The More You Know: A2B & Tech Doffs in PvP
Have you talked to your kids about Auxiliary to Battery and Technician Duty Officers? Because if you haven't, you can bet their friends in OPVP have.
If you hear your kids saying things like "I'm running GCDs with A2B," and "Can't, I have to doff B'Tran," then it's time to have a talk with them about the lifestyle they're choosing.
First, there's a lot of misinformation out there. Things like:
"A2B is God-mode."
"Tech doffs make every ship better."
"Nature never intended cooldowns to be reduced."
"Every time you activate A2B a kitten is put in a blender."
"A2B is for Aux to Busey."
The fact is, the phenomenon of A2B Tech Doffs is poorly understood because after a tutorial on how to find the Z-Store and transfer Zen nothing is explained in STO, so most players are unwilling to spend millions on multiple very rare Doffs to test them out.
Today, we'll discuss the realities of A2B Tech doff builds and give a few examples of how they can be used. Hopefully this will clear up some of the misconceptions, perhaps save players some EC, and provide a place for people to talk about their A2B addiction in a safe environment. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the ways A2B can be used. Punch, cookies, and counseling services will be available afterwards for those who don't know how to doff clusters.
So let's start with the basics:
Auxiliary to Battery is an Engineering bridge officer ability available at the Lt. and LtC. level. Currently there is no Cmdr version.
In game information will tell you that it reduces Aux to 5 and boosts the other 3 subsystems. It has a cooldown of 40 seconds which is shared with Aux2Damp and Aux2Sif.
This doesn't really explain the feel of the ability. The timing is instantaneous upon activation. The W/S/E power levels are boosted immediately without regard to power transfer rate. **edit: for an attempted explanation of how the bonus is calculated, see post #47 in this thread** They stay that way for 10 seconds, then the power sloshes back to normal gradually starting in second 11 according to your power transfer rate. If you want to get your Aux back faster, skill it and slot EPS consoles. If you want the boost to linger a bit longer, leave off the consoles.
Some things will still function at 5 Aux, like a cloak, PH immunity, and HE cleanse. True, they will provide reduced benefit, but A2B leaves these ablities functional.
If you boost your Aux first it will provide greater returns to the other 3 subsystems. Let's say you use a consumable Aux Batt, then 5 seconds before it wears off you activate A2B. The 3 subsystems will stay at the boosted levels for the entire 10 seconds. However, when the consumable battery wears off it will be subtracted from the 5 Aux left in your tank, disabling Aux dependent things like those previously mentioned. This also applies to the expiration of bonuses like MACO shield power bonuses and the Plasmonic Leech. This also applies to the manual power level settings, so setting Aux to 100, triggering A2B, and switching to a weapons preset will result in Aux offline.
Assuming you could chain A2B indefinitely, it would be very difficult to use it to maintain 125 in 3 subsystems on its own. The instant activation grabs any Aux which is present, while power slosh back to the "natural" state is gradual. The result from activating another copy once the 10 seconds is up will be a tiny bit of W/S/E bonus as the Aux is set to 5, then the slosh would recommence and the final Aux level would be only slightly lower than normal. To use A2B for power level purposes, you would need to have a high power transfer rate and wait a few seconds until Aux had returned to useful levels, then activate the second copy of A2B.
"Spamming" 2 copies of A2B at first leads to an "on" cycle with a high bonus to W/S/E and an "off" cycle with mostly normal levels. Over time, because of the small amount of Aux grabbed every other cycle and the way it returns, the two cycles actually level out into more equal Aux levels. This can also be achieved by waiting until the Aux is about halfway recharged from the first cycle when you trigger the second. This would give you a smaller W/S/E bonus with better uptime.
This is how the power behaves in local space. In reality, other things are coming into play. As previously mentioned, temporary Aux bonuses will take the subsystem offline completely when they wear off, as will other sources of power drain.
General Chang has an Aux level of 32 after passives when the subsystem is set to 25. He had a +8 bonus to Aux from Plasmonic Leech before he activated A2B. He has been placated so he can no longer maintain firing, the bonus has been subtracted from the 5 Aux left by A2B and left the Aux subsystem completely offline. To get Aux back online he only needs to overcome the -3 difference which he can do simply by setting his Aux level higher. Had General Chang first put his Aux to 100 in order to maximize W/S/E this would not be possible. A consumable Aux battery or other source would be needed to bring it back online. General Chang has learned that starting with 100 Aux, activating A2B, then setting Weapons to 100 and Engines to 50 procs an immediate Aux offline, so he typically does not start with Aux set higher than 50.
Commander Porkins is in command while his captain is leading the away team to the planet. A Bird of Prey decloaks and begins firing at his ship. Luckily his ship is equipped with MACO shields and the conn officer is the subject of some fanfic so the ship is not destroyed. He triggers his heals and buffs and then A2B. His ship is still alive after the Bop's alpha and it's time for some payback. The Bop has a beta strike prepared and is unwilling to leave the wounded target. Porkins smirks as he triggers Anti-Matter Spread and continues to fire on the BoP. Sensing that the enemy is about to retreat he activates a tractor beam, but nothing happens. The power bonus from MACO dropped off when the BoP was unable to shoot him due to AMS, and with Aux offline the tractor beam is disabled. Porkins tries to divert power to make up for the slight deficiency but it is too late, the BoP has escaped.
Technician Duty Officers
Game Description: Recharge time on bridge officer abilities reduced
According to rarity Tech doffs provide a 4/6/8/10 percent reduction. Slotting 3 to active duty will provide a 30% cooldown reduction when A2B is activated. This reduction is applied to any ability which is on cooldown, or "ticking." Any ability which is ready for use will be unaffected. A2B is itself affected by the Tech doffs, so 1 copy will have a cooldown of 28 seconds instead of 40.
CRF/CSV/TT/ST 30 > 21
EPTX/HE/TSS 45 > 31.5
RSP 120 > 84
"Spamming" 2 copies of A2B with 3 purple Tech doffs will apply the reduction every 10 seconds. This means that abilities with longer cooldowns will have it reduced multiple times.
There are two types of cooldowns, shared and system. This is represented in the UI by two different cd animations. The activated ability is a spinning clock while the system is a horizontal line which moves from top to bottom. Tech doffs will have no effect on something placed on a system cooldown. EPTS1 starts a 45 sec cd on itself, 30 sec cd on another copy of EPTS1, and a 15 sec cd on EPTW1. The 30sec cd and 15 sec cd will be represented by a lowering horizontal bar and will not be affected by tech doffs. The 45 sec will be reduced until it hits 30 sec, at which point the animation will switch.
Here's the tricky part: EPTx is active for 30 sec. Upon activation a 45 second timer starts on the power tray and the ability is not available again until the timer is up. One way to look at it is that there's a 15 second cooldown when the ability is not available; in other words you wouldn't consider an ability to be on cooldown at the same time it is active. But that's not how STO sees it. According to STO the cd is 45 seconds, which is good for us because 30% of 45 (13.5 sec) is what tech doffs are going to shave off with each activation. That means we only need to activate A2B with 3 purple tech doffs twice while EPTx is up in order to make sure it's available without a break. If STO considered the 15 seconds to be the cd time, we'd be shaving 4.5 seconds off each time and be unable to keep constant uptime.
Captain K'Pow flies a Kar'fi. He has a DBB, Torpedo, and 2 arrays mounted fore. His general strategy includes using a tractor beam, BO, and HYT to spike targets when the opportunity presents itself. While also able to heal or CC or be a nuisance with pets he wishes his hybrid ship could spike more often. He slots 3 tech doffs and A2B in one of his two eng slots. Now, after every TB, BO, HYT combo he activates A2B. His spike comes up sooner. He also usually looks around to see if he can give his aux based heals to someone before he reduces his aux for 11-14 seconds. As a carrier he has chosen the Fer'Jai frigates because the periods of low aux will slow their redeployment and the as sturdiest of the pets they require fewer launches. Overall his aux based sci abilities are weaker for periods of time but the tradeoff for more frequent spikes seems to be worth it.
Captain Rance Handsome flies a Fleet Tactical Escort Retrofit. He heard from a reliable source on Drozana station that A2B with Tech doffs is OP. Rance was of the opinion that he himself was OP no matter what ship he was in, but a little more OP couldn't hurt. He figured that with the cooldowns reduced he could run one copy of APO3 and bump his HYT2 up to HYT3. He planned to use just one copy of CRF2 instead of CRF1/CRF2 and to run CSV and TS since he would have room, allowing him more flexibility. He jumped into combat and dropped an alpha on his first target, same as usual. Avoiding their warp core explosion and picking another target he activated A2B. As he maneuvered to bring his DHCs to bear he found that he was moving faster than usual due to the increased engine power. He complimented himself on making his awesome ship even awesomer. CRF2, BO2, and HYT3 all came up sooner than expected, although he was eyeing the copy of CSV1 that came up 6 seconds sooner. Still, Rance couldn't understand what was wrong. Everybody talked about how awesome this was supposed to be. The constant fluxuations in his engine power levels irritated him, it just felt like somebody was stomping on the accelerator without paying attention to what was going on. Even worse, his internal clock had learned to match his cooldowns with those of his opponents. If someone had 6 seconds left on RSP Rance knew without looking what he would have available in 7 seconds. Now he had 2 different cooldown cycles of his own, plus tactical abilities sitting unused, unless Tactical Initiative is running, then Tac abilities are on an additional different cycle. Also, before he was chaining EPTS and EPTW without a break, now he has a hole when ETPS is down and the weapon power bonus is intermittent. He decided to suck it up and buy some AP doffs instead even though 1 costs as much as 3 tech doffs.
Captain Veeble loves killing Feddy. The only thing better than killing Feddy is killing Feddy so fast that they say he's cheating. Veeble flies a BoP whose only purpose in life is to alpha from cloak. As much as Veeble loves killing Feddy, Veeble hates leaving Feddy wounded but alive on a failed alpha. Veeble wants a beta strike, but his protocol is exacting. Decloak, alpha, tactical egress. No variations. Altering his loadout to double up on BO and HYT would require removing things abilities which protect his movement and re-cloaking. His time out of cloak was planned to the second. Initially the idea of A2B was dismissed because his cloak depended on aux. Then one day he decloaked on an enemy who should have had 4 seconds left on Tactical Team when they used A2B to bring it up again and survive. He decided to figure out what this did and realized that it held the key to his beta strike. He reworked his decloaking protocol. BO and HYT are pre-buffed under cloak. For a beta strike to be possible decloaking must occur when they have less than 9 seconds left. After firing, A2B is activated bringing BO and HYT up again. The power transfer aids in the weapon drain and improves evasive maneurvers. The aux drain is not a problem because by the time the cloak is available the drain has passed. Veeble is also please because A2B can be used under cloak to speed up the time to his next attack run, although he has to be careful that he isn't spotted when dropping Aux to 5.
When asked if she is related to The Kirk, Captain Alonna Kirk smiles and changes the subject. Biologically, of course she's not, but she knows she's a kindred spirit to Kirk, and if the stories are true about how much Kirk got around then half of her bridge crew can probably trace their family trees back to him somehow. She knew Kirk would approve of her cruiser, the U.S.S. Dropkick. However, since taking command she felt like it just didn't melt the faces off of Starfleet's enemies like it should. With a DBB, 3 single cannons, and 4 turrets she had moments when it all came together and she got to really murderface somebody, but most of the time she felt like she was spinning around, looking for a target and waiting for things to become available again. Then she heard about A2B and Tech doffs from her Anbo-Jitsu partner and eye-candy Rance Handsome. Rearranging her Engineering abilities she ran 3 Tech doffs, an EWP doff, and a guy named Marion. CRF and BO came up all the time, with EWP and DEM at unheard of availability. Now she could pin people in continual warp plasma and counter weapons power drain every time DEM was up. Alonna felt like her Fed Tactical Cruiser was finally performing like she always felt it should, and couldn't imagine running it any other way.
There are a few important things to take away:
-Attempting to use two copies of A2B to give high power levels can be risky. The higher your initial Aux setting, the more difficult it can be to recover from Aux Offline.
-1 copy of A2B with 3 very rare tech doffs will not bring a cd to it's "horizontal" (i.e. global/family/shared). However with 2 copies you can cool things down past 30%. It's 30% every time you activate A2B, so if you activate it twice while a power is on cd it will attempt to take another 30% off, but will hit the horizontal cd for most powers at 50%. That's why running 2 copies is so very different.
-The cooldown reduction does not care how many seconds are left on a cooldown when calculating how much time to remove from the clock. 3 purple tech doffs will take 30% off, so CRF with a 30 second cd will get 9 seconds subtracted from its current clock every time. It always uses a percentage of the base cooldown. If CRF has 7 seconds left until it is available A2B will bring it off of cd entirely (unless it's already been slammed to the horizontal).
-A2B grabs any Aux in the tank, no matter the source. So temporary sources which expire, are removed, or cannot be maintained will remain as a penalty to Aux levels until A2B ends and the slosh returns the power according to the power transfer rate.
-Tech doffs only affect abilities already on cooldown when A2B is activated. It is not passive, nor does it last the entire time A2B is active.
-The effectiveness of A2B is highly dependent upon the existing ship and build.
-A single copy of A2B is ok if micromanaged.
-A2B does not help most ships with a matching Cmdr and LtCdr boff layout.
-Double A2B is the answer to the question "How can I make my Fed Tac Cruiser suck less?"
-Double A2B can be run with only two purple Tech doffs. This will leave gaps in the shorter abilities, like CRF, and a small gap in between A2B copies, but longer abilities will still be at gcd.
-A2B builds give up Aux2Sif and endanger HE strength. The defining element of a build is what it gets in return. Typically this is either a much quicker cycling of a Cmdr level ability (APO, DEM, EWP) or quicker cycling of 2-3 tac abilities (see most A2B Tac cruisers and battlecruisers).
A2B puggable HEC
Most of the time I tried A2B as an add-on, or a tweak, like getting TB, HYT, and BO up faster on the Kar'fi. With the Jem HEC I had a build in mind for a D'Kora if I ever got one that fit even better on the HEC. So this ship is built on A2B, with Tech doffs baked right in.
DBB, DHC, DHC, Rom Torp
Turret, Turret, KCB
KHG 3 piece
Eng: Always: Leech, Rotating: Borg, Temporal, Rom, <---> RCS, Neuts
Sci: Embassy FlwC +hull heal, Embassy Flwc +shield heal
Tac: 4x Polaron
Weapons Batt, SFM, Shield batt or Aux Batt
Eng:EPTS1, A2B, EWP1
Tac:TT1, BO2, CRF2, APO3
Hangar: Shield repair shuttles
Always: EWP doff, 2 Tech
Rotating: 1 more Tech, 1 Battery cd, 1 TB drain, Maint eng battery bonus, good ole BFI doffs.
Keep in mind that I almost exclusively pug. I needed something that could run DHCs, hold a target, and forgive my tendency to stay in a fight to get a kill.
Running the leech means crazy highs for power levels followed by a Gary Busey celebrity rehab crash. I've considered Adapted KHG for even more but MEF has saved my bacon more times than I can count. MkXII 2 piece is like +8 Aux passive. Placates cause leech related crashes, as does a lack of targets, so Fleet Support and pets can become a meal on the hoof rather than a nuisance.
The argument can be made for almost any set. MACO 2 piece gives 5% cd reduction. IDK exactly how that interacts but if you want to run only 2 Tech doffs it could be good to close the gap, plus the maor power shield. Omega on this kind of FlwC build would be good too, plus Energy Wake. Fleet shields take it to a 2 piece bonus discussion but I'm not there yet. Even the Borg set to make up for heals, if you're more careful about keeping shield shuttles up, plus explosive decompression is hysterical and the BTB is another drain/boost.
Keybinds: Shield distro and DHC/turret/KCB on spacebar. DBB is separate for BO selection. Row 4 is all bound to 1 key. The only thing this build puts there are EPTS1, both A2B's, and pets. EPTA goes into the mix at the start of a fight but is not bound. It is reserved to bring Aux back online. MEF needs Aux.
I hardly ever spike at anything that isn't held. Rom torp is on autofire. I frequently set myself on fire with it, but it's all good because it's a fun way to massage GDF. Available pets are crap, but who cares because that's not the point of this build. Killing Aux is bad for carriers, I'm just here for the 60 inertia anyway. (That's Hegh'ta inertia, in case you were wondering.)
Many excellent A2B builds can be found here. Please feel free to share your own.
Thanks for the info!
I did look into one of these builds a few months ago after hearing good things about it. In particular, I was trying to make up for the lack of high-level Tac slots a Mobius or HEC, and it came down to:
- Giving up APB (PvE hero invading your forums)
- Giving up TS3 and going all-energy
- A2B build
I eventually decided against A2B, because I (incorrectly) assumed it was only a 30% reduction to the CSV/TS cooldown when I need a 50% reduction to match my usual 2xCSV 2xTS build.
After reading your FAQ, I might try it sometime, but 2 BOFF abilities and 3 DOFF slots is a hefty price. Also, the Aux disabled scenarios you outlined are rather concerning.
this thread is a masterpiece. every single thing ricky said is accurate, and my exact experience with tech doffs. i always meant to make such a thread, or a post this detailed, i'm glad i didn't end up having to do it! i remember back last year, the vet ships just came out, a patch put AtB on the AtX system cooldowns, when it suddenly occurred to me that i could run 2 AtB, and 2 EPtX, and proboly have things at global with just 1 copy of them. if i recall, me and ricky were PMing each other talking about the possibility. i know he at least came up with the run EPtA with it idea.
masterfully done, with the case studies showing AtB not being especially helpful some places, but making otherwise fail builds, like a fed tac cruiser, almost passable. just 1 copy isn't better then doubling up 2 of the same ability, and when you have a LTC and COM station that are the same type that are not eng, its totally pointless.
the double AtB builds, especially with leach and maco, can leave you dry quite often, more times then i can count i would have someone tractored and my aux falling below 0 canceling it. then of course thats a period of no aux based abilities working at all.
you got to choose between not better then 2 copies of things with 1 AtB, and peeks of 125/125/125, and valleys of 0 aux for sometimes close to 10 seconds.
*edit- this thread added to TOC in my help and build thread linked in my sig
Just wanted to add EpTA interaction detail with the 5 Aux hard cap after using Aux2Batt. It unlocks it. So, in particular for single Aux2batt builds, a player can lift the 5 Aux cap limit by using EpTA then switching to a high Aux preset or popping an Aux Batt or by other power gain means.
1) Make sure Ive used my heals and long cooldown abilities like DEM and RSP
2) See if EPtS is near 15s, then I can hit EPtA after AtB
Its tricky some times, and if you arent careful you may hit A2B after the DEM, but now need the second TT. In A2B cruisers, Ill take non-Aux heals like Extends and Sci team.
The 5 Aux setting isn't hard, and doesn't need EPTA to be raised. If you set Aux to 25, activate A2B, then set Aux to 100 you will raise it above 5.
Edit: Tested above and the ceiling is still there and still unlockable by EpTA.
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