I'm big on "canon". I've got a Human Male TAC officer. I want to put a him in a Cruiser--any suggested builds to make him effective both on ground and in space?
I'm thinking I can build his ground skills normally like a regular Ground TAC. Space skills would have to be chosen carefully--and augmented with the right set of BOffs and consoles to make up for the deficiency caused by skill mismatch.
He doesn't have to be the perfect 'toon all min-maxed for uber-tank or super-DPS or anything... I just want him to be effective and be able to hold his own in combat against a broad range of enemies--a jack-of-all-trades, not unlike the Captains seen on the shows.
Of course, being canon-centric, some things will be a given. Phasers and torps--the UFP don't use disruptor or plasma weapons--it's that simple. Other things are more flexible--shields, consoles, etc.
All of this is my opinion, your milage may vary, I'm not a "professional" player by any means, nor a PvPer, yada yada yada. Long story short, just my research, experiences, and frankly biases showing. But, without further ado:
* Aim for an Assault Cruiser, Regent, or Odyssey as your end-game ship. The Excelsior-R is also viable, but you may find it not to your liking if you like staying canon. However, the AC and Regent are arguably Starfleet's main-line 'battleships' that also have significant exploration capabilities. If you're a lover of the Galaxy-X, you can use that, too, but beware that this often requires a specialist. Unless you KNOW what you're doing I would stay away from the Star Cruiser and Galaxy-R. If you get the Odyssey, DO YOUR HOMEWORK and research just what you want and what's available, because there's a lot of ways you can get something you don't want with these ships; the "safest" is probably the three-pack. You may also want to consider the Vesta, but if you're brand new I wouldn't recommend it. Note that if you want to use a canon ship class, the Regent is fully capable of being configured to have a Sovereign skin; the Regent class itself is just the default configuration.
* For space: You will probably want the MACO set, or the MACO shield and Borg deflector and engines. MACO is Starfleet's top-of-the-line stuff, and while Borg gear isn't exactly canon, it's also not a stretch to think that Starfleet would be integrating properly-secured Borg tech into their systems. If you want to avoid looking at it - which is probably realistic, since I imagine most of the gut-bits would be within the ships - just turn off the visuals.
* For ground: I recommend the MACO set for canonicity as it is, again, Starfleet's top-of-the-line gear. That said you may want to deactivate the visuals, but IMO the MACO armor looks pretty good. Omega gear is often regarded as better for Tacs. Personally I disagree - I think it's more play style that dictates that choice - but it's certainly worthwhile equipment as well, though its main energy type is antiproton. In the interrum, I personally tend to use sniper rifles, full auto rifles, and pulsewave assaults, with some relatively newfound appreciation for the minigun. I would recommend at least one BOff carry a split-beam rifle. I would NOT carry a hand phaser sidearm as they tend to be less effective than rifles, despite DPS assertions in the item description, at least in my experience. And most situations where you would use a sidearm in an in-character situation simply don't come up, although there might be a few missions where you want to pick the sidearm to feel more authentic - or even pick something non-canon. Boldly They Rode comes to mind, where, for reasons I won't spoil, you might be more 'realistic' in having the Jem'Hadar gear set or a hand phaser sidearm.
* Have a set of weapons for your BOffs that are of several different types. This is one area that you need to deviate from canon when you're fighting the Borg, unless you want them to rapid-adapt to you. So far as I know the 'energy weapon type' adaptation applies to you AND your BOffs, although I could be wrong - but I do know that you'll need your secondary weapon to be a different energy type against the Borg, because even if it doesn't apply to your BOffs, it DOES apply to both your weapons.
* For weapons, just go with phasers and quantum torps, no problems there. I wouldn't bother with photon torpedoes, at least at end game, as qtorps are generally regarded as the best general purpose projectile weapons. I use three arrays, one launcher, fore and aft.
* For stats, some recommendations include:
- Realize there are vastly diminishing returns. Each stat can get up to 99 points of bonus from your skill point allocations. The first three ranks gives you +18 each (total of +54 at rank 3), 4-6 give you +10 each (give you +84 at rank 6), and 7-9 give you +5 each (total of +99 at rank 9). As it seems you want versatility you want to keep your minmaxing to a minimum. Most of the benefit of most stats can be had for 6 ranks, although a few are worth going beyond this with.
- Get 6 ranks in all starship performance skills, warp core potential, warp core efficiency, and electro-plasma systems. Each of the former give you +8.4 power points to a relevant subsystem, 6 in warp core potential gives you +4.2 to every system, and warp core efficiency helps out in under-allocated systems. Electro-plasma systems helps with power transfer rates and getting the maximum out of Emergency Power abilities. If you are not using Emergency Power abilities in a cruiser, preferably cycling them, you are either a spectacular player, a lucky player, know something I don't, or enjoy pain greatly. You might be OK with only 3 ranks in engine performance.
- While most people say 'cruisers don't need to turn,' I contend that if they didn't need to turn they would be called Starbases. As such I would suggest 6 in impulse thrusters.
- Hull repair and structural integrity are both worthy of 6 ranks, especially structural integrity, as it's your basic armor/HP.
- Speaking of armor, I would put 6 ranks in starship hull plating and starship armor reinforcement.
- Subsystem Repair is often regarded as useless. Personally I disagree, but you can majorly bump this up by having several humans manning the stations in space. Note a BOff must actually man a station for their bonuses to manifest in this area. Until recently a bug prevented this bonus from manifesting. However, I would be hard pressed to put more than 3 ranks into it.
- Starship Shield Emitters and Starship Shield Systems are probably best with 6's, as they are the repair effectiveness and shield hit points, respectively.
- You may wish to put a few points in Power Insulators and/or Inertial Dampeners (I do, but I don't know how much good they do).
- For the other science skills, I'd stay away from them (except MAYBE Sensors) unless you KNOW what you're doing. They are powerful, costly, and if you aren't going to be using them at all, wasteful. It's debated as to whether or not Sensors actually helps with Fire on my Mark or not, which is a major reason why a Tac would care.
- For tactical skills, as you're a tac, I'd put in 6 ranks for attack patterns, 9 ranks for starship weapons training and starship energy weapons, 3 for projectile weapons, 6 for maneuvers and targeting, and 3-6 for energy weapons specialization. Projectile weapons get little love because in a cruiser you're not going to be using them all THAT much so you'd be better off investing the ponints that might go in there in energy weapons. Stealth is also fairly useless since you don't have a cloak, and frankly I doubt many cruisers are built for stealth in general.
- For ground skills, be sure to put at least 6 ranks in Weapons Training and PS Generator. I would also invest in Special Forces and Squad Command, as well as a bit in Combat Armor. Combat Specialist and Willpower should also get some points. Generally I stick 6 points in each category, except I may give weapons/combat specialist a 9, and Combat Armor a 6. For my particular build I also bump up Willpower and Squad Command a bit, but I have specific reasons for that. I've diddled around with some math for PS Generators and it's probably not worth getting more than 6 ranks in it. I am torn as to whether or not to recommend Grenades or Advanced Tactics, but I don't put a whole lot of points in them if any.
* Boff abilities - Emergency Power abilities are your friend - I recommend two of weapons and two of shields. You may want to find an engineer to train your BOffs in a level 3 version of these abilities. I would also cycle Auxilliary to SIF 3 constantly. You may want to throw in an Attack Pattern move of some kind, particularly Beta or Omega - the former is a great resistance debuff, the latter escapes tractor beams. Tactical Team cycling is also something of a must for most ship types. Hazard Emitters is your friend, especially when you're up against Borg shield drainers. Paradoxically under most circumstances you can safely ignore it when your hull is ablaze with plasma fire, being a cruiser.
* Kits - Get all Mk X Purple tactical kits. I usually use Fire Team, Operative and Squad Command. Once you know what you like you might want to go for one of the advanced, fleet-oriented kits which recently came out.
* Consoles - Neutronium Armor, Phaser Relays (and nothing else for tac), and Field Generators are all golden for most ship types. I'd consider an end goal of a minimum of Mk XI Blue for each. You may also consider other shield boosters consoles and RCS thrusters for better turn, as well as various universal consoles of different types, such as the Borg console.
* Avoid Diplomatic and enemy-faction BOffs. These would definitely look out-of-place on a canon bridge crew. I have had luck with many BOff species, including Andorian, Trill, Vulcan, Klingon, Tellerite, and others. If you look at them from a pure performance standpoint, their species doesn't matter - only their career track and traits (and whether the traits are normal, Basic, or Superior) do. Everything else can be retrained or reequipped. Don't dismiss Alien BOffs as non-canon, as this is the key for putting together numerous races in and out of the Federation that are otherwise unavailable, even if they're canon species. For instance, my main character (a tac) is a human, Betazoid and El Aurian hybrid, and he's represented as an Alien. However, note that, so far as I know, ONLY Humans and some Saurians have abilities that boost starship performance, and ONLY if they're actually being used on your ship (e.g. fitting into one of the ship's ability slots). Just having them on your crew won't help you a bit.
* If you're a new player, then be aware that Tribbles take canon more seriously than you do. You will find this out the hard way if you leave them in your inventory with food.
But a tac in a tac-centric cruiser really needs those cannons and turrets. Last time I looked, the only ship zipping around firing cannons was Defiant. You can try beam arrays if you like, but will never get a cannon equivalent DPS.
The primary job of any Cruiser in PvE is Tanking or Healing.
Tanking is generally more efficient in PvE than being a healer to someone else.
So tank first, worry about your DPS second.
any dps oriented cruiser in sto is capable of tanking in one way or the other, the support cruisers i'm not sure if they can actually aquire aggro and keep it. Though the new aggro consoles from the embassy make it more viable.
Having owned and used extensively the Regent and Vesta (three pack) inevitably when built properly and with a proper RESPEC on your toon you can can do wonders!
I just recently picked up the Fleet Excelsior and have to admit I am loving it - despite it not being my fav looking ship. Apparently its said that it has the best turn rate and I can believe it as I have all single disruptor cannons mounted on the front, and with its 180 arc I have no problems keeping fire on any enemy, be it normal STF's or Elite's!
On the rear I have two turrets with the Omega Torp (used for bonus more than effectiveness)and Cutting beam. The latter, when equipped with the borg three piece set (disabled visuals of course) also packs a punch once your through the shields of an enemy. This set also boost my hull to over 58, 0000! Consoles include hull plating (all energy and kinetic - forget the name now though, its in the Hilbert guide) and the lobi store Tach console for Engineering; The universal console and ZPM for Science; and the appropriate disurptor boosters (damage) for the tac consoles (4 in total).
For a video on making a turret OR beam boat click here.
Inevitably, its a game. Choose the ship you like most (T5 level) and just go with it.
"The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." - Rocky Balboa (2006)