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

=/\=

Back from the Yards: Gameprints Repair of the 12″ USS Zuikaku

Back in March 2018, when Gameprint & Cryptic started to offer personalize printed Star Trek Online ships, looking exactly how your ship looks in-game. I, like many other Star Trek Nerds, most likely giggled like little school children (come on admit it, you did 🙂 ). So,with the new service being offered. I ordered my flagship, the Tier 6 Fleet Intel Assault Cruiser USS Zuikaku, flagship of the 101st fleet.

Several weeks went by, and in early May 2018, one day the package arrived. I was so excited, as I had been dealing with a lot of things in my personal & work life. Having the model arrive, was a bright spot on an otherwise bad period.

Little did i realize, that i would be most likely one of the first orders, who would experience a major break of their model.

Zuikaku

Needless to say, I was crushed. Barely able to take one photograph before I reboxed everything, and contacted Gameprint to let them know what had occurred, and to also request a repair.

I also informed Reddit/STO, one of the main community locations for discussing Star Trek Online. Thread in hand, I let them know what had occurred

The support I received from them was great. I also got support from the main Cryptic Community Manager Ambassador Kael who contacted Gameprint. In an effort to ensure that this would never happen again to anyone else.

Several days went by, and I organized with Gameprint to have my ship sent back to be repaired. After I turned down their initial offer of them telling me how to conduct the repair myself. It took several weeks to get the package sent off. However, that was no fault of Gameprint or their delivery company. But more the fault of my local delivery company who delayed the send back by 2 weeks.

And so, ship sent back. I waited….

Repairs Underway

June became July, and I communicate back and forth with Gameprint with periodic e-mails requesting updates as to the repair. Then, on July 25th, a new e-mail came in. This e-mail, made me both excited, and worried at the same time.

We are working on your ship at this moment and we managed to cut your ship in half (sound scary but don’t worry she will be fine simple_smile)
We have reprinted the bottom half in tough resin. The modelling team just finished gluing and cleaning the ship. Now it’s in painting.
The phase “cut in half” doesn’t make any ship captain feel good at all. But I trusted the Gameprint team to get the job done.
Then two weeks later, I was informed the ship had been repackaged, and was on her way back to me.
Ship return & Review
A week later, the USS Zuikaku returned home. As one could expect. I was worried. Scared that unboxing her again would show another massive failure or break. Like the USS Reprisal mentioned in another blog, she was extensively protected. One could say over protected. But considering the cost, and the model and customer target base. I was glad.
It also seemed, that the USS Zuikaku incident may have been the trigger for a completely new way of packaging and sending ships to clients. If that hypothesis is true, then I am OK with what happened.
DSCN1706
Ship unpacked, and she looked beautiful. The one slight issue was a slightly bent nacelle. But considering the width of the nacelle struts even in resin (1mm thick, if that) I am not surprised the weight of the nacelles might have caused a slight “bend”.
A better angle, shows the slight “bend” of the nacelle.
DSCN1711
DSCN1721
As you can see, the bend is pretty slight. The nacelle in question that is bent is on the port side of the second picture. The nacelle pylons still feel like they are flexible and can bend and twist. This does not surprise me, even considering that they cut my ship in half, some sections would still need to be flexible in order to have some give.
This is especially true, that while the model is light, the nacelles themselves considering their location and supporting pylons are still a heavy load.
Now, Gameprint mentioned that they cut my ship in half. However, I seriously cannot tell where that occurred. The repair (at least because of my paint job selection) is so well hidden, there are no clues to its probable location.
DSCN1727
Considering how she was returned, a slightly bent nacelle is something I am more than willing to live with.  The timeframe from when Gameprint received my ship, to when the repair was completed seems to be 1 month. But considering how busy Gameprint have been with all their orders, as well as the seriousness of the damage, that timeframe is more than understandable.
Conclusion
I have to say, Gameprint really did their best to ensure my issue was resolved. Additionally, they were pretty responsive when i requested updates about the repair status, as well as requesting updates about what they could do for me regarding options to fix or replace the USS Zuikaku. Or, alternatively the return of the money i paid.
I also didn’t go into detail regarding how this ship looks compared to my in-game USS Zuikaku. This was because this blog was more about the repair & support, than the ship herself.
Thanks to all the Reddit/STO community & especially Ambassador Kael of the Cryptic team for their support and assistance with getting this resolved.
Now the USS Zuikaku is back home, I am going to ensure I have a quiet period. However, knowing this ship, I basically know I am going to be back in trouble again within a week. This ship just seems to attract trouble.
I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

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

Introduction

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

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

But as usual, Vizier has her quirks 🙂

BOFF Stations

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

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

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

COMMANDER ENGINEER

Commander-Engineer-Station

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

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

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

Overload-Integrity-Field

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

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

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

Lieutenant Commander Universal/Command

Lt-Commander-Universal-Command

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

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

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

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

Concentrate-Firepower

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

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

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

Lieutenant Engineering

Lt-Engineering.png

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

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

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

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

Ensign Tactical

Ensign-Tactical

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

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

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

DOFF-Conn-Officer

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

Lieutenant Commander Tactical

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

Lt-Command-Tactical

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPECIALIZATIONS

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

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

Primary Specialization – Command

Specialization-Command-Officer

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

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

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

Achilles Heel 3

Achilles-Hill-III-Damage-Resistance-debuff

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

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

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

Debilitating weakness II

Debilitating-Weakness-II

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

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

Boost Morale

Boost-Morale-II

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

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

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

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

Strategist

Specialization-Strategist

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

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

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

Logistical Support III

Logistical-Support-III

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

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

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

Attrition Warfare

Attrition-Warefare-II

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

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

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

Counter-Offensive III

Counter-Offensive-III

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

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

Conclusion

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

Advanced Tactical Theory – Four into Three

USS Vulcon – Experimental Laser Pointer

USS Zuikaku – Phase Two

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