Tuesday, June 27, 2017

We need to talk...

Opening a dialogue... I hope...

by: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

As many people have noted, there currently seems to be a high level of consternation and frustration amongst the player community. The TFC admins have noted this and we ran a 'poll' to gather some information from players in the hopes of making a small presentation to Kixeye. These issues, overall, have reached enough of a critical mass that both the TFC show and the BV show have recently spent a large portion of a show addressing concerns surrounding several issues that have been percolating in the community.


TL;DR : 

I'll start with this since everyone always appreciates a nice quickie. As I have stated before, I believe it is not just one issue that is the nexus of the consternation that the players are feeling currently. Rather, I find it is the accumulation of many concurrent smaller issues that combine overall to cause this feeling in players. Many players may understand the thought process/cost/balance of an individual issue, but when taken as a whole, they change the feel of the overall game. Punitive targets, lengthy chores, excessive need for raid points, build times, excessive flagships and many more issues collectively cumulate to cause a negative feeling from the players, because their perception is that all of this detracts from the game that they want to play. They want to play, not work.

Now the lengthy version...


Besides the poll we ran, I also wanted to take the time to write an article to share what  concerns players have shared with me as well as my own and my take on some of the issues. I hope this precipitates a dialogue within the community and within Kixeye so that our gaming experience can be enhanced and improved. Keep in mind, each issue individually could be overcome, or it is merely annoying, however, when taken as a whole, they compound into a growing monster lurking under the bed that looks to be itching to jump out.

Communication : 

This is a perennial complaint- and a bit generic. To get down to the essence of this complaint requires a little context and digging.

Kixeye has never been the most forthcoming company, and that was always part of the game. You had to figure some things out on your own, experiment, ask, and that is fine, but... there are times where there really does need to be more communication from Kixeye, regardless of the backlash from players. The instant negativity from some of the more vociferous players skews the perception of how the community will actually react, and it's sad that these few have ruined it for the many, but at some point, you have to just bite the bullet and let us know what we should know and fuck the bitter haters.

On the flip side, players must understand that there are times things NEED to be tweaked or changed in order to keep balance in check or not break the game. As a community, we are bright and creative and can come up with more ways to break the game than can be conceived of during a finite design and test time. That's just common damn sense. Communication is a two way street. They talk, we talk. Who wants to talk when the response from the other person is always cruel, bitter criticism and personal attacks with no actual dialogue???

The loss of the WIP (works in progress) hurt players in the long run. Significantly. Unfortunately, that likely was the direct result of the toxic nature of the forums (this should be addressed as well, but I digress) and a small, yet vociferous, group of assholes. This is one reason pages like the TFC and BV try to keep to a certain decorum and expectation. It's also likely why Kixeye reaches out to those shows when they do want to open dialogue with the community.

A rather large issue that I think does need to be addressed in some fashion is when the community sees inconsistencies like the lower generic tokens in the last raid or the Phoenix stacking aura, etc.. It would be nice to see even an acknowledgement rather than silence. Silence is bad, mm-kay? An explanation is, of course, better still. We don't have to like either (I'm looking at you whiners that have to cry every damn time something is changed), but the silence is horrible.

Given the time many players have invested in this game, and their obvious passion for it, it is safe to say that the game is something they consider important. The silent treatment, psychologically speaking, is a way to inflict pain without visible bruising – literally. Research has shown (particularly in men) that the act of  shunning, ignoring or excluding activates the same area of the brain as does physical pain. Why do you want to hurt us Kixeye? (If you are curious, you can read more about this interesting little tidbit here and here.)

Three Month Raid Cycle : 

I am not going to discuss player's opinions about the logistics within the company with regard to the three month raid cycle. To be brutally honest, without knowing company privileged information, all that is, is baseless speculation.

What I would like to discuss, however, is the growing concern from players about being left behind. What has started to happen, and I have noticed particularly in this last raid set, is that players are still trying to complete fleets, or even just get the technology TO complete fleets, in the last raid of the set.

In both long-term and short-term this is problematic for the game.

Short term it contracts the time that one has to build a viable hull and use it for maximum opportunity (store raids). This also severely limits any foray into the PvP aspect of the game- both base hitting and base defense. Many players did not get their fleets sorted for the raid until this last raid. Add to this that, presumably by design, players are not afforded the opportunity to complete even a four count of the new hulls, either for VXP weekend, or for the first raid in the set. This last one is very troubling as it causes a lot of frustration and the race to get these out essentially commits at least a month (typically much more) of shipyard time to one singular aspect of the game - raid. Which leads us into...

Long term this puts many players behind the eight ball so to speak. By the end of the raid series they have to decide whether to invest in finishing their current series fleet so that they can use it for the converted chore targets, or invest in the upcoming raid series technology and start the frustrating process all over again. This produces players who feel perpetually under the gun and left behind, frustrating them as well as those who are trying to help them.

Given the time investment we are seeing for these fleets, which are necessitated for chores after the raid, we are now spending 4 to 8 months a year building these fleets. Even more if you build two of the three options so that you can more easily do the inevitable TLCs that come out later.

'Early'/Premium hull :

What I mean by this is the release of the next raid series hull. I could buy this position with the Hellwraith, however, as the raids have gotten ever more niche, these hulls can no longer be considered to be coming out 'early'. They are needed for the next raid set and that raid set is now also only 3 months in length necessitating these hulls even more.

Additionally, the more these raids are specifically tuned for these hulls, the more they are needed to participate in a 'fun' way.

Then to further frustrate players, the build times of these hulls are climbing up to a point wherein players will struggle to get them out (blank) in time for VXP weekend and rarely have a mere fleet of four ready for the first raid.

Add to this that in order to even get the fleets (partially) ready for these events you now typically have to save tokens from the FM previous (how many players are not caught up in tier 5?) to the raid and claim all the tokens available in the raid... and often even this is not enough to complete them.

This also adds a tick to the annoyance column in that the build tokens were to be 'bonuses' for the players. If we progress that logically, that means that you are not required to use these tokens to get a reasonable fleet out on time for the raid. Currently that means maybe 2 hulls. Anyone want to test that?

Another aspect to look at, it seems that if you do save your tokens, and are caught up in the FM, you can get 3, maybe 4 hulls out for the first raid. I think what would be better, if Kixeye insists on having these build times, is to design it so that you can get 3 hulls out for the next raid without the need for any tokens and 4 to 5 if you save tokens and are caught up in the FM. This would encourage those players that are not caught up to invest more heavily in the store raid knowing they can have a viable fleet out for the next raid.

So why are we paying such a premium for these hulls now? Given the way these cycles are now designed, I feel going back to the Hellwraith type of release will be a benefit to both the community and the company. 60 million points straight-up and not gated with affordable weapon and special and manageable build time-to-next raid would handily bring significant participation up.

Three Fleet Option :

This one is a serious bone many players want to pick at. For each raid cycle we seem to now have three options available to choose from. The 'skill' hull, the 'auto' hull and the 'generalist' hull. They are supposed to perform in the order listed, however, what we have seen several times is that the 'generalist' fleet is performing exceptionally well, if not better than, the other fleets.

This is a massive issue with those players that invested in the options that were expected to be the best option. It also makes players confused with regard to their choices and that uncertainty, particularly amongst players that coin heavily, is toxic. Those same players then feel exceptionally frustrated and become discontent and angry when they see that their investment, essentially, was devalued by high level performance from 'lesser' fleets (see 2 Zelos walking the A set from last raid). Since this group is likely those players that invest the most in time and coin, it could become an even more serious issue if this trend continues - it seems that it may even be the straw that breaks the camel's back for some of those players.

One of the issues here, I believe, is that it is increasingly more difficult to balance singular targets as the amount of fleet options are increased for those targets. It is just an inherent issue given the static nature of PvE targets. I'm not sure of a solid solution other than reducing the options.

Given that:

  • The 'skill' hull is the premium option.

  • The historical lack of acceptable 'autoing' ability of the auto hull.

  • The generalist hull was intended for lower targets for those players that are still climbing the mountain.

  • The shortened raid cycles (and presumably increased difficulty in designing a target for three disparate fleets).

The logical conclusion is to remove one of these fleets and, looking at the options, the 'auto' hull seems like the best option to remove. This should help balance the targets (and ancillary TLCs) easier and lessen the uncertainty within the player community to some extent.

Flagships :

This one has been bubbling in a few aftershows and on the page. What exactly is the deal with the current flagships? Why are there so damn many? If they are going to be standard practice, why are we paying huge premiums on cost and, particularly, build times??

Traditionally the build time was larger because of the scope of the use of the hull. These current flags can not be used with fleets other than those in its family. They also seem to be designed in such a way that if you do not have them you are at a serious disadvantage. It is not a matter of taking just a little more damage; with some of these fleets,  not having the flag will result in utter failure in the same targets or knocks you down whole set targets or worse.

Massive FM prize lists :

Look, a lot of players are 'caught up', and this is awesome, but... those that are caught up, have you looked at that list lately? Players who are not caught up become distraught and dejected on a weekly basis looking at the mountain that they must climb in order to get 'caught up' and get access to those precious tokens. While tech has to be constantly released so that the game stays fresh, that tech must be made available to those players that are NOT top tier- and sooner rather than later, so that those players feel relevancy as well as see progression so that they feel engaged and motivated to play and participate. Tiers 1 and 2 in the FM should be the tiers more massively loaded than any other. I am fairly confident that any of the bigger/caught up players are not going to mind in the least if everything gets dropped a tier in the following FM cycle. That gives us a full month lead access for being caught up and dropping that high tier tech quickly will encourage players who are not caught up by bringing those goal posts closer.

Build Times :

Let's face it, Kixeye is a business and part of their income comes from players speeding up or straight up coining out builds. That said, the shorter cycle times of the raids, along with the increase in Flagships and the dual pathing of the PvP options has precipitated a situation wherein build times have become a major issue.

As I mentioned previously, players are investing an inordinate amount of time on just their raid fleets. This makes their time to build defending fleets and/or any of their PvP fleets they want even more limited as their available build time is contracted more and more. We should be seeing shorter and shorter build times as content drops increase, instead, we are seeing the exact opposite. This is a serious detriment to the game. More and more players are opting to forgo any serious PvP playing as this trend continues. Yes, I am aware that tokens are offered in many cases for the PvP hulls, but to kit out a good full fleet requires far more. Additionally, PvP builds are far from static given the nature of PvP itself, compounding this problem even further.

Repair Times :

On the heels of build times, inevitably, repair times will follow. I'm not sure I am wholly on board with everyone on this one. Many players are feeling frustrated with the overall repair times of hulls, particularly each succession of PvE hulls. Looking at it overall, I think the issue really is not the repair times but the punitive nature of the targets that have been introduced in the game.

It isn't that the fleets are easily damaged and we suffer huge repair times for that, it is that the targets have been designed in such a way that any minute error, any little bit of lag, any deviation from perfection, will result in catastrophic damage to the fleet. In those instances, your repair times then become hugely excessive (which has been slowly compounded with each subsequent hull and additionally with the need for more armor and resistances).

A solution that really needs to be looked at is adjusting either the inherent punitive nature of the targets, or, adjusting the damage from those turrets or hulls that deal the punitive damage. A good example is the current FM.

In this first picture, I have circled a turret that, if you happen to get into range, you will take an inordinate amount of damage. I don't mean 20-30 minutes of damage, but up to half your health or more. Particularly if you have your entire fleet within it's area of damage when it goes off. This is really kind of shitty if you lag and you jump too far forward. Additionally, it does not really allow you to mitigate this damage by adjusting in any way. There isn't really any running away, you just take it in the teeth. Similarly is the gauntlets that we are seeing in targets for the FM. While you can avoid them in some instances, this basic issue is at play there as well.

One small minute error or issue- your own, your ISP's, Facebooks, the power company's, the weather, or Kixeye's, and you are properly fucked. This is not fun and is exceptionally frustrating to players. Given the amount of engagements that will be made with raid targets as they transition into map targets, this sort of damage should really be tuned down overall. Yes, force us some damage for screwing up for whatever reason, I understand that, but please just don't make it so perversely punitive.For the raids... maybe, but the second these go into TLCs or map targets, they NEED to be tuned down.

This is another growing issue in the targets as they transition into the game. Xtreme precision driving. In this instance, because of the angle of attack, the isometric conversion in the game and the location of the turrets, this corner in the 113 has to be approached with a far greater amount of precision than that of any other cluster in the target. It is annoying, frustrating, and results in some of the same issues mentioned above. These sorts of things, when found in the game, should be addressed in some way, particularly given the planned longevity of the targets in the game. Possibly reduce the damage when you mess this up or scale back the range of these turrets. (Base parts targets fall well into this area of discussion.)

I do, however, have an issue with the overall repair times with the PvE fleets when VXP weekend comes around. This is something that hopefully will be addressed soon as overall repair times of these hulls continues to hover from 2-4 hours for a blank hull. Perhaps we need to split the VXP targets or adjust the payout to the type of hull. Currently, while we get the same amount of VXP for suiciding a blank PvE hull as a PvP one, the cost is greater for the PvE hull even given the increased VXP requirement of the PvP hull. The PvP hull may need as much as double the VXP, but the PvE hull takes 4x - 8x as long to repair. Again, I'm not sure what a viable option is to correct this, but there is a growing issue here and it is being compounded by the build times and the scheduling of the VXP event.

Chores :

This one is, by far, the most despised aspect of the game. There is no other subject in the game that, when brought up, universally elicits instant venom and vitriol. Maybe raid points... sometimes.

This is a particularly interesting topic because in this subject alone you see the exact mechanic of individual justification versus overall perception/requirements.

The current set of chores, when taken individually, are not that bad. The issue is when you take them as a whole.

Top end players expect to be able to cash in on their hard work and commitment. They certainly do not want to take those expensive and heavily invested-in fleets and drive targets that are hugely punitive, require precise driving and are time consuming. Particularly when there are so many of them to do.

Something to consider going forward. Raid targets are being converted into map targets. Most everybody, regardless of their level and ability to participate, now have to grind in every raid due to the high points costs for the prizes. When these targets are converted into map targets, we are not seeing a drastic reduction in damage with regard to the tuning of the map targets. This leads to the feeling that, in order to do your chore, you must yet again grind. It also seems to preclude players autoing the targets in any meaningful way, compounding the issue of time investment in the game.

Raid Points :

This is a perfect example of the dichotomy of individual/whole view I keep harping on. Individually, I can likely come up with valid reasoning behind the points requirement for an individual prize (most of the time), however, when I look at what I want to achieve in a raid, that reasoning goes right out the window.

Let's get something clear - I don't need any of the prizes... much like I don't need to play the game. I want. The issue therefore is not one of necessity (though in some instances I can make that case with the basic premise of playing the game), but one of expectation. Expectation plays a role in many of the issues I have discussed herein, but is best illustrated in this topic. Any top level PvE player has an expectation going into raids of achieving much, if not all, of what they want to do.

They have invested time and likely money in order to be at that level. It is reasonable for players in that position to have this expectation. What has happened with the advent of Charged Armors and multiple hull prizes is that these players are now feeling forced to grind and work much, much harder than in the past to achieve the same level of success that they have come to expect in raids.


Conclusion :

Whatever division of Kixeye is entrusted to come up with the overall balance of the game needs to take a hard look at what they are asking their players to do. If this overall balance is not being currently looked at and it is being parceled out piece-meal, I hope someone takes some time to look at the overall affect these issues are having to the game.

I have mentioned previously that, taken individually, I can understand the thought process and justification of much of what we are seeing, however, when taken as a whole, the time investment for basic PvE commodities in the game becomes excessive and detrimental. If players want to delve into PvP, (which, given the name Battle Pirates...) this compounds even further. Given the upcoming Bounty Hunt events, the pressure to attempt both then mounts. In many aspects, it is starting to feel like PvK(ixeye) again. This has happened in the past and we know that it is not a viable format for this game.

I hope this engenders some dialogue within the community as well as within the company, and perhaps even, help increase the dialogue between the community and the company... or something. Look, I just hope it helps in some way, ok? Thanks for reading this novella folks!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Breaking Down the Coup Version Lvl 100 Target

This Is Not Last Month's 100

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

The third iteration of this Raid is upon us, and as most people have noted, the lvl 100 target is... a bit more difficult.

Let me start by addressing the outlier questions I've received. There is a 'Magic Mortar' that shows up on occasion. Some turrets seem to fire a salvo off after they are dead. This is particularly hurtful when it's a Coldsnap that does this. And the last one is that on occasion it seems as though an Executioner hits and does damage but there is no reduction of charge when running charged M armor. These three issues are the main ones I have heard. They have been passed on to Kixeye and someone is looking into it. Unfortunately, I have tried to catch these on video and I have not been able to as yet. Thankfully, the TFC community is on it and we've gotten several videos we have been able to pass on. Thank you!

Another issue that has been a huge topic is that the Executioners seem to be doing significantly more damage this month than we had seen last month. Unfortunately this makes the Gridiron an even worse tank when compared to the Phalanx 3 Zelos build. This saddens me greatly. To be fair - Kixeye did express that each raid would get progressively harder. I'm O.K. with that, but my disappointment in the Gridiron is even more profound now than ever. I am, however, ecstatic that I built my 'odd' Zelos.

So, now that all of that is out of the way, let's look at the newer version of the 100. First the video, then the step-by-step. The yellow lines are the rough pathing, NOT where you want to stop. Yes, I drive lazy as hell and stack. Yes I am aware I can get lower repair if I didn't, yet... I'm lazy. I have to do a lot of these targets so I drive stacked. Did I mention I was lazy?

I only sped that video up 200% so if you want, you can slow it down to the 'actual' run speed in-game. The Zelos build is the Phal3 build I discussed in this article. The Monoliths are built as discussed in this article.

The walk-through will mainly be stills from the above video and notes scattered between the stills.

I use the torpedo tower and the mine as my markers to enable me to repeat my pattern with little deviation.

Once here, you can sneak in towards the corner turret to kill off the cluster.

I then sneak around the corner to engage the inner cluster.

Go far enough in so that you can turn and engage at the right angle.

You see my target selected already. That's the goal.

Here you can either go straight or you may have to dip down a little to kill the fleet. The path you will have to choose depends on timing and which fleet the Arc shoots at.

Once the fleet is killed, either by you or the Arc, you want to swing around the mines and get a good angle on the turret highlighted.

It is critical that you stack properly here. Once stacked outside the gate and AT SPEED, run the gauntlet. If you have to circle around outside the gate to get to speed - do it.

You want to keep sailing past this cluster to get the proper angle to hit the turret in the corner closest to the wall. After this you have to cross the target and get to the right hand 'wall' of the target.

Another critical juncture, you must hug the wall all the way down. If you can't get all the way over, you have a chance of setting off a mine.

Here is the only time I truly split my fleet. I let the Monos continue going along the wall while I swing the Zelos out to clip the turret. Really, I do this out of a little bit of laziness. I don't have to wait for the Monos to speed up if they keep moving.

I do clean out this area as it makes it easier for me to deal with the fleets and sets them up nicely for me to avoid the shrouded Apollo if it gets activated (as it did in this video).

Next up is probably one of the trickier clusters. I go straight down to hug the bottom wall to get the proper approach angle and target the mortar turret. For some reason, this is the one that I will lag on and see a lot of Magic Mortars come from. The Coldsnap on this cluster will fire if your angle of attack is improper or you overshoot the mortar turret. I hate this cluster. 

Next is to cross over and clear out the last turret cluster and then the bulbous building to the left.

All that's left is to clean up the fleets. Paranoia typically makes me kite them still, but do whatever works best for you. Just remain cognizant of the shrouded Apollo.

And this is the damage. I was running a Sea Serpents crew. If you have Demo Squad crews, use them, they work.

Hope this walk through helps some of you shave down the damage you are seeing!!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Thorn of Justice

Sorting the Thorn Mechanic

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

With the release of the Justice, we had a new mechanic introduced called THORNS. This will be a quick little run down of how this mechanic works. We will use the Justice since this is currently the only hull with Thorns.

To begin with, Thorns is an activated stat. It activates the instant it first gets damaged by a weapon. Once activated this is the process:

  • Thorns will remain active for 10 seconds (barring overload or another Justice in the fleet).

  • While active, it will deal 25 damage to the hull causing that damage for every single salvo/shot/mirv that damages the Justice (including splash fields).

  • The damage dealt to the opposing hull is independent of the damage the Justice takes (in other words, the Justice will spit back 25 damage whether it gets damaged by 1 point or 1,000).

  • The Thorns damage can not be mitigated. It is direct damage to the opponents health.

  • At the end of the 10 seconds Thorns will have a 15 second cool-down (again, barring overload or another hull).

  • Of note: Pinches/stuns will pause the timer/Thorns. It is not immune to that mechanic. 

The next part is where the cool stuff happens...

For each Justice you have in the fleet, you get some 'tweaks' to the Thorns mechanic as you can see above. These are additive in nature and will stack. Adding just a second Justice to the fleet will bring the Thorns damage up from 25 to 68.75. Thorns will also last longer and have a shorter cool-down... you can make your own dirty bon mot here.

Even worse for opponents, the Justice has a Berserk mechanic. This  is activated when a friendly ship dies.

As you can see, this is a hell of a boost and, again, is additive in nature. For 20 seconds after the friendly ship is destroyed, your Thorns (given a single hull) will do 100 damage each, the duration will be 20 seconds and the cool-down will be only 5 seconds.

I know, I know, first thing I said to myself was 'Self, the damn thing only lasts for 20 seconds, if your Thorns lasts for 20 seconds, what good is the cool-down buff'?

To which I promptly replied 'Dummy, another ship died, you could be in the middle of a cycle at that point'.

'Oh yea...'

Where was I? Oh... I was done. Yea, so, that is a quick synopsis of the Thorns mechanic. Hope it helps clarify it for you guys.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Phoenix Preview

A Sneak Peek into July

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane   

There seems to be some serious consternation within the community with regard to the Phoenix Test Server earlier this week. I am a little unsure as to what is causing this, so I decided to cover it in a blog to, hopefully, allay some concerns.

To begin with, I am glad that Kixeye decided to share the target, as well as info, over a month prior to the release of the target. Players have been clamoring for transparency and early info, and yet, there seems to be a little backlash directed at Kixeye because of this. This is what we have asked for so I am a uncertain of the nexus of this backlash. I believe releasing this info is fantastic because it gives us a chance to give feedback and pass along concerns with regard to the target and mechanics that we have seen.

Keep in mind that this Test Server was to test the top tier target with the top tier hull. I know quite a few people were complaining that they did not see anyone try Apollos in here. That is not true. TSM from the TFC page (YouTube gaming link) and Price_is_Wrong from the BV page (Twitch page link) both attempted this in their respective streams. It did not go well... not at all. That is why you are not seeing videos of Apollos in these targets. I'll add, I did try my SB Apollos, and the SB's did not even fire. I'm not 100% sure what was going on, but hopefully we will have another preview in which to sort that out.

Let's start with the target itself. This is the T7, a/k/a 'S' level target. This the target in which you are expected to run top tier tech in. As such, it is not going to be easy and it seems Kixeye is continuing to lean away from the no-damage concept in these targets.

The Damage :

I chanced to have a moment to ask Robot a few questions about the target, and what I missed, Laredo was kind enough to fill in the blanks. The primary damages in these targets are going to be Corrosive and Penetrative.

At first blush we have 3 different types of turrets:

  • There is a short range rocket turret that does immense amounts of corrosive damage. You can kite this one.
  • There is a mid range rocket turret that lays down fire fields. If you are fast enough, you can outrun these.
  • There are long range missile turrets that do penetrative damage. Mitigation is the same as the current raid.

Then we have the fleets:

  • The Drones are the top damage dealer in the target. At range they do penetrative damage, and up close huge amounts of corrosive. Some random ones will stun the surrounding areas and ships.
  • The Healer ships drive with the drones so they can keep them within their healing aura and seemed to have mid range missiles equipped to them.
  • The hulks are... different. It is a rather interesting mechanic in that they will 'overload' when hit and speed up. These targets have UAVs that do explosive corrosive damage (correction per the Dev team) but are mid range so if you kite the targets properly, you will not get hit.

Last, but not least is the clouds. Those yellow clouds do DOT (damage over time) damage of corrosive. You do not want to drive through those unless you absolutely have to.

Engagement : 

Engaging this target was, for the most part, fun. I think a lot of that had to do with solving the puzzle, however, after a few of them, the amount of driving and time requirement needed to do the target 'properly' feels as though it would wear one out after a day or so. I'm not sure how that can be addressed, but for now, there seems to be a good balance in this target with regard to damage. Without knowing the payout and needed points for the July raid, I can not speak to the target's 'worth' as yet. Here is a run through I did of the target:

To put this in perspective, I was only running 4 hulls and I was not using any charged or stun armor on the fleet. The repair time was set to Raid 1/2 time repair and the target only did 1 and a 1/2 hours of damage. With a flag or fifth hull and some charged armor I am sure I could have gotten the damage down to an hour or less.

The Build :

I am very hesitant to post this because some people just scan through and grab the build and call it a day. This is NOT a final build, but what I used in the above video. I will NOT know my final build until we engage the actual final version of this target. PLEASE keep that in mind.

As I stated before, I think this build would benefit from some charged armors. Of particular note is that this build performed admirably without their use, reflecting perhaps Kixeye's attempt to balance the target for those without charged armor. I hope this clears up some concerns and sheds a little light onto the direction of the next Raid Set.

Update: This is the build I'm running until I can finish fitting charged armor on them all.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Breaking Down the 113

You CAN Do It

By: George Argyropoulos
a/k/a Dragon_Bane  

A Quick Note : 

A new era of the Forsaken Missions is now rolling out upon us, though, many players feel as though it is rolling over them instead. I hope to change that feeling. I can understand the frustration players feel when something familiar is changing, however, credit has to be given to Kixeye, this roll out was pretty well thought out and executed. Let me explain this first before we get into the 113...

While the 'best' tools are used, mostly, for the builds I will show, many can be had either through the FM or the TLC. The Zelos is in Prize Pool 2 of the FM. As much as I hate to say this, the Zelos is the premier CM Tank in the game at the moment. The builds also can be cobbled together once you see what is used below and understand the thought process behind them and build to your tech depth.

Add to this, the Monoliths can be had in the current TLC using Punisher Tanks and Citadels. It might not be 'easy' but it is doable. And Kixeye gave us two weeks in which to do that particular TLC. Truly, it is a good roll out with regard to tech availability concurrent with the FM transition.

The 113 :

The target itself is a mix of interesting game aspects and there are a few tricks that can be used in order to mitigate a LOT of damage.

Angle of attack is important. If your angle is off approaching the turret clusters you could get too close to the clodsnaps. That will ruin your day. Come in as close to the wall as you can when engaging the turret clusters.

Another trick to help you target and stop is by targeting the turret you want to destroy and then click on the spot on engagement of the spotter ship. This will allow you to be ready to hit the down button to stop the fleet as soon as you are in range so that you don't over run your target. This is one such sequence:

One of the hardest parts of this target, in my opinion, is the patience you need to engage the first turret cluster at the 'gate'. This is one where you have to have the right angle again but because of the isometric conversion used in the game, the margin for error is less than the other clusters and you have to VERY carefully creep into range so as to not activate the coldsnap.

One of the things I had to address in the Zelos build was the speed so that you could have a safe option if you wanted to run the channel. Stacking well before engaging the channel is important and will take some practice. There ARE other options than this, but I wanted to cover this one as it seems the 'trickiest' and one of the more frustrating aspects to players.

Drive past the turrets far enough so they don't catch you, then turn and kill them. Mop up the Citadels that are likely left and you're done.

You may note that I make no mention of the fleets. If you watch the videos you'll note that the only ones you really must engage are the first Citadels and the last Citadels. The rest are ancillary if you want. I tend to avoid engaging them as that just gives the RNG a chance to ruin your day a little more.

A side note since people seem to want to complain about this not being clear. Just inside the entrance, you can hug the left wall and reach the building controlling the shroud so you do not have to run the channel. I ran the channel to make the point that it is not a difficult task when you understand it.

The Builds :

There are a myriad of options available to you for the 113. Some are better than others and those with the best toys will likely have the best time of it. That said, I want to put to rest the idea that these targets can not be done 'cheaply' without charged armor. This is the best run I've done to date of any of the builds. This build was more commonly at 10-12-ish min of damage if I had to gauge an average. Not a single ship in this video has a single plate of charged armor. The damage of this run is 1 minute 13 seconds of damage.

The build for this fleet can be found here. The key to the build is the Zelos Tank.

Despite all the cries otherwise, there still is room for creative builds, just not as it used to be. This saddens me as well, but you have to play the cards you're dealt. This particular build has been designed to run with the Monoliths and not lead too far ahead of them, hence the Speed System 4 instead of the traditional Speed System 5 or Hydraulic Resistors.

The other aspect of this build is that it is designed around a couple specific mechanics of the Zelos and the build maximizes these aspects which is one reason why it performs so much better than the Gridiron as a tank. The selection of everything from the Phalanx 3 to the Counter Measure System 3 is all geared to squeeze every advantage out of the hull and it's special abilities.[1] After having tuned this for the non-charged armor build, I learned  a few things that made this a better all-around build than I had before. It will likely perform even better when I switch back to some charged armors.

The Gridiron is next and that fleet build, without charged armors, can be found here.

The Gridiron build is similar in thought, but since it has some shortcomings as compared to the Zelos it can not perform as well as a tank. The big benefit of the Gridiron is the Tactical Field that gives all the nice bonuses to the Monoliths. If this is something you forego (like me because I'm lazy and like to stack) then the Zelos is likely a better choice for you for a tank. That said, even without the charged armor the Gridiron still performs well in the 113. Do note that this run did not use a Sea Serpent crew and likely took some extra damage because of it.

This all came about of course from one of the original runs that were dome with the fleets using charged armor. That video is below and the original Grid/Mono build is from this article. The build can be found here.

The final Zelos build, I believe, will end up looking like this:

Original charged Grid/Mono Fleet run:

[1] I am rather hesitant to explain this fully since, more and more, players seem to be wanting just the builds and not wanting to learn. Add to this some countering of previous builds and there are times I am leery of fully explaining. I will say this, that sentence covers most all of the magic of this build. There are specific reasons for the selection of the Phal3 and CM3. I did mention it on a TFC show, and I hope that this mention allows for you to puzzle it out as I believe that will help you far more than me just spitting out the answer... for now.

Ok... today we are mid-raid of the last raid, so... The reason the Phalanx 3 works so well with the Zelos is that the shorter range of the Phalanx 3 allows the Duality CM to fire first. This is significant because the Duality CM can fire at the same missile multiple times until it is dead. Doing this allows a larger percentage of projectiles to be killed before the Phalanx 3 has to engage and be limited to one shot per incoming missile. The use of CM3 adds accuracy back to the Phalanx 3 to make up for the loss of going from Phalanx 4 to Phalanx 3. Additionally, because the Arc missile in these targets can not be shot down by the Duality CM this allows your hull to 'multi-task' hitting the missiles and the Arc simultaneously allowing you to more effectively use your finite salvos per engagement. In essence, we are manipulating the order of operations a little so we can take as much advantage of the Duality's nature as possible.