Mat’Ha Raptor T6 Versus Fleet Qin Raptor T5-U

Admiral Sager made it to level 60! Yay! He is now flying around in various upgraded ships trying to push them to maximum mastery levels. As a note, Cryptic hasn’t put in a tailor option for Fleet Admiral rank. They have the four bars for full Admiral but not five for Fleet Admiral :(

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Roddicka’s Mat’Ha in the Jenolian Dyson Sphere

My focus however, has shifted to KDF General, Roddicka. I need to push her up to level sixty as well. She has been flying the Mat’Ha Raptor T6 ship. Since the General has extensive experience flying a Fleet grade Qin Raptor with the complete Borg Assimilated Space Set and Adapted Borg Tech Weapons a comparison between the two ships is impossible to avoid. If you have already spent the Zen to get a fleet grade Qin Raptor, you absolutely owe it to your self to spend 700 Zen (or 4 for 2000) on an upgrade token. The Fleet Qin is a good ship and as a T5-U it is a great ship.

General Roddicka has been flying the Mat’Ha since she came to the Delta Quadrant. She is flying that ship with the equipment borrowed from her Fleet Qin. That makes this a solid comparison. She did upgrade the Fleet Qin but I haven’t flown it much in T5-U status. Enough to get a feel for the added strength however.

The Mat’Ha Raptor is not a so-called “Intel” ship. It does offer a special science hybrid seat that will accommodate an Intel BOFF, but it does not have the active sensor array feature that the “Intel” ships are equipped with. This may be why the Mat’Ha does not have a big disadvantage in Hull and Shields like the Phantom had against the T5-U escorts in Starfleet.

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Fleet Qin Raptor unloads on the Borg

These two ships are actually fairly evenly matched. The Fleet ship already had a boost in hull and shields before the T5-U upgrade. The Fleet Qin T5-U also enjoys 11 consoles versus the 10 on the T6 Mat’Ha. The bonus console on the Qin is a sci console bringing the total to 3. At Roddicka’s current level of 53, the Fleet Qin has 43,741 hull points versus the Mat’Ha’s 42,175. The Mat’ha surprisingly has better shields despite having a lower modifier (0.85 vs 0.92). Not sure why that is, I may be missing something but when equipped with the Borg Assimilated Shield Array the Fleet Qin T5-U has 4,950 shields points and the Mat’Ha gets 5,350. I also checked it with a standard Mk X common shield and the difference was similar. The T6 ship has the first two mastery levels, neither of which offer shield bonus. Eventually, I’ll get to the bottom of this, but it is good news for the T6 entrant. I wonder if the shield modifier scales as well for the T6? It does not appear to do so on the T5-U.

The Mat’Ha leans heavy on tactical with 5 tac consoles and only 3 eng and 2 sci. The Qin is more even-handed with its console arrangement. It has the aforementioned T5-U 3rd sci console and 4 each eng and tac. The Qin has the standard 4/3 weapons layout of other KDF Raptors while the Mat’Ha is “all in” on frontal assault with a 5/2 similar to the Andorian Kumari. The Mat’Ha is further enhanced with superior inertia rating of 75 against 60 for the Qin. This allows the ship to manuever better and transition from stop/start and hard turning.

Aside from the above mentioned differences these two ships are otherwise quite similar. Both offer up a crew of 200, 15 dps base turn rate, 2 device slots, standard KDF cloaking device, 0.20 impulse modifier and +15 to weapons.

When I discussed the T6 Phantom against the T5-U Patrol Escort in a previous post,  I felt the T5-U ship was the better ship. Granted the Phantom is an “Intel” ship and at that time my experience using the intel features was limited. Since writing that post, I have changed my ‘tune’ a bit, but I still think T5-U has advantage. I maxed out both of those Fed ships in mastery.

Between these two KDF ships however, things are a bit different. My experience is that the Mat’Ha is the better ship. If you read my post on KDF Qin Raptor from last year, you will find that I flew the Fleet Qin with a hybrid cannons/beams setup. This definitely works better on the Qin than the Mat’Ha. On the Qin, I had two Elachi single cannons and the KDF Quad Disruptor up front along with the Omega Torpedo Launcher. To the aft I had two fleet disruptor beam arrays and the Kinetic Cutting Beam. This gave the ship a serious aft attack and allowed the ship to engage multiple enemies on any flank. The ship still had some tough punch up front as well. The Mat’Ha Roddicka is flying is set up the same way. The 5/2 weapons layout gives her space to add an Elachi Dual Cannon to compliment the Quad. This ship hits hard! The downside is nearly no flank attack and that means the rear flank is particularly exposed. The Andorian Kumari suffers this way as well. Players can take the Pilot skill tree and the two rear flank abilities “Eat my Dust”. That gives a 4% stacking bonus to defense when taking fire on the rear flank. This works real well as it adds up to 20% defense bonus. Even with the inherent rear flank weakness the Mat’Ha out performs my Fleet Qin Raptor T5-U. It isn’t a runaway victory, but it is a solid W. If Cryptic ever launches fleet versions of these T6 ships the Mat’ha will crush the Fleet Qin T5-U.

I need to get back to it and get Roddicka to Dahar Master!

The Long Ride to Fleet Admiral

It has been 9 days since the launch of Delta Rising. So far I have mixed reviews of this expansion. Of course I have had a few bugs along the way but that is to be expected. There was a substantial “emergency maintenance” a few days ago. I like the content thus far but there isn’t a whole lot of it. They have made it more difficult to advance levels once above level 50. So the idea of going from level 50 to level 60 as fast as one could go from level 40 to level 50 is not happening. This is a good thing methinks. OK, pardon the annoying modernized slang of old English there ;)

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I mentioned the last week in “Welcome to Tier 6″ that there isn’t a whole lot of upward mobility left once a captain has become a Fleet Admiral. Making this a longer road to travel makes sense. Each subsequent level on the ride to level 60 is significantly longer than the previous level. Admiral Sager is about halfway between level 57 and level 58 and he has 34,000 more skill points to go before arriving at 58. That means it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 70k skill points between these two levels. It was only a 100k to go all the way from 40 to 50. The missions aren’t rewarding much in the way of skill points either. This is not a complaint, but rather an observation. One problem is that there is a lull in content. Often I have found myself twice with only 3/4 of the way to the next level but no new missions available until I hit the next level. I then find myself grinding on patrol missions or repeating the featured PVE event trying to get to the point where I can continue the story. This was almost never a problem in the pre-level 50 episodes.

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I have managed to get my first Tier 6 ship to mastery level 5. I now have a starship trait unlocked. This trait follows the captain not just the ship. The first four mastery buffs are tethered to the ship. The fifth is actually a trait that is granted to the player. I switched out ships to test the theory and sure enough the trait remained available to my captain. Since upgraded ships do not offer a fifth level of mastery this is an advantage to getting a Tier 6 ship. There are four active slots for starship traits, mastering at least four different Tier 6 ships will unlock four starship traits that can all be active simultaneously. Maybe buying that Delta Rising package wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

traitsI really do like the ship growing stronger with the captain. It is nice to get a boost in performance with each new level you reach. I have been flying the Phantom quite a bit and must say the ship is growing on me. I still think that is silly to have it weaker than the T5-U tactical escort retrofit. None-the-less this ship and its “intel” features are pretty cool. I can’t say for certain whether I feel the intel BOFFs and active sensor arrays offset the overall weaker hull and shields when measured against a comparable class T5-U ship. The active sensor arrays however, are pretty cool. This feature allows you to activate the sensor array and as long as you remain locked on a target every 15 seconds a vulnerability is exposed and you can take advantage. Reduces damage resistance, weaken shields, weaken weapons, etc. It does seem to work pretty well.

The Vaadwaur are very tough. This little Phantom T6 is also tough. I find myself able to engage several Vaadwaur ships at once and although it takes a while to kill them, they have a tough time putting any real pain to my ship. The Phantom is by no means a tank either, it just hangs in there. I am beginning to get a soft spot for it.

While I am on about the T6 ships, I really like the Klingon T6 Raptor. That is a baller ship! I have only flown a couple of missions in it so far with my top KDF toon, Tactical officer Roddicka. It doesn’t have a battle cloak which sucks, but everything else about it is really cool. The ship looks cool, and packs a good solid punch. Like the Phantom it is still weaker than upgrading a Qin Raptor to T5-U but it has a special intel BOFF station and it has a 5-2 weapons layout for a serious forward punch in the face to your enemies.

I still have not flown any of the other T6 ships despite the fact I have them all unlocked. It takes time my friends, time. My other toons are all flying T5-U ships so I can get a feel for how the upgraded ships perform. So far my Fed Engineer, Rodanna is doing well in a T5-U Tactical Odyssey Cruiser. Fed Science Officer, Rodessa is flying the T5-U Dyson Strategic Destroyer, Fed Engineer and profiteer, Akir has a T5-U Risian Luxury Cruiser, KDF Engineer, Rodamark is in a T5-U Bortasqu Command Cruiser, Romulan Engineer, Be’ina is flying her favorite ship ever, now in T5-U status; The Falchion Dreadnought, and finally, Romulan Tactical offcier, D’Rodda upgraded her Daeinos Veteran Reward ship to T5-U. So far all of these T5-U ships are performing admirably.

If you are thinking about upgrading a C-Store ship such as the Tactical Odyssey or one of the retrofit ships, the upgrade will unlock for all characters on the account flying that ship. That is 700 Zen well spent. I mentioned last week that I felt the T5-U was a great way to help players on a budget and I still feel that way now. Akir is flying the Risian Luxury Cruiser T5-U. This was a free ship earned in the Risa Summer Event and it gets a free upgrade. Akir is not one of my stronger toons. In fact I built him without spending any Zen. He is a holy terror in that T5-U Risian Cruiser. He is competitve and has no more trouble with the big, mean and nasty Vaadwaur than my other toons with Zen gobbling ships.

If you are thinking about buying a T6 ship choose carefully. As with all other C-store ships these will unlock for every qualifying character on your account. These ships have different ship traits. Each mastery level may be different from ship to ship. I recommend using the STO Wiki and reading up on the ships before you make a purchase. Get the ship best suited to your favorite toon or try to get a single ship that you can use with the widest variety of characters if you have a lot of toons like I do.

The T6 Phantom is similar to the Defiant class ships in its looks, handling, weapons, shields, play style, etc. This ship will reward you with passive bonuses to weapon accuracy, then defense, weapon damage and then crit chance. The starship trait at mastery level 5 will follow your captain even when he flies other ships. this is called reciprocity and provides a reduction in tactical and Intel BOFF cooldown every time an enemy misses you.

Hopefully I will have Admiral Sager at level 60 this time next week.

PS a few weeks ago I posted a poll and so far 41% of you prefer the Assimilated Space Set the best.

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Welcome to Tier 6

phantom1Delta Rising is here and I must say, I am a little underwhelmed. This is  the first big expansion since the launch of “Legacy of Romulus” a year and half ago. Cryptic set the bar really high with ‘LOR’. There is much to discuss about this latest expansion so I’ll dive right in.

First of all, Cryptic did a little UI housekeeping which is welcome. Some of the fonts were increased so those of us running high-resolution can actually read the labels. This time around they gave us a lot more voice over work than  in other releases. We get Tuvok, Harry Kim, the ever sexy, 7 of Nine, the Doctor and Neelix. I must say that Ethan Phillips (Neelix) is by far the best voice actor in STO. His dialog flows and sounds like it is natural and integrated into the experience.

Speaking of the “experience”; I spent a king’s ransom buying the Delta Rising Package. I hope I don’t end up regretting that expense. The 12,500 Zen ($125.00 US) is steep but it does grant every new tier six ship for all three factions plus the new Dauntless. It gives special costumes, some great upgrade tokens, 3 ultra rare BOFFs and the usual assortment of extra goodies. I figured I would end up buying at least three of the new ships and so what the hell. If I am going to spend a minimum of 9,000 Zen just for 3 ships, why not drop the big bomb and get it all this time!

So now we have a new area to explore. The Delta Quadrant. They have added all new sectors to discover. It has been a very long time since STO added new “space” to play in. I have yet to venture beyond the first map of new sector blocks. As promised we get to interact with the species that we were introduced to during the Voyager series. The Kazon are prominently featured as a random baddie to fight. The weapons on the Kazon ships sound like the phasers from the TOS Enterprise! Cryptic didn’t break any new ground on the missions, still standard fare and sometimes a little grindy. but well done none-the-less.

They revamped the PVE queues a bit and to my dismay there are even less Romulan queues! WTF Cryptic? I like the Romulan PVEs because I like the Romulan store and reputation projects! They also seemed to have made the PVE advanced/elite missions MUCH harder. I will have to investigate this a little further but Elite was hard enough before. I like a challenge, but when you have to run these PVE missions over and over and over again to grind away for marks, the challenge quickly goes from exciting to painfully crappy.

OK so the title of this blog post is “Welcome to Tier 6″. So, welcome to Delta Rising. This is very interesting; we now get to push our captains all the way to the very top of the quasi-military food chain. Level 60, Fleet Admiral. Yeah 5 bars, OK admiral Quinn, bite me, I do what I want ;) We get to fly a whole new set of ships called Tier 6. As promised we can also upgrade existing Tier 5 ships. It seems like all of the ships earned in special events, like the Summer Festival and Q’s Winter Event are free to upgrade. The veteran reward ships are also a free upgrade. Other ships will cost 700 zen for an upgrade token or four tokens for 2000 zen is available as well.

The only new Tier 6 ship I have flown so far is the Starfleet “Phantom” which is an escort ship similar to the “Defiant”. I am really not that impressed with the Tier 6 ships, well not yet anyway. The fleet versions are not available at this time, so you are better off upgrading a fleet ship you already have. My Fleet Patrol Escort is upgraded to T5-U and would crush this T6 Phantom without breaking stride. I am not exaggerating here. Virtually every stat on the upgraded Fleet Patrol Escort is signficantly better with the sole exception of turn rate. Had I upgraded my Fleet Tactical Escort Retrofit the turn rate would have been equal as well. I expected Tier 6 to have a little more puffed up hull and an extra console and/or BOFF station, but they don’t. These ships are 3000 Zen a piece, so expectations run high.

The Phantom does have a built-in cloak so it is nice not to have to burn a console slot for a cloak, but it is still the lame, non-battle cloak. In fact the Phantom stats are shown right here next to a standard Tier 5 tactical escort retrofit. When you upgrade the standard tac escort retrofit the hull jumps to approximately 34k at level 50! I expected Tier 6 to have an across the board slight advantage over the Tier 5 upgrade ships after all they cost 3000 Zen and an upgrade is 500-700 zen.

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Now in fairness, the Tier 6 ships do have some explicit advantages over their Tier 5-U counterparts. First; the Tier 6 ships have one or more “hybrid” BOFF stations. These BOFF stations allow for the new “Intel” BOFFs. Intel BOFFs still have a career; tactical, science, or engineer. But they have a whole different set of BOFF abilities. Some of these abilities are pretty cool. I haven’t explored them enough yet to really vet them. The Tier 6 ships also have the addition of a 5th starship mastery unlock. Speaking of that, the T5-U and Tier 6 Ships level up as you do. They get stronger as you get stronger. As you gain skill points in that ship, the ship gains hull points and mastery levels which offer additional passive bonuses. T5-U gets four mastery levels where as Tier 6 gets five. As I use the new Tier 6 ships I may come around, especially if the “Intel” BOFFS are a big advantage or the active sensor arrays that are on this Phantom ship turn out to be really cool. Fighting the way I do now, my T5-U Fleet Patrol Escort is light years better than this new Phantom. That said, I may just need to learn how to use the new “Intel” ships properly. That remains to be seen.

I can say that the people who were worried about Tier 6 ships being vastly superior and thus creating an “arms race” and a feeling of “I wasted all my money on end game ships that are not end game any more”; can relax. The advantage of Tier 6 over Tier 5-U is not going to be big and it may not be an advantage at all depending on your play style. So Cryptic deserves a favorable nod on this; I think they tried to balance this as well as they could. STO needs to grow and expand to keep users in the game and of course as a F2P game they also need to make money to pay for the expansion. I think the upgrade system for weapons and equipment is a little too expensive and they need to tweak it down a little. The cost to upgrade a ship seems to be a fair value since it really offers a significant boost and saves the player at least 2300 Zen over buying a new Tier 6 ship. Over all I am quite happy with the T5-U ships I have started flying with my eight level 50 plus toons.

Now I need to get online and get Admiral Sager up to level 60 :)