Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Look Ahead to April's Raid

Crystal Ball? Chicken Bones? BLT?


By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   



How to Plan:


Looking ahead is sometimes difficult, particularly in this game. Given that we are having a 'Super-store' raid in March, I though it would be a good idea to take a crack at the crystal ball and see if we can formulate a plan going into the next raid to see what we may want to grab for prizes.

We know the next raid-set will be Garrison. This gives us a few presumptions that can be made going forward so that we can plan ahead.

Unless we hear differently the presumption is going to remain that the damage types in the Garrison raid upcoming will be explosive and penetrative.

The second presumption that I'm going to make is that the mechanic will still remain very similar to what we see now in the current Garrison targets.

In that vein in order to prepare for the next raid set we can presume that we will need a tank and a remote targeting hull to at least participate. Given past history we will see, likely, the remote targeting hull offered in the March raid as this is the damage dealing hull for these targets.

Given these presumptions we have a starting point for our planning. If you are capable of getting the new hull, or already have Citadels your concentration will likely be on a Tank. The only Garrison type targets we have to currently gauge against is the FM targets. With that in mind here are two very capable builds that have worked well in the current FM 109 targets.

We will likely have a better understanding once we see the new hull and specials in March (hopefully), so this is all speculative based on our current understanding of Garrison targets, their mechanics and their typical damages.


Tideseeker Tank:



This has been a proven design in the FM. The addition of the torpedo allows for the destruction of mines if present helping to gain Bloodthirst quicker. The possible drawback to this design is the low deflection which may become an issue in the next Raid set.


Zelos Tank:



The new kid on the block and possibly more capable than the Tideseeker. The repair modifier for the Generalist class is a drawback, however, the much larger deflection numbers may prove pivotal in its use in the next Raid set. Since torpedoes can not be fit to this hull, a Garwood has been used for the same purpose as the torpedo was in the Tideseeker, but not for bloodthirst. The hull has thermal so rather than having your mortars fire at mines they can not hit, the Garwood will eliminate that problem making driving a bit easier. This may be the best option on the table until we learn more about the targets.


Punisher Tank:



Ahhhh... the venerable Punisher. One of my favorite all-time hulls. Given the performance of the above two Tanks, I'm not quite sure how this one will actually perform itself. Should deflection be the deciding factor in the next Raid set, this may perform as well as, and perhaps better than, the Tideseeker. If resistances are more heavily favored it may perform far worse. This is a gamble unless it is the only Tank option you have. Personally, my feeling is I would avoid spending any time on this build if I had other options.





DPS Hull:



Next in line will be the hull hiding behind the Tank chucking raining death down upon the targets. Given the performance of the Centurion in the last Raid set I would not expect the Citadel to fair well in any of the higher targets, however, they may be able to pull off Tier 4 targets, and perhaps Tier 5 targets, with a Harlock Citadel in the lead. Since I am unsure of the mechanic or underlying target changes that will be made, it is exceptionally difficult to predict how well or poorly the Citadel will perform in the next Raid set. We can, however, try and make them as efficient as we can for those players that will be using them. To that end this build is one that performs well currently in the FM targets and should lend itself well to formulating ideas for you to utilize in refitting your own.


Novastorms are the next popular choice in line in the current FM it seems but... I do not foresee them doing anything above Tier 3 set targets, and even that may be striving too high depending on the new target's layout or mechanics.

Conclusion:


Beyond planning for a decent Tank, or perhaps two so you can swap out, it is still a crap shoot as to what is coming, but we can try and prepare a little here and there as our shipyards get some time free.

Part of my concern, and reason for addressing this now, is the need for a high level of rank on a Tank in order for it to perform well in these targets. If you do not have one, or have a sub-par one, now is the time to start thinking about it so you can have at least a blank hull ready for ranking after the next Raid. Either in prioritizing its acquisition in the next raid and heving it out in time, or having it built before the next raid ends.

It is VERY early for this, however, giving yourself options and some preparation could possibly help ease your foray into the next Raid set, particularly given the build times of the Tanks.




Saturday, February 25, 2017

So you want to hire a Merc...

Caveat Emptor


By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   


(The art is by DNA-1 a/k/a David Nakayama)

You always wanted to know what happened to Vassago, right? Well....

Sadly, this is a seemingly touchy subject. Let me address why most Mercs merc, rather, I should explain why I , and the guys I know and recommend merc.

Part of the title 'Caveat Emptor' is because there are many Mercs out there that do it to actually make coin. In some instances of exceptionally long targets, I might be ok-ish with this, but for the most part, I dislike this type of Merc-ing. This is why I do it the way I do.

I don't do it for the coins. In all honesty, I look at it as free points for my time while I help those who otherwise would never achieve the same heights for the same amount of coin. When I set my pricing, I try to gauge my average damage scenario with regard to damage and time so that the coin cost generally covers close to my actual repair costs for the points for which I am prepping for someone. In some raids, the use of crews are a necessity and players must also remember that to get those crews is a heavy time investment by the Merc (more on that later).

To expound a bit on my underlying aspect - I think if you are going to merc, it should not be an action for yourself, but rather, the person for which you are merc-ing.  If a player can not gain the points needed with their fleets, for whatever reason - or - If I can gain them multiples of their point ability (ie- without a merc they spend 100 coin for 5 million, with a merc 40 million for 100 coin), I think it does nothing but help the game in the long run. The higher the tech-depth of the average player, the better a gaming community this becomes so there are several avenues of engagement for more players.

Trust/Reputation/Cost



One of the best places to find a Merc is the Mercenary Contract Killers page. Here you can find players in various worlds that are willing to Merc for you. If it is your first time, wait a day into the raid so prices firm up and you can see who has free time. Once you have an idea of who you want to use, you can search the page for that player and see if there are any positive (or negative) reviews for that player.

If you have used them before, or have come by a recommendation to use a specific player, the page is a great way to find what worlds many of the Mercs will be in. For example, Some Mercs always go to the same world for raids while others, like myself, tend to float around.

As I mentioned previously, wait until the pricing is set. You should be able to also shop around sometimes to find better pricing as some players have more capable fleets than others. A good example is this last raid. Those players with Hcan/Can set-ups hitting the S targets were much more time- and cost-effective to use than those using a less efficient fleet hitting A-sets.

DO make sure you are at the target being prepped with a fleet and DO make sure you engage immediately as a target sniped is not the fault of the Merc (although many, like me, will cover it because we then have someone we can hit during raid). You do NOT want to waste a Merc's time unless they are charging you for that time as well. Many do NOT and making them wait and possibly waste precious crew time is exceptionally rude and can likely have the merc walking away. When aligning schedules, make sure you are available. Do not go for a beer run, lunch, etc. without discussing it with the Merc. Don't leave 15 min. after a merc-run starts. They are trying to help you AND not really charge you- don't be a douchepickle - particularly if they are running a crew.

Do not rely on mercs for more than a raid or two. The use of them should be to help get you into the next level of play so that you can do it for yourself. Most of the Mercs will help you with builds and advice while you are chatting during the preps. You should know how to prioritize your game play (you can read about that here) or you can search through the various pages like the TFC page, the BV page or the BP Crib Forum and ask the community questions there as well as find a wealth of knowledge on the TFC website, including builds and raid advice as it comes to light.

Try to time the use of Mercs to coincide with Store Raids. This will enable you to have a larger selection of prizes to help you bring your game to a higher level with less time spent trying to achieve the same goals. If you are looking for a large number of points, please be up front with the Merc ahead of time as that requires you to align schedules. It may be easier to go to two or more depending on how much you need and the time involved in achieving that goal.

If you have a good experience (or bad) please take the time to leave a note about your Merc.

Time constrained? Blitz v. Merc



Given the introduction of the blitz target, it may be more cost effective to take this option rather than hiring a Merc, particularly when you are time constrained as you can just coin through to the points you want. Do not overlook this option, particularly if you are on a very tight schedule for a raid.

Payment



I try and recommend players get a Merc from the same country as they reside. The reason for this is that while you can send coin in-game to cover their damage for running you points, if you have too many friends in the game you may not have them show up on your friends list so you can take advantage of this option. Many times you have to use a f/b card and the exchange rate may not cover what was agreed upon. Personally I like Facebook cards. Much easier for many and less hassle with the friend thing.


Don't tip. Don't beg. Try and follow directions. Spend wisely. And above all : Caveat Emptor

TFC Website Black Magic

Website Resources for Pirates


By: Robyn Piatt    
a/k/a Robyn_P



The example post below is a one we see show up often on the TFC Facebook page. Many players post looking for a build which is usually followed up with a response pointing the member to the specific build page on The Forsaken Council Website. 

Side Note - Although the people who post and answer questions on the TFC pages are incredibly knowledgeable, (Some are even legends in their own minds (Editor's note - Like Stu!)), they cannot see what components you own. If you have looked at the ship build page and are missing components from a build, please post a build with what you DO have and let us help you to compromise. It also helps to know what your intentions for the fleet are.


Most of you are familiar with the Ship Build page, but have you taken a moment to see what else is out there on the site?? 

The Forsaken Council Website is a YUGE repository of all things BP.  It does not matter if you are an "Old Hand" or a "Noob" (like George). There is something for everyone......and probably a lot more than you are aware of.

You Tube Video Links



You KNOW Renato (aka "The Driving God") posted a really cool video on the latest TLC. You try searching his name and it brings up 1000 posts (I hope he is being paid by the word) and you cannot find the bloody video you are looking for. Check out the You Tube channel links on the home page...all the video goodies are here.




There are links to the channels of the following TFC peeps:

TFC - Past TFC and Open Mike shows are located here - Starring Liam aka Mr Goo
TSM - aka Mark (Mr. TFC)
DeadSinner - aka Renato (The Driving God)
Dragon_Bane - aka George (The Noob)
Stumanlivo  - aka Stewart (Stu#2)


Raid Info


Want to know what fleet to use and where? Want to see videos from other Driving Gods on how to crush raid targets into submission, or just need some help with your raid fleet build? The Raid help page is place to look. Andrew (Editor's Note - THE man behind the scenes)  corrals all the information you will ever need before, during and after the raid. Andrew updates this page throughout each raid. Builds and videos are sorted by build type and target levels. Bookmark this baby.....it's raid crack. 


Campaigns 


Andrew has done the same black magic with current and past Time Limited Campaigns (TLC) on the page. If you are in need of help or insight to a TLC start here to gain some knowledge of the targets.


Timers


Johnny Frostler put together an awesome Timer Page that shows all current timers. This includes Drac Mine spawns, TLC timers, Raid timers and some nifty calculators that let you find Drac Bases and DUBs etc. It also lets you figure out which sector the last asshole that hit you and ran is now hiding his base.


Blogs



Looking for one of George's past blogs?? Check out the Blog Menu. Links to the Forsaken CoveBP Professor,  Specs World and The TFC Home Blog with all the Weekly Release Notes.


Returning Player??


If you are a newly returned player (welcome back!) or, someone who is frustrated with how your game is progressing. Check out the Are you behind? page. Caleb Parker has put together some great information on how to get caught up and how to progress without banging your head against a brick wall....or worse yet, kicking the cat. 


But WAIT- there's more....


If you are new to the game or are just looking for additional information to improve your game play then check out the Tutorial Pages These pages again, offer a wealth of information. The Tutorial Pages include "How I build this fleet" videos, help for the weekly Forsaken Mission and help understanding how the Foundry works. There are also guides on how to use Huggies Shipbulder(Editor's Note - Dave rocks. That is all, carry on...)

Take a few minutes and check out the site.  Its well worth the time. 

I will end this with a muchas grassyass to Andrew Hart for his tireless website black magic and to all the players that share their videos, builds and time so that I, and others, can benefit from your in game knowledge. 

Robyn

(Editor's Note- - Robyn rocks and can write her some damn fine articles!! Much love!!)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Anatomy of Design : Tideseeker

Designing a Tideseeker to Auto Reaver Uranium Targets and MOAR!


By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

Anyone that knows me can tell you I am a lazy pirate. Given the heavy use of Uranium in the game I wanted a better way to get my Uranium and make that chore a little less of a hassle, as I am sure everyone else does as well.

As such, I tend to auto the 57 map target because it is an instant map repair (with my Mayhem fleet), it gives a decent amount of Uranium and since I can auto the target, I have the option to play other aspects of the game I find more fun than driving endlessly repetitive targets so I can have Uranium to endlessly roll nothing good for crews... but I digress.

My initial foray into the ring was a Concussive Reciprocator build. I went with that over the Garwood build because of a long night of drawn out math with Ren and Brian which showed that the Concussive Reciprocator build outperformed the Garwood build when at maximum rank. Perfect right?

Wrong.

After the (observed) addition of extra health to the Reaver Armada targets, this build no longer performed the task for which I had designed it do do, nor did it achieve the level of overall damage I had intended. In other words it started to consistently take more than 5 minutes of damage per 57 on auto after the change. This did not make me happy. It did however start making me dig around for intel. I soon found that the Calamity build was still doing the 57 for map instant repair most of the time. I started playing with numbers and testing and came up with a build that did perform the way I wanted it to in these targets. In that effort I went through several ideas and came up with several builds. I have my builds listed in order of effectiveness against the Reaver Armada targets (and an FM tank at the end). I have found that this ranking is the same regardless if you are autoing or driving.

Please read the Side Notes at the end of the article. 


The Tideseeker - Version Mayhem



This is the top build for the Tideseeker from my testing. Much of this design will be found throughout the rest of the designs in this article. If something is explained here in this build, I will forego covering it again later in the article.

1. The Mayhem Torpedo - This is the premier weapon of choice for the Reaver Armadas. It has relatively decent projectile speed, massive amounts of damage and DPS, is light enough to load out the ship and has a high enough rate of fire to help mitigate damage by reducing the amount of time you are under fire. Base DPS for this weapon at skull rank is 1,184. Ouch.

Another nice little addition is the 3% resistance to concussive damage that this weapon provides. It does add up and help. In conjunction with the quicker kills and reduced incidence of fire, this noticeably mitigates damage. Yes please.

One thing to note here is that this torpedo does de minimis amounts of damage underwater. In other words, you won't do shit for damage against subs while they are submerged. Can you hear me now?

2. Zynthonite Arnor D5-CT - This is the penultimate armor for this application. Additionally, because of the damage levels of these targets, the use of this armor in all four slots in conjunction with the AA3 is a requirement. Without these working in concurrence, damage would be exorbitant and people would want to kill a certain game company located in California.

3. The Specials - I loaded this one up because as you will see further on, many of these specials will be used in other builds as well.

      Ablative Armor III - Because of the Tideseeker's native resistances and the inherent balance in the intended target's damage output, in conjunction with the use of the D5-CT, this special allows for balanced resistances to match those of the intended target.

      Sealed Fire Charge - This will boost the overall observed DPS of the Mayhem as well as give it a much needed projectile speed boost. This combination, generally, makes it a better option over Combustion System 2 or Explosive System 4 for this build, though either of those may perform adequately as well.

      Guidance Scrambler III - During their initial release, the TFC admins tested several option for this special slot. Ren (check out his YouTube page here) did some extensive testing in fact, and what we came to understand is that in these targets Evade works very well. Using Guidance Scrambler 3 mitigated a substantial amount of damage over using other specials in this slot.

      Advanced Concussive Payload - The use of this special over Strike Warheads is a given. While the concussive damage is not as high, the concussive reload more than makes up for the disparity in damage augmentation.

      Hydraulic Resistors - As many of you know, this is one of my favorite specials. In this case you get the boost in speed of a Speed System 5 along with even more concussive protection helping to balance your resistances even better in these targets.


The Tideseeker - Version Calamity


 


So there are two paths you can choose here. I haven't had a chance to test them both because, well, I don't have the coin and I don't have spare shipyard time. Perhaps a TLC will come out with some tokens and I'll get a chance then.

1. The Calamity Scattergun - This Scattergun does some enormous damage with the one-two combo of Corrosive and Concussive damage. Coupled with the Hull's innate bonuses, this makes for a devastating build against the Reaver targets.

2. The Mayhem Torpedo - The addition of this is to deal with any drones that may be in range while the Calamity is reloading. If I do say so myself... this is a slick addition.

3. The Specials - There is a personal preference here with regard to one of the special slots; the choice between Barrel System III and Compressed Corrosion Canisters. As I stated, I have not had a chance to test this significantly so I leave this to personal preference. If someone does get a chance to test the differences between these builds in these targets, please feel free to forward your results, or if you have videos I can include them in this article if you'd like. At this point, it would be personal preference though BSIII may eek out given the observed increase in target armor of these targets.

      Strike Warheads - Boosts the Concussive damage even further of the Calamity making the one-shot damage even higher.

      Barrel System III - This special will boost the one-shot damage again, giving you a total of just over 15,000 damage, however, it comes at the cost of splash.

      Compressed Corrosion Canisters - This special will give you a bonus to Corrosive damage making your total one-shot damage 9,680, however, it comes with a decent boost in splash as well making the Calamity more effective against clustered targets.


The Tideseeker - Version Reciprocator




This is my original design before we had other options. As I mentioned earlier a lot of work went into the math behind this build with Ren and Brian, both admins of the TFC page.  Probably one of the best examples of what goes on behind the scenes, the cooperation and support within the TFC is fantastic. Anyway...

Much of this build, and the theories behind the selections, is a carry over from the Mayhem build. Well, technically vice-versa, but we're going in order of efficiency, not actual build dates. I digress...

1. The Concussive Reciprocator - This was, at one time, the top choice for a Tideseeker build to use against the Reaver targets that we had at the time until the Calamity came out as a raid prize. It was performing admirably (Htide & 2 Tide build) in the 57 targets with sub 5 minute damage results until recently. Then, at least by my speculation, Kixeye tuned the target's armor up thereby increasing time under fire which pushed this particular build to hover around the 5 minute repair mark. Can it still do it? Yes, but you have about a 50% chance of having to bring it back to base to break it up to repair now.

2. Explosive System IV - This takes the place of the Sealed Fire Charge of the Mayhem build. Some people prefer using Combustion System II here instead. Both work well.


The Tideseeker - Version Garwood



I'll admit- I have not built or tested this one. The Garwood is the weapon that came out with the Tideseeker. Many people are using this build because they have not wanted to waste Shipyard time in refitting their Tideseekers.

1. The Garwood - As mentioned, this is the weapon that came out with the Tideseeker. Initial performance surpasses the Reciprocator build, however, that changes once your Tideseeker gains rank past about 60%.

2. The Calamity Scattergun - This is added to help boost damage and run through the target just a little quicker to help mitigate damage.


The Tideseeker - Version FM Tank




This is one of my favorite designs mainly because it enables me to be lazy. It does require some getting used to in order to drive them with Citadels, but driven properly this thing will stomp through a round of the FM before you need to repair. One of the best uses of my Shipyard time I've ever spent!

1. Impulse Launcher D92-S - This launcher was selected as my spotter weapon in order to save on weight so as to allow me to fit everything else.

2. Impact Cannon D-30-R - These give you a small measure of resistances but are enough to show a difference in mitigation in testing. If you have them, use them! (Side note - if you want to kill mines with this build, you can sub one Cannon for a torpedo)

3. Gale Defense System II - My preference is, of course, the Gale III, however, due to weight restrictions I had to go with the Gale IIs. They perform well but on rare occasion a single mortar will slip through as they stop trying to shoot at it. I believe it is a glitch and it is hard to reproduce, however, I have seen no fix forthcoming so it is an issue to keep in mind.

4. Phalanx Anti-Missile IV - Obviously my favorite of the line. I structured the rest of the build around having four of these as testing showed this to be not only an optimal number, but the IV version was more than a cut above in performance as compared to the III. Whereas you can get away with using the Gale IIs, you will gain significant damage if you use the Phalanx IIIs here.

5. Armor - The use of the D5-X armors give the hull some small amount of deflection, but this combination balances the weight limit against the resistances needed in order to sit in the shower of Coldsnap Rockets the 109 FM targets employ. The last slot has a D1-X for a little more resistance boost and to mitigate weight in order to fit everything else I deemed necessary.

6. The Specials - This combination is what I have found to be optimal for the FM currently with this build.

      Frontline Countermeasure System - Gives the hull turret defense while simultaneously improving the effectiveness of your countermeasures.

      Reactive Armor III - Boosts your resistance against all those crazy missiles fired at you in the tarets.

      Guidance Scrambler III - A big boost in evade helping mitigate missile damage in the targets.

      Ion Thrusters III - Gives a measure of turn speed to the hull allowing you to maneuver in the target to allow you to help mitigate (all) damage to the rest of your fleet. Additionally, it gives you even more evade to help with those pesky missiles.

      Hydraulic Resistors - The use of this special gives you a little more resistance against the concussive damage of the random Torpedo Towers in the targets and also allows for the use of the aforementioned Ion Thrusters. I love this special.


I hope this helps you see the many uses of this dynamic hull. Hopefully players can gain some insight to use as they design and build their own fleets.

LIVE EDIT!!!!!


Ren did an awesome tips and tricks for the FM to get your bloodthirst up on your tank. You can see the video right here. Using this tactic you can get your bloodthirst up right at the start of your engagement to lower your damage even further. The only change you need to make to the above build is to add a D65-s Torpedo so it will look like this:




-----------


Side Note : Harlock Tideseeker - This hull turns on Beast Mode for your regular Tideseekers. All of the builds for the Reaver Armada targets perform significantly better with this hull. It is the reason I can get instant repair damage on the 57 with the Mayhem fleet. It will significantly reduce the damage you take in Reaver targets. Well worth the effort to get one. All you really need on it is a Forsaken Hellstorm Anti-Mortar I. This will allow you to select targets with your Tideseekers and the Harlock will not move since it has no offensive weapons, leaving it out of the battle. You want to do this because the repair coefficient on this hull SUCKS. You don't want it in combat. You don't want it damaged. You DO want the buffs.

Side Note : 102 Reaver Armada - If you want to significantly reduce the damage done to your fleet in this target, slide your hulls up the right hand side until it engages the top targets and then hit the 'S' key to return the fleet to AI control and it will finish on auto, OR set the way point and then hit "Shift-S" to do the same. Personally, the latter gives me issues so I spend the few seconds in the target to set them into auto mode myself before leaving the target to do something else.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

An Update of Community

Yes, Yeeeesssss... Come Over to the Dark Side!!!!

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   



Oh my. My oh my. Wow. I can't express how ecstatic I am to see this update. I mean, there are some nice things in the update, but that is not the BIG THING about this update. I'm not sure where to begin, or how much I can divulge so let me try and ply through the gray areas allowed, shall I?

Because of the nature of this update, my reaction to it, and time constraints, you guys are going to get a less polished version of an article today and more of my mental ramblings. Sorry... ok, maybe not so sorry...

As many of you know I have been an ardent and vociferous advocate of quickly increasing the Tech Depth of players who are either new to the game or are just coming back and of getting players to feel relevant far quicker than was possible so as to have a higher incidence of engagement. I was exceptionally vocal about this and the topics surrounding this theory. I emphasized the FM above all in several articles (like this one), in shows and on pages. I found out later - I was not alone.

I spent hours in recent months speaking to a few Kixeye contacts and found that not only were they open to the idea, but several of them agreed with the theory. What was even better was finding out that several Admins of the TFC page, the BV page and the BP Crib page and some ardent players as well had started pushing for these same things. Many of us independently of one another!

What this update really signifies at the minimum is an absolute denial to every player that accuses Kixeye of not listening. Of much more significance (let's face it - I knew they at least listened) is that this release signifies a paradigm shift in the way the game is approached by the Company. This is huge. YUGE even! With cheese curl dust on top! If Kixeye continues down this path and makes it easy enough for a new player to gain relevance within a month or so, I see a good chance for an influx of new players. That would be monumental in a game such as this and would be an immense boost to the longevity of the game. If done properly (ok, that IS a big if) the game could see a resurgence and possibly double players numbers - but I believe that will hinge entirely on how fast a new player can gain relevance in the game. They have to see and feel progress within that paramount first week!

What I want to make absolutely clear here is that there ARE advocates working for the player base, and it is not just players that are advocating for us. This change was the work of a community, and that includes Kixeye! Huge kudos to everyone involved. I can NOT wait to see where this leads!!

Ok, ok, let's get into the new bits in the FM. You all can read the release notes or watch the shows to get the background stuff from Kix, and you already heard my spiel, so I'm going to do a once over on the FM changes and then go over the new entrants into the FM so this isn't just a rambling post.

Forsaken Mission


YES!! The fact that they are acknowledging and taking ownership of the fact that this is the single most important PvE aspect of the game; that they are cognizant of and proactive enough to adjust this and look forward with it makes me grin. I'm not sure about the name change, I really don't understand the need for it, however, the fact that they are streamlining a progression towards higher levels of play is fantastic. Is it ideal? Likely not. I do think they should have been far more aggressive. Quite honestly, i would have taken that Tier one and made a new Campaign moved two and three over and then moved half of four into three and half of five into four. Players will play longer when they feel they can climb up quickly. I WANT them to get near 'end-game' quickly because they are more likely to stay and coin once they are able to engage US... but I digress...

I do not want to diminish the enormity of what Kixeye has done here. This is a huge shift in perspective and one that should serve as a boon to both the company and the player base. It should help many people struggling and feeling mired down to gain some momentum and get back into the game. I really can't express how big of a deal this is. (Yes - for the naysayers: It is only a big deal if they follow through. Happy?)

I like some of the moves and availability of items in the lower tiers. This should help players quickly gain traction in the FM and once they can reach that vaunted Tier 5 (why was the name changed again??) they will begin to access the 'good stuff'. I really, really do wish there were less blueprints in Tier 5 though (really though Kixeye... don't you know this community? A name change will not mitigate confusion. lol!!!). Additionally, I hope they take this opportunity to try and get 'chore' hulls to players. Either through the FM or possibly through the updated Foundry that is upcoming. (Completely different story - stay tuned!!) I DO like the moving down of tech into lower Tiers.

The Punisher and, in particular, the Citadel are available in the lower Tiers now. This is such a huge step forward for the community and should help players not only get further in the FM, but will give them the opportunity to engage in the next raid on some level. I love it!

New Prizes:


Hailstorm D - I'm a little confused about this one. It has a higher Tier rating and better reload than the Gale III, sure... but... but... but not by enough to overcome the lack of accuracy this thing has. I would say this might be a Tier 4.5 and the Gale III is a Tier 5. The only real bright spot of these is if you do not have Gale II's or III's, or ran out of them, this is not a limited print so you can build as many as your little heart desires.

Ballistic Upgrade - Much like any of these stackable upgrades, I believe they will be for niche builds. Another one I do not see as Tier 5 quality. (Maybe that is the reason behind the name change? That would fit better.)

Concussive Dampening Overlay - Just like Chromium Overlay, just... different. Just like it's anti-corrosive cousin, this will be for niche placements.

Oh... Did I mention... I LOVE this:


Ok. I think I've rambled long enough. Thaks for stopping by folks!


Anatomy of Design : Cannoneer & Ironclad

Rich Cousin - Poor Cousin


By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

You may be curious as to why I would group these two together when they have been packaged as two distinctly different hulls. The grouping, and design, are based off of experience in the Raid and presumptions I have made based on raid targets we have seen thus far. Let me explain:

I am looking beyond just the next raid. These targets are going to replace our Base Parts targets. Mines and Drac Bases. In order to make the raid targets viable for fleets to auto them (how the Ironclad was advertised to us) they have to be designed to allow for autoing in such a way as to minimize as many hang ups as possible. I make the presumption that the 100 is not a target that is intended for autoing. We will either see a new target entirely or they may tune the 100 level raid target to fill that slot. In either case, the theory behind the targets will most likely remain the same.

The easiest way to implement these targets to the map and allow for a fleet to auto them with little hassle is to proscribe a fleet's movement in some way so that all issues of zero input (autoing) are mitigated. Setting a set spawn entry in conjunction with targets that can force a fleet under AI into engagements, concurrent with a proper map design, will allow for a fantastic auto-able target.

A very good example, a perfect example actually, is the level 73 target from the raid. The entry point is fixed, targeting and engagement was superb and the map design lent itself to a fleet autoing the target well. The overall design essentially eliminates any issues one would normally run into when autoing a target.

So then, what we want in a design this time is one which will perform admirably in the raid as well as perform in these types of targets going forward. The following are a few designs I have come up with that work acceptably for what they are.

The Cannoneer




This is the revised version of my original design. I initially had 2 Mausers on each to help with the more complex islands found in the 75 targets, however, upon reviewing some videos of hits, one is enough to bust the stun tower if it is not your initial target.

1. Millennial Cannon - The best weapon by far for this hull. At rank it fires at a blistering pace and allows you to continually drive in these targets at range. With good driving you will be mitigating your overall damage using these, if not eliminating it.

2. Mauser Cannon - With the Stun Turrets in the 75, 5 of these in a fleet will set it off if you are targeting a neighboring turret giving you -that- much more breathing room.

3. Specials - Honestly I hope these are self explanatory at this point. The Nuclear Accelerator gives you a good boost in hull speed and cannon range. The High Velocity Shells offer up both ballistic damage and building damage pushing Siege Targeting III out of the slot. The CL-3 armor... I am still torn over. I could swing to Layered III easily and adjust the armor... but they are built, they work and I am lazy.

4. Zynthonite Armor D1-C - While not an utter necessity (I currently do not have armor on my Cans), I found that a vast majority of my errors (I drove very aggressively in the 100's) can in straying juuuuuust a bit too close to those turrets in the center island allowing them to get a shot off. I am under the impression that those are ballistic damage in nature so I will try and find time to fit these... or switch to Layered III... See? I'm torn.

The Ironclad - Version Millenium




The theory and choices are much the same for the Ironclad so I won't regurgitate what I previously wrote. While it performed... adequately, I was disappointed in its overall performance. I'll be honest, I expected these with the flagship to perform as well as the Tideseekers did in their intended targets.

If you got the Millennial but not the special, Siege Targeting III is a fine replacement on that slot.

The Ironclad - Version Mauser




This is the build I would lean towards had I not won any of the top three prizes

1. Mauser Cannon - A given if you do not have the Millennial. If you lack that as well I favor Arbalests.

2. Cannon System IV - To give you that boost in range damage and splash. I'm not sure how beneficial the last one is going to be in these targets going forward, but this is the special I'd likely run in this instance.

3. Speed Upgrade - This is not the fastest build, and honestly performs much better with a flag, but you still need to get that speed up there in the interim.

But ummmmm...

Ok, so some of you grabbed these hulls and they are new. As always, try and crank out some blank hulls with some thuds on them to rank during VXP weekend. Both of these hulls seem to be very dependent upon rank to perform well.

So if you are in an odd position? Well, Ren (another admin over at TFC page) put together some slides that may help and he also made them self explanatory!


The same idea can be applied to the Ironclad as well. Personally, I am partial to the Arbalest and my initial build prior to the Millennial was crammed with as many Arbs as possible. It did ok in the test server. For some reason I have never been a fan of the PAC, but reports were that it performed well. This build here is a balanced compromise build.


Again, a very good compromise build if you lack the new special. As noted, weight may be an issue so you can play in your Shipyard a little bit and see what will fit. In my Yard (Level 3) it shows 7999/8000 so it should fit. Ren has a good walk-through video as well:



I hope this helps some people to allay some fears about the builds. Please remember that the mines and bases are going to change in March!! In the interim, use your Ironclads and savage the DUBS like Ren did:


These work very well. My best time with my build above and employing a HIC in the corner netted 5m 36s damage in the West corner. Have fun!!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance!!

Driving - The Control and Operation of a Vehicle



By:Robyn Piatt
a/k/a Robyn_P

Time and time again I see the following in comms during a raid:  "I can auto the 30s but my fleet takes too much damage in a 50 and dies instantly in a 70!!". This is usually followed by "F*** this raid I'm outta here", and the pirate is not to be seen again until Monday night when it's then "Raid was impossible!! - I wasted XXX weeks building a fleet of XXX and they couldn't do crap. I'm sick of this damn game!".

I recently had a conversation with one of these particular type of pirates and asked them if they had practiced driving their fleets before the raid or in lower targets before diving in and hitting the 70's targets. Cue crickets.

When you are not familiar with your fleet and its abilities it does NOT matter how 'good' your fleet is. You can have tactical nukes, flames down the side, twin cam door handles and dice hanging from the bridge mirrors. If you can't aim them you could hit India instead of China. It all means naught if you don't know your fleet and the target.  Yes, certain fleets do better in certain targets but no fleet is going to work well in ANY target if you don't know how to drive them.

We have some great pirates that take the time to post videos on pathing for the raid targets.  These pirates don't magically make a video of the first time they hit a target. Okay, maybe some do, but we cannot all be driving Gods.  The fact is these successful players all know their fleets, they learn the target, they look at what they are driving and then plan the attack based on what they find.

Become ONE with your fleet BEFORE the raid. I cannot stress this enough!!!

I see people that hatch a ship, post a salv on mains coms stating "Lookie here at my new toy!". They then hit the salv with their new ship, making sure people are watching (we all do it 😝) and then park the ship till the VXP weekend.  Then, after it's skulled and refit, said ship/fleet sits in the shipyard until raid day.  On raid day, these pirates come out all pumped up with excitement, they grab their shiny new fleet and charge in to a target and... this usually ends in naughty words, a broken mouse or two and the odd cat being kicked.

If you are going to be sporting a new fleet for the next raid. Get to know your fleet before the raid. If you are able to use the VXP weekend to get them skulled thats great (and HIGHLY recommended). That said- you still need to know how to drive the buggers. Take them out in salvs and practice driving. Hit targets that will damage you.  Yes it can be mind numbing, but it serves a purpose. Every fleet behaves differently, it takes time to get used to a new fleet. See how they fire and get used to how they respond to commands for turning and running. Take your ship into a really low level Drac Mine or FM target and do the same. Practice kiting the FM turrets. Being able to simultaneously drive,  hit turrets, and maintain max range is KEY to limiting damage in the current raid.


It's well worth some time and damage practicing just to see how the fleet behaves. With respect to the Cannoneers, the more Cannoneers you have, the faster they go. If you had 3 last time and you will have 5 this time, they will behave differently. It does not matter what you hit, just DRIVE them till ya can do figure eights on the ocean backwards while blindfolded.

Come raid time, take them out in the 30s or 50s and get used to those targets. Practice kiting the turrets. Learn the range of the turrets.  Turret behavior is similar in all the targets with respect to range and response, the only difference is how much it takes to kill them and how much damage output. Keep your fleet at max range as shown above. Sure, you can decimate a turret in 30 with your shiny new canoe but a turret in a 70 gives waaaay more damage and takes longer to kill. Trust me on this, if you get nailed by a Blunderbuss in a 70 or a 100 you are going to know ALL about it.

Get used to the target turret ranges and how quick they are to fire in the lower targets first. In the current raid cycle, some turrets can be charged and killed before they fire and some you have to sneak up on or hit them at the very edge of your range.  Drive circles round the turrets and the big launchers and get used to where your fleet starts firing when driving past them. Once you get comfortable with the ranges in the lower targets, then you can move up to the higher ones.

Andrew Hart has corralled all the builds and pathing videos in one spot on the website. There are ship builds and videos for multiple levels of targets. Take the time to watch the videos and see how they are being driven. Forsaken Council Raid Help Page

I see people say "I can't drive for shit", all the time and I call horsepuckey!!! ANYONE can learn to drive a fleet, its just like riding a bike or driving a car. It takes some practice.

Thank you to all that took the time to share their videos and tips!!

-Robyn

Monday, February 13, 2017

Tanking it Like a Boss

Tank Basics

By:Robyn Piatt

You have probably seen the following terms in the game: tank, CM tank or spotter tank and may want to know (but were too scared to ask) what is a tank? Where do I get one? How the heck do I drive it? And possibly, who was the idiot that coined the phrase “tank” in a pirates game??  

This write up is primarily geared towards lower level players to help you understand what a tank is, how to safely operate your tank and how not to murder your fleet while using a tank. If you are already "one" with your tank then might I suggest skipping this one, you can always go and hit Dragon_Bane's base. (I hear he is a farm).

There are multiple builds for a tank on the TFC website. Tank builds can be found within specific ship classes on the TFC website (hint - look at Punishers and Tideseekers for tank builds). There are also videos showing different paths in targets and the use of different types of tanks.

In Battle Pirates, the purpose of a tank is generally two fold. The first being a “shield”, or... well, a "Tank". A ship, usually loaded with armor and counter measures (Phalanx and anti-mortars), is used to absorb, or 'tank', incoming damage from enemy weapons thus limiting damage to your primary hulls. The second, to act as a spotter when using a remote targeting fleet.

By using a tank, you can run nekked ships (ships with no armor) behind your tank and have them take little or (hopefully) no damage. The benefits of running a tank are shorter repair times (you should only be repairing your tank and not a whole fleet), shortened build times for your offense fleet and taking full advantage of ship weight. No armor = more/heavier weapon options. You can also use different specials that add additional damage and not have to dedicate special slots to something like Siege Battery for turret defense or an armor special.  

A tank may strictly be a counter measure ship with no weapons (CM tank) or it may be a combination of counter measures with a single weapon to allow remote targeting ships to fire from a distance (spotter tank).  When adding a weapon to a spotter tank you want the longest range weapon you have without having to add specials. The longer the range of the spotter weapon, the further back your tank (and fleet) is from the incoming fire.

When operating a tank you generally have a tank “defense” and then 4 “offense” ships. You can drive them independently of each other using a macro, or using the in game controls and managing the tank separately from the fleet.
 
There are two important things to consider when operating a tank.  The first is your tanks position relative to incoming fire and second, the rest of the fleets position in relation to the incoming fire AND the position of your tank.  Whaaaaat?? Yep, sounds confusing but it’s really simple. Tank Rule Number One - Your tank must always be the closest ship to the target. This allows the incoming fire to target your tank and not the rest of the fleet. 

Your offense ships must always be somewhere behind your tank. This may mean directly behind your tank or off to one side (but still behind) your tank. In some targets incoming fire has splash or is a multi shot spread. In these situations, if your fleet is directly behind and too close to your tank, your offense ships will take damage.  

Using the FM as an example, the stronghold targets have Coldsnap turrets. These evil bastards don’t fire a single shot but rather spray blue pellets all over the place in the general direction of the first ship the turret sees. If you snuggle your fleet right on the rear end of your tank, your fleet will take damage from the spread of the Coldsnap fire (it burrrrrrns). In this scenario, you want your fleet off to the side but still behind the tank.  This is important regardless of whether you are using a regular fleet or using a remote targeting fleet.  

Good Positioning



Bad Positioning


Tank Driving

When we are but baby tadpole pirates we are told to GROUP YOUR SHIPS!!! When you graduate to using a tank this adage no longer applies.

Think of tank movement as the “High Seas Two Step”. The first step being to move and park the fleet where your offense ships will fire on the target and the second step being to then move just the tank into position protecting the rest of your ships.  

When driving your tank, you need to get used to using the Up and Down arrow keys to select, move and stop your fleet. You also need to get comfortable selecting the Ship number on your keypad that selects just your tank.  

Using basic game commands, you would use the Up arrow on your keyboard and then your mouse to move the fleet as a group to the position you want your offense ships to be located. Then using your keypad, you select the ship number (1, 2, 3, 4 or 5) corresponding to your tank and using the mouse, select the spot where you want your tank to move.  Initially you can do each step in order. As you become more comfortable selecting and moving the tank you can move the fleet and then immediately select and move the tank.

So if I were using a Punisher tank (aka Ironsides) in the Flag position - number 1 on the key pad and a Vendetta mortar chucker fleet (my Citadels are in the wash) I would move the fleet as a group to where I can chuck mortars at the platform when remote targeting off my tank


Once my fleet is on the move, I use the keypad to select 1 (the Punisher Tank) and move the tank closer to the target so that it is now in the line of fire and my Vendettas can fire using the Punisher as a spotter.


Kill the platform then rinse and repeat. You can see below my tank is being fired upon but my Vendettas are safely out of the way and not being targeted.


















The "High Seas Two Step" works with any strong hold. You need to be aware of where your fleet is in relation to your tank at all times. Not paying attention and driving your fleet in front of your tank will end up costing a lot of repair time and a few naughty words....okay a LOT of naughty words.  

When you first hatch your tank, don’t be tempted to take over the world and go out and hit the first 109 you see on the map. It probably won’t have a happy ending.

Take the tank out with some cheap quick repair fleets and practice driving with it in some lower targets. If you are ranking something, take your tank out with your fleet, save some damage and get in some tank practice while you are at it. 

Become “One” with your tank. 

Basic tank with rhinos on a Level 60 stronghold, a great target to practice with. 



Once you get the hang of it you can move up to the higher targets. You do not even have to have the big hulls to get to Tier 5 in the weekly. Just a tank and a few novas will get it done.  

Tanks are not just for the FM. Tanks are used in base hitting and in map targets and during raids.  You can even use your tank to run as a shield for another player in targets. 

There are many different types of tanks.  Your tank(s) will become an important element in your game play. 

If you are looking to build a tank George has a blog post on how to hit portions of the 109 FM targets. This also shows some really good builds and also includes some video action. https://forsakencove.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-case-for-gutting-109s.html

Happy Hunting

Robyn 

Special thanks to the "Ironsides" punisher tank.