December 8, 2010

Foo Fighter vs. Ballista Missile Launcher: The Great Debate

Since mid-October, when Mafia Wars lifted the trade embargo off the high-end Vegas loot, four items emerged as the cream of the Vegas crop:

Foo Fighter (37A/60D),

Ballista Missile Launcher (62A/15D)

Reinhardt & Otto (57A/36D)

Bighorn (26A/64D)

The Diamondback (56A/48D) was my initial favorite, but has settled in 5th place in standard ratio guides, like the excellent Mafia Wars Elite Traders Guide. (You should check this out before you trade, to get a sense of what's worth what. The guide is updated regularly).

Note that, unlike the top Fight Loot (which cannot be traded), the Big Four do *not* include one item from each category of Weapon/Armor/Vehicle/Animal. Instead, you've got two Vehicles, an Armor, and an Animal.

So here's a question to ponder: Which is a more valuable Vehicle, the Ballista Missile Launcher (62A/15D), or the Foo Fighter (37A/60D)?

Good arguments exist on both sides. The Ballista is one of the rarest drops in Hoover Dam (or all of Vegas), while the Foo Fighter - though the hardest catch in Area 51 - drops more frequently. Of course you want lots of each, since the Ballista is an Attack Vehicle and the Foo is a Defense Vehicle. But which is better?

Tthe Ballista, while having a lower total stats score of 77, has a higher INDIVIDUAL stat of 62 Attack, compared to the Foo Fighter's 60 Defense. If you had 501 Ballistas and 501 Foos, you'd have over 1,000 more Defense points.

The Foo Fighter, on the other hand, has an impressive 97 total points (relevant in the Vegas Fight Tournaments...only). It was the centerfold for the Wishlist Loot: Final Four just 7 weeks ago. And it just LOOKS cool.

But in the Ballista's favor, it is one of the few high-end Vegas Loot items that does not drop from Fights (the others being the Proghorn Antelope and the Hopped Up Thug). So not only is the Ballista harder to get from doing jobs; it is *impossible* to get from fights.

The Foo Fighter, by contrast, drops from Fights here and there.

Seems that the Ballista is the better Vehicle then: higher individual stat, scarcer job drop item, unavailable in fights - all the makings of the top Loot item in Vegas. And yet - in my opinion - it is not.

Which is more valuable between the Ballista Missile Launcher and the Foo Fighter? Here's my vote:

And here's why:

If you look at a list of your top 501 Defense Vehicles (MW addicts will recognize the screen shot below), you'll see that the Foo Fighter - even if that's your "lowest" Vehicle - your 501st - occupies a disproportionate number of spots in your top 501. Take my list for example:

(The green circles will make sense momentarily)

Of my top 501 Defense Vehicles, 449 of them - nearly 90% -are Foo Fighters. The percentage doesn't tell the whole story, but it is part of the reason the Foo beats the Ballista. Let's compare this statistic to the Ballista's rank and role in my Attack Vehicles:

I have fewer Ballistas than Foos, but that's not the point. In fact, Ballistas are not my lowest Attack Vehicle (I'm working on it). The Foo Fighter is more valuable than the Ballista because of something demonstrated by comparing the two lists above:

There are fewer Vehicles available that have a higher Defense stat than the Foo Fighter, and more Vehicles with a higher Attack stat than the Ballista.

Or, in English, the Foo Fighter is going to stay in your top 501 for awhile - and in massive quantity. There's not much out there to "push down" your Foo Fighters to get them off your top 501 right now. You can get more and more Foo Fighters (and trade them for more and more other Loot) - but you CANNOT trade them for a better Defense Vehicle.

With the Ballista, as demonstrated in the two lists above, you can both (1) trade for a better Attack Vehicle - the Grim Reaper as Mission Loot; and (2) collect hundreds of Phantasms from Fight Loot. You can't trade the Phantasms, but if you fight enough, they will push your Ballistas down until you no longer see them in your top 501.

Oddly enough, while the Stick Shift Grip from the common Transport the Stolen Uranium Mission became the least valuable Mission Collection item, the same Mission is the ONLY place to score a Grim Reaper.

So think of Grim Reapers and Phantasms as the "Ballista Killers." The availability (in quantity) of superior Attack Vehicles makes the Ballista headed for the Mafia Wars Vehicle Museum, in a spot next to the Hunter Spy XS. Remember how excited you were to get a Vehicle with 52 Attack? Doesn't that car seem pretty useless now?

In fact, nothing in the Chop Shop - even after the upgraded levels - beats the Foo Fighter's 60 Defense. (The top choice for defense in the Chop Shop is the Extended Cab 640, with 55 Defense.)
But don't despair. While you can't round up hundreds of Defense Vehicles to top the Foo Fighter the way you can with Phantasms and Grim Reapers for the Ballista, you have some choices. These "Foo Killers" are circled in green in the list above, and discussed below.

The easiest Foo Killer to collect is (WAS) available in the seemingly non-stop Secret Santa Missions/Operations. It took me a bit to realize why they were worth doing.

Of the two Rare Rewards for this job, the Field Rider, with 71 Defense, pushes your Foo Fighters down. You can't trade them like other top Mission Loot - Z17 Micros, Grim Reapers, Grip Gloves and Coyotes - but you hopefully rounded some up over the past week.

Two other Foo Killers are in your Italy Village Port.

The Water Truck (64D) was available in the original nine Port Loot items, while the Pitch Car (70D) became available in November once you upgraded your Auto Boutique to Level VII. (Stay tuned for the upcoming post analyzing the 'second wave' of Italy Port Loot).

The downside to these two Foo Killers is that you can get one per day - unless you want to spend Reward Points to accelerate the Port clock - and you cannot trade for more of them.

One Vehicle per day is a picnic compared to this next Foo Killer, which is available to Level 21 Fight Club members for a mere 25 Victory Coins. The catch? You can only buy one per WEEK:

The Glance 32R has 72 Defense, and tops every Defense Vehicle other than Boss Fight and Special Event Rewards. It is the highest Defense Vehicle that you can collect more than one of... but it would take you nearly 10 years to collect 501 of them. Again, not available to trade.

The final Foo Killer was something I stumbled upon when I traded an ungodly number of Bighorns for a $10 Mafia Wars Game Card to get the 42 Reward Points. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that, upon redeeming the card, I got 20 Loyalty Points AND this beauty:

I have no idea if you get a Boulder Breaker each time you redeem a Game Card, but I don't see trading for one every day, or every week.

Of course, there are even better Foo Killers in the Marketplace if you want to spend 35 Reward Points a pop. One theme of this blog is to provide tips to master the game without spending your hard earned RPs, and certainly to avoid buying them with cash. The 5 Foo Killers above will slowly - very slowly - start to drive the Foo Fighter down on your top 501.

What I suspect will *truly* end the Foo Fighter's reign as the #1 piece of job Loot that you can trade is a Vehicle to be unveiled in Italy's remaining Regions. It may be months before we see those Regions, and even longer before we can trade those items.

But this is the cycle of Mafia Wars. I can remember when the Tanto - with its 43 Attack - debuted the best collectible Attack Weapon, and I worked feverishly (like a moron) to upgrade all my Canonazos for the 1 extra Attack point. And somewhere in future Italy, a job Loot item with 66 Defense stats will send the Foo Fighter the way of the Ballista, the Hunter, and an earlier Mafia Wars dream machine.... the Solar Flare.

And here's a scary thought. Want to know what other item is most like the Foo Fighter, in terms of being difficult to move down on your top 501, because of the absence of collectible and tradeable items in the same category with better stats? It's one of the least obvious choices, but it fits the pattern:

No joke. The Range Finder Rifle, which was dropping before the final Vegas Districts went live in August, is going to stick in your top 501 for awhile. There aren't many better Defense Weapons out there, other than the daily grab from the Italy Port and a Fight Club weekly item (and you want to use those to kill off the Foo Fighters!).

So - back to the original debate: Ballista or Foo Fighter? What are your thoughts?

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  1. Where do you find the pages with your top vehicules in attack and in defense?

  2. I barely have any Range Finder Rifles left since all I do is Dockyard operations.

  3. "MW addicts will recognize the screen shot below"

    I wish I could recognize it. Is this something you were able to come up with, or is this available to everyone? If so, how would I go about doing that?


  4. you can find the the pages with your top vehicles in attack and in defense up yo mamas behind