So it was noted that there isn't actually a guide posted up here about piloting escorts in PvP. Maybe its time we changed that.
Just note that my posts here are going to be exclusively Federation, since I have never gotten a klink past Lieutenant Commander, and well almost no one plays Raptors at all at the high ranks. BoPs DO NOT COUNT AS ESCORTS either. There is simply too many differences.
I will be making a seperate post for each escort used at the tier 5 level, the effects of captain choices and innate abilities best used, equipment, bridge officer abilities, and then a general battle strategy for the wannabe escort captains. This may take a little while for me to complete(obviously), so please keep patient.
What better way to start a good escort captain than from the character creation screen?
The first question you want to ask yourself is what role do I want to play in my escort? Typically most escort players will charge in with the idea that their federation escort(I shall these "fescorts" from now on.) Will pull off stunts like the defiant does in deep space nine. And for PvE- this is true, but not for PvP battles.
Obviously your captain choice will play a crucial role in how you fight.
Tactical captains are the most common ones I see, because it is really easy to build up a superior alpha strike with such abilities as attack pattern alpha, fire on my mark, and go down fighting., coupled with the tactical bridge officer focus the general escort has. There is a drawback however, and that is in how fescorts at most have limited healing capacity.
Engineering captains are an essential choice if you want a fescort that doesn't need to do dipping in and out of combat every 10-20 seconds to stay in the game. The lack of tactical captain abilities in this buildg may make an escort seem laughable at first, but the pay off is while you do less damage in an alpha strike, your persistent use of crf and csv will balance out your damage.
Science captains can make some really interesting builds too, their high maneuverability will allow them to be useful for them to duck in and out, dropping abilities like SNB at just the right timing, for example, just after a cruiser throws up its shield and Hull resist abilities, however the science captains mes out on the alpha strike bonuses of the tactical, and the shield heal, power management, and even miracle worker of the engineering captain.
Believe it or not, there are innate captain abilities that will also greatly help your escort. My 3 favorites are Warp Theorist( buff to power management), Efficient Captain(liberated Borg ability that buffs all subsystem power levels), and Elusive( i may have the name wrong, but it increases the chance of your ship evading enemy fire).
There are other abilities that do different buffs to your ship, but 2 of those 3 are key to making a tougher escort.
Your Brdge officers is the next step. all escorts have at the minimum of the following:
1 Commander Tactical slot
1 Lieutenant Commander Tactical slot
1 Lieutenant Engineering slot
1 Lieutenant Science slot
Advanced Escorts have an extra Ensign Science slot, Fleet Escorts have an extra Ensign Engineering slot, and the Defiant retrofit has an extra Ensign Tactical slot. There is also subtle differences between the escorts such as crew size, turn rate, and hull capacity.
Choosing your Captain, then moving onto the Bridge Officers is a logical process in my head, since that is the next set of abilities that you will be using in the battle the most, and will often be relying on. Most Escorts tend to be cannon/turret builds, and that is because it makes skill point allocation easier to manage, as well as when you buff your cannons and turrets with abilities such as Cannon: Rapid Fire or Cannon: Scatter Volley, you get all 7 of your weapons with the increased rate of fire. This can help you hit the max damage in an arena match much easier- even if your team loses. I have myself been in an escort pug many a time, lost, but walked out with max damage not only for federation, but often for the entire match.
Depending on whether you find a fleet or get a group of regular PvP playing friends or even play it solo, to scout for a good team, you need to keep in mind that you have a very limited healing/buffing capacity in a fescort, so your bridge officer layout needs to not just compliment your ships, but it should also have one or two healing abilities that you can use either for yourself, or pass onto another team mate being focus- fired(it could very well be the other fescort in your team, and if you dont keep him alive, you may very well be next on the firing line). Healing abilities have already been heavily covered by faithborn in another thread, which I can not find right now. maybe it got ninja modded after Faithborn left.
These healing/ buffing abilities that can be passed to other ships are: Science
Transfer Shield Strength
Auxiliary to Structural Integrity
Attack Pattern Delta
Other abilities that are useful for fescorts are: Tactical
Attack Pattern Beta- this applies a stacking debuff to your target enemy for 5 seconds.
Cannon: Rapid Fire- This increases the amount of shots fired per volley. the damage done gets weaker at the end of a volley. lasts 10 seconds, or 3 volleys
Cannon: Scatter Volley- This applies an increased rate of fire, much like Rapid Fire, but it has a wide Area of Effect, which is really useful for using against mines, the Breen cluster torpedo, or carrier pets.
Beam: Overload- this is for the escorts that put a dual beam bank at the front, and for approximately 50% of your weapons power, this fires off a powerful one shot beam. a Beam overload II can easily do over 14K damage through enemy shields on a critical. antiprotons suit this setup well.
Auxiliary to Dampers- this applies auxiliary power to boost your kinetic damage resistance and turn rate. This is great for anyone who flies a fleet escort or advanced escort.
Auxiliary to Battery- A rather unused ability that redistributes your auxiliary power to weapons, engines and shields. can be useful for the quick alpha strike and the fast getaway
Emergency power to shields- THIS IS A MUST- HAVE FOR ANY ESCORT- OR ANY SHIP REALLY. boost shield subsystem power and gives you a medium instant shield heal and damage resist for 30 seconds
Jam enemy sensors- this is good to use if your trying to get away to heal, and you have that pesky BoP or escort that is chasing you while your tail is tucked between your legs. It gives you 15 seconds of disappearing from the enemy's sensors, though each shot fired at the enemy has a chance of cancelling the jam sensor
Scramble enemy sensors- Im only really adding this in because right now there is a bug where someone with scramble sensors applied gets to see cloaked enemy ships. outside of that- it is not an ability i would recommend a fescort uses.
Tractor Beam- holds the enemy stationary and does minimal kinetic damage for 10 seconds. recommend you look into the Borg deflector for its tractor beam if you want to use this ability- simply because you will have another free slot for another science ability
Polarize Hull- this will make you immune to tractor beams and give you a medium hull damage resistance buff.
that concludes a very brief touch on good Bridge Officer abilities for your budding fescort
Your weapons layout is also crucial to your fescort, which will have a major effect on how you play the game.
The most common(and favored) fescort weapons setup I see is the all- cannon build. this typically has:
2 Dual Heavy cannons on the Forward slots
2 Dual cannons on the Forward slots
3 turrets on the Aft slots
The reason this seems to work so well is because when you launch your alpha strike, the only ability you need to hit for your weapon type is either Cannon: Rapid Fire or Cannon: Scatter Volley. this simplifies your battle plan and he amount of clicks you perform in battle.
My personal weapons layout is the next on on this list:
1 Dual Beam Bank on the Forward slots
1 Dual Heavy Cannon on the Forward Slots
2 Dual Cannons on the Forward Slots
3 Turrets on the Aft Slots
The advantages of this setup over the typical tier 4-5 setup is that this gives you the firepower of Beam overload on Dual Beam Banks, which can make that extra bit of difference, when you knock out their shields with the beam, and have the other 2 cannon volleys doing damage to the naked enemy hull while they are reaching for their shield heals and hitting their shield redistribution buttons. I have been known to use this to not only cut through a carriers hull, but if I can single out a carrier, i can often do some very serious damage to the hull in my 15 second alpha strike. This build works really well with the defiant, but I also use it on my fleet escorts.
The next weapons layout I see often is:
1 or 2 Dual Heavy Cannon on the Forward Slots
2 Dual Cannons on the Forward Slots
1 Torpedo(typically Quantum or Breen) on either the Forward or Aft Slots
2 or 3 Turrets on the Aft Slots
This somewhat less popular build(these days) does have another advantage over the previous build, and that is that the torpedoes are fantastic for hurting a ship with no shields left. Like the previous build, this layout requires a little more micro-management over your abilities, and even your ships position when attacking, since you need to micro- manage 2 weapons buffing abilities.
Your weapons build doesn't always have a major effect on the fescort play style, since all fescorts need to practice the dip and duck techniques that the Klink BoP players have down so well, but I will touch on that a little later on
Using an escort in PvP can be very frustrating and challenging for those who aren't in a regular pre- arranged team(in fact- I rarely PuG in an escort anymore these days, since I cant rely on the chance that a cruiser or science vessel will throw me heals/buffs when I need them most.), but there is a method to make PuGging successful in an escort, and that is to essentially copy the Bird of Prey play style. While no fescort has a battle cloak to hide in, there are certain abilities that can help make you as much of a pain in the side as a Bird of Prey is. they are:
Jam Enemy Sensors- this is great for when you get that one ship breaking out of combat to give chase to you and get that kill that they almost got a couple of seconds ago
Mask Energy Signature- this is a semi cloak which will help you to get away, since it makes it harder for enemy sensors to find you, but if they get too close, they will see an all- black ship running. This ability can not be used while you are at red alert status- like a regular cloak
There are a couple of techniques that can help you GTFO if the opposing team turns their attention to you.
the most common process is the following:
Transfer power to engines
Hit your shield buffs and even hazard emitters
Hit Evasive Maneuvers. Ramming Speed is also semi- effective at this.
Depending on what engines you have, how you distributed those Skill points, and how much power you have in your engines as soon as you hit Evasive Maneuvers are, you can put a number of K's from you and the main battle in less than 8 seconds.
However you may not find that you always have Evasive Maneuvers or 100+ engine power available to you. there are 2 Items you should look into getting as much of as you can carry, and they will fit into your devices slots. they are:[list][*]Deuterium Supply- this has a greater movement and maneuverability boost than Evasive Maneuvers, have the same cool down time as Evasive Maneuvers, but it doesnt share it. You can get that from the protect the Ferengi deuterium supplies daily that is in the Eta Eridani Sector Block[*]Engines Battery- this is a commonly dropped Item in PvE, is available from certain vendors, and can often be found in stacks of 20 in some fleet banks. This will give you an instant large boost to engines power(usually going straight to 125) for 3 seconds, before steadily decreasing back to your base engines power level.
Remember that an escort is no good to a team dead, so you need to become a quick judge of when is a good time to stay and fight, and when is a good time to GTFO. This takes practice, and a lot of patience for Feddies, since we have a PvE campaign that most of us have spent time playing.
The Advanced Escort is a fairly good High ranked escort that has a slight lean to science, but what feels like a stinted maneuverability compared to an equally Kitted and specced Fleet Escort. Its stats are as follows:
4 Forward Weapon Slots
3 Aft Weapon Slots
Bridge Officer Stations
1 Commander Tactical Slot
1 Lieutenant Commander Tactical Slot
1 Lieutenant Engineering Slot
1 Ensign Science Slot
1 Lieutenant Science Slot
Base Turn Rate: 15 Degrees per second
Base Hull: 30,000
Crew Compliment: 150
The advantage here is that of all the classes of abilities, the science gives you a wider range of capabilities.
Advanced Escort designs are 4 nacelled, and include the Prometheus class ship
The Fleet Escort Has almost the same layout as the Advanced Escort. but tis slightly higher crew rate, and what feels like better maneuverability and performance make it a more popular choice of fescort. It also has an inclination to Engineering abilities. Its layout goes like this:
Bridge Officer layout
1 Commander Tactical
1 Lieutenant Commander
1 Lieutenant Engineering
1 Ensign Engineering
1 Lieutenant Science
Base Turn Rate: 15 Degrees Per Second
Base Hull: 30,000
Crew Compliment: 200
The advantage of the Fleet Escort is that it has the best healing/buffing capability of the high tier fescorts with the Ensign Engineering slot
The Defiant Retrofit is an interesting ship: It is both loved and hated by people I have talked to in Zone chats.
It has the best maneuverability of all the Fescorts, has a cloak(great for the alpha strike, but thats about it), and it looks cool. The latter is definitely reason to fly one- even if its for 20 minutes. It is however the most vulnerable of the escorts in the fact it has limited crew, healing capabilities, and even hull damage resist feels slightly lower for those new to it,
Bridge Officer Stationst
1 Commander Tactical
1 Lieutenant Commander Tactical
1 Ensign Tactical
1 Lieutenant Engineering
1 Lieutenant Science
Base Turn Rate: 17 Degrees Per Second(this is taken from in- game)
Base Hull: 30,000
Crew Compliment: 50
while on paper, the defiant looks like the worst ship to be piloting, the most fun I have had playing in premade teams is inside a Defiant. PuGging in a defiant is an absolute nightmare if you haven't developed and mastered the necessary piloting skills for fescorts in general, and its minimal crew compliment makes it take much longer for you to heal while idle in cloak. But it is definitely the most fun ship to pilot in my opinion
This is a highly contented subject within my own Fleet.
We tend to do a LOT of mucking around with more efficient ways of our ships tougher, stronger, and more useful. However leftover Skill points after you have gone through the basics of your ships, should go to the abilities you are using most.
I may get a lot of corrections about this, and I am perfectly happy to admit I am wrong, because what works well for me speccing into my escort, doesn't exactly translate too well into my cruisers or my science vessels, which is why I left this part of my Escort captain guide to the last, because I will either attract respect or a lot of ire and being called an idiot for the way I dedicate my Skill points. So anyway- here goes *ducks from the sniper rifles being pointed my way*
First thing you should do is add skill points to your captain's class. James Path(my main- and the one in my avatar) Is an engineering captain. So it is natural that I add Engineering Team leader to my skill points(though leave it till your last 900 Skill Points before ranking up- if you want top be more effective at the lower levels).
Escorts should have either Hazard Emitters 1 or 2 as a general rule. that large hull heal over 15 seconds will mean that you get back into the fight faster, or you can use it to heal while running. Either way- experience has told me to never rely on other people I PuG with to throw me heals, so I tend to keep my Hazard Emitters to myself- unless I am playing alongside an ally I know will support me when I need it too. Starship Operations is a good way to go for adding a couple of hundred extra to the total hull repair.
You can use Starfleet Merits or retrain tokens to reskill your character. If your a poorbie like me and cant afford the 400CP for a retrain token, grind through your dailies to get 30K Starfleet Merits to let you attempts a retrain.
so in short, here is how I prioritize my skill points in my Fleet Escort:
Engineering Team Leader(9)
Starship Attack Vectors(9)
Tactical Team Leader(4)
Starship Combat Maneuvers(9)
Heavy Escort Captain(9)
Starship Battle Strategy(9)
Tactical Escort Captain(9)
Fleet Escort Captain(9)
The really neat thing about the starship buffs is that 50% of the previous tier skill buffs get applied to the next higher tiered ship. I have not yet experimented with removing skill points from the T1-3 ship buffs yet, but on my next 30K Starfleet Merits, it is in my plans to test it.
Starship Energy Weapons
Energy Weapons Training(9)
Starship Cannon Weapons(9)
I do not bother at all with Starship Projectile weapons training, since I do not use projectile weapons(Torpedoes, Mines, Breen Weapon)
Starship Engineering Training(9)
Starship Warp Core Training(9)
Aux. Systems Maintenance(9)
Starship Engine Maintenance(9)
Starship Shield Maintenance(9)
Starship weapons System Maintenance(9)
Aux. Systems Efficiency(9)+
Starship Energy Weapons Efficiency(9)+
Starship Engine Efficiency(9)+
Starship Shield Efficiency(9)+
Starship Engine Performance(9)+
Starship Shield Performance(9)+
Starship Subsystem Repair(9)
Starship Aux. Systems Performance(9)+
Starship Hull Repair(9)
Starship Weapons System Performance(9)+
+ notes that these skills directly affect your power levels. I highly recommend you put +9 into as many as you can as an escort captain
I also do not do ground PvP at all, so I ignore the Starfleet <Class> Skills
Starship Operations Training
Starship Hazard System(1)
Now once again- this build kind of works for me most of the time, but I am not done tweaking it yet.
If there are any abilities you like to use a lot- say abilities like Auxiliary to Structural Integrity(medium hull heal+small damage resistance buff) or Hazard Emitters(large hull heal over time), you are going to want to apply Skill Points into not just the skills that affect the ability you use, but the power levels and efficiency of said ability, since it can have a positive effect on your ability. The most obvious is Hazard Emitters or other ones like Beam: Overload. In Hazard Emitters, the more power in Auxiliary you have, the more total heal over time you get on it. For abilities like Beam: Overload- the more power to weapons you have, the less the energy wepaons nerf immediately after the ability.
Consoles are another thing to consider well when you are building your escort.
On the whole, they can make things much easier for you with them adding a few extra Skill Points into abilities that you may not have allocated enough Skill Points to previously when you went through speccing up your captain. Ultimately Each console can affect up to 3(if i remember right, 3 is the max currently) different Bridge Officer(and even your own captains) abilities that apply to any one skill allocation.
Most consoles stack, but each console after the first one you equip gets its buff nerfed by 50%. For fescorts- it is well worth the investment to find a couple of consoles in either engineering or science that work on adding buffs to your ships' defence. You may not notice a huge difference, but when I do face off mano a mano with my fleet escort against other BoPs, fescorts, or even the rare Raptor(havent faced the Nausicaan ship enough times to notice a difference there), It is usually my ship more often than not that has the durability to survive.
As for the EPS console, its usefulness is a big question mark to me. Back in the early days of Star Trek Online, the EPS consoles used to help your power recovery rate quite noticeably. However these days- I can often find myself giving it up for other consoles, such as Hull plating and shield generators. Its description reads as a buff to power transfer rate- and my interpretation of that is that it helps your power levels recover faster when you are switching power over from say weapons to engines. However I have been told I am totally wrong by a couple of people who I did research on this with ion my fleet, and they have their interpretations.
So for a more thorough explanation of the effects of console stacking, I will use Phaser Relay for my example.
In my own main escort captain, I have specced into Phasers, not because I like being cannon(in fact- I like to customise my ships to all kinds of grotesque creations- thats just the Fleet Escort way man), but because aside from Disruptors, they are cheap skill points wise, and their subsystem roulette proc seems to have the highest strike rate- from what I have noticed(I dont count AntiProtons as having a proc, since all it does is up the critical hit rate). So I have buffed my Phasers by 9(+52 to phaser stats), and I use 2X Phaser relays in my tactical consoles. The Phaser Relay Consoles I use are the MK XI blues(+26). So when I am on the battlefield, my phaser stats look like this:
52+26+13= +91 to any phaser weapons I have on my ship. With my other 2 tactical slots, I have 2X MK XI blue Prefire chambers, so that my phaser cannon weapons(thats 3X phaser turrets MK XI[Acc][DmgX2], 2X Phaser Dual Cannons MK XI[Acc][DmgX2], and 1X Phaser Dual Heavy Cannons Mk XI[Acc][DmgX2]) all get a 91+91=182 damage buff before I fire them on the field. I haven't logged damage from PvP matches since I did this build, but when I am not doing Cannon: Rapid Fire or Cannon: Scatter Volley, I find that my dual and dual heavy cannons deal between 1300-1500 damage to the hull outside of the shields on each shot(you don't need to sit down and do a lot of number crunching when you see your damage is in yellow).
Another common console I see people stacking is the Halon Systems- which helps by increasing the healing abilities of Hazard emitters. It really is kind of a cheap way out, since the normal way to spec up Hazard Emitters is to allocate Skill Points to: Starship Operations, Starship Emitters, Hazard Systems. When you dedicate all the appropriate Skill points to that one ability, it ends up costing you 5400 Skill Points total. This is not always desirable, since that is a lot of Skill points to set aside to that one ability. Using 2X Halon Systems will give you an 18+9=27 bonus to Hazard Systems, which can make a difference of close to 200 Hull repair per second when you use Hazard emitters right after popping an Auxiliary Battery
I mentioned earlier that some consoles don't stack. The only one i know of right now that definitely doesnt stack in game is the Field Generator(which gives you a +35% max shield capacity. it really is necessary for ANY ship in this game, but is only for those who are either RA6- VA1). I will updates this if and when I find out/get notified of more consoles that do not stack.
It has been noted that most weapons and abilities consoles do indeed stack, and there are paper specs on screen to prove it. However the difference in damage is almost negligible, which is leading me to believe that it is indeed possible to trim more skill points off by using double stacked consoles in place of using up so many skill points in buffing the appropriate weapons/skills