Mark XIV, is it worth the Effort and Cash?

That is a loaded title. And the answer is “Absolutely yes” and “No, not really”. How’s that for a load of crap. That is the classic ‘take no sides’ view you see politicians play on important issues. Well worry not my friends for I have an explanation for my two-faced comment.

I have for the most part resisted using the upgrade system. It is profusely expensive and a bit grindy to use. Even when you have all the necessary components the system makes you go through a bunch of unnecessary load and click operations. Come on, really? Is there some guy in the back room at Cryptic with nothing better to do than place annoying things into otherwise great video game content? Is there a college course called “MMO Grinding 101”? The STO gang aced the hell out that course. The ‘hard cash’ to close the deal is also a bit high. Using the low-grade common tech upgrade components is NOT a good idea. First they add to that unpleasant grinding effect as they only give 2000 upgrade points instead of the rare tech upgrade that offer up 12,800. A little less load and click there. But also the common units use 700 dilithium each and the rares only use 1075.

Let’s do the quick on the math here, the common looks like this: 2000 points divided by 700 dilithium equals,  2.86 upgrade points per dilithium. Now the rare which is also called “Superior” delivers 12,800 points at a cost of 1075 dilithium. That works out to 11.9 points for every one dilithium! You can buy the common at a vendor on ESD or Qo’Nos for 10,000 EC. The superior rare units are available on the Exchange, crafted, or MOB dropped. On the exchange the price for these range from the low to upper 100k range. Do not buy the common units on the exchange. They run 18k and you can walk down the effing hall and buy them at the source for 10k. I swear, that many STO players are not just “pretending” to be Ferengi 😉 So the EC side of the math equation goes like this, common cost 5 EC per point and rares using an average of 150k exchange price cost 11.72 EC per point. So the superior costs more EC but less dilithium and I find EC to be much easier to come by, so the rare tech upgrade components are the way to go. Of course one can craft the superior, and a couple of even stronger and better versions as well. Some people love to grind first before they grind so that they can grind some more. Seriously, sometimes playing STO is like living in a pepper mill.

2015-11-19_11-02-31OK so we got the arithmetic out-of-the-way. Is the end result worth the effort and the cash?  I’ll mention that last weekend Cryptic offered a double tech point event. All tech upgrades delivered 2x. So I took advantage and upgraded every single equipped item on Admiral Sager’s Fleet Avenger. Actually a couple of items on that ship are not upgradeable, but I spent 12 million EC and roughly 120,000 dilithium to make that Avenger a badass Mark XIV destroyer of worlds.

So the “yes” answer is with weapons. And it is an absolute yes. The fleet grade Mk XII antiproton cannons  equipped on that ship with [acc]x2 and [dmg]x2 did a base of 232 dps. After the Mk XIV upgrade the base dps jumped to a crazy, 348! The Fleet Quantum Torpedo Launchers enjoyed a similar boost as well. How is the Admiral gonna get past the doping committee? That is a serious juicing boost right there. In actual combat with the weapon power at 100 and all the typical captains perks, power boosts, etc. applied, those cannons
are idling at 1600 dps each. Add in an Alpha boost and they can easily hit at 4k each for a few glorious seconds. Each cannon required 72k upgrade points to get from Mk XII to XIII and then another 125k to get to XIV. Remember that sometimes you get a “critical” on upgrade for 1.5x and you can use tech accelerators (I don’t think they are worth buying, but crafting is probably good) The average cost to upgrade each cannon was about 15,000 dilithium and roughly 1.8 million EC.  I did not use accelerators but it was a double tech point event so in regular upgrading, double the cost to 30k dilithium and 3.6 million EC per weapon. Even at the higher cost it is probably worth it to get that kind of Herculean power boost for about the same effort as buying a Mk XII reputation weapon.

The ship equipment was more expensive to upgrade but still worth it especially considering the double bonus weekend event. The Adapted MACO shield on the Admiral’s Avenger had a battle ready 16k shield points per facing at Mk XII and it was boosted to over 20k with the upgrade. It was about double the cost to upgrade versus the weapons. I’d say it was worth it. The consoles were a bit hit or miss. They are much cheaper in general to boost but whether or not the extra couple of points in eps flow or shield emitters or even energy damage is worth the cost is in the eye of the beholder. One item I felt was not worth the upgrade at all was Warp Cores. Although the Fleet Avenger had a non-upgradeable core I entertained the idea of boosting a Fleet Elite core on another of the Admiral’s ships. Only one bonus is effected. The core I tested had a 7.5% boost to shield power and auxiliary, 5 point shield and aux power cap, 7.5% of weapon power to shields as bonus power, then there is the special elite core ability that gives a boost to damage for every system with more than 75% power. But none of these were improved by an upgrade. The EPS system got a 17.5 point boost. This EPS was the ONLY bump the upgrade seemed to effect, pushing it to 20 at Mk XIV. Since it is an Ultra Rare item the cost was too expensive to justify. So there is your “no, not really” answer.

In the end the Admiral’s Fleet Avenger is packing a wallop. It has nearly 95k hull, 20k plus per shield facing, soaks about 62-65% of all incoming damage and deals a pretty nasty bite to idiots that choose to engage her. Honestly I am probably going to start crafting tech upgrades so I can avoid the EC costs. I have a gazillion R&D items stashed away.

Overall I think the upgrade system is still too grindy and too expensive. I also can’t stand the bullshit where you have to either wait for minutes or even hours for the upgrade to complete or of course you can pay the extortion ransom in dilithium and get it right away. Way to salt the friggin’ wound Cryptic, salting the wound.

As a closing note and unrelated, I played the new mission “Stormbound”. I hate Tholians, but my Mark XIV enhanced Avenger ripped them apart so it’s all good. We have another 3 piece freebie set. Once per week players can get one of the three new items, this week the deflector, next the engines, and finally a shield. It is a nice little set and it is absolutely free. As I always say on this blog, take the free stuff! Some of these freebie sets are decent gear and since it was free it is easy to justify spending some dilithium and EC and upgrading these sets to Mark XIV. Don’t forget that these “featured” episodes offer a weekly bonus that gives your choice of either an enhanced tech upgrade or a captain’s specialization point. The enhanced tech upgrades provide 30,000 tech upgrade points with NO dilithium cost. They do not offer a chance for rarity upgrade however. These missions take all of 30 minutes to complete so go get the freebie stuff already 🙂

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6 thoughts on “Mark XIV, is it worth the Effort and Cash?

  1. Awesome, thank you for posting this! I have a T6 fleet Arbiter that I’m saving up dil and R&D stuff to upgrade, and this is really helpful.

  2. We’ve been chatting about upgrades recently too (cuz, upgrade weekend, duh!) and I’ll repeat what I said. Weapons? Absolutely upgrade them! A ship full of Mk XIV weapons is a very significant improvement over one with Mk XII’s. My Delta Recruits were struggling in the Mirror Invasion queues, but their performances improved noticeably over the upgrade weekend as I gradually brought their weapons up. I’d throw in the tactical consoles too — you don’t get the same bang for your buck, but they’re cheaper to upgrade.

    Rest of the stuff? I agree with you: No, not really worthwhile. To me, Warp Cores and Impulse Engines in particular weren’t worth the cost and effort to upgrade.

    Also, don’t forget about the Rarity upgrade — in my mind this is the biggest BS piece of the upgrade system. Sure, every time you use an upgrade there is a tiny chance for a Rarity bump, but the chance is cumulative and goes up a little every time it fails. In other words, just keep throwing dil and materials at it and eventually you will get it to Epic Grade… except it will be super-stupidly expensive.

    People have figured out a better option is to craft Mk II Very Rare weapons with the desired mods, then upgrade them. Every time it goes up one level, there is a chance for a Rarity upgrade (also at lower levels the chances are higher). During the Upgrade weekend, a single Superior Upgrade can push a MkII weapon all the way up to MkVIII or MkIX, so that’s 6 or 7 opportunities for a Rarity upgrade right there.

    1. Very good point there, Heidy. And yes, I remember you mentioning that weapons and certain (mainly tac) consoles are about the only items that are really worth upgrading (certainly not warp cores!). I’ve upgraded several of my weapons and consoles fairly cheaply by simply crafting a Mk 2 item and then upgrading it.

      It was also pretty easy to upgrade some of my two Delta toons’ items because they were getting purple quality items as rewards once I hit levels 10, 20, 30, and 40, so I ended up having a fair amount of decent stuff that I was able to upgrade to Mk 14 relatively cheaply.

  3. I tend to upgrade all the items on my “main” to Mk XIV for the reasons you cited, including the deflector, shields and warp core and engine. As to rarity, I try to get the warp core to Epic. Why the warp core? Assuming you get one of the spire cores with [AMP] and [W->A], when you get Epic, the modifier is [W->S]. Since you are running normally 120 to W, then you get about a 15 point bump to Aux and Shields before doing anything else. It makes the 75% for [AMP] to always be on easy–without or without Flow/Plasmonic Leech. Of course, YMMV, but for me, this is the one rarity upgrade I go for.

  4. I think people approach the system a bit wrong. I think that pushing for Mk XIV is reasonable and what people are meant to focus on. It’s comparable to the cost of rep or fleet gear dil wise. Rarity, on the other hand, is just a dil sink aimed at end game min/maxers with nothing else to spend it on. You definitely get less bang for the buck out of rarity upgrades than you do from improving the mark. If you’re not in a tier 5, maxed out fleet and decked out in full end game gear, you have better things to spend it on for now.

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