One can make the argument that the Klingon Bird of Prey, AKA BoP is the most versatile ship in STO. Yes… I can hear you… “but Rod, it can’t tank for shit…” I know, but remember, Achilles was the greatest of all heroes, yet he had that whole issue with his heel. So I said “versatile”, not “perfect”.
The case for the BoP begins not with the hull or shields; if we start there, it’s like starting at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. So we begin on the bridge. The KDF BoP is still the only ship in the game with ALL universal chairs. Yes even the commander chair is a universal. There are only 4 seats, a Commander, Lt. Commander, and two Lieutenants. But the ability to run any combination of BOFFs is awesome. All BoPs have a Battle Cloak and 4 of them feature the Enhanced Battle Cloak (EBC) that allows for torpedoes and mines to be used without breaking the cloak. Many science abilities like Gravity Well and Tachyon Beam, among others are also able to be executed whilst under cloak. The four BoPs offered with the EBC are the T5 B’rel Retrofit, T5 Fleet B’rel Retrofit, T6 Kor, and T6 Fleet Kor.
The weakest use of a BoP would be a tank. Tanking in a BoP would be akin to building a battleship out of paper mache. But even so, it could be done. Commander engineer, Lt. Commander Tactical, and a couple of lieutenants at science and engineer on the bridge with some well placed captain’s skills and it could tank… a little.
But for a tactical or science officer the BoP can be quite a nasty ship. Most notably are the ship’s with the EBC. Tactical is the typical choice for those flying a BoP. But I have flown them with both engineers and science captains with decent success.
I have flown science officers in the Retrofit B’rel with solid results even in PVP. When running a sci toon with a cloak and kill style, I run the BoP with engines at 75, Aux at 100, shields at 5 (they are offline anyway under cloak) weapons at 20. The high auxiliary power improves the cloaking system making you nigh undetectable. Also if trying a science officer in a BoP, run the Intel specialization as primary and be sure you have taken the skills in the third tier for flanking bonus. Running a couple of mismatched torpedoes (ie. quantums and transphasics, avoids shared cooldown) and control mines like tractor mines and Nukara mines are ideal for the Sci-cap in a BoP. Using shield raping science abilities like Tachyon Beam, Charged Particle Burst, along with control abilities like Gravity Well and Tractor Beam allow you to expose the hull, hold the enemy and deliver death by torpedo. I have used transphasic torpedoes effectively in this scenario since shields are a problem for other torpedoes. If your toon can effectively get shield facings down with science abilities, stronger torpedoes like quantums are better.
I keep shield and weapons batteries in case I am decloaked. This kind of setup can allow you to sneak up behind an enemy, drain shields with a science ability, slow or control with tractor beam and unleash some torpedo pain to the rear arc enjoying that 25% (8.3% against players) flanking bonus, along with the additional flanking bonus for taking the Intelligence specialization. That requires the third tier of Intelligence specialization points are unlocked and selected. Run a science officer at Commander, Tac officer at Lt. commander and at least one engineer at Lieutenant. The tac officer ought to have spread or high yield and possibly two instances.
I wrote about building a torpedo boat here. The science captain in a BoP works well if you do a half torpedo boat or even the full torpedo boat set up. The trick is to have exceptionally good control skills, powerful torpedoes and keep the auxiliary power high.
Be advised that some players are very good at resisting the tractor beam. In a PVP situation it is wise to have your sci BOFFs with multiple abilities so you can customize it to suit the players you are facing.
In general the Achilles Heel for the BoP is engineering. The hull is weak and the shields suck, so using defense and the battle cloak is how you survive. I did run a Retrofit B’rel with my KDF engineer just for fun last year. She set it up as a hit and run, cloak and kill. Dual Heavies up front with quantums and a pair of turrets aft. She had a Commander Engineer, Lt. Commander Tactical, Lt. tactical and science. I had to play around with the BOFF abilities to suit me but I was able to survive in PVP with that setup. I wasn’t hanging out on any leaderboards, but I survived 😉
If you are a KDF science toon, I would at least take the T5 Heavy BoP at level 40 using Chancellor J’mpok’s token. Every captain starts to feel the power itch by level forty so blow through those ten levels in a BoP and have some fun 🙂
For the feddies, well, your screwed 😉 The closest thing you get is the Herald Baltim or the Breen Plesh Brek, neither has cloaking and neither has a universal commander chair. Both are badass ships, but not sure a science toon would like them much. Maybe, I’ll have to try the Breen out with Rodessa.
So I recommend that everyone at least tryout a KDF BoP at least once. They are fun to fly and you can tailor the bridge as you see fit. The B’rel Retrofit and its T6 sister are also the sports cars of starships with that crazy 23 dps turn rate and 80 inertia rating. You know you want one 🙂