Monday, May 22, 2017

Spread and Splash - A Story of Co-Dependence

Demystifying this Relationship

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

There are times when a subject matter comes up that, in my mind, is easy to envision, yet when I try to articulate an explanation it turns out more complex than what I see in my mind. Spread and Splash in in that category.

Spread : 

Spread is defined as the area that the projectiles will hit within. Projectiles may hit in the center of this area or they may hit to the edge of this area.  When we look at stats, Spread is given as an absolute number, however, in order to understand the interactions, you have to convert that number into actual spread off-center. To do this you have to divide your spread number by 5 (this info is directly from Kixeye).

For example, if your build has an absolute spread of 90, the true spread from the center point of your targeting would only be 18 (90 divided by 5). It would look something like this:

It is a much smaller area than the absolute number would lead you to believe. Spread is merely the 'drift' of your projectile from center point of your targeting. In the past, most players would want a higher spread in order to take advantage of the splash mechanic. With the advent of Scatterguns there has been an introduction of more specials that have mitigated spread to allow a narrower and more concentrated area of fire. This allows one to tweak both spread and splash more precisely in their builds. To determine which path you want to follow, one must look at the intended target, weapon selection and the amount of splash your build has in order to determine an optimal build.

Splash :

Splash is the area that is damages . While spread is where a projectile may land with regard to a specific targeted spot, Splash is the damage that radiates out from that point of projectile impact. This is what we see when we target a ship or turret and our mortars or scatterguns damage and sometimes destroy nearby turrets, ships and walls. The higher the Splash the further out the damage reaches.

Splash is an interesting mechanic in that damage is a linear drop off from point of impact. In other words, at the impact point (center of your Splash circle), you will have 100% damage and the further away you progress from the center, the less damage will be dealt. Generally, the drop off at the edge of the splash radius is 50% of the damage of the weapon (old mortars value). Some are more, some are less, but the drop off is always linear.

For example, a hull with a total splash of 54.8 (Weird number, I know, but I'm using a specific build.) and damage of 1,000 per shell will have that amount halved to 500 at the 55 range (outer edge of the Splash circle) and at the mid-point of the range (27.4) the damage would be 750.

The general consensus is to always increase your splash as much as possible. As 'standard' wisdom in the game, many players do not realize why this bit of wisdom makes your weaponry more effective. In essence, you want your weapons to hit your target so that the inner ring is what is dealing the damage. The closer to the center, the more damage is imparted. This then begets the question of spread v. splash and is a perfect segue...

Spread v. Splash : 

This is where you can really start tuning your builds. Several nights ago I was fiddling with the idea of spread and splash and was plotting various combinations on some graph paper. I had seen BP Professor's equation, but not knowing the how that calculation was derived I decided to elicit some help from one of the math gurus, TFC's own Brian 'I'm gonna flip a table' Randich. To say that we geeked out a bit would be putting it mildly. He started getting into calculations that I couldn't follow and that brought us to the point of wanting to distill the info into some simple equations. This is what we came up with.

Coverage Efficiency = Splash / (2*(spread/5))

Density Efficiency= .5 * Splash / (2*(spread/5))

(These are relational equations based solely on known mechanics and may not accurately reflect actual in game performance due to unknown factors ranging from RNG to actual min. damage % of weapons to enemy armor. M'kay?)

To illustrate the interactions, we can use an outlier hit of a mortar (a mortar that hits at the very edge of our Spread) for reference while we plot the various calculations.

The first calculation (Coverage Efficiency) should give you an effective coverage percentage for your weapons. Using the above example you would calculate 54.8 / 36 = 152% meaning that your weapons would cover over 100% of the spread radius in damage and that you would guarantee hitting anything (standing still) at the point of targeting. This is reflected above by the red ring.

The second calculation (Density Efficiency) will give you an idea of how efficient the damage dealt would be from this build. Again, using the above example we would get 27.4 / 36 =  76%. This percentage would reflect the amount of your weapons that would damage anything (standing still) at the point of impact with the 'inner ring' of damage. This allows you to tune your build to maximize this damage. This is reflected above by the orange ring.

As you can see, the relationship between these two mechanics is a little more complex than one would initially consider. Hopefully, in now knowing their interactions, you can more efficiently build toward your intended target and fine tune builds to maximize your available options when building.

And to steal a friend's line:


- Always increase Splash.

- Spread is a choice. Make sure it's a good one.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

To Math or Not to Math....

Calculating DPS All on Your Own

By: Brian Randich
a/k/a Brian_R

When someone is asked to calculate DPS (Damage Per Second), they normally either recoil in horror or shout about how the new things are worse than the old things without showing their work.  It is seen as either so difficult that the number seems to come out of thin air, as if by magic, or so easy that it can be done in an instant, as simple as blinking or breathing.  The truth is, calculating DPS is somewhere between the two.  While it can veer towards borderline magic, especially when you’re trying to calculate precisely which build is better, there’s no arithmancy (ἀριθμομαντεία) here.  Anyone can do a simple DPS calculation quickly, and with a short formula.  The device you are viewing this on has a calculator built-in, so it’s time to put it to use.

While DPS does stand for damage per second (not damage per shot or damage per salvo), it is not always found by just dividing the damage by the reload.  First, we have to find the “cycle time” of the weapon.  The weapon’s cycle time is how long it takes between firing its first shot and firing its first shot again after reloading.  If a weapon only fires one shot before reloading, then this is simply its reload speed.

However, more and more weapons, especially the mortars and rockets that are used in Garrison Raids and the Forsaken Missions, are getting salvo numbers larger than 1. The salvo is how many projectiles a weapon fires in sequence before it starts to reload.  (This is different from multi-shot, where all the pellets fire at once.)  A salvo of 3 for a rocket means the rocket will fire one rocket, then fire a second rocket, then fire a third rocket, then reload.

This game mechanic is so important it gets its own paragraph, as it is where I see the most mistakes made when people do DPS calculations.  After shooting, any weapon must wait 0.2 seconds before shooting again.  This amount cannot be reduced by any means.  It is a limitation of the game engine, and cannot be worked around.  This means that the above rocket with a salvo of 3 will act like this:

Fire rocket one, 0.2 second pause, fire rocket two, 0.2 second pause, fire rocket 3, reload, repeat

Those two 0.2 second pauses have to be taken into account when calculating DPS.  Adding those pauses along with the weapon reload speed gets the weapon’s cycle time.  If your rocket is the new D100-V with a reload of 2 seconds, its cycle time becomes 2+0.2+0.2 = 2.4 seconds.  The basic calculation of DPS is damage divided by cycle time.  Keeping the D100-V, 11,844/2.4 = 4,935 DPS.  To compare, the D100-S is 6,672/1.4 = 4,766 DPS.  If the weapon has an accuracy value and no splash value, multiply that number by the weapon’s accuracy to get its actual DPS (as the weapon may miss sometimes if it’s not hitting buildings).  This one doesn’t, so we can stop here.

To recap:
DPS = (Damage / Cycle time) * Accuracy = (Damage / (Reload + (0.2*(Salvo-1))) * Accuracy
This may look scary, but all of these numbers are on the weapon blueprint, so it’s relatively easy to figure out.

A slightly more complicated version involves calculating the reload of the weapon when it’s on the hull it’s meant to be on.  This involves looking at a particular hull to find its reload bonus for a weapon type.  For example, at the time of writing this, the Icebreaker has a rocket reload increase of 100%.  The hull also has a special field that increases rocket reload by 10% more for each Icebreaker in the fleet.  Let’s say you have all five Icebreakers, for an extra 50%, giving you a total reload bonus of 150%.  Now, the hull’s rank also affects its reload.  I still use the BP Professor’s formula to calculate reload:

Actual weapon reload = Reload * (1-rank firing bonus %) / (1+all reload bonuses)

Now, let’s try this with our D100-V (2 second reload), on a skulled (rank firing bonus = 75%) Icebreaker with five in a fleet (150% total reload bonus)

2 * (1-75%) / (1+150%) = 2 * (0.25) / (2.5) = 0.5 / 2.5 = 0.2

Perfect!  We get to exactly the minimum reload.  Try this with the D100-S (1 second reload), and we get:

1 * (1-75%) / (1+150%) = 0.25/2.5 = 0.1

This is not optimal.  Some of the reload bonuses go to waste, as we have to wait 0.2 seconds before firing again.  As it turns out, these two weapons on the same setup (skulled, all 5 Icebreakers) would have the same cycle time.  There are two 0.2 second pauses between rockets 1 and 2 and rockets 2 and 3, and the weapon takes 0.2 seconds to reload.  Both spit out rockets as fast as the game allows, and the D100-V’s base damage is higher, so it should do better in-game.

So, now we have ways to calculate a weapon’s DPS based only on its blueprint to see which would do better in theory, and a relatively simple way to calculate the DPS based on what ship the weapon is used on to get an idea of what we should put on each actual ship.  Now, the game has a lot of different specials, weapons, tactical fields, and other interactions that apply when actually putting a fleet together.  Monoliths are a perfect example of this, as I had once proven that they had lower DPS with the Gridiron Monolith than the Citadels were with the Harlock’s Citadel.  I am claiming some credit in causing the recent buff to Monoliths and the O/U-10 mortar.  But the question then becomes, how to calculate DPS for a ship and ALL of its parts?  Would something like an explosive upgrade that allows me to fit an extra mortar on due to the low weapon weight the explosive upgrade requires do more damage than using a different explosive damage special?  All of these questions can be answered with a very long equation for DPS.  I don’t want to call it the be-all end-all in case I missed something, but it’s as close as I think I can get.


Using this equation requires mocking up a ship build in Kixeye’s ship designer, and paying very close attention to the “attack,” “special abilities,” and “flagship effect” fields in the ship designer.  I assume all instances of “weapon type damage bonus” and “other reload bonus” are additive.  For example, 4 Monoliths with their 20% explosive damage fields would give a 20 + 20 + 20 +20 = 80% explosive damage bonus.  Look for the damage bonus of the damage type that you have, look at the reload that you have (Huggy’s does a good job, but I like to calculate reload manually), look at the building damage bonus you have (if applicable), look at your ship or structure dps stat and remember that that is spread across all weapon slots (figure out how many weapon slots you will use), find your critical chance from R&D (and things like the Gridiron Monolith field), and look for critical damage enhancers (critical hits usually deal double damage, but they deal triple damage with the sealed fire charge, and other things in the future may use this stat to increase damage in a nonstandard fashion).

Hold on to your butts.

DPS = ((Base damage of all weapons combined *(1+weapon type damage bonus) * (1+building damage bonus) *(1-critical chance)) + (Base damage of all weapons combined *(1+weapon type damage bonus) * (1+building damage bonus) *Critical chance * Critical damage) + (Ship or structure dps stat * (number of weapon slots filled with damaging weapons / total number of weapon slots) * Cycle time)) / Cycle time

Reminder:  Cycle time = reload + 0.2 * (salvo-1)

If you are attacking ships, remember to multiply this by your accuracy stat (after accounting for specials, etc.), if your accuracy stat is less than 100%.  (You never miss if you are attacking buildings.)  Technically, you have to know the enemy’s evade to get a proper accuracy, but we can’t know that, so I always assume the enemy has 0% evade.  Also, if you are attacking ships, the building damage modifier is irrelevant.

There can be an issue if you use weapons with different cycle times, such as judgment mortars and O/U-10’s on the same ship.  Calculating cycle time can be difficult for those.  I like to use a weighted-average, where I multiply the cycle time of each weapon by the percent of weapon slots meant to deal damage on the hull it occupies, then add them together.  For example, 5 Judgments and 3 O/U-10’s means 5/8 of the Judgment’s cycle time is added to 3/8 of the O/U-10’s cycle time to get an approximation of cycle time.

For multi-shot DPS, George has an article on that here:

So, there you have it.  If you want to take a quick glance at weapons and figure out which one is better in the abstract, you can do that.  If you want to figure out what goes better on a standard hull, you can do that.  If you want to go super-deep and calculate out the damage on a whole fleet, you can do that.  Using Excel or Google Sheets is a great way to simplify these calculations.  If you name what each cell is to keep track and use formulas referencing those cells, you can adjust to different builds and compare them very quickly if you copy and paste the formulas over a column, then adjust the numbers.

As it turns out, the seemingly-mysterious DPS isn’t so mysterious.  You do need to pay some attention to the blueprint, but it has everything you need to do a quick estimate.  If it’s a choice between weapons on the same fleet, the higher base DPS will usually win, but be mindful of the minimum reload and salvos increasing the cycle time, as that might push a different weapon into the lead.  So, when Kixeye comes out with new tech in the FM, you can take a look for yourself and see if it’s better than the raid tech.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Arms Race Level 100 Target

A Quick Breakdown

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon Bane   

This is just going to be a quick breakdown of the 100 target in Arms Race to hopefully help some people mitigate some damage. There are other paths and more successful builds, but I only have experience with what I have, so hopefully I can help some players with this. And I'm sort of insistant on driving stacked because, well, I'm lazy. And obstinate.

The first thing I do is take out the front right hand turret cluster. Rather than approach from the front, I go to the side in between the mines. This offers you the chance to engage these turrets without exposing yourself to fire from the turret cluster on the front left.

The only drawback to this is that you either have to run over the mine to get out or wait to time out. Since hitting the mine gives me 20-30 min of damage, I opt to time out and come back in.

Once I'm back in and stacked I don't engage the left front turrets cluster, instead I scoot around the dead right hand turret cluster and go into the gap so as to engage the center turret cluster from behind.

This lessens my chances of activating the bloody Coldsnap and again keeps me out of two turret clusters firing on me at the same time.

Doing this also leaves my fleet in an ideal position - it allows me to go back to that second turret cluster on the left and engage it from the back as well.

Then it's off to race past the shrouded mess to pop into the corner beside the next turret cluster. You have to be stacked to get past the shrouded turrets to avoid damage and you need to end up in the corner so as to avoid getting hit by the Coldsnap.

Once there, you can turn just enough to get the Executioner in range and wipe out this cluster. This will also unshroud the mess you just raced past.

Noob tip: You do not have to kill the unshrouded turrets (Thanks to Skadi Nilson  for the tip!). They offer no points. If you don't need the fleets that come in to do any cleaning for you, you can ignore them and continue on. If you need or rely on the fleets to do some cleaning up for you, go back and kill them now so you know how the fleets will proceed.

Next we have to go all the way against the 'wall' of the target and hug it to sneak past the mines so as to engage the next cluster from behind as well.

Then we go to the bottom, hug that wall and engage. There is an issue here as if you are heavy on explosive damage and lower on splash (like this build), you will need to pinch what's left to kill it off. Be forewarned - small pinches do work but the window of opportunity is very small.

After this one, we have one cluster left and you can engage this from a good angle as well. Don't be like me and forget the big building off to the side.

After this it is just a matter of cleaning up the fleets. I tend to stay moving and try and kite them.

This is the latest video of a 100 run. Total damage was about 20 minutes.

The build used in the video:!y400O0042434303170C445P3852505G572A2A2A2A0NY042434303386M722Y6YC5C557C537C5C5C50NY042434303386M722Y6YC5C557C537C5C5C50NY042434303386M722Y6YC5C557C537C5C5C50NY042434303386M722Y6YC5C557C537C5C5C5dD

Hope this helps some of you! Good luck!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

All code is guilty until proven innocent!!

By: Robyn Piatt
a/k/a Roo

"No amount of testing can prove a software right, but a single test can prove a software wrong"

Kix makes a preview server available for us to test and provide them with feedback. They don't have to do this. They can release targets or hulls and functionality without any testing from us the players and then we have no opportunity to share our concerns or observations with them.

Kixeye generally tells us in advance what targets are available and what feedback they are looking for. Using the last preview server as an example, this is what was posted in the notice  "Focused on April A-Set targets and May event S-target mechanics and feedback"

With that being said lets talk a little bit about what a preview is and what it is not.

A Preview (test) server is a controlled environment made available to allow testers (players) the ability to test specific targets, hulls or functionality and provide feedback to Kixeye.  While the players are testing, Kixeye is watching the activity in the region for issues with functionality, load balancing and lag, as well as gathering data based on the players activity within the targets.

With the last test we had level 84 and level 100 targets.  We were asked to hit these targets and provide feed back via a survey at the end of the session. We are given limited time to perform testing and there are limited participant slots available. Kixeye provides each player over 90k in gold coins to allow the player to build and rank fleets and have free repair while testing

What a test sever is not......

It is not a place for you goof off. If you are asked to test a specific item then test that item. When we are asked to hit raid targets it does not help if you are out constantly hitting mega hulls or other player fleets for the whole testing period. This is not the time to go out and hit your most hated opponent. It is not a time to go out and smash bases (unless this is part of the test) This does nothing but waste time and skew the data Kixeye is collecting. We all tend to pull out that one fleet that we never use at the end of the test and take it for a spin while on free repair but 99% of the time is spent validating the proper functionality.

It is not a place for you if you are brand new to the game and don't understand what is being asked of you for testing. Again, there are limited slots. If you are not familiar with the mechanics of what is being tested then it might be better for you to wait until you are a little more advanced in the game. It also does not help if you are a low level player that does not have the necessary tech components needed to perform the necessary testing. If you don't have the stuff to build the requested fleets correctly, then the information Kixeye collects is invalid.

If you hit a target in the test....finish the target. There is nothing worse than trying to test something and you have to spend 20 minutes of an already extremely short window clearing out targets to get another one to spawn. You have 90k in gold. Use it for repairs and finish the target and then go back into your base and tweak your fleet. There are people that take the time to live stream while on the preview so that others that did not make it in can see the targets as well. Again, not cool having to drive around to find a new target.

"How do I get rid of the shroud? If you make it onto the test server and are a little lost on how to hit the targets, watch a couple of people hit targets to see what you are missing.

If you are going to take part in the preview then be there for the allotted time. Don't log on if you can only spend 20 minutes on the preview. You have taken the spot from another player that does have the time to participate for the full time allotted. If you can't do the time it's a testing crime - there are always videos and information provided afterwards to the community on the many pages available.

Even if you have mastered the target in one go, don't just log off and think you are done. It is not about you and your ability to drive, try other combinations of fleets on the targets, who knows, you might find an error that Kixeye was unaware of. We are not testing to see how good we are, we are testing to make sure the functionality being released is working correctly and does not impact other areas of the game. For example, in the preview just passed, an issue with autoing targets was identified and corrected within the testing window.

While you are in the test server, do not be concerned if all of a sudden a Developer starts to watch your battle while in the preview. They are not spying on you, nor are they going to critique your driving skills (although I am sure they record and laugh at mine later). They are gathering information.

Providing constructive feedback

If you participate in the preview. Fill out the survey. It is always available at the top of the page when you first log in. Click that link so it is open in another page ready for you to fill out when you are done. Once the test is finished the link is gone. The survey asks specific information. It is okay and expected for you to provide negative feedback along with the positive as long as it is clear, event driven and not some major rant. This information is critical to Kixeye. If you fail to fill out the survey or provide the necessary information then you have failed as a test participant.  If we don't give them feedback then we cannot complain about the new functionality later. You have a voice - use it constructively.

Why is it so limited and why do "Special" players get access??

There is a reason for limited slots. Some of this is related to the environment and some of this is related to the ability to track the activity. It does no good having one sever with 5,000 slots with 5,000 people all on chat asking multiple questions and trying to see what builds work or not. There are Kixeye Developers and CM's that are in the preview as well. If they spend the whole time answering questions not related to the actual testing then their time is wasted.

Lately people have gotten upset and cried foul because there are a few players that may have early or guaranteed access to a preview.  There is a reason for this. These players are people that understand the mechanics of the game and the importance of testing and can articulate issues when they arise.  Kixeye has confirmed that these players do not use any of the slots available for the general player access. Ask yourself this.....Do you want 300 random people (that may or may not know what they are doing) or do you want to know there is always a small team of dedicated and knowledgeable players that get guaranteed access that you know will always be there to test and provide feedback and observations. I like knowing that if I cannot get on the sever to test for myself, there will always be a core group I know testing and they will be able to provide information that will help ensure that functionality works, does not cause a massive upset to the game balance, and can provide the correct technical feedback to Kixeye.

Having a preview is a privilege not a right.  Don't squander what we have by fart-assing around doing things that do not provide Kixeye with the necessary information they are looking for.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Roo's guide to finding stuff on the TFC page!!

By: Robyn Piatt
a/k/a Roo

How to Ninja save and search the The Forsaken Council Facebook Page 

Let's face it....FaceBook is not a forum and although the TFC page is an outstanding repository of information, sometimes you need to find a post or link to a post that had some good information you want to refer to later on.  

Here are some tips for saving stuff for later or using the ninja search with key words to find that post you are looking for.

Lets say George posts a great article on the Monolith build he used in the preview. You know you want to access it to read later on but you are supposed to be at work and not surfing the web (in fact what are you doing reading this - get back to work!!) Rather than look for it later on when you have to spend a bunch of time scrolling down the page looking for the post, here is how you can save an individual FB post. 

Every post has a time stamp under it. 

If you click the time stamp it will open the post in another browser window. 

You can then do many things with this link.  You can save it in your browser favorites to access it later. You can copy the hyperlink to paste in another post or to send in messenger to someone else.  Note - if the post is removed you will no longer be able to access the information.  If the person you are sending the post to is not on the TFC page they will not be able to access it. (But tell them to send a request to join the page so they can benefit from all the information the players share)

FaceBook also has a search function (it is not the greatest but it does help)  You will find the search box either on the top right of the page or on the left hand side of the page.  

Now if you are searching for a specific post it can sometimes bring up a million hits. Lets say you know Renato made a post with a video about understanding deflection that you want to refer back to or share it as a result of a question. You can just type in the word Renato in the search box and spend 4 hours scrolling because  you are going to get a bazzillion hits (Renato shares a lot of great information).  It will bring up any post that has his name on it or he has commented on.  But if you use the word "and" in your search and some other key words you can narrow down the search for less scrolling.

So if you enter the following words in the search bar Renato and Video and Deflection

This is the result you get.

You may need to either widen or narrow your search (try different key words) to catch the post you are looking for but it will really help zero in using key words.  

The same applies to searching for hull builds. If you type in Monolith in the search box  you will get a bunch of posts about the Monolith but they may not all be build posts. You can still review these posts as some people do include builds as a part of the discussion but you can still further narrow it down if you are looking for build only posts. 

Using the words Build and Monolith in the search box you get the following results. This will show posts that have both Monolith and Build in the original post. 

Hopefully this will make your life a little easier when trying to search for stuff on the page. It is not foolproof and is subject to FB changes behind the scenes but it should help.


Thursday, May 4, 2017


A look through the fence...

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane  

As most of you know, today we got a preview peek at the level 84 and 100 targets for the next Raid. The ever-present caveat is that nothing we have seen is set in stone and is subject to change between today and the start of the Raid next week. As we saw last month, that potential for change can be a substantial one indeed. So - what did we see?

Level 84 :

The 84 was a bit bigger and a little more complex. Someone decided that bringing back the Shrouding mechanic sounded good, so we have that now. The range of the Coldsnaps has increased so that you can no longer out range them. In order to mitigate damage, you now have to approach the target a little differently. You need to come at the Turret Platforms from an angle which will keep you out of the Coldsnap range, like so:

All in all, not too bad a target. I actually liked it. While I can see this getting monotonous after a day or two, this is a target I actually liked. I do wonder how this will translate into the FM - but we'll get to that later,  I'm generally not a fan of complexity in my chores. This is what the target looked like:

As you can see, there are a few new things in this target. The line of shrouded rockets are a new trick. Thankfully, you can outrun these with Icebreakers or Monoliths (stacked).

Level 100 : 

Ok. I have to be honest. I'm not exactly a fan. As most of you know, I abhor large targets, particularly for the Elite level targets. I still feel these targets are the ones that were supposed to save us seat time. The larger the target, the longer it takes. Add in the level of complexity surrounding this target and it didn't hit my Top 15. I mean - just look at the damn size of the thing.

I will say the novelty of the target was fun, however, even in the short time of the preview, I was already rolling my eyes at hitting these. I think my perspective may be skewed because in the back of my mind I keep thinking Forsaken Mission... Forsaken Mission....[1]

Much like the level 84 target, approach was everything. There is a shrouding mechanic again along with a line of shrouded rockets. Fun. A rather large amount of fleets are sitting just off waiting for you as well. I had some trouble with connectivity during the Preview so I had only two recordings of this target. One was full of flames and death, so you get to see the one where I get slapped around a bit. Note where the Coldsnaps fire etc.

And? : 

So what did we learn? We learned that we didn't need as much splash as previously thought. The stacking idea works well. Increasing the damage output helped. MX-3 seemed to be the choice for this Mono build. The adjustment? Removing Viscosity Regulator and swapping in an Explosive Upgrade. Adding a bunch of Charged Armors. A bit of advice... this build is for those that are lazy, but good drivers. It is a skill build on a skill hull. I'm sure I'll find more to tweak, but for now... the DPS build looked like this:

This is the full build here!!

You can read up on the theory behind the build here.

Final note: I am a little aggravated with Kixeye at the moment. The change to the Charged Armors has precluded me from finishing this fleet, so once again, I will not have a full fleet to participate in the raid. 2 out of 3 sucks. That said... Good luck in the raid folks!!


[1] A serious issue that has yet to be addressed with this new transitional rotation of old targets to chore targets, is a very basic one in this game, that revolves around power creep. In the past, we may have had a target for a chore like the Forsaken Mission release with a difficulty level that precluded any thought of 'fun' or 'easy'. This slowly transitioned into fun and then ease as time went on and we got newer and more powerful weapons and ships. With this new set-up, that will not happen. The difficulty we are presented after the transition is what we will see for the next year. It remains static. Remember the tweaking of the Reaver Armadas? The difficulty certainly was not adjusted towards the 'easy' dial. This is an area that needs to be addressed because I find it hard to believe that I will be doing my FM in 40 min for a couple hours damage when this transitions...

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Update Musings

Do we need pitchforks? Not really... I think...

by: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

Today we got a serious update. A new Odyssey Campaign, changes to the Charged Armors, and a serious buff to the Monolith and the Combat Mortar O/U-10. These are my initial thoughts...

Odyssey Campaign :

Given the changes to the Charged Armors, the Monolith and the Combat Mortar O/U-10, this is likely a very much needed TLC in order to allow players to adjust their builds to the changes. The buffs to the Hull and Mortar are likely to change many players builds. It is a good move on Kixeye's part to allow players to adjust at, hopefully, minimal to zero expense - granted, those that can't do the TLC may not be in the same boat.

Initial reactions seem to be that many players are upset that the Gridiron Monolith is available, as well as a 20 day build token. Personally, I am torn about the Gridiron being offered. I would be much happier if the limit were raised to two so that players who already invested in getting one, prioritized it and built it early had a second one they could build in order to have a second tank option for the FM that is to follow this raid set. I think increasing the capacity of the Gridiron is something that should seriously be looked at given that this Raid Set is going to be converted into the new FM.

As for the 20 day token... Honestly, I'm sort of O.K. with this. Those that invested early into the Gridiron have one already built and likely ranked. The one that I am building (in this fleet from this article) takes just under 24 days to build with an officer and R&D level 30. Given the proximity of the raid, I think you can see the thought process behind offering the 20 day build token. I understand than many players are upset at losing out on the 'discount', however, this is offset by their higher level of preparedness. In this instance I can see both sides of the coin and, if I'm honest, this is a good addition to the TLC for the community overall.

Charged Armors : 

At first blush, not having been able to test anything as yet, this seems... complicated. The addition of the resistances and the deflection put this armor on par with the D5 versions, without the repair time. We also get a flat amount reduction as well. If this is how they were rolled out initially, I think things would have been fine. The change however makes us necessitate a comparison.

The flat reduction amount was drastically decreased, as was the total pool amount. I'm not exactly sure how that is going to play out in the raid. With the drastic decrease in up-front reduction, I would think that the pool size would not have been decreased to such an extent.

On the other hand we could look at it comparative to D5 armors and note that you do get a serious mitigation factor above and beyond the D5 versions. The question for the player then becomes - Is this additional mitigation factor with the 10 million price point. That, of course, is up to the individual player. I'm not sure that current targets have been tuned to the armor, I presume the next raid will be (I hope). I think this means that the final judgement on this is going to truly be their performance in the next raid.

Monolith and Combat Mortar O/U-10 :

This is a significant buff to these items. Previous to this players were noting that a Harlock Citadel / R5 Citadel fleet had, on paper and apparently in practice, better damage numbers than the Gridiron / Monolith combination. The addition of the damage stack to the Monoliths (adding 120% damage with four monoliths) as well as the increase n splash, now make the Monolith much more formidable. Again, this is a within-the-hour-first-blush article, so I do need to spend some time playing with these, but it does seem that with the buff to the mortar and hull, this combination now easily surpasses the Hcit/Cit combo.

The buff to the damage of the Combat Mortar O/U-10 helps this in conjunction to being able to get more of them on the Monolith than the Citadel. Can the Citadels be refitted with the Combat Mortar O/U-10? Absolutely, however, it does not offer as much potential for use as the Monolith does.

It seems that with this update, the Monolith is now the best mortar hull in the game currently.


Side Notes:

- If you are using only 1 Charged Armor, you may want to consider at least 2 of the same type. You'll now need multiples to build up the total pool to be most effective / not run out in the middle of combat.

- If you don't do a hard armor-to-armor swap when adding in charged armors, (say you exchange weapons / specials to put it on), then there is no guarantee that you will see a repair improvement, because you messed with your TTK (time-to-kill).

- Testing stuff against the 112 or 115 is in no way indicative of the tuning for the upcoming raid. Sounds obvious, but when people are testing, they like to try to show old targets as a basis or proof that something "sucks". Next raid targets will determine the worth of these updates.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Draconian Coaxial

Upon Information and Belief...

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane

There was a lot of chatter recently about the Draconian Coaxial turret. Particularly with regard to the Secondary Weapon - The Countermeasure half. Most of this chatter revolved mainly around the question of having a Multi-Shot listed and the use of the Hydroxide Coated Barrels. The answer that we previously had was that this special would not work due to the CM being a secondary weapon. This has changed.

This is the second 'correction' that has happened in-game recently that we have not been informed of in an update release. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but with the help of Jefe from the BP Crib we tested this to get some definitive proof. Given this new info, I thought it would behoove the community to make the info available and then spend a little time on this turret.

First let's look at some stills to show that the Hydroxide Coated Barrels now work. This first still shows a turret without the special.

The second one shows a turret with the special equipped. Clearly the pellet count has increased.

Now the question is- is it worth putting on your turret? My answer is no. The reason for this is the fundamental way in which Multi-Shot works, see this article for more info, coupled with the weapon's mechanic.

We first need to step back a little bit and understand how the Secondary Weapon of this turret works. Since it is a splash based weapon the accuracy stat[1] is much less important than the splash stat. Given that it is a Multi-Shot weapon, coupled with the splash based performance, the additional pellets are essentially redundant due to the very low spread (only 4 off-center) that the weapon has - particularly when you start adding splash specials. Of far greater import is the splash. Let's math, shall we?

If you add the Hydroxide Coated Barrels, you gain an additional coverage of about 8 along one axis (since missiles don't spread, we don't care about the other axis too much other than our own spread), 4 in front and 4 in back.

If instead you choose to boost your splash with a special like Sulfide Deployer or Fuel Tank 01-X you will gain a splash bonus of 80%, with a 4 base splash that gives you a splash radius of 7.2 giving you an axis coverage of  14.4.

The splash actually performs better along the other axis as well, which actually mitigates the spread drift of the CM along that axis. Of further note, if you have three slots, you can use both splash specials or some other combination that you'd like. How will this look for a result? Lets see...

With the Hydroxide Coated Barrels:

With splash specials:

As you can see the area of effective counter is larger in the latter. We have to remember, this is not a damage dealing weapon. The addition of pellets in this instance is essentially useless. So... one of the secret sauce combos looks like this:

While it isn't the only option, it is a hell of a splasher. The Countermeasure systems boosts the range of the countermeasure and the splash... well, the splash is still King.

Of note:

  • A-T:R does not affect the secondary part of this weapon.

  • Even though the Draconian Coaxial is not listed in the Retrofit lab under Countermeasure Turrets, this retrofit does buff the secondary of the Draconian Coaxial.


[1] Accuracy, while not wholly significant, does play a part overall in that it determines the point from which spread is calculated for the CM.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Contemplations on the Monolith

Derping Our Way Through a Build...

by: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   


This one is going to be a bit... odd. We aren't yet sure what exactly the Elite targets are going to look like for the next Raid, we have rumors of a buff coming, but no substantive information concerning this and we have a lot of math kicking around with regard to comparative damage numbers between the Harlock Citadel / Citadel combo and the Gridiron Monolith / Monolith combo - of which could possibly be negated with a buff to the latter combo.

First we have to make some assumptions, which I hate, but must be acknowledged due to DoomRooster's tease on the forums. The idea of a buff seems to revolve around the damage calculations mentioned above. Currently the R5 HCit/Cit combination out performs the GM/Mono combination with regard to DPS (Damage Per Second) and is likely the issue that will be addressed. We do not know this of a certainty but it seems the most likely item that needs addressing with the latter combination. The following build is centered around this premise.

So, for reference, this is the build we will be discussing today. The build is a little different than traditionally presumed because of the mechanical way I have designed the fleet to offset stack when driving.

Gridiron Monolith :

The Flagship of the fleet, this is designed, as apparently intended, as a Tank for the rest of the fleet. Some of the items may seem an odd selection. Given the mechanic of the Flagship bonus of this hull, I designed the fleet to offset stack as you drive it so that this hull will always pull just a hair forward once you move out from a full stack. The addition of the Cryonic Depth Charge pulls the speed of this hull up to 41.12 combat speed. This will inch the hull forward from the rest of the fleet allowing the following Monoliths to gain the bonus associated with the Gridiron.

The countermeasure selection is mostly traditional with one Hailstorm D to offset the cycles and ensure constant coverage from mortar fire. Three Phalanx 4s for missile fire, though that may need adjusting depending on the targets we see. Additionally, the slot used for the Evade Upgrade initially had High Velocity Rounds to possibly help destroy incoming fire faster so that less would 'sneak by' due to proximity or angle to the fleet, however, in reviewing some of the videos, it did not seem that fire was getting close enough to the fleets to necessitate that quirky mechanic... yet.

Given what we saw in the last Raid, the Harrier missile with the SFB3 special should ensure a safe cushion of space when targeting the turrets in the targets. Given the basic idea of standing off the target with this set-up the armor selection was relegated to mitigate as much missile damage as possible under the theory that you will not get into the range of the deadly Coldsnaps. Likewise the selection of the Evade specials.

The rest of the selections should be self-explanatory given the role of this ship in this fleet design.

Monolith DPS Hull :

The DPS version of the hull, this is designed around the Combat Mortar O/U-10. Again, the basis for this derives from the presumptions made with regard to the possibility of a buff coming. There is no 'right' build here and much of this is personal preference. Additionally, here you must decide if you are going to run four DPS hulls or opt for a trailer tank.

The speed of this hull is designed such that it has a combat speed of 41 letting it barely trail behind the Gridiron flagship starting from a full stack so that it will take advantage of the field that trails behind the Gridiron.

Again we see a concentration on missile damage mitigation. Given the role these hulls play in the fleet, they should hopefully never see any explosive damage issues (given what we have seen of the targets thus far).

This build concentrates on broad damage while trying to find a balance between splash, projectile speed and spread. With a splash of just over 42 and a calculated spread-from-center of 24, this seems like a good overall compromise.

Monolith Trailing Tank :

This is the Trailing Tank option. Not knowing exactly what we will face, this is the last hull to build - possibly having a blank built and set aside to decide between a fourth DPS hull or this option and holding build tokens in reserve. The DPS build above will fit in this fleet for the fourth slot if you choose to go with four DPS hulls.

Again we use the Harrier as a spotter. This will enable you to 'shift-click' targets if you are engaged on both sides. This build is also designed to mechanically trail behind the DPS hulls by means of a combat speed of 40.4. The selections are much like the Gridiron tank. While I am unsure of the necessity of this hull as yet, I have planned it out 'just in case'.

These are my current musings on the Monolith line of hulls currently. To be honest, I will not be fully decided upon the builds and interactions until we have the actual raid. Generally I would say not until a Preview Server, if we are going to have one, but given the result of the last Preview Server with regard to the Icebreaker build, I am leery of making final decisions based on those now. I dislike being burned and, right or wrong, that is the feeling I had after last raid. I hope these designs inspire some ideas of your own. Good luck!!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Espionage Take-Away

Flog the spies...

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

So, I took some time to let this steep in my brain before I wrote it. I want to be clear, on the whole, this was a fabulous raid. I just have one major problem with it that is a very serious one given the circumstance. I want to address that but I do NOT want to detract from the overall good that this Raid Set seems to bode for players.

Let me begin with the positive side. This was one of the most versatility engage-able raids we have had in a long, long time. This is a fantastic aspect to have, given the final intent of the targets.

Players were using fleets that included everything from Monoliths to Tideseekers to Sea Wolves. There were multiple avenues in which to engage and grab some points. Additionally, if you had a spotter and a tank and a friend with Icebreakers, prepping was pretty damn easy and you could help other players out by easing the burden in the targets.  If you had the time (and that was an issue given Easter) and a current FM fleet, you could do relatively well in terms of points. It did seem to take some time to get that word out, but I think they pulled this off well.

Even better, this bodes very well for mid-level players for the FM change to follow this raid set. While they may not be able to engage the biggest targets, they will undoubtedly have more opportunity to achieve higher levels in the FM. This is all sorts of fantastic for the players and for the game. Clearly, we don't know this of a certainty as yet, but I will remain optimistic as Kixeye has shown an acknowledgment of the necessity of the FM for players to remain engaged and relevant in the game. In furtherance if this, the Zelos made an appearance in The FM this week. Better and better. I love this aspect of this Raid Set and the forethought Kixeye seems to be having with regard to the FM. A++!!

The bad? The Icebreaker. The Icebreaker now has the record for the shortest length of applicability for a rocket blitz hull. It was stillborn. To say that this infuriated me would be a serious understatement.

I am clearly aware of the differences between a preview and the live environment in this game and the reasonable changed spawned in the interim that is to be expected. I could expect some changes to the targets, difficulty or damage - at least a reasonable amount. The targets we engaged in the Preview Server, in my opinion, were a fair balance for the Icebreaker. You had the option to drive it like a skill hull, or drive it semi-blitz and take some damage, or outright blitz the target. The hull was FUN. This is what it looked like in that preview server when you chose the middle path:

What I, and many others, did not expect was a fundamental change in the use and effectiveness of the 120 million point 'auto' hull. A rocket hull, by its very mechanical nature, is a blitz hull. It should be ideal for autoing a Garrison target. Instead, the Icebreaker had to be driven with the skill and finesse of a 'skill' hull. To drive it as such was even harder than driving the Hellwraith its Raid Set. This was not 'fun'.

I very much literally said 'What the actual fuck!' after engaging the first target. The targets were changed to where the fundamental design of the icebreaker no longer worked as it had been in the preview server, nor how one would reasonably expect a rocket hull to perform. This is what the A set looked like:

There were no options, you had to drive it as a skill hull, OR, relegate it to a lowly prep fleet like so:

This was not just an increase in difficulty and damage, but rather a change that negated the fundamental basic usage of a blitz hull. (And if this was intended, why even spend the time to fix the Trident? This change essentially negates their very usage.)

Rocket hulls, even in their use as an auto hull, are foundationally a blitz hull. That has been their design intent since the inception of the game. Lay waste to a large swath of area quickly whilst shrugging off damage. This is what we saw in the test server, however, in the live environment we saw anything but this. The fact that a bloodthirsted Tideseeker did better in that role speaks volumes about the issue. In fact, I decided to try the new 112 FM target out with the Icebreaker. This target had been stated as designed for the Icebreaker and Monolith. This is what happened with only 2 very minor errors. Seriously?? 5+ hours of damage:

The community expected a lesson to be learned from the abomination of the Ironclad. Clearly that lesson was not learned. Again, I find myself building two fleets for a Raid Set. I truly hope this gets looked at and adjusted accordingly because it is a huge breach against the community and really, the only real negative of a well balanced raid. I would have happily spent the same amount of coin as I did in the raid to be able to drive as I did in the test server. It was fun and quick. Instead I had my Icebreakers relegated to either driving like a bloody skill hull or using it as a lowly prep fleet and had my seat time increased significantly because of it. Oh.. and a 120 million point prep fleet?!?  C'mon.

Correcting this one issue will not negate the brilliance of the rest of the Raid set and the options players have been allowed, it will merely engender some good will from a community that feels a bit betrayed given the cost investment to have had this fleet out for the first iteration of this Raid Set (and allow for its reasonable use in the FM).

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Stoke the Flames! Foundry 2.0 and Update!

Bringing the Fire back to the Foundry

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

Foundry 2.0 :

The Foundry got a HUGE makeover today which looks to help players get into relevance quicker in the game so that they can succeed in the PvE aspects of the game expeditiously and, hopefully, with some alacrity.

The biggest change to the Foundry is the removal of any necessity of requirement for fragments or components. This means that you don't have to endlessly hit a bazillion things just to get your next upgrade going. Instead, all Foundry technology will be available through timed research.

This also means that the World Map targets will no longer drop these fragments. Does this bode well for all those 40 Salvages to start disappearing? Will our map become cleaner? I hope so. At the very least, this will open the door to that discussion. As a prelude to this the Legion Assault Forces will no longer be spawning on the World Map, hopefully alleviating some of the memory bleed issues players have with heavily scrolling around on the World Map.

In addition to these changes, Kixeye is helping ease the transition by giving away tech in the Tier 1 - Tier 3 trees. If you are a level 30 or above with at least a level 1 Intelligence Lab, you will find all Tier 1 - Tier 3 Foundry Hulls and Blueprints in your inventories. Even better yet - these hulls have been automatically upgraded to their maximum retrofit level for you at no cost! (Side note: This does NOT mean you have to build them!!!!) New players, or those that do not qualify for these freebies will NOT be granted them in the future (as of this writing).

The flip side of this is that all Tier 1 - Tier 3 blueprints will be discontinued going forward. This may annoy some collectors, however, since the Foundry will be starting off at Tier 4 tech levels, it really is a moot point as Tier 1 - Tier 3 tech is essentially obsolete in today's game and likely won't really help anyone advance in the FM or TLCs. Additionally, the window for the Foundry will now also show recommendations for complementary weapons and/or specials for each hull. Of further note - the timed research is... long in some instances. I'm not sure how that will pan out going forward, but for now, some of the research times (Citadel) are going to be a 'time investment'! On the plus side - you can research as many of them as you want concurrently so as to avoid a bottleneck in the process of 'catching up'. Good choice here, kudos!

They also have gone ahead and completed your current Tier 4 or 5 hull research for you. If you are currently working on Tier 4 or Tier 5 Foundry tech, they have granted you the next hull in your progression OR the next retrofit level. Which one is dependent upon your current progress.

The example Doom supplied looks thusly:

  • If you don't own blueprint X (Tier 4), congrats! Now you do!

  • If you do own blueprint X (Tier 4), we gave you blueprint Y (Tier 5). Congrats!

  • If you own both, we upgraded them to the next retrofit for you. Congrats!

  • We did this for all classes in the Foundry. (Garrison, Siege, etc.)

What does this mean for the Gantry and Hyperion? Same thing! No fragment requirements. Timed research.

Update :

We were all hoping for at least a 2 day token to get some builds out for VXP weekend, right? Well, unfortunately, that will not be happening this week as we have a load of new prizes in the FM, two of which are in Prize Pool 4 'blocking' a 2 day token this week.

Of serious note is the addition of a new target to the FM that is intended for the Icebreaker or Monolith. At this point all we can do is speculate as to its difficulty, but the point pay out should be the same as the current 109 FM target and in addition it will pay out a Reinforced Chest that may contain VXP tokens for the Icebreaker or Monolith. I like that part, though I would wildly like it if there were some small possibility for build tokens for those hulls as well (hint, hint!!!!).

  • Prize Pool 5

Not exactly sure about this special as yet unless a blitz hull is coming out. The way it reads is that the hull has to be in range of this special for the special to have an effect on the projectile speed. At the moment, it gets a 'Meh'. It would be interesting to know if the effects stack and how that would impact a blitz fleet. To be continued...

This should be an interesting addition to the toolbox. Lower splash and spread with a massive increase in ship damage, this is offset by, contexually, de minimis wall and building damage. This should relegate this weapon to Fleet v Fleet use. Pride as a defender now? Hmmm....

A complementary special for the weapon above, it also can be used for your 'other' Pride builds. In addition, that low 12% weapon weight means this can take the place of the 19% weapon weight costing Barrel System 3 or Emissions Generator in some builds, saving you weight!

  • Prize Pool 4

Before anyone gets too excited at the two additions into this Prize Pool, please note that both of these are sadly relegated to the Generalist classification. <Insert sad, sad face>

Like the special, I am not thrilled with this addition. Barring some other way of increasing range, I would avoid building a rocket Generalist Class hull. 'Meh'.

Oh how I wish you would fit on my stillbirthed Icebreakers. How I wish... Again, much like the special above, this seems odd for a Generalist Class hull. I'm not sure the Splash Damage Reduction is enough to offset running into the teeth of a defense, so I'll still pass on building a rocket Generalist for now.

One additional note of interest was this line:

  • Unidentified Raiders 101 (similar to May S-target) will only spawn from Fri, 9am - Sat, 9pm.

This will be interesting to see and play with. I think many players may be hitting these targets with fleets already skulled to get an idea of what to expect- just bear in mind the egregious changes form the last test server to the live event.

And that's a wrap folks! Hope you enjoyed it!