Underrated Hull of the Year?
by: George Argyropoulos
I was discussing this hull with a friend of mine recently and we were sort of chuckling at the bad rap it already seems to be having, with many people advising to pass up on the hull and calling it crap or a filler. I mean, there are people hating on this hull. I think I'll anonymously quote my friend because the quote really puts the situation in perspective (and it made me chuckle at its boldness).
"Yeah. Going to vote this one in as being the most underrated hull of the year already."
Now, while we can't foresee the rest of the year, this does in fact put into perspective how poorly this hull has been welcomed. I was sorely tempted to not write this article and try and take advantage of so many people passing up the Alpha... but I guess I'm a nice guy. I'll let you read what I think and then you can decide for yourselves, in an informed fashion, what you want to do. You may think I'm crazy now, but let's see what you think at the end.
I tend to avoid articles about Base Defense/Attack because the can become complex beasts, and this article should highlight why that is. Lets look at the aspects of the Alpha and see why it grew on me.
This one, at first blush seems exceptionally lackluster. In fact, the Draconian Airstrike D-100R UAV does more one-shot damage than the new Cesium Scarab UAV. So why is this one better? Damage type and Mechanics. This has to do with the mechanics of the game that we don't get to see but have to test for, or rely on third-party information. I wish it weren't so, and Kixeye has been very good at getting a lot of info out, but I didn't ask about this as a lot of the info is out there already.
Each damage type has a minimum pass-through damage in some circumstances, and in others a minimum percentage pass-through. What we found in testing the Punisher was some very odd data points and since then we've found a bit more. Since most Conqueror hulls have deflection, chances are that the pass-through mechanic is based on a percentage rather than a minimum floor number. In addition to that, Radioactive damage has historically (from testing and data-mining rumors) had a higher pass-through than the rest of the damages. Add to all that- many conqueror hulls have different percentages for each of these stats and you have a neat little surprise package for those hulls in this UAV.
Upon closer look at the new UAV one may also notice a nice little stat that propels it well above any other UAV available - including the D-100R. That .2 second UAV reload. That means this little bugger is going to fire 5 times before moving to the next target. Using the example above (with UAV Powercells because everyone wants the High Velocity Rounds), if your percentage pass-through is 5%, that leaves 255.55 damage per shot... times 5 for the visit is 1,277.75... times 5 UAV's is 6,388. 75 damage. Not really a whole TON of damage on its own, but 'on its own' is not how base defense really works, is it? And this is the purported weakest part of the hull by the naysayers.
The hull is a bit of a deflection PITA. Let it get a hit on something and that something dies and it'll get a Bloodthirst, it then gets even worse. I don't know that I would choose this to be my lead, but it surely isn't a hull that can be ignored, particularly raining several thousand points of damage down upon you as you attempt to scoot by or waiting on something to kill it.
Yes, this hull has some countermeasure slots. This is cool, but that does not make it a countermeasure hull. It makes it a superb support hull. This is not meant to replace that CM Gamma Behemoth you have sitting in your base full of Gale III's, but it sure would bolster that thing if this were sitting close by. I'm not sure why people can't get past thinking of this as a countermeasure ship. It really is a new sort of hull in the Defender category, and the next section will show you why, and why it is underrated. That said, imagine this sitting as the back up to the Gamma. It would make life exceptionally difficult to get by that Gamma if the fleet is relying on mortars to clear the field. Time is of the essence sometimes.
I will note in here as well, it has a rather nice Thermal range of 90. This can come in very handy in mixing and matching hulls in your Defender Fleet.
This. This is where this hull shines and is completely overlooked. I'll be honest, I wanted to make all sorts of graphs and charts and shit, but I want to finish this quick and watch a stream or two to see how the targets are. I'm hoping Kix listened and tuned them down.
The above picture shows the support effect the Alpha has to nearby ships. A lot of people scoffed at those numbers, but honestly, let's look at a practical application or two.
Let's park one next to a Valiant. What do we get? A little boost on the deflections. Enough to make a difference? Maybe. It would bring Scoria damages down from preps by a 1/3 in some cases. In others maybe more. It would help in mortar fire both with the deflection upgrade and the extra Gales firing. Just in the numbers area it bolsters this hull decently. Not game breaking, but a nice addition if you can fit it.
A little more interesting.
Numbers would have to be run, but the Vanquisher works on the theory of huge amounts of health. Adding any deflection to this hull makes it that much more powerful and a pain to deal with. Remember, Base Defense is a complex beast and little tweaks sometimes make the difference between someone getting in or not.
Now, this one is interesting... I'll let you guys do the math, but see that Resonance Battery, see that Deflection? And the additional deflection gained from the Alpha? Plus all the additional resistance you'd get from all those Gales? And if it were sitting in another field from another hull? See where this can go? Add those Gales and play with the armor a bit and not an easy prep out for a Spite now either.
There are three very simple examples. As I have mentioned several times in the past, Base Defense is a very multi-layered thing. So many things interact that one tweak, one change can change the way your defense works entirely against various attacks.
In short, the Alpha is not a throw-away hull. Is it a game-breaker? No. I am glad for that. I do not want any more game-breaking hulls. Is it the piece of shit hull you can ignore and pass up as many are advising? That's up to you. Does it add a nice depth and complexity? Hell yes. What it does also do that people may not realize is slightly alter your defense fleet so that longevity and difficulty are increased. Much like any other Defender, this has it's place and given it's release before the Tier 6 Conqueror hulls, I believe that depth it provides is seriously being undervalued.
Personally... I am going to get it if I can get the points. Should you is entirely up to you and your play style.