Lightning Raid – Soloing Level 65 Hubs

Top of the morning!

Just thought I’d post a video of my strategy for soloing level 65 Operations Hubs during Lightning Raid. Since my blitz Dreads really weren’t working too well (no HB3 means I was taking a TON of rocket fire and far more damage than necessary), I needed something else. Unfortunately, my only Assault Cannon fleet is SWs with no armor and I don’t feel like grinding it out on the lower level hubs.

My only alternative was my Siege Mortar/Shockwave Dread X fleet. While not the most ideal fleet, I found them to be actually somewhat efficient, only costing 5-7 coins to repair after each Hub for 261k points. This is actually efficient enough that I could theoretically still win the Missile Cruiser X without spending anything but that would require that I play pretty much the whole week straight through. I don’t have the patience for that but it does show that the right fleets and a sufficient time investment can result in earning the top prizes without coining.

Here’s the exact fleet build:

As you can see, the high evade and good resistances to ballistic and penetrating allow me to easily tank the Hub, with most of the damage coming from the Defense platforms and the Battleships. The Hailstorms let me sit under the mortars from the Dreads without fear, even when facing 16 shells at once in the final wave. I would have done slightly better with Assault Cannons and HB3 instead of mortars but oh well. This works well enough :)

Keep on chugging and best of luck with the rest of the raid!

Until next time,

— Andrew

Tips for Operations Hubs

Top of the morning!

We have another event on the way, Lightning Raid, that looks to be solely about destroying Operations Hubs. From the teaser information, these will not be the same as what we faced in the last event. MagicSarap has stated that there are no plans to include Typhoons in this raid, so there will be nothing familiar to fall back on. Having taken part in the Preview Servers, here’s what I’ve seen and what I expect to be dealing with.

The Operations Hubs

Hubs will consist of the central Hub, surrounded by up to four defense platforms and up to four torpedo towers. This part is the same as before. The key difference is that you can no longer destroy the center, but rather must protect it. Once the defense platforms are destroyed, you will begin a download of information while the Hub summons reinforcements in the form of Draconian fleets. The download is paused for as long as any Drac ship is still alive and you win the battle by completing the download. In the preview servers, it would take three waves of ships before the download was complete (OK, the Preview had us uploading a virus but I imagine the process is identical).

The defense platforms should be more or less the same as what we faced in Lightning Run and what the Draconian Outposts have. On higher levels, expect the cannons to be able to out-range SFB3 Assault Missiles. Damage from them should be fairly minimal and they’ll likely have low health compared to Lightning Run. High evade and solid resistances will work well against the missiles and cannons. Evade will also help reduce the damage from the torpedo towers.

The Draconian Fleets

This is where you’re going to sustain most of your damage. You will likely face three waves of increasing difficulty. The largest hull in each wave will be making a bee-line for the Center Hub and will only attack you until it gets within range of the Hub with its Siege Missiles. At that point, it will attempt to destroy the Hub. These ships need to be your primary target because you will lose the battle if that Hub is destroyed. In the Preview Server, they came equipped with rockets so blitz fleets need heavy explosive resistance.

The smaller hulls will generally have SFB3 Assault Missiles and will attempt to destroy you. If you have high enough evade and half-decent missile resistance, you should be able to ignore them until you destroy the Hub-Hunters. Of course, if one’s in your way, don’t hesitate to destroy it and save yourself a little damage.

Your Fleet

In order to do well, you’re going to need high evade, strong resistances and high DPS. You won’t be able to get all that on a Forsaken Hull so just go with the best FvF hull you have (Sea Wolf, Sea Scorpion or Hammerhead). For prize hulls, Battleships would be ideal due to their slightly higher ballistic and penetrating resistance, high evade and extra ballistic range.

Because your biggest challenge will be the FvF aspect, you’re going to want the highest DPS possible. Assault Cannons are probably your best option. They fire fast, deal good damage and have high accuracy. The fast reload means you can afford to skip on the AL and just go with HB3. Cannon System 3 probably won’t give you the range you need at higher levels to avoid the Assault Rockets so I wouldn’t recommend it.

If using Forsaken hulls, it might be difficult to get your evade into the high 40s or low 50s. If you can’t, you’re better off using your special slots to boost your resistances. Compound Armor is good if you have it, otherwise go with either Layered Armor 3. If you have D4-M armor, use that to boost your missile resistances a bit too. Otherwise, use the strongest armor you have.

If using Drac hulls, such as the Battleship or Strike Cruiser, you’ll have decent evade and an extra special slot to work with, as well as built-in resistances. You’ll definitely want Guidance Scrambler 3 and D3-E or D4-E armor, if you have it. Most Drac hulls can get over 50% evade, which will allow you to survive much longer against missiles, cannons and torpedoes.

If you don’t have the evade armors and can’t get the evade higher than about 40%, you can consider using Engines instead of Guidance Scrambler. While you’ll take a few more hits, you’ll also get in range of your enemies faster and hopefully be able to sink them a little sooner.

I’ll note that without Engines, you can probably expect the Dracs to get a few shots off at the Hub before you can get in range to destroy them. That’s OK. It has a lot of health and as long as it’s still standing at the end of the battle, you should still get full points. Keeping your damage to a minimum is more important than keeping the Hub at 100% so I wouldn’t recommend dumping GS3 in favour of Engines unless the Dracs are managing to destroy the Hub on you.

The Battle

The Dracs will come front a different corner each time, much like they did in Lightning Run. The pattern should be predictable. You should keep your ships as close to the Center Hub as you can and return them there after destroying each wave. This will make it quicker to engage the next wave when it arrives. Since you likely don’t have engines, you’ll need as many extra seconds as you can get. Once you’ve identified the spawning pattern, you can move your ships directly to the next spawn point to save even more time.

Remember to target the largest ships first. These are the ones that will destroy the Hub if you let them and will typically be either Battleships or Dreadnoughts armed with Siege Missiles and Assault Rockets. Don’t get too close or the rockets will tear you apart.

In the last event, the guards did not have any detection. People were able to use subs to destroy the fleets without taking any damage. It’s tough to predict whether that will be the case again but if you have Cudas or Spectres, it’s worth a shot. Just remember that the torpedo towers will have detection and be able to hit you. Be sure to take them out first.

Good luck and happy raiding!

Until next time,

— Andrew

Dread X Defense Tips

Top of the morning!

With the introduction of the new Base Planner, I’ve been able to try out one of the designs I’ve been monkeying with in Base Doctor. So far, it seems rather successful against the Dread X, despite not having an ideal guard fleet in place yet. While not perfect, I’m going to share some points about the design that I believe help make it work:

Keep the Oil Rigs far away from your turrets.

A Dread X loaded with Siege Mortars and High Explosive Shells has a splash radius of 31.5. That’s enough that they can damage your turrets by targeting your Oil Rigs, meaning they can hit you from further away and potentially avoid getting in range of VMs or your guards. Make them come up that extra little bit.

Use Ablative Panels on your turrets

This goes for Cerbs and Howies, as well as the first Bombard or two that they will come across. This essentially makes your towers last twice as long, potentially giving your guards or VMs time enough to sink something.

Use at least some missiles somewhere

Dread X fleets typically have only the built-in 20% resistance to missiles. More often than not, they load up on explosive resistance to counter any mortars that leak through their Hailstorms. This may change with the introduction of the Halo (which is an excellent source of missile damage, btw) but for now, it seems to be working. Having a guard or two with SFB3 missiles and maybe even a Sentinel can make a huge difference.

Have a Goliath/other ship loaded up with anti-mortars

Bombards are incapable of completely destroying incoming mortars, regardless of how few there are, but Hailstorms/Hellstorms do not have that limitation. Goliaths grant a 33% bonus to accuracy on all weapons, which makes any anti-mortar quite effective. Load one up with seven, park it in front of a Bombard (preferably with Enhanced Propulsion 3 so it can fire before the Goliath does) and you should be able to fend off almost any mortar fleet indefinitely. If you don’t have Goliaths, use the largest hull you have instead. Strike Cruisers, Hammerheads or even Sea Scorpions can work well. You’ll have to make sure this ship cannot be prepped, though.

Have a sub in your guard fleet

This can work surprisingly well, especially if you have the Spectre or Barracudas. Park a sub outside your entrance so it can get in some early damage that can’t be avoided. If you’re lucky, you might be able to sink one of their ships before they can do anything and that will severely affect their ability to handle your VMs. Since this ship is outside your base, it can be prepped by someone who knows it’s there. It’s unfortunate but one of the drawbacks to using subs in base defense.

Here’s a video of my most recent base design, which employs the first three principles. The design isn’t perfect (was cracked by a SC blitz) but a lot of its weaknesses will be beefed up in a couple months when I complete my guard fleet. The important thing is that it proves that even an imperfect base can keep out these behemoth fleets.

I missed the prep wave, which took out most of my research buildings and the first Bombard for 21% base damage. The FFs in my guard are just armed with 6x Assault Missiles and Reactive Armor. This is the fleet that won me all the Base Invaders events and is the only missile fleet I have that I don’t use for salvaging. My SC auto-salvagers would have actually worked much better since they have hailstorms and better explosive resistance. Still, I have a very specific fleet in mind to guard this base that will beef it up against blitzes and Spectre preps. Unfortunately, Ultimate Shipyard is down at the moment so I can’t link you to it :(

UPDATE – Nov. 6:

This is my intended guard fleet.

  • The Hailstorm Goliath will sit in the second turn, where it will be protected by two Flaks and a Bombard with EP3. I can replace the Sentinel with another Flak if need be. It has high evade to help it last longer against torpedoes and any missiles that leak through.
  • The Arbiter will sit in the right-most corner of the guard strip so it can catch any subs that make it to the first corner. Regardless of what torpedoes they use, the shape of the land will prevent them from firing until they enter the range of the Subsonic Cavitar. It is only protected by two Flaks, so it’s potentially preppable but that requires a third type of fleet. I don’t expect the average hitter to want to put in that much effort.
  • The Strike Cruiser will sit next to the Arbiter so it can attack any subs as they are detected. With Laser Targeting, it should be able to do some damage before the subs are forced to the surface, at which point the rest of my turrets will kick in and help. It also provides decent missile damage to help punish anything that isn’t running with missile resistance.
  • The Siege Cannon Goliath will be on the far left to catch any blitzers coming around the last corner. Any fleets making it this far will likely be at least partially damaged and loaded up on explosive resistance. Siege Cannons should be able to inflict considerable pain on the whole fleet, if not outright kill it.
  • The Spectre will sit just outside the entrance at the top. Its job is to deal some preliminary damage to anything trying to come in. It is preppable but again, requires yet another type of dedicated fleet. It only surfaces three time during the five-minute battle so opportunities to kill it are very limited without a way to hit it while it’s submerged. If I’m lucky, it should be able to take out a full Dread or two, instantly turning the tide in my favour.

Assuming everything works the way I hope, this design would take four different fleets to crack. You’d need a sub-killer to take out the Spectre, then a SFB3 fleet to kill the Arbiter, followed by a Spectre fleet to kill the Goliaths and finally, the main attack fleet. That’s a lot of effort for one base and I don’t see anyone doing that unless they wanted to make a point.

Until next time,

— Andrew

Keyboard Macros – Control Your Ships With A Single Button Press

Top of the morning!

One thing a lot of people ask about is, how do you move all your ships at once? Well, the answer is we aren’t, really. We’re just pressing the arrow keys really quickly between mouse clicks in an effort to send the move command to all five ships as quickly as possible. If done right, it gives the appearance of moving them all at once. It also can lead to some serious RSI and that’s something I actively try to avoid.

Keyboard macros to the rescue! I use a Logitech G15 Gaming keyboard, which comes with macro keys that I can assign to any combination of keystrokes and mouse clicks. It’s super handy but I’ll be having to do most of my raiding this weekend from my laptop, which does not have that luxury. So I did some digging and found an alternative that works just as well: AutoHotkey.

AutoHotKey is a free program that allows you to script macros and assign them to whatever shortcuts you want. It’s not the easiest to use but that’s why I’m going to walk you through exactly how to set it up and create the macro. These instructions are for Windows 7 but should also work on any version of Windows. Linux and Mac users might be out of luck as I don’t have access to either and can’t test it.

  1. Download and install AutoHotkey from their website:
    1. You can keep all of the default settings during the installation.
  2. Once installed, right click on your desktop and create a new Text Document.
  3. Name the document “move_ships.ahk”. It will ask if you want to change the extension – click Yes.
  4. Right click move_ships.ahk and choose Edit Script.
  5. Paste the following text into the script:
    Loop 5
    	Send {Click}
    	Sleep 50
    	Send {Left}
    	Sleep 50
  6. Save the file.
  7. Run the file by double-clicking it. It should now appear in the system tray. This means that AutoHotkey is now listening for the macro trigger.
  8. Open Battle Pirates and get into any kind of fleet battle.
  9. Press the Windows Key and Spacebar at the same time to move all your ships to the mouse’s current position. Note that you must press and release the Spacebar while the Windows Key is down, otherwise you’ll end up just opening up the Start menu and that’s no good.

This will only work as long as the AutoHotkey script is in the system tray. You may want to make sure that the icon is set to always show. You may also want to place the script in your Startup folder so that it launches automatically on system boot so you don’t have to start it manually every time you start your machine.

I am aware that this particular hotkey is already a system shortcut in Windows but it’s also one of the easiest to do with one hand and AutoHotkey will override the Windows shortcut. If you would like to change the keyboard shortcut it’s assigned to, go check out the tutorial at to learn what means what. You can edit the script directly by right-clicking on the task bar icon and choosing Edit Script. Be sure to do a Reload Script (from that same right-click menu) afterwards or your changes won’t be applied.

And for those that are wondering: no, this is not cheating and you cannot be banned for it. Keyboard macros are an essential part of gaming and are only able to do things that you can do on your own. In this case, the macro is just simulating hitting the arrow keys really fast in between clicks. It doesn’t manipulate or interact with the game code in any way – it just sends the keyboard and mouse commands to the active window exactly as if you had pressed them yourself.

Happy raiding!

Until next time,

— Andrew

UPDATE – Nov. 30, 2012: Kixeye has officially ruled that key-binding macros such as this are OK to use! Read the official announcement here.

Storm Force Strategies

Top of the morning!

I’d like to apologize for the lack of new posts lately. Life has been quite busy for me of late and things don’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, I’ll barely have 12 hours to play the event this weekend so I won’t be able to make any videos or give any tips midway through. What I can do, however, is let you know how I plan to play it and hopefully that will be enough help for you guys.

There are two ways to get points this time around: by destroying Typhoons as we have in the previous Storm events and by capturing Operations Hubs. Since the Typhoons should be pretty much the same strategy as before, I won’t go into that. Just know that if the Hubs aren’t your thing, you can still earn all the prizes just by doing Typhoons.

The Operations Hubs look a lot like what we were doing in Base Invaders. They’ll have defensive platforms and guard fleets. If you don’t remember Base Invaders, there are a couple things to keep in mind:

  1. There are three levels of Missiles and Cannons on the platforms. The Missiles are basically like Sentinels but with a much longer range. Same for the Cannons but I believe they also deal a bit more damage than Howies. The highest level Cannon can out-range SFB3 Assault Missiles.
  2. There are no mortars or rockets on the platforms so high-evade ships with high ballistic resistance work wonders.

It’s tough to say what exactly will be on the guard fleets. In Base Invaders, guards were easily defeated with SFB3, blitz fleets with Siege Cannons and high evade or fast mortar ships. It is possible we could see guards with SFB3, similar to those new salvages that were quickly reverted. In any case, evade and speed are probably going to be your best friends here.

One thing the briefing doesn’t mention is whether you need to be within a certain range of the Hub to upload the virus. It says that enemy ships will pause the upload when they’re in range, so it’s possible that it will also pause if you wander too far away. This could be bad news for Siege Cannon fleets if you try to solo it as you may find yourself constantly fighting off fleets and never being able to get back to the center for long enough to make any progress on the upload.

If teaming up with somebody, it’s probably a good idea to use two different types of fleets. Something with SFB3 should work quite well against enemy ships, especially if a high-evade blitz fleet is in front, shielding them. If you happen to have one of each fleet, find a partner who does too and you guys can switch roles after every Hub or two. This lets you both repair one fleet while the other keeps getting points, dramatically reducing the number of coins you’d need to spend on repairs. If you have one of my auto-salvaging fleets on a decently fast hull, that should work quite nicely.

The good news about this event is that you should be able to do quite well with fleets you already have built for previous events. Most of you should have something that can handle either the Typhoons or the Hubs. If not, check out my previous posts for some ideas.

The prizes this time around are actually quite intriguing. The Super Fortress is a much-needed high-cargo vessel that should be able to hold its own in base attacks. The Halo Missile is a Victory Mortar replacement and although it doesn’t do nearly as much damage as a VM, it has a better range, larger splash and more importantly, a different type of damage. Having one or two in your base should be fairly punishing to those that opt to use Ablative Armor instead of Reactive Armor.

Best of luck guys!

Until next time,

— Andrew

Why the Spectre Sub Will Be Awesome

Top of the morning!

For those who haven’t heard, the event briefing for Storm Strike has been released, including prize information. The top prize will the Spectre Sub, which looks like a cross between the Stalker and a Floating Fortress. The Spectre boasts six torpedo bays, two special slots and three armour slots but the most staggering stat is its 60 seconds of submerged time per cycle. That’s right. This thing stays underwater for a full minute at a time.

Swag’s briefing video shows a fleet of Spectres taking out two guard Goliaths from inside a base without needing to surface. He then retreats and attacks again, sinking a third Goliath that’s deeper into the base without ever taking a single hit. That’s impressive, but it’s not the only use for this hull that I’m envisioning.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think 60 seconds of submerge time is Nautilus Battery 3. NB3 boosts submerge time by 39%, which would give the Spectre 83.4 seconds underwater. Throw on six Assault Torpedoes and Concussion Warheads 3 and you’re looking at a ship that can deal up to 2,042 damage per volley and is capable of firing 13 volleys before surfacing. That’s 26,546 damage per ship before surface weapons can retaliate. Of course, accuracy, enemy evade and time to get in range will all reduce that damage potential but no matter how you slice it, I don’t think any single ship can stand up to an 83-second assault from one of these.

So what exactly can you do with this kind of firepower besides prep bases? Here’s a couple ideas:

  1. Use it as a guard fleet. Plop a couple of these near the entrance to your channel and watch them rip apart your attacker. Be sure to have something with plenty of detection range nearby so that your opponents can’t easily prep you with subs of their own.
  2. Use it for salvaging. It currently takes my SCs just over a minute to destroy a level 29 salvage on auto-pilot. Since Spectres can operate underwater for up to 83 seconds at a time, I’m thinking we might finally have something that can auto a 33 for minimal damage. The flagship might take some damage but if you load it up with evade and Hailstorms, that damage should be minimal.

For those that were thinking of skipping this event because you don’t like subs, I hope I’ve helped you realize the potential of this sub and why you want it in your arsenal. This thing is potentially the most over-powered FvF hull released to date and has few effective counters. You don’t want to miss out.

Until next time,

— Andrew

Storm Strike Event Announced!

Top of the morning!

I know this is a little late but for those that haven’t played since yesterday, the next event, called “Storm Strike”, has been announced and will take place on Sept. 27 – Oct. 2.

Storm Strike has been confirmed to be similar to Storm Warning in that we will be hunting down Typhoons once again. However, the event description claims “Armed with deadlier Drones and stronger Guard Fleets … sinking the Typhoon will not be an easy task this time around”, indicating that this event will be even more difficult than its predecessor.

That description is a little vague but it appears that the Drones and guard ships will have stronger weapons. This will probably make it very tough on low-armor fleets, such as instant-repair Sea Wolves. It also means that Microwave Dampener will be even more valuable than before. Those that have followed my advice about the Arbiter should have at least MD2 researched by now and maybe even MD3 if you decided to focus on that and skip Engine Disruptor. I currently only have MD2.

If you were smart, you have been working on a fleet since Storm Warning ended. It’s hard to say how my suggested builds will hold up against the new Typhoons but if you focused on evade and splash-dealing weapons, you should do OK. Kixeye sent out an email that suggested Hammerheads with Thuds or Rippers, Engines, Layered Armor and DU4 (note that if you are not subscribed to News & Updates in your Radio Tower, you wouldn’t have gotten that email). While the suggested fleet doesn’t use splash or evade, it does use only Forsaken technology and doesn’t depend on blueprints or prize-hulls. It can also be built somewhat quickly, although you won’t have five of them built in time for the raid.

The fact that Layered Armor is recommended suggests that cannons will pose the biggest damage threat. That’s not to say it will be the only type of damage we’ll face but it’s probably going to be the biggest portion of it. Of course, having high evade not only dodges ballistic damage but also penetrating and concussive as well so that should be your first choice if you can get it up to about +40% or higher. If you can’t get your evade up that high, you’re probably better off going with Layered Armor and trying to boost your resistances as high as you can.

Things have gotten pretty busy for me lately and likely won’t slow down for at least several weeks. This means I won’t be able to post quite as often as I’d like but I’ll still do my best to share my experience and strategies with you guys as much as I can.

Until next time,

— Andrew


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