Carriers: For Captains That Like Pets

Carrier-w-brel-smallCarriers are a class of ship that up until recently had been a bit light on selection. The boffins at Cryptic have been slowly adding them into the game and now we have a very impressive inventory of options for the captain that likes pets.

There are now more than a dozen base ships offering at least one hangar bay. There is also numerous additional variants such as refits, retrofits and fleet versions of these ships. Suddenly we have the ability to fly these types of ships with a captain from any career path.

Originally the carriers were somewhat science oriented which didn’t make much sense considering the nature of a carrier ship. Early in the game’s development there was a lack of science ships when compared to the tactical and engineering selection that was available. I think that may be the reason that the early carriers had a science leaning setup.

Carriers offer an extra layer of customization in that the ship can load a variety of “pets”. Pets simply refers to the fighters, shuttles and drones that can be launched from the hangar bays of carrier ships. The “real” carriers have two hangar bays. Carriers that have two bays can launch two sets of pets. They can be the same or different types. For example you could have a carrier with one hangar launching the Yellowstone shuttles with a tractor beam ability and the other launches a fighter squadron to attack the immobilized victims of the shuttles. There are dozens of options to create a carrier ship that suits your play style.

I only have a few carriers. For the Federation I fly the Obelisk. For the KDF I have the Mirror Vo’quv, Obelisk, Kar’Fi, and Orion Marauder. For the Romulan Republic I have the Scimitar, Falchion, and Tulwar. Of these only the Vo’quv and Kar’Fi have two hangar bays. The Bortasqu’ and Odyssey each offer a variant with a ship specific “pet” but it has a long cool down period when destroyed.

obelisk2

Carriers have an extra element that captains need to pay attention to. The pets can be destroyed and to be truly effective the carrier needs to keep deploying pets as often as possible to be sure and have the maximum number in action at all times. Having the pets out gives enemies something to fire at other than you! This is great for captains that don’t want to worry as much about taking fire so they can boost other skills rather than focusing on tanking. Of course this is only effective against AI opponents. PVP players will likely ignore your pets and move in for the kill on the carrier. I have seen many players build effective tank carriers and let the pets do damage while the carrier repels attacks.

The latest carrier is courtesy of the new season 9.5 Xindi Lockbox. The Xindi-Aquatic Narcine Dreadnought Carrier. This is a potent ship that has a strong tactical leaning to its layout. Below is the wiki comparison of this ship to the other two-bay carrier ships. In all fairness the Advanced Obelisk, Fleet Caitian, and Fleet Vo’Quv are not shown on the chart and they offer a strong alternative to the Jem’Hadar, Tholian and the new Xindi carriers.

xindi

The carrier ship I use the most is the Romulan Falchion. Of course this is only a one-bay ship and so it isn’t a true carrier, but this ship allows me to take advantage of carrier pets whilst flying a ship that plays like a badass cruiser. I really thought I was going to like the Kar’Fi but that ship just doesn’t tank well. I feel like Cryptic should have given that ship a 10-11 turn rate to compensate for the pathetic 34,500 hull rating. It is one of the meanest looking ships in the game though! If you are an engineer, then the Obelisk is probably the carrier ship for you. There is an advanced version available in the Lobi store that offers fleet like bonuses including a ten percent boost to shields and hull, and bonus console. If you can’t tank that ship, then tanking isn’t your thing ;)

skullIf you decide to fly a carrier I would recommend looking at the advanced and elite versions of the carrier pets. These superior versions will offer strong attacks and more resilience. I recently upgraded to the Ultra-rare Elite Romulan drone ships for my Falchion and those things almost never die at the hands of AI opponents and even PVP players need to use caution since they hit hard and are hard to kill. The ultra rare versions are available through your fleet store. Advanced versions should be available in the dilthium store.

So go out and get yourself a shiny new carrier and let the pets off the leash!

It’s time for another poll!

 

STO: The Geeky Character Building Epic for the Clinically Insane

Dj1-picardvsrikerI have played a great many RPG games and MMORPGs. I have built thousands of characters across nearly every game console and PC platform ever made. Yeah, I am kind of old, I guess ;) Star Trek Online has one of the most complex character building systems out there.

Now some of you may have played a game with even more complexities to the toon, but not many games offer the level of tweaking that Star Trek does. This allows a user to create a character that is truly unique in abilities despite the large sea of players in the game. This deep level of building can drive you to the brink of insanity as you try to maximize the character’s abilities.

Cryptic recently changed the character traits. Essentially it is a nerf, but it offers up the ability to change them on the fly once the character has unlocked them. I am not sure that traits should be interchangeable but it does offer a dynamic for mission specific tweaks to your character. You may have traits active for PVP that you don’t need for PVE or storyline missions. Now you can swap them at will. They are nerfed in the sense that you can’t have as many traits active simultaneously as you could prior to the launch of Season 9. The old system however required a trait respec to change (costing zen), that is no longer the case. One interesting fact is that various race specific traits still appear automatically in the first three slots but they can be swapped out. So now you can play any race you want and if you don’t like the race bonus you can swap out the traits.

This isn’t the first time I have touched on character building in STO. But I have really come to appreciate the complex nature of character building. Look at the classic RPG, the one that started it all, Dungeons and Dragons. That game starts a character with six basic abilities and allows the player to allocate points (or in the classic versions you “roll” the character which randomizes the results). Then as the character grows he gains feats that are essentially perks or bonus abilities. Some feats have prerequisites that make it important to plan your character in advance. But the total number of variables in a D&D character is not as vast as it is in STO.

Your character has two sets of skill points. Space and Ground. There are 35 space skills and 10 ground skills that can receive up to 9 points each with diminshing returns in thirds. That is the first three points give +18 each (54), the second three give +10 each (30) and the final three only +5 each (15) for each category. There is a total of +99 possible per skill set, but you are already at 84 with only six of the nine points taken. Then there are the traits which are like feats in D&D. STO has fewer traits than D&D has feats but the skills in STO with 45 sets are off the chart!

What really sets STO apart is the space side of the character. 35 skill sets with 9 ranks in each, 27 possible traits of which as many as 16 can be active at once if the character has earned them. Then there are dozens of ships each configured differently with console slot arrangements and  bridge office arrangements. Up to 5 duty officers can be on space duty and they offer tweaks to the abilities of the captain. (you can also have five DOFFs on ground duty) Of course all the weapons and device slots, shields, etc add to the mix as well but that is true of most RPGs where a character can equip items.

I admire those people who really know how to maximize the system and create amazing characters. That said I think many people play STO and don’t realize all of the things they can do to improve their Captain’s abilities with Bridge officers, Duty officers and traits. If you haven’t played around with all of these you could be missing out on that extra edge. You might not get killed as often either!

I have not yet mastered the character building in STO but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. First, don’t overlook duty officers. Peruse your roster of duty officers and see the traits they have. You will see things like, “Damage Control Engineer”, with a chance to reduce recharge time on any emergency power abilities. Depending on the “color” or rarity of the DOFF that could be as much as a 35% chance of reducing that cooldown by 30%. That may not seem like a big deal but you get to put up to five DOFFs on active duty. I can’t tell you how many times my ship was blasted to bits when my shields were down and there was just six seconds left on the recharge clock for “emergency power to the shields”.

Many Bridge Officers also have passive bonuses when they are actively on a console. Romulan BOFFs offer a 5% boost to stealth. An all Romulan crew could make your ship nearly undetectable. Read the details about each bridge officer. Seek out BOFFs that will complement your play style with their passive abilities.

There are some prerequisites to some of the skills as well. You may not be able to take a higher level skill unless you have 6 ranks of a related lower skill. Pay attention to that. You can look at the skills by hovering over them or clicking them. I find that most of the skills need only be taken to six ranks. +84 is pretty good and taking a +5 on the seventh rank of one skill when that point could be a +18 elsewhere is rarely sound judgement. Once your toon reaches level 50 it might be a good idea to respec his skills. You will likely earn this opportunity during the game and you can purchase it as well from the C-store. Respecing will allow you to correct the mistakes you may have made earlier in the game or just completely change the dynamic of the character.

Running DOFF missions will build up ranks in the DOFF system and many of these offer additional perks that strengthen your character. Admiral Sager is my first character and he is by far my most “skilled” toon. As a result I rarely die with him in command. Other characters that I have that are less advanced in skills, traits, etc. have a much tougher go of it. Especially when running elite missions.

AkirdaboSpend a little time building your character and don’t leave anything on the table. A few tweaks here and there could turn your toon into a badass!

I am still trying to find a winner so follow me on twitter @rodsager and wait for the tweet announcing that Akir is playing Dabo. Approach Akir and win a prize. Akir is the Ferengi at the Dabo table in the picture to the right.

 

Flying as a Ferengi

Ferengi I mentioned last week, (Risian Luxury Test Drive) that I wanted to start a Ferengi toon to play so I can fly that Luxury Cruiser. What a great profit opportunity.  The Ninth Rule of Acquisition says, “Opportunity plus instinct equals PROFIT”! STO is a role-playing game and what better role to play for an American, than the galaxy’s ultimate capitalist entrepreneurs, the Ferengi ;)

So I started him up. Character number nine; Ferengi Lt. Commander Akir an engineer that likes to engineer some profit along the way as he defends the federation in a Starfleet ship named, “Pride of Profit”.

prideofprofitWhen Akir reaches level 40 he will be able to fly the Risian Luxury Cruiser I already have stashed in his inventory.  Ultimately I would like to get Akir the D’Kora but those sell for over 100 million EC and I have never been able to scrounge up more than 20-30 million :(

I really feel like I need to play this character like a Ferengi. Maybe making some decisions that are not necessarily the best for to final outcome but that mirror a Ferengi in the canon of Trek. Of course this Ferengi is a Starfleet officer and as such had to choose to abandon some of the ways of Ferenginar or he would have never earned a commission. Sounds like I need a back story!

Akir was born on Ferenginar in 2359 and by 2379 had already amassed an impressive amount of wealth, even by Ferengi standards. He spent a great deal of time in his school years learning about the Klingons, the Federation and the Romulans. This knowledge has served him well in his profiteering over the years.

Akir had several encounters with Starfleet each offering a glimpse into the Federation social structure and idealism. His first encounter came in 2381 with Captain William Riker of the USS Titan. Riker discovered a questionable mining operation near the Romulan Neutral Zone and out of Ferengi space, while on a peace seeking mission with the Romulans. Ferengi Captain, Akir was in command of the operations claiming of course that it was fully legitimate. Riker is well-known among Ferengi and his reputation was one that most Ferengi would respect. Akir made a positive impression with Riker despite his capitalistic style, Akir seemed unlike many other Ferengi Riker had encountered. Akir also had extensive knowledge of federation regulations and was able to demonstrate to Riker that neither he nor the Romulans had any recourse to his operation. Riker noted in his log that Akir’s mining operation was unusually “clean” for a Ferengi. In his personal log he noted, “I have never encountered an environmentally conscious Ferengi before”.  In 2397 then Captain Sager, was in command of a shuttle craft on a mission for the USS Columbia River to the Briar Patch. The USS Loch Carron was a Delta class shuttle and Akir ended up in an aggressive situation whilst attempting to hide another of his mining operations. Although his mining was again, “clean” his claim in the area was not. Akir attempted to disable the shuttle craft with light weapons fire from his private ship. The Loch Carron was not so much as “scratched” and returned fire on Akir. Much to his surprise, the shuttle proved to be a formidable opponent and succeeded in disabling him instead. Akir was very impressed with Captain Sager’s prowess in the shuttle. The future Admiral Sager was able to work out a very fair arrangement for Akir that allowed him to exit the area somewhat profitably. This was not Akir’s last encounter with Admiral Sager. He ran into him again in 2407 at DS-9. This appears to be a pivotal point in Akir’s career.

Leading up to Akir’s second encounter with the admiral was an introduction to Nog on the USS Enterprise E when Akir sent a distress call needing aid against an Orion Marauding party on his legit mining operation in the Sirius Sector. Akir was holding his own but needed help to push the Orion’s back. akir was impressed with Nog and his “acceptance” into the Federation.

The admiral was enjoying a drink at Quark’s when Akir approached him. They hung out for a while and it is unknown to anyone other than them what was discussed. They are both tight-lipped, but Akir went to Starfleet Academy less than six months later and became a Starfleet officer. Akir claims to be a supporter of Rom’s progressive agenda for Ferengi but still practices a bit of the classic male chauvinism of “old” Ferengi. He does avoid outright discrimination as that would never fly in Starfleet, but the females on his crew are dressed in uniforms similar to the women in the Mirror Universe. He claims the uniforms are “efficient and profitable”. And so Akir flies through the galaxy on missions supporting the Federation and along the way seizing any “legitimate” opportunity for profit. For some strange reason, Starfleet never seems to push Akir beyond a hand slap for his sometimes over-zealous profiteering. Many people wonder what debt Vice Admiral Sager feels toward Akir that gets him out of the occasional jam with the federation brass.

How’s that for a back story?

I am going to have some fun with this one :D Now I need to go kill some Devidians with my new proton Devidian killer.

AkirdaboBy the way I met a Ferengi named Elchim in last week’s in game live mission. Elchim brought a Mai Tai to Rodanna and got a sick pair of Risian shades. So this week meet up with my new Ferengi. Look for a tweet @rodsager announcing Akir’s arrival at a Dabo table somewhere in the game. Remember to take note of which instance he is in. Then be the first to  connect with him for a great prize, hint he will want you to drop a party amplifier to liven things up.  It all starts tomorrow so follow the @rodsager twitter feed for the next opportunity to hang with a rich Ferengi.