I have found that people who play science officers in STO tend to be pretty serious about their characters. I am not saying that science officers are superior or anything like that. Really it almost the contrary as I find the science officer more difficult to play in space fights. I admire players that can take a science career and still be a badass on the battlefield.
No matter what career path your toon has taken, nearly every ship he flies will have at least one science seat on the bridge. There are times when that science BOFF is your new best friend.
The science BOFF has perhaps the most versatile range of abilities in the game. In comparison, tactical and engineering BOFFs tend to be somewhat one-dimensional. Tactical BOFFs offer abilities that enhance your attack almost exclusively. Yes tactical team offers a shield boost in its list of buffs and some of the attack patterns have a bit of a defensive stance, but the general rule is tactical officers give you a bigger stick with which to clobber your enemies. Engineering is nearly all defensive buffs. Yes there is aceton beam and directed energy modulation but the bulk of engineering is buffs to the ship’s hull or systems. In essence the engineer keeps you alive long enough for the tactical officers to kill the enemy.
Enter the science BOFFs. These guys can do it all. There are a variety of attack abilities using the ship’s deflector and exotic particle energy. There are ship and shield buffs, and there is a lot of control abilities as well. The science BOFF can dramatically change the posture of your ship.
I like to fly my ship without an officer in the science seats before I decide to fill the seat. I will run a patrol mission with level appropriate enemies and see what I long for in the battle. If my ship holds together well and my enemies fall with out much trouble, I now have the opportunity to use the science seat as a control seat. If my ship gets into trouble, then I may need to use the science BOFFs all or part to healing and defense.
If I am able to utilize control abilities then I can really help out in many of the PVE missions. Against the Borg for example in the “Infected, the Conduit” PVE mission players must destroy two power generation systems that control a transwarp gateway the Borg are using. There are nanite spheres that will repair the damage quite quickly. If the team is unable to kill them quickly enough, the effort to destroy the power transformers becomes futile. see what I did there 😉 This depends on the team of course. Sometimes you have a group of serious badasses and the power transformers fall quickly. Sometimes however, your living in a noob nightmare. It is here that your science BOFF comes to the rescue. Using the gravity well ability the nanite spheres and other hapless Borg baddies get sucked into the well. This gives the team time to kill the power transformer while the Borg are “occupied” You can also use tractor beam repulsors to push them away from the transformer, but this is less reliable.
Speaking of tractor repulsors, I have a love hate relationship with them. When I am soloing they are awesome. I like to use them on my ships that use cannons, especially dual cannons with that narrow firing arc. I fly towards the enemy and unleash my dual cannon fury. Just as my ship is about to overrun them, BAM! I tractor repulse the crap out of them, pushing them back and most importantly, keeping them in front of my big, mean and nasty dual cannons. Then, they die 😀 In PVE however I just want to slap people who use them on strong enemies that require a team effort to bring down. It never fails, I come about, I am alpha boss buffed from the gates of hell, ready to deliver a crushing blow of evil, and some butt-munching d-bag decides to tractor repulse the enemy right out of my firing arc or range. I have a new enemy, and it is that guy 😡 Tractor repulsors are also handy at pushing away mines and ships when you are in trouble. There is that moment when you are caught in the Romulan tractor mines and that D’Deridex just launched those four heavy plasma torpedos at you… you are now contemplating the afterlife. Eureka! The cooldown on tractor repulsors is done… repulse them right back at the enemy 😀
In PVP the abilities you use are going to be very dependent on the skills and perks your captain has taken. In PVP a tractor beam is useless unless you have the associated captain’s skills seriously buffed. Then the tractor beam is strong enough that escape is nigh impossible. The game is forgiving with NPC enemies but PVP is a completely different animal. There are science guys in PVP that lock me in a tractor beam and I just sit there, helpless while I wait to die. Then I put a PVP enemy in a tractor beam and the enemy is thinking, “Oh, how cute, he’s tugging on my shirt…”
Tachyon beam can be useful at depleting shields but I find it more effective in team play where multiple ships are attacking a single target. It also can be used in opportune moments where a ship has a nearly depleted shield and the tachyon beam drops it long enough to launch a salvo of torpedoes at the exposed hull. Charged particle burst is great at exposing cloaked ships. In PVP this is a wonderful ability, but again you will need to have the proper captain’s ability points in deflector and particle skills. Sub-space decompiler and flow capacitors boost this ability.
Mask energy signature (MES) is as close to cloaking as it gets for ships without a cloak. Like cloak it will allow a tactical pre-buff before decloaking. Mask energy signature does not give the decloak attack bonus but like cloak, it does offer a generous defense bonus while active that lingers after disengaging. When using a cloaking device the shield power is reduced to zero and shields are offline. All other power levels remain the same. Mask energy signature reduces the power levels in weapons, shields and engines by 20 points. This is advantageous in that your ship remains protected from torpedoes, mines, etc because shields are still up. I believe MES is more susceptible to detection than a cloak. Mask energy signature may not be affected by charged particle burst however, I’ll have to test that.
There are many uses for a science BOFF and who you place on the bridge can dramatically change they way your ship fights in combat situations. I have a poll below, chime in on your favorite science abilities.