Part 33: Let's Talk About Missiles Some More (Olesh)You're slowly killing me by not adding Auto Fire to your Heavy Mount Mass Drivers, I hope you realize this. Especially since your new ship designs do now include Battle Scanners. You haven't functionally upgraded your offensive capabilities in a long time; neither researching anything to replace your mass drivers nor done research to miniaturize them.
But at this point, it's time for:
Let's Talk About Missiles Some More
Some of this information will be repeated from other posts. Bear with me!
Okay, so missiles. Missiles are great! They launch independently, they have a really good base chance to hit (90%) before any modifiers come into play, and they do really solid damage and they get even better with upgrades.
There are four types of missiles in the game - here's the damage and HP per missile. Note that missile HP is dependent upon the type of missile, and independent of any armor upgrades you may have researched.
Nuclear - 8 damage, 4 HP
Merculite - 14 damage, 8 HP
Pulson - 20 damage, 12 HP
Zeon - 30 damage, 16 HP
There are five possible modifications that can be applied to missiles, and all missiles have access to them (although, as per usual, most modifications require some miniaturization before they can be used). Multiple modifications can be applied to the same weapon, and the stacking space/production costs are additive. Two modifications that are +100% (x2) together sum up to +200% (x3). They do not multiply to +300% (x4).
No miniaturization required:
Emissions Guidance - +300%. Damage that penetrates shields gets dealt to the drive system. Usually not worth the cost, but destroyed drives tend to explode and thus you usually don't require as much damage to actually take out a ship this way.
1 level of miniaturization:
Fast - +25%. Adds 4 Combat Speed to the missile. This also affects the missile's Beam Defence.
Armored - +25%. Doubles the HP of each missile.
ECCM - +25%. Halves the defensive effects of any jammers protecting the target.
2 levels of miniaturization:
MIRV - +100%. Each missile has 4 warheads, quadrupling the effective damage. Does not increase HP of the missile.
Missiles have a base combat speed of 10, modified by drive technology. Effectively, they're as fast as a fully loaded frigate. Each drive upgrade past Nuclear adds +2 to the combat speed, and then the Fast modification can add an additional +4, meaning that a Fast missile with Interphased Drivers moves at a combat speed of 24.
"Missile Attack": Missiles use a formula basically identical in practice to the Beam Attack formula, but with an attack value of 50. Everything that modifies missile chance to hit does so by modifying Missile Evasion, not Missile Attack.
Beam Defense: Missiles have a BD rating based on their Combat Speed x 5. In practice, this means that their BD ranges from between 50 (combat speed 10) to 120 (combat speed 24).
Hit points - Each "missile group" has a shared HP pool, removing whole missiles as the pool takes damage. Visually, damage dealt to the pool is only displayed in terms of whole numbers of missiles removed. However, a single shot can remove multiple missiles - damage dealt in excess of any single missile's hit points rolls over and continues to destroy missiles.
I feel a practical example is needed here - let's say there's a volley of 10 Nuclear Missiles. The whole group has 40 HP. I'm firing PD Laser Cannons at a range that isn't point blank, so each Laser Cannon hit only deals 1 damage. I have one ship that hits with 10 laser cannons on the missile group, dealing 10 damage. The missile group is reduced to 30 HP, and the group is reduced to 8 effective missiles - the combat display will show a "2" as the damage number, since 2 missiles were destroyed. Now, if I pull another ship in and hit with another 10 laser cannons, the missile group is reduced to 20 HP and the group is reduced to 5 effective missiles - the combat display will show a "3" as the damage number, since 3 missiles were destroyed.
If, instead, I were firing regular Mass Drivers, each mass driver would deal 6 damage to the whole missile volley - every 2 mass driver hits would destroy 3 missiles.
Missile Evasion: Hoo boy, okay. Ships natively have an ME of 0, and there are fewer things that modify ME than affect beam defense.
Things that Boost ME:
ECM - +70/100/130/(70), halved for ECCM missiles. ECM is the most obvious defense against missiles, although it's mitigated (but not completely countered) by ECCM. The best ECM system (Wide Area Jammer, at +130) also provides +70 missile evasion to other ships in the fleet.
Inertial Stabilizer/Nullifier - +25/+50. Inertial systems provide half the listed bonus to Beam Defense as a bonus to Missile Evasion.
Crew Skill - between +0 for Green crews and +37 for Ultra-Elite. Like Inertial systems, this is the listed Beam Defense bonus, but halved.
Racial Ship Defense - +25 or +50 (or a -20 penalty). Unlike Crew Skill or Inertial systems, the full value actually applies here.
Things that Penalize ME:
ECCM - doesn't really penalize it directly, but halves the bonuses from ECM.
Scanners - Tachyon Scanners, Neutron Scanners, and Sensors penalize enemy ships' Missile Evasion (-20, -40, and -70, respectively).
Without factoring in Crew Skill, a ship with the best possible ECM system and Inertial Nullifiers has +115 ME against ECCM missiles, and +180 ME otherwise. Sensors can reduce this to +45 and +110 respectively, meaning that a ship that puts the maximum effort into improving its missile evasion is still going to get hit by roughly half of all ECCM missiles unless they also have strong crew skill and/or racial defensive bonuses.
The Current Situation At Hand:
Let's look at some numbers real quick.
Regular Pulson missile: 12 HP
Armored Pulson Missile: 24 HP
The Missile Base fired Pulson missiles in groups of 20 (2x10, technically, but missiles fired like that combine into a single group), meaning that each group had a minimum of 240 HP to chew through in order to wipe them out.
The Star Base was equipped with 7 Armored Fast ECCM Pulson missiles. Each Star Base missile group had 148 HP to wipe out (and an extra 20 Beam Defense)
You had two ship designs in play - your new Silencer redesign (2x) and the revised Interdictors (5x). Each ship had two regular AF Mass Drivers as part of their armament. This gives you a total of 14 AF Mass Drivers. Your Silencers had Battle Scanners, which helped, but you simply did not have enough Mass Drivers on the field to shoot down the incoming fire arrayed against you.
Without needing any additional technology research, your "better solution" really is bringing more Mass Drivers - nothing you have is as effective.
Take a look at your new Obscenity. You've got:
48 space in Ion Pulse Cannons
35 space in Anti-Matter Bombs
130 Space in Heavy Mount (non-AF) Mass Drivers. (90 damage)
40 space in AF Mass Drivers. (72 damage)
Total Space spent on weapons: 253
Heavy Mount weapons cost double the space for +50% more damage and range.
Auto Fire weapons cost 50% more space for +200% more damage (and a -20 Beam Attack penalty, which is more than offset by Battle Scanners).
Here's a suggested revamp:
Ditch the current weapons and make sure you have Battle Scanners. Probably get rid of the Automated Repair Unit to make space.
Using Mass Drivers, create three groups of weapons:
Heavy AF Mass Drivers
AF Mass Drivers
PD AF Mass Drivers
Then assign your space evenly between groups. This will give you a roughly 1:2:4 ratio of heavy/regular/PD weapons. This is actually a little inefficient - you probably should ditch the PD weapons and assign the space to the regular mass drivers, but you'll want the help against missiles.
Then, assign a certain amount of leftover space for bombs. This should get you something like:
4 Hv AF Mass Drivers
8 AF Mass Drivers
16 PD AF Mass Drivers
2 Anti-Matter Bombs
Longer term solutions include advancing your Force Fields research, which will give you better defense options, miniaturize your mass drivers (so you can carry more), give you access to Gauss Cannons as a long-term replacement for your Mass Drivers (although they won't be a better option until you miniaturize them), better shields and ECM, and some esoteric defensive options (like the aforementioned Lightning Field).
Alternatively, a push into Physics will give you better beam weapons - Phasors are the best PD weapons you can research and make an excellent "workhorse" weapon, able to be upgraded with Auto Fire and Shield Piercing after some miniaturization, while Plasma Cannons are naturally Enveloping with the effective x4 damage multiplier that entails and are extremely solid out the gate (and only get better as you can mount more of them/upgrade them with Continuous).