Welcome to a continuing series of build blog posts courtesy of Shipyard 25. This week, I discuss the USS Vulcon. A Tactical T6 vesta style starship. This vessel is unique in her design, as she was designed entirely using a excel document, research of the STO wiki, all while I was in a comfortable hotel room in Japan in February 2018. Specially the city of Osaka.
The USS Vulcon is one of my primary starships on my Federation science captain named Karli. This character resides in the Equator Alliance fleet.
The Idea – Japan, Osaka – February 2018
It was an interesting time; I had been touring Japan on a 2-month holiday. Half-way through, I had a sudden idea to build a new class of vesta. I already had my flagship on my science toon Karli, the USS Kim Possible (Yes, I know, I know) that was a pure EPG auxiliary cannon armed Vesta, using the T6 Science vesta. The Kim Possible had been a ship of mine for over 5 years at this time and had continued to serve me well. Unlike the Vizier for Zuikaku, I had no intention of replacing the Kim Possible as the flagship on my science toon.
Straight away, I had started to design the Vulcon in words I would use later “For the sheer hell of it”. I would put as many forward-facing abilities and weapons onto the ship. Along with as many EPG, exotic and crowd control consoles and abilities. Efficiently was not my primary concern. I still wanted the ship to be successful in her build. However, I wanted to have some fun and see how crazy I could make the ship.
So, after 45 minutes of browsing STO wiki in my hotel room in Osaka I had come-up with the initial ideas. Of course, with me being a world away from home, it would be some time before I could see how efficient and effective the build would be. Below, is a copy of the notes I made back in February 2018.
USS Vulcon – Expiremental T6 Engineering Vesta class
Esquiline Multi-Mission Strategic Explorer
4 Tactical Consoles
Universal – Isometric Dispersal Array
Universal – Quantum Field Focus Controller
Universal – Quantum Phase Convertor
3 Engineering Consoles
Universal – Sympatheic Fermion Transceiver
Engineering – Reinforced Armaments
Console – Universal Multi Target Tractor Arrays
4 Science Consoles
Radiation Bombardment Matrix
Trilithium Tricobalt Torpedo Launcher
Trilithium Enhanced Phaser Turret
Quantum Phase Beam Array
Quantum Phase Torpedo
2 x auxillary dual heavy cannons
Shields, Deflector, Impulse
Universal – Mycelium Ambush
As you can see, considering this design was using an iPad there were several missing items. Other area’s I had not quite considered or would decide down the track. One thing to note is the multiple console and set bonuses utilizing both the T5 & T6 Vesta consoles.
The Crazy Scientist Begins
Come early March 2018, I was back home. Effectively straight away I started into the design and building of the Vulcon. I would describe the ship to my fleet and alliance mates as follows.
A new experimental Vesta class just launched. She will be experimenting the use of a Tri laser tactical system, utilizing a Ying-Yang control system, integrated with dual deflectors.
Now to a standard Star Trek Online player, they would be reaching for their universal translator. Multiple of my fleet mates asked this very question. At the time, I kept things very close to my chest. Vulcon has had several tests runs and missions. While she has not been used as much as the Zuikaku & Vizier, I was able to gather interesting data. For the purpose of this build blog, I will describe each section of her build and what my goal/idea was.
Tri-Laser Tactical System
The tri-laser system is a name I made up to describe one of the major functions of the Vulcon’s design. It is a series of three laser-based systems that fire either a burst or sustained beam against my target. The primary purpose being of a weapon system that is called into play once I have used gravity well and other exotic or control-based powers. The tri-laser system design is more focused on a single target than multiple. As the systems themselves can only be applied to single selected targets. For this reason, this system is more suited to boss type enemies and NPCs.
Quantum Field Focus Controller
The first piece making up the tri-laser system is the Quantum Field Focus Controller. This is a console that comes with the Multi-Mission Reconnaissance Explorer (C Store, T5 Starship). Due to the console coming from a T5 starship, it has no passive stats or boosts that apply. However, the console when activated applies phaser damage to a target for twelve seconds. The arc for this weapon is 45 degrees making it rather limited in scope.
Coupled with the lack of passive stat boosts, this console is a high price to pay to fulfil the role of this starship. Additionally, as stated the console only does phaser damage. I had already planned to build the Vulcon as a phaser-based starship. With my ship’s weapons at their current power levels, this console gives me 2,145 damage per second. Over the twelve second period, this equates to a maximum of 25,740 potential damage without boosts. Not the best total, especially coupled with the Vulcon’s design and limitations.
The QFFC console is the first part of the Tri-Laser system to be activated in my firing sequence. Due to the consoles longer firing period, as well as the unique properties of the other parts of the TLS.
Quantum Destabilizing Beam
The Quantum Destabilizing beam makes up the second part of the Tri-Laser system installed on the Vulcon. This weapon is a result of slotting all three pieces of the Quantum Phase Catalyst set. In Vulcon’s case, this is the Quantum torpedo, the Quantum Dual Heavy Cannons and the Quantum Phase Convertor. Unlike the Quantum Field Focus Controller, the QDB has a much more forgiving arc of fire of 135 degrees. The beam weapon itself does phaser-based damage over a 10 second period, making it slightly shorter in application and firing.
However, the QDB has additional benefits compared to the QFFC. The weapon drains power from the enemy starship it targets while applying the same power it drains to your own starship. This drain is improved by skill points invested into the skill – Drain Expertise. Additionally, the phaser damage the weapon applies is much stronger than the QFFC. With the Vulcon’s skills and slotted equipment, I can get 4,756 phaser damage per second. Over the ten-second firing period, this adds up to a total of 47,560 potential damage without boosts.
Due to this set bonus firing properties and firing capabilities, it is the second part of the Tri-Laser system to be fired.
Heavy Graviton Beam
The Heavy Graviton Beam makes up the last part of the Tr-Laser system installed on the Vulcon. This weapon is the result of slotting all three pieces of the M.A.C.O. Space Set (Shield, Impulse Engines & Deflector). It is the only part of the system that is a single strike instead of a burst fire mode. Additionally, it is the only part of the set that deals kinetic damage instead of energy based. The HGB has the middle ground of firing arcs in the system, with a targeting arc of 65 degrees, placing it in the middle between the Quantum Destabilizing beam and the Quantum Field Focusing Controller.
The HGB when striking its target hits for 13,131 kinetic damage (50% shield pen), applying a repel to my target, which effectively means I push my opponent’s starship back and knocking my targets auxiliary, weapon and impulse engines off-line for 5 seconds. This damage and repel is boosted by the amount of skill points in Exotic Particle Generators & Control Amplification. For a science focused science captained starship, this can make the HGB especially devasting when buffs and improvements are applied.
However, the HGB is the most troublesome and problematic of the tri-laser system. First, it is a single strike weapon meaning it needs to be fired last. Additionally, due to the repel nature of the weapon, any attempt to use the weapon while my target is inside one of my gravity wells means there is a high probability of knocking a target clear of the gravity well effects and pull capability. This is especially true as abilities, console clicky’s and other boosts that improve gravity well, do the same for the HGB. As a result, sometimes I will not use this weapon as its risk’s outweigh the benefit in certain circumstances.
Several times, I have considered and still consider removing this system from the Vulcon. As it is more trouble than it is worth and the items I slot to enable the weapon could easily partly or entirely be changed for other items that would improve the Vulcon overall. While I did design this starship for fun, silliness and a theme, there comes a point where I have to consider the overall effectiveness of the starship is being too adversely affected.
Yin-Yang Control System
The Yin-Yang control system is a term I have used to describe the Vulcon’s second main system. It is a system that comprises a combination of the Vulcon’s exotic build with gravity wells, sunspace vortex and destabilizing resonance beam combined with a universal console – Multi-Target Tractor Arrays and the BOFF ability Tractor Beam Repulsors.
The basic premise of this system is throwing my enemies into a gravity well which sucks them into a small ball. Once the gravity well is nearing its end both the Multi-Tractor Beam Array console and the Tractor Beam Repulsor BOFF abilities are activated. This causes the target to bounce, or in this case Yin-Yang back and forth all the while suffering heavy kinetic damage.
The system is extremely experimental and even now almost 18 months from the system being initially conceived, still temperamental at best. Additionally, several times this system has caused me more problems than benefits if I decide to use this system at the wrong time.
Or, in words I would use two weeks after the Vulcon was initially launched on trials in March 2018.
The Yin-Yang control system is working pretty well. However, power distribution set up means that the “Yang” is a bit more powerful than the “Yin” at standard station keeping speeds. Forward movement resolves this issue quite a bit, but there are still signs of the imbalance. However, tests are still to be conducted with the third part of the Yin-Yang system, to see results, as well as how it effects the system balance.
Multi-Target Tractor Beam Arrays
The Multi-Target Tractor Beam Array console is from the Sarcophagus Dreadnought Carrier starship from the Discovery Lockbox. However, being a Federation captain, I am lucky enough to be able to get the console from the cross-faction bundle box that comes from the lockbox, which is significantly cheaper. This console provides passively stat boosts to Energy Damage Resistance rating, Starship control Expertise and boosts a starships Flight Turn Radius.
The console’s active ability is that it randomly targets up to 3 foes within a 5KM radius every 2 seconds. During this time, Foes suffer massively reduced turn rate and flight speed, disables cloak and causes kinetic damage every 0.5 seconds. It also pulls foes towards the Vulcon. This is the first part of the Yin-Yang Control system and also the weakness part of the system.
Due to the Vulcon’s skill point distribution in Control Expertise, I need to be at full impulse power charging my enemies in order to keep the MTTBA system working correctly. As the second part of the system, the Tractor Beam Repulsors has a much higher ability to repel its enemies than the MTTA can drag them back in.
Tractor Beam Repulsors
Tractor Beam Repulsors is a science BOFF ability. The ability starts to become available from Lieutenant science boff stations all the way up to Commander science BOFF station. The ability targets any foe alive or dead (maximum of three) within a 5km range. The ability applies kinetic damage per pulse as well as applies a repel to the target roughly every 0.75 seconds. The ability has a whole has a 10 second uptime with a 40 second cooldown timer.
The ability is not widely used by the Star Trek Online Community. As due to its nature of pushing targets away from the player, which decreases damage the target takes. As the further away from a target you are, the less damage your weapons do.
Additionally, the ability can send a target flying off at an angle depending on the pulse timing as well as the arc between the player and the NPC. For canon armed vessels with low arcs for their weapon systems, this can cause them to lose their ability for several seconds to bring their most devasting weapons to bear. If used, most STO community members recommend to players to use the DOFF that turns the push of TBR ability into a pull.
As related before, due to the Vulcon’s control skill point allocation. This is the most potent side of the yin-yang control system. I can easily push my targets between 6 – 10km away with a second pulse. As a result, I usually use the TBR’s when charging my enemy at full impulse. This keeps my vessel close while still applying the TBR kinetic damage pulse. Additionally, this BOFF ability is useful against targets who are not affected by the repel side. These targets are usually NPCs like the Borg cubes & tactical cubes, or immobile targets like the transwarp gateways in Infected and Khitomer.
Exotic Particle Build
Vulcon’s exotic particle build is pretty similar to the USS Kim Possible. Even as a Multi-Mission Reconnaissance Explorer (T6) with more tactical seating than the science version. The Vulcon still has a Lt Commander and Commander science BOFF stations. However, as a result she suffers in the engineering BOFF layout area where her only dedicated engineering station is a lieutenant.
Firstly, is the Vulcon’s most powerful asset, her commander science BOFF station loaded with Gravity Well III. Gravity Well is improved by skill points in Control Expertise (improves the area of effect radius, slight pull increase). Starship exotic particle generator (improves damage output) and Control Amplification (-25 resistance to exotic damage and control effects debuff). Gravity well causes kinetic damage (bypasses shields) to any foe/s caught in its radius of effect. It also causes negative repel which means it pulls its targets into itself. The ability can also reveal cloaked starships.
Gravity Well has a 135’ targeting arc. The Vulcon’s gravity well ability compared to the Kim Possible is significantly less. This is due to multiple reasons which will be described in another blog post detailing the differences between the two starships.
Vulcon is also equipped with Subspace Vortex III. This ability comes has a trainable ability rewarded as a drop from the Xindi-Terrestrial lock box. The abilities damage is improved by skill points in Starship Exotic Particle Generators. The ability has two main uses. One, is kinetic damage dealing (ignores shields) which is applied to all targets within a 3km radius from your prime target. As a result, SV pairs really well with gravity well especially after all foes have been gathered together. The fact that gravity well as related above also causes kinetic damage means it is devasting against unshielded targets who have been debuffed. Subspace Vortex has a 135” targeting arc
The abilities second side is a transport option. If you select the ability again your starship will jump to the initial deployment point of the vortex, facing your current direction. However, this transport closes the vortex instantly. I have not heard the abilities second jump function being utilized by the community much if at all, due to the fact it puts you directly into the centre of a cluster of enemies, as well as closes the very portal that is doing damage to them, which is to have highly likely argo them onto you.
Destabilizing Resonance Beam
Destabilizing Resonance Beam is the third of the triad of science BOFF abilities focused on exotic damage dealing. This ability can be chosen as an episode competition reward from the featured episode “Blood of the Ancients”. The ability applies physical damage (ignores shields) to all foes within 3km of the target for 10 seconds. Additionally, the ability applies a -5 all damage resistance and -5% energy weapons damage per pulse to those targets for 10 seconds. The physical damage component is improved by skill points in Exotic Particle Generators.
Destabilizing resonance beam has a 135” targeting arc like Gravity Well & Subspace Vortex, making it a perfect partner to those two abilities. Coupled with its damage also being improved by exotic particle skill combining these three abilities together on a science ship spec for exotic damage makes them a devasting combination.
Sizing up the Veteran
The Vulcon’s sister ship, the USS Kim Possible is my second flagship on my account and the second oldest of all my main starships. Originally deployed in December 2012 she has had similar build changes like the USS Zuikaku over the years. While not has heavily modified, she has had a stellar career including reaching (but not completing) wave 10 in the original no-win scenario. She has also completed elite task force operations like Battle of Korfez & Hive Space Elite.
The Kim Possible is a more traditional science exotic starship design. Additionally, she was also built during the “dual neutronium alloy armor” days of my build career, and still has them to this day. She is scheduled to get a major overhaul like the Zuikaku. But, due to time constraints I have yet to dedicate time to planning to “modernize” her from her second generation build style to todays “eighth Generation” style of ship builds.
She is designed as exotic damage first, tanking second. An Equator Alliance captain once commented on the Kim Possible;
“I have never seen a vesta take that much damage or argo and survive. Every other vesta I have ever meet including elite level captains would be in escape pods by now. But somehow your ship keeps going. Also, what in the world did you put into those grav wells?”
This is the measuring stick I am using the Vulcon against. While I did build this starship for fun, I also wanted her to as much as possible meet the same standards and capabilities as the Kim Possible. No small task considering the amount of years I had put into that ship, while I built the Vulcon in a hotel room using an iPad and free Wi-Fi.
The next time we visit the USS Vulcon will be to do a more detailed comparison against her sister the USS Kim Possible. I will identify the differences between the two vessels and how Vulcon’s experimental design does mean she yields in several areas to enable her unique design. I will describe further the weakness and issues with the Vulcon including how effective this might truly be in today’s TFO atmosphere.
Until next time captains.