QUICK SUMMARY: Newbie ENG VA has no idea of what skills actually do as most do not seem to provide quantitative data in actual calculations or seem useless, has no idea of how he likes to play due to inexperience, cringes at minmaxing especially with the diminishing returns, would like to be able to PvP/PvE casually, and needs a hand!
Newbie here (to MMORPG's in general, actually, this is my first), picked up an Eng captain. I was in the Alienware promo (NX class, despite being centuries old, is surprisingly good for a beginner!), so I got in a little early on the F2P action, and now here I am a freshly minted VA in an Assault Cruiser that's somewhat tricked out that I like to think is a Sovereign class that's been heavily refitted/modified for the specific war conditions, and to add some visual impressions that this is a war machine.
Unfortunately I have a conumdrum.
I have no idea what skills actually DO. The descriptions are all well and good, until you realize that for most of them there is no quantitative measure of just what you're looking at here. 3 levels of Shield Power Efficiency - a bonus of 54 - well, that's just fine, but what am I getting? Am I getting a 54 bonus to the shield power setting? Am I getting 54 extra hit points to the shields? Am I getting some fraction of this to either? Is it a percentage? A multiplier? What am I looking at here? And that's one of the easier ones. Others like Warp Core Efficiency seem to be somewhat more amorphous (what precisely is a 'low power level?' At what point does it become low? 50, 25, 10, 1?). And abilities. What does EPS actually do? Does it help with Emergency Power to Shields like it says it does? What stats actually influence Miracle Worker? I keep hearing conflicting information everywhere, enough that I don't even know how much I trust the in-game descriptions.
That big glob of questions are just the ones that I can think of off the top of my head.
The diminishing returns of skills does not seem to help much at all. Do I really want to pour in the points to increment one system from level 6 to 9 (and gain a bonus of +15), or spread those points to another starving system (and gain +54 in that)? Super-specializing almost seems like a waste, but am I going to have to just pinch my nose, close my eyes, hope I'm not screwing up and throw a bunch of points away doing that?
Worse yet, many of these run into the law of diminishing returns. It's looking like to be able to be "good" at anything I have to minmax to do precisely what I want to - never mind that with ground stuff it seems even harder to quantify the results you're looking at. This brings up a problem in that unlike many here I have not tried all career paths and played for 8 months - I have no idea WHAT I like other than 'the other guys exploded before I did!' Sometimes I feel like I barely know how to move the ship around. While I can do decently in computer-controlled enemy missions (it took half of the Mirror Universe attack force in one of the Enemy Engagement areas dogpiling me at once to bring me down and I made Captain in about 2 weeks), I have no idea what I'll be looking at if there are more challenging Foundry missions, let alone PvE and PvP, which I have yet to experience.
I'd like to be able to do PvP casually, but it seems like the only way to do decently in PvP against people who can apparently atomize you in roughly 20 seconds is to both a) know EXACTLY what it is you're getting and b) limit yourself to doing one very specific thing, usually as a tac or a science officer (tacs with sheer power in an escort, sci through frighteningly super-powered abilities some think are overpowered). I haven't attended PvP yet, so I can't say for sure, but I'd like to know more about what I'm getting INTO before I make an idiot of myself for at least a few weeks trying to get the hang of it.
It does not help that I also do not know what I am countering against. I've been told many of the "defensive" skills (sensors, structural integrity field) are fairly useless unless you're a science captain and even then they're of questionable value.
The long and the short of it is that this is very frustrating to me. Since I was a Lt. Cmdr, I literally would hold back on spending skill points until I had to for promotion, and then sit there and dither on it for hours. Even now as I try to finalize my build I have a ton of skill points remaining. I also think I've wasted a LOT of skill points on useless abilities (driver coil, anyone? I'm told that all that's good for is speeding up Sector Space and Full Impulse, though admittedly that helps to keep from getting bored, but maxing it out is probably 3K wasted skill points at least). And while I do have some respec tokens since I liked the game enough to buy a sub (missed 'em for a few ranks, though), I'd rather not use one just to find out that I've screwed up again, just in a new and interesting way.
There doesn't seem to be a comprehensive guide - believe me, I've looked, but I'm not the best searcher on Earth here, so I think I may have missed something obvious. However, it doesn't seem like it. Most of the stuff that comes up seems to come up from before the major changes recently. In fact, I believe at least some wiki pages show screens I've never seen (e.g. beam type specific skills) which I'm pretty certain are now out of date. Skills are the one area where it seems like you pay DEARLY if you screw up, just about everything else can be fixed without ending up paying cash, just grind until you've got enough EC to buy your way out of it and remember it as a lesson painfully learned. As such, I'm turning to you folks - can any of you please supply some advice?
So you know, I am running a human ENG captain with Warp Theorist and Peak Health as his character generation traits. Thank you for any help you can give me.
STOAcademy has a skill planner that you can use to play around with your skill tree without using real life respec tokens. You can also save your build, post it on the forums, and ask specific questions. Some people have posted their builds so you can get an idea of what some other players are doing.
First, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to reply to my message, and especially so quickly.
In terms of the STO Wiki, I've found a LOT of pages to be rather lacking. For instance, some of the abilities still refer to old skills that no longer exist, and many skills don't seem to have wiki pages yet. I also haven't yet seen much in the way of computations on just how the thing works, or even vague descriptions of what you're getting calculation-wise by having, say, +99 in warp core potential. Granted, the info could be in Discussion pages. I'll take a look at those when I get a chance, though that may be a pipe dream.
Second, the STO Academy site's planner is something I've used extensively. It is a wonderful tool, and I highly recommend its use. And although I've used it I appreciate you pointing it out to me because this is exactly the sort of thing that keeps someone from going insane trying to write everything out on scraps of paper.
Third, re: STOked - is the information there still good after all the changes? How much difference am I looking at here? I haven't bothered to look into the old system in detail, because it no longer exists, so I have no idea of how much is old or new or what to watch out for.
There has been alot of lag lately with timely information getting onto STOWIki. Probably because so much was being changed. I would still say it's the best resource.
STOAcademy is awesome. They have alot of other stuff too. AFAIK there walkthroughs are updated as well.
The earlier STOked episodes may not be current, but there's alot of discussions about mechanics and general tactics that still ring true. The later episodes update a lot of info. Although, I wish there had been more math segments and the show was still on.
It seems to have some of the information I need. It doesn't answer all my questions, not by a long shot, but it's the best quantitative-oriented guide I've found so far. So any newbies interested in this should take a look.