Tanking with an excelsior retrofit as engineer
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Tanking with an excelsior retrofit as engineer
03-26-2013, 07:21 PM
So. A couple of days ago I met someone in an stf who was amazed at
my firepower in my beam boat, and it happened again today. Therefore since
there seems to be at least two people interested in how in the heck I manage
to do the amount of damage I do, I figured I ought to make a post about it.
This post describes how I can tank in pve as an engineer in a
advanced heavy cruiser retrofit while doing more damage than many pug
tacticals and holding aggro against all but the most heavily spiking ones.
At the same time, the survivability of the ship is maximized - if you use my
spec, gear, rotations, keybinds and suggestions on cooldowns, you will find
even the most difficult stf to be more bearable, even without a fully
Before I go any further, I have to make a special note here. This
is not a pvp specced player nor boat. If you try to do pvp with this spec,
people will kill you. You will die, and likely will be unhappy on top of
that. Nobody likes being unhappy, so if you plan on pvping, don't go with
this configuration. (Of course, feel free to prove me wrong - but don't
complain if I'm right!)
INDEX: You can search using your browser via the section name to get where
you want to go more quickly.
1> Player spec
2> Ship choice
3> Ship configuration
4> Neutronium and you.
5> Weapon choices and tactical consoles
5a> Rainbow boats.
6> Set gear I use and benefits
7> Power settings aka 'how not to flail uselessly'
8> Doff slotting
9> Boff abilities
10> Player abilities
12> Death repairs
13> Tactics I use which probably aren't obvious
1> Player spec
My player spec. Look at the skill tree:
For the curious at how I came to critique my own skill choices, here's a
good link for a rough idea of what skills are buffed by what choices.
Note that most of these values do not exactly match in game results.
Every time I relied on it for exact measurements I was surprised; after a
respec I added the last three points of threat control which should have for
instance given me 1.8% more resistance over the six points I had skilled for
before. It gave me 0.4, and added 10% of bonus defense, something neither
this accounts for nor the in game tooltip claims it does.
This forum link however gives me exact results every time I use it. However,
it can only account for power settings - which is a difficult thing to
account for by itself so this IS a very useful thing to use. Reskilling
using this to determine power level settings after a respec gave the exact
That forum post eventually links to an excel file in a zipfile that can be
opened in either microsoft excel or openoffice. Openoffice is free, so
don't miss out if you want to get exact numbers.
I feel it's important to note one thing that I don't have that a lot
of people like - driver coil. This is a nice little skill that you can get
early on. In endgame, it helps you go faster with quantum slipstream and
with the borg/maco set engines as well while in sector space. Out of combat
it also boosts the amount of speed you get from full impulse, and reduces
the lowest power setting you have to recover from while at full impulse.
Why did I bring this up? Well, if you full impulse with my build
into a group and start firing without letting your power recover first,
you're going to have a few seconds where your energy weapons are doing next
to nothing, and your shields are also getting hammered since their
resistances are basically zero when power is low. Instead I suggest to
start off pulls by following this sort of pattern as is feasable: As you get
within about 14-15km near a group, drop out of full impulse. Then while
still coasting at full throttle use rotate shield frequency - as you get
within firing range, start attacking. Giving your power settings a few
seconds to recover will allow your weapons to do moderate damage while also
allowing your shields resistances to absorb more damage, reducing the
liklihood of your shields getting knocked down at the start of a pull. In
additon, by using rotate shield frequency it gives a 40% buff to shield
resistances, so even while your power is temporarily weak, it reduces the
damage getting recieved and gives a boost to regen. A second reason to use
rotate shield frequency at the start of a pull is in case you screw up and
get too close to the group before your power recovers, at least the shields
won't get smashed instantly. Another trick to work around this is if the
enemy group is close enough while you're out of combat, simply using evasive
maneuvers instead of full impulse will get you there quickly without
dropping your power settings. Historically when I used to have beam
overload, I used to use that at the start of a pull with a single enemy,
this... does not work well, and hitting someone for <200 damage with a beam
overload is something that should make the enemies laugh at you.
So at the least, be aware that you're going to be a bit vulnerable
at the start of a pull when you're coming out of full impulse. If you're
getting hammered, you may want to let your ship's power levels recover
before engaging the group.
I skilled with the passive traits techie and warp theorist, am
human, and have a fully human bridge officer crew in space. Techie gives me
a flat bonus of 10 for hull repair skills. Being human with leadership
means that I get a 20% bonus to passive subsystem repair and hull repair.
Each human bridge officer I have in space - and I have 5 - also contributes
another 20% on top of that. This means my passive hull repair winds up
having some very strange effects - with no crew alive, my ship maintains a
61% passive hull repair per minute, and with a 59k hull on the fleet excelsior or 53k hull on the retrofit, that's a lot of passive healing happening on a routine basis. In addition to this, I have a
rare quality nurse equipped which enables 150% speed of recovery to all injured or 'dead' crew when the total crew able is less than 75%.
Warp theorist is less interesting, it just gives a flat bonus to all
of my power levels. I am considering when retrait tokens come out to
replace this with accuracy.
2> Ship choice
Shipwise, I am using the advanced heavy cruiser retrofit, which from
now on I will refer to as the excelsior retrofit. I have heard many a
person claim that this cannot be used for tanking, it's lacking in
engineering and science boff abilities and consoles, and they claim the
survivability is poor because of that. I have also heard from others that
this is a wasted ship in the hands of an engineer since they claim you won't
be able to do as much damage as a tactical career can. I think people are
missing the good points of the excelsior in the hands of an engineer. With
an engineer flying this thing, you have a tank that can both take incredible
amounts of damage, survive, and dish it right back. Last but not least the
maneuverability of the ship means that when you need to do a 180 and get
somewhere else quickly, you'll get there before anyone else in a cruiser
can. Other cruisers can take more damage, but they can't do as much damage
or create as much hate through damage. This is an angry little cruiser that
really wants to do damage like an escort and you should respect it for that.
Lets do a comparison between the fleet excelsior, excelsior retrofit and ships I've
Star cruiser compared with excelsior retrofit:
You can get this for free with a voucher token upon reaching the
appropriate level, or for 120,000 refined dilithium.
Pluses: Has one more science console slot, can use more engineering
and science boff abilities, and has 250 more crew.
Minuses: Has one fewer tactical console, one less boff tactical
ability, 1 less turn rate and has inertia of 15 - so you will neither speed
up nor slow down quickly. And worst of all IMHO, it's ugly as sin.
The star cruiser as a pure tank is probably a better choice than the
excelsior retrofit, as it has more crew and more boff abilities to deal with incoming
damage. However, due to its slow turning rate and high inertia, it cannot
deal as well with emergencies outside of its immediate weapons radius. With
less damage, the star cruiser also will have difficulty holding as much
threat against targets, so high damage escorts and science will pull off of
you. You'll also find it more difficult to do damage dealing duties in
star cruiser compared with fleet excelsior:
Pluses: Same difference as with the excelsior retrofit
Minuses: This is where it gets interesting. The fleet excelsior has all of the benefits of the retrofit over the star cruiser in addition to stronger shields, hull, and TWO more tactical consoles. In fact, the hull of the fleet variant is stronger than the *odyssey*
There is absolutely no reason IMHO to use the standard star cruiser instead of a fleet excelsior. Arguably you could claim the tier 2 fleet star cruiser is still a better pure tank due to its stats, but I don't have one of those to test.
Free odyssey compared with excelsior retrofit:
This is the odyssey that was given out for free at the second year
anniversary. You can also buy this for 200,000 fleet credit from a tier 5
starbase. This is a good ship, and IMHO is better at least than the star
Pluses: Stronger base hull and shields, one more science console,
more science and engineering boff abilities. 5 more power for shields and
auxiliary. Has a commander universal officer slot which can be used to swap
boffs for something to better suit the situation/playstyle. 1750 more crew.
Minuses: Again, one fewer tactical console, one less boff tactical
ability, 2 less turn rate and inertia of 20. 5 less power for engines and
weapons. If you're trying to use the odyssey to tank, you're not going to
find much flexibility with that universal officer slot, as you'll want an
engineer in there.
Durabilitywise for pure tanking the odyssey outclasses the excelsior
in every measurable way - however, just like the star cruiser due to its
extremely slow turning speed and high inertia, you will be unable to respond
quickly to events spiralling out of control out of the immediate range of
your weapons. Similarly, just like the star cruiser you will not do as much
damage, you may have difficulty holding threat, and will not be as suited
towards doing damage dealing duties. At least this looks like a star trek
Free odyssey compared with the fleet excelsior:
Pluses: Slightly stronger shields, one more science console, more science and engineering boff abilities. 5 more power for shields and auxiliary. Has a commander universal officer slot which can be used to swap boffs for something to better suit the situation/playstyle. 1750 more crew.
Minuses: Slightly weaker hull, two less tactical consoles, one less tactical boff ability, 2 less turn rate and inertia of 20. 5 less power for engines and weapons. If you're trying to use the odyssey to tank, you're not going to find much flexibility with that universal officer slot, as you'll want an
engineer in there.
The fleet excelsior IMHO clearly has caught up to and blasted past the odyssey. With two tactical consoles short, the odyssey is going to have a fun time pulling aggro off a comparably equipped and specced fleet excelsior. Whereas the odyssey is still technically a better pure tank due to having more abilities to call upon, the fleet excelsior has higher hull and almost matches the shield hp of the odyssey, which personally makes the difference meaningless to me. It's possible that an odyssey tactical cruiser would keep up more favorably since it has three tactical consoles according to stowiki - but I do not have one of these ships, and personally I think it'd only catch up to the retrofit, not the fleet version since it'd still be one tactical console short.
3> Ship configuration
So, enough discussing why I'm using this particular ship, and lets
get down to the nitty gritty:
This time look at the ship configuration and boff layout.
Note that for whatever reason I could not get the ship configuration to
allow me to set the stats for my positron correctly, which are
[EM][SIF][STL] resulting in all of those stats being 26.2
Also note that since I created that ship configuration I have gotten the fleet excelsior, which has one more tactical console that I have equipped with one more very rare mk XI plasma infuser.
This is the configuration I typically use under most circumstances.
Certain stfs I swap out the zero point energy conduit universal console for
a theta radiation vents universal console that I got off the exchange for
cheap, which does a weakened version of the boff ability eject warp plasma.
This lets me spray plasma as a last ditch effort to stop enemies from
overwhelming defenders of the kang in the vorn system, for example. The two
minute cooldown means effectively you will only get one shot with it, so use
it wisely. It's also not as good of a snare as a boff plasma dump ability,
and is not affected by skills that help the boff ability so you will need to
lead the target and get ahead of it so the plasma trail covers the path they
are trying to follow. However, despite the drawbacks of the console, I've
learned reverse shield polarity is much better to have equipped as a boff
ability since you will survive longer against things like a elite cube,
tactical cube, gate, borg assimilated ships... You name it.
4> Neutronium and you.
Now you're probably asking yourself, why do I have three neutronium
slotted instead of say, field emitters or SIF generators, or even say, two
monotanium and an electroceramic console or ablative/tetraburnium console?
First of all, field generators just boost your shield power. Now
wait, you say that's not a bad thing since higher shield power == more
shield resistance and higher shield regen. That is true, but it won't save
you from the plasma debuff that the borg love to stack. Nor will it save
you if your shields go down - and they will, even with this configuration
from time to time. The borg love eating shields, and ships - if you let
So you're thinking, SIF generators to add extra hull repair is the
answer to that - well, no. No matter how high your hull healing is, you
won't outdo the damage of a fully enraged elite gate or tactical cube trying
to slap you when your shields go down. If the gate/tac cube can oneshot
you, no amount of healing will get you through that.
Okay, so why neutronium - especially since it's relatively difficult
to get since the only storyline mission you can get it from is the absolute
last undine mission, and higher resistance versions of it are incredibly
expensive on the exchange? Borg just use plasma energy damage and kinetic
damage torpedoes right? Wrong!
Ever noticed the borg assimilated klingon ships in the vorn system?
Some of the raptors and neghvars go after you. They use disruptor weapons!
Surprised? Donatra in the khitomer system uses a *combination* of disruptor
and plasma weaponry. Unless you use neutronium, you're not going to get the
kinds of resistances you need to avoid getting smashed. It's expensive, and
it sucks, but neutronium's the way to go.
But wait you say, why couldn't I use ablative energy armor since
that covers both disruptor and plasma energy damage? Quite simply because
per level it does less resistance than a pure energy console. Two
neutronium of the same level and rarity will give you the same resistances
of a pure energy console and a monotanium alloy - but for ALL energy types.
Still not sold on the neutronium? Think about it. In fleet stfs your
enemies are entirely random... Do you really want to get smashed because
you equipped the wrong armor type or have to fiddle with swapping your armor
before you enter combat?
Okay, so why am I not using four neutronium? Armor consoles have
diminishing returns. If I slotted another neutronium I'd only get about 4%
more resistance. I'd rather have the uni console equipped instead.
I am using three mk XII rare neutronium armor consoles. Each gives me 18.8
resistance rating, though the more I equip the less resistance I gain from
each. Currently I have
43.9% resistances for all energy and damage types with all gear equipped
21.0% with no gear equipped.
This means 43.9% of all damage that hits my hull is absorbed. Almost half of
everything - plasma fires, torpedoes, energy damage. It just goes away.
This is why I can survive a high yield plasma torpedo striking my hull with
shields down from an elite tactical cube or gate. I will be on the verge of
death, certaintly, but if I'm at full hull when it hits? I can live through
it instead of dying instantly as I've seen so many do.
5> Weapon choices and tactical consoles
You may, or not, have noticed that I'm using an all plasma gear
setup. This is primarily due to ease of acquisition - to get romulan plasma
beam arrays you merely need to finish off the reputation chains, unlock the
gear, and buy the beam arrays using refined dilithium. It's time consuming,
but IMHO worth it if you don't have fleet gear available, as I do not.
In a perfect world where I could acquire the gear easily I'd have
[acc]x3 disruptors and maxed out disruptor damage consoles. In fact, an
earlier set of gear I still have used disruptors, and some day I plan on
reusing the consoles from that set when my fleet starts offering disruptor
gear I can buy for space.
Plasma gear is typically underrated by most players as it is mostly
useless in pvp due to the shield and armor resist gear for it available in
endgame such as the MACO shield which absorbs about 30% of all plasma damage
or borg assimilated shield which does about 15%. Don't worry though, for
some incredibly hilarious reason the borg are not resistant to their own
type of damage attacks, so you can feel free to return the favor. In any
case, due to the uselessness of the weapons in pvp, this means for those of
us playing pve only, the cost of acquiring plasma gear and consoles is much
However, I am not using your typical plasma gear. Romulan beam
arrays are special as they have two debuffs - both a plasma and a disruptor
debuff. The disruptor debuff especially makes it more suited towards tanking
than regular plasma gear since it reduces resistances by 10 when a target is
As I am primarily doing plasma energy damage, I have four plasma
energy consoles equipped. Having four of the same type equipped adds about
30 dps per console for each weapon before energy settings are evaluated, so
this is a significant amount of damage being added.
5a> Rainbow boats.
Why not use multiple different types of beam weapons with different
debuffs and use a directed energy distribution console instead of sticking
with a specific damage type?
It's simple. Damage. You will never do more damage with a directed
energy distribution console of the same mk level and rarity as a specific
energy type. For an example, the best directed energy distribution console
in the game is a mk XII very rare, which gives a +20% to all beam array
damage. If you were for some reason using an all plasma beam build as I am,
while using that console, this would be roughly equivalent to using a mk X
common plasma infuser which gives 20.6% plasma energy damage. A mk XII very
rare plasma infuser console by comparison will give you %30 damage.
This means that with three directed energy distribution consoles
equipped in the excelsior retrofit you will have ONE THIRD LESS DAMAGE added from
consoles than if you used a specific damage type console of the same level
and rarity. This is equivalent to me taking one of my plasma infuser
consoles out and not using it.
A simple rule of thumb? Don't do this. The various 2.5% chance
debuffs are not worth the wasted dps, and because you have less weapons of
each type, the chance of any specific debuff happening is even less than
normal. If you have six weapons which all have the same debuff type and
chance firing, you are six times more likely for any one of them to proc.
Yes, it's possible for one of them to proc and then have a second weapon
proc the same debuff on the target, overwriting the original but the chance
of any one of them causing the debuff goes up.
But why should I care about less damage if I'm tanking? Shouldn't I
just care about threat?
Your threat is directly in relation to how much damage you do!
Cruisers compared to escorts and science already do less damage. Nerfing
your damage by equipping inappropriate gear will only reduce the threat you
create even more and make it easier for escorts and science to pull off of
you, intentionally or not. The skill to generate more threat is there to
have you keep up with escorts and science doing more damage than you; it is
NOT okay to intentionally nerf your damage beyond that. Do you honestly
expect the other players in your team to hold back and stop doing damage so
you can pull aggro off of them? Do you think the other players in your team
should somehow survive the hate that they generate because YOU won't keep
threat off them? If you answered yes to either of these questions you are
NOT a tank, and also aren't a dps due to your reduced damage. You are
In summary? I hate rainbow boats, and so should you.
6> Set gear I use and benefits
2/3 of Maco set
First of all, lets talk about the maco shield. This, by itself, is
the best defensive shield in the game. Period. There is no other shield in
the game that will reduce all energy damage by 10%, reduce all plasma energy
damage taken by an additional 20% and convert all energy damage recieved
into a power buff. It is also a resilient shield, so all the damage that
leaks through to your hull is reduced a further 5%. The energy buff you
recieve is 2 per stack and stacks up to five times. So you can get up to 10
power in all subsystems when being hammered, exactly when your shields need
extra power the most.
The maco engine by itself isn't a very awesome engine. With my ship
in fact a standard mk XII [aux][turn][spd] combat engine gives me slightly
faster speeds and therefore dodge. But I don't use the engine because of
its stats, instead I use it for the two piece set. The two piece set of
maco gives me a 5% reduction in all cooldowns as well as a tiny bit of power
insulators, so drains from shields and subsystems are harder for the enemy
to accomplish. This 5% reduction applies before things such as my doff 8
second cooldown buff occur, quickening my cooldowns for tactical team and
engineering team even more.
Why the two set of maco instead of 3? Look at the mk XII MACO
Now back to me. I'm using a mk XII positron which gives +26.2 to
emitters structural integrity field and starship shield system. This gives
a significant shield healing buff, and slightly more shield HP. Try telling
me that isn't better than the mk XII maco deflector for tanking. The
positron I use gives more shield healing with epts2, rotate shield frequency
and reverse shield polarity than the maco deflector would - over time, I
think, enough of a difference that it makes a real impact. Sure, the three
set maco ability is a nice thing, but I personally believe in maximizing
survival over having a nifty set ability that I may only rarely use,
especially since I'm not specced to boost its damage.
Certaintly, if you can't get lucky and nab one of these positrons?
Get the full maco mk XII set. I just got extremely lucky on the exchange
one day and nabbed this thing for one million ec.
Romulan singularity harness
This set gives a number of benefits. The only 'downside' with my
spec is that I have to have the torpedo equipped for the full set benefit,
since I'm not particularly well specced to take advantage of torpedoes, it's
mostly there. It's nice when it does things though.
Lets talk about the individual items:
First, the experimental romulan plasma beam array. This does plasma
damage and has a 2.5% chance to do both a plasma DoT and disruptor debuff.
Disruptor debuffs do a -10 to all resistances on the target, which makes it
especially worthwhile for a tank. It also has an unusually high 6% chance
of doing criticals on top of your normal attacks, and does slightly more
damage in general than most other romulan plasma beam array weapons.
However, this isn't the real benefit it gives you - aside from all of this,
it uses zero power. Unlike every other beam weapon in the game, this does
not drain any power when being used. You get its damage for free.
Second, the romulan hyper-plasma torpedo launcher. This is your
average plasma torpedo launcher with an 8 second reload cooldown... with a
twist. Instead of firing one torpedo, it fires three destructible homing
torpedoes per 'shot' - each one moves fairly slowly, homes on a single
target and when it hits applies a stack of plasma DoT debuff to the enemy
hull. Do note that if it collides with any kind of hostile on its way to
the target, it will hit it instead. Also note that if you are very close
when the torpedo hits, *you* will also get a plasma DoT applied. In
addition to that, note that if its target dies, it won't simply ram into the
dead corpse like so many other torpedoes do - no, it finds a new target to
kill! Sometimes this can result in incredibly silly amounts of these things
zipping about trying to find something to kill simply due to everything
getting killed before they can get to their target.
Having two pieces of the set will give you a 7.6% plasma energy
damage buff, causing all your plasma energy weapons to do a little more
damage. In my tests it seems to add about 9 dps per weapon. Not a lot, but
it's nice to have. It also gives you a bit more EPS skill, which seems to
round out to about 1 more power gained from the emergency power to shields 2
and weapons 1 boff skills.
Third, the universal console Zero point energy conduit. By itself
it's not all that interesting - gives 1.8 more power to all subsystems, a
1.8% increase to critical chance with all weapons, and a small buff to power
insulators. That's not why I equip it.
Having three pieces of the set will give you a new ability called
plasma hyperflux. Using this will cause your experimental romulan plasma
beam array to apply 'romulan hull melt' to the target you selected, which
does a high damage plasma DoT along with a -10 resistances debuff for the
next ten seconds. It has a two minute cooldown, so I like to use this
against large enemies that need to die quickly that are being focus fired,
since this debuff helps everyone, not just me. Note that the ability can
ONLY fire from the experimental array, so the enemy needs to be in the
firing arc of that specific array for it to apply the debuff within 30
seconds of using the ability.
7> Power settings aka 'how not to flail uselessly'
Power for energy weapons is insanely important. The more power
available while weapons are firing determines its damage output. I believe
but do not have figures on this, that if you somehow manage to fire a weapon
while the power setting is at 125, it will do four times more damage than
normal. This becomes extremely important to understand once you realize
that all energy weapons actually drain weapon power when you use them on
your ship. Most guides I've seen for cruisers miss how important this is.
Each beam array you have firing will use 10 power. That means it's GONE!
So for example if you start with a weapon power setting of 50 and fire five
beam arrays, you're going to be doing almost no damage at all since your
remaining power is 0. With a weapon power setting of 100 you'd have weapon
power at 50. If you manage to have your power go 'over' 125, the UI will
still list that as the maximum amount. The power drains from the beam
arrays will however only drain up to the amount you actually have. As a
hypothetical example, if you were to get your weapon power up to 150 the UI
would only show weapon power at 125. However, if you fired the example 5
beam arrays, your power would be 100. So, as you can see, you need to find
a balance you're comfortable with that will give you enough power available
to your weapons to do damage while at the same time having enough power
available to your shields to survive the hate. This is a complex mess and
was not easy for me to figure out, but I think I've done a pretty good job.
As you've probably noticed, I'm not using the classic setup of six
beam arrays and two torpedoes - that's because I have the borg cutting beam.
If you don't HAVE the borg cutting beam I suggest USING the classic setup of
six beam arrays and two torpedoes with this power configuration, however.
I've tried nonstandard setups like 7 beam arrays or 6 beam arrays and a
turret, and none of them did as much damage in a broadside as 6 beam arrays.
So, as you can see from above I've tried using six beam arrays and a
turret before, and my power was insufficient to run everything. Wait a
minute you say, the cutting beam acts like a turret, and uses 8 power
itself. You'd normally be right, I'd have a problem. In the rig I was
using before, I worked around this by dropping a beam array and using a dual
beam bank on my fore, which allowed enough power to be available to run
everything during broadsides. This obviously reduced the amount of damage
my beam arrays were doing, but especially on unshielded targets the kinetic
damage from the cutting beam vastly made up for it. Even now the cutting
beam accounts for 6-9% of all of my damage, which is not a small amount when
compared against the 35-40% done by all 6 of my romulan plasma beam arrays.
The way I was able to work through this problem is simple: I have
and use the experimental romulan beam array as a sixth beam array. Why is
this important? It drains no power. It's magic! Yes, essentially I get
its damage for free. This is how I can use the borg cutting beam without
running low on power - in fact, my power runs slightly higher than it would
with six beam arrays normally. I'm sure the 2 extra power adds a small
amount of dps to my beam arrays all by itself.
So you say, that's all well and good, but HOW do you keep your power
for weapons going while your shields have enough power to avoid you becoming
an explosion? I don't! I make compromises... and also changed the
conditions of the test. Well, not really. I'll get to that. First, the
compromise: I typically tank while using the first power preset, which for
those who have played with the settings is 100 weapons, 50 shields 25
engines and 25 aux. Due to the way I specced as a player, my awesome ship,
and the gear I have in it, this leaves me with 112 weapon power, 76 power to
shields, 50 power to engines and 45 power to auxiliary.
I don't *fight* with the power at these settings though. Now for the
part where I say I don't actually cheat - As you've probably noticed, I have
two copies of emergency power to weapons 1 and emergency power to shields 2.
I run these back to back constantly. As each falls off, the next becomes
available for use. So aside for a second or two every fifteen seconds when
a copy falls off, I always have shield and weapon power that I can't get any
other way. This lets me hit 125 weapon power and 108 shield power, and with
the maco shield under fire, I get even more, since it gives 2 power for each
stack up to five.
Using emergency power to weapons 1 also has benefits besides power -
using it when weapons are offline will fix them, and for the first five
seconds it's running you will do 10% more damage with energy weapons.
Emergency power to shields 2 also will fix shields if they're offline, and
will give a 25% resistance buff for the duration of the power. Worst case
scenario when doing a broadside on enemies I've seen my weapon power dip as
low as the eighties, so I think that I'm doing fairly well with that.
If this sounds a bit complicated to do by hand, don't worry - it is!
That's why I use a keybind instead. Simply by constantly pressing the key
'r' this redistributes my shields, uses auxiliary power to sif 2 for a small
hull heal and damage resistance buff, emergency power to shields 2 and
emergency power to weapons 1 with a preference for powering shields and
r "+power_exec Distribute_Shields $$ +TrayExecByTray 0 6 $$ +TrayExecByTray 0 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 1 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 1 7 $$ +TrayExecByTray 0 7"
This is the exact keybind I use all on one line.
To use it I recommend saving your keybinds file, loading the
keybinds in notepad with word wrapping disabled, pasting the line into the
file, after perhaps changing the 'r' key for something else you prefer,
saving the file, then loading it into STO.
This link tells you how to save and load keybinds as well as many other
This picture is a cut down version of my tray that shows the order and more
importantly, PLACEMENT of the items on the tray that my keybind triggers.
Note that if you tap the key quickly, it will work in this order. tap the
key less than once a second and the order will *go the other direction*
Also note that the order I have listed goes from right to left of the
keybind as written. I'm sorry if this is confusing, but this is how it
Now for a more in depth description of all of my power settings, including
the lesser used configurations.
(first line in each set is the actual GUI settings. effective is actual
power with no buffs running. Buffed is with both emergency power to weapons
1 and shields 2 running. 'siding' is an abbreviation for power available
when in combat using all buffs with no MACO shield buff broadsiding; this is
the typical worst case power scenario unless something is draining your
power. 5xmaco is with all buffs and 5 stacks of the energy buff from the
maco shield while broadsiding)
First setting - this is my usual setting for most situations:
High weapons low shields:
weapons 100, shields 50, engines 25, aux 25
effective 112 76 50 45
buffed 125 108 50 45
siding 78 108 50 45
5xmaco 88 118 60 55
Second setting, moderate shields, moderate engines:
weapons 25, shields 70, engines 80 aux 25
effective 45 92 97 45
buffed 69 125 97 45
siding 35 125 97 45
5xmaco 45 125 107 55
I typically don't use this at all - but when I do, its when my
weapons are either completely offline or temporarily ineffective (Tholians
LOVE spam offlining my weapons constantly) - the extra bit of shields
increases my resistances and regen, but more importantly the higher dodge
from engines is valuable when I'm getting pummelled and can't fight back.
Third setting, max engines low shields:
weapons 25, shields 50, engines 100, aux 25
effective 45 76 117 45
buffed 69 108 117 45
siding 35 108 117 45
5xmaco 45 118 122 55
This is not something I typically use in combat - it's most
effective when I need to be somewhere else RIGHT NOW. A typical example of
me using this is when I'm in the vorn system having to defend the kang on
multiple fronts. As soon as I finish killing the last borg bird of prey,
I'll switch to this mode while hitting emergency maneuvers, which maximizes
my speed and often gets me all the way to the other side and lets me start
fighting the other group before red alert has even fallen off.
Fourth setting: high aux, low shields:
weapons 25, shields 50, engines 25, aux 100
effective 45 76 50 112
buffed 69 108 50 112
siding 35 108 50 112
5xmaco 45 118 60 122
I almost never use this. Its main use is for doing big hull heals to
other people, npcs or myself when out of combat - which is something that
only rarely happens. However, if I find myself defending the kang and all
the borg ships are down for the moment and nobody's healing it? I'm going
to use this, use all of my hull heals on the kang, then switch back to
8> Doff slotting
My boff powers have synergy with almost all of the doffs I have
equipped for space.
I have a very rare conn officer which reduces the recharge time for
tactical team by 8 seconds and gives a (small) buff to attack patterns.
I have a very rare shield distribution officer which gives a 50%
chance to regenerate shields on all facings when I use brace for impact and
get hit by something during the buff.
I have a very rare hazard system officer which increases damage
resistance by 25 when I use brace for impact.
I have a very rare maintenance engineer which reduces the recharge
time of engineering team by 8 seconds and gives a 10 skill buff to hull
repair for 15 seconds.
Finally, that rare nurse I was talking about earlier, which increases
my crew regen by 150% while in combat and my total able crew are less than
9> Boff abilities
Tactical team 1 is a wonderful ability that I love to use as little
as possible. I typically use it when either a shield facing is about to go
down, already has, or if I get a boarding party. I like to have it
available for dealing with boarding parties since the borg love doing that,
and allowing my ship's power levels and abilities to be crippled while I'm
being hammered by a tactical cube is never a winning strategy. I have the
doff equipped that I do so that the cooldown is lessened as much as
Beam overload 3 - I used to use this along with fire at will 2
instead of attack pattern beta 1 and fire at will 3. It can do moderate to
large one shot damage against a single target's shields or hull, but in
consequence your weapon power temporarily dips significantly low and will
take a few seconds to recover. My combat logs demonstrated that due to
missing about 5% of the shots fired, my constant broadsiding bringing down
my weapon power, as well as the occasional extremely low power levels
nerfing the damage it gave, that it was only doing about 6% of my damage
over time, Even my torpedoes were doing more, and given how little I have in
my spec allocated for torpedoes, I investigated alternatives. Truth is, bo3
simply doesn't work well with my weapons choice and loadout.
Attack pattern beta 1 is an ability I've started using recently
which reduces the resistances of the enemies you attack for ten seconds
after triggering it. With no points in attack patterns, it gives a debuff
of -20. Specced as I have, it gives a debuff of -28.4. Note that this will
debuff ANYTHING you attack while it's going, so a favorite combination
attack of mine is to use this along with fire at will when I either need
more aggro, other players are spraying aoe attacks indiscriminately, or I'm
attacking a few low HP enemies that need to be convinced to die already. In
general, I keep this on cooldown and use it whenever I possibly can.
Fire at will 3 is also an ability I've started using recently. I
used to use fire at will 2 - 3 gives boosted damage, which makes it more
effective at both acquiring aggro and dealing damage in general, so I'm
happy to use it. As I said earlier when describing attack pattern beta, I
love using faw3 in combination with it. Fire at will for the unfamiliar
fires one more shot per volley (5, rather than 4) randomly at all targets in
range with 12% boosted damage per shot, resulting in a 40% dps improvement
over autofire on a single target. With low HP enemies such as fighters,
this can utterly clear the area you occupy, a useful thing to do on a
routine basis when fighting carrier npcs. It's also a good way to shoot
down incoming high yield plasma torpedoes and other nasty destructible
homing shots, and mines of all kinds. When fighting only one, or a few
enemies I like to use it anyway since its boosted damage melts shields and
hulls when it is active. Try not to use this at times when you're trying to
attack one specific enemy in a group, have aggro on the rest of the group
and are trying to kill that one specific enemy quickly. Another example of
a bad time to use this is when fighting elite infected with both the
tactical cube and gate in range. You really don't want to aggro both of
them at the same time, the amount of damage one gives is punishing, both at
once will make you pray for your abilities to come off cooldown if not
outright crush you.
Engineering team 1 is another wonderful ability I love to use as
little as possible because it puts tactical team on cooldown *and* I like to
have it available to kickstart my ship if systems get disabled by either a
virus or something else that disables systems, such as the tholians and
their annoying power drains. Again, the doff that I have equipped is mostly
to make the cooldown go as quickly as possible, though it is an awesome and
useful tool to temporarily buff aux 2 sif and hazard emitters when I need to
heal myself or someone else.
Auxiliary to structural integrity field 2 I use constantly via my
keybind. It both does a small hull heal and adds resistances to my hull.
With its 15 second cooldown and 10 second buff, it's one of the biggest
constant buffs I have running and the heals it does have a noticably huge
effect over time in my combat logs. This is not its only use however; it
can be used to heal and buff other players and npcs. The small heal isn't
terribly useful, but as you can imagine anything helps - and if I use it
after using engineering team due to the doff buff, it's slightly stronger
Polarize hull 1 is an ability I keep off cooldown and rarely use.
Specifically I have it to deal with tractor beams, although it is also
useful as a temporary hull resistance buff when I need it - for instance if
my shields go down and I have nothing else, of course I'm going to use the
Hazard emitters 2 is another ability I keep off cooldown and use
sporadically. Specifically its use as a dispel for things like the borg
shield debuff that strips shields, getting stuck in an enemy plasma dump
trail, and plasma fires when the stacks get noticably high, are what I use
it for in general. It also doubles as a pretty nifty hull heal, and
combined with the buff I get from engineering team it does more healing than
normal. When say, the kang in the vorn system catches on fire due to
something hitting it and needs to be fixed I'll usually throw engineering
team, aux2sif and then hazard emitters 2 on it.
10> Player abilities
Rotate shield frequency. Use this. CONSTANTLY. You'll want to use
this whenever it's off cooldown if you're in combat and fighting. The 40%
huge defensive resistance boost to your shields will prevent your shields
from taking as much damage while the regen it gives gets them back up.
Coupled with emergency power to shields 2's resistance boost, I often will
have shields down while fighting borg entirely and slowly have them come
back up despite the fighting going on. It's awesome. Just use it!
Reverse shield polarity. Keep this off cooldown and use it as a last
ditch effort to get the shields back up. I never ever want to have to use
this as the cooldown takes a long time - but if my shields are down, rotate
shield frequency is on cooldown, emergency power to shields 2 is on cooldown
and brace for impact is on cooldown? Yeah, I'm gonna push it. If I've
already used this and my shields aren't staying up, I have too much hate and
need to run.
Brace for impact. I talked about this in the doff section earlier,
but for those who didn't read that part - due to the doffs I have equipped,
using this is essential. I use this constantly whenever my shields are
taking damage, as it's got a 50% chance to regen shields. The other buffs
it gives are simply awesome too, as the doff that boosts resistances by 25
and the built in crew resistances make me one tough cookie to kill. This is
also a good button to push when you see a torpedo spread or high yield
torpedo headed your way you can't do anything about, as if the spread
breaches your shields your hull will take significantly less damage than
Nadion inversion. I use this whenever an enemy is doing significant
power drains, such as breen often do. The cooldown on it sucks however, so
if you've got a lot of power draining enemies beating on you and you've
already used it, you might want to back off before the buff wears off.
EPS power transfer. I don't use this in the usual way, and the
typical use I have for it is situational. But basically, lets say I'm
defending the kang and have already used emergency maneuvers to get to one
group, and there's another group I need to kill. Well, with emergency
maneuvers on cooldown there's not much I can do to speed up until red alert
falls off except to redistribute power to engines. But if I'm going to rely
on that only, I'm going to have a serious problem getting to the enemy
before they get to the kang... So to optimize both my speed and power
recovery for switching back to weapons mode once I get there, I use this
ability while in high speed mode, then switch to attack mode once I'm in
Miracle worker. I never want to have to use this. I typically use
this only after I've already tried reverse shield polarity, and even then I
try not to. This is, for me, an absolute last ditch saving throw. If I've
used this it's a good time to reevaluate what I'm doing. It's an extremely
good hull and shield heal, and for what it does it's wonderful but the
cooldown sucks at 4 minutes, so if you have used it now is a good time to
run before whatever it is you're fighting smites you out of existence.
Fleet support. If I have this button ready to be pushed, I'll use it
but the situations where it's available and I don't have other buttons to
push to stop dying are extremely rare indeed as it requires low hull.
Harmless to use if you can though.
Evasive maneuvers. I use this all the time when I need to start
moving somewhere fast, and typically will use it to turn the ship quickly in
a 180 too. (throttle to 1/4, hit the button, then spin like a top) You can
also use this to escape tractor beams: If you're only snagged by one tractor
AND put all power to engines AND push this button, you'll rip out of it.
This trick won't work with two or more though... This trick is extremely
useful when being mobbed by tractor probes on a v'ger, if you have, say, a
v'ger high yield plasma torpedo coming in trying to smite you and you can't
shoot it down with polarize hull already on cooldown.
Ramming speed. I never use this, except for when I'm absolutely
desperate and need to run away from something with all of my other options
exhausted. At least with the doff I have equipped this gives me a hull
resistance boost while it's active, so as long as I don't accidentally *hit*
something on my way out I'll probably live. Yes, this is precisely backwards
from the way it's meant to be used, fun, I know.
Abandon ship. I never use this. Probably should, but never remember,
as I am always focusing on trying to survive to the last moment.
Engineering Fleet. I try to keep this off cooldown and typically
only use it when I see my teammates as a group taking high damage or if I'm
desperate and need extra healing.
Quantum singularity manipulation. You get this ability from
finishing the romulan reputation track. For a science user this is an
incredibly strong skill - but for a engineer specced to tank? Not really
that much use. I suppose you could chain it with hazard emitters for a huge
heal when desperate, but the usual use of it I have is to use the cloak to
escape when I'm taking too much damage and can't deal with the hate. I
honestly wind up forgetting I have this most of the time.
Deuterium surplus: Useful for getting out of dodge. This gives a
moderate defense buff and gives you extra speed and turn. Use this to escape
when you're dying and emergency maneuvers is on cooldown
Shield battery: Gives a small shield repair amount and moderate
amount of shield power for 15 seconds. Use this to get your shields back
online instantaneously after something has disabled them or push your power
back up when something is draining from them.
Engine battery: Gives a moderate amount of engine power for 15
seconds. Use this to get your engines back online after they've been
disabled or get your engine power up when something is draining from them.
Subspace field modulator: Gives a moderate defense boost and high
hull resistance for 15 seconds. DO NOT use this when fighting tholians,
their tholian web does proton damage, and when in use this reduces your
proton resistance by 400!
So, that's all of the basics of how my ship is equipped, how I'm
specced, how I handle power settings, and how I use combat space abilities.
12> Death repairs
Lets say that the rng has not liked you today and you have in fact
been oneshotted by a high yield torpedo fired by the gate on elite infected.
You should respawn and try to get back into combat as fast as possible,
right? Yes, but NOT before repairing your ship. Always carry a full stack of
20 minor, major, and critical repair components when doing an elite stf. You
WILL die. Expect it, and be prepared for the consequences. The debuffs you
recieve will get worse and debuff you further and further the more you get
them. There's nothing more pathetic than a player with a wraparound screen
of death debuffs in an elite stf, a wet noodle can pull off of them.
13> Tactics I use which probably aren't obvious
I move constantly at full throttle. I never slow down for any reason
unless I'm trying to do a tight turn with emergency maneuvers. The higher
your speed, the higher your dodge percentage - I have a dodge of 55.0%-54.7%
when moving at full throttle. That means roughly half of everything shot at
me I don't have to heal through, resist, or otherwise deal with in any way.
This is also another reason why the excelsior's turn rate is such a big deal
for me - I can turn quickly for a cruiser while moving at full throttle
without slotting any rcs consoles. This lets me do broadsides much closer
while circling around an enemy, allowing me to do more damage and hold
higher threat while also taking less damage.
I typically do not care if my torpedoes are doing much of anything.
In a cruiser it's fairly hard to turn the ship in any intended direction
quickly. While the excelsior is as fast or faster than any other cruiser
without slotting rcs, I still can't turn fast enough to fire torpedoes at
something regularly that isn't stationary without reducing throttle. This
is also why I didn't spec much into torpedoes, and why I use the borg
cutting beam, which uses energy weapon spec for dealing kinetic damage.
Personally I've had thoughts of using a dual beam bank instead of the
romulan torpedo, but I like the 3 piece romulan set. In any case, the meat
of damage done with cruisers is broadsides, and a cruiser configured with
beam arrays will never do more damage while only the fore or aft is firing,
which makes torpedoes less useful. You should always try to do broadsides
to a target whenever possible. I leave the romulan torp on autofire and
basically let it do whatever it wants. I'm just happy getting the 2 or 3
set bonus from it being equipped.
On the other hand, if I'm closing to a target, my romulan torpedo
winds up spraying plasma torps in strings. I've seen it fire up to 12 torps
while chasing an enemy down, and even with such a small amount of points
allocated into torpedoes, that many hits at once can do serious amounts of
damage against unshielded hulls. Oh, and don't be afraid of setting
yourself on fire from it either - the debuff doesn't do noticable amounts of
damage unless you've let it stack to hilarious amounts. I've gotten up to
six stacks without having problems. Getting nine or more and it starts
becoming problematic... And yes, I *did* hit myself on purpose to check.
Hazard emitters as usual can remove the debuff if you... get a little too
enthusiastic with it.
If something needs to die RIGHT NOW, I get right up and close to it
and park myself either directly to the right, left, above or below it - so I
broadside it, essentially hugging it to death. Beam arrays like cannons and
turrets do more damage than normal when extremely close. Note that this is
excessively dangerous since I typically have to either stop or move very
slowly, so I'll recieve much more damage while this is happening due to my
dodge being low or even NEGATIVE, but again, if something needs to die NOW,
like a borg bird of prey/raptor/neghvar in the vorn system - often hugging
it to death is the fastest method.
If something nasty (Donatra/Queen for examples) is trying to kill me
I stay at maximum firing range (~9km) and broadside from there. My damage
is slightly less, but not as less as cannons or turrets due to using beam
arrays... and the damage from the npc is noticably less due to distance,
especially in the case of donatra who tends to use mostly cannons and
Another trick I have learned with that is if I am taking significant
damage at the 9km mark and need to temporarily get out of range, getting
just over 10km and healing myself back up, then returning to fighting
distance works quite well. A variation of this is an especially useful
tactic when someone accidentally aggroes both the tactical cube and gate on
elite infected. Few people understand the psychology of dealing with an
elite tactical cube. Most tanks will panic and pull over to the side. This
is wrong. It arouses contempt in the cube heart. Make the bastard chase
you - he will follow. Piss off the tactical cube so it's chasing you, then
get *just* out of its range while circling around the gate. So long as
nobody is trying to smite the cube it will continue to chase you and not use
its most damaging attacks against the other players, leaving you free to
concentrate on surviving the damage coming from only the gate. Of course if
you're dealing with a less brilliant group of players, you may need to
occasionally thump the cube to remind it who is the more interesting target
to chase, or even completely abandon the gate and kite the cube away from
everyone, so feel free to adjust your tactics on what you can handle and how
your group is responding to what you're doing.
I *spam* fire at will while using attack pattern beta - the debuff
affects all targets I hit for five seconds, increasing the damage taken by
them from everyone including myself. This is especially useful in pugs
where people tend to randomly choose their own target to smite, when someone
is using gravity well on a large amount of enemies, etc.
Fire at will is useful and even *deadly* against only a few low HP
targets when you're trying to kill them outright. The early probes on
khitomer are a good example, if you maneuver yourself out of range of the
other things and spam fire at will with broadsides, they will die very
On the other hand if you have a specific target that needs to die
but it has a lot of 'friends' around that you already have aggro on, fire at
will is the exact opposite of what you should do. In that situation I'll
use attack pattern beta just after applying plasma hyperflux. The
combination of the two attacks will lower the enemy's defenses for as long
as it's going by 38.4, which can do a serious amount of damage to the larger
ships if people including yourself are focus firing them, as you all should
be in many of the fleet marks stfs.
A special note on death - if you find yourself with too much hate
for you to deal with and you know you're going to die. Run. Just run.
Don't try to grin and bear with the death - run away, then come back. If
you're doing your job right you may even hold aggro through it. A dead tank
DOES NOT hold aggro. Aggro immediately disappears on death, which means the
next guy in line who's alive with the most dps gets the most hate. If you
die, you will have to wait to respawn, repair your ship, then lug your way
over there AND overcome all of the hate that the other people have to start
tanking the enemy again. I have seen horror shows happen on elite hive
where an entire team of players were crushed out of existence by the horde
of tactical cubes moments after I died due to overestimating my durability.
Far less frustrating for everyone if I just run away and come back. Squishy
science and tactical can't survive against an elite tactical cube on a
rampage - or god forbid, many of them - you need to keep the enemy from
attacking them as much as possible so they can do the majority of dps needed
to kill the thing. Overcoming a short loss of aggro because you ran away is
a far better option, IMHO.
In the end however, there will always be darwin award winners. Some
players may be woefully undergeared or misgeared and act as a party popper
whenever the slightest attack brushes their ship. Do not be frustrated by
your inability to keep them alive. Just do your best and keep your cool.
Most stfs are possible to be completed with only three well geared ships.
Some can be even completed with one, though frankly you shouldn't try if
everyone else abandons the stf. I have in fact once completed most of the
optionals on elite hive while everyone else in my group was constantly
waiting for the respawn timer. That group simply didn't read my repeated
warnings not to keep rushing the queen, and so would keep getting splattered
against the walls whenever she'd do her AOE; I managed over half an hour to
take her down by myself in a grueling engagement without dying. I would have
been better off quitting the stf and finding another, but at least I have an
interesting story to tell.
Last edited by hikaru1024; 03-29-2013 at
. Reason: Added some fleet excelsior info