Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Battle Pirates... Maybe?

Cha, Cha, Cha, Cahnges.... Turn and face the strange...

by: Brian Randich
a/k/a Brian_R
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Kixeye recently came out with a defense rating system. Most people don’t understand it. Kixeye might not understand it. I’m going to help you understand it, and how to audit Kixeye’s work. Let’s go!

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Things that used to give resistances now give a stat called survival. Survival has a number associated with it, and a percentage after. For example, new folded ferrite armors give 720 survival. This will convert to a percentage based on the tier of your ship. T6 ships seem to need about 28 points for 1% of survival, T7 needs 32 points for 1%, and T8 needs 64 points. If multiple survivals apply, you add them all together. For example, if you have pen survival of 50% and turret survival of 25%, you have 50%+25% = 75% survival if you are hit by a pen turrets.
Now we need to talk about how this affects flagships. Most of our flagships before had higher resistances. They were typically about 5% higher (80% versus 75% or 85 versus 80 for the normal ships), which translated into about 20-25% less damage taken. This was mostly normalized to armor. For example, an Eradicator has 7361 (+115.02%) ballistic survival and 7092 (+110.81%) radio survival. The flagship built the same way has 7541 (+117.83%) ballistic survival and 7272 (+113.63%) radio survival. We’ll assume each build has the newest battery for 28.13% turret survival, which puts the numbers as close as possible to minimize the difference. We’ll also figure assume radioactive damage, as that’s most of the damage you find in the newest siege target. There is a 1.18% difference in effective health now versus a 25% reduction in damage taken before. Your flag was a lot more tankier before than now. The benefit it has over regular ships is about 1/20 as much as before.

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The percentages after the number show how much longer a ship will survive if being hit by a damage type (or turret). If you had +200% penetrative survival, you would last (100% + 200% = 300%) three times as long versus penetrative damage as opposed to not having that survival. We can use that to make an effective armor versus a certain damage type. Since survival is how long you last, we can find out effective armor with:
(1+survival %) * Armor = Effective Armor
From the above equation:
Brutal Eradicator: 30,235,165 * (1+113.63% + 28.13%) = 73,096,534
Eradicator: 30,235,165 * (1+110.81% + 28.13%) = 72,243,903
73,096,534/72,243,903 = 1.0118, or a 1.18% increase in effective health
Splash damage reduction got a similar change to a survival statistic. The difference is that splash has now changed, where you take more damage if you take a direct hit from the projectile, but less damage if you are near the edge of the splash. This makes sense in real life but is different to how the game has been played for the remainder of its nine-year history, and how players built ships to counteract. It’s not really possible to figure out how this works for our ships at this time. The formerly 30% splash damage reduction on the hyper-30 dropped to 8.44%, but the overall damage taken still depends on how far a ship is away from the projectile. With so many moving things and particles and being unsure of the opponent’s splash and spread, that’s really hard to figure out. Can you tell where the actual particle of the damage comes from one of those throwers in siege targets? I can’t.

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So, let’s break this down. Batteries (siege battery 1-4, assault battery, garrison battery, conquest battery, etc.) were changed massively. The siege batteries 1-4 had their turret survivals changed to very different numbers, and that makes sense. Even before the update, you got more turret defense (now survival) as you went up. Some made it up to 50% (or 49.5%) with retrofits, but at a certain point, they all came with 50% turret defense and no retrofits. Most batteries that were at the “top level,” having 50% turret defense before, now had 900 turret survival (900/64 = 14.06% on a T8 hull). However, the ballistic/radioactive/penetrative/corrosive battery I’s from the last raid cycle, as well as Pillage and this new raid, were given 1,800 turret survival. Before the defense update, people had to choose from all these batteries with 50% turret defense. The more recently released stuff was better because of the increase in damage, but everything had the same defensive statistics.
People made decisions based on these numbers, and the defense update came near the end of the first month of building the new fleets. A lot of players put batteries onto assault fleets, even though assault targets have the least amount of turrets and turret damage (other than Skirmish with no turrets). This was done after the redemption for Pillage was over. People put soon-to-be inferior items on, and didn’t have the option to claim new batteries based on an increased defense number. I didn’t mind the loss in damage that the assault battery had, as long as I wasn’t taking more damage from an inferior turret defense. (Yes, more damage = killing things faster = less damage because you take fewer shots. I don’t mind that, either.)
In checking the batteries, one may wonder why these changes were made. In general, it was stated that PVE hulls had their power shifted to armor points, so players could try different builds without batteries. Is anyone doing that, even in assault, where it’s safest to do so? People have probably put them on beforehand, and would be less likely to omit batteries in later cycles with more turrets. Maybe we’ll know in a year if no one tests it now. Looking among the batteries, I tried to consider different power based on its intended hull (a siege-class specific battery would have more turret survival than an assault-class specific battery), or if there were clear differences between tier classes. There aren’t. There is no single reason that can be applied to all the changes.
The conquest battery deserves its own paragraph. After being brought into the FM as an interesting choice on speed versus damage, it suddenly became mandatory to put on. Since PVP hulls didn’t have their armor changed like PVE hulls did, and the PVE batteries all had their turret survival changed drastically, a battery had to exist to give PVP hulls their old power. There are two problems with this. The first is that while 6,400 turret survival is 100% for T8 conquerors, it’s 3,200 to get to 100% for T7 conquerors. The 6,400 turret survival on a T7 hull converts to 200% survival, or lasting three times as long as before, or 66.67% turret defense. After the change, everyone has to swap out their battery on every conqueror hull. I wonder why there wasn’t some sort of stat added in below every battery that give 50% turret defense (even if rounded up at r15) that read “Conqueror Turret Survival: 6400.” Kix has done stats and abilities that depend on faction, so they can create different stats or dependencies. I wonder why they didn’t do it there (Although we probably really know why. But they took off the refit tax, so that makes it okay, right?).
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After a battle, a screen pops up with every damage type and how much of each damage type you evaded (evade working against a missile, for example), resisted (your survival lowered the damage), and taken (what damage actually hit you). You can use this along with your survival ratings to help figure out builds in terms of armors/specials. For a quick example, 100% survival means you last twice as long as without it. If you last twice as long, you should resist half the damage. In that case, the blue bar would equal the red bar.
However, no player really knows how new splash works. Since every damage type could have splash (even missiles, think of the cryo fields from a year ago or the Proto-Nem’s special ability), you can’t get accurate, reproducible results with any consistency. Every single roll of spread and splash would have to be exactly the same as a previous attempt, and that’s impossible to tell based on what you see.
If you want to check Kix’s work, and want to assume that you get exactly an even percentage of damage two separate times (Kix hates significant figures, so it’s hard to know when you get exactly 7%), you can figure your effective health against each damage type with what’s shown above, then see how much damage you take two separate times. If those times have different percentages, you can try to solve them in a matrix. If you want to go to the lengths of doing all that, you probably know how to solve matrices, or can find an online calculator to do so.
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The point of this defense update was to help change things away from needing endlessly-increasing resistances. Creating massive leaps in effective armor is one way to do this. Another way is to cycle mechanics and have hulls with weaknesses to them (such as taking Proto-Apollos into the glowing nav relays where they’d get stunned to death). Increasing our damage facilitates increasing enemy armor at the top levels of play, and that’s something else they’re doing. This solution doesn’t seem necessary, but it won’t be going away anytime soon, and it seems to work with Kix’s goals at the cost of widespread confusion among the playerbase.
It’s actually pretty hard to get these new changes sorted out. You can use math for some of them, but there’s plenty that’s obscured from the player base. We get reminded every raid that Kix can change the damage whenever they want. Usually they tune it down, but that just means it was too high to start with. You have to choose to believe Kix that things are working as intended and there’s consistency among targets or individual runs. Personally, I don’t have any faith in a company that halves the damage of a 2,000,000 damage weapon and it goes down to 800,000.