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.
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 😉