USS Vizier – Building the Next Generation – Week One – Weapons & Gear

Vizier front

Welcome Everyone

I am Foxman86, I am one of the Fleet Admirals of the 101st Fleet in the Cryptic MMO – Star Trek Online. the 101st Fleet is a casual group of STO players who have some light RP, ship building and just sheer fun. We are one of the fleets of the Equator Alliance/Armada. I am also one of the assistant editors of Shipyard 25, and I look forward to sharing with you my unique build styles and ships. My first series, is based on my current in-game flagship – the Tier 6 Fleet Command Assault Cruiser – USS Vizier. I hope you enjoy the first installment.

This ship was designed from July 2017 – Early October 2017, and launched as my new flagship with Star Trek Online’s Season 14.

Introduction

Vizier has had a unique build process. Originally, when i finally received the Whiz kid’s promotion code back in April 2017, I wasn’t sure what I would do with the ship, her unique console, and its potential.

Later, when chatting with Equator alliance members, I had a vision to attempt a battle cloaking sovereign build. Utilizing a fast-paced strike weapon that unloaded everything within five seconds, including the torpedo console.

I honestly had one or two thoughts regarding the build but didn’t really pursue it.

Next, I thought about uploading a general build to reddit/r/stobuilds, and discussion with them to bring the ship to a post Season 13 standard, with firepower being the primary focus, not defense.

There was a secondary consideration to this attempt. I had grown more and more concerned that USS Zuikaku, while extremely well built for her time, was simply falling behind with the changing requirements of some advanced and elite content.

Her tanking capability was second to none, being able to survive punishment that would destroy most other 101st fleet ships, as well as being able to hold the line until the more tactical ships could regroup, or push through enemy front lines.

However, her DPS capability, while still within the top 20 – 35% of all players, did rely on the group a lot to really perform. Also, her lack of speed, and turning capability meant she was increasing unable to be where she needed to be at crucial times or be able to react fast enough.

Simply put, the reddit build post idea was originally my attempt at placing a build that was a carbon copy of USS Zuikaku, and seeing what the best of the best came up with for the new generation.

The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would be a betrayal against everything I had done with USS Zuikaku so far. The more I thought on it, the more I realised it was also time to build a new ship for the new era, or the next generation.

Without me realizing it, USS Vizier had begun her journey. As well as a journey, that in my heart, would take some time to come out and admit it to everyone in the 101st fleet.

USS Vizier would be, and was fully designed at the onset, to replace the USS Zuikaku.

Welcome to the USS Vizier Building Blog, titled “Building the Next Generation”. This will be a series of weekly blog posts explaining USS Vizier’s build. Going into deep details of her design, as well as her aims.

Welcome to Week One: “Weapons, Gear and Ohhh Myyyy”

Beam Arrays

Pulse-Phasers

USS Vizier is armed with four pulse phaser beam arrays. These weapons are from the Motion Picture Era movies, utilizing a sort of “pulse” barrage type of phaser attack. They were introduced not that long ago in the game by the devs of Star Trek Online in the Undiscovered Lock box.

They will be buffed by any bonus that increases all damage or phaser damage, but these phasers are unlike most other phaser variants. While most phaser variants have a 2.5% chance to knock out a sub system during their attacks, the pulse phaser beam arrays do away with this mechanic for something different.

These phasers have a 2.5% chance to apply “Phaser Transfer” to its target, and to the USS Vizier herself. Phaser transfer apples a -10 damage resistance rating to the enemy target, while also applying a +10 damage resistance rating to the USS Vizier. For the USS Vizier, this would be a roughly an increase of 3% in damage resistance.

This is a small buff/debuff type of perk. While the damage resistance debuff against my targets is small, it is something additional that can add an extra edge during engagements. It also gives my ship a potential edge during engagements as well. As far as I have been able to determine, while phaser transfer doesn’t specify its time, it is roughly a 5 – 10 second boost each time it is applied Also, so far, I have not seen any stacking limit.

I didn’t choose this weapon primary for its perk. I picked this weapon up because it was a different type of phaser array I hadn’t used before. So far, the weapon has proved to be very good during engagements.

Prolonged-Engagement-Phaser

The Prolonged Engagement Phaser beam array, was a reward for completing the weekend event Kobayashi Maru earlier in 2017.

Again the weapon is a unique phaser variant. During use, the phaser has a change to gain stacks of what is called “Amplified Relays”.

Amplified Relays have two procs or bonuses that can be applied during use. The first proc is that with each stack, the weapon deals 0.01% increased damage. Now indeed, this bonus is so small you would barely notice it. However, I suspect this proc is just the warm up for the secondary proc, which occurs after you gain five stacks of Amplified Relays.

After the fifth stack, the prolonged engagement phaser beam array gains a 20% firing cycle haste for the weapon for eight seconds. Firing cycle haste means that it will decrease the time between each shot the beam array makes, while maintaining the same number of shots per cycle. With a normal beam arrays firing cycle, it might do five shots in four seconds. With a buff to firing haste, it completes those five shots in three seconds.

As related above, this proc only occurs for this weapon.

Like the pulse phasers, I chose this weapon for a combination of the proc, as well as trying a phaser variant I hadn’t tried before.

Quantum-Phase-Beam-Array

The Quantum Phase Beam array is a mission reward item from completing the featured episode “Sunrise”. Like the Prolonged beam array, it also keeps its 2.5% chance to knock out a random subsystem on an enemy ship.

This weapon is also part of a three-piece set in STO called “Quantum Phaser Catalysts”. This set gives you the opportunity to gain additional bonuses and abilities for slotting each piece of the set. USS Vizier has all three pieces in her build, and I will be going into detail in a later blog regarding exactly what this set bonuses gives to USS Vizier.

The quantum phase beam array also has an additional unique proc. The beam array has a 2.5% chance to drain enemy shields to restore your own shields. The amount of drain against enemy shields is calculated by the amount of drain expertise skill you have on your skill tree. This provides a nice debuff/buff for the USS Vizier. Increasing my ships shields, while decreasing the enemies.

This proc does require a bit of effort to really gain a lot of benefits, but depending on the build, even small amounts of drain expertise can still gain a decent bonus for shields. A captain specced into full drain, will see a lot of benefits from this beam array.

I decided to use it on USS Vizier again for a number of weapons. The USS Ruby Rose, a cousin ship to the USS Vizier, also uses this beam array to great effect in engagements. Second, it was again a beam array I hadn’t use on my engineering toon. Third, the set bonus really applied to what I was aiming for with the USS Vizier.

All these factors, made this beam array the perfect choice for the Vizier.

Torpedoes

Quantum-Phaser-Torpedo

The USS Vizier is armed with two torpedo launchers (technically :)). The first is the second part of the Quantum Catalyst set, the Quantum Phase torpedo.

The Quantum Phase torpedo is a type of quantum torpedo. As a result, set bonuses, buffs and damage increases that increase kinetic or quantum damage, will improve the effectiveness of this torpedo. This torpedo has a 90 degree firing arc and is currently loaded in one of USS Vizier’s forward weapon slots. This will be explained in a later blog.

The torpedo, like its paired beam array, drains enemy shields – but with several differences. First, while you drain enemy shields, that is its only bonus, the drained shields do not return to the player, unlike the beam array. Second, the torpedo itself drains shields within a 2km radius of the target it hits.

The major difference, is how the torpedo changes when using the Tactical BOFF skills of High Yield or Torpedo Spread. When using these abilities, the radius of the shield drain increases from 2km to 4km. Second, using torpedo spread increases the shield damage when it strikes a target. This means, when paired with a science ship specced into EPG, the USS Vizier torpedo can become quite devastating.

I quite like this torpedo, as it helps USS Vizier with a major weakness that USS Zuikaku had, which was punching through the shields of a large or heavy target. This torpedo, is one of the outcomes of my analysis of USS Zuikaku’s weakness, and one I ensured that USS Vizier would do her best to cover. Second, as related with the beam array, slotting the torpedo made sense with Vizier’s build purpose, as well as the set bonuses I would gain. This torpedo has also been in use with Vizier’s cousin, USS Ruby Rose.

Enhanced-Bio-Molecular-Photon-Torpedo

The second torpedo on USS Vizier, is the Enhanced Bio-Molecular Photon torpedo launcher. This torpedo can be obtained from the Undine reputation system, at Tier 2. This weapon is also a part of the four-part set “Counter Command Ordnance”. USS Vizier has two of these four pieces, which again, will be explained in a later blog.

The Enhanced Bio-molecular photon torpedo (hereby known as EBMPT) is a type of photon torpedo. As a result, set bonuses, buffs and damage increases that increase kinetic or photon damage will increase the damage input of this weapon. This torpedo has a 90 degrees firing arc and is currently loaded in one of USS Vizier’s aft weapon slots.

This torpedo has two procs of effects that it makes against any target it hits. The first effect is a reduction of flight speed for eight seconds. This reduction in speed can be cleaned or removed. However, if the effect is not cleaned after eight seconds, it inflicts radiation damage on its target that completely ignores shields. This effect is boosted by skills, damage and abilities that increase radiation damage.

The torpedo is reasonably useful against NPC targets, but has extremely limited functionality against players who have multiple cleans and abilities to remove the proc. I chose this torpedo for two reasons. The set improves the Vizier in a number of key areas. With its decent normal torpedo damage, this is a fine torpedo to have for USS Vizier.

screenshot_2017-08-27-06-43-09

Primary Ship Systems – Shields, Deflector, Impulse Engines & Warp Core.

With the primary weapons of the USS Vizier complete, we now move onto the primary ship systems. These are the USS Vizier’s primary stat drivers. When building USS Vizier, I attempted to use items I had not used before. I also decided to avoid most of the STO player meta that had occurred after the Season 13 re-balance.

I also intended as much as possible, to ensure whatever systems I choose not only increased USS Vizier’s primary build goal but also did their best to cover up the ship’s shortcomings.

Deflector

Prevailing-Innervated-Deflector-Array

The primary deflector of the USS Vizier, and quite a look for a deflector when the ship’s visuals are turned on, is the Prevailing Innervated Deflector Array. The PIDA is part of a four-piece set called “Prevailing Regalia” and is available from the Competitive Reputation from Level 50 onwards. This deflector forms part of a two-piece set of the Prevailing Regalia that is fitted on USS Vizier.

The deflector array is one of the variants of the Competitive reputation deflectors, of which there are a total of three variants. This reputation is the first to offer multiple variants of deflector arrays.

This first bonus is an +15 increase to Starship Hull capacity. This increases USS Vizier’s starship maximum hit points, giving her slightly more increase hull to survive and take damage. The bonus is a nice small additional to the defensive capabilities of the Vizier.

The next bonus is likewise an additional defensive bonus, granting +15 Shield Capacity. This increases the Vizier’s shield hit points.

The next bonus, is one I would doubt will ever be used, or beneficial to the USS Vizier – +10 bonus to Starship stealth. This increases a ships stealth and cloaking capability to remain hidden from starship sensors. With Vizier being unable to cloak, the benefit of starship stealth is minimum. While this does mean it might take an enemy slightly longer to target me, it doesn’t affect Vizier much.

The next bonus is one of the biggest reasons I choose this variant of the deflector: +40 Starship weapon specialization. Starship weapon specialization improves the critical hit chance of weapons, making them ever more likely to land a critical hit. A critical hit, which is based on critical severity skill points, can drastically increase a weapons damage.

This bonus increases the chance that Vizier’s weapons will land heavier hits. A +40 increase translates roughly to a critical hit chance increase of 1.8%, and while small, it is calculated per weapon, making her much for dangerous in landing heavy damage in a shorter periods of time. (Editor’s note: Starfleet ship captains will always struggle to maintain high critical hit percentages compared to Romulan captains. Every little bit counts.)

Due to the deflector being ultra-rare in grade, it also grants +2 auxiliary power bonus to the ship’s primary power levels.

Impulse Engines

Prevailing-Fortified-Impulse-Engines

The primary impulse engines of the USS Vizier are the second part of the two-piece set of Prevailing Regalia – Prevailing Fortified Impulse Engines.

Like the deflector array, the Prevailing impulse engines have three variants in the Competitive reputation system you can purchase.

The Prevailing Fortified Impulse engines (PFIE) offer decent bonuses to the ships flight speed and flight turn rate of the Vizier. These impulse engines also offer a thruster proc. If the ship engines are disabled the Vizier can still travel at 25% speed until the engines come back online.

These engines have a proc, called “Prevailing Engine – Overcharge”. When a hull or shield bridge officer ability is used, the ship gains several benefits for a 5 second period. This includes a massive boost to flight speed and flight turn rate, as well as increased defense rating (chance to dodge shots made against you). You also gain a +10% increase to recharge speed on engineering bridge officer abilities for 10 seconds. With the Archon-class Commander and Lieutenant Engineering BOFF stations, this can be quite a boost when factoring in the number of opportunities you have for this ability to confer benefits.

An additional benefit of this impulse engine is that the boost has no cooldown. Properly managed, you can keep chaining healing abilities to keep your ship moving at an incredible speed and turn rate for a significant amount of time. This does have drawbacks, as while you are gaining speed and turn rate, you are potentially using healing abilities when you don’t need to. This also means you run into the risk of not having these abilities available when you actually need them.

This speed and turn rate boost, even with its drawbacks, are a primary design point of USS Vizier. Turn rate and speed have always been a major problem for USS Zuikaku, being not fast enough, or able to turn quickly enough to meet or properly engage some threats. USS Vizier, with this engine, can a lot of times out turn and out fight a science vessel with a science captain. This has traditionally been one of the Zuikaku’s major threats.

Warp Core

Braydon-Reconnaissance-Warp-Core

The primary warp core of the USS Vizier – Braydon Reconnaissance Warp Core. This warp core can be obtained from playing through the Featured episode “Of Signs and Portents”. This warp core is also part of a four-piece set called “Braydon Reconnaissance Technologies”. The USS Vizier has two pieces of this set installed.

The Braydon Warp Core (BWC) has a nice bonus to Control Expertise. This bonus improves control effects (Gravity well, Tykens rift etc.) as well as improving resistance to those same effects. This means when the Vizier is stuck with control effects, she has better resistance against their damage and pull capabilities. It is a relatively small bonus, but is still a welcome and useful improvement of the ship’s stats.

The BWC primary bonus is increasing the Vizier’s auxiliary power levels when they are low, as well as allowing the Vizier to increase her maximum allow auxiliary power from 125 to 130. Auxiliary power helps with abilities such as healing and increasing the power of control effects. While Vizier is not built to utilize Control abilities, the additional power for heals is definitely appreciated, and needed.

Additionally, the warp core adds 7.5 points of Vizier’s auxiliary power to the ship’s engine power as a bonus. This increase further increases Vizier’s engine speed and turn rate capability. Finally, the BWC comes with an engine capacitor battery. When used, this battery increases engine power for 20 seconds, repairs offline engine systems, as well as cleanses movement debuffs. This capacitor has a 4-minute recharge timer once used.

I chose this warp core mainly for its bonuses for Vizier’s healing capability, as well as being part of a four-piece set that had bonuses that would build to Vizier’s strengths.

Shields

Braydon-Reconnaissance-Covariant-Shield-Array

The primary shield of the USS Vizier – Braydon Reconnaissance Covariant Shield Array. This shield can be obtained from playing through the Featured episode “Of Signs and Portents”. This shield is also part of a four-piece set called “Braydon Reconnaissance Technologies”. This shield is the second part of the set that is equipped on the USS Vizier.

The Braydon Reconnaissance Covariant Shield Array (BRCSA) has a relatively high capacity compared to other shields, with a below-average shield regeneration rate. Also, the shield has the standard 10% bleedthrough that most shields have, meaning when hit with attacks, 10% of the total damage dealt damage will bleed through to hit the ship’s hull.

The shield’s unique feature is seen when the one of the shield facings is fully depleted. Once a shield facing is depleted, the shields apply a flight speed and slight turn increase of 200% for 5 seconds. This effect can only trigger once even 60 seconds. But, this is a boost that applies to Vizier in case she gets in trouble, allowing her to extend or turn around fast enough to potentially bring an undamaged shield facing to bear.

This is one of the reasons I chose this shield. Having an additional boost to get out of trouble is always helpful. Second, I hadn’t used this type of shield before, so it meet criteria for something new. Third, the shield was part of a piece set that had bonuses that would work for the Vizier’s build. The lower regeneration rate is one of the weaknesses in Vizier’s build, and I have felt that weakness in engagements I would otherwise have not felt with Zuikaku.

Conclusion

This includes the first part of the USS Vizier build blog – Building the next generation. Next week’s blog will focus on the engineering, science and tactical consoles in use by the Vizier. Unlike the Zuikaku, Vizier’s console layout is pretty unique, and something I had not yet tried.

Additionally, you will start to see how this ship, the USS Vizier, has a combined total of 12 weapons at her disposal.

Hope you all look forward to it.  🙂

Flashback: Deep Space Encounters

OldESD
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.

Star_Trek_Online_Galaxy_map
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.

Welcome to the Yards

Hello, and welcome to Shipyard 25 – a project by shipwrights of the Equator Alliance armada to share builds, strategies theories, and opinions in Star Trek Online.

We hail from a number of different of different fleets, including the Southern Cross High Guard, (25th Fleet ‘Southern Cross’ in STO), Dark Allies, and 101st Fleet, and we are passionate about shipcrafting, with experience going back as far as the game’s launch in 2010.

It’s a different take on the usual discussions of the DPS meta. How and why? Because we’re first and foremost Star Trek fans, and the way we build ships reflects the things we love about the franchise. We often build to ‘canon’ specifications, we build to niches, and we build to have fun – all while being as effective as possible in a given brief.

We wager that if you want to build an excellent representation of the Enterprise, the Defiant, or any other starship that may have graced the television and movie screens, you will enjoy the ones we bring you in this ongoing project.

We’ll also explain our builds and their design decisions in detail, and may occasionally try to entertain with background, war stories, and history.

Also, we will look at the state of the game in periodic updates as new content, abilities, traits and ships head our way in game, and we’ll happily point you in the direction of community discussions, news and announcements.

Shipyard 25 is a blog, newsletter, guide and waystation on everything Star Trek Online – and in time, maybe a few other galaxies, too.

This project is in its early stages, and it’ll take us a while to work out a formula that works. Help us out! Let us know what works, what doesn’t, and what you want to see more of.

Second star to the right, and straight on til’ morning.

-Koppenflak