in, it needs to get bashed between the fucking eyes and be reminded who it is that rides his ass.

Don't get me wrong, I think the start of transparency as well as ownership of past issues is HUGE. I would just like to take the opportunity to get ahead of any other potential issues before they come and bite us in the ass.

To Kixeye: You have gone back and forth with regard to direction, intent, design and more. You vacillate with regard to so much, including who it is that is currently 'it'. Too many times in too short a span of time. We sit at a precipice for more reasons than one. For better or for worse, now is the time to bone up. You've picked a team, you've picked a lead(s?) and you've picked a direction.
Go all in with these motherfuckers, because if 2017 repeats in 2018, I fear that I won't have an addiction to partake in come 2019 and that would be a shame.

(Sidenote: Yes, you guys are getting the raw unedited article right now. I'll come back and edit and spellcheck and all that good shit tomorrow. Have a fantastic night all!)




Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Deflection, Pass-Through and You

Looking over PvP Deflections


By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   



The community got an informative post about Pass-Through (aka Minimum Damage to some) dropped today by our Favorite Developer, GD Ramikan... er... I mean GD Raikan. Joking aside(he takes it in massive stride), it is a very, very good step towards the transparency the community has been clamoring for, for the past year or more. The post can be read here.

I would like to put this into a bit of context as well- I have been getting a few complaints about this 'Making things overly-complicated' and 'They Kixeye'd the armors', etc. This is a game developer trying to explain the mechanical functions of a piece of software. He is trying to explain the actual functioning of the program. We don't need all this information to play the game, but there are those of us that DO delve this far into the game mechanics and this is what allows us to come up with things that 'break' the game or solve puzzles presented to us in a more efficient manner than if we were not so familiar with these aspects of the game.

Does everyone need to know the inner workings to this much of a degree? Probably not. In fact, there is a TL;DNR version at the end for lazy pirates! Disclaimer: This is how I've read and understand the mechanic. ;)


Deflection and Pass-Through :

As we had always presumed, and eventually told, there is a pass-through (minimum damage) value associated with various items in the game. We have not had any clarification about anything but this so far. However, what we did learn today is that anything that has deflection attached to it in any way has a pass-through value associated with it and it is only applicable if the damage is reduced to 0 by that deflection.

"...any item that has [Damage Type] Deflection (e.g. - Ballistic Deflection) also has a stat known as Pass-through. Pass-through is the amount of damage that a hull will take if the damage of a single projectile would be less than the corresponding deflection value."

I want to repeat this because it bears repeating. The only time you will receive the pass-through damage (minimum damage) is if the damage is reduced to zero by that deflection. In that instance, when the damage hits zero, the minimum damage is applied. (Of note, if the projectile has less damage than the pass-through amount, you take the *lower* of the two amounts.)

Let's do some examples:


Ballistic Projectile damage : 2,500

Armor Ballistic Deflection : 5,000
Armor Minimum Damage : 200

Hull Ballistic Deflection : 0
Hull Ballistic Pass-Through Damage : 0

PT Damage : 200


In this instance, you are being shot with a ballistic projectile that does 2,500 damage and your armor has a ballistic deflection value of 5,000 and your hull has a ballistic deflection value of 0 for a total deflection of 5,000 damage against ballistic. The deflection reduces the amount of damage to 0 so you will receive 200 damage to the hull directly. There is no other modifier applied to this damage.


Ballistic Projectile damage : 5,500

Armor Ballistic Deflection : 5,000
Armor Minimum Damage : 200

Hull Ballistic Deflection : 1,000
Hull Ballistic Pass-Through Damage : 100

PT Damage : 200


In this instance, you are being shot with a ballistic projectile that does 5,500 damage, your armor has a ballistic deflection value of 5,000 and your hull has a ballistic deflection value of 1,000 for a total deflection of 6,000 damage against ballistic. The combined deflection reduces the amount of damage to 0, however, since you have 2 disparate minimum damage values, the greater of the two is used, so you will receive 200 damage to the hull directly. There is no other modifier applied to this damage.


Ballistic Projectile damage : 6,100

Armor Ballistic Deflection : 5,000
Armor Minimum Damage : 200

Hull Ballistic Deflection : 1,000
Hull Ballistic Pass-Through Damage : 100

PT Damage : 0 (100 damage remaining)


In this instance, you are being shot with a ballistic projectile that does 6,100 damage, your armor has a ballistic deflection value of 5,000 and your hull has a ballistic deflection value of 1,000 for a total deflection of 6,000 damage against ballistic. The deflection reduces the amount of damage to a remainder of 100 so you will receive 0 damage to the hull directly via pass-through, and the remaining 100 damage processes through any operation left in the order of operations before going to the hull directly.


Ballistic Projectile damage : 500

Armor Ballistic Deflection : 1,000
Armor Minimum Damage : 100

Hull Ballistic Deflection : 1,000
Hull Ballistic Pass-Through Damage : 300

PT Damage : 300

In this instance, you are being shot with a ballistic projectile that does 500 damage, your armor has a ballistic deflection value of 1,000 and your hull has a ballistic deflection value of 1,000 for a total deflection of 2,000 damage against ballistic. Again, the combined deflection reduces the amount of damage to 0, however, once again, since you have 2 disparate minimum damage values, the greater of the two is used, so you will receive the greater, 300 damage, to the hull directly. There is no other modifier applied to this damage.

This is why it matters with regard to the older hulls. The largest value is used to determine the pass-through value. We do not know their numbers as of yet, however, Kixeye is working on getting these values added to blueprints as an ongoing effort to get player-requested information into the blueprints. Will it make the blueprints larger/longer? Yes. Do I mind? No. I like having the info rather than guessing or trying to find 'alternative sources' of this information (information which I believe we should have already).

There is one caveat that has come up that does need to get mentioned here and it goes something like this;

Ballistic Projectile damage : 50

Armor Ballistic Deflection : 1,000
Armor Minimum Damage : 100

Hull Ballistic Deflection : 1,000
Hull Ballistic Pass-Through Damage : 300

PT Damage : 50

If the actual damage of the projectile does not originally exceed the pass-through value, the original damage value is used for the pass-through value. So say you are running one of the older Bypass chainguns or Torrent missiles, make sure your hull is designed in such a way that the per salvo value is higher than the deflection value of the new armor.

Of note: Remember - all damage values are halved after all this, while armor points are not, so when you're playing the pass-through game, you should keep that in mind.




TL;DNR : 

The new armors have a higher pass-through value for damage likely because of the massive amounts of deflection they provide. They work and are balanced for the new and planned T7 hulls, but care should be taken on older hulls as it may increase the pass-through values of native deflections on those hulls.