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


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.


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.


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.


Primary Systems



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


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


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.


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.



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 ( 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%
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%
Accuracy Rating 17.4
Crit Chance 13.00%
Crit Severity 114.00%
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


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.


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.


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

Flashback: Deep Space Encounters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Either that, or they destroyed you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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