A Look Under the Hood
By: George Argyropoulos
It's been a while since I've done an actual Anatomy of Design article. Part of the reason was the roller coaster ride of the Monolith, part of it is this silliness of an escalation weapon and special. No, I'm not a fan. Maybe more on that later, we'll see how I feel by the end of this.
So we finally have the Phoenix, the Gutspill's Phoenix and all the escalation mess released.
Now we can finally begin...
9/14/17 Edit : At the end of the article, I have an early raid video of this fleet doing the 106 target!
DPS Build :
You can build the Gutspill's as either a DPS configuration or an Anti configuration. Personally, I went with mine as a DPS in case something unforeseen happens and I lose my lead ship.
1. Weapons :
I chose the Manus as my weapon of choice for the 'final' build because of a few things. My fleet is fast enough that I can kite anything in the targets we've seen, so that larger one shot damage is a boon with the damn drones. Additionally, since the missiles don't actually batch-fire all together evenly, there are 'gaps' between the missiles fired from the different positions on the ships (See AoD : Apollo for a good example). If the mechanic is working properly, because of this 'layered' firing pattern, you can get the critical hit bonus from within the same group of missiles fired.
An additional consideration was that bitter son-of-a-bitch in the 103's - Rudolph the red-nosed hulk. Apparently having had enough of being picked on in his youth, it seems our dear friend Rudolph contacted Carrot-Top for a 'Roid hook-up and has now turned into the jacked schoolyard bully waiting to take your lunch money and shove your head in the toilet.
Having the Manus on these hulls, and in this amount, should bring Rudolph to his knees more quickly than with the Talons. Since it is a target wherein the longer you are engaged the likelier it is that you will take damage, it makes sense to want to kill this son-of-a-bitch as fast as possible.
In order to fit everything, one of the weapons remains a Talon missile, however, I am not convinced you need all that charged armor on this fleet, particularly given it's ability to kite. If you forgo the second 'set' of armor, you can fit every slot as a Manus.
2. Specials :
Funnily enough, my specials have not changed since my original article from the Phoenix preview in June. Even then people were not thrilled with my choices and I understand this may be a little 'off' from builds that you've seen, but let me go through the specials and I'll comment on each.
Agility System 4 : For both the evade and stun resistance. This one is a universal given.
Carbon Fiber Casing : Clearly for the reload and damage. The reload is particularly helpful with the Manus. This special is also a universal given.
Reactive Armor 3 : Most of the drone damage at distance is penetrative in nature. This is a little bit of a toss up with the new Alloy Armor CoM. If I had tokens, I might experiment, but, since the weight change isn't enough to afford me another Manus with both sets of charged armor, I don't see the need to refit this out at this time.
Magnus Drive 2 : This is the first one that people looked askance at me for, but I think now that people have seen the benefit of the additional speed, it is, in my mind, still the clear choice. It allows you to kite and maneuver far better than SS5 because of the distance you can keep between yourself and the enemy.
Siege Battery 3 : Yes, I know Garrison Battery is a quicker build, however, in this build, overall, SB3 makes for a lighter fit. This is due to the hefty weight of the Manus. It also helps out with a tad more building damage than GB, but it does have a slightly lower Turret Defense than GB. That said, given the targets, I believe that a stronger offense weighs more heavily than the paltry .5% difference in Turret Defense.
Guided Missile System : This is the one that I keep getting questioned on. In the early days people were insisting on Counter-Missile Extender. The problem I had with that choice was that at rank, it only increased your reload on the Talon by .05 seconds while giving up on a hefty amount of accuracy. Even with the Manus, it is only a .09 second increase.
The next one to look at would be the new special that came out with the Manus, Advanced Optical Tracking. While the projectile speed is nice, given the agility and speed of the fleet, I don't feel like it is even an issue. The 1.91% higher accuracy boost for the GMS, even though it sounds tiny, is what wins me. Still. Having seen how much difference a mere 5% makes in the game, and playing with the numbers from this article, I think that the better bet is still GMS, particularly as it saves me refitting a slot.
Anti Build :
I only have one ship in the entire fleet built like this. There are only a few changes from the DPS build.
The Countermeasures : Duh. I have one Gail 3 on here for the cheese balls, and I still drive to avoid them, so 1 seemed enough for me. The Phalanx 4 and Phalanx 3. Given how few missiles we see in these targets, the Phalanx 4 should be enough on it's own, but 'just in case' I threw a Phal3 in there as back-up. Because of the range disparity the Phal3 should (hopefully) never fire. Using the Phal3 as the back-up allows me to also squeeze my missile load out on this hull so that I have four Manus on it rather than one.
The Special : Frontline Countermeasure System. Why this instead of shuffling out GMS for CME? Because the drones. Because Rudolph the Juiced up Hulk. I'm not too worried about building damage, but I am worried about accuracy. This affords me to keep my GMS and still boost my countermeasures.
That's it! The design and thought process behind it. Huggy fleet build link here. As always, hope it helps!! Now... to rant or not to rant... yea, I think so. It's an issue that has not reached a critical mass and hopefully this gets some eyes on it early before it becomes problematic.
So, here's the underlying issue that doesn't seem to be getting discussed much yet anywhere but in comms and after-shows where players like to pop in and vent their frustrations. (Really, you guys should come on the open mic shows and not just the after-shows!!)
The escalation thing is already old. Let's be honest - we have a basic escalation item immediately or soon after release of the new meta hull, namely, the bloody flagship. I've touched briefly upon that issue in this article, but I don't know if this particular pink elephant is even acknowledged as yet.
In order to perform in any sort of acceptable capacity in each raid set, you need the flagship. Note, I did not say 'want'. My 'want' is acceptable performance in a raid set. That want necessitates a flagship.
The other issue of this escalation 'idea' is this: Kixeye designs these targets already knowing what the end resultant power of the fleet will be. Kixeye has stated that with regard to the targets, over the course of the 3 month raid cycle, they will "tune them up a little bit". If you want the 'easiest', or most cost-effective build for a raid, guess what? You're refitting.
Let's break this down a little so we have a frame of reference:
The month previous to the start of the raid set:
- You get the hull, weapon and special - typically locked behind other prizes.
- At some point, the 'secondary' hull is released.
- Scramble to build ships for the first raid of the set.
The first month of the new raid set:
- You get to chase after the Flagship of your choice while scooting for the actual prize of the raid.
- You scramble to get as much of your dedicated fleet out and ready for the next raid.
- Escalation #1.
- Scramble to build the first escalation introduction (flagship) to your raid fleet. (Have you even finished the rest of the fleet yet?)
The second month of the raid set:
- The first month you may actually have your full fleet built and ready... maybe.
- Immediately after the raid, and your possibly -just- completed fleet, 'escalation' weapons and specials are released. Srsly guise?!?
- Escalation #2
-Scramble to refit your fleet to the now escalated optimal build... you know... 'just in case'.
The last month of the raid set:
- You're scrambling, again, to have your fleet ready for the raid. Wait, wut??? Again? It's only a 3 month raid set! Why are we refitting for the last raid? I thought that they didn't tune to the escalation... yea, I can't even finish that sentence. Of course they are 'tuned' around the final power level of the fleet. You can't program a target in a vacuum, and foreknowledge is prejudicial in any decision making.
You'd think that if it really wasn't necessary to refit to the escalation weapons, Kixeye would just skip this silliness and pump out some more fun PvP content, or -gasp- let people get some PvP stuff out. My conjecture is this: Why would work product be produced if it is of little to no value in the game? Logic.
I would really, really, REALLY like to see this idea killed off. Actually, I'd like to see both ideas killed off, or adjusted heavily. The escalation weapons and specials, if anything, need to be introduced much earlier in the raid set, if not removed altogether.
The flagship... I just do not understand the hefty premium we are paying to build these. The idea behind the premium cost of flagships was because of their generic boosts to anything in the fleet. Their versatility as well as their buffs. The flagships of today carry the premium costs of past flagships, but are niche and exceptionally narrow in their boost ability, generally limiting that boost to only the same family of hulls and for a certain particular purpose. Can I see 2 or 3 days added overall for something so specific in nature? Sure. 9 days? No.
The promise to conjoin reduced build times with the advent of the 3 month raid cycles has never been realized, and this 'escalation' idea is a part of it. I think if we look back and compare overall build times in toto, we will see that we are now spending more time overall on raid fleets for a shorter raid set duration. This is a very troubling trend and I hope someone takes a look at this before it becomes a more serious issue.
Raid 106 Target - I am still only running one of each of the charged armors: