USS Vulcon – Part One – Flux Capacitor of Vestas

Introduction

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

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

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

The Idea – Japan, Osaka – February 2018

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

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

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

USS Vulcon – Expiremental T6 Engineering Vesta class

 Esquiline Multi-Mission Strategic Explorer

 4 Tactical Consoles

 Universal – Isometric Dispersal Array

Universal – Quantum Field Focus Controller

Universal – Quantum Phase Convertor

 3 Engineering Consoles

 Universal – Sympatheic Fermion Transceiver

Engineering – Reinforced Armaments

Console – Universal Multi Target Tractor Arrays

 4 Science Consoles

 Radiation Bombardment Matrix

 Weapons

 Trilithium Tricobalt Torpedo Launcher

Trilithium Enhanced Phaser Turret

Quantum Phase Beam Array

Quantum Phase Torpedo

2 x auxillary dual heavy cannons

 Shields, Deflector, Impulse

 MACO set

 Warp Core

 Possible consoles

 Universal – Mycelium Ambush

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

The Crazy Scientist Begins

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Great Scott!

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

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

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

Tri-Laser Tactical System

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

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

Quantum Field Focus Controller

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

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

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

Quantum Destabilizing Beam

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

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

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

Heavy Graviton Beam

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

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

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

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

Yin-Yang Control System

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

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

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

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

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

Multi-Target Tractor Beam Arrays

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

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

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

Tractor Beam Repulsors

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

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

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

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

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

Exotic Particle Build

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

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Gravity Well

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

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

Subspace Vortex

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

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

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

Destabilizing Resonance Beam

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

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

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

Sizing up the Veteran

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Until next time captains.

USS 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

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 🙂

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

Reprisal-Crest

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

Was it worth the wait?

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

Zuikaku

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

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

screenshot_2018-07-19-22-30-36

screenshot_2018-07-19-22-30-24

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

Let’s get started…

Packaging…

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

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

The Ship…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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So what about size?

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

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The Details…

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

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

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

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And here’s the bow:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Verdict…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then, clear skies, Captains!

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