A Pirate's Guide to Escorts v1.0
This guide is finalized, however more content may be added later as I see fit or as suggestions are submitted. Be sure to check back for any new tips.
This is going to be long winded. Before you read it, I'll give the following preface and forewarning/disclaimer:
-This guide is intended for VA-rank ships, but can be applied to lower tier ships by simple logical reduction.
-This guide assumes you're a Tactical officer, although as above, it can be applied as an engineer or science officer.
-This guide assumes you know where your towel is.
-If you have any suggestions or want something added, PM me; don't reply here, I might not see it.
-I realize everyone has different playstyles, and this might not coincide with yours. Don't get butthurt.
-I am by no means an expert; if you'd like to speak to an expert, please contact me in game and I can hopefully put you in touch with one.
-All the loadouts will be from the Tac. Escort Refit slots combination. Use your best judgement when adjusting for your ship. Fleet Escort and Advanced Escort will be nearly identical, but MVAM will be a little harder to use the exact same build due to its Lt. slot instead of Lt. Cmdr. Since other ships won't have a cloak, use range in place of cloak, and the speed boost from Omega to close the distance. You can also use MES, but I'm on the fence on that one.
-All Boff slots will be organize from lowest to highest tier of power, i.e., read left to right as you would in your ship assignment window.
-I'm not going to have the APO vs. APB debate here. If you prefer APB, use it in place of APO. I prefer APO, but as I said, to each their own. In some loadouts you may see both, so you can use both if you prefer or replace them however you see fit.
Glossary of Terms:
Desc - Short for Description. Kinda like this line.
Fitting - The weapons and skills used with those weapons on any given loadout.
How-To - My suggestions on how to use this loadout. Feel free to experiment and find what works for you.
APO1/2/3- Attack Pattern Omega 1, 2, or 3, respectively.
APB1/2/3- Attack Pattern Beta 1, 2, or 3, respectively.
CRF1/2/3- Cannon: Rapid Fire 1, 2, or 3, respectively.
THY1/2/3- Torpedo: High Yield 1, 2, or 3, respectively.
BO1/2/3- Beam: Overload 1, 2... you get the idea.
CSV1/2/3- Cannon: Scatter Volley
BFAW- Beam: Fire at WIll
FoMM- Fire On My Mark
APA- Attack Pattern Alpha
TT1- Tactical Team 1
TB1- Tractor Beam 1
Boff- Bridge Officers
Okay, so we're going to divvy this up into 2 categories, right off the bat. They are, of course, offensive skills and defensive skills. The reason for this is simple; many defensive skill sets can be used interchangeably with different skill sets, or even combined to your liking. The same with offensive skills. Secondly, each skill set I specify will be in its own subcategory, probably with a quirky nickname so I can more easily remember them. Thirdly, use whatever weapon type you prefer. I personally prefer Phasers, before you ask. They're cheap, easy to spec for, look cool (thanks for the new effects, Cryptic) and they're canon. But to each their own; just keep in mind skill cost AND weapon modifiers when planning your loadout. Now, we all know the best offense is a good offense, and since Escorts are almost purely offensive (in every sense of the word), we shall start with our offensive loadouts.
"Speak softly and carry a big stick" - Theodore Roosevelt
"Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack." -Sun Tzu
Well, Mr. Tzu, here's the bad news. There is no such thing as an invincible escort (Unless Taylor is following it around). There are however a few tricks and tips to make you, uh, harder to kill. A lot harder. Cryptic, bless their hearts, finally gifted us with a skill that gives escorts more staying power; thank you for that. You'll notice that all the loadouts above have 2 copies of TT1 in each of them; this is for good reason. TT1 has a 10 second cycle time, 30 second cooldown, and 15 second global cooldown with other *team abilities. Here's how to use that to your advantage.
EPTS - Emergency Power to Shields
Haz - Hazard Emitters
TSS - Transfer Shield Strength
ST - Science Team
ET - Engineering Team
EM - Evasive Maneuvers
EB - Engine Battery
TT - Tactical Team (perverts)
Aux2Sif1: Auxiliary Power to the Structural Integrity Field 1 (that's a mouthful...)
SFM: Subspace Field Modulator (quest reward for Devidian mission arch)
General Tips and Tricks
"My escort has reverse?"
Part 1: Situational Awareness
The most important, life-saving, enemy-killing, absolute best practice to have as an escort pilot is situational awareness. Knowing where you are, your teammates are, and your enemies are is more important then any weapons loadout, skill advice, or build tricks I or anyone else can give you.
An escort has the ability to change the tide of a battle, for better or worse, and its up to you to decide which it is. Knowing the battlefield can help you make accurate judgement calls on where to be, when to decloak and when not to decloak, and who needs your help. An escort lacks the ability to heal teammates extensively, but it can focus enough firepower on an aggressor to take the attention off of a damaged teammate, or in best case scenarios, kill said aggressor, saving your teammate's life AND scoring a kill. Get in the habit of glancing at the teammate indicator on HUD at the left side of the screen to tell how far your teammates are. If you see a teammate 25km away, and his shields are failing, chances are he is engaged, and may benefit from the extra firepower of an escort. In the inverse, if that teammate engaged by several enemies, it may not be a good idea to help, as you will be effectively giving the enemy 2 kills instead of just one. If you're approaching a group of enemies, and ALL your teammates are 25km away, it may not be the best idea to decloak or proceed, as you will quickly find yourself focus fired and probably destroyed. If you're alpha striking a target, and notice a small splatter of damage on your rear shield facing, don't just brush it off as irrelevent! Spin your camera around to see WHAT is attacking you. If its a pet, fine, carry on and ignore it. If its another Defiant, it might be time to change targets or at the very least, activate some extra buffs to protect your glass cannon. Also keep in mind static hazards in the map, like Briar Patch, or rogue warp plasma that a cruiser dropped earlier. Mines are also important to keep track of, as they can decloak you with little to no trouble, thus ruining your alpha strike and revealing your position to those who would see you dead. Be aware of possible cloaked ships; when fighting FvF, if you're in a 5v5 and only see 4 enemies, chances are one is cloaked, and he/she might be lying in wait until YOU decloak. Use that, and bait your would-be killer by "faking" an alpha strike, and once he decloaks to attack you, spin around with a full alpha and return the favor. I can't tell you how many times I've seen Defiants get "tunnel vision" when attacking something, and I've been able to score an easy kill because they didn't think I was enough of a threat to warrant turning around. Also, be aware of what buffs and debuffs are on your ship. If you get subnuced, its a good idea to either beg your team for a Science Team, clear it yourself, or run the hell way.
Keep an eye on your ship, too, it gives valuable information on what's going on; if you're glowing purple, chances are a Har'Pheng is about to detonate and deprive you of valuable hull points, so hit your Hazards to clear it.
Situational awareness saves lives, prevents losses, and scores kills. Use it. Keep your head in the game, and your eyes open, and you'll notice a huge difference in your game.
Part 2: Retreat (better known as, "FLEE, FAT***, FLEE!!!")
This goes hand in hand with situational awareness. No matter how many enemies whine and moan in zone chat because you ran away, do not EVER be afraid to do so. The BEST BEST BEST defense in this game is >10km. Nothing can hit you outside that 10km bubble, unless you're already tagged with a 'Pheng. (Hazards, anyone?) Retreating will save your life, will prevent a notch in someone's belt, and will keep your enemies score one kill lower. There is no shame in retreating in an Escort, it is in part one of your only defensive options, so do not be afraid to use it. Attack Pattern Omega will clear tractor beams, as will polarize hull. EPtE will restore power to disabled engines, as will engineering team and engine batteries. Evasive maneuvers is not your "look at my fancy flight pattern" button, it is your run away button. Don't hesitate to use it.
Part 3: Agility (Yes, your escort has reverse)
I see this all the time, and it gets escorts killed. Silly Defiant pilots with Aegis gear running primary power to weapons and secondary to shields. What's wrong with this, you ask? You're a Defiant, you have no shields! That power is better suited being assigned to your engines, affording you a higher defense score (less shots hit you) and more speed and agility. (easier to close distance, easier to escape, easier to keep your target in your arc)
The other tip for this chapter is don't over shoot your target! As an escort you want to focus fire on one shield facing as often as possible; you can't do that if you overshoot your target. But don't stop! That lowers your defense score to 0, making you VERY easy to shoot. Instead, throw it in reverse. This will give you some defense score, as well as activating the Thoron Distortion Field effect of your Aegis gear, giving you even more defense. You'll also notice its remarkably easy to keep your target in your arch when backing up. Try it sometime! It will take practice to get used to. Practice on NPCs if you need to, to get the hang of it before taking to the Cracked Planetoid.
Part 4: Power Levels
Now, contrary to what I wrote above, you should not ALWAYS have your power levels locked at primary weapons, secondary to engines. When running away, I highly advise you switch to a profile with primary to engines and secondary to either shields or aux; your guns will be of no use since they'll ideally be pointed AWAY from the fight. Use your best judgement on which to secondary; if your build uses things like Hazards or Aux2Sif, use Aux, if not, use shields as hopefully the extra resistance and recharge will save your bacon.
I'm really disappointed this has gotten over 200 views and not a single reply.
If you want props for writting it then sure. Nice post. If you want the reason no one is commenting is because every newbie comes on the forums and starts their own thread for help with escorts. Then they get 30 replies with different information. They wont find this thread easily or at all.
Edit - What he said below!
It's always good to read other people's perspectives on this. I like to compare them with my own preferences and oftentimes I learn something new.
Thanks for posting, good read! :)
Can also attest to the fact that The Pocket Cruiser does very well in STFs. You wont die from a cube going boom or a HY Plasma or shield neutralizers.. At least on RA.
Good post, very comprehensive. The problem is you do get a ton of different ideas about the BEST loadout. Your post pretty much covers all the recommended ones.
I didn't see you put reverse shield polarity in any of the builds. I see EVERYONE with this. It's actually kind of annoying, you get someone down do nil shields and bam, full shields. That's why I run it.
I would like to see posts about OTHER escorts. Defiants seem to be the "de facto" choice, but I am in between running the Fleet and Advanced Escort MVAM.
Fortunately there is no best loadout.
They're all subject to opinion and situational usefulness.
One build may work better solo, while others may work better in groups, ect ect.
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