As I play with more ships and more settings I am constantly discovering new ways to “tweak” those settings and configurations in an effort to create a powerful offense without sacrificing defense. I have mentioned many times before on this blog that I play a lot of STO but I am not anywhere near as good as many who may read this. I watch, I experiment and I ask others as I move towards the elusive status of achieving starship nirvana. If you see an error or disagree, please leave a friendly comment and I’ll approve it for all to see.
Today I want to talk about starship power. Power is everything. A warp core or singularity core produces awe-inspiring power that can bend time and space to whirl us through the galaxy at crazy velocities. It also creates all the surplus power to run the ship’s systems. Managing that power and wielding it properly when in combat can make a huge difference in survivability.
I’ll start with Starship Power 101. As I mentioned above the power is generated from the warp core (singularity core for Romulan ships). The core produces the power for all your ship’s systems. There are four basic power systems on the ship with a total of 200 units available across all the systems. There is also the possibility of bonus power.
The systems are self explanatory for the most part; weapons, shields, engines and auxiliary. Weapons power at 50 will deliver standard weapon damage. As power increases, damage increases and vice-versa. For shields the power setting is similar except that shield performance increases affect the speed of regeneration, not capacity. You do receive a shield damage resistance bonus as you exceed 50. Engine power determines speed. Above 50 increases speed, below 50 reduces speed. This applies to standard impulse power. NOT full impulse. Full impulse is a setting in which power is reduced in auxiliary, shields and weapons and channeled to engines to give a HUGE speed bonus. This is not available during combat (I think that sucks BTW sometimes a hasty retreat is needed 😉 ). Auxiliary power levels improve or decrease effectiveness of science abilities, batteries and other auxiliary buffs along with perception and stealth.
The UI (user interface) has four preset power setups. These can be modified and saved as well. The first preset is “attack”. By default the attack setup gives full power ‘100’ to weapons, 50 to shields and 25 to the other two. The next setting is “defense” which gives 100 power to shields, 50 to weapons and 25 to other systems. Engines as you have likely deduced gives 100 to engines, then 50 to auxiliary and 25 to the rest. The fourth setting is balanced in which all four settings are at half power or 50. You can tweak these settings and save them to overwrite the default as well. For example on the attack setting you could have 100 weapons, 25 each to engines and shields then 50 to auxiliary or any combination you see fit. You are limited to setting the power at between 15 and 100. Bonus power can exceed 100 and any value above 125 is stored as reserve. You can use the lock button above each power bar to keep the setting static while you adjust others. I use the power bar display for power, there are a couple of variations available in the UI. You will notice that each power level is indicated by a bar graph of a different color. My example shows each power level with a bright green area on top. This represents passive bonus power. The bonus power is generated by the core, as a ship bonus, with consoles and equipment or even by your captain’s abilities. This bonus power can go over the 100 mark. The system can use power up to 125 to increase system performance. Any additional power in that system is held in reserve and acts as a buffer against power drain.
The first mistake I made early on was not allocating enough auxiliary power. Auxiliary power is what drives nearly all of your BOFF and Captain healing buffs. If you use emergency power to the shields with your engineering BOFF and you only have 25 power in auxiliary you will find the buff to be a little weak. At 100 auxiliary power the buff is very impressive indeed. One way to boost auxiliary power without sacrificing other systems is to find a core that offers a flat bonus to auxiliary power and a partial bonus to auxiliary based on power from another system. You will find that some of the cores offer a cap increase on max power as well. You can get temporary power increases from Captain or BOFF abilities and consumable batteries as well as singularity core bonuses on Romulan ships.
Please refer to the STO Wiki page on Power Systems here
In attack mode on a ship with heavy weapons like dual heavy cannons that drain a lot of power I like to have as much power as possible to weapons. As you fire the weapons it drains power and reduces the damage dealt. Having surplus power even above 125 will keep power relatively high even as weapons drain the system. That said investing in a top grade core and passive power bonuses through captain’s skills and equipment will allow you to have a solid punch on weapons and still hold enough power to keep your ship alive.
If you are short on EC or Dilithium and need a cheaper build it could be wise to spend less on weapons and more on power. Consider the following two beam arrays; Mk XI [dmg]x2 vs. Mk XII [dmg]x3. The Mk XI can be found on the exchange for 50-200k EC depending on the market and specific type. The Mk XII however will be well over a million EC each! The Mk XI [dmg]x2 should yield a base damage of 181 dps vs the Mk XII [dmg]x3 at 196 dps. Now if we take the lesser weapons and couple them to a ship with superior power look at the results. Just four additional points in weapon power will bring the Mk XI rare up to snuff with the Mk XII very rare. Now you can use other modifiers on your weapons like accuracy or critical and save money. A really good core will set you back about a million EC but you might be able to save 10 million EC on your weapons purchases. If you are rollin’ phat like Buffet, then go ahead and spring the big coin on all Mk XII purple, but if you want a lot of punch on a more modest budget this is a good way to get there.
If you are a Tactical officer and you are flying Escorts, Raptors or Raiders you might try to resist the temptation to run at 100 weapons power. A big problem with these ships is low hull strength and weak shields. Run a combat impulse engine to keep the engines efficient at low power. Run W-70, S-65, E-15, A-50 or something similar depending on how your passive bonus power lays out. You might end up with 85, 75, 20, 60 or something similar. Now you have a pretty good defensive stance, then when you line up for an attack run and let’s face it most Escort type ships rely on a strong frontal attack, you can boost weapons power for a short duration with… wait for it… a weapons battery! These things are cheap, heck I have hundreds of them just from mob drops. This gives a quick boost of 75 points in weapons power for a duration that will just about last as long as your Alpha and BOFF buffs. Now you are laying down a fist full of evil hate and after the attack run you still have gobs of shield and auxiliary power for defense. Hey, this might just work 😉
If you want to tank, then just lock weapons and engines at 15 and pop the shields and auxiliary power as high as they will go. It is likely that everyone has their own “sweet spot” on the power settings. Just remember that it is so easy to play with the settings so why not experiment and see what works for you.