USS Vizier – Building the Next Generation – Week Three – BOFF Stations & Specialization

Introduction

In the previous week’s episode (USS Vizier – Building the Next Generation – Week Two – Consoles) I explained the consoles that were fitted onto the Vizier.

This week, we investigate another key area of Vizier’s build – Her BOFF Station layout and Specialization choice. A lot of the choices I have made her, are similar to Zuikaku.

But as usual, Vizier has her quirks 🙂

BOFF Stations

BOFF Stations, short for Bridge Officer Stations, are key parts of star trek online. They give additional commands and abilities to your ship in and out of combat. These stations are usually the primary driving force of any ships performance.

Sure, you can have picked out the perfect gear, with beautiful consoles. But if you don’t merge that with good BOFF station choices, you won’t get very far.

To that end, I took particular attention to Vizier’s BOFF Layout, ensuring the choices I made, had synergy with my gear and console choices. A lot of times, my BOFF station choices, influenced my gear choices. So, let’s begin say we.

COMMANDER ENGINEER

Commander-Engineer-Station

With the Vizier being a cruiser, naturally her biggest station reflects that ship type – pone being of the engineer career variety. Vizier’s layout is slightly different from Zuikaku’s. With a slightly more focus to offensive than defense.

The first ability, is Emergency Power to Shields 1. This ability regens shields, repairs disabled shields, gives the ships shields extra resistance as well. It also adds shield power to the ship. Basically, this ability is a shield heal ability. I choose this ability as I knew with Vizier’s design, she would not have as much shield redundancy as Zuikaku. Furthermore, Vizier has a lower shield BOFF station than Zuikaku, as Zuikaku uses Emergency Power to Shields 3.

The next ability is one I have used on Zuikaku before but is not part of her standard boff layout – Overload Integrity Field II. This ability adds a +26.6 to Starship hull restoration. Basically, improving hull healing for a 12 second period.

Overload-Integrity-Field

For example, if my Hazard emitters 1 power heals my ship for 14,000 hull hit points. If I use Overload integrity field, it bumps this healing up to 15,200. Basically, this boff station is like a boost to your slotted healing abilities. I choice this ability, as I knew with Vizier being more focused on offense, I need an extra ability to keep her at maximum hull points. As well as give me the ability to rapidly repair my hull hit points as quickly as possible.

The next ability is Emergency Power to Weapons III. This ability increases Vizier’s weapon power, as well as increases the damage of her weapons for a 30 second period. With Vizier being tactically focused, I ensured the highest emergency power ability was resolved for the weapons version.

The final ability, is Auxiliary to Structural Field III. This ability is a rapid-fire healing and damage resistance boost. It utilizes Auxiliary power, so the higher aux power, the more hull heals, and damage resistance boost I receive. This ability is standard on all cruisers with a commander engineering station. As the community considers it a “must have” considering what you gain, for the abilities cooldown (15 seconds) as the boost you receive.

Lieutenant Commander Universal/Command

Lt-Commander-Universal-Command

The next on the BOFF station tour of Vizier, is her Universal station – the Lieutenant Commander Universal/Command hybrid. With the station being universal, and no other science stations on an Assault Cruiser class ship, basically everyone choices science as their career to fill out the station. With Vizier being no exception.

The first station contains Hazard Emitters 1. This ability heals a number of hit points over a 15 second period. It also removes any hazard debuff that are on your ship at the time over activation or try to get applied during the 15 second period the ability is activated. Hazard emitters 1 also applies a damage resistance buff for that 15 second period. I choose this ability, as it is my standard ensign science ability choice across all my ships in Task Force Eleven, with Vizier being no exception.

The next ability is Science Team 2. This ability regenerates shields, as well as removes any science debuff for a period of 5 seconds. Science team has a cooldown period of 30 seconds. This ability was chosen over its shield boost capabilities, as well as its ability to remove science debuffs. Considering the NPC’s, I verse, it was a logical choice.

The next ability utilizes The Fleet Command Assault cruisers command hybrid boff station. In this station, I have slotted Concentrate firepower 3.

Concentrate-Firepower

This ability has a 180-degree targeting arc, and its primary focus is boosting kinetic damage capabilities. As you can see in the above screenshot, its marks a foe for extra kinetic damage, that has a 100& shield penetration. Also, while active, once per 2 seconds, it grants a Torpedo High Yield 1 to one damager (could be Vizier, or a teammate I am with) and resets torpedo cooldowns.

I choose this ability for several weapons. One, with Vizier having a more focus towards torpedoes and kinetic damage than Zuikaku, it made a logical choice to enhance this ability. Also, with my specialization choices of Command (discussed later in this piece) it further added to Vizier’s kinetic capabilities. Second, Vizier was envisioned as a ship capability was placing down-road a large amount of high powered torpedoes to a target very quickly.

During tests and STF missions, several times I have been able to launch between 6 – 12 torpedoes at a single target, with help from this ability. It also tries to ensure that Vizier can keep firing torpedoes as quickly as possible, to keep a targets shields and hull under constant threat. Considering the torpedo loadout of Vizier, I have chosen.

Lieutenant Engineering

Lt-Engineering.png

The next stop on our tour, is Vizier’s engineering BOFF station. The first station contains Engineering Team 1. This ability has two effects. First, it is an instant hull heal that is applied to the ship. Second, it repairs disabled systems (power systems) over a 5 second period. This ability is pretty much a standard choice for me in any ship that has an Engineering BOFF station.

This abilities hull heal, is affected by the hull restoration skill points you have in your skill tree. With the choices I have made for Vizier, this ability heals 9,100 hull hit points – or roughly 10% of Vizier hull total.

The second ability, is reverse shield polarity. Called the “Green/Brown Nappy” back in the day, this ability is more known for being a “oh shit” button. This ability, when activated, converts 50% of incoming energy damage into the ships shields for a 12 second period. It also makes the target immune to teleport for that twelve second period as well.

This ability has a 2-minute cooldown but is very powerful when a ship is under constant energy damage attack and can very quickly regenerate a ships shields back to maximum. Due to its long cooldown, it is considered an ability to be used when your ship is at medium to low hull hit points, with shields on the verge of collapse. I choose this ability considering Vizier’s weakness in her shields, as well as lower hull hit points and resistance compared to Zuikaku. As a result, keeping Vizier’s shields up is much more critical than Zuikaku.

Ensign Tactical

Ensign-Tactical

Next, is the ensign tactical station. Being an ensign level station only, there is only one choice I made – Tactical team. Tactical team is considered a “must have” on every single ship, and every single build without exception.

Tactical team removes hostile boarding parties, and tactical debuffs over a 10 second period. The ability also adds an additional +18 skill points to Energy weapon and Projectile weapon over a 10 second period. However, one of the greatest additions, is that it redistributes shield strength to shields receiving damage over a 10 second period. Basically, if a ship has 15k shields for each facing, this ability turns a single shield facing into potentially 60k shields.

The cooldown on Tactical team is usually 30 seconds. However, I have been able to get the cooldown to the global of 15 seconds by using the following DOFF officer on my active space doff officer list – Conn Officer.

DOFF-Conn-Officer

I have two of these officers on my active DOFF space list. As a result, my cooldown for tactical team goes from 30 seconds to 15 seconds. Essentially meaning I can keep using this ability almost back to back without any breaks in between.

Lieutenant Commander Tactical

Next, is Vizier’s second biggest station, and basically one of her most important. Vizier’s Lt Commander Tactical Station is quite a break from Zuikaku’s,

Lt-Command-Tactical

Originally, for the last 2 1.2 months, Vizier has been using Beam: Fire at Will 1 in her ensign slot of this station. This was on par with Zuikaku as well. However, 2 days ago, I had a brain wave, and decided to go in a new direction. This new direction would be quite a change for myself, and how I have operated beam cruiser builds in the past. I was going to utilize Beam Overload outside of PvP.

Beam Overload 1 had quite a change in Season 13, changing from barely used, to potentially being of close to the same benefit of Beam Fire at will. Beam overload now increases you next beam attack to 470% of its normal damage. Potentially turning a normal 1600 damage beam attack into a 9000 attack even before critical chance and severity would come into play.

However, the second side effect of this ability, is a unique one. It upgrades all of your normal beam weapons to do 30% extra damage and critical severity for the next 10 seconds. This further enhances this abilities against a single target, especially if it is a harder target or boss level.

I made this change, just recently, because I decided to go in a new direction. I decided to attempt a more rapid turnaround of Vizier’s beam attack capabilities, in an attempt to get more damage more constantly. The aim being that in a 60 second period, to get more beam special attacks in compared to normal.

This has its risks, as I am most likely losing out on AOE damage capability with my beams, to get more damage overall on either a single target, or more damage overall. Time will tell how effective this change will be, as well as how much this will affect Vizier’s “DPS” rating.

The next ability is torpedo spread. This is another change compared to Zuikaku who uses Torpedo High Yield in this station. Torpedo Spread upgrades you next torpedo attack. Depending on the ability level, it launches multiple torpedoes at multiple targets. This ability is great when your torpedo has special abilities that are more effective when targets are bunched up.

Considering Vizier’s torpedo choices, this choice was a no brainer, as it enhances the unique torpedoes I use on Vizier. However, this ability does not affect “clicky” consoles. No Vizier torpedo console does not get an upgraded attack.

The final station is similar to Zuikaku. Beam: Fire at Will 3. This ability when activated upgrades your beam attacks for the next 10 seconds. Your beam weapons fire two random pulses per pulse, and pulses five times instead of the regular four. These strikes are random, and will strike any target within your weapons range regardless of if you have them selected as a target.

However, there are downsides to this ability. One, weapons deal 90% of their normal damage per shot. Additionally, the beam attacks suffer a degrade in their accuracy rating. Meaning they have an additional chance of missing their targets.

This ability was again a no-brainer, as while the ability has downsides, I had used Beam Fire at Will 3 to great effect for years on Zuikaku.

SPECIALIZATIONS

Specializations are an additional benefit you can unlock for your character. These abilities and additions add extra capability to ships and captains within the game. You can have one primary, and one secondly specialization.

This is one area that didn’t change from Zuikaku to Vizier. Both ships use the same specialization, with no differences. With my primary specialization being “Command” and my secondary being “Strategist”

Primary Specialization – Command

Specialization-Command-Officer

Command, or Command Officer, is my primary specialization. This specialization is really built towards a multi-role sort of captain. Providing boosts to the team, as well as the player themselves. These boosts include both defensive and offensive. Effectively being a Command officer.

The base specialization itself, provides additional maximum hull capacity based on the amount of points you have spent within the specialization. Since I have spent all 30 points in this spec, it grants me an extra 15% in maximum hull hit points on any ship I select. This was one of the primary reasons I choose this specialization several years ago, for its defensive capabilities.

However, there are other reasons I choose this specialization, of which, several I will go through with you now.

Achilles Heel 3

Achilles-Hill-III-Damage-Resistance-debuff

Achilles Heel 3, provides an extra debuff against an enemy target when I land a critical hit on them for a 10 second period. This ability grants a -25 damage resistance against a target I hit. The effect can only trigger one every 30 seconds maximum. Granting a potential rough 33% debuff time against a target per minute.

This provides my ships, which were mostly built with defensive capabilities in mind, a chance to land debuffs against targets I am attacking. Debuffs, which normally, my ships do not carry in the terms of captain or BOFF abilities. Additionally, this effect helps my teammates. Adding a damage resistance debuff, means the more damage orientated members of my team can used their ships strengths even more, without necessary having to rely on their own debuff abilities.

Additionally, with Vizier built with firepower in mind, this part of the Command specialization, helps a lot.

Debilitating weakness II

Debilitating-Weakness-II

A part of the Achilles Heel debuff, debilitating weakness applies when Achilles applies. However, this part of the command specialization has a different effect. For a 10 second period, it reduces outgoing damage by foes by 40%. Meaning foes hit by this ability, their weapons become less potent. This is a great addition, and while hamstrung by the fact it needs Achilles to function, it is still a welcome addition.

Mainly, because in my mind, the most effective time with this debuff, is against harder or boss level targets. Who, usually, have several nasty damaging abilities and firepower at their disposal. Additionally, with Vizier’s weaker defenses compared to Zuikaku, less outgoing enemy damage, means she has to weather less incoming, which is always good.

Boost Morale

Boost-Morale-II

Boost Morale, is a clickable ability that is part of the Command Specialization. It effects yourself and all teammates with an ongoing removal of all forms of defuffs and control effects for a short 4 second duration. This allows for great team capability, and can assist in situations with your normal BOFF abilities, that might be able to remove duffs might not be available.

This clickable ability, with a 2-minute cooldown, has been a great addition to Zuikaku’s build, as well as Vizier’s. Having an additional backup debuff removal capability, and one that removes all debuffs, is a great emergency reserve. Again, considering Vizier’s build type being more offensively minded, ensuring I can get Vizier out of trouble was a major consideration.

Especially considering Vizier’s defensive capabilities compared to Zuikaku, being debuff, for any substantial length of time, would be potentially fatal.

With Command specialization out of the way, we know move to my secondary specialization – Strategist.

Strategist

Specialization-Strategist

Strategist, is my secondary specialization. This specialization is more built towards a single player’s build, and really does not have any effects or abilities that can be added to the team. However, Strategist does have several abilities and boosts that are quite beneficial to the Vizier.

Every point slotted in Strategist, provides extra maximum shield capacity. With all 15 points slotted in strategist, it provides an additional 10% maximum shield strength to any ship I fly.

Again, I will show you several of these boosts and abilities.

Logistical Support III

Logistical-Support-III

When using or not the ability Threatening stance, logistical support III comes into play. This part of specialization provides a boost to temporary hull for a 10 second period when threatening, or a boost to critical chance for a 10 second period after an incoming bridge officer or captain ability heal.

Since a lot of times, I am in a threatening stance, this means I gain temporal hull for a 10 second period, which can stack up to 10 times. This boost is 30% of the incoming bridge officer or captain hull healing amount. This provides an extra hull hit point buffer for Vizier, meaning that if I am hit, the points are deducted from the temporary hull first, before being applied to my ship.

This defensive boost also gives me a bit of emergency redundancy when I am at low health. I can have this effect apply, utilize Vizier’s speed capability and extend the range out of danger. All the while having the temporary hull hit points take the damage first.

Attrition Warfare

Attrition-Warefare-II

Attrition Warfare, is one of the key reasons I choose this specialization. Attrition warfare, while threatening, provides a reduction to bridge officer recharge times by 20%, once every 30 seconds. This has the effect, of when I heal myself, the boff abilities that are on cooldown get a reduction on their cooldown timer, if it isn’t already at the abilities global.

This was an excellent choice for Zuikaku back in the day, as it allowed my BOFF abilities to be cycled quicker, as I was the constant source of attention. The same is said for the Vizier. With her bridge officer abilities even more crucial, having the capability twice a minute to reduce their cooldown by healing myself is very beneficial.

I haven’t had much experience with using the part of strategist when not threatening, so it will be interesting to see what effect the bonus to shield regeneration and hull regeneration effect would have.

Counter-Offensive III

Counter-Offensive-III

Counter-offensive III is a part of the strategist specialization. Once every 20 seconds, when struck by directed energy damage, Counter-Offensive III deals 10,000 electrical damage to the target with 50% shield penetration. This only happens once every 20 seconds, and only applies to one target, regardless of how many are targeting you.

This is another reason I choose this specialization. This is a minor additional boost to damage that flies under the radar. Due to its low damage capability, it would not be noticed very often. However, in Vizier’s case, any additional damage is well welcome. It also assists with higher level targets or bosses, where any damage is needed to target them down in time.

Conclusion

This concludes the third week of the USS Vizier – Building the Next Generation Blog, as well as the general build blogs for the Vizier. I hope you enjoy the blogs. I do have plans for further blogs, which will include some areas such as

Advanced Tactical Theory – Four into Three

USS Vulcon – Experimental Laser Pointer

USS Zuikaku – Phase Two

I hope you look forward to them. As always, I am always open to any questions you may have.

 

USS Vizier – Building the Next Generation – Week Two – Console Stations.

Welcome to Week Two of the build blog for the USS Vizier, my newest flagship in Star Trek Online. Funny enough, today is the one year anniversary, or birthday of the USS Vizier. One year ago today, I started a process, that would take me in a new direction.

Additionally, you start to see, how this starship that has only has 8 weapon slots, is actually armed with twelve weapons 🙂

Introduction

In the previous week’s episode (USS Vizier – Building the Next Genertation – Week One – Weapons and Gear) I explained the base weapons and primary systems of the USS Vizier, the ship that replaced USS Zuikaku as my flagship come Season 14.

This week, we explore the USS Vizier’s console stations. Being a Fleet Command Assault cruiser, able to be purchased from a Tier 5 shipyard, makes her one of the last fleet ships a fleet can unlock. The fleet ship variant has a 5 engineering, 2 science, and 4 tactical consoles.

Of course, with the Vizier, she is unique with how I use those console slots.

Engineering Console Stations

Being a cruiser, the Vizier has the largest number of engineering consoles compared to the other 2 career types on the ship. With 5 stations, it gave me incredible flexibility with how I approached the Vizier. For the first time, I would be using the engineering console stations, with consoles that weren’t even dedicated engineering consoles.

Or, as the larger community would put it, Universal console dumping land.

Incremental-Phase-cloaking-device

The Incremental Phase cloaking device, is the console that comes with the C-Store T6 Intel Assault cruiser, or the Archon class for short. This console is part of a three-piece console set called – Starfleet Assault Cruiser Technology, of which the USS Vizier has two of the three pieces within the set. This console has several unique features, but by large, the community ignores the console due to what they believe is “incompatible” with the current in-game meta. This is for a combination of factors, of which some I will go into detail during this blog post.

The console itself, grants a +1% critical chance boost to your ship. This is roughly 60% of the critical chance boost a MK XIV (Fourteen) Spire Tactical console would give you (1.8%). This boost, is relatively small compared to other critical chance boosting consoles, abilities and traits within the game.

The consoles second boost, is a +50 boost to Starship tactical readiness skill. This skill, improves Tactical Bridge officer ability cooldowns. A +50-skill boost, by itself, usually equates to roughly 10% of a tactical BOFF ability cooldown in my experience using this console. So, if you have Torpedo High Yield, its 30 second cooldown becomes 27 seconds. Now, 10% might not sound like much, but it can be very beneficial to get your tactical abilities operating quicker. Though, as with the critical chance, there are several consoles and starship traits that can offer something similar.

The console’s main purpose is its “click” ability, which has a base 2-minute cooldown. When activated, the console has several abilities and occurrences that take place within a 15 second period. One of these abilities, is for 15 seconds, the console “taunts” up to 5 foes, within 5 km of your ship for 15 seconds.

The first set of abilities, occurs within the first 10 seconds. The first ability, is that your ship becomes immune to all energy damage fired at your ship. The second, is a debuff that occurs against your own ship. Your outgoing energy damage is reduced by 50% for 10 seconds as well. For any major ship captain, this is severe, especially for captains chasing DPS (Damage Per Second) records.

After 10 seconds, another series of BUFFs and Debuff occurs, of which all of these occur against your own ship. Your ship gains a stealth boost for a 5 second period, making you harder to detect and attack (For Vizier, the boost is +4,805 to Stealth). Also, your ship cannot be targeted for 5 seconds, and console damage is removed for 5 seconds. Another BUFF that occurs is your ship becomes immune to all damage sources for a 5 second period.

Two debuffs occur however. One, your ship cannot launch any hanger ships for a 5 second period. However, since Vizier doesn’t have hanger pets, this doesn’t affect her in any way. The second debuff that occurs, is that your ship weapons go offline for a 5 second period.

However, this console is a unique for what it offers, and what effects it has. I choose this console has it was a decent console, that also unlocked the two-piece set of Starfleet assault cruiser technologies, of which will be described in a later blog. But as related above, this console is pretty well completely ignored by the larger community, for several reasons.

One, it drastically reduces your damage output for a decent period. For most of the community, which chases DPS over everything else, this console is ignored completely. Plus, a lot of the consoles boosts can be obtained with other BOFF abilities, consoles, and starship traits without the downsides this console has.

Now, after all of that, why did I still use this console? Firstly, it unlocked a set piece which is useful. Also, for all its flaws, the console can still be used and worked into Advanced and Elite content, provided, you build your ship to make up for the consoles shortcomings. Properly utilized, this console can drag argo away from more fragile members of the team. For Vizier’s build, this console has its place. Also considering Vizier’s speed capabilities, and turn rate, this console can bring her out of danger, but at the same time, still drastic the enemy with a hard to kill target.

Metreon-Gas-Warhead-launcher

The Metreon Gas warhead launcher, is a console that is available from the T6 Command Assault cruiser. At the moment, this ship can only be obtained through the Whizkids promotion and is currently not available in any other format. It was this console and ship variant that started me on Vizier’s journey, and it is a decent console. This console like the Phase clocking device, forms part of the three-piece set called Starfleet Assault cruiser technology.

The console itself, provides a 15% flight turn rate boost, this is base turn rate on a ship, but is still a nice boost to make a ship more maneuverable. Second, the console also provides a +50 Starship engineering readiness skill. This skill, improves engineering bridge officer cooldowns. Like her sister console, this boost is roughly a 10% reduction on the cooldown. For example, Engineering team, with a 30 second cooldown, is reduced to 27 seconds.

However, the consoles biggest draw card, is its Metreon Gas warhead torpedo launcher. This console has a 180-degree targeting arc and launches a slightly slower moving torpedo. The torpedo does its initial kinetic damage upon striking its target (in this case, that damage is 6,698 for Vizier). However, once it strikes its target, it creates an unstable metreon gas cloud at the target, which expands over a 3km radius. For 6 seconds, all targets within the cloud, receive plasma damage that ignores shields. Also, the target/s receive a turn rate (-75%) and impulse speed (-66%) debuff, as well as disabling any cloaks for those ships.

The torpedoes second ability, occurs after those 6 seconds. The unstable metreon cloud detonates, dealing massive damage to all targets within the 4km detonation range. Targets within this detonation, receive a large plasma damage (16,761 for Vizier), as well as an additional smaller plasma damage that occurs every 0.5 seconds for a 3 second period, which also ignores shields. The console itself, has a 2-minute cooldown.

This console was chosen for several weapons. First, it formed part of a 3-piece set, that with two pieces gave a nice bonus to USS Vizier’s stats and capabilities. Second, this is an additional weapon at Vizier’s disposal, which can be used in a nice arc (180 degrees). Coupled with its AOE damage capability, that can be massively enhanced when Vizier is teamed up with a science starship, the console was a definite choice for inclusion.

Quantum-Phaser-converter

The Quantum Phase Converter, is obtained from the Featured Episode “Sunrise”. The console provides several useful boosts, as well as being part of a three-piece gear set called Quantum Phase Catalyst, of which Vizier has all three pieces.

The console’s first bonus, is to Phaser damage. The console provides a +22.5% phaser damage boost, of which Vizier uses due to her Phaser weapon compliment. The console also provides a small +3.4 auxiliary power setting boost, which helps increase Vizier’s healing abilities. Third, the console provides a +33.8 starship drain expertise skill boost. Drain expertise skill improves energy and shield draining attacks, as well as resistance against said attacks. Considering Vizier’s weapon load-out, as well as the NPC’ she faces, this boost helps her build out in several crucial areas.

Another passive ability the console grants, is an Auxiliary power hot restart function. This function, automatically removes all auxiliary power disable conditions on the ship. However, it can only be used once every 60 seconds.

As related above, this console was chosen for several reasons. The phaser damage boost, drain skill expertise increase, as well as the three-piece set bonus. This console is incredibly valuable with what it provides to the Vizier.

Mining-Drill-Laser-Emitter

The Mining drill laser, is available to Romulan players by obtaining the Kelvin Timeline T’Laru intel carrier warbird. For Federation players, and myself, the console was obtained from the console pack – Proton charge launcher/Mining drill laser. This pack is available from lockboxes, as well as the exchange. This console forms part of a four-piece equipment set called “Alternative timeline”, of which, USS Vizier has two pieces.

The console boosts current and maximum shield subsystem power by +3, as well as increases a ships shield hit points, of which USS Vizier receives a +14.2% increase. However, the console’s primary boost or ability, comes from its “click” ability.

The “clicky” is a drill laser that does kinetic damage over a long period of time, and can last upwards of a full minute before it will deactivate (you can deactivate it manually). Over time, the target suffers increasing kinetic damage, that has a 50% shield penetration. The target also suffers an all damage resistance debuff that increases overtime as well. For Vizier, this debuff increases from 0 to 60 over the full minute.

The console also has a unique recharge timer, which is 2 seconds for every second spent damaging a foe. For example, if you only use this console against a target for 15 seconds, the cooldown will only be 30 seconds. This is a unique characteristic, as most consoles, will have full 2-minute cooldowns regardless of how long they are used. This increases the consoles usefulness for short sharp kinetic attacks, without suffering a long cooldown penalty.

I choose this console for several reasons. First, the default bonuses for nice additions to Vizier’s build. Second, the kinetic capability of this mining console is very useful. While not high in damage capability, the ability increases overtime, and can start to become very dangerous the longer it is applied to the target. Also, the damage resistance debuff is incredibly useful in team situations, to assist the rest of the fleet with taking down the target.

Third, the console forms part of a 4-piece set, of which the Vizier has two pieces. Even at two pieces, the two-piece set bonus is very useful for Vizier. Coupled with the consoles unique console cooldown after use, makes this console incredible valuable. However, it does have a drawback that it needs to be maintained against a target for long periods of time to become useful. This means, most times, the best use of this console is against dreadnought or boss level NPC’s.

Broadside-Emitter-Arrays

Broadside emitter arrays, can be obtained by purchasing the Kelvin Timeline Intel dreadnought from the Lobi store for 900 Lobi, or by purchasing the ship from the exchange. This console forms part of the four-piece starship set called “Alternative Technologies” of which Vizier has two pieces.

The console provides a +3 current and maximum weapon subsystem power boost. The console also provides a 17.8% power recharge speed for Captain abilities. Effectively meaning, it reduces the cooldown of my captain abilities such as EPS power transfer. However, the consoles main ability comes from its “clicky”, which has a 2-minute cooldown once used.

The ability, is called “Broadside cannon barrage”. This ability fires at a random foe left or right 90-degree arcs of your ship (or your broadside). This ability fires 10 times per second for a grand total of 60, utilizing phaser damage against a target. This provides a decent small boost to damage against a target you are broadsiding against. Coupled with Beam Fire at will, this can create a big display of firepower in a relatively short period of time.

This console was chosen, for its DPS capabilities, as well as being part of a two-piece set piece that would be beneficial to the Vizier. Another reason for this console being chosen, was its ability to put down massive firepower within a short period of time, with the intent to overwhelm the target’s capability to resist or react. Coupled with the Captain ability cooldown, this console was a useful, if expensive choice for Vizier.

Science Consoles

Next in this build blog, is the Science consoles for the Vizier. With only two consoles, this section of Vizier’s build was the most difficult to choose from. As I had to ensure that what I choose complimented the ship, without exposing too many fatal weaknesses. With only two consoles, massive amount of choices, and a lot of areas to cover for Vizier’s build, it was difficult.

Science-Console-Temporal-Disentanglement-suite

The Temporal Disentanglement Suite, is a console that is available from playing the Featured Episode “Butterfly”. This console also forms part of the three-piece set called “Krenim Temporal Manipulation”, of which Vizier only has a single piece.

This console, provides several boosts. First, the console provides a +4.5 auxiliary power setting boost, which increases healing abilities on the Vizier. The console also provides a +22.5% maximum shield capacity boost, which increases the Vizier’s shield hit points number. The console also provides a 3% shield resistance increase, which helps Vizier’s shields resistance incoming damage directed against the shields.

The consoles second boosts, are tied to the ships auxiliary power levels themselves. First, the console provides a +0 – 2.5% critical chance severity boost based on the Vizier’s auxiliary power levels. At maximum auxiliary power, this boost is 30% more than you would receive from a MK XIV (14) Spire fleet tactical console. Second, the console also provides a +0 – 10% critical severity boost, again based off Vizier’s current auxiliary power levels. At maximum auxiliary power, this boost is 25% more than you would receive from a MK XIV (14) Spire Fleet tactical console.

However, one downside is that to get maximum boost from this console, you need to have your auxiliary power at maximum. While this can be obtained and maintained, it does take a bit of effort to do so.

I choose this console for the Vizier, due to the boosts you receive from the console. The USS Zuikaku uses the same console as well, and I have found it to be an extremely useful console, that provides a lot of benefits for the use of a single console slot. Basically, providing both a defensive and offensive boost at the same time. These type of consoles, are some of my favorites.

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The Sustained Radiant Field console is obtained from the Iconian Resistance reputation store, once you complete tier 1 of the reputation. This console also forms a three-piece gear set called “Radiant Armaments” of which the Vizier has only a single piece.

The console has several boosts, and is widely considered a “must slot” type of console considering what it offers to any ship it is slotted on. First, the console offers at Mk XIV a +23.8% bonus to hull heals, providing a nice bonus to abilities like Hazard Emitters and Engineering Team. Second, the console offers a +11.8% all weapon damage boost, which includes both energy and kinetic types. Third, the console offers a +23.8% bonus to shield heals, increasing the shield heals of BOFF abilities like Science Team and Emergency Power to Shields.

This console, with its several boosts to defensive and offensive abilities and weapons, was a must slot for the Vizier. As this console complimented her weapon capabilities and load out, while at the same time, helping increase the Vizier’s defensive capabilities. Considering the changes to Vizier’s build compared to Zuikaku, additional defensive boosts were considered a high priority.

The USS Zuikaku also has this console, and this console has proven its worth several times over the years since it was first introduced. Coupled with its relative easy to be obtained, this console is considered a mainstay in the majority of builds.

Tactical Consoles

Next came the easiest part of Vizier’s build, the tactical console slots. Unless a player is trying an extreme radical build, once you have chosen your weapon type, these consoles are the easiest to fill in. For Vizier, that was no exception.

Except for one small console 🙂

Tactical-Console-Vulnerability-Locator

First, was the standard tactical console. Able to be obtained from a Tier 3 Fleet spire store. The Vulnerability locator (phaser) increases a ships phaser damage capability, as well as increasing a ships critical chance percentage. Considering the multiple phaser weapons installed on the Vizier, these consoles, as in their nature, increase the Vizier’s damage to high levels.

The USS Vizier has three of these consoles in her tactical console slots, which leaves one slot open.

Tactical-Console-Counter-Command-Multi-Conduit-Energy-Relay

The Counter Command Multi-Conduit Energy Relay, is obtained by completing the featured Episode “Surface Tension”. This console also forms part of a four-piece set called “Counter Command Ordnance” of which the USS Vizier has two pieces.

The console boosts both phaser and disruptor damage, by +14.7% at Mk XIV (14) level. The console is also one of the few to boost radiation damage, with an increase of +29.5%. The console also improves photon projectile weapon damage by +29.5%. With the phaser and photon damage boosts, this console was a definite good choice for Vizier considering the combination of the ships phaser and photon torpedo weaponry.

Second, the console allows me to obtain the two-piece set bonus of Counter Command Ordnance. As not only did this two-piece set include a phaser damage boost, it also included a boost to the enhanced Bio-molecular torpedo that is slotted in one of Vizier’s aft weapon bays. While I could also slotted a fourth spire tactical console, the multiple boosts of slotting this console, in my opinion, more than made up for the reduced critical chance, and straight phaser damage loss.

Conclusion

This concludes the second week of the USS Vizier – The Next Generation build blog. Next week’s build blog will include the USS Vizier’s BOFF station layout, as well as the specialization’s I use for the ship. Compared to the Zuikaku, Vizier’s BOFF Stations are extremely similar.

However, it is still a good idea to show you how I have built the Vizier, and the interconnecting bonuses and synergies that occur with her BOFF stations and specialization.

One unique BOFF layout of the USS Vizier however, is her tactical BOFF stations. The USS Vizier, is the trial case for the “Advanced Tactical Theory – Four Into Three” Project. While this project wont be described in Week Three’s blog. I soon hope to have a entirely new blog dedicated to my tactical theory discussion, and why i decided to attempt something unique, and outside the community “meta”.

I hope you all look forward to it

Clear All Moorings: Gameprint’s 12″ Artisan Starship Unboxing

Reprisal-Crest

Mrs Koppenflak came home from work today with a surprise for me. A big fat brown box with lots of Polish post office markings on it. After a long trip half-way around the world, and months after the order was placed, my shiny new model of the USS Reprisal had finally arrived.

Was it worth the wait?

Among the first to pick up a ship from Gameprint was Foxman86, who is an associate editor on this blog. Unfortunately, his ship – the Zuikaku – did not survive the trip from Poland to Australia unscathed.

Zuikaku

Oh dear. This made me extremely nervous, as I’d already placed my order and was faced with very similar geographical challenges. It’s entirely possible that Gameprint has altered their packing since the very unfortunate incident above, and thank Spock for that, because these models are not cheap.

Let’s get the obvious benchmark out of the way. This is how Reprisal appears in Star Trek Online:

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One very traditional Yorktown class cruiser. And I’d have her no other way – the original Odyssey model by Adam Ilhe and Cryptic’s Adam Logan (now a developer at Bungie) was a wonderful evolution of the Enterprise lineage, and the Yorktown – a further development of the design by Thomas Marrone – in my opinion took the few niggling bugbears of the design and turned it into something really special. As far as my ship is concerned – let’s face it, if you’re going to get a model of the Enterprise-F, you don’t want to stray too far from tradition.

Let’s get started…

Packaging…

Ho Mama. Is this thing secure or what? The ship arrived in a big brown shrink-wrapped box, which contained about a kilogram of packing beads, which were protecting a big black, fancy Gameprint case, (which itself was nicely bound in bubble wrapping) which in turn contained high density foam, cotton wool, and a very securely padded starship that was bound by satin ribbon and foam paper to the bottom of the cut-out foam. Some peace of mind, then! I was already feeling good about this.

Ship arrived in one piece, safe and sound. I don’t think I had a lot to worry about on this. I showed Foxman the packaging before writing this, and he seemed quite convinced that Gameprint had dramatically improved just how they were shipping these out. Significant care was taken in getting this ship out to me.

The Ship…

Typical of 3D prints and other made-to-order casts, Reprisal is printed in resin, which is notorious for deformations that are caused as the material sets following printing. This was my second concern. There have been numerous reports in the community of models arriving with splayed or drooping nacelles and pylons. I’ve built model ships and have been in tabletop wargaming for over 20 years, so I’m more than accustomed to this phenomenon. That said, the print is remarkably clean. There is absolutely no trace of ‘scan lines’ that are so typical of many 3D printers, and while there was some minor bowing in the port nacelle (slightly visible in the last photo above) this was very easily corrected after getting out a hair dryer for two minutes and gently warming the pylon.

It’s a common problem with many Star Trek models that getting nacelles that are parallel and in alignment is difficult. So I’m pleased to say Reprisal is very tidy indeed:

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Second thing I checked was the surface detail. Based on the photos I’ve seen from others so far, it’s been difficult to determine just how good the bas relief and surface detail is on these models. It’s impressive just how much relief Gameprint has managed to get into this model, and says a lot about how good the translation process between Star Trek Online and Gameprint’s production line really is. Check this out.

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Every hull plate, every window, every lifepod and phaser array has been rendered crisply without a trace of flashing or visible stepping from the printing process.

This is one very clean model. I’ve uploaded most of these photos at 4k resolution so you can get a feel for the surface finish.

The underside, too – an area of 3D printed models that is sometimes lackluster – is very cleanly resolved and detailed.

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So what about size?

As advertised, the ship is exactly 30cm (12″) long from the end of the nacelles to the very tip of the prow. Here she is between a 1:1700 Bandai USS Enterprise-E and the Eaglemoss USS Enterprise-D.

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The Details…

There is a lot to love. I admit when I hit ‘submit’ on the ship order that I was curious to see whether Gameprint’s artists would actually attempt to replicate Cryptic’s lovely Type 7 ‘Aztec’ pattern when they painted the ship, but realistically, that was always a long-shot.

The paint work on the model is great. Individual hull plates are distinguished in a tasteful two-tone grey, while a dark charcoal picks out her secondary trim. The artists have clearly used a combination of primers and airbrushes to apply most of the base colours as the paint coatings across most of the hull are nice and thin, and under a microscope (or zoom lens) you can just make out the ‘orange peel’ pattern that you typically get from a spray gun.

Pennant lines, trim and other details are picked out nicely by hand-painted brush strokes and they even resolved my simplified fleet logo on the bow astonishingly well for this scale – freehand, no less! Yes, really. Here’s the stylised version:

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And here’s the bow:

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For an insignia that’s barely 4mm wide across the hull, that’s incredibly good!

That photo brings me nicely to the next point: hull markings.

The artists have used printed decals to pick out the ship’s registry in all the appropriate places. There is a little bit of bleeding on the name ‘REPRISAL’ above the registry number, but this is relatively minor complaint that I can live with. You can very faintly make out the edge of the decal markings in many places, but it’s been very well finished using microsol solution to reduce the tell-tale outline of the decal paper and secure it well to the surface of the model. For those non-modellers out there: that means they are not moving any time soon, and won’t slide free from surface contact with the hands.

The blending job on the simulated lighting around areas of detail such as the ship’s flood lights, impulse engines and bussard collectors is similarly very smooth. While I suspect the flood light was achieved through masking and airbrushing, I cannot tell whether hand brushes were used in other areas.

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Engine ports and other ‘glowing’ effects are topped in a high-gloss varnish to pick them out and give them a glass-like finish that works well, though that does mean that the sins of the surface smoothness are laid bare. The contours between impulse engines and their housings, or warp grilles and the nacelles, are not perfectly smooth – likely from where the enamel’s inherent viscosity has dried unevenly between the seams. Again, though, the glassy look is great and suits the style of the model.

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The free-hand line work around some of the Starfleet pennants is very fine, and clearly not achieved with decals. As far as I can tell, the only places where decals have been used are in places where numbers or names are printed onto the hull. While we’re are it – the bridge itself is a lot of fun, and is packed with little attentions to detail. The entire dorsal hull looks wonderful.

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The Verdict…

The big question is: Is it worth the price? I was fortunate enough to order the ship during the introductory price period in April, but factoring in the shipping and the exchange rate (about 75 cents to the US Dollar) this was not a cheap buy, and it’s only gotten more expensive since then.

As models go, this one is definitely on the high-end of cost. The Bandai Enterprise-E shown earlier in this article was a fraction of the cost of this ship, and as a Star Trek model it is hard to say with a straight face that the better part of what is now $500 US is a sum of money that I would part with again.

How much you’re willing to pay to have a permanent keepsake of your favourite Star Trek Online ship is going to be a very personal decision. I have played STO almost continuously since late 2010, and the vast majority of that time has been with the USS Reprisal.

Depending on what you want, the offerings from Eaglemoss for an Odyssey or Vesta may suit you just fine. Or alternatively, Gameprint now offers much more affordable full-colour 3D prints which aren’t going to be quite as detailed or as nicely finished as their artisan pieces.

The bottom line is: I am glad I bought this model, and I think I would have regretted it had I missed the introductory price point.

I will, in all probability, be ordering the less-expensive 3D models from Gameprint in the future. I will provide an update when that happens.

Until then, clear skies, Captains!

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Delta-v: Engine Efficiency

RamilliesSpeed

Soon I’m going to be posting my build for the USS Ramillies, but before that, I want to talk about an aspect of power management that some may not realise.

Efficiency, and how it’s applied.

‘Efficiency’, as a term of game mechanics, refers to a starship’s effective overall subsystem power levels against the amount of base investment that is needed to produce that number.

Subsystem power is one of the least-taught and most important parts of a ship’s performance, as it affects absolutely every last facet of its key characteristics, abilities, and skills that you use. A starship has four major subsystems – weapons, shields, engines, and auxilliary – and the amount of power that is available to each of these subsystems directly determines how effective each area of your ship is.

In general terms:

The weapons subsystem affects the damage output of all directed energy weapons (cannons, beams).

The shields subsystem affects both your shields’ innate ‘hardness’ (how much damage they can reduce through resistance) and regeneration rates.

The engines subsystem affects your speed and maneuverability (and consequently, your ability to evade certain AOE debuffs such as gravity well.)

The auxilliary subsystem affects the performance of your scientific abilities (such as the aforementioned gravity well, or perhaps sensor sweep) in addition to the effectiveness of many resistance heals and immunities – including Aux to Structural, Hazard Emitters, and Polarize Hull.

Each subsystem has a minimum power setting of 15 and a maximum power setting of 100.

Overall, a starship has – base – 200 units of power to distribute across its subsystems in whatever configuration its captain wants. By default, each subsystem will have 50 units of power in each of its four subsystems. Furthermore, the base stats of a piece of equipment will always display its expect performance against that 100 mark. If you have less than 100 power in a subsystem, then your equipment will not perform as well as its tooltip and stats suggests it can, but if you have more than that, then it can and will exceed its listed statistics.

Without using certain bonus modifiers (such as warp cores that may increase a subsystem’s power cap, or bridge officer abilities such as Overload Subsystem Safeties), a subsystem’s power can go no higher than a setting 125. With a maximum power investment of 100 – this is where the importance of efficiency becomes apparent, as it is the only way you will be able to maximise the performance of your systems and equipment.

If you invest in efficiency at all, you will see your starship’s subsystems can read well above the levels at which you’ve set them to. As a rule, all efficiency is subject to diminishing returns: the less energy you put into a subsystem, the greater the bonus power you will receive in that section. This bonus number decreases as you approach a power level of 75, and after that point – you receive no further bonus at all.

In a perfect world, your starship could have 125 power in each of its four subsystems and would perform exceedingly well in every aspect of its operations. Given finite power supply however, you will always be forced to weigh up your mission priorities, and compromises must be made.

It would be almost pointless to put efficiency skills into weapons, if that is a subsystem that is constantly run at over 75 power. Naturally, you’re better off spending that skill point on another system you intend to sacrifice – such as engines. (Sacrificing engine power to squeeze more out of weapons or auxilliary is a very common choice, and more often than not leads to engines running with a minimum of power.)

Power management is a discussion unto itself, and efficiency is a huge part of it, but the mechanics of efficiency have a tendency to guid other build decisions when the same word is used. In particular; with engines.

I have often heard it said that there is no point in running a hyper impulse engine that is ‘efficient at high power levels’ when there is no bonus to efficiency above 75 power. This is simply false.

There are – with a couple of unusual exceptions – three basic engine types in Star Trek Online.

Standard impulse engines are advertised as having no efficiency modifiers whatsoever and perform at a flat rate commensurate to the amount of power they are provided.

Combat impulse engines, the game tells us, are ‘efficient at low power levels’, suggesting that they provide better performance at low power levels than other engines.

Hyper impulse engines are similarly ‘efficient at high power levels’.

Given what we know about efficiency and power management in STO, with diminishing returns and disappearing bonuses at high power levels, how does that affect your choice of engines? The fact that there is no efficiency bonus above 75 power would suggest that there is very limited benefit to running hyper-impulse engines which benefit from ‘high power levels’, right?

If you assume ‘efficiency’ is governed by the same rules across the board, you would be wrong.

The same diminishing returns that affect your subsystem efficiencies have absolutely nothing to do with the performance of your engines, no matter what type you have chosen. And this can be demonstrated through testing.

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The above is a graph charted using my build for the USS Ramillies, using standard Mk XIV (common!) impulse engines of each of the three types.

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I used common (white), non-reputation engines for this test because – free of modifiers – they are a control that won’t be affected by more esoteric statistics, including [spd] modifiers or other rarity bonuses. This is as close to raw engine data as I can get without datamining, with stepped increases in power to assess performance figures. (Displayed across the bottom, with the ‘real’ power figure against the base power figure)

The vertical axis displays the ship’s registered impulse speed at the indicated power level.

I tried this test with Mk X, Mk XI, XII, Mk XIII and Mk XIV engines, expecting that perhaps higher marks could have different efficiency ratings. Surprisingly, the graph ended up identical in profile, and the pattern was repeated in each series.
The blue series is the standard impulse engine. The red series is the combat impulse engine, and the green series is the hyper impulse engine.

The combat impulse engines reach their ‘best’ power-thrust ratio at about 56 power, while hyper combat impulse engines begin accelerating more sharply past about 90.

In every single case: the point of equilibrium in efficiency for impulse engines is a flat number of 60. At this mark, all three engines perform identically in every respect.

Above 60 power, then the clear winner in all conditions is the hyper-impulse engine.

What can be concluded from this?

How much importance you put in your raw power levels is going to dramatically influence what engine you should be favouring. I’m going to go into power a lot more with the Ramillies and Reprisal builds, but the short answer is this:

If your engine power – through efficiency or choice – runs higher than 60 during combat (the time that matters most) then you you will get more benefit from a hyper or standard impulse engine mthan you will from a combat impulse engine, in all conceivable circumstances.

At endgame, it is unlikely that you will have less than 60 subsystem power as a Federation captain, and even less likely if you are an escort pilot running Emergency Power to Engines as a speed tanking skill. It is very difficult to recommend combat impulse engines when pursuing a Starfleet build.

During levelling, it becomes very easy indeed to recommend combat impulse engines. With limited power to invest, and very few efficiency skills, every point matters and combat impulse engines are an excellent choice between about levels one and 40.

Romulan captains (faced with Warbirds that have less power potential than equivalent Federation and Klingon ships due to the reduced power output of singularity cores) will likely find more utility from combat impulse engines.

As a final thought – just how dramatic is the difference between a Mk XIV common engine and a Mk XIV reputation engine, such as the Iconian resistance hyper-impulse engine?

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It’s significant, and at a glance,  the purple line (Iconian Engine) shows just how much better reputation gear can be over its basic equivalents.

Next time, I’ll talk about power and how it factors into the Ramillies and Reprisal as a basic requirement of design.

 

USS Vizier – Building the Next Generation – Week One – Weapons & Gear

Vizier front

Welcome Everyone

I am Foxman86, I am one of the Fleet Admirals of the 101st Fleet in the Cryptic MMO – Star Trek Online. the 101st Fleet is a casual group of STO players who have some light RP, ship building and just sheer fun. We are one of the fleets of the Equator Alliance/Armada. I am also one of the assistant editors of Shipyard 25, and I look forward to sharing with you my unique build styles and ships. My first series, is based on my current in-game flagship – the Tier 6 Fleet Command Assault Cruiser – USS Vizier. I hope you enjoy the first installment.

This ship was designed from July 2017 – Early October 2017, and launched as my new flagship with Star Trek Online’s Season 14.

Introduction

Vizier has had a unique build process. Originally, when i finally received the Whiz kid’s promotion code back in April 2017, I wasn’t sure what I would do with the ship, her unique console, and its potential.

Later, when chatting with Equator alliance members, I had a vision to attempt a battle cloaking sovereign build. Utilizing a fast-paced strike weapon that unloaded everything within five seconds, including the torpedo console.

I honestly had one or two thoughts regarding the build but didn’t really pursue it.

Next, I thought about uploading a general build to reddit/r/stobuilds, and discussion with them to bring the ship to a post Season 13 standard, with firepower being the primary focus, not defense.

There was a secondary consideration to this attempt. I had grown more and more concerned that USS Zuikaku, while extremely well built for her time, was simply falling behind with the changing requirements of some advanced and elite content.

Her tanking capability was second to none, being able to survive punishment that would destroy most other 101st fleet ships, as well as being able to hold the line until the more tactical ships could regroup, or push through enemy front lines.

However, her DPS capability, while still within the top 20 – 35% of all players, did rely on the group a lot to really perform. Also, her lack of speed, and turning capability meant she was increasing unable to be where she needed to be at crucial times or be able to react fast enough.

Simply put, the reddit build post idea was originally my attempt at placing a build that was a carbon copy of USS Zuikaku, and seeing what the best of the best came up with for the new generation.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be a betrayal against everything I had done with USS Zuikaku so far. The more I thought on it, the more I realised it was also time to build a new ship for the new era, or the next generation.

Without me realizing it, USS Vizier had begun her journey. As well as a journey, that in my heart, would take some time to come out and admit it to everyone in the 101st fleet.

USS Vizier would be, and was fully designed at the onset, to replace the USS Zuikaku.

Welcome to the USS Vizier Building Blog, titled “Building the Next Generation”. This will be a series of weekly blog posts explaining USS Vizier’s build. Going into deep details of her design, as well as her aims.

Welcome to Week One: “Weapons, Gear and Ohhh Myyyy”

Beam Arrays

Pulse-Phasers

USS Vizier is armed with four pulse phaser beam arrays. These weapons are from the Motion Picture Era movies, utilizing a sort of “pulse” barrage type of phaser attack. They were introduced not that long ago in the game by the devs of Star Trek Online in the Undiscovered Lock box.

They will be buffed by any bonus that increases all damage or phaser damage, but these phasers are unlike most other phaser variants. While most phaser variants have a 2.5% chance to knock out a sub system during their attacks, the pulse phaser beam arrays do away with this mechanic for something different.

These phasers have a 2.5% chance to apply “Phaser Transfer” to its target, and to the USS Vizier herself. Phaser transfer apples a -10 damage resistance rating to the enemy target, while also applying a +10 damage resistance rating to the USS Vizier. For the USS Vizier, this would be a roughly an increase of 3% in damage resistance.

This is a small buff/debuff type of perk. While the damage resistance debuff against my targets is small, it is something additional that can add an extra edge during engagements. It also gives my ship a potential edge during engagements as well. As far as I have been able to determine, while phaser transfer doesn’t specify its time, it is roughly a 5 – 10 second boost each time it is applied Also, so far, I have not seen any stacking limit.

I didn’t choose this weapon primary for its perk. I picked this weapon up because it was a different type of phaser array I hadn’t used before. So far, the weapon has proved to be very good during engagements.

Prolonged-Engagement-Phaser

The Prolonged Engagement Phaser beam array, was a reward for completing the weekend event Kobayashi Maru earlier in 2017.

Again the weapon is a unique phaser variant. During use, the phaser has a change to gain stacks of what is called “Amplified Relays”.

Amplified Relays have two procs or bonuses that can be applied during use. The first proc is that with each stack, the weapon deals 0.01% increased damage. Now indeed, this bonus is so small you would barely notice it. However, I suspect this proc is just the warm up for the secondary proc, which occurs after you gain five stacks of Amplified Relays.

After the fifth stack, the prolonged engagement phaser beam array gains a 20% firing cycle haste for the weapon for eight seconds. Firing cycle haste means that it will decrease the time between each shot the beam array makes, while maintaining the same number of shots per cycle. With a normal beam arrays firing cycle, it might do five shots in four seconds. With a buff to firing haste, it completes those five shots in three seconds.

As related above, this proc only occurs for this weapon.

Like the pulse phasers, I chose this weapon for a combination of the proc, as well as trying a phaser variant I hadn’t tried before.

Quantum-Phase-Beam-Array

The Quantum Phase Beam array is a mission reward item from completing the featured episode “Sunrise”. Like the Prolonged beam array, it also keeps its 2.5% chance to knock out a random subsystem on an enemy ship.

This weapon is also part of a three-piece set in STO called “Quantum Phaser Catalysts”. This set gives you the opportunity to gain additional bonuses and abilities for slotting each piece of the set. USS Vizier has all three pieces in her build, and I will be going into detail in a later blog regarding exactly what this set bonuses gives to USS Vizier.

The quantum phase beam array also has an additional unique proc. The beam array has a 2.5% chance to drain enemy shields to restore your own shields. The amount of drain against enemy shields is calculated by the amount of drain expertise skill you have on your skill tree. This provides a nice debuff/buff for the USS Vizier. Increasing my ships shields, while decreasing the enemies.

This proc does require a bit of effort to really gain a lot of benefits, but depending on the build, even small amounts of drain expertise can still gain a decent bonus for shields. A captain specced into full drain, will see a lot of benefits from this beam array.

I decided to use it on USS Vizier again for a number of weapons. The USS Ruby Rose, a cousin ship to the USS Vizier, also uses this beam array to great effect in engagements. Second, it was again a beam array I hadn’t use on my engineering toon. Third, the set bonus really applied to what I was aiming for with the USS Vizier.

All these factors, made this beam array the perfect choice for the Vizier.

Torpedoes

Quantum-Phaser-Torpedo

The USS Vizier is armed with two torpedo launchers (technically :)). The first is the second part of the Quantum Catalyst set, the Quantum Phase torpedo.

The Quantum Phase torpedo is a type of quantum torpedo. As a result, set bonuses, buffs and damage increases that increase kinetic or quantum damage, will improve the effectiveness of this torpedo. This torpedo has a 90 degree firing arc and is currently loaded in one of USS Vizier’s forward weapon slots. This will be explained in a later blog.

The torpedo, like its paired beam array, drains enemy shields – but with several differences. First, while you drain enemy shields, that is its only bonus, the drained shields do not return to the player, unlike the beam array. Second, the torpedo itself drains shields within a 2km radius of the target it hits.

The major difference, is how the torpedo changes when using the Tactical BOFF skills of High Yield or Torpedo Spread. When using these abilities, the radius of the shield drain increases from 2km to 4km. Second, using torpedo spread increases the shield damage when it strikes a target. This means, when paired with a science ship specced into EPG, the USS Vizier torpedo can become quite devastating.

I quite like this torpedo, as it helps USS Vizier with a major weakness that USS Zuikaku had, which was punching through the shields of a large or heavy target. This torpedo, is one of the outcomes of my analysis of USS Zuikaku’s weakness, and one I ensured that USS Vizier would do her best to cover. Second, as related with the beam array, slotting the torpedo made sense with Vizier’s build purpose, as well as the set bonuses I would gain. This torpedo has also been in use with Vizier’s cousin, USS Ruby Rose.

Enhanced-Bio-Molecular-Photon-Torpedo

The second torpedo on USS Vizier, is the Enhanced Bio-Molecular Photon torpedo launcher. This torpedo can be obtained from the Undine reputation system, at Tier 2. This weapon is also a part of the four-part set “Counter Command Ordnance”. USS Vizier has two of these four pieces, which again, will be explained in a later blog.

The Enhanced Bio-molecular photon torpedo (hereby known as EBMPT) is a type of photon torpedo. As a result, set bonuses, buffs and damage increases that increase kinetic or photon damage will increase the damage input of this weapon. This torpedo has a 90 degrees firing arc and is currently loaded in one of USS Vizier’s aft weapon slots.

This torpedo has two procs of effects that it makes against any target it hits. The first effect is a reduction of flight speed for eight seconds. This reduction in speed can be cleaned or removed. However, if the effect is not cleaned after eight seconds, it inflicts radiation damage on its target that completely ignores shields. This effect is boosted by skills, damage and abilities that increase radiation damage.

The torpedo is reasonably useful against NPC targets, but has extremely limited functionality against players who have multiple cleans and abilities to remove the proc. I chose this torpedo for two reasons. The set improves the Vizier in a number of key areas. With its decent normal torpedo damage, this is a fine torpedo to have for USS Vizier.

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Primary Ship Systems – Shields, Deflector, Impulse Engines & Warp Core.

With the primary weapons of the USS Vizier complete, we now move onto the primary ship systems. These are the USS Vizier’s primary stat drivers. When building USS Vizier, I attempted to use items I had not used before. I also decided to avoid most of the STO player meta that had occurred after the Season 13 re-balance.

I also intended as much as possible, to ensure whatever systems I choose not only increased USS Vizier’s primary build goal but also did their best to cover up the ship’s shortcomings.

Deflector

Prevailing-Innervated-Deflector-Array

The primary deflector of the USS Vizier, and quite a look for a deflector when the ship’s visuals are turned on, is the Prevailing Innervated Deflector Array. The PIDA is part of a four-piece set called “Prevailing Regalia” and is available from the Competitive Reputation from Level 50 onwards. This deflector forms part of a two-piece set of the Prevailing Regalia that is fitted on USS Vizier.

The deflector array is one of the variants of the Competitive reputation deflectors, of which there are a total of three variants. This reputation is the first to offer multiple variants of deflector arrays.

This first bonus is an +15 increase to Starship Hull capacity. This increases USS Vizier’s starship maximum hit points, giving her slightly more increase hull to survive and take damage. The bonus is a nice small additional to the defensive capabilities of the Vizier.

The next bonus is likewise an additional defensive bonus, granting +15 Shield Capacity. This increases the Vizier’s shield hit points.

The next bonus, is one I would doubt will ever be used, or beneficial to the USS Vizier – +10 bonus to Starship stealth. This increases a ships stealth and cloaking capability to remain hidden from starship sensors. With Vizier being unable to cloak, the benefit of starship stealth is minimum. While this does mean it might take an enemy slightly longer to target me, it doesn’t affect Vizier much.

The next bonus is one of the biggest reasons I choose this variant of the deflector: +40 Starship weapon specialization. Starship weapon specialization improves the critical hit chance of weapons, making them ever more likely to land a critical hit. A critical hit, which is based on critical severity skill points, can drastically increase a weapons damage.

This bonus increases the chance that Vizier’s weapons will land heavier hits. A +40 increase translates roughly to a critical hit chance increase of 1.8%, and while small, it is calculated per weapon, making her much for dangerous in landing heavy damage in a shorter periods of time. (Editor’s note: Starfleet ship captains will always struggle to maintain high critical hit percentages compared to Romulan captains. Every little bit counts.)

Due to the deflector being ultra-rare in grade, it also grants +2 auxiliary power bonus to the ship’s primary power levels.

Impulse Engines

Prevailing-Fortified-Impulse-Engines

The primary impulse engines of the USS Vizier are the second part of the two-piece set of Prevailing Regalia – Prevailing Fortified Impulse Engines.

Like the deflector array, the Prevailing impulse engines have three variants in the Competitive reputation system you can purchase.

The Prevailing Fortified Impulse engines (PFIE) offer decent bonuses to the ships flight speed and flight turn rate of the Vizier. These impulse engines also offer a thruster proc. If the ship engines are disabled the Vizier can still travel at 25% speed until the engines come back online.

These engines have a proc, called “Prevailing Engine – Overcharge”. When a hull or shield bridge officer ability is used, the ship gains several benefits for a 5 second period. This includes a massive boost to flight speed and flight turn rate, as well as increased defense rating (chance to dodge shots made against you). You also gain a +10% increase to recharge speed on engineering bridge officer abilities for 10 seconds. With the Archon-class Commander and Lieutenant Engineering BOFF stations, this can be quite a boost when factoring in the number of opportunities you have for this ability to confer benefits.

An additional benefit of this impulse engine is that the boost has no cooldown. Properly managed, you can keep chaining healing abilities to keep your ship moving at an incredible speed and turn rate for a significant amount of time. This does have drawbacks, as while you are gaining speed and turn rate, you are potentially using healing abilities when you don’t need to. This also means you run into the risk of not having these abilities available when you actually need them.

This speed and turn rate boost, even with its drawbacks, are a primary design point of USS Vizier. Turn rate and speed have always been a major problem for USS Zuikaku, being not fast enough, or able to turn quickly enough to meet or properly engage some threats. USS Vizier, with this engine, can a lot of times out turn and out fight a science vessel with a science captain. This has traditionally been one of the Zuikaku’s major threats.

Warp Core

Braydon-Reconnaissance-Warp-Core

The primary warp core of the USS Vizier – Braydon Reconnaissance Warp Core. This warp core can be obtained from playing through the Featured episode “Of Signs and Portents”. This warp core is also part of a four-piece set called “Braydon Reconnaissance Technologies”. The USS Vizier has two pieces of this set installed.

The Braydon Warp Core (BWC) has a nice bonus to Control Expertise. This bonus improves control effects (Gravity well, Tykens rift etc.) as well as improving resistance to those same effects. This means when the Vizier is stuck with control effects, she has better resistance against their damage and pull capabilities. It is a relatively small bonus, but is still a welcome and useful improvement of the ship’s stats.

The BWC primary bonus is increasing the Vizier’s auxiliary power levels when they are low, as well as allowing the Vizier to increase her maximum allow auxiliary power from 125 to 130. Auxiliary power helps with abilities such as healing and increasing the power of control effects. While Vizier is not built to utilize Control abilities, the additional power for heals is definitely appreciated, and needed.

Additionally, the warp core adds 7.5 points of Vizier’s auxiliary power to the ship’s engine power as a bonus. This increase further increases Vizier’s engine speed and turn rate capability. Finally, the BWC comes with an engine capacitor battery. When used, this battery increases engine power for 20 seconds, repairs offline engine systems, as well as cleanses movement debuffs. This capacitor has a 4-minute recharge timer once used.

I chose this warp core mainly for its bonuses for Vizier’s healing capability, as well as being part of a four-piece set that had bonuses that would build to Vizier’s strengths.

Shields

Braydon-Reconnaissance-Covariant-Shield-Array

The primary shield of the USS Vizier – Braydon Reconnaissance Covariant Shield Array. This shield can be obtained from playing through the Featured episode “Of Signs and Portents”. This shield is also part of a four-piece set called “Braydon Reconnaissance Technologies”. This shield is the second part of the set that is equipped on the USS Vizier.

The Braydon Reconnaissance Covariant Shield Array (BRCSA) has a relatively high capacity compared to other shields, with a below-average shield regeneration rate. Also, the shield has the standard 10% bleedthrough that most shields have, meaning when hit with attacks, 10% of the total damage dealt damage will bleed through to hit the ship’s hull.

The shield’s unique feature is seen when the one of the shield facings is fully depleted. Once a shield facing is depleted, the shields apply a flight speed and slight turn increase of 200% for 5 seconds. This effect can only trigger once even 60 seconds. But, this is a boost that applies to Vizier in case she gets in trouble, allowing her to extend or turn around fast enough to potentially bring an undamaged shield facing to bear.

This is one of the reasons I chose this shield. Having an additional boost to get out of trouble is always helpful. Second, I hadn’t used this type of shield before, so it meet criteria for something new. Third, the shield was part of a piece set that had bonuses that would work for the Vizier’s build. The lower regeneration rate is one of the weaknesses in Vizier’s build, and I have felt that weakness in engagements I would otherwise have not felt with Zuikaku.

Conclusion

This includes the first part of the USS Vizier build blog – Building the next generation. Next week’s blog will focus on the engineering, science and tactical consoles in use by the Vizier. Unlike the Zuikaku, Vizier’s console layout is pretty unique, and something I had not yet tried.

Additionally, you will start to see how this ship, the USS Vizier, has a combined total of 12 weapons at her disposal.

Hope you all look forward to it.  🙂

Flashback: Deep Space Encounters

OldESD
Earth Spacedock, as it appeared from 2010 until April 2014. Image Credit: RachelGarrett | sto.gamepedia

In 2010, Star Trek Online was a far less forgiving game than the one is played today. Today it is possible to travel through each of the galaxy’s four quadrants in single trips as part of a large, open map. But at the time of the game’s launch, it was a very different story.

At the outset of this opinion piece, I will say: I think Star Trek Online has lost a potentially amazing experience that cannot be repeated again in the game as it exists today. And I shall explain why.

This is my story of how an exercise in dipping my toes into the pool became an eight-year journey that continues today.

In 2010, the galaxy was divided into sector blocks – each of which was level-banded and matched to the levels you were expected to hit when you reached those territories in the course of story missions. This was far more in line with the open worlds of other MMOs: journeying through sector space to your next destination was fraught with risk and danger. Sector space was filled with hostile NPCs who would follow your vessel if you flew too close to them, and drew their attention. Of course, these NPCs were the same level band as the sector block they patrolled. Those around Federation space in the Vulcan sector were low level opponents, while those in the end-game regions around Deep Space Nine and Gamma Orionis were much higher; at levels 40 to 50.

Star_Trek_Online_Galaxy_map
The original sector blocks of Star Trek Online, showing the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, and their discreet divisions. Image Credit: Cryptic Studios, 2011.

Needless to say, for tyro captains in their first Miranda-class light cruiser, venturing (or more accurately, straying) into a sector well outside your level bracket was a hazardous and naively foolish thing to do. You could potentially find your Miranda venturing through Borg space at warp five, while a Borg Cube pursued you at speed better than warp nine. If you were not prepared for this, then what happened next was usually regrettable.

If you were intercepted by these hostile NPCs in sector space, you would be automatically dragged kicking and screaming into an open-instance deep space encounter wherein you would need to defend yourself against enemy ships, and then destroy them.

Either that, or they destroyed you.

And so it was in 2010 that the intrepid and daring Lieutenant James Hawkins of the starship USS Hyperion decided, after defeating the Borg at Vega colony, (ah, yes, the foolish delusions of badassey at level 10) and rescuing the badly-damaged USS Khitomer, that the single most important thing he could do in his fledgling Starfleet carrer was to see the universe and visit the most famous space station in the galaxy: Deep Space Nine.

Deep Space Nine, of course, resided right in the middle of a level-40 True-Way-infested rats nest of Cardassian and Terran piracy called the Beta Ursae Sector Block.

With orders from Spacedock to go investigate some silly Vulcan monastery on P’Jem, Hawkins instead ordered the Hyperion to take a right turn after leaving Earth and thus entered Cardassian space. Immediately, he set a course for Deep Space Nine. It didn’t take long for the ridiculously out-of-place Miranda-class starship to be spotted by Terran Empire starships that patrolled sector space, and it was pulled into a Deep Space Encounter at the sort of odds that even the imperious James Kirk might have thought better of.

Alas, there was no way the badly outdated engines of the Miranda class could escape the Terrans, and Hawkins resolved himself to the simple fact that in his brazen impatience to see Deep Space Nine, he was probably going to be atomized and have his debris scattered over the better part of a sector. Not without a fight, of course. (Indeed, this entire excursion probably began with the words ‘never tell me the odds.)

Fate, however, deigned that better things awaited the tyro Lieutenant.

The young and inexperienced captain couldn’t do much as the first wave of Terran ships that awaited him in this encounter opened fire. Level 40 phasers against a Mark-II uncommon standard shield array need to only fire one or two shots before your ship has sufficient air holes in its engine room (we swear it makes it go faster) to personally wave your head out of the hole and wave a white flag from the safety of a space suit.

Actually, that last part isn’t true. This was a dark age of Star Trek Online that predated the Nukara Strike Force, and thus I am entitled to say that back in my day, we didn’t have these fancy space suits (No, really. EV suits didn’t exist at this point). We had a plastic bag (which is now banned) and a fire extinguisher from ‘Researcher Rescue’. And we had to share the extinguisher.

The point is that my ship was unquestionably exploding, and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.

As shields failed and the hull was breached, a voice could be heard in the back of Hawkins’ mind. “Sir… there’s another ship coming in…”

I will take a moment in the retelling of this story to make something very clear: This actually happened.

Sweeping in front of the mauled USS Hyperion, a huge level-45 Sovereign-class assault cruiser let fly with more firepower than I thought was ever reasonable for a spaceship to have in a Star Trek game. Beams and torpedoes lanced through the attacking Terrans as the Assault Cruiser put itself between them and the appallingly out-matched Miranda. Before long, the Terrans were destroyed, and the Sovereign pulled alongside the ruined Miranda and began sending over as many engineering teams and hazard emitters buffs as it could find. I received a message from the captain of the Sovereign that was rather blunt. “You shouldn’t be here.”

I wasn’t exactly in a position to disagree.  I’d made a terrible mistake and promptly accepted the Sovereign player’s very kind offer to escort me back to a safer region of space. Dutifully, the kind player did indeed invite me to a team, bumped my level up to 45 to avoid the aggro of the other NPC mobs in Beta Ursae, and took me all the way back to the Sirius Sector Block, and the relative safety of Federation space.

Let it also be said that some of my fondest memories come from the occasions where I got to be the hero, and made some anonymous Star Trek fan’s day just a little bit brighter in deep space.

A couple of years later, Cryptic would finally remove these roving deep space encounters and replace them with the queued system for encounters that we have now. Too many players had decided that random pursuits through sector space were ‘ruining their fun’, and more’s the pity. The encounter of a vastly powerful Sovereign class starship swooping into save a hapless low-level Miranda is the kind of thing Star Trek is made of, and I hold that it’s a terrible shame that players will no longer be able to experience that sort of moment.

I took away one enduring determination from the encounter with that Sovereign. Oh yes… I would have that ship, and then it would be me doing the rescuing. Let it be said that some of my fondest memories in this game from the occasions where I got to be the hero, and made some anonymous Star Trek fan’s day just a little bit brighter in deep space.

That Assault Cruiser – whose name has been unfortunately lost to time – left an indelible impression on the kind of ship I’d want to fly.

That was when a brief look at a game that piqued my curiosity garnered my complete and undivided attention.

Welcome to the Yards

Hello, and welcome to Shipyard 25 – a project by shipwrights of the Equator Alliance armada to share builds, strategies theories, and opinions in Star Trek Online.

We hail from a number of different of different fleets, including the Southern Cross High Guard, (25th Fleet ‘Southern Cross’ in STO), Dark Allies, and 101st Fleet, and we are passionate about shipcrafting, with experience going back as far as the game’s launch in 2010.

It’s a different take on the usual discussions of the DPS meta. How and why? Because we’re first and foremost Star Trek fans, and the way we build ships reflects the things we love about the franchise. We often build to ‘canon’ specifications, we build to niches, and we build to have fun – all while being as effective as possible in a given brief.

We wager that if you want to build an excellent representation of the Enterprise, the Defiant, or any other starship that may have graced the television and movie screens, you will enjoy the ones we bring you in this ongoing project.

We’ll also explain our builds and their design decisions in detail, and may occasionally try to entertain with background, war stories, and history.

Also, we will look at the state of the game in periodic updates as new content, abilities, traits and ships head our way in game, and we’ll happily point you in the direction of community discussions, news and announcements.

Shipyard 25 is a blog, newsletter, guide and waystation on everything Star Trek Online – and in time, maybe a few other galaxies, too.

This project is in its early stages, and it’ll take us a while to work out a formula that works. Help us out! Let us know what works, what doesn’t, and what you want to see more of.

Second star to the right, and straight on til’ morning.

-Koppenflak