USS Vizier – The Next Generation II – Compass Flip

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Introduction

In the previous blog Vizier – TNG II – Review of a Radical Design that’s now several months old. I reviewed the USS Vizier’s radical design elements and how they had worked and hadn’t. This included issues in her six-month review back in April 2018. Now in December 2019 with the USS Vizier over two years old we look at where the USS Vizier is now. This includes changes to her design, elements added or considered. As well as detailing two fixes in her critical flaws of her build.

The Weapon Arc Problem

The Original Design

Having a twelve-weapon armed cruiser is something unique. As far as I know to my knowledge, I have not seen another build or entry into Reddit/STO builds or on the official forums. Then again, I don’t think many captains would think of such a crazy design when they could easily build a ship that could out DPS Vizier by factors of upwards of three to five times.

Straight to the point, this is where the Vizier suffers. While she is a swiss army knife in terms of weapons she losses out on the capability of dedicating resources to further weapons to make them more devastating. It is also the swiss-army approach regarding weapons used that causes piloting issues for the Vizier. Please note the below table taken from one of the previous blogs.

USS Vizier Weapon Arc
Fore Weapons Pulse Phaser Array 250
Pulse Phaser Array 250
Quantum Phase Torp 90
Pulse Phaser Array 250
Aft Weapons Prolonged Phaser 250
Pulse Phaser Array 250
Enhanced Bio-Mole Torp 90
Quantum Phaser Array 250
Misc Weapons Meteron Gas Warhead torp 180
Broadside cannon barrage *90*
Drill laser 360
Quantum Destablizing beam 135

Table 1 – Weapon Arcs – USS Vizier – June 2019

Above, you see 5 separate arcs across twelve weapons. Covering as small as an area of 90 degrees on the torpedoes to the full 360 on the Drill Laser console.

As you can see here with arcs spread all over the place it is a complete mess. This is even more critical when you consider the Vizier’s build type. She is at her heart a broadsiding cruiser. Broadsiding cruisers spend most of their time on a 90-degree angle to their target. This allows them to bring all their beam arrays mounted both fore & aft to bear.

However, with the USS Vizier having weapons that could only be fired in a frontal fashion this caused major issues. When I decided to use my QDB (Quantum Destabilizing Beam) or Meteron gas torpedo I had to be relatively speaking front facing my target. While this meant I could bring those weapons to bear I was cancelling out a significant part of my ships firepower by making my rear mounted beam array’s useless.

When I decided to broadside the opposite occurred. Most of my firepower was being utilized. However, I was not using my torpedoes or special weapons. Considering the blueprint of the design of the Vizier I was discarding one of her core design principals as flawed as it is. When I “dipped” Vizier’s nose to bring those specials to bear I was constantly in a conflicted state of when to disengage the maneuverer and return to broadsiding. Or;

A conflicted and distracted captain is a captain who is not performing at their full potential. Regardless of how many weapons a ship has strapped on.

The Retrofit

Sometime in June 2019 I decided and finally got time to investigate this issue. The problem had been nagging my mind for at least twelve months. But events in my personal life as well as the USS Zuikaku’s redesign meant I did not have time to devoted to Vizier’s retrofit.

Pretty quickly I determined the issue (as discussed above) and I asked myself a serious question. How to resolve this issue without Vizier losing her “uniqueness”? Vizier had already proven herself to be one of my top performing starships despite her issues. I wanted to keep her twelve-weapon design. The answer very quickly came to me.

Reshuffle Vizier’s weapon loadout to be forward facing and utilize omni-directional beam arrays and weapons wherever possible.

Vizier - Current Loadout Nov 2019

Image 1 – USS Vizier’s current loadout. Circa November 2019.

The first though was what beam arrays to keep and what to discard. With Vizier being redesigned to a forward-facing weaponized platform this meant her “special” beam arrays had to be kept as well as changed locations to ensure they could be utilized. As the special beam arrays contained special procs and abilities that would quite beneficial to Vizier’s design.

This meant the Prolonged Phaser beam array and the Quantum Phaser Array had to be shifted from aft weapon slots to forward weapon slots. This meant discarding two of the three forward facing Pulse-Phaser beam arrays which was easily done. The third Pulse-Phaser beam array remained as I quite liked the visuals of the weapon even after all this time.

But what of the aft facing weapons? First an Omni-Directional phaser beam array was obtained as I already had one from a crafting adventure back in 2018. The second weapon was added last in the redesign, but I will describe it first. The Kinetic Cutting Beam from the Omega Reputation system was a perfect fit. A 360-degree kinetic weapon that could fire regardless of where the Vizier was in relation to her target.

If this redesign has occurred within Vizier’s first year it would have been a lot more difficult to conduct this change. As you can only slot two separate energy based omni-directional beam arrays. This is usually One omnidirectional that is part of a set and one that is not part of a set. With a crafted (non-set) weapon already used I couldn’t use anything from a lockbox.

However, with the introduction of Gamma Reputation in June 2018 then tier 6 reputations which included alternate weapon flavors for reputation weapon sets. The Advanced Inhibiting Omni-Directional Beam array in Phaser format solved a critical issue. With the addition of the last weapon, USS Vizier’s weapons arcs current stand at the following.

USS Vizier Weapon Arc
Fore Weapons Prolonged Phaser 250
Pulse Phaser Array 250
Quantum Phase Torp 90
Quantum Phaser Array 250
Aft Weapons Adv Inhibit Omni Phaser Array 360
Kinetic Cutting Beam 360
Enhanced Bio-Mole Torp 90
Omni Phaser Array 360
Misc Weapons Meteron Gas Warhead torp 180
Broadside cannon barrage *90*
Drill laser 360
Quantum Destablizing beam 135

Table 2 – Weapon Arcs – USS Vizier – November 2019.

You still see 5 separate arcs across twelve weapons. However, they are more concreted towards frontal facing firepower.

With the retrofit of weapon locations Vizier was more focused towards a 90-degree frontal angle style of attack. Surprising during testing I discovered the Broadside Cannon barrage console would fire at ANY target within 90-degrees to Port or Starboard. While the text of the console says as much I honesty thought there was a chance you had to have a target highlighted within port or starboard for the console to function.

This meant, when in the thick of an enemy formation Vizier could reasonably engage with 11 out of 12 of her weapon systems. Additionally, the focusing of weapons to be able to hit targets within 90 degrees of the bow meant I did not have the issue of deciding of how to engage. It also meant I was not losing out on half my firepower to bring my specials into play.

The Thirteen Weapon

In Late November 2019 an idea stuck me during a lunch break at work. Could I reasonably add a thirteen weapon onto Vizier’s build without unduly affecting her build style or sacrificing too much for another “gimmick”? Ideas started to flow for what weapon or console I could use.

Quickly I remembered the Entangled Quantum Bombardment console from the Edison Class Temporal Warship that was released in July 2019. This console as a passive damage boost for your toon’s faction type (Fed – Phaser, Klink – Disruptor, Rom – Plasma & Jem Hadar – Polaron). Along with the weapon type boost was a boost to exotic particle generator. The consoles active however was what I was interested in.

The console when activated bombards a random foe in the forward arc (90-degrees) 16 times in 8 seconds causing radiation damage in a 3km radius that completely ignores shields. With the radiation damage amount being boosted by the amount of skill points in Exotic Particle generator. It was an active that fit in perfectly with Vizier’s build style. But which console to exchange for the EQB?

I decided to test exchange the Tactical Counter-Command Multi-Conduit Energy Relay console. Please note this picture was taken when the console was MK XIV and may not reflect their current stats of the console now.

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

I would not conduct any weapon tests. My first test was to look at the number changes for Vizier’s weapons between the two consoles to see if the EQB console could pass the first stage for consideration. As before I would even take it into the field I needed to determine if there were any serious issues. I was shocked at the results.

Console Fitted Damage DPS
Counter-Command Multi-Conduit 2072.8 1658.3
No Console 1899.7 1519.7
Entangled Quantum Bombardment 1940.6 1552.5

Table Three – EQB Feasibility Tests

Test numbers were conducted using the Prolonged Phaser Array as a reference. MK 15 Epic Quality weapon

As you can see the changeover to the EQB console causes a significant drop in the Prolonged Phaser arrays stats. On average looking at the numbers we see at minimum a 5% drop. When you consider the number of energy-based weapons on the Vizier and her design philosophy as an aggressive starship this is significant.

The drop is due to two factors. First, the Counter-Command Multi-Conduct Energy Relay at Mk 15 Ultra Rare (the consoles current state) she boosts Phaser damage (Cat 1 damage) by 16.4%. While the EQB console while “epic (she has no Mk level, nor can it be upgraded) only boosts phaser damage by 15%.  The kicker is where the Counter-Command console set comes into play.

With two items of that set slotted (Torpedo and console for Vizier) you gain access to the Bio-Molecular Instability set piece. This set gives a +7.5% Bonus to phaser energy damage (there are other boosts, but phaser is the only one that applies to Vizier). Now “Bonus” damage is a Category 2 damage boost. Category 2 is always one of the most sought-after damage boost types of any captain as it acts as a multiplier to your starship instead of a standard addition.

While the EQB console may look cool it was not worth what I saw as a significant combat reduction in Vizier for a short-term spike that could occur only 8 seconds out of every two minutes. While I had other consoles that are the same type they more easily integrated into Vizier’s build without any ill side-effects.

With that, and even before the console could be tested in a combat situation, I terminated the test. Vizier’s build just had too many threads entangled into one another that would working beautifully. To add another thread (or thirteen weapon in this case), I had quickly seen it would quickly cause major issues for no gains.

The Critical Severity Issue

Critical Severity - Fried Pickle

Image 2 – Critical Severity determines how quickly you can turn pickles to space dust.

As related in the previous blog Vizier had a severe critical severity issue. As a result of her design and other factors Vizier’s critical severity relatively speaking was extremely poor. Even with the endeavor system rewarding additional critical severity capability as of the beginning of November 2019 Vizier’s critical severity was still at a dismal 99.4%. Her critical chance was a lot better at 17.4%.

With Vizier’s weapon arc issue solved in June 2019, the 13th weapon test concluded and with myself still steaming along with tweaking and redesigning Vizier I immediately jumped straight into the critical severity issue. Enough was Enough, I had to resolve this major flaw in the Vizier.

I started to think of potential solutions. One of the first oblivious choice/s was critical severity consoles. However, in order to do that I would need to deconstruct Vizier’s uniqueness which immediately stopped that train of thought. I could redesign Vizier’s phasers with critical mods was I was not really interested, and it would not solve the overall issue.

After weapons came the oblivious answer. Utilizing a Protomatter Deflector array that came from the fleet colony. At maximum hull strength this deflector arrays provides a +4% critical chance & 15% critical severity boost to any starship it is equipped on. Removing the Prevailing Innervated deflector array meant skill point wise my Starship weapon specialization skill dropped to 71 from 108 (due to passive console boost loses and set piece losses).

Additionally, the Vizier’s hull points dropped from 104k to 99K (again skill point and set bonus related). In exchange however Vizier’s shield penetration skill points rose to 71 from 50 and her critical chance went to 21.3% from 17.4%.

The biggest change was the target point – Critical severity. After slotting the deflector Vizier’s critical severity jumped to 114.2%. To put this in contrast USS Zuikaku’s current critical severity is sits at 124% (In contrast Zuikaku’s critical chance is 16.8% compared to Vizier’s 21.3%)

Post refit - Vizier - critical severity

Image 3 – USS Vizier’s current Critical Values – Post retrofit

While loss of HP on the Vizier will diminish these bonuses there is no “zero value”. While I do not have the exact numbers, I remember at the lowest bonus point being 2% critical chance & 5% critical severity. Even these bonuses will assist the Vizier and it is highly doubtful I would allow Vizier to remain at low hull HP for any length of period.

Conclusion

The last six months have been quite a period for the USS Vizier. Several of her major concerns I have manage to finally address or resolve. She still relatively speaking her hull & shield issues compared to Zuikaku. However, considering Vizier is a fast attack style of design it is not a major concern.

A feature I will be looking into for Vizier is now her speed. With her equipped engines she has no problem getting to her target by using healing boff abilities to proc her engine. I am now going to investigate if I can relatively get the same sort of speed without using a “gimmick” engine. As my spider senses are tingling Cryptic will be swinging the nerf hammer on the Prevailing Impulse engines very soon.

How do you get, relatively speaking the same sort of speed from an impulse engine that is not a prevailing type?

Oh, that is quite easy.

I have already done something similar on the USS Zuikaku.

USS Vulcon – Part One – Flux Capacitor of Vestas

Introduction

Welcome to a continuing series of build blog posts courtesy of Shipyard 25. This week, I discuss the USS Vulcon. A Tactical T6 vesta style starship. This vessel is unique in her design, as she was designed entirely using a excel document, research of the STO wiki, all while I was in a comfortable hotel room in Japan in February 2018. Specially the city of Osaka.

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USS Vulxon, the expiremental prototype born out of a crazy idea in a hotel room in a foreign land.

The USS Vulcon is one of my primary starships on my Federation science captain named Karli. This character resides in the Equator Alliance fleet.

The Idea – Japan, Osaka – February 2018

It was an interesting time; I had been touring Japan on a 2-month holiday. Half-way through, I had a sudden idea to build a new class of vesta. I already had my flagship on my science toon Karli, the USS Kim Possible (Yes, I know, I know) that was a pure EPG auxiliary cannon armed Vesta, using the T6 Science vesta. The Kim Possible had been a ship of mine for over 5 years at this time and had continued to serve me well. Unlike the Vizier for Zuikaku, I had no intention of replacing the Kim Possible as the flagship on my science toon.

Straight away, I had started to design the Vulcon in words I would use later “For the sheer hell of it”. I would put as many forward-facing abilities and weapons onto the ship. Along with as many EPG, exotic and crowd control consoles and abilities. Efficiently was not my primary concern. I still wanted the ship to be successful in her build. However, I wanted to have some fun and see how crazy I could make the ship.

So, after 45 minutes of browsing STO wiki in my hotel room in Osaka I had come-up with the initial ideas. Of course, with me being a world away from home, it would be some time before I could see how efficient and effective the build would be. Below, is a copy of the notes I made back in February 2018.

USS Vulcon – Expiremental T6 Engineering Vesta class

 Esquiline Multi-Mission Strategic Explorer

 4 Tactical Consoles

 Universal – Isometric Dispersal Array

Universal – Quantum Field Focus Controller

Universal – Quantum Phase Convertor

 3 Engineering Consoles

 Universal – Sympatheic Fermion Transceiver

Engineering – Reinforced Armaments

Console – Universal Multi Target Tractor Arrays

 4 Science Consoles

 Radiation Bombardment Matrix

 Weapons

 Trilithium Tricobalt Torpedo Launcher

Trilithium Enhanced Phaser Turret

Quantum Phase Beam Array

Quantum Phase Torpedo

2 x auxillary dual heavy cannons

 Shields, Deflector, Impulse

 MACO set

 Warp Core

 Possible consoles

 Universal – Mycelium Ambush

 As you can see, considering this design was using an iPad there were several missing items. Other area’s I had not quite considered or would decide down the track. One thing to note is the multiple console and set bonuses utilizing both the T5 & T6 Vesta consoles.

The Crazy Scientist Begins

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Great Scott!

Come early March 2018, I was back home. Effectively straight away I started into the design and building of the Vulcon. I would describe the ship to my fleet and alliance mates as follows.

 A new experimental Vesta class just launched. She will be experimenting the use of a Tri laser tactical system, utilizing a Ying-Yang control system, integrated with dual deflectors.

 Now to a standard Star Trek Online player, they would be reaching for their universal translator. Multiple of my fleet mates asked this very question. At the time, I kept things very close to my chest. Vulcon has had several tests runs and missions. While she has not been used as much as the Zuikaku & Vizier, I was able to gather interesting data. For the purpose of this build blog, I will describe each section of her build and what my goal/idea was.

Tri-Laser Tactical System

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Vulcon’s Tri-Laser system undergoing proving ground testing in one of the New Romulan sector patrols. I frequently used these locations as the first part of building new starships. As they are nice easy testing zones.

The tri-laser system is a name I made up to describe one of the major functions of the Vulcon’s design. It is a series of three laser-based systems that fire either a burst or sustained beam against my target. The primary purpose being of a weapon system that is called into play once I have used gravity well and other exotic or control-based powers. The tri-laser system design is more focused on a single target than multiple. As the systems themselves can only be applied to single selected targets. For this reason, this system is more suited to boss type enemies and NPCs.

Quantum Field Focus Controller

The first piece making up the tri-laser system is the Quantum Field Focus Controller. This is a console that comes with the Multi-Mission Reconnaissance Explorer (C Store, T5 Starship). Due to the console coming from a T5 starship, it has no passive stats or boosts that apply. However, the console when activated applies phaser damage to a target for twelve seconds. The arc for this weapon is 45 degrees making it rather limited in scope.

Coupled with the lack of passive stat boosts, this console is a high price to pay to fulfil the role of this starship. Additionally, as stated the console only does phaser damage. I had already planned to build the Vulcon as a phaser-based starship. With my ship’s weapons at their current power levels, this console gives me 2,145 damage per second. Over the twelve second period, this equates to a maximum of 25,740 potential damage without boosts. Not the best total, especially coupled with the Vulcon’s design and limitations.

The QFFC console is the first part of the Tri-Laser system to be activated in my firing sequence. Due to the consoles longer firing period, as well as the unique properties of the other parts of the TLS.

Quantum Destabilizing Beam

 The Quantum Destabilizing beam makes up the second part of the Tri-Laser system installed on the Vulcon. This weapon is a result of slotting all three pieces of the Quantum Phase Catalyst set. In Vulcon’s case, this is the Quantum torpedo, the Quantum Dual Heavy Cannons and the Quantum Phase Convertor. Unlike the Quantum Field Focus Controller, the QDB has a much more forgiving arc of fire of 135 degrees. The beam weapon itself does phaser-based damage over a 10 second period, making it slightly shorter in application and firing.

However, the QDB has additional benefits compared to the QFFC. The weapon drains power from the enemy starship it targets while applying the same power it drains to your own starship. This drain is improved by skill points invested into the skill – Drain Expertise. Additionally, the phaser damage the weapon applies is much stronger than the QFFC. With the Vulcon’s skills and slotted equipment, I can get 4,756 phaser damage per second. Over the ten-second firing period, this adds up to a total of 47,560 potential damage without boosts.

Due to this set bonus firing properties and firing capabilities, it is the second part of the Tri-Laser system to be fired.

Heavy Graviton Beam

The Heavy Graviton Beam makes up the last part of the Tr-Laser system installed on the Vulcon. This weapon is the result of slotting all three pieces of the M.A.C.O. Space Set (Shield, Impulse Engines & Deflector). It is the only part of the system that is a single strike instead of a burst fire mode. Additionally, it is the only part of the set that deals kinetic damage instead of energy based. The HGB has the middle ground of firing arcs in the system, with a targeting arc of 65 degrees, placing it in the middle between the Quantum Destabilizing beam and the Quantum Field Focusing Controller.

The HGB when striking its target hits for 13,131 kinetic damage (50% shield pen), applying a repel to my target, which effectively means I push my opponent’s starship back and knocking my targets auxiliary, weapon and impulse engines off-line for 5 seconds. This damage and repel is boosted by the amount of skill points in Exotic Particle Generators & Control Amplification. For a science focused science captained starship, this can make the HGB especially devasting when buffs and improvements are applied.

However, the HGB is the most troublesome and problematic of the tri-laser system. First, it is a single strike weapon meaning it needs to be fired last. Additionally, due to the repel nature of the weapon, any attempt to use the weapon while my target is inside one of my gravity wells means there is a high probability of knocking a target clear of the gravity well effects and pull capability. This is especially true as abilities, console clicky’s and other boosts that improve gravity well, do the same for the HGB. As a result, sometimes I will not use this weapon as its risk’s outweigh the benefit in certain circumstances.

Several times, I have considered and still consider removing this system from the Vulcon. As it is more trouble than it is worth and the items I slot to enable the weapon could easily partly or entirely be changed for other items that would improve the Vulcon overall. While I did design this starship for fun, silliness and a theme, there comes a point where I have to consider the overall effectiveness of the starship is being too adversely affected.

Yin-Yang Control System

The Yin-Yang control system is a term I have used to describe the Vulcon’s second main system. It is a system that comprises a combination of the Vulcon’s exotic build with gravity wells, sunspace vortex and destabilizing resonance beam combined with a universal console – Multi-Target Tractor Arrays and the BOFF ability Tractor Beam Repulsors.

The basic premise of this system is throwing my enemies into a gravity well which sucks them into a small ball. Once the gravity well is nearing its end both the Multi-Tractor Beam Array console and the Tractor Beam Repulsor BOFF abilities are activated. This causes the target to bounce, or in this case Yin-Yang back and forth all the while suffering heavy kinetic damage.

The system is extremely experimental and even now almost 18 months from the system being initially conceived, still temperamental at best. Additionally, several times this system has caused me more problems than benefits if I decide to use this system at the wrong time.

Or, in words I would use two weeks after the Vulcon was initially launched on trials in March 2018.

The Yin-Yang control system is working pretty well. However, power distribution set up means that the “Yang” is a bit more powerful than the “Yin” at standard station keeping speeds. Forward movement resolves this issue quite a bit, but there are still signs of the imbalance. However, tests are still to be conducted with the third part of the Yin-Yang system, to see results, as well as how it effects the system balance.

Multi-Target Tractor Beam Arrays

 The Multi-Target Tractor Beam Array console is from the Sarcophagus Dreadnought Carrier starship from the Discovery Lockbox. However, being a Federation captain, I am lucky enough to be able to get the console from the cross-faction bundle box that comes from the lockbox, which is significantly cheaper. This console provides passively stat boosts to Energy Damage Resistance rating, Starship control Expertise and boosts a starships Flight Turn Radius.

The console’s active ability is that it randomly targets up to 3 foes within a 5KM radius every 2 seconds. During this time, Foes suffer massively reduced turn rate and flight speed, disables cloak and causes kinetic damage every 0.5 seconds. It also pulls foes towards the Vulcon. This is the first part of the Yin-Yang Control system and also the weakness part of the system.

Due to the Vulcon’s skill point distribution in Control Expertise, I need to be at full impulse power charging my enemies in order to keep the MTTBA system working correctly. As the second part of the system, the Tractor Beam Repulsors has a much higher ability to repel its enemies than the MTTA can drag them back in.

Tractor Beam Repulsors

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Tractor Beam Repulsors in action. Thanks & credit for this picture go to the STO Wiki page on the very BOFF ability

Tractor Beam Repulsors is a science BOFF ability. The ability starts to become available from Lieutenant science boff stations all the way up to Commander science BOFF station. The ability targets any foe alive or dead (maximum of three) within a 5km range. The ability applies kinetic damage per pulse as well as applies a repel to the target roughly every 0.75 seconds. The ability has a whole has a 10 second uptime with a 40 second cooldown timer.

The ability is not widely used by the Star Trek Online Community. As due to its nature of pushing targets away from the player, which decreases damage the target takes. As the further away from a target you are, the less damage your weapons do.

Additionally, the ability can send a target flying off at an angle depending on the pulse timing as well as the arc between the player and the NPC. For canon armed vessels with low arcs for their weapon systems, this can cause them to lose their ability for several seconds to bring their most devasting weapons to bear. If used, most STO community members recommend to players to use the DOFF that turns the push of TBR ability into a pull.

As related before, due to the Vulcon’s control skill point allocation. This is the most potent side of the yin-yang control system. I can easily push my targets between 6 – 10km away with a second pulse. As a result, I usually use the TBR’s when charging my enemy at full impulse. This keeps my vessel close while still applying the TBR kinetic damage pulse. Additionally, this BOFF ability is useful against targets who are not affected by the repel side. These targets are usually NPCs like the Borg cubes & tactical cubes, or immobile targets like the transwarp gateways in Infected and Khitomer.

Exotic Particle Build

Vulcon’s exotic particle build is pretty similar to the USS Kim Possible. Even as a Multi-Mission Reconnaissance Explorer (T6) with more tactical seating than the science version. The Vulcon still has a Lt Commander and Commander science BOFF stations. However, as a result she suffers in the engineering BOFF layout area where her only dedicated engineering station is a lieutenant.

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Gravity Well

Firstly, is the Vulcon’s most powerful asset, her commander science BOFF station loaded with Gravity Well III. Gravity Well is improved by skill points in Control Expertise (improves the area of effect radius, slight pull increase). Starship exotic particle generator (improves damage output) and Control Amplification (-25 resistance to exotic damage and control effects debuff). Gravity well causes kinetic damage (bypasses shields) to any foe/s caught in its radius of effect. It also causes negative repel which means it pulls its targets into itself. The ability can also reveal cloaked starships.

Gravity Well has a 135’ targeting arc. The Vulcon’s gravity well ability compared to the Kim Possible is significantly less. This is due to multiple reasons which will be described in another blog post detailing the differences between the two starships.

Subspace Vortex

XindiSubspaceVortex
Subspace Vortex BOFF ability in action. Again thanks and credit go to STO Wiki for the picture that is present on the very page for this ability.

Vulcon is also equipped with Subspace Vortex III. This ability comes has a trainable ability rewarded as a drop from the Xindi-Terrestrial lock box. The abilities damage is improved by skill points in Starship Exotic Particle Generators. The ability has two main uses. One, is kinetic damage dealing (ignores shields) which is applied to all targets within a 3km radius from your prime target. As a result, SV pairs really well with gravity well especially after all foes have been gathered together. The fact that gravity well as related above also causes kinetic damage means it is devasting against unshielded targets who have been debuffed. Subspace Vortex has a 135” targeting arc

The abilities second side is a transport option. If you select the ability again your starship will jump to the initial deployment point of the vortex, facing your current direction. However, this transport closes the vortex instantly. I have not heard the abilities second jump function being utilized by the community much if at all, due to the fact it puts you directly into the centre of a cluster of enemies, as well as closes the very portal that is doing damage to them, which is to have highly likely argo them onto you.

Destabilizing Resonance Beam

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DRB in Action, again credit goes to the STO Wiki. Please note, this ability can cause partial blindness (kidding of course) if several are used at once.

Destabilizing Resonance Beam is the third of the triad of science BOFF abilities focused on exotic damage dealing. This ability can be chosen as an episode competition reward from the featured episode “Blood of the Ancients”. The ability applies physical damage (ignores shields) to all foes within 3km of the target for 10 seconds. Additionally, the ability applies a -5 all damage resistance and -5% energy weapons damage per pulse to those targets for 10 seconds. The physical damage component is improved by skill points in Exotic Particle Generators.

Destabilizing resonance beam has a 135” targeting arc like Gravity Well & Subspace Vortex, making it a perfect partner to those two abilities. Coupled with its damage also being improved by exotic particle skill combining these three abilities together on a science ship spec for exotic damage makes them a devasting combination.

Sizing up the Veteran

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USS Kim Possible. My second oldest and most powerful flagship along my STO account and career.

The Vulcon’s sister ship, the USS Kim Possible is my second flagship on my account and the second oldest of all my main starships. Originally deployed in December 2012 she has had similar build changes like the USS Zuikaku over the years. While not has heavily modified, she has had a stellar career including reaching (but not completing) wave 10 in the original no-win scenario. She has also completed elite task force operations like Battle of Korfez & Hive Space Elite.

The Kim Possible is a more traditional science exotic starship design. Additionally, she was also built during the “dual neutronium alloy armor” days of my build career, and still has them to this day. She is scheduled to get a major overhaul like the Zuikaku. But, due to time constraints I have yet to dedicate time to planning to “modernize” her from her second generation build style to todays “eighth Generation” style of ship builds.

She is designed as exotic damage first, tanking second. An Equator Alliance captain once commented on the Kim Possible;

I have never seen a vesta take that much damage or argo and survive. Every other vesta I have ever meet including elite level captains would be in escape pods by now. But somehow your ship keeps going. Also, what in the world did you put into those grav wells?”

 This is the measuring stick I am using the Vulcon against. While I did build this starship for fun, I also wanted her to as much as possible meet the same standards and capabilities as the Kim Possible. No small task considering the amount of years I had put into that ship, while I built the Vulcon in a hotel room using an iPad and free Wi-Fi.

Conclusion

The next time we visit the USS Vulcon will be to do a more detailed comparison against her sister the USS Kim Possible. I will identify the differences between the two vessels and how Vulcon’s experimental design does mean she yields in several areas to enable her unique design. I will describe further the weakness and issues with the Vulcon including how effective this might truly be in today’s TFO atmosphere.

Until next time captains.

USS Vizier – The Next Generation II – Review of a Radical design.

Introduction

Welcome to another build blog post courtesy of Shipyard 25. This week, I discuss the USS Vizier which I have already featured on this site in a trio of blogs. This journey was a part of a Shipyard 25 series back in June 2018.

USS Vizier – Building the Next Generation

This time, I will be describing what has happened to the Vizier in the time period between her launch to today. A rough period of about 18 months. At this time, this blog might be a standalone of this ship, or a part of a mini-series. The Vizier’s weaknesses, as well as the effect of the “Phase Two” project which focused on the USS Zuikaku will be described.

As well as a decision to change her style. From a more confused cruiser, to a razor point focused weapon of destruction. A style, that really should have been her focus from the beginning. But project shortcomings and a lack of foresight on behalf of her captain to understand the issues such a radical design entailed.

Recap of the USS Vizier

screenshot_2018-07-22-08-15-39

The USS Vizier was the answer to the USS Zuikaku problem back in 2017. Fearful of changing my flagship at the time, I embarked on a journey to build a completely new starship away from the Zuikaku name.

Basically, at the time her design premise was to build a fast attack cruiser with devasting weapon capability and the speed and turn capability to use it. Basically, as the name of the series stated, to build a starship for the Next Generation of Star Trek Online. Defence would be a secondary consideration for the vessel, as she had been designed that anything she couldn’t fight, she would run away from.

She was ambitious, and to this day remains so even after 18 months of her launch. As far as I am aware, she is still the only Assault cruiser I have encountered flown by a player armed with Twelve (12) separate weapon systems. Eight of those being her normal weapon slots, with the further four a combination of console abilities and gear set bonuses. She certainly turned heads within the community.

She was no DPS monster, while heavily armed the twelve-weapon system capability meant her build synergy was lower than a dedicated DPS starship. This resulted in parses that were lower than 100k which was the bare minimum to even consider challenging the DPS league’s top members. Though her weapon design was more about flexibility than raw output. Her weapon systems were designed to ensure I had an effective weapon regardless of the situation or opponent.

However, with all radical designs, issues occurred once she was launched. Some had been identified during her construction and shake down trials. Other issues, whose scope had not been in the initial design brief whose effects would be far more ranging than would be understood and more devasting than could be realized.

The Vizier’s Weakness – 6 Month Overview

As stated before, the Vizier was a unique design premise. Her build choices, gear slotted, and combat style definitely changed the rules of known starship design I had used in the past. Quickly after her launch however, I noted several weaknesses and design issues with the starship. Six Months after her launch (April 2018) I did a review of the starship and noted down what issues I had seen at that time and experienced in queues.

Shield Issues

Compared to Zuikaku, USS Vizier has significantly more shield hit points (22k compared to 18k) and slight stronger shield regeneration. However, compared to Zuikaku, her shields are comparably a lot weaker. Analysis has shown, this is a result of her shield design, choice and console layouts.

Zuikaku, has several shield characteristics that “reduce” the damage her shields take. This term is commonly referred to in game as “Shield Hardness” (Shield Hardness). This skill increases the amount of the damage negated by shields take when they do take a hit. USS Vizier has significant less skill points in this area due to her console choices. As a result, I theorised that Viziers shields are between 12 to 20% weaker than Zuikaku.

This is the result of several design choices and was noted by me during her design that this was a high probability of occurring. As in order to get the sheer amount of weapon systems into the vessel, several consoles & gear pieces that were on Zuikaku that helped increased this skill were absent in the Vizier.

Hull Issues

Vizier, has several issues where she can quickly be brought down to 50 to 40% Hull strength, compared to Zuikaku who might barely hit 90%.

Vizier has weaker hull resistances and hull hit points than Zuikaku. However, this doesn’t account for the results that were initially seen. However, after analysis, I believe I have the answer.

Simply, design characteristics. USS Vizier is designed to be “proactive”. Forcing her opponent on the back foot first, when she had to become reactive, she suffers from her reduced damage resistance and hull hit points. This is doubly induced by her shield weakness. As a result, the Vizier’s primary two defensive systems, Shields and Hull do not react well to not being the aggressor in an engagement.

Again, this was expected during the design process, and is one of the reasons for her increased turn rate and speed. As anything I could not destroy in an engagement, I had capability to run. However, usually by the time I had decided to run the opening shots of the engagement had already occurred. Considering NPC’s tendency to have large individual hits of their weapons, or deadly AOE attacks. Additionally, these abilities were almost always used in the beginning of an engagement.

Critical Severity

While my six-month overview covered some of Vizier’s weaknesses, it did not cover one of the larger ones. Essentially, I missed a crucial build decision in the Vizier’s construction – Critical Severity.

Zuikaku’s critical severity at the time of the six-month review was roughly at 114%. Vizier’s, was a dismal 78%

This was a result of her design. By equipping her with the capability to mount twelve separate weapon systems, I needed to slot the consoles in order to reach that milestone. However, the consoles that allowed me this capability, did not have critical severity as some of their passive boosts. Further, the consoles they replaced, were some of the very ones on Zuikaku that gave her critical severity. As a result, while Vizier individual weapons might have been stronger in pure base damage numbers, once critical severity started to take effect Zuikaku would very quickly exceed and pass the Vizier.

When I got right down to it I had only one thought, I had screwed up in the Vizier design. I had failed to consider the larger implications of carrying more weapons. Furthermore, I had failed to add a critical severity requirement in the Vizier design. As many of you know when you don’t note down a requirement needed for a meal, project, gift or starship design, it becomes high probable that requirement will not occur or be considered.

As a result, while I don’t have hard data, it was this lack of severity greatly reduced Vizier’s maximum DPS potential. For a starship whose design was meant to be firepower based, this is a large big oversight and one I am not particularly proud of myself in making.

The Crane vs the Vizier

screenshot_LCL2017-12-31-07-42-00

Before I proceed to discussing the Vizier’s own design review during the “Phase Two” project, lets compare the USS Vizier to the USS Zuikaku. The following table is a general stats information between the two class of starships in September 2018. At this stage neither ship had any changes made to them.

  Vizier Zuikaku Base
Power Transfer Rate 200% 200%
     
DEFENSES    
Defense Rating 57.8 62.8
Hull 110,291 121,635
Hull Repair Rate 182.50% 195.7%/min
Shield Regeneration Rate 1,438.6 Shield/6 Sec 1,651.2 shield/6 Sec
Shields (All facings) 21,831 18,070
Antiproton Resist 41.30% 53.30%
Disruptor Resist 41.30% 53.30%
Electrical Resist 40.70% 53.00%
Kinetic Resist 41.30% 54.90%
Phaser Resist 41.30% 53.30%
Physical Resist 40.70% 51.20%
Plasma Resist 41.30% 53.30%
Polaron Resist 41.30% 53.30%
Proton Resist 40.70% 53.00%
Radiation Resist 31.40% 46.00%
Tetryon Resist 41.30% 53.30%
     
ATTACK    
Accuracy Rating 33.2 17.4
Crit Chance 10.90% 13.00%
Crit Severity 78.70% 114.00%
Movement  
Inertia 40 40
Flight Speed 32.79 35.17
Turn Rate 15.9 Deg /Sec 12.5 deg/sec
     
Power Levels    
Weapons 124/100 125/100
Shields 59/25 66/25
Engines 50/25 53/25
Auxillary 86/50 74/50
     
Weapon Damage    
Beam Array 1822.7 Phaser 1552.8 Damage
Torpedoes 7942.5 Kinetic (Quantum Phase)  
  8004.2 Kinetic (Undine Torp)  
     
BOFF/Captain Healing Abilities    
Hazard Emitters 1 15,357.4 HP / 15 Sec 15183.3 HP/15 sec
Engineering Team 2 12,333.3 HP 9773.1 HP
Aux2IF 3 9598.4 Hit Points 9499.6 HP
Miraculous Repairs 3 – Hull 58,240.7 HP 61,534 HP
Miraculous Repairs 3 – Secondary Shield 14,734.5 Shields / 15 Sec 17,868.8 Shields / 15 Secs
Miraculous Repairs 3 – Shield Regenation 5,344.30 6,481.10

Sadly, at the time of gathering this data, I forgot about Zuikaku’s kinetic based weaponry. Meaning we are unable to compare the two vessels kinetic capabilities. However, I was able to remember the ships respective phaser systems.

However, a keen observer will quickly note the differences between the two vessels. Zuikaku has the edge in damage resistance, shield HP (this would change when Vizier upgraded, meaning Vizier would top her in this regard) Hull HP, critical chance and severity. While she had an edge in flight speed, Vizier’s engine type meant that whenever she activated a heal ability, her impulse speed in a 5 second burst would quickly become almost triple Zuikaku’s speed.

This meant, that Vizier could quickly round on her older half-sister and proceed to pound from an advantageous position. What worked against the Vizier was her lower resistances and tanking capability. Meaning if Zuikaku got in a lucky critical strike the battle could quickly become more even sided. However, Vizier held overall all the cards. She could dictate the flow of the battle on her own terms and if she didn’t like the terms, she could extend and disengage at a speed Zuikaku could not hope to match.

The Tale of Damage and Arcs

screenshot_2017-07-23-11-03-14
USS Vizier, circa July 2017. When she was commencing her first steps towards a Twelve weapon armed starship. What you see is the Quantum Destablizing beam & Mining Laser undergoing firing tests.

Next, we move onto weapon capability. Vizier was designed at the onset to be an over gunned cruiser. Her BOFF layout, weapon capabilities and other factors meant when you did not consider critical chance and severity, she held a very large advantage. The following table was compiled in April 2018, before Victory is Life expansion which increased weapon mark to Fifteen (15) hence the lower numbers quoted.

USS Vizier   Arc Damage Damage + EPtW 3
Fore Weapons Pulse Phaser Array 250 1581.9 1854.1
  Pulse Phaser Array 250 1575.6 1846.8
  Quantum Phase Torp 90 6903.2 6936.5
  Pulse Phaser Array 250 1575.6 1846.8
       
Aft Weapons Prolonged Phaser 250 1577.1 1848.1
  Pulse Phaser Array 250 1575.6 1846.8
  Enhanced Bio-Mole Torp 90 6972.6 7006.3
  Quantum Phaser Array 250 1569.4 1839.5
Normal Weapons Total     23331 25024.9
         
Misc Weapons Meteron Gas Warhead torp 180 6698.6 6731
  Broadside cannon barrage *90* 1453 1498.9
  Drill laser 360 167.5 167.5
  Quantum Destablizing beam 135 2326.6 2672.7
      10645.7 11070.1
USS Zuikaku   Arc Damage Damage + EPtW 1
Fore Weapons Phaser Beam Array 250 1378.5 1519.3
  Phaser Beam Array 250 1378.5 1519.3
  Wide Angle Torp 180 6421 6452.2
  Phaser Beam Array 250 1378.5 1519.3
       
After Weapons Phaser Beam Array 250 1378.5 1519.3
  Phaser Beam Array 250 1378.5 1519.3
  Kinetic Cutting beam 360 1922.7 1934
  Phaser Beam Array 250 1378.5 1519.3
Normal Weapons Total     16614.7 17502

By counting the normal weapon total numbers, the eight weapon slots the Fleet Assault Intel & Command variant ships have, you see the sheer difference in capability. Zuikaku’s normal 8 weapons damage numbers all counted together, reaches 16,641.7. Vizier’s added together reaches 23331. Meaning Vizier had a 140% damage capability over Zuikaku. This is before you start adding the additional parts of each respective build.

Let’s add the Vizier’s four additional weapon systems into the mix. While this is a unfair advantage since Zuikaku does not have another four additional weapon systems, it does so the sheer contrast between the two vessels. Vizier’s four additional weapon systems add an additional 10645.7 damage to her total, brining Vizier up to 33,976.7. Compare that to Zuikaku and Vizier now has a 204% damage capability over her older half-sister.

Now the Emergency Power to weapons BOFF abilities do not increase this lead by much. But it does so at the time how unique and crazy this ship was for her time.

However, I would ask the careful reader to take a second look at the damage table above. While Vizier had an advantage in sheer damage numbers, it was not as great as one would initially believe. This design issue I had considered in the back of my mind and did account for it. When I say account for, I noted it in my record to be aware of the issue during engagements. However, come early 2019 when my real life started to settle down and things started to become better, I started to investigate the Vizier again.

Conclusion

Coming in the next part of this blog series, I will describe the 2018 & 2019 years for USS Vizier. From initial promise, to her role in the “Phase Two” operations which would see her take part in upgrade operations to refine her design. Discarded ideas and how changes in the Zuikaku affected the Vizier. This included plugging the flaws in her design. How to you plug the holes in an experimental design. Well, it is quite simple.

You flip the Compass.

USS Zuikaku – The Third Age – Part One – Archaeological Brush

Introduction

Welcome Captains, to the third series of blog posts regarding my main flagship in Star Trek Online, the USS Zuikaku. Now I say third, as the first and second blog series were written and posted on the 101st fleet website, which cover the period between 2012 and end of 2014.

This series, which cover Zuikaku’s redesign from the initial conception in March 2018, to her launch in March 2019. The year long process, which I believe might be the longest single redesign of any STO captain’s career, will cover everything.

From Zuikaku’s initial build, to the blueprinting and excel spreadsheet numbers. From the launch of the USS Archon the testing bed for redesign items, to the five sisters project which had every available sovereign class deployed in testing of multiple build redesigns. Finally, the differences between old and new.

I hope you enjoy this series. The first blog post will dive into Zuikaku’s past and what she was like before the commencement of the longest redesign in my STO Career.

USS Zuikaku - Engage One

Previously on Star Trek: Zuikaku

The USS Zuikaku, the first ever end-game starship I reached back in 2012. A Sovereign class cruiser, she got her name from a World War Two Japanese Carrier, as one of my hobbies is studying the Pacific War, or more specifically the Japanese Carriers. Additionally, as one of the 101st fleet’s flagships, she has managed to create quite a unique/strange legacy and legend surrounding her.

Initially, she was very much a lost cruiser. Both her captain and herself struggled to find themselves and decide what to do, or what type of starship she would become. This was due to my lack of experience and knowledge, where I made some crucial mistakes and build choices even for 2012. It wasn’t until the Southern Cross High Guard fleet’s Kombat Klass (Fleet was known as the Ausmonauts at that time) of March/April 2013 that she started down her intended path.

From 2013 to Early 2017, she bounded up the steps of being a ship of the line. Passing strength after strength and amassing an impressive record. Additionally, she became one of the most hunted starships in the 101st fleet. Where multiple 101st fleet captains took themselves the challenge of defeating the invincible cruiser (none succeeded, though several did extremely well). While never topping the DPS charts, she was known as a valuable ally and teammate who could always be counted on.

In April 2017, this changed. The ship and her captain had a crisis of identity. With Star Trek Online ever changing, what had made the ship top of the line had been slowly whittled away. New gear and skills made it easier for captains to meet and excel past Zuikaku’s build strengths with little effort. The Vizier project was launched (previously described on this site) partly because Zuikaku’s captain was scared to make changes to his flagship, especially if the project failed, feeling that any failure would tarnish the legacy of the starship.

As the months continued, and Vizier grew ever closer to launch, Zuikaku’s playtime started to diminish. For a period, as things continued, Zuikaku’s captain started to seriously consider one option.

The decommissioning of the USS Zuikaku…

Old Build

Zuikaku’s build was not exactly unique back in the day. As I described her to several captains early in her career, she could be described in one sentence her two principal build targets.

“Tank first, firepower second”

This principal was also tied into her Captains skill tree. I have always been a balance type of person on my main toon. Keeping everything where possible close to one another, Jack of all trades, master of none. While this principal is meet with shrugs of shoulders by most of the community, and disdain by a small group, I liked this style. As my experience had shown that you cannot do DPS if you are dead. While the penalty for dying in STO is trivially minimal to non-existence, I like to think and believe it does.

This skill tree listed below, is for my main toon. My other starships Vizier & Zond, which have already been covered in this blog site and the USS Ryujo all use this tree from which their respective builds and styles use as their baseline.

Skill Tree

As you can see, the tree is relatively balanced. Heavily leaning in Engineering, which slightly less lean in tactical, and moderate in science. This is the exact opposite of a lot of captains in STO who extremely heavily invest in Tactical with science usually a close second for cruisers and escorts.

I have received criticism from several STO players in the past saying this tree is far too heavily invested in engineering. One captain ever said to my face I would actually bring down any team I was one and that I should change my tree or quit STO altogether. Honesty this criticism I have ignored. As it is my own journey for my captain and starship. Additionally, the results of Zuikaku, Vizier and other starships have shown over the years that they are valuable teammates.

Specialization

During this period, Zuikaku used a unique specialization choice for her primary and secondary. Her primary specialization was Command.

Command I choose for multiple reasons. The specs balanced loadout between hull boosts, healing, debuff’s and kinetic damage boosts all combined together into a nice package. Additionally, the team boosts the spec conveyed both passive and active was a direct coloration into Zuikaku’s primary build metric – team support.

Additionally, one of the primary boosts was landing critical hits on NPS would reduce their damage resistance and damage output for a short period (5 – 10 seconds). While not long, this constant capability to reduce an opponent’s ability to defend themselves could be critical. Especially for “boss” type NPCs who usually carry deadly firepower and high hull HP.

My secondary specialization choice was Strategic. One of the primary reasons for this choice was the boosts and increases when using Threatening stance. Threatening stance increases your “argo” against enemy NPC’s, making it more likely they will target and attack your ship. With Zuikaku primary design being to take fire from the enemy team, to allow them to use all their offensive abilities it was a natural choice.

Additionally, the specialization reduces captain and BOFF ability cooldowns once every 30 seconds while threatening stance is active. Other boosts include temporary hull, healing boosts and other support-based increases.

DOFFs

DOFF’s, short for Duty Officers, is another part of a ship’s build. One that frequently gets forgotten about by many STO players. This system allows you to slot 5 Duty Officers (6 with a fleet boost) that enhances your ship based off their profession and specialty. There are limitations based off each type. For example, you cannot slot 5 of the Conn Officer who reduces cooldowns on Tactical team.

Zuikaku’s DOFF layout and selection when you come down to it, specializes in two areas. Power boosts and cooldown enhancements.

Duty Officer Information **Power** **Notes**
1 Conn Officer Recharge time reduced for tactical team and buff
2 Conn Officer Recharge time reduced for tactical team and buff
3 Shield Distribution officer When Damaged while Brace for impact is active – 10% Change to Apply X shield heal to each facing
4 Damage Control Engineer Chance to reduce the recharge time for emergency power to subsystem abilities
5 Damage Control Engineer Chance to reduce the recharge time for emergency power to subsystem abilities
6 Warp Core Engineer Chance of temporaily improving your ship power on use of any EPtX ability

The two Conn Officers get my tactical team down to its global cooldown of 15 seconds. Since Tactical team effects last for 10 seconds, there are small windows where the buff that tactical team applies is not in effect.

The Damage control engineers likewise also assist to get my Emergency Power to X cooldown’s to their respective global. A Warp Core Engineer gives me a chance on activation of these abilities for an additional power boost across the board (+25 power). The Shield Distribution Officer, gives me a chance to gain some shield strength when hitting Brace for Impact. This DOFF is slotted for more emergency situations where I need additional shields to help a potentially devasting incoming torpedo strike.

Personal Space Traits

My Captain’s personal space traits, compared to Zuikaku herself, were in a slightly better state. With several modern traits that are considered top tier for their type.

Personal Space Traits Description
Context is for Kings Each second while in combat, if you did not take damage in the past second, you gain a damage bonus. Otherwise, you gain a boost to your Damage Resistence Rating. Each second while in combat: If you did take damage in the past second: +3 All Damage Resistence Rating for 10 sec If you did not take damage in the past second: +1% Bonus All Damage for 10 sec
Biotech Patch +20% Bonus Hull Healing Effectiveness
EPS Manifold Efficiency When you use Emergency Power to Auxiliary, Emergency Power to Engines, Emergency Power to Shields, or Emergency Power to Weapons, this trait causes all of your other power levels to gain a moderate subsystem boost. When you use any Battery, this trait causes all of your other power levels to gain a large subsystem boost.
Grace Under Fire If you take more than 20% of your hitpoints in damage within a 5 second period, the cooldown on Miraculous Repairs is reset. This trait will only trigger when Miraculous Repairs is already on cooldown, and can only trigger once every 90 seconds.
Inspirational Leader 10% chance: Activating any Bridge Officer Ability grants +10 to Most Starship Skills for 15 seconds (may stack up to 3 times).
Intense Focus For every 15 seconds in combat (Max 4 stacks) +1.5 % Accuracy +1.5% Shield Penetration
Point Blank Shot to self: +0-10% Bonus Energy Weapon Damage, based on Distance to Target. Maximum bonus when less than 2km, no effect beyond 6km
Superior Techie +30 Hull Restoration (Improves Hull Healing) +30 Hull Regeneration (Improves Passive Hull Regeneration)
Repair Crews While in combat, gain 1 stack of Repair Crews every 5 sec (up to 5 max). Per Stack: +5 All Damage Resistance Rating +5% Hull Repair Rate

With a mix between defense and offense, my toon was pretty balanced for the majority of cruisers I could throw or deploy. However, there was some room for improvement, which I would discover during the modernization project.

Space Reputation Traits

My space reputation traits, in comparison, had slowly modelled over the years to be more offensive focused compared to the rest of my skill tree, build and other items.

Space Reputation Traits Description Obtained from
Auxiliary Power Configuration – Defense (Rank 2) +6.25% (at 100 Aux) Bonus ALl Damage, +6.25 Accuracy (at 100 Aux) T6 Nukara
Auxiliary Power Configuration – Offense (Rank 2) +25 All DRR, +6.25% Max Hull and Shield Cap T6 Nukara
Superior Shield Repair (Rank 2) X shield regeneration T6 Omega
Advanced Targeting Systems (Rank 2) +20% Critical Severity T6 Dyson
Tactical Advantage (Rank 2) To Target: +0 to +25 Armor Penetration against your targets based on their current health percent. T6 Dyson

A majority of these, as you can see, were from reputations which are now years old. This was a simple case of I didn’t think of my space reputation traits much, as this section worked very well for what I needed it to.

My starship traits on the other hand, suffered from being originally slotted, then not revisited apart from one or two occasions.

Starship Traits

As you can see below, several of these traits were released with the original T6 starships to commence the launch of Delta Rising back in October 2014. As the project started to round down in early 2019, I took the time to strip the vast majority of these traits off. Several of the traits I originally had were decent. But with the vast majority of items in STO’s history, they were slowly rendered obsolete.

Starship Traits Description
History Will Remember Prolonged conflicts become more desperate – and more heroic – as time wears on, and only those ships and crews with the fortitude to withstand such onslaughts are remembered in the annals of history. With this trait slotted, each Foe that damages you will grant you a stack of History Will Remember, which imparts increased weapon damage, hull capacity, and hull regeneration. Each foe only counts for a single stack, no matter how many times they damage you. Each stack will last until you leave the map, and you may have up to 30 stacks maximum. Stacks may only be gained a maximum of once per second.
Desperate Repairs When critically hit: Grant 1 Desperation counter for 120 sec. At 3 counters: To self: +5,000 Shield Regeneration. To self: +25,000 Hit Points. Prevents gaining Desperation counters for 60 sec.
Super Charged Weapons Firing a torpedo will provide a stack of the Super Charged buff. This buff provides a boost to directed energy weapon damage, critical hit chance and critical severity for a short time. This buff stacks up to 3 times.
Battle Ready When using Eng or Intel Bridge Office Ability: To self: +7.5 All Damage Resistance Rating for 15 sec To self: +7.5 Defense for 15 sec
All Hands on Deck Activating a Tactical or Command Bridge Officer ability will reduce the recharge time of Science Bridge Officer abilities and Captain abilities. Science bridge officer ability recharge time reduced by 10% and captain ability recharge time reduced by 5%, this may only occur once every 5 seconds.

Now that we have covered my captain’s skill tree, Specializations, space traits, reputation traits & starship traits, it is time to meet the core of the USS Zuikaku. Her gear & weapons.

Zuikaku

Primary Systems

Weapons

Phasers

First the Zuikaku’s original weapon loadout. Before I embarked on this renovation of the ship, the Zuikaku was armed with six standard phaser arrays, these weapons have a 270 degree firing arc. No special types or procs, but the block standard that had a 2.5% chance to disable a subsystem on a starship or target. The phasers where upgraded to Mk XV Ultra Rare.

Their modifers were {Acc} x2 & {CrtD} x2. The accuracy, while considered one of the worst possible modifiers for a weapon, were a key part of Zuikaku’s build type. Before all the native accuracy boosting consoles, traits & abilities, ships, accuracy was a semi-important modifier. As originally in the game not having accuracy was much more brutually enforced by missed shorts. However, these days, most ships maintain 99% and above accuracy during combat even without speccing into the modifier.

Accuracy I have kept as I prefer, even in these days, to be guaranteed to hit my target. As while it is a extremely low chance of occurring. I did not want a critical target to survive a second longer which might result in a mission failure.

CritD, or critical severity is the second modifier. This modifier when the weapon crits, enhances the weapon damage by a significant margarin. CritD by comparsion to accuracy, is extremely highly desireable modifier for weapons. It is potentially the highest desired modifier, but the {DMG} damage modifier is just as well highly regarded.

I choose this modifier for my weapons, as I wanted to cover a weakness of my flagship. I knew Zuikaku didn’t have top DPS or output, so I wanted my weapons to be able to hit with a devasting force in a single strike. While it might not overall increase my DPS, I wanted these type of strikes to be able to potentially pentrate a targets shield facing, or get that kill shot against a evasive target which might only allow me a single strike or attack.

Quantom Torpedo

The Wide-Angle Quantum torpedo launcher, is a weapon obtained when purchasing the C Store Assault cruiser variant at either tier 5 or tier 6. I choose this weapon for two primary reasons.

The first, is that as a 180 degree torpedo (One of the few ingame) it drastically improved my ships capability to remain at broadside to gert targets. It also ensured I was able to where possible keep pressure against a target. The weapon equipped on Zuikaku was of MK XV Ultra Rare type, in one of her forward weapon slots.

Second, was for canon reasons. The Enterprise-E on screen had a forward quantum torpedo launcher which was shown several times in the movies. So, when I commissioned the Zuikau and the C-Store variant was released with this weapon, it was a instant purchase and slot.

Kinetic Damage Beam

Part of the Omega Adapted Borg Technology reputation gear set, the Kinetic cutting beam is a 360 degree kinetic weapon. While termed as a “beam” the weapon does kinetic damage on hitting it’s target. The weapon on the Zuikaku was if MK XV Ultra Rare type, equipped in one of her aft weapon slots.

The reason I choose this weapon was similar to the quantim torpedo. The 360 degree arc firing angle ensured this weapon could be fired regardless of the direction of my opponent. Second, it was part of a equipment set piece which includes the Universal Assimlated module console. This console was also equipped on the Zuikaku.

This formed the two piece set called ‘Omage Weapon Amplifer”. Which on hit of any energy weapon, had a 2.5% chance to add +10 weapon power for 3 seconds, +500 weapon power drain resistance (weapons drain less weapon fire during firing) and -500% Weapon power cost for 3 seconds (So, a beam array that would normally drain 8 weapon power, would see this massively reduced).

All in All, Zuikaku was armed with weapons designed to maximise her broadside capability at all times. With Zuikaku’s weapons sorted and described, lets move onto her primary systems – Deflector, Impulse, Warp Core & Shields.

The Primary Systems

Deflector

The Zuikaku’s primary deflector array was the Iconian Resistance Deflector Array, upgraded to MK XV Epic quality. The Deflector array boosted Kinetic Damage Resistance, boosted shield power setting, and gave skill point bonuses to Starship Shield Restoration, Hull Capacity, Shield Capacity & Starship Scienctic readiness (reducing cooldowns of science BOFF abilities).

Essentially I choose this deflector at the time for its incredible defensive boosts and additions. The all around nature of the defensive increases ensured defensively for this deflector that no side of Zuikaku was missed. Being a Tank cruiser designed to draw and hold argo, I wanted to ensure the ship could take the attention she would be reciving.

Additionally, this deflector formed part of the three piece Iconian Resistance Starship Technologies set. With the impulse and shield systems also slotted, this gave a significant boost for the starship and her allies.

Two Piece Set Bonus

Distribute Shield Applies X* Shield regeneration for 5 seconds to each facing. Once triggered, goes on cooldown for 30 seconds.

  • Skills that affect this ability: Starship shield emitters

Three Piece Set Bonus

Passive

When firing Energy Weapons, 5% chance + 10% all energy damage for 8 seconds to allies within 10 km, This effect stacks up to 3 times.

Impulse Engine

The Zuikaku’s primary impulse engine, her driving force was the Iconian Resistance Hyper-Impulse Engines, upgraded to MK XV Epic Quality. The impulse engine provided a +5% Defense (making your ship harder to hit) + Flight speed boost, + Flight Turn Rate, a +5 Engine Power setting, 10% resistance to control effects & increase to Starship Impulse Expertise & Sector space travel. Furthermore, at 100% throttle, the impulse engines would give a +8.8 Energy Damage resistance rating boost.

Again, one of the primary reasons I choose this impulse engine was her part of the Iconian Resistance Starship  technologies set. Additionally, the boosts to defense, damage resistance and flight speed and turn rate were decent for the engine.

Warp Core

The Zuikaku’s warp core, was a Elite Fleet Hyper-Charged Warp core, upgraded to MK XV Epic quality. These warp cores are available from the Fleet Dilithium mine upon reaching tier three in Dilithium Mine Development Facilities. This warp core provided a boost to engine and auxillary power. As well as a boost to the power cap on both engine and auxillary power as well. There are multiple other modifiers that could be choosen from these cores.

The reason I choose this warp core back in 2013, was the cores all around stats that helped increase at the time Zuikaku’s lowest power level systems – Engines and Auxillary. As stated before, I prefer my ships to be as balanced as possible. A increase in engine power and auxiliary, while small, were still welcomed benefits. Additionally, like all other warp cores, they had a power boost increase ability to give a temporary boost to a particular sub-system. Zuikaku carried the auxillary power boost.

Shields

The Zuikaku’s prmary shielding systems, and what I considered to be her number one primary system to be upgraded first. The Iconian Resistance Resilient Shield Array, which was upgraded to MK XV Epic quality on the ship. The shield as a resilient type, had a 5% absorption & 5% bleedthrough for any attack directed against the shield. This meant for example if a 1000 damage phaser strike hit the shield, 50 damage would pentrate the shield to hit the hull, 50 damage would be ignore entirely, and 900 would impact the shield.

This absorption mechanic was a primary driving force for choosing this shield. Along with shield being part of the three piece equipment set for the Iconian technologies (the set as a whole contains 4 potential pieces). Along with the shield type, the shields had a native reduction to all energy damage by 15%. Along with a “hot restart” system that would remove any shield disabled conditions after one second (Though, this mechanic itself had its own cooldown, where once proc it could not proc againf or a period of time). Finally, the shield was able to remove one debuff against Zuikaku every 10 seconds.

I choose this shield for it’s all around defensive capabilities. Shield absorption, shield resistance, debuff cleaning and a automated shield restore system made this a excellent defensive component of my ship. Coupled with other abilities, gear choices and skill points, it made Zuikaku’s shields difficult to pentrate. Though, over the years constant and frequent additions of shield bypassing gear, abilities and skills gradually started to eat into this advantage.

With Zuikaku’s primay systems described, lets move into her console layout.

Consoles

Consoles

Zuikaku’s consoles were very much a traditionlist style of layout, as you can see from the above screenshot. From my memory, this layout is exactly the same as she was at the beginning of 2015. Apart from some quality upgrades and the move to MK XV when Victory is Life expansion came out in middle of 2018, she has had this console layout for the better part of almost five years. So, without further ado, lets start describing each one in turn.

Engineering Consoles

01 - Amour

Fleet Neutronium Alloys available from the Fleet Dilithium mine upon reaching tier 3. I had two of these alloys equipped, both at MK XIV Ultra Rare quality. At this quality, they gave a +23.8 boost to all damage resistance. One of the consoles was of a {HullHeal} variety which gave +17.8 boost to Starship Hull Restoration in the skill tree. The other console was of a {HullHP} variety which gave +11.9 boost to Starship Hull capacity.

The reason I choose these consoles was to boost Zuikaku’s armour, which helped reduce the amount of damage her hull would take. I was no fool, as I always operated off the premise that my enemy WOULD pentrate my shields, not IF. The boosts to Hull healing and HP when you got down to it, was pretty small in numbers. However, I decided that every little bit would help. I did not choose the {Turn} variety as the boost to turn rate was so small to be almost non existent. Similarly, for the {EPS} variant, my power transfer rate barely budged.

Time has not been kind to these consoles. With newer consoles released that could give similar damage resistance boosts, usually tied with nice damage boost passives or actives, these consoles are a relic of a by-gone era now in Star Trek Online.

02 - Borg Console

The Assimlated Module is part of the Omega Adapted Borg Technology set, released way back for Season 5 at the end of 2011, just before STO transitioned to F2P. This console provides several all around boosts which made it a decent choice. Zuikaku’s module is at MK XV Ultra Rare quality.

At this level, the Assimilated module provides +1.2% Critical Chance, +11.5% Critical Severity, +5 Weapon Power, +6.4 Starship hull restoration and +28.6 Starship Control Expertise. Control Expertise helps enhance and resist control abilities, which are abilities like Tractor Beam, Tractor beam repulsors, and resisting the pull from Gravity well (As abilities like Gravity well, its pull ability, is powered by control expertise).

This console was suggested by Kombat Klass way back in 2013 when Zuikaku was being overhauled by them. The boosts across the board were nice, and the extra +5 weapon power at the time got Zuikaku to the weapon power cap of 125/100. Additionally, as related before in this blog, with the Kinetic Cutting beam it unlocked the two-piece set for the Omega Adapted Borg Technology.

Time has been relatively kind to this console. She is still used in some high end DPS builds but is usually on the lower end of recommendations for consoles. However, her stat boosts have survived relatively well compared to other consoles for their all around ability. Though her lack of a “active” or “clicky” ability does hurt her in todays build meta and market.

03 - Bioneural something

The Bio-neural Infusion Circuits is a lobi store item that is part of the Silent Enemy set. Originally Zuikaku did not have this console. However, in 2014 when Delta Raising released and all T5 ships received an additional console, this became Zuikaku’s fifth engineering slotted console. Over the years, the gear was upgraded till she reached MK XV Ultra Rare quality.

At this rank, the console provided the following boosts. +28.1 to both Starship Hull capacity & starship control expertise. With a +25% critical severity boost. This severity boost, as a passive or not needing activation, is one of the highest boosts for a single console in the game. I believe one or two consoles might have slightly higher. But they usually require an “active” or “clicky” to manage what this console does natively.

Admiral Ieon Winters, of the 102nd fleet was my friend who recommended this console to me in late 2014, as I was milling over my choices. He was right on the money. Boosts to hull capacity, critical severity and control expertise ticked everyone of my boxes. Which at the time was I preferred consoles that had boosts for both defensive and offensive sides of my ship. Keeping to the whole “balanced” structure I was attempting.

Time has been extremely kind to this console. It is still highly regarded by the community. Though it’s cost of 200 lobi does make it more difficult for general or casual players to obtain it. Though Admiral Ieon in a little way would come to regret recommending this console, as I would use it in several of our PvP engagements over the years against the USS Queen Mary.

04 - SRF

The Sustained Radiant Field console is a part of the Radiant Armaments set from the Iconian Reputation, obtainable by reaching tier one in the reputation. The console on Zuikaku was of a MK XV Ultra Rare variety.

At this level, the console provided +25% boost to outgoing Hull Heals & Bonus to Shield heals. Additionally, the console gave a +12.5% boost to all weapon damage. All weapon damage covering both energy and kinetic types o f damage. This console choice was again one of the choices driven by my “Defensive & Offensive in one” style of consoles. Boosts equally to hull and shield would helpful to ensure I could have better capability to heal both of those systems. The damage boost, was a nice extra to increase Zuikaku’s firepower. As natively, she did not have that many overall.

This console is hard to judge how she has aged. I do see it in several high end DPS builds, but I haven’t seen enough chatter in the channels to see the community’s wider regard for this console. However, for newer players, it is a decent console that is relatively cheap to acquire, and useful on multiple types of starships.

With the engineering consoles described, lets move on to Zuikaku’s lowest console number group, the science section.

Science Consoles

05 - Taunt this

The Shield-Repairing Weapon Signature Nullifier {+Threat} console. These consoles are obtainable from a Fleet Embassy with its Diplomatic Facilities at Tier III. The console equipped on the Zuikaku was of a MK XV Epic quality variety.

There are several types of this console. My console was of a {+Threat} variety which meant it increased my ships threat generation against NPC targets. This was critical, as since I was building my ship to tank, I needed to be fired on, which meant I had to attract attention. Additionally, I had the {Shield Restoration} which, when receiving damage, gave me a 2.5% chance to restore X shields to each facing. With the amount of restoration being determined by my Shield restoration skill level.

These were my primary considerations when I choose this console. However, time has not been kind to the embassy consoles. With the famous season 13 nerf bat, as well as newer science consoles coming into the game which were better performers. You do not see these consoles recommended much anymore. Some high-end DPS builds still use them, but these type of ship builds are increasing rare.

06 - Temporal Boosts

The Temporal Disentanglement Suite console part of the Krenim Temporal Manipulation set. This set can be obtained from playing through the “Butterfly” episode mission. Making it one of the easiest consoles on Zuikaku to obtain. The console equipped on the Zuikaku was of a MK XV Ultra Rare Variety.

At this level, the console provided the following boosts. +5 Auxiliary Power setting, +25% Maximum Shield Capacity, with a 3% boost to shield resistance. Additionally, the console provided a 0% – 2.5% critical chance & 0% – 10% critical severity boost, depending on your ships current Auxiliary power level. Again, this console was chosen for its boosts across the board for defence and offense. The critical boosts were especially nice as at maximum auxiliary power level, they were slightly better than Fleet Tactical consoles for critical boosts.

This console is one I haven’t heard much from the DPS or high-end build crowd. This is not to say that it is either good or bad. However, the lack of chatter could show that while this console may be decent, there may be too many better choices or different style of choices that this console does not get much mention. However, for a new player, this console is definitely a must have as it’s boost are very good while you work yourself up in your ship building.

With science consoles done, there remains one console type left. The easiest to describe as it is fairly straight forward, and I have four copies of the same console – The Tactical console slots.

Tactical Consoles

07 - Tactical Consoles

The Tactical Vulnerability Locator is obtainable from the Fleet Spire with the research facilities upgraded to tier III. Zuikaku had four of the phaser variety consoles equipped which were of a MK XV Ultra Rare variety.

At this level, the consoles provided each a +37.5% phaser damage boost, with a +1.9% boost to critical chance. Naturally, with my ship being equipped with phasers, the phaser damage boost was a nature selection. I choose the critical chance variant. As since I knew my ship did not have big strike capability, I wanted to increase what capability she had to hit as often as possible. Hence the critical chance boosts.

Time has been extremely kind to these consoles for many years, under recently. With the Fleet colony providing fleet tactical consoles at tier 5 (https://sto.gamepedia.com/Console_-_Tactical_-_Energetic_Protomatter_Matrix_Infuser) These consoles lose out on their critical chance and severity, but make up for it for their sheer healing capability. With a ship properly built right, some of the Spire tactical consoles can be dropped for the Colony world’s consoles. Very few STO fleets at this time have reached tier 5 in the colony, so time will tell how well the Spire tactical consoles will fair.

Stats of a Crane

Put all this together, and you get some interesting stats for the USS Zuikaku. The following table below, was compiled in January 2019, just a few months ahead of her redesign when the five sisters project (to be described in a later blog) was about to commence in full swing. This stats were taken when my ship was at full impulse in the Sol System.

Item Stats
Power Transfer Rate 200%
   
DEFENSES  
Defense Rating 62.8
Hull 121,635
Hull Repair Rate 195.7%/min
Shield Regeneration Rate 1,651.2 shield/6 Sec
Shields (All facings) 18,070
Antiproton Resist 53.30%
Disruptor Resist 53.30%
Electrical Resist 53.00%
Kinetic Resist 54.90%
Phaser Resist 53.30%
Physical Resist 51.20%
Plasma Resist 53.30%
Polaron Resist 53.30%
Proton Resist 53.00%
Radiation Resist 46.00%
Tetryon Resist 53.30%
   
ATTACK  
Accuracy Rating 17.4
Crit Chance 13.00%
Crit Severity 114.00%
   
Movement  
Inertia 40
Flight Speed 35.17
Turn Rate 12.5 deg/sec
   
BOFF/Captain Healing Abilities  
Hazard Emitters 1 15183.3 HP/15 sec
Engineering Team 2 9773.1 HP
Aux2IF 3 9499.6 HP
Miraculous Repairs 3 – Hull 61,534 HP
Miraculous Repairs 3 – Secondary Shield 17,868.8 Shields / 15 Secs
Miraculous Repairs 3 – Shield Regenation 6,481.10

Overview & Weaknesses

screenshot_2018-04-10-19-12-12

As you can see, Zuikaku was fairly decently built. Good HP with resists, decent firepower for her size and capability. Even during this modernisation project, in January 2019 Zuikaku posted a new DPS record of 41.89K. This is especially more impressive when you consider that I did not have the T6 Arbiter starship trait, nor did I have the Tier III Research lab’s weekly bonus DPS boost project active at the time of the run. Her healing was average, though this itself would become a problem.

While looking at this cruiser, some would describer her as solidly built, some would point at my high resists and armour consoles and laugh. While others would dismiss her as no threat to their 25% crit chance, 250% crit severity gold laden epic escort. However, to me, she had served me well for many years. However, she was starting to show her age, and more importantly, the game was matching on to a new type of gameplay and queues. What had worked for Zuikaku in the past, was slowly starting to be whittled away.

Speed and Turn

One of Zuikaku’s primary weaknesses was her speed and turn capability. 12.5 degree turn rate is pretty slow even for a cruiser that commences with a nominal 7 degree turn rate base. Additionally, while she is a broadside cruiser and turn rate is relatively not important. The flow and speed of newer NPC targets, multiple locations needed to be targeted and protected, meant that Zuikaku needed to be able to turn quicker to bring her guns on target. Sadly, due to her turn rate, I frequently found myself outside of broadside range or arc at critical times.

Speed was also a concern. Zuikaku was already relatively slow. However, what compounded the issue, was that apart from evasive maneuverers, Zuikaku did not have any other speed boost, ability or console clicky she could use to get a speed boost. In several queues, speed is critical, especially for targeting mission critical targets such as torpedoes or enemy NPCs. Evasive maneuverers, once used, has a 45 second cooldown before it can be used again. I frequently found myself needing to speed over to a target or location 20 – 25km away, and my only speed capability was on cooldown.

This meant, multiple times, I was late in engaging the next wave of the mission. This also meant multiple times I was out of position to meet a new target. Some missions had several consecutive sections where objectives were far away from one another. This compounded my frustration at times, especially for a cruiser that was built for one of her main roles being for team support.

Healing

Another major issue was healing. While Zuikaku’s heal numbers were decent, they started to suffered from HP creep at higher levels. If we add up Zuikaku’s base healing numbers (Auxiliary Power at 83/50) she could heal about 96K within 15 seconds. Zuikaku’s base HP is 121K. Add these numbers up, I could heal roughly 79.3% of my cruisers hull. Sounds alright doesn’t it? However, things started to break down with I started to tank or argo targets.

One of my secondly specialization perks, is that when I start argo or using threat generation, my ships maximum HP starts to climb as it receives bonuses. It was not unheard of for my cruiser’s maximum HP to reach towards 170K at maximum threat generation ticks. Once you take those numbers into effect, being able to heal 96K hull starts to sound less impressive.

This never caused the loss of my vessel in queues. However, when running elite level missions, not being able to constantly and frequently heal your hull for large amounts, would mean I would start to run a losing battle in attrition. Given the prevalence of elite level bosses or mobs having high burst damage capability, being of a lower hull hp or percentage, could be potentially fatal. Most of you know that elite level queues usually have a condition saying “X amount of teammates” need to be alive during sections of the mission. Meaning many times, I was constantly worried about high burst hits, ending not only my ship, but the mission for the team.

Conclusion

With Vizier completed in October 2018, and my flag transferred to her at the same time. Zuikaku entered a period of inactivity. For some time, I wondered what I would do with the Zuikaku. There were several small ideas for additions or changes, but I never followed through. My real life also affected this, as I was going through a stressful time and it was starting to show in my in-game performance. Coupled with both myself and Zuikaku feeling we had lost our way, it was a depression period.

However, something would change has I away on holiday in January 2018. It had been a long-planned holiday and it was there enjoying my holiday my creative juices started to flow again for the game. Ideas started to form, thoughts about experiment builds, and the thought process of one cruiser I had captained for many years.

The commencement of the biggest and longest modernisation and redesign of my STO career would begin in Zuikaku’s ship’s namesakes home country. Her return to grace, would begin its first tentative steps during my holiday to Japan.

When we return to USS Zuikaku – The Third Age, I will discuss the initial blueprints, the ideas and goals I planned/aim for, and the launch of the starship that would become the mainstay of the experimental and testing process. One that had already made a name for herself in the STO community in a unique way.

The USS Archon.

USS Archon

USS Zond – Cardenas Command Dreadnought – Constructing the Priah

The Lore

Several weeks ago, Cryptic announced another release in the series of Star Trek Discovery ships to come into the game. The Cardenas Command Battle Cruiser. As the name would seemingly apply, an image of a heavy armed and gunned starship comes to mind. However, what was in one’s mind, and what was reality were two different things.

With the release of the ship blog detailing the stats and layout of the ship, there was a large outcry from selections of the STO community.

Command-Dreadnought-Cruiser Stats Blog

A portion of the community immediately went into rage mode, decrying the stats. How dare a dreadnought have no tactical seating greater than Lieutenant Tactical. How was this starship suppose to do DPS? Players could get better starships and this ship wouldn’t be able to compete.

Even older starships walked all over this “Dreadnought”. Coupled with a low turn rate and inertia, this ship had already been dismissed. Additionally, while she could mount dual cannons, her low turn rate and tactical seating made it a lot more difficult.

A portion of the community, said to anyone who planned to get the ship “Just use BFAW and beams, that is all this ship is good for”. This is where i come in. Surprising, this rage got my passion going. I was filled with determination. I could never top the DPS charts, however, I wanted to show those members of the community that any ships can true contenders, and are not to be underestimated.

A experienced captain and veteran, someone who knows what they are doing, can turn any starship into one of the most dangerous opponents you could ever face.

Preample

Now, before we proceed, I want to make one thing very clear. From a sheer math and data point, those members of the community are right. In sheer numbers, the Cardenas class is never going to meet or match starships like the Odyssey, Scimitar, Arbiter or other more tactically focused starships.

Her three tactical consoles, along with at best three Lieutenant tactical BOFF stations (if the Universal is used as tac) means she misses out on the higher end tactical BOFF abilities. Like Beam: Fire at Will III, Attack Pattern Omega, Cannon Scatter Volley & Rapid Fire II (As the cannon three versions require a Commander Tactical station, since she is a dreadnought/cruiser that is not going to happen).

However, it is surprising when some members of the community decry Cryptic for constantly selling “Power creep”. However, when a starship is released that does not straight away top or beat all of its competitors, there is more rage. Sometimes from the very same community members who decried the “power creep”.

Simply, I decided to build this ship, as I wanted to prove something. Or, more likely, show some love to one of the most beautiful designed starships I have seen for sometime (I have a weakness for four nacelle starships).

Inkling the Blueprints

My own Cardenas class was named for a Soviet-Era unmanned spacecraft/probe that was testing technologies and systems for manned spaceflight. I was actually inspired by the name when i learnt how the Buran was named. I got curious and googled soviet era spacecraft. Several options appeared but the name USS Zond really stuck with me.

Initially, I was going to do the normal Phaser build I usually do for Federation cruisers. However, after a short period, I thought that would be too easy. I needed a challenge, something a lot of the community would not expect.

So, USS Zond was born as a Polaron armed dual cannon fast paced line breaker. I designed (well, theory crafted) this ship in mind that she already has high baseline HP & shields. What she needed was punch and turn capability. I envisioned this ship having the ability to penetrate  enemy lines like at the Battle to retake DS9, and break them open for the rest of the fleet.

So, lets get down and get into her guts. Or, I should say what she has equipped in terms of weapons, consoles & other items. At this time, Zond is still under construction as I add items to her and grind what i need. But what i will list is the main components or her soul.

The Shipyard

Morphogenic Armaments

This set i theory crafted to use all three pieces. Naturally due to their bonuses for recharge and damage/critical severity. Since I will be using CSV/CRF and torp spread, those abilities combined with the cooldown reduction will give this ship a decent boost in firepower capability. Additionally, if I can combine the rotations of the abilities correctly, the boosts will be pretty significant.

Three polaron critical severity

This is especially true, as due to a smaller tactical console footprint, and that even that small footprint will not be filled with Fleet tactical consoles, i need to gain as much critical severity and weapon damage as possible.

Task Force Ordinances

This set I theory craft to use two pieces. The console and the turret. Originally I use going to use the torpedo as well. However, having used the torpedo on the USS Kershaw, as well as other set pieces which I decided were situational better, meant i decided to drop it.

I am using these pieces due to their boosts to Polaron and drain, as well as the two piece set bonus. Which boosts Polaron damage and most importantly turn rate. Which helps me considering this ships low initial turn rate, and my decision to arm her with cannons. As due to cannons low arc capabilities, even when under Cannon scatter volleys effect, I need to be able to maneuver this starship as quickly as possible.

Chronometric Calculations Set

I theory crafted that I will use all four pieces of this set, like I have with the USS Ryujo (though she is beam armed not cannon). More so I reason I choose this set was it was Polaron, keeping with the theme. The set bonus was not a major consideration though the Chronometric Energy Convertor clickable is definitely desirable.

Chronometric Energy Convertor

Gamma Team Synergies

The main heart & brain of the USS Zond, is the four piece set of the Gamma Team Synergies. Deflector, Engines, Warp Core & Shields. The general boosts to Polaron damage, turn rate, drain and other items keep with my general decision style. Having a ship have a main “build type” with a secondary type that merges with the main.

The set pieces having small but all around boosts to general areas ensures I try to eliminate any weakness in the ship. Or, in an attempt to ensure she doesn’t have a fatal flaw like a lot of high end builds do within the community.

Lukari Restoration Initiative Armaments

I theory crafted that i would use two pieces of this set. The console and the dual cannons. The Polaron set bonus damage boost as well as the drain boost were definitely factors (mainly it was because it was a Polaron weapon good set). However, the main item is the dual cannons. Due to their proc, while small, could be an added benefit to the structural integrity of the starship. I am planning if possible to also nab a Colony Polaron tactical console that also boosts healing when activating certain tactical BOFF firing modes.

However, this may or may not happen depending on how high I can get this ships native critical chance and severity up to.

USS Zond concept

Defensive Drone Guardians

Being a what I call a “pocket carrier” I decided that the Zond’s hanger needed brothers or sisters. I have used this console to great effect on the USS Corona, USS Kershaw, USS Ability and others. This also means I have a broad spectrum of abilities. My main ship has Cannons, my ship pets has Beam Overload, and my console pets have BFAW.

This is again keeping with the ships theme of breaking enemy lines. Imagine this cannon armed ship coming after you, with 10 pets in its wake. Plus, it attempts to eliminate a blindside with this vessel. Considering this ships abilities limit it to a forward 90 degree arc, I wanted something to cover my six, or at least distract it until i could bring this ship around.

Tachyokinetic Converter

Another console I have used to great effect on several starships. This console’s being a main choice is due to its turn rate bonus mainly. The critical bonus boosts definitely help.

Helm, One Quarter Impulse Power.

Mainly, while I am boosting this ships tactical capability as much as possible, I am not comprising her tanking capability or her ability to take fire. This goes into one of my main principals of my build designs for starships. Multi-layered redundancy (MMR).

MMR is my own design type, where i ask myself “What happens WHEN “x ability” or “x happens” or doesn’t happen. i build secondary systems and even tertiary systems into my starships. For example, if my massive DPS spike doesn’t occur, or it gets nuked or badly reduced, the ship has secondary systems to retreat or weather the enemy response.

Naturally, the game doesn’t really penalize you if it doesn’t work. But I like to role play that it does. More over, i actually try to act each time i go into a TFO that i don’t get a respawn, or if i do, it is going to take a real long time. If my ship gets destroyed, it could be really bad for the team. Which is one of my core gaming values, teamwork. I don’t want to do anything that forces my team to work harder if I can help it 🙂

Lets Book it Ensign.

Well, that is the introduction to the USS Zond. Apologises for the wall of text. However, for you lot, this has been a small window into my mind, how i design starships, and how sometimes within 60 minutes (shorter time that it took for me to type this out) I can build a entire starship from scratch.

This is what happens on a Sunday afternoon, when for two days since the ships release, the community has kept bashing a particular starship.

USS Zond - Engage

She is definitely not going to top DPS charts.

However, I decided to design her on a whim as I do get annoyed sometimes with the some members of the community who decries power creep, let expects every ship to get progressively more powerful, or have to have a minimum of “X BOFF Layout” or it is worthless.

One of my friends in the Equator Alliance, and one of the editors on this blog page once called me “Doctor Strangelove”. For my capability to seemingly build up any starship with crazy ideas or patterns, usually very quickly too. I think he is right, and sometimes I question how I can theory craft, build and construct a starship inside of one hour. But, I actually enjoy it. There is something to be said about being a Mad good guy starship designer.

As long as no one lets me near Omega particles or Red Matter, then we might have a problem.

 

 

Building an Archon-class MSD

Early this year I was reviewing the recent Ships of the Line calendars and stumbled upon an absolutely superb rendering of the fan-made Phalanx-class, which has appeared in the calendar multiple times under a variety of different starship names. I encourage you to look it up if you aren’t familiar with the ship.

Professionally, I have an extensive background in post-production in both TV and film projects. Photoshop, After Effects, 3DS Max and Maya are my daily bread and butter, and in spite of having more model starships than is reasonable, and having a great love of technical drawings, maps, and diagrams, I had never actually tried making one of Star Trek’s famous “Okudagram” Master Systems Displays.

Mostly, I suspect this was just due to a total lack of time and commitment.

I’ve modified existing MSDs in the past – sometimes quite extensively – but there came a point where I simply had enough. If I really wanted to have my own ship rendered in the way that I wanted, I was just going to have to do it myself.

The Archon-class

USS Destiny during a Quantum Slipstream Drive test in 2416. (Source: 26th Fleet, AdmLancel)

The Archon is Star Trek Online’s successor to the Sovereign-class lineage. Designed and built by Ian “JamJamz” Richards of Cryptic Studios, the ship has a bit of a cult following in some of the game’s community circles, but she’s not without controversy owing to those overly ‘ample nacelles’ that adorn her pylons. Simply put: they are absolutely massive, and many Star Trek Online players spend a lot of time finding combinations of parts to give the ship a reduction mammaplasty. Still, she’s unique and – through virtue of her more obscure status in the wider Star Trek fandom – she has never been explored before.

So what makes the ship special?

Traditionally, Star Trek Online releases new ships based on old classics that are designed to explore aspects of canonical abilities seen by ‘hero’ ships in the shows and movies. The examples are easy to find: If you get a retrofit Intrepid-class, you’ll find it has an ability to use the ablative armour systems seen in Voyager’s finale, End Game. Or, if you get the new spin-off of the Defiant-class (the ‘Valiant’, named after the ill-fated cadet-crewed ship of the same name in Deep Space Nine) you’ll get an ability to fire off barrages of quantum torpedoes; those torpedoes being something that the Defiant was known for during its run on TV.

So how do you define a Sovereign? The Archon is not the first refit of the Sovereign design that we’ve seen. The preceding Regent-class gave it a set of metreon gas launchers that can be ignited to produce ‘The Riker Maneuver’ from Insurrection. The WizKids-exclusive Vizier class variant took this a step further and gave the ship a metreon gas torpedo launcher. So what did they give to the Archon?

A phase cloaking device.

…Wait, what?

Putting my shamelessly technobabbling head into gear, I’ve spent a huge amount of time talking to fellow guild mates exactly why the heck you’d put a phase cloaking device on a ship that was most famous for simply beating the ever-loving hell out of Borg, Son’a, and Remans, and looking fabulous while doing so.

The logical if cynical answer of course, is that Cryptic studios likes to make money, and throwing a very popular cloaking device onto what could be* the most popular class of ship in Star Trek is a bit of a no-brainer.

But I think we can do better. I think the Archon has a dark origin. She was released not long after the conclusion of Cryptic’s Iconian War campaign – a devastating war that saw Starfleet gutted and – by word of one of the game’s developers – so badly depleted that every single member of it’s flagship class of starships (the Odyssey) were either crippled or destroyed. Earth itself came to within minutes of being glassed by an Iconian fleet, and was spared at the last possible moment by an improbable (though some may argue inevitable) moment of Starfleet time travel tomfoolery. All this, after an extraordinary number of vessels were wasted in trying to smash through the walls of the Iconian Dyson sphere in an earlier mission led by a hard-headed Klingon.

…Maybe, just maybe, Starfleet needed something a little bit more drastic. To have been launched so soon after the conflict ended, it seems likely that the Archon class was already in development during the course of the Iconian War. My head canon for the Archon class is that it shall forever be the last-resort Starfleet weapon that never got to fire its guns in anger during the war for which it was designed. Can you think of a better way of getting into a heavily-fortified Dyson sphere than a phase-cloaking device that lets you pass through solid matter? I can’t. And so this is where my theory begins. The other big clue is the fact the ship has curiously-chosen Intelligence-specced seating, implying activities that fall outside the usual loud-and-proud pomp and circumstance of Starfleet fanfare.

Oh yes, the Archon is a dark horse of a ship indeed, and I really wanted to reflect all of this in her Master Systems Display. Here she is…

(Click for full-resolution 22000×5000 .PNG)

The MSD’s basic colour profile is broken down into four simple divisions. Crew areas and other operational equipment is rendered in Pantone 7675 C (violet) while engineering systems are rendered in gold Pantone 728 C. Tactical systems (including phaser banks and torpedo launchers) are rendered in red Panton 172 C, while finally, warp plasma related systems are rendered in a light blue Pantone 2975 C. This palette is maintained across the entire systems diagram.

There are some challenging aspects of the Archon in how she is laid out. An examination of the model in detail (which had to be done before this project) revealed a likely warp core ejection point that was a very long way forward of the one found on the Sovereign-class. What’s more, the Archon has a very large deflector dish which is just a short way forward of that position. Main engineering and the deflector space were probably going to be in very close proximity to one another, which left the question of just how much space could be allotted to the main shuttle bay in the spaces above. While the Archon wouldn’t be the first starship to put a warp core so close to the deflector (the Constitution’s core ran vertically through the ship’s neck, directly behind the deflector dish), it could be the first starship in over a hundred years to do so. Design wise, it made more sense to find ways to fit the two around each other rather than completely reinventing the concept of the deflector as we’ve known it since TNG.

Ventral hull of the Archon class. Note the two red lines marking a possible warp core ejection point. The round port forward of that is identical to one under the stern, meaning it is unlikely to be related.

In short: the Archon’s critical systems are all bundled up into a space that’s quite confined. So long as someone is reasonably good at Tetris, then this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Traditionally, capital ships could concentrate their key systems in one area, and focus their armour schemes around a single, smaller area of the ship (called a ‘citadel’) for more weight-efficient defence. Notably, this area on the Archon is visibly defined by a grey boundary line that runs up the side of the ship from its ventral hull, to a point as high as the saucer section. It’s plausible (from the perspective of someone trying to make an MSD for this ship) that this area marks the most heavily armoured section of the secondary hull, with thick concentrations of ablative plating and structural reinforcements. This latter point would seemingly be supported by just how wide the secondary hull becomes at those frames.

If that is the case – and I did assume it to be so – then the majority of critical machinery would need to be drawn within that zone.

This quickly brings about a second point of note: the Archon’s bridge is set a very long way aft compared to other classes of vessels. The only other ship that I can think of that has a bridge that far aft on the saucer is the Intrepid class, but she’s a much smaller type. The bottom line is that if I was to be faithful to other ‘large’ ships (particularly the Sovereign) which place a large ODN shaft underneath the bridge to carry the computer network cabling, then some thought would need to be given to the position of other large components including the computer cores themselves. And that’s before I’d even thought about turbolift shafts.

Saucer separation:

Art of the Sovereign class demonstrating saucer separation, by the ship’s designer, John Eaves

A feature of note on the Sovereign-class is the existence of saucer separation. When John Eaves designed the ship back in 1995-1996 ahead of its first appearance in First Contact, he drafted plans that included this capability, and it was never used on screen. This leaves its status in canon as uncertain, but all the same the concept has persisted and numerous drawings of the ship can be found that preserve the saucer separation component, including work by Mr Eaves himself.

As she appears in Star Trek Online, Sovereign doesn’t have saucer separation – but her MSD, made by Cryptic staffer Tim ‘Suricata’ Davies, does. Where does this leave the Archon?

Considering the Archon is the direct successor to the Sovereign-class, I assumed that the mission profiles of the two ships were largely the same. It doesn’t make much sense to produce a follow-on that is somehow less capable than the ship it is replacing, so even if it’s functionally not present within the game for balance or gameplay reasons, I opted to include the suggestion of saucer separation in the Archon’s MSD.

Having said that – a problem that I have almost constantly had with drawings of ships that have saucer separation is just how badly those separation lines cut into its key structures and decks. While an MSD is an abstracted 2D cross section of a ship that has a lot of beam – often combining sections that are far to the port and starboard of the centreline on to a single plate – separation planes are nonetheless difficult to visualise when their slopes visibly cut through areas of decks that are sometimes well over a hundred metres long. In including the separation plane on the Archon, I took care to ‘step it down’ as it moved forward – keeping the interlocks and separation mechanisms contained within their own compartments that, to the very best of my ability, did not needlessly cut into functional spaces around it.

I kept the ship’s battle bridge in the same relative position to that on the Sovereign class, just above and forward of the main navigational deflector, located several decks down below the top of the secondary hull section. An alternate position was considered within the ‘prow’ of the secondary hull, but that was instead – at the suggestion of a friend and collaborator – given over to an intelligence command centre which I will explain a little bit later in this write-up.

The battle bridge, located just above the main deflector, and surrounding areas up to the level of the separation plane.

One fun aspect of the saucer separation capability is the ship’s main shuttlebay. It is horizontally bisected by the separation line. I imagine that during procedures to split the ship in two, the shuttle elevator platforms raise up to the flight deck and effectively seal as air locks with various locking pins clunking into place and buttoning up the section. Secondary doors might then expand either side of the lift shafts to provide the second seal for the engineering section, allowing the hydraulic lifts to pull back and stow themselves. It’s a very clean line which starts at the rear of the shuttlebay flight deck and extending forward, stepping down just before the primary ODN shaft, and again as it approaches the forward transporter rooms.

The very front of the secondary hull section forms a ‘dreadnought-style’ bow which slips away to become the ship’s new prow, and does so at a clean (almost vertical) angle that doesn’t unnecessarily intrude into the operational spaces in that section.

Shuttlebays:

Main flight deck and hangars, located at the back of the saucer section.

The Archon’s got a major point of difference over the Sovereign-class, in that she only has the one large shuttlebay. (The ship’s fantail is a large secondary shuttlebay on the Sovereign, but is a fairly plainly detailed stump on the Archon with no visible doors.) On the face of it, I didn’t realise how much of a logistical challenge this presented in terms of space allocation for shuttles, fighters, and other craft. This meant that in order for the ship to really have enough shuttles (or what I consider to be enough, at least!) it really needed to have a fairly deep hangar hold. That brings the floor of the maintenance hangars down to the top of the ship’s warp core.

Secondary shuttlebay, located at the back of the ventral hull, and backing directly onto Cargo Bay 2.

A through-deck hangar (much like the Galaxy and Akira class) was one possible alternative, but the shallower geometry of the Archon’s saucer section would mean that such an area would very severely reduce the number of useable compartments for things like science labs, transporter rooms, and crew quarters. The hangar and flight deck each occupy a height of two decks, and are – based on the position of the three launch bay doors at the rear of the saucer – wide enough to accomodate multiple small craft side by side. The entire saucer section, from bridge to saucer edge (which is also the lower-most deck with useable space) is only nine decks tall. It would be unusual, in my estimates, to dedicate close to fifty percent of the ship’s primary habitable area over shuttlebays.

The Archon does, however, actually have three other smaller shuttlebays elsewhere on the ship. One of these is rendered on the MSD and is located in the ventral section of the secondary hull, facing aft at the ‘divot’ rise of the keel. Two other, smaller bays are located on the ventral side of the saucer section (port and starboard) facing forward. These latter two shuttlebays are not rendered on the MSD, and would sit in an area close to where I’ve rendered stellar cartography and the primary ODN shaft. The downside of having several small shuttlebays rather than a couple of large ones is that it does limit the ship’s ability to fit larger types of shuttles onboard. Plus side: it meant I could back the secondary shuttlebay directly onto a cargo hold in the ship’s ventral hull, making for an excellent loading bay.

Engineering and Deflector:

As mentioned previously, the warp core of the Archon class seems to be situated well forward of where it was located on the Sovereign, running vertically just behind the main deflector. The three primary considerations on Main Engineering’s position would be the location of the warp core, the line of the main EPS conduit from the warp core intermix chamber to the nacelle pylons, and the physical size of the Main Engineering compartment itself. Having established the position of the warp core along the ship’s length, I cross-referenced it to the level of the nacelle pylons to get the position of the warp core’s reaction chamber.

That marks the centre of main engineering, around which the compartment could be build. This was looking to fall extremely close to the level of the main deflector spaces below, meaning the traditional layout of corridors that run across the ship in front of engineering couldn’t be done. Had the warp core been placed any higher, then the main EPS line would also not properly intersect with the ship’s pylons. The internal layout is likely to have the corridors running down either side of engineering, with turbolift access toward the stern. Of the compromises that could be made, this was probably the best solution I could come up with.

The Engineering compartment is a pretty standard size, being based on the dimensions of the Sovereign class. It sits on deck 17, directly above the deflector control systems. There is an upper Deflector Control room on deck 16 (hello, First Contact reference!) and a second control roo down just above the torpedo magazine, at deck 20.

Less ideal, but still mostly acceptable, the warp core does not have a clear ejection port on the dorsal hull and can only be ejected down through the ventral hull. Directly above the warp core is the lower maintenance deck of the shuttlebay hangars.

The main navigational deflector has a much wider aperture than the one on the Sovereign class, and its structure is closely based on the style of the Phalanx-class master systems display. It’s much less an abstract assembly of geometric shapes, and instead a slightly more detailed rendering of the actual structures, including their mounting spaces, cables, and frames.

I tried to preserve this ‘blocked out’ style across the MSD extensively, with the most obvious second example being the nacelle structure and areas surrounding the plasma injection control centre. I think it’s an effective look that draws the eye – which is helpful because the deflector and the systems around it sit at the very heart of the ship’s operations.

The first of three torpedo launchers sits directly beneath the deflector in an arrangement very similar to the ventral launchers of the Sovereign. Notably, the Archon class has fewer torpedo launchers than the Sovereign itself, with just six of them present in three mounts located here at the ventral fore, the ventral aft, and stern. By comparison, the Sovereign had either ten or eleven torpedo launchers by the end of Nemesis, depending on which analysis you believe.

Curiously, the two classes have an identical balance of torpedo firepower, biased heavily to the aft quarter. Of the Sovereign’s 10 (maybe 11) launchers, six of them face aft, while four of them face forward. It’s a similar story on the Archon, with four launchers facing aft and just two pointed forward. The Archon has no torpedo launchers under her saucer like Sovereign’s turret, though a smaller version of this turret (without a Captain’s yacht) is present on the ship’s fantail.

Considering the stated torpedo armament of these kinds of ships is usually quoted in the hundreds of rounds, I took care to ensure the magazines (complete with loaders) were reasonably large in size.

Intelligence & Assault

It’s written on the packet. The Archon is an Intelligence Assault Cruiser, and while I’ve never been especially sure of what an Assault Cruiser is (aside from a vessel perhaps designed to break through lines and wreak havoc at the centre of the enemy formation) the addition of Intelligence capabilities to the ship is an eyebrow-raiser. Accordingly, I gave the MSD several facilities that directly relate to that mission role.

The Archon’s ‘turret’ position under the saucer doesn’t have the same torpedo launchers that the Sovereign has, and that space is instead occupied by a large, ominous looking black trapezium of unknown function and design. Traditionally, this space on a starship has also been the location of a large sensor array (such as that on the Galaxy class, Excelsior, and even Constitution).

Instead of a standard planetary sensor dome, I chose to put a very large surveillance sensor that, of a particularly extensive and sophisticated type that might be used by Starfleet Intelligence. It pairs nicely with the fact the ship has a cloaking device, after all.

Directly above that sensor, and attached to it, is an Intelligence Operations Centre.

This room is basically one big command centre for members of Starfleet Intelligence to conduct surveillance, analysis, and covert operations deep within the ship. I even baffled the compartment with some cladding to give the spooks some privacy, and it separates the entire area from surrounding sections. The only areas around this command centre are library and research areas, along with a crew lounge and life support systems.

The second thing I thought to add was an area of the lower decks that was dedicated to an embarked MACO contingent or hazard team. MACO was – according to the conjectural opinion of Cryptic’s Thomas Marrone – reinstated in Star Trek Online and ‘wholly subsumed’ by the organisation as ‘marines’.

The MACO section of the Archon, showing shooting range, billets, gymnasium, briefing room, armoury, and CO’s office.

The MACO decks, spanning two levels just above the secondary shuttlebay and Cargo Bay 2, include all manner of facilities that the MACO might need. There is a shooting range, an armoury, quarters, a commander’s office (right next to his quarters), a briefing room, gymnasium, and basic lounge area. This all sits with the conjectural ‘armoured’ section of the ship, and yes – for the keen eyed out there – that is a bathroom with toilets in it. If there is one thing I am most pleased about in completing a Master Systems Display, it’s the fact this ship actually has a loo!

Finally on the intelligence front, there is a mission operations centre directly above the shuttle bay:

I laboured over this area for some time. It’s actually too short within the deck spacing to be a lounge, but it’s also very, very close to the flight deck’s traffic control centre which sits in the ‘bird nest’ that hangs from the flight deck roof. The idea of putting a crew lounge right near air traffic control didn’t seem like an overly smart idea, so the area was instead given over to an orbital mission operations centre, from which I imagine the ship’s security and tactical officers can work with MACO, Hazard Team, and other relevant parties to coordinate the landing of security forces on planetary surfaces. The big windows visible to the aft of the observation platform give excellent visibility toward space over the approaches of the shuttlebay, but – notably – they lack any windows or field of view in the direction of the shuttlebay approach, making it unsuitable for traffic control.

The Archon’s flight deck approach, showing the three doors of the shuttlebay and the observation platform that overlooks it.

Warp Drive

Moving along swiftly, the warp nacelles are something I ended up being quite proud of. Nacelles are not typically something that are well detailed on Master Systems Displays, so I referred to a lot of cutaways and old Trek reference manuals to work out how they all go together. In the end, I fashioned something of a useable machinery space between the bussard collectors and the warp field coils where systems like plasma injectors, control rooms, and power lines could be placed. Of particular note was the Quantum Slipstream Drive envelopes which line each side of the Archon class’s nacelles.

There is very little in the way of canon about the QSD and how it works. Voyager never went into it in any detail, and that particular series often played fast and loose with its engineering treknobabble. It’s an open book, with only a few sets to refer to for inspiration. In Star Trek Online, Starfleet has been playing with QSD technology for over thirty years since the end of Voyager, so I asked the question: How much has it advanced? And what the heck does a Quantum Slipstream Drive coil look like in 2410?

The interior of the Archon class nacelle, showing control rooms, plasma injectors, and the Quantum Slipstream Drive spinnaker.

Thankfully, we do have some idea. The USS Dauntless’s quantum slipstream drive in Voyager was a roughly circular node of devices that surrounded a central core fashioned out of what looked to be a plasma globe. If this was Starfleet’s starting point for inspiration, then that was something I could work with

The orientation of the QSD sleeves on either side of the nacelle makes for interesting internal arrangements. I tried a variety of designs including several ‘molecule model’ spheres chained together in a zig-zag patten. I tried more traditional Trek geometric constructions made out of multiple sized, clean-looking boxes, but none of this really fit within the loosely triangular shape of the sleeve.

In moments of silly frustration, I did look to less serious references. Enter Battlestar Galactica’s invocations of ‘spin up the FTL drive’, or the puppet General Hammond in Episode 200 of Stargate SG1 proclaiming, “I’m the General, and I want it to spin!”.

My mental acrobatics went from what train of thought to another, and before long I was indeed asking myself: “…does a QSD even spin?”

The answer was probably ‘no’, but nonetheless I found myself thinking more about rounded shapes – and that original circular pattern seen in Voyager aboard the Dauntless. I didn’t imagine the device would physically rotate, but it almost certainly had an electrical component that worked within the ‘spindles’ that we saw. Hmm… Spindles… spinning… electrical…

I don’t quite know when the word ‘spinnaker’ entered my mind, but a spinnaker on a sailing vessel is a large sail that is deployed for short periods to to drive the vessel down-wind. They aren’t always appropriate and are stowed when not necessary – which pretty much meets the description of a Quantum Slipstream Drive. It’s a name that stuck as I built it up. I am really, really happy with how it turned out. As an added bonus, it makes for some good bridge banter when the Captain wants the QSD deployed or retracted. I can quite easily imagine “Douse the Socks” being an order issued to bring a ship to impulse.

Get it?

The nacelles themselves have fewer field coils than the Sovereign class (22 pairs vs the Sovereign’s 24) but they are much larger, being at times four or five times heavier towards the front of the engines. Considering just how well-endowed the ship’s nacelles are, I expected that making them balanced would be a reasonable challenge. In the end, they actually came out alright. One consideration is that the nacelles are cambered at an angle of about 30 degrees outboard, which makes them even longer than they appear in a side-orthographic. This is reflected more in the inset graphic I produced to show off the ship’s quantum slipstream envelope, with each blue line intersecting each point of the ship’s main QSD sleeves.

Inset shows EPS power grid, key ODN systems, and the ship’s slipstream envelope.

There are tonne of details buried all over the MSD. From the static ship model displays in the bridge conference room, to observation corridors at the forward lounge that overlook the ship’s inboard areas, to easter eggs and traceable wiring that leads from weapons arrays to small generators and fusion reactors, I tried to step up the level of detail that people generally see in an MSD. As this is my first attempt, I’m proud of the result, and hope you enjoy pouring over it to explore it in depth. Have any suggestions or feedback? Drop me a comment or an email. I’ve love to hear your thoughts.

Some final acknowledgements – I’d simply thank fleet mate @AdmLancel for his constant counsel and being a sounding board for what you see in the MSD, Cryptic’s Tim Davies for the inspiration provided by his own MSDs, Cryptic’s Thomas Marrone for his wonderful Jayces’ Interstellar series (and all its technical details that I relied on to make decisions for this project) and D.M. Phoenix who produced the Phalanx-class and its MSD which probably led me to do this project to begin with.

Cheers.

*Yes yes, I can see you back there, Constitution fans.

Dil Farming – sure, why not?

Fleet mine holding

Let’s face it – every MMO is a grindfest, and STO is definitely not an exception.  Amongst all the in-game currencies, dilithium (aka “dil”) is the most coveted and most difficult to obtain.  Or is it?  If there is one event that dil farmers were born for it is the Dilithium Bonus weekend.  During this event, all dil rewards are increased by 50%, with some increased by 100%.

Setting up mining and contraband dil farm

Resources needed:

  1. as many level-9 toons as you can get (both Fed and KDF).
  2. minimum of 25 contraband per toon. To obtain contraband, you can:
  3. purchase in bulk off the exchange by searching for “contraband” and selecting “sort by ascending price per unit (expensive but can be done immediately).
  4. do select doff missions or marauding missions on KDF toons (time-consuming but inexpensive).
  5. if available, a minimum of 5 VIP mining vouchers per toon for the Vlugta asteroid mine field located in the Alpha quadrant. Unfortunately, these vouchers can only be obtained by opening lock boxes.
  6. an environmental suit.

So how does this work? First, you’ll need to move all your farming toons (which shall now be referred to as “farmers”) to Deep Space 9 located next to Bajor in the Alpha quadrant.

Place all your farmers in the vicinity of the Security Officer on Deep Space 9.  On the evening before the dil bonus weekend event begins, accept the “turn over confiscated contraband” doff mission.  Collect the results the next day once the event starts and accept the same doff mission again.

Reward before event: 2000 dil.  Reward during event: 3000 dil.

If you have VIP mining claims, fly your farmers to the dilithium mine on the Vlugta asteroid located in the Bajor sector.

Vlugta-on-map-1

The night before the event begins, talk to Isihl and accept the “rich dilithium claim” mission.  However, do not run the mission.  Instead, wait until the event begins.

Isihl-1

Once the event begins, you can go to the rich dilithium vein by activating your environmental suit.  Go talk to the FDMAA agent and accept the mining mission.  You will need to score at least 700 points in order to maximize your reward.  Once done, leave your farmers there until the next day in order to repeat this process.

Vlugta-ground

Reward before event: 5000 dil. Reward during event: 10000 dil.

[EDIT]: I forgot that you can mine on the Vlugta asteroid as well. I just ran this mission during the dil bonus weekend event, so I’ve got accurate numbers for the result of completing it.  Basically, talk to Isihl and take the “asteroid mining” mission.  You can use the same trick of picking up the mission the night before the event, just like the VIP mining mission.  You’ll have to mine at five locations as indicated on your mini-map.  Each mining mini-game will also reward you with a small amount of common and uncommon crafting materials.  Once done, go back to the airlock and talk ti Isihl in order to complete the mission.

Reward before event: 1350 dil.  Reward duing event: 2025 dil max.

If you do not have VIP mining claims, then you can fly over to the “Dilithium Fleet Mine Holdings” located in the Bajor sector as well.

Fleet-mine-map

Once you’ve beamed to the surface of your fleet’s mine holding, talk to the Miner Shift Manager who will offer you three missions: mine impure, rich, and pure dilithium crystals.

Fleet-mine-holding-map

Once accepted and you’ve activated your environmental suit, you’ll see their locations on the map.  Go to them and perform the mini-game.  Again, a minimum score of 700 will maximize your results.

Fleet-mine-holding-dude-dialogue

pure-dil-fail

There are four colors of mineable dil crystals: pink, gold, blue, and green.  The Miner Shift Manager can provide you with information about the different colored crystals.  However, it is irrelevant since they all provide the same reward of 200 dil before the event.  You will find a total of ten such mining locations.  There is also one bonus dil mining mission located to the northeast of the mining station, which rewards (prior to the event) 480 dil. Be careful with this one because you may fall into an abyss and get stuck.

Make sure to use the navigation points to fly to each.

pur-dil-fly-out

I can’t give you an exact number for these rewards during the bonus dil weekend since I typically don’t do this mission.  Why?  It’s time-consuming (about 15 – 20 minutes per toon).  So the following bonus reward numbers may be off.

[EDIT]: I just ran these mining missions during the dil bonus weekend event. I’ve updated the rewards numbers below.

Reward before event: 2480 dil.  Reward during event: 5010 Wow!!!

Now for the next day, you’ll do the “rich dilithium claim” or the “dilithium fleet mine holding” missions and then fly to Deep Space 9 and accept the “turn over confiscated contraband” doff project with the Security Officer.  For each day of the event, you’ll repeat this process in the opposite order.  If you move any toons from their end locations, remember to put them back before you log out.

Setting up a doff mission dil farm (courtesy of @Foxman86)    

There are many options for setting up a doff dil farm since every doff mission provides a small dil reward.  However, some may provide more than others.  Undoubtedly, the “turn over confiscated contraband” doff mission provides the largest reward.  However the leader of the 101st Fleet, Aaron Lawford@Foxman86, recently informed me of some he does on a regular basis: Daily Research and Development doff missions from the Assignment Officer.  The Assignment Officer is located in the development lab on your fleet’s R&D holding.

RD-map-for-doff-dil-mission

RD-Doff-dude

You’ll have several to select, but you’ll only be able to do one at a time.  However, there’s a twenty-hour cooldown, so this would make a good daily mission.  Personally, I haven’t done these doff missions during the dil bonus weekend event, so the following numbers are an estimate.

RD-doff-menu-selection

Reward before event: 1200 dil.  Reward during event: 1800 dil (est.)

Another good dil doff mission can be found on your very own ship if you go talk to the Science Officer on your engineering deck.  You can get there by visiting your bridge and then take the turbolift to the engineering deck.

ship-interior-map

You will see three doff missions on the menu. On the first window, you’ll see a menu, so select the mission titled “special projects.  A second menu will appear. The one you want to do is the first one – “data sample analysis.” You’ll be presented with four doff missions that require data samples – something that you likely have lots of taking up inventory/bank-slot space.

third-menu

The good thing about these projects is the cooldown: three have a six-hour cooldown and one an eight-hour cooldown. Each project rewards 250 dil.

Reward before event: 1000 dil.  Rward during eveng: 1500 dil (est.)

Task Force Operations farm

STO recently re-did the old STF’s into the new Task Force Operations (TFO’s).   Granted, we all know the risks of running these with random players, so do so at your own risk.  As always, it is best to do these missions with friends, as well as fleet- and armada-mates.  Make sure to put a call out for others to join you either in your fleet’s chat channel or the Equator Alliance (EA) chat channel.  You could also use the Armada chat channel, but we prefer to use the EA chat channel since it is a cross-faction channel. If you need an invite to this channel, send me an email (@CaptainPetey) and I’ll add you to the channel.

When it comes to rewards, these vary depending on how successful is your team.  Hence, I won’t post dil results for TFO’s.  However, it is worthy to note that some are much easier and faster to complete. These include Crystalline Catastrophe Advanced (CCA), Infected: the conduit (otherwise known as Infected Space Advanced – ISA), and Federation Fleet Alert (FFA).  Each has a 30-minute cooldown, so you can keep running these on your toons as often as you’d like.  Your rewards can also vary depending on if you’ve received your daily bonus for CCA or ISA (or any other Borg-related TFO).

Setting up an Admiralty farm (courtesy of @ISS Voyager)

Imagine-

-an ocean of stars, shimmering crystal and violet.  With a tall prow and a handsome stride, a starship wakes the sky in dilithium supernovae.  Imagine forging dilithium with a keystroke.  Imagine no cooldown timers, no trading, no mining, no contraband, no zen, nor lockboxes.  Imagine infinite dilithium from no input, without cooldown, from anywhere, by any ship, for as many times as you press a button, right now.  Imagine accomplishing this using assets once thought defunct.  This is the potential of the Admiralty System.

What’s the Catch?

There is always a catch.  In this case, there are three.  Reaching the full potential of the admiralty system requires: (X) An armada of account-reclaimable starships; (Y) a vast army of captains, and (Z) patient setup.  Maximizing the Admiralty System is not for the casual: it is for those of us who remember Marks of Honor, Pursuing DSE’s, Memory Alpha, Tribble Breeding, and a choice of 6 endgame Starships.  (Enter Excelsior-class, August 26, 2010.)

Theory

The theory is simple: (1) Maximize the Admiralty System, (2) across numerous avatars, by (3) effectively deploying your armada.  We discuss these three dimensions below.  Done correctly, the cooldown timers will be vastly eclipsed by the available missions, and will effectively allow you to earn dilithium continuously.  Further, effectively deploying your armada means all your idle ships become infinite sources of dilithium.  That is, what was an infinite well of buyer’s remorse is now an infinite source of energy.

Maximize the Admiralty System

(For a beginner’s guide to the Admiralty system, look to the STO Wiki.)

Maximizing the Admiralty System means: (A) completing missions which reward dilithium, while (B) skipping non-dilithium missions without wasting pass-tokens.

Missions that Reward Dilithium

  • Klingon & Ferengi Tours of Duty [10 of 10] [30,000 Dilithium Ore]
  • Missions marked with Dilithium Emblems [50-500 Dilithium Ore]
  • Missions with “Dilithium Events”
    • Lucrative Mining Contract [2,000 Dilithium Ore]
    • Lucky Vein [1,000 Dilithium Ore]
    • Refinement Surplus [500 Dilithium Ore]
    • Rogue Dilithium Asteroid [500 Dilithium Ore]
    • Dilithium Dust Synthesis [500 Dilithium Ore]
    • Intermix Chamber Salvage [500 Dilithium Ore]

Skipping Missions without Wasting Pass Tokens

The strategy is to repeat the long-term Klingon and Ferengi Tours of Duty while also repeating the short-term Dilithium missions.  A pass token is (usually) rewarded on a critical mission successes, and a captain may only have a maximum of 50.  Thus, they must be neither horded nor wasted.  A simple algorithm for this strategy is:

  1. Do all Tour of Duty and Dilithium missions accessible without using a pass token. Check all campaigns.
  2. Klingon Campaign; skip non-dilithium missions and run all dilithium missions until the next Tour of Duty mission is run.
  3. Repeat for Ferengi Campaign.
  4. Return to Klingon Campaign, skip non-dilithium missions and run all dilithium missions until all slots are filled.

Numerous Avatars

The second dimension is to multiply the above method across many avatars.  Notice that all of your c-store and special event ships are account reclaimable.  Notice also that Dominion captains start with access to the Admiralty System, and can access all starships after selecting an allegiance.  Admiralty Starships are created when you first claim a starship on an avatar.  Decommissioning a starship does not remove its parallel admiralty card.  Thus, you can copy your entire armada onto every avatar, simply by taking care to commission and decommission each ship one by one.

  1. Create a new Dominion captain. Play through the Tutorial.  Select the allegiance of your Armada.
  2. Stand by a “Ship Selector” NPC/Console
  3. Reclaim an account-reclaimable starship. Verify its corresponding Admiralty Card has been created.  (Sometimes it doesn’t create due to a glitch)
  4. Decommission the starship.
  5. Repeat for every starship, one by one. Take care to verify each admiralty card is properly created.
  6. You have now copied your Starship Armada, and all its dilithium-earning glory!

Effectively Deploy your Armada

Armada Strategies and Tactics are outlined below.

Armada Strategy

  • The “Star Empire”

Imagine a Star Empire comprised of Armadas of Starships.  An Armada of Admiralty Starships is mapped to each of your avatars.  Note, your Star Empire is made of Admiralty Starships, and not of Avatar Starships.  Consider your Avatar Starships as “communication ships” and your Avatars as “communications officers”: their role is only to relay information to their corresponding Armadas of your vast Star Empire.  Accordingly, simplify and streamline your activity to deploy your Armadas wisely.  Admiralty Starships require zero attention and earn all of the dilithium, while Avatars and their Avatar Starships require a colossus of attention, and earn no dilithium.

  • Avoid Black Holes

Are you OCD like me?  Remember the “Star Empire” design.  Do not get bogged-down in the tedium of micro-managing many tertiary avatars!  Beware the following:

    • Do not attempt to actually level an army of avatars to Vice Admiral 52 for this purpose
    • Do not attempt to keep track of tertiary avatars’ levels or equipment
    • Do not attempt to make all tertiary avatars identical
    • Do not attempt to reclaim all other account-reclaimable items
    • Save and Load their UI, or simply keep the default settings
    • Save and Load a common uniform, or simply use the default costume
    • Setup tertiary avatars one at a time, do not “assembly line” them
    • Name your avatars simply! (X-1, Y-13, Z-17, etc.)
    • Remember they have exactly one function: Admiralty System

Mothballs to Star Empire

Do you have starships idling in mothballs?  The beauty of the Admiralty System is that it turns your idle starships into the greatest source of dilithium in-game, accomplishing two endeavors in one excellent design.  That is, what was an infinite well of buyer’s remorse is now an infinite source of energy.

Moving Resources

Dilithium and other resources will collect evenly across the inventory-assets of your numerous avatars.  Periodically transfer these resources to your main avatar(s).

  • Dilithium via Dilithium Exchange
  • Energy Credits via Account Bank (Bridge)
  • R&D Materials via Account Bank (Bridge)
  • Liquidate all other assets to Energy Credits
  • Overkill Formation

If your Armadas are large enough, lead with your Tier-6 starships in an “overkill formation.”  Do so even for common assignments with small requisites.  The critical success will supply you with necessary pass tokens and increased dilithium.  If your Armadas are smaller, maintain a “cohort” formation, where powerful ships are partnered with weaker vessels.

Music

Armada Tactics

Tactical activity will consist of:

  • Log onto a Tertiary Avatar
  • Collet rewards from completed Admiralty Assignments
  • Engage new Admiralty Assignments (as outlined in Section 1, Supra)
  • Log out. This cycle takes a minute or less.
  • Repeat Indefinitely.

Final Results

When the system is setup, each avatar will normally collect 1,000 – 3,000 Dilithium Ore per login cycle. (Described in Section 3B, Supra)  Further, Klingon & Ferengi Tours of Duty [10 of 10] reward 30,000 Dilithium.  (See Section 1A, Supra)  It will typically take 20 days to complete a Tour, though they can complete in as little as 10 days.  Regular dilithium missions complete in several hours, or in as little as 15 minutes.

Now, imagine 40 avatars.  If it takes only one minute to perform a cycle, and if most missions complete in an hour or less….  Then, by the time you cycle Avatar-40, Avatar-1 will be ready to collect dilithium again.

That’s: 40 x 1,000 = 40,000 Dilithium per hour, minimum, indefinitely.

Plus: 40 x 2 x 30,000 = 2,400,000 Dilithium every 10-20 Days.

Long Live the Terran Empire!

Antonio@ISS Voyager

Terran Empire 1st Fleet

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