Space Combat in STO: A Primer from Emperor Kahless

So I’ve totally just invaded Laz’s blog.  I tend to do that a lot, hence the title of my radio show.  I just sorta, show up when you least expect it.  Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not!

For many of us playing Star Trek Online in open beta, the space combat can be a bit daunting or, dare I say, a pain in the arse?  Take it from a veteran pilot of an Akira-class cruiser from ST: Bridge Commander, it’s not easy at first.  Here’s some tips from a long time space combat vet; basic things to know about ownage in space. (Note: These tactics are highly effective in  PvE. PvP combat is more advanced and takes a lot to get a hold of due to being multi-targeted.  I’ll hit the pew-pew crowd later. )

Sit on it and rotate

No, that’s not an insult. It’s a basic tactic that everyone has to master or their ship’s hulls will be scattered into atoms. Your ship has 4 shield quadrants (Fore, Aft, Port, Starboard).  They are your life blood!  Without shields you are dead meat and open to torpedo barrage which will kill you very quickly and very painfully. Barreling in headfirst into a target is bound to make you one with the ‘splody stuff (Invader Zim reference…I know). Keep your strongest shields towards your enemy by maneuvering your ship in circular patterns.  In other words, think NASCAR. Turn left (and right) to bring stronger shields to bear.  My best advice is to “alpha strike” or hit your target with all forward weapons, and then strafe away.  Rotate your ship 360 degrees around the shields to distribute damage equally and then alpha strike again, keeping in mind the enemy’s movement patterns. For ships with aft weapons arrays, you can beta strike firing rear torpedoes or beams to continue your attack while you rotate.

I’ve got the power! Balance, that is.

Take note the presets: Attack(1), Defense(2), Speed(3), and Balance (4)

Use your power settings to maximize your survivability.  There are 4 presets in STO: Attack, Defense, Speed, and Balanced. Their names provide the meanings, but if you look carefully at the UI you can find a manualadjustment option to adjust power to your liking.  My suggestion for beginning players is to use the presets until you get used to combat.  Then you can micromanage till your heart’s content. Don’t forget your engineering Bridge Officer either…he, she or it (yes this is Star Trek) has an Emergency Power to Shields button that repairs damaged shields and gives you a 30 second recharge buff. And if you’re an Engineering officer by profession, you have a skill called Rotate Shield Frequency that allows for additional damage resistance and a slight recharge buff as well.  Combine the two with defensive power setting and you’ll insta-tank for a short time, allowing you to get the hell outta town or turn around and give the bad guys a universal greeting.

“Sweeping through phaser arcs.”

That’s a line from the single player of Bridge Commander. Each weapons array has an arc which is displayed by hovering over its icon in the UI.  This actually can judge your level of shield rotation; wide arcs mean you can fire while maneuvering, narrow arcs mean you’ll be on the defensive a lot until you’re in attack range. My personal preference is to alpha strike with cannons and disruptor banks, lay in a torpedo, and then rotate to my aft beams to continue pelting enemy shields while I move for another alpha. I have more narrow forward arcs, but I’m flying an escort so the goal is to hit and run anyway. I’ll cover the different ships in another post though.

You got Mad Ninja Skillz bro…use’em!

Says it all really. Each profession has some nice perks and the BOs are no exception. Be sure to read up on each skill as you distribute points. You’ll find that some skills when leveled up will save your butt faster than a fleet of reinforcements from Starbase 24 ever could. Improved torpedo, beam, or cannon skills will improve your DPS and give you an edge in combat.  Also pay attention to skills that give buffs or offer the enemy a debuff.  Your Bridge Officers are just as important as you are and they can do some wild stuff when they’ve been leveled.

That’s all for now.  I’m sure there’s plenty more, but then again that’s what comments are for?  Questions?  Ask away.  And happy hunting.  It is a glorious day for battle!

Kahless is the head of Sword of Kahless, a multi-gaming Klingon-themed clan of a few years that is now preparing for STO’s release. He is also the host of “The Klingon Invasion” which you can catch at their new home, Subspace-radio.net

2 thoughts on “Space Combat in STO: A Primer from Emperor Kahless”

  1. Sadly, this combat system I think is going to be the deterrent for many. It’s a bit more complex than what the casual MMO player would expect.

    I, personally, love the system to death but it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.

  2. ship combat looks pretty damn fun. automatically I’m already thinking “hm, I wonder if there is anything that could be pilfered for dnd?”

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