As far as I’m aware, I’ve not heard of anyone testing the new Orbital Strike Cannon. This is the cannon that targets population specifically. I went and ran a test, and I’ll list a couple of observations as well as a minor display bug as well as the results of the test. There is a TL;DR at the bottom just in case this gets half-Cheatle-length.
So, as a reminder, the Orbital Strike Cannon is one of two weapons to be installed on Cruisers that attack planets directly. The original Oribal Bomber blows up buildings, and the new Orbital Strike Cannon kills population specifically.
First of all, they’re MASSIVE. The Syntis T43 Cruiser is 1000m long, so these things are really intimidatingly large. They’re like 150m long or so. That’s nuts… in a good way, imo. As Syntis my Cruiser has 4 slots capable of holding these weapons, so that’s exactly what I did.
Now, let’s look at this tooltip. First of all, there’s something very important missing. Remember that bug I mentioned earlier? This is it. These weapons each need 100MW of power. That important detail is missing.
Now let’s break this down. 1000 damage to population. I am guessing that means 1000 total kills (at most) worth of damage. The rest of this is based on this assumption. For this test I used a single ship fitted with 4 of these LOSC-30 (Lv1) cannons. This means I had a max damage of 4000. So if we expand this to 14 ships, we are left with 56,000 maximum kills. That’s a respectable number of kills, although I believe the cost is exorbitant. More on that below. Needing 600 ammo per shot, means I need 2400 ordnance per volley per ship. So a full 14 fleet would use 33,600 Ordnance per volley of 56,000 potential maximum damage. This is a significant amount of Limbalt, and should not be looked over.
Now, if that was the extent to it, the orbital strike would be respectable. But that is sadly not the case. An accuracy of 30% adds that RNG element into the equation that makes this option of orbital destruction most disappointing. 30% of 56,000 is a touch over 20,000 kills for a fleet of 14 cruisers with a combined 56 cannons. Mind you, that would be the average per volley. That is horrendously awful.
Using these numbers, in order to wipe a planet of 250,000 pop with this first level of LOSC-30, it would take 13 volleys on average. That’s an ABSURD 436,800 Limbalt cost to wipe out a mere 250k population. In short, you’re better off sacrificing 100-150k population to take the planet via T1 Frigates you can build in the first few days.
Now for the results of the test:
So you’ll see we have killed a measly 2,170 population with this strike. That’s a bit over 50% on the accuracy per volley, so this is a pretty solid strike by the numbers, right?. Except there’s one slight issue. That was two volleys, or at least should have been. It used 4800 limbalt, which is 2 volleys, to reach that 2170 total. That means my volleys did 1085 each. That’s ~27% of maximum damage. So that was a fairly close to average damage test.
So I burned 4800 Limbalt to kill 2170 peeps. This planet grows at 792 per hour, so this player will regain this lost pop in less than 3 hours (2.7). If we expand this to a full fleet of 14, that would be ~38 hours to regain the population he lost. Meanwhile, I spent 67,200 Limbalt, obtained at 620/h on my primary Limbalt manufacturing center, setting me back 108 hours. So if this had been a full fleet with this roll, it would have cost me 108 hours of mining to impact 38 hours of population to the other player.
This is incredibly underwhelming. It’s overwhelmingly awful, in fact. So much so I’d say it’s borderline useless. The only saving grace would be if that player had stacked a bunch of labs on that planet and you managed to shut the planet down for half a day while the pop regrew and extended their research times by a lot. But that could also be obtained by just capturing the planet, and in fact would be even better.
Now, if we combine this with the fact that we have travel time involved in this, this becomes even worse. What if the planet I bombed was 2 days away? Then I could keep bombing it with the same fleet and they’d still manage population growth, albeit stunted. Better to just bring a couple hundred thousand assault troops to take it decisively to begin with.
As an aside, it shot both volleys in my test instantaneously. Coupled with a couple of notification bugs I actually missed it, and had to open the log to find that it had worked. Furthermore, there are potential applications of the orbital strike that are quite intriguing - kill off a chunk of population to shut the planet down to soften it up for assault, or shutdown a shipyard - that I would absolutely love to see come to fruition, but the mechanic needs some serious work before it can be useful for either one.
The obvious things I can come up with are lowering limbalt cost, or increasing damage and/or accuracy, so that a full fleet of these cruisers can devastate a planet if it gets through to it. If it could wipe out 56,000 population per volley that would bean 112,000 for my 14/14 fleet. 112,000 pop is a significant number and would almost certainly send the planet into riots regardless of the size of the planet. With the inclusion of the new Large Extended Ordnance, I might be able to squeeze more volleys out, so this might be more viable in terms of overall damage per fleet, but the cost still seems extremely high for the results.
As always, if you see issues with my math, please point them out.
TL;DR: Orbital Strike (LOSC-30) is basically useless, don’t use them. Depending on the difference in ranks they might become viable later on, but the level 1 is hardly worth considering.