Thursday, November 24, 2016

When you're not sure what to stick where...

A Lonely Turret Story

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

This article is really going to be a quick overview and not an in depth analysis of turret design. Obviously you won't be able to max out every turret in your base without running into power problems, and much like a defense fleet, customization of this aspect of base design is exceptionally dependent on individual base layout.

I'm writing this based on several requests and a few posts asking about this. Please, if I've missed anything or there are further questions, ask here or ask on these pages on Facebook- This game has, generally, a wonderfully helpful community: The Forsaken Council (this is my home as I Admin here), BP Crib, BP on BV, Alliance Crib (fair warning, AC requires a thick skin at times. lol). I know there are a lot more but those are generally all I mainly visit and have seen good community activity in.

So, let's jump right into it then. We'll start with the new Maxim turret. I will break down the reasoning behind all of the items added to this as well as mention a different option for illistration. Hopefully this will allow you to understand the reasoning behind the design and be able to apply it to the rest of the examples and/or your own designs.:

This turret, in many instances, would sit on your center island. There are a few different options that you could use, but let's start with this one as the theories are straight forward.

1. One of the drawbacks to this turret is the rather high power consumption. The weapon alone draws 3,750 units of power. When equipped as above, it draws a total of 6,937 units of power. If you swap out the Zynthium Shells for Priority Targeting, it comes down to 6,675 units of power. Using this turret will place a strain on a likely already strained resource. One thing to keep in mind with regard to this weapon is the salvo count and the seemingly anemic damage-per-salvo of only 960.

2. Taking the given of center island placement and also taking into account the 'Wind Up' aspect of the gun, it seems that adding A:T-R Transformer for greater range is an interesting option. The turret is on the center island so defense is not a huge issue as the base itself is its defense. The additional range will give it a greater opportunity to spool up as it will engage the targets sooner, hopefully getting it's stacks to max a little quicker and thus adding some depth of additional power to the gun in the form of reaching max stacks quicker. If putting this on the outer edge of your base as a deterrent for Vendettas, you may want to look at the other Transformers to see if they would give you a better advantage depending on where you place the turret. This special makes the outer range of the weapon a massive 245. **Of note, it was pointed out by Ni Gel on the forums that I glossed over an important aspect of this special, of which I mean, it drops 10% of damage. This illustrates the point again, that these types of articles are more for to get you to start thinking, and hopefully understand, the prints you own. Cookie cutter does not work in base defense. (Side note- at publication I had also done the calculation at +10% rather than a flat 10 range addition- Thanks Andy Brett for that catch!)

3. Now we start looking at the specials to hone the use of our turret. In this instance I have chosen Expanded Concussive Charge. This special offers an increase of 60% Splash and 60% Concussive Damage. The added damage is always a boon and will help a seemingly anemic per-salvo damage. The addition of this special will bring the damage-per-salvo to 1,536.

While the Spite is completely vulnerable, this brings damage up above the deflection threshold of the Vendetta (without a Bloodthirst) and above the threshold of a Bloodthirsted Fury or Revenge. It is still well below the deflection threshold of the Malice, Retribution and a Harlock's Revenge (or a Revenge Fleet led by this hull). Clearly, it is meant to be just a puzzle piece in the jigsaw puzzle of your base.

This special will bring the splash from a range of 12 to a range of 19.2. It could help ensure damage to either a fast moving target, or targets that are grouped together adding a little bit more depth to the weapon.

4. This is an interesting slot. I chose Zynthium Shells for this example because of the power draw to illustrate how expensive this can become power-wise.  It also has a higher splash than its counterpart. It is a viable special if you want to increase the projectile speed to help aid in hitting a fast moving fleet if that is what you want. It also stacks it's splash with that of the ECC above, bringing the total splash to 22.8. That is now over a land tile of splash range and given the speed at which the projectile would be getting there, it seems this would be a difficult weapon to avoid entering a base.

5. The armor choice here is rather simple. This is not a direct engagement turret, so why not take advantage of the lower need of armor by armoring up with something that adds some much needed power back into the mix? This armor should fill every unneeded slot in your base. If you decide to put this on the outside and take extreme advantage of priority targeting, you may want to change this armor choice accordingly.

That said and explained, I am leaning heavily toward this particular build for one of these turrets. I am also including it as an exercise so that those that are struggling with turret design can try and understand why I would go this route. (Hint: Think Vendetta deterrent.):

Depending on your intended use, Priority Targeting is likely a top choice for this turret as well so that you can deter lower armored hulls from sitting outside your base to Remote Target - depending also on when (and IF) you can engage them (another boon of the boosted 258.5 range).

Let's do one more turret. We'll do a Blunderbuss.

Using the same talking points, lets go down the list.

The weapon itself uses a decent amount of power again and pushes the use of power for a good set up here, again limiting how many of these you can put in as well as limiting the power you have available for other turrets. As you can see, fully equipped, this example uses 8,167 units of power. It also seems underwhelmingly anemic with regard to damage with a low 950 damage per pellet (remembering that this is a multi-shot weapon).

In this example we are using the A:T Transformer I. This gives us an increase of 35% in damage. Starting a running total, this brings damage up to 1,282.5 for damage per pellet.

Moving on to the specials. The Depleted Uranium Shells special is there just for the added ballistic damage. It is a little costly of a special in terms of power consumption, but it does help the Blunderbuss with regard to the damage issue. Given that the weapon is multi-shot, the accuracy buff is pointless, but the additional 62% Ballistic damage brings our running total to 1,871.5 damage per pellet. This is starting to look a lot better than first blush.

Next special is the Supercharged EM Rails III. This special is rather nice in that it gives you a 25% chance at scoring a critical hit. Since this weapon is ballistic, but not accuracy based, you get this chance calculated for each individual pellet every time the weapon fires. That is a huge mechanic to take advantage of. In addition to this, when it does calculate a critical hit, the damage is increased 300%! Huge combo here when added to the rest.

The armor on this turret is a little different in that it is set up as an engagement turret, so the armor chosen is to try and increase its longevity when directly engaged with an enemy fleet. Just getting one extra shot off here and there is enough to change the outcome of an engagement.

So, that is Turret Design 101. I will include a sample build of several turrets below. I would hope you gleaned enough info from the examples above to be able to puzzle through what the examples may represent as well as helping you in putting together effective builds for your own turrets. As always, feel free to ask for help of the community on the pages I linked above. I hope this helps some people. Thanks for reading and sharing!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Respect Muh Prioritay!!!

The Birds and the Bees of Battle Pirates

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon Bane    

We know growing up is hard, and your body is starting to chan... wait... wrong speech...Is it me or are my jokes actually getting worse?

Given the flux that has been in game over the last few months and it seems and several episodes of The Forsaken Council and BP Crib, and a bunch of posts on BP on BV a lot of people are starting to get antsy about what they should be concentrating on.

In particular I have been seeing mid-level players trying to spread themselves very thin by trying to build everything under the sun that they win with no regard to a long term plan. So much so that recently when the rumors started flying of blocking Conqueror hulls out of the Forsaken Mission everyone lost their damn minds. Here is a secret: You don't have to build everything - Particularly in today's game.

That said,  I will take a moment to address this before getting to the meat of the article- There is no reason to believe that this is a trend that will continue to extremes. The possible change to the FM and Conqueror hulls has to do with the repair modifiers built into the Conqueror and Defender Hulls and our ability to exploit them.

All this change to the FM (and likely Raid targets) would do is close a loophole that we exploited very early. We all know how that ends- we've been there. I'd rather have them fix it sooner rather than later and avoid where we were a year to a year and a half ago. You can read more about this right here. And for another perspective to that, you can read Jon's (Specs) thoughts here.


Now to the point of all this. All this angst had me reflecting on how it seemed several players were losing focus of their priorities, or, for many mid-levels, never realizing the importance of having one. I understand how negative the community can be, but in this instance, you can actually prioritize properly and start taking advantage of the incentives Kixeye has given us, which are significant.

I believe one of the problems is that on the surface, the game seems fast paced and you often get the feeling that you are being left behind if you don't have the latest and greatest built. This disturbs your focus and makes it rather difficult in staying on-path to the target or goal that you want.

My priorities, as I have stated numerous times, is unwavering for what I believe is the top most priority in the game. The Forsaken Mission. Regardless of what it was intended for upon initial development, this aspect of the game has the most influence over your success overall, your ability to adapt (through tech depth) and mitigating your build times in-game.

If we look at just the Tokens aspect of the FM alone, you gain, I hope, a new perspective of the grander picture that we refer to at times. Laredo was kind enough to put this together for the forum and allow me to share it.

As we can see, if you are 'caught up' with the FM, you are looking at a minimum of 220 tokens per year.That is over 7 months of build time. Minimum. Quite literally, doubling your build/refit capacity from this single aspect of the FM alone for the equivalent of more than half a year. Add the lowered build times and... well, as many people have stated- Kixeye has essentially given us a Dry-Dock... they just make us earn it.

In addition to all those shiny tokens, we get some good, and not so good, tech out of the FM. This adds to what I call your 'Tech Depth'. Like a sports team, you want depth in any area which enhances your game play. In our instance it is tech. Take this Tide tank build for example:

Huggy's Link

You'll see that there is some old tech in there, and while not entirely necessary, it does give the build that slight extra enhancement that makes it perform just a little better. This tech depth is something that, while not a game breaker, is very helpful at times when building ships for the game. Tech depth allows you the maneuverability to adapt to changes in the game far easier than without the tech.

To that end, below, are a pair of Punisher Tanks that have worked as well. You can visit my YouTube channel to see all these tanks in action, builds for the fleets in use and get an overall feel for the builds that work in the FM. I have a LOT of 109 vids. These builds WORK folks. This should allow you to build copies or scale down the tech so you can crack the FM code yourselves. PLEASE NOTE: I do NOT expect everyone to have the same tech, nor should you expect the exact results you see when scaling the tech down, but remember: you have three days to complete the FM run!!!

Huggy's Link

Huggy's Link

If you have an old Punisher Arblest fleet that you were using in the old 107's, refitting a CM pun to the second build above allows you to tank through a 109 now for acceptable damage (granted, with 2.5 hours damage if you drive as badly as I did).:

If I had to break down, into a list, what I think the priorities should be in a game, I think it would go something like this:

1. Forsaken Mission
2. Raid Fleet / Chore Fleet
3. Base Defense Fleet / Baser Fleet

Now the fun part... trying to explain this... The FM, I have already explained. It also is one of the longest running target oriented aspects of the game, allowing a much better longevity to investment for the build you use (unless the cycle is about to change) and also has the largest volume af tech to be had.

The next in line has changed somewhat. Kixeye has been trying to relieve an aspect of the game that truly annoys most of the player base: Fleet longevity. To try and alleviate this issue, Kixeye has been recycling raid targets into our chore targets allowing for longevity of Raid fleets. I am of two minds about this for a variety of reasons - but that is a tangent for another article or show.

This means that it is the second aspect that you, as a player, need to set as a priority after you have achieved the first one!! I can't stress this enough. You NEED to do this in steps. I understand the frustration of not being able to participate in the raid, but in the long run, it would do you better to focus on the FM first (unless the cycle is about to change). If you really, really, REALLY, can't stand missing on a raid or prize, hire a Mercenary (like me!) to get you your raid points, early (so you are prepared), but do not deviate from building for the FM first!

If FM tech is the depth of tech that helps improve and tweak your game, Raid tech is the driving force of tech (and a rather good chunk of tokens to boot). This is where the tech envelope is pushed to progress the game, where you get the tech needed to be successful in the raids themselves. Why is there only one 'L' in successful? Should't it be 2 since you want to be full of success? Anyway, I digress...

Additionally, keep in mind that these raid hulls will be used for 'chores'. Map targets that players need to engage to get goodies in game will be consistently based on the raid meta and these Raid fleets will excel in them. That means, after the FM priority, you concentrate on winning Raid priorities. Ignore the shinies you likely don't need in that hull raid. Skip the fancy limited upgrade specials and get those items that fit into this prioritization.

A parallel aspect to this trend is that many of the fleets we have built recently for Raid has bled over into use for many of the TLCs that Kixeye has offered, further increasing the longevity and/or use of a Raid Meta fleet. Gotta give them some kudos for that folks.

Renato, an Admin of The Forsaken Council, made this fantastic chart to show exactly how the Raid fleets fold into daily game play and the longevity now provided by this design:

For the last two, I guess this really is personal choice. Some people will choose to concentrate first on base defense, allowing them a little easier pirate life, particularly if you are in or want to be in an alliance. Others could care less about their defense so long as they can go and smash bases. I will say this much- the easier path is base defense first because the longevity of those hulls is higher than basers for the most part. Again, this is a highly player oriented decision and should be approached in a manner consistent with what YOU want to do at this point in the game.

So- I hope this helps some players re-focus, others I hope it helps get them going in the right direction. As always, feel free to share this with anyone you think it may help! Good luck guys!!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

That doesn't go there...

But... but... It's Too Big!

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

In a recent BP on BV show, it was stated definitively that Kixeye is going to, at the least, block Conqueror hulls from hitting Forsaken Mission targets. This was coming on the heels of two months of speculation after some forum posts and a TFC show in which an Admin of The Forsaken Council hinted that this might be coming in the future. While I have not heard anything official, I am not surprised at this news, and quite honestly, think it may be needed- now, rather than later.

I am seeing a lot of angst and argument about this in the Kixeye Forums and on the various pages on Facebook. Let's see if we can run through some of this stuff because there actually is some valid logic behind this decision.

Let's review why there was a split in the first place so we have some solid context in which to have this discussion.

Back in March of 2016, we were introduced to the idea of splitting PvP and PvE. What kixeye was finding was that there was significant bleed-through in design from one to the other. In other words, hulls that they had designed to do well in PvP were doing better than they had intended in PvE which forced their hand in design. This means that our targets ended up harder than Kixeye wanted to design because of the unintentional bleed-through of the hull's effectiveness into an unintended area of the game and fueled some of the power creep we were seeing in the game.

What Kixeye finally decided was rather than make everyone's lives more difficult- Theirs with regard to coding, ours with regard to difficulty and power creep, a split was implemented. Let's face it, having one of these aspects unduly influence the other does not make for a good environment for the game. Hull longevity suffers, power creep increases and the possibility for game breaking issues cropping up increases.

I'll directly quote GD Raikan at this point as he was very succinct about this:

"In order to address these issues, after much discussion, the team concluded that the most ideal solution would be to separate out PvE hulls and PvP hulls; each having their own identity and preferred statistics. This way, we could provide more clear messaging to players as to the intended use of a hull, while also creating that distinct separation and supporting it in all aspects of the game. It’s not enough for us to simply label “PvE” or “PvP” in the stat block of a hull. I’m proud to say that the community is very creative in finding ways to challenge that expectation. We want to continue to encourage that creativity, but we also want to refocus it."

The reason for the current rumored change is rather obvious. The amount of armor on Conqueror and Defender hulls, in conjunction with the repair modifiers inherent to those classes, allows players to exploit those classes in ways that were obviously not intended. I also do NOT think this is going to end up in the extreme situation wherein only class specific hulls can hit class specific targets. I think this is just to stem a current problem that could escalate into a bigger one that this split was intended to avoid in the first place.

An apt example: During the design of the current raid meta, Kixeye developers were battling players in the test servers trying to keep 'out of the box' surface fleets from performing well in the target. The Vanquisher, in conjunction with exploiting these very game mechanics, was the reason the early iterations of the current raid targets could be broken in testing. It was giving Kixeye fits for 2 months and in the end could still be done (though not in a cost effective manner and a VERY niche build) despite all the tweaking done to the targets. One of the big reasons it worked was because of the amount of armor and the repair modifier of the hull. Something we can carry into this conversation.

All this alleged change to the FM (and likely Raid targets) would do is close a loophole that we exploited very early. Given the direction of the game there is good reason to assume that these hulls will continue to escalate in power and create a further imbalance in these targets that would be exploitable and essentially break the targets. This will be particularly exacerbated if the armor continues to increase. We all know how that ends- we've been there. I'd rather have them fix it sooner rather than later and avoid where we were a year to a year and a half ago and forcing another huge change as the split was.

As an aside: This is not a coin grab. Kixeye has shown, time and again recently, that they are willing to give us some time to adjust, or give us an avenue to adjust with (see:Tide Seeker).

Granted, Kixeye has offered up the Citadel Deal twice now- obviously for coin... but they also have given everyone THREE shots at getting the Harlock's Citadel. They also practically gave away the Tide Seeker hull in that TLC.

Given that my Tide Seeker tank build seems to be doing better that my Punisher one, this should be a good indication of what you can do with JUST a tank and an Hcit:

So, if you are trying to get into Tier 5, and this change goes through, expect both the HCit and Citadels to become available. Watch some videos or read some articles to prepare for the Dark Reign campaign should it become available again.

Watch for TLC's, token deals and prepare yourself for the Hull Raid upcoming and plan accordingly. Remember, FM is THE number one priority in this game.

If you are currently relying on Furies and Vendettas to get you to Tier 4 or Tier 5, I would humbly advise you to start preparing for this change. It only makes sense from the perspective of a developer and a player.

My final thought on this is this: It makes sense to me. It made sense to me when I heard the rumor. If you go to my YouTube channel, you will see my progression from using Vendettas to Citadels. In fact, I just this weekend finally got my citadels fully ranked. I personally was pro-active in this because the change is logical if you want to avoid the same pitfall that the game had already once fallen into.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

FM Roundup November 2016

Précis? Well, maybe not exactly...

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a   Dragon_Bane

The after raid hangover is subsiding, Christmas displays are in the stores, BP has not imploded into fiery inferno because of the Harlock's Tide Seeker and we have a new FM cycle, with all new and exciting added prizes, to ease our way back into our chores and game.

Did someone say Jingle Bells? - Seeking through the surf, cutting through the spray, hunting phantom subs, killing all the way...

Oh... sorry, got distracted...

Ok, so FM prizes and you. What you may or may not want to know...

Radioactive upgrade:

The first item up for bid... Oh- Sorry. Bob's job, or Drew's now, anyway.... Ok, Radioactive Upgrade.

While at first blush this does not look particularly great in terms of use, it can be a good choice for those builds in which you want to add a little extra punch. It is not a game breaking special and seems to be a designed 'step'. I like that. Slower power creep and good design brings longevity to a game.

What comes to mind with particularity is the Cyclone launcher. This special would add 270 damage to each flechette. Not too bad, particularly in builds like the Vanquisher where you sometimes struggle to find relevant specials to add.

Tephra Thrower:

The Tephra Thrower. It's... well, it's a thrower. Yay?

While throwers were fun and all, they really have never held relevancy in the game. They were very short lived and I do not see this signaling a resurgence of the idea... yet. Additionally, the high salvo is such a drawback in today's game that it really should never have been implemented. At .2 sec per salvo, you are looking at 2.8 seconds for the weapon to just fire off it's salvos before even starting to add the reload time.

I will say that maybe adding one here or there on your base defense fleet may behoove you for the death weapon effect, I do not see this weapon gaining any sort of predominance over weapons we currently rely on for damage.

Reaver Bulwark:

Next in the offering is the Reaver Bulwark. I'm not sure of the thinking behind this. The repair efficiency of this armor is .8 and seems to be the baby version of the Bulkhead. Build time is rather long as well and I can only see this as a use in niche builds and, well, that's about it.

Personally, I try to get multi-use out of my stuff as much as possible unless it is ultra-efficient in what it is designed to do. Not sure what options this grants over the multitude of options available to us.

Mayhem Torpedo:

Now we get to what is really interesting. Let's start with this: This is a dumb-fire weapon. Starting with this may be obvious, but I am going to extrapolate a little. The reason this is the thing I lead with is that Kixeye does not release some info. In this case projectile speed, however, we can make a few presumptions.

Kix will not want to toy with the raid targets enough to make the twisters useless. They also do not want to make this torpedo slower so as to make it useless in the raid either. Remember, similar targets will be our Uranium targets starting this month. Releasing something not viable is silly, but releasing something to ease our future chores is rather smart- particularly when people have a penchant to coin re-fits to combos that work well.

That all said, another absolutely great aspect of this torpedo is that splash. Baby got splash!!! If you watch some of the videos (particularly mine, right?) and were familiar with the 105 layout, you will see how much time this would save in these engagements as well as much safer engagements of the thermal hulls in the targets. I WISH I had some spare shipyard time in order to refit my Hell Wraiths with these things.

So- there it is. A quick and dirty overview of the FM prizes. Thanks for the visit!

Let the dark waters part unto a sheltered cove...

The Forsake Cove - A Pirate's Respite

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a/   Dragon_Bane

The clouds part and a ray of light breaks through to shatter upon the crest of a wave and sink slowly into the depths of the sea as the bow of your ship cleaves into the sheltered waters of the Forsaken Cove...

Welcome everyone. 

As you can see, I have started a blog that I hope will be an informative BP oriented place that people can come to for reference, questions and maybe some fun.

Feel free to send in requests for either articles, videos or how-tos.

Sit back ye Pirates, drink a flagon of ale and grab a barmaid (or bartender) and... no... no... I meant grab a flagon. Yea, grab a flagon of ale and... oh to hell with it. Hope you enjoy!