Flog the spies...
By: George Argyropoulos
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).