I have had a few posts about carriers but have not spent much effort discussing the pets associated with those carriers. The game offers a variety of ships with hangar bay(s) and several ships with console based pets. So what pets are the best and do you even need them?
Well, need them, sure. But trade-off other important things to get them? Hmm, perhaps. A little research will quickly provide the eye-opening revelation that STO has a ton-load of carrier pets! Seriously there are dozens of choices here! The first thing I will say is that I highly recommend trading up on the quality grade from the standard issue pets with whatever carrier ship you have. Do not be fooled by the “rare” light blue status of the standard issue pets. Carrier pets are already severely weak compared to a playable starship or even a playable fighter/shuttle. These pets can easily be dispatched by large AOE attacks and they often fly stupid. Fly stupid? Yes, these carrier pets are piloted by AI idiots that all seemed to miss the class on warp core explosion danger 😉 Having the extra beef of very rare and ultra rare can be a huge benefit as these tougher variants will be more effective in their respective role before being wiped out in that inevitable warp core explosion or enemy AOE attack.
So if these little puff balls are so fragile why even fly a carrier type ship? Therein lies the $64,000 question. Carrier pets are not necessarily for attack. There are a great many pets that are designed to heal allies, disable enemies, even steal from enemies. The carrier pets that are either unarmed or have a healer/stealer role will generate less threat in general and thus can be very effective at diluting the power of enemies. There are attack type pets as well and these are the pets that will not last long in combat but they still can help weaken the enemy. Every enemy weapon that is striking at one of your pets is conveniently not striking at you. Having a full complement of pets flying around in combat can take substantial pressure off your ship and that means your ship has effectively gained some battle resiliency.
The captain of a carrier has the ability to issue general orders to the pets. There is attack the current target, escort the currently selected ally, intercept incoming enemy fighters and targetable projectiles. You can also recall the pets back to the hangar to regenerate. As the pets survive, they gain ranks shown with up to 5 stars. Depending on the type of pet they gain substantial hull and resiliency perks. The longer they stay out the stronger they become. The Breen Sarr Theln carrier offers a great starship trait to aid in pet survivability. Reactive Repair Nanites applies a portion of all hull heals to active pets within 5km of the carrier. If you intend to fly any carrier, I strongly recommend you utilize this trait.
Carrier pets are broken up into three size groups. There are large frigates that are deployed in a single vessel wing. That means only one pet is deployed at a time per wing. Each hangar bay can support two wings of pets. So a two bay carrier could have a total of four frigate pets deployed at a time. These are tougher and more resilient pets. I find it easier to get these pets up to five stars. The next class has a squad size of two per wing. These are a little less tough but have the advantage of superior numbers. A two bay carrier can have eight of these out at a time. Finally the smallest pets have a squad size of three and they are the most fragile but a two bay carrier can have 12 deployed at once. Now one cool thing about a two bay carrier is that you can mix and match pets. You could have Peregrine Fighters in bay one and Delta Flyers in bay two. You could have healers and fighters in the same carrier if you felt so compelled. I have a few carriers with this mixed bag of pets and I do like it.
Be advised that some carrier pets can only be acquired if a particular ship is owned. Many pets can be used in a variety of carriers but may require a prerequisite ship to be owned. The STO Wiki provides a great deal of information on all the various pets in the game. STO-Wiki Carrier Pets.
So what are the best carrier pets? That’s akin to asking what the best flavor of ice cream is. It is very much dependant on play style and player preference. I can offer some insights to the pets I have deployed on the half-dozen carriers I have flown with many of my toons.
Feddies don’t have the most pets so that’s an interesting counter-trend. That honor goes to the KDF. Oddly there are no standard Starfleet frigate pets. I own the Yellowstone Shuttles (ultra rare Danube), Elite Delta Flyers, Elite Peregrine Fighters and an assortment of standard pets acquired on several ships. The Yellowstone Shuttles have Tractor Beam III and against NPC enemies they are very effective. They also have Eject Warp Plamsa which can cause a lot of trouble for multiple enemies. Delta Flyers have Tachyon Beam so they can help dilute shields. The Elite Peregrine Fighters are pretty nasty with dual phaser cannons up front and a phaser turret in back. They are further aided in the use of a quantum torpedo launcher. The elite variety gains the Rapid Fire ability as well. They can lay down some serious angry fire before haplessly flying into a warp core explosion 😉 Feddies can have a frigate pet by acquiring the freebie Plesh Brek Heavy Raider from Mr. Omnipotent himself, Q, during the Winter Event. They can only be launched from the Breen Sarr Theln however.
The KDF has an amazing selection of pets. I own the B’rolth BOPs which are the very rare version of the B’rel. I will eventually get around to getting the Ultra-Rare variety. These are the most resilient pets I have ever used. They are tough and they deal serious evil hate on damage with a dual cannon disruptor and a quantum up front and a disruptor turret aft. They can use Rapid Fire II and Torpedo High Yield II (level III for the Elite Qaw’dun version). There is just something really epic about launching full-sized BOPs as carrier pets. Admittedly the game does a piss poor job of scale as the BOPs appear too big to have actually come out of the Vo’Quv carrier. But still, they are really cool. I have a set of advanced To’Duj and the Reinforced marauders. I routinely run a hangar of BOPs with a second hangar of To’Duj fighters.
For my Romulan toon flying the epic badass Falchion Dreadnought, the Elite Romulan Drones are the real deal! These bad boys emulate ships of the enemy offing them a defacto stealth bonus. They have three beam arrays and a plasma torpedo launcher. They can use Beam Overload III and Fire at Will III as well as Emergency Power to the Shields. These are frigates so I only get two deployed at a time but they are very resilient and can do serious damage.
Below is a chart from the STO-Wiki showing all the various hangar pets. Take the poll below the chart!
What is you favorite hangar pet? For the purpose of simplicity, only the top grade version is shown on the list. The faction requirements are listed in the first parenthesis, Fed, KDF, Rom and CF (cross faction). Some pets can only be launched from a specific carrier in those cases the carrier is indicated in a second parenthesis. Choose your top three!