I have written a great many times about players that really know how to build a powerful toon. I will say that we must pay attention to the man behind the curtain, for characters in any MMO are puppets and the master is the player. I do not fancy myself a great builder of killer toons, but I am pretty good. Soon the boffins at Cryptic will release a new update to the player skills. We will all have an opportunity to rebuild our toons to fit the new model. In the mean time certain building techniques remain constant in the gaming universe including STO.
I have built several toons that are quite literally a jack of all trades. These are toons that fare well in a broad campaign where enemies vary and objectives change, allowing the character to do reasonably well in any situation. These well-rounded characters however fail to do anything truly great. Admiral Sager is one such toon, but I have so much good gear and he has acquired nearly everything there is in the game; so he does many things great. He may be the exception to the rule that a ‘Jack of all trades’ is a master of none. But that came a dear price. A great deal of Zen, Lobi, Dilithium and Energy Credits have been spent to make Admiral Sager a formidable toon. I dare say, he is built like a Lannister if you’ll pardon the ‘Game of Thrones’ parlance. Building a character to do a few things as a divine master will leave that character vulnerable somewhere; but this is the path to strength and power especially if you wish to play as near as possible to the idea of F2P.
I do hope that STO does not dumb down the character skills too much. I wrote about the complexities of the STO skills system a couple of years ago and I do like a more complex system. It rewards those that ‘engineer’ their characters. Read about it here, The Geeky Character Building Epic for the Clinically Insane. That said, I realize that STO wants to make the game playable for those that are less inclined to spend countless hours tweaking and testing their toons to deliver that extra little something. Hopefully they can bridge the gap between ease of use and sophistication without one killing the other. We shall see when Season 11.5 is launched later this spring.
If you wish to build a character that is truly a master at something, you will have to build the skills to focus on that mastery and then equip the toon with gear and staff (DOFFs and BOFFs) that exploit the skills and traits you have selected. Bare in mind that this will leave the toon vulnerable in other areas and you must play the character to the strengths you have created while guarding your ‘weak side’.
I tend to play in a tactical style. Even my science and engineering toons tend to be built with a tactical style of play. In STO I am a run and gun type player and in some instances I am a stealth player. When I play most RPG games I nearly always build a stealth toon. In the Classic D&D I always built Battle Clerics and Rogues, but that really doesn’t apply in STO 😉 Unfortunately STO has destroyed the whole concept of stealth. They have so nerfed the cloak that building a true “rogue” is nigh impossible. I love stealth characters, I have one in Skyrim that is deliciously diabolical and wickedly powerful 🙂 I have previously stated that STO has too little gap in hull and shield strength between the raiders and escorts and the big cruisers and dreadnoughts. If the gap was greater, then they would not need to nerf the stealth and weapons as much. The “sneak” attack using decloak and rear flank should be 5x but the ship capable of dealing that would need to be easy to destroy, in other words more fragile. As it is now the hull difference between a maxed out T6 cruiser and a maxed out T6 raider is about 110%. Create a spread that is closer to 200% and the need to nerf the attack on the raider class vessels would be eliminated. Remember stealth in the classic D&D rogues was their ally, once revealed the rogues ability to do damage was gone and their defense was as well. While “cloaked” or “hidden” the rogue could do insane damage, greater than even the classic heavy tank with a two-handed weapon. STO needs to give us a true stealth ability and that means STOP NERFING THE DAMNED CLOAK!
OK back on topic 🙂 Let’s say you want to build a tactical toon that will fly escorts and/or raiders. Let’s assume that you are willing to use tactics to avoid taking fire and these tactics will allow you to fly with weaker shields and hull. You can focus your skills and abilities to capitalize on weapons strength, defense, and stealth. These builds should also use critical hits and critical damage boosts as well. But do not forget that certain equipment and personnel will aid in this as well. Seeking DOFFs that offer reduced cooldown on tactical BOFFs or boosts in critical damage or hit will make your attacks stronger. Utilization of the Pilot and or Intel abilities that aid in flanking and maneuvering will benefit your strength of attack. This setup will benefit from antiproton weapons that offer enhanced critical. In the case of antiproton weapons, using examples where the modifiers enchance critical damage and/or hit chance makes sense since those weapons are designed to deal serious critical damage more often.
Perhaps you are trying to be the accurate sniper type. Maybe you are a science captain utilizing the subsystem targeting as a primary attack method. Accuracy is king here. Perhaps weapons modifiers with accuracy make more sense. If you like to use beam overload, then accuracy and critical damage makes sense. Overload always crits and it is a one shot affair so accuracy and CrtD makes the shot count. Try to get weapons and equipment that focus on what you build your character to do. If you are building a critical hit character then antiproton weapons are probably your best choice. If you are a science toon building exotic attacks, then protonic weapons or the Undine bio weapons will aid in the strength of the science build by dealing additional exotic damage.
I recently wrote about the Terran Task Force weapons and these are ideal for a raider build. Having Intel specialization as primary with the flanking bonus along with Pilot as secondary and a raider class vessel with a battle cloak yields a powerful and devastating alpha ability from the rear. These Terran weapons with the 200% bonus damage will lay waste to your enemies quite quickly. My KDF tactical officer flies a battle cloak enabled ship with this Terran ordnance set equipped and ship absolutely crushes it on the alpha flanking attack.
Likewise engineers looking to build a super tanker can use the same tactic in building. Give up the power attacks and focus on all the abilities that strengthen hull and shields and aid in the recovery of damage. Damage reduction is important as well. Use BOFFs and DOFFs that enhance tanking with passives that soak damage, boost shields, or shorten engineering cooldowns. This is the type of build that works well in team PVE whereby the tank draws enemy fire away from the less resilient escorts and raiders that can focus on alpha strikes on the rear flank. There is a certain amount of pride that goes with flying straight into a shitstorm; your shields hold and you hull goes unscratched. You can fly the sigil of the single finger salute as your team mates destroy your enemies while you sit in in the captain’s chair like it’s a Lazyboy in your living room. 🙂
I have avoided some of the specifics on skill build as that whole system is changing fairly soon. But the concept of toon building remains more or less the same across the whole of the RPGMMO universe. Build your toon and all your gear around the style of play that suits your desire and focus on that. Unless you wish to turn your F2P experience into a sultan’s purse experience, avoid the jack of all trades approach. That said the Gilded Galactic Emperor is a fun play too 😉