Maelstrom VS. Kumari

maelstrom3Are you ready to RUMBLE? This is a ship versus ship post and I picked an epic battle between two titans in the Federation hangar. These two ships can lay down a hail of death like no others in the game. They are the heavy hitters for sure, but one of them is more than just a puncher.

I wrote about the Maelstrom a few months ago, read here. I also wrote about the Kumari last year, here. But today we go head to head. For the purpose of this contest I used the fleet version of the Maelstrom ship. These are the pinnacle of performance in STO escort ships; at least until the launch of season ten this fall.

kumaribattle7The Andorian escort is a ship offered in three varieties. I own the Kumari variant which is heavy on tactical. In retrospect, I wish I had the engineering version (Charal) as the tac ship is fragile under fire. The three variants differ in the bridge seating. Tac Lt, Sci Lt. or Eng Lt. They also differ in console setup and each has a different special console.

Upon reaching the rank of Vice Admiral you have the option of flying the Andorian Escorts including Kumari which features the most powerful cannons in the game; The Andorian Wing Cannons.

The Patrol Escort has been around for a while as well, but only recently received an upgraded refit version. This ship is initially offered as an option from Admiral Quinn upon promotion to Rear Admiral. The refit is a Vice Admiral C-store purchase and a fleet version was made available. The C-store purchase unlocks the “Maelstrom” design.

So which one is better? Let’s find out.

kumariAt first glance there are some striking similarities to these two vessels. Both have a 16 turn rate, +15 weapons power, 0.20 impulse modifier and 70 inertia. But then they differ greatly as the comparison continues.

The Andorian escorts were the first ships in the game to offer five forward weapons bays. Coupled with the raw power of the wing cannons this ship has what I have described as the most powerful forward assault in the STO universe. The Patrol Refit by contrast has what very well may be the strongest aft assault in the STO universe! It features a fused 4th weapon bay in the rear with the very powerful dual cannons, Tempest Tail Gun. The tail gun has a 90 degree arc and built-in rapid fire. This is a devastating beast that is the most powerful aft  weapon in the game.

maelstromThe Patrol refit has a stronger hull and shields, and larger crew than the Kumari. It also features a four seat bridge with two Lt. Commander seats rather than the more typical five seat arrangement with a single Lt. Commander and extra Ensign station. The second Lt. Commander seat is a universal and that makes this ship very workable to nearly any play style. Quite frankly the Patrol Refit is the most versatile escort in the game, even more so than the fantastic Breen Chel Grett.

This comparison may come down to play style and experience. PVP players with excellent piloting skills will put the pain down better in the Kumari. Once you have the Kumari on the enemy’s six, it is lights out. This Andorian just lays down the hate from those five weapons bays and the hard-hitting wing cannons are just hull crushing demons. But flying this ship in PVP requires a great deal of skill. The ship only has two aft weapons so there is nothing stopping the baddies from climbing up your tail and giving you the “Deliverance” treatment with you in Ned Beatty’s role. The Kumari has little in the way of resilience. Again the Andorian Charal offers up much better toughness than the Kumari but it comes at the expense of tactical power.

For players that fight PVE or less skilled PVP players, the Patrol Refit really shines. It has similar forward power to any other escort with four weapons bays and the ability to mount dual cannons. But one of the issues with flying escorts is over running your enemy. This is especially true if the enemy comes about and attacks you head on. This Maelstrom allows the pilot to continue the assault from the rear with as much or even more ferocity. If you overrun the enemy you just keep hammering with that awesome tail gun. Against large PVE enemies like the Borg cubes, you can come in guns a blazing and then flip a u-turn and finish the job with all that aft power.

In a head to head PVP battle pitting the Kumari against the Maelstrom there is an interesting dilemma. If the Kumari gets in behind the Patrol refit it must make the kill before the Maelstrom kills it with all that epic aft power. The Maelstrom is by far the superior tanker of the two. That doesn’t bode well for the ship from team ‘cold and blue’. No matter how I slice it, two equal PVP players in an arena battle pitting these ships will almost always result in a victory for the Maelstrom. The more resilient Charal version of the Andorian Escort would fare better, but only in that it would take a little longer to die. Since PVP is not a bull riding event, that really doesn’t matter much.

The standard Patrol Refit would be a better comparison for the Kumari since it has the same price of 2500 Zen. Honestly the results would likely be the same. The Kumari is a ship that really needs to be on a team. It is a support ship. In that role it is amazing. Imagine flying with a buddy in a big cruiser. He latches on to the enemy with a powerful tractor beam and you send the victim into the next life with a nuclear sandwich from the powerful Kumari. You can see that I still love my Andorian muscle but in this head to head match-up the win goes to the Patrol Refit.



Science Captain in an Escort Ship

rodessaIn the past I have written two posts about Tactical Captains flying both Cruisers and Science Ships. Today I thought I would explore the idea of a Science Captain flying an escort ship. I have tried this with one of my toons and had what I would say, were decent results.

Rodessa is my only science officer of my nine characters in STO. She is a Federation officer so she does not have access to the Romulan or KDF ships. This is most unfortunate because I think the best non-science use for a science captain is retrofitted BOPs specifically the Romulan T’varo retrofit and Klingon B’rel retrofit with the enhanced battle cloak. The enhanced battle cloak allows the ship to fire torpedos while remaining cloaked. But even more important is the fact that most BOFF and Captain abilities can be executed under cloak on those ships as well. Things like gravity well, tachyon beam, etc. Science captains have some great abilities to use under cloak.

The idea of a science captain carrying a little more punch in a ship was realized with the new Advanced Dyson Destroyers launched a few months back. These ships have the ability to transform from a science ship to an escort. The science commander station becomes a lt. commander and the lt. commander tactical becomes a full commander station. The ship gets increased turn rate and a fourth forward weapon that is quite powerful. The secondary deflector then tucks away out of use.

Using a science officer in a hard turning tactical escort retrofit or the Jem’Bug may not work since the lack of powerful tactical captain abilities take away from the alpha strike ability of those ships. But what about the Breen Chel Grett or the Chimera Veteran ship or the KDF Raptors? These ships have a bit more staying power and could benefit from a science angle. Even the Jem’Bug could work on second thought. It has 1.0 shield modifier and a solid 34,500 hull.

Rodessa has successfully flown the Chimera in both PVP and PVE missions. In PVP she fares better in the Advanced Dyson but in PVE it seems the Chimera was just as good. I think I should build a Romulan toon with a science career and try the T’varo retrofit in PVP.

The science ship is probably the best bet for a science captain but it is just so easy to try other ship types, why not try them? Go to the exchange and buy a mirror universe escort ship. You wont spend a lot of cash on the ship and you can load out most of the weapons and consoles from your best sci ship. It will be a fun experiment regardless of the outcome.

I really think that Romulan characters are the best choice when considering a science captain flying an escort. Romulan ships all come with battle cloaks and those cloaks benefit from science related skills. Romulan escort ships have a heavy hull and large crew compliment that offsets the weaker non-science shields. When your Romulan character reaches the point of choosing sides, choose the Feds. This way if you want a solid science ship you will have better choices than the KDF.

So there it is; another highly subjective post on the status of things in the STO universe.

Last week’s poll asked you all what you thought the best freebie ship was. This was exclusive of any of the ships you get with a token for promotion by Admiral Quinn or Chancellor J’mpok. Generally these ships have a level requirement of 40 but they offer features similar to ships on the C-store that require level 50. Readers have chosen the Ambassador class “Enterprise C” by a large margin as it garnered nearly a third of the vote. In an egregious oversight on my part I forgot to include the Klingon ship that was offered on the same mission during the 3rd anniversary event which was a Kamarag Battle Cruiser Retrofit. I have fixed that and the poll now offers it as a choice. Results as of this posting (BTW that blog post has over a thousand views and yet only 16 of you took poll? Come on now, show those polls some love):

results See ya next time.


Cool Stuff for Players on a Budget

I have spent a king’s ransom on lots of cool stuff in the C-store and on the exchange, but sometimes players want to operate on a budget. After all, STO is “free to play”, right? With the sole exception of hardcore PVP, players can go all free and have a hell of good time in Star Trek Online. PVP all free would require a lifetime of grinding to get the good stuff or suffering with a kill to death ratio that labels you “SuperNoob4Life”.

All that said there is some great free content and easily obtainable cool stuff in this game. I have nine characters in STO and I only have three, one from each faction that are really dialed in with the juicy stuff from the C-store or where I bought the delicious goodies off the exchange for ridiculous coin. The others I have played with little or no real world money as an influence.

I even get a little PVP in with some of these ‘low-budget’ toons. Yeah it’s like a noob-fest with those toons but when you play a weak character as a support and or stealth role, you can surprise your self with respectable results.

If you are going to go for the budget toon my first piece of advice is to get every free promo ship you can. STO has made it so easy to obtain the special “prize” ships during the Summer, Winter and Anniversary events; there is no excuse not to spend 5-10 minutes a day with light grinding to get a cool and powerful ship for FREE! The latest of these was the Risian Luxury Cruiser and a new opportunity for last year’s Risian Corvette. To earn these Risian ships one only had to spend about 10 minutes a day flying through a series of courses with your jetpack. You had to do it once a day for 25 days and there was a 35 day window of opportunity. EASY!

The Chel Grett, which should be available again from Q this winter; is an amazingly versatile ship. And that only requires 25 days of a five-minute foot race on slippery ice. You can also find some bargain ships on the exchange. These are mostly the Mirror Universe models but some of those are pretty good. Most of the Mirror Universe ships can be had for 90-150k on the exchange a few of them will approach a million EC.  I would also recommend a minimalist approach until you reach level 45. The stuff you buy below level 45 will not be very effective above 45 so save your cash until you can buy end game stuff. (not sure if the upcoming level 60 system will include Mk XIII and XIV)

As for weapons and consoles; play on elite mode if you can, and earn better drops from the baddies you waste. You can also grind away at the new crafting system but honestly, STO screwed the pooch on that.

I would strongly encourage you to run the reputation missions once you hit level fifty, and get them maxed. There are some outstanding items available that require some fun grinding and a reasonable amount of dilithium to obtain. That said the reputation system also offers stores with some amazing consoles and weapons for dilithium.

If you need to go to the exchange to buy weapons and consoles, be sure to price everything in advance. In other words see which weapons and console combinations will save you coin. I find that tetryon weapons tend to be the least expensive and if you are using beam arrays the tetryon mk xii very rares can be had in the 600k to 1 meg EC range. You can triple that for Phasers and quadruple it for Antiproton.  The bottom line is that beam array weapons are expensive and if you want to go on the “vilias” (Latin for cheap) you will find the best deals on single cannon weapons. Mk xii very rares for 90k on the exchange! Apparently a lot of STO players are shunning the cannons. I like single cannons. They fire fast and deal superior DPS than beams. They also have two powerful tactical BOFF attacks in ‘rapid fire’ and ‘scatter volley’. These single cannons are very effective on moderate turning starships such as science vessels and KDF battle cruisers. (base turn between 9-12). They are almost useless on big cruisers and generally don’t pack enough punch for a small escort. That said if you want to go all stingy, build a ship that uses these single cannons. My top dog toon is Vice Admiral Sager. He is maxed out in all reputation, has every single fleet goodie and all the reputation equipment in the game. His Avenger is equipped with anti-proton single cannons up front and that ship is pretty damn boss on any battle field.

One problem with single canons up front is that the desirable idea is to compliment them with turrets in the back. Turrets are priced like they are fashioned from a billet block of solid latinum. I will sometimes use the omni-directional beams in the rear. The Obelisk omni-directional beam array is available as a freebie mission reward and so is the matching Obelisk warp core that adds a 10% boost to all antiproton damage when used together. The Omega Kinetic Cutting Beam is also easily obtainable. If you have to have turrets and your trying to fly coach; green is probably all you can afford or maybe some rare tetryon turrets.

Get as much of the cool mission reward items as you can. Some of these items are actually really good. I still use the Obelisk Warp Core and the companion Obelisk Omni-directional Beam on that badass Avenger, Admiral Sager occasionally flies.

When you are looking at items on the exchange, start with the best such as Mk XII very rare. If those are too expensive drop down to rare but before you buy, check the Mk XI very rare against the Mk XII rare. With consoles these are usually equal in strength but sometimes one is significantly cheaper than the other. For example. The Mk XII rare EPS flow regulator console has the same 75% power transfer boost as the Mk XI very rare. The ship below was a freebie and I was able to build this ship for less than 1 million EC on the exchange and 22k dilithium. The two field generator sci consoles were bought on the old dilithium store for 11k each. These would be very expensive now, so they can be subbed with shield emmitter consoles that are routinely dropped. Even still, half the weapons were enemy drops. The two engineering consoles on the left are freebies with one each coming from the two Risian ships. I flew this exact set up in an Omega Borg STF mission on elite and was able to complete it without dying. Honestly the only thing this ship really needs is a better warp core. The chroniton torpedos are dirt cheap on the exchange, I paid only 160k each for those Mk XII very rares! The trick with the chronitons is to use torpedo spread. This will almost guarantee activation of the proc to slow down the enemy ships, then you can go to town with your weapons. I know chronitons kind of suck, but hey this is a ship that can survive Borg missions on elite that you can build for about a million bucks and some grinding.risa1

I occasionally check the exchange for deals. Sometimes you will find an item that normally sells for 800k or so for 200k. It’s like someone is desperate for cash so they dump an item. Keep you eyes open for those kind of deals and always have some EC on hand to jump on them when they appear.

So if you don’t have a lot of Zen to toss around, don’t worry about it. The game offers up a pretty nice selection of Star Trek ‘Geekalicious’ stuff for free. Just go out and get it!

I have a fetish for opinion polls it seems ;)