First Dicta: Be flexible. Tactics are real, Ships Move.
Second DIcta: Fight your fight from your strengths.
Third Dicta: Use everything you have offensively and defensively.
Fourth Dicta: Run if you need to, re-enter the fight on your terms.
Overview and goal:
What I'm going to attept here is to create in the player mind a new way of thinking about combat. These are not fighter planes. They are large starships of which even the smallest of the starships out mass all but the very largest of ocean going vessles of the 20th and 21st century. Power generation availible would power all of north america from even some of the smaller starships. The largest of ships generate sufficient energy to power a planetary civilization.
Past and Present:
What pevious game that STO starship combat reminds me most of is sn Starfleet Command-III. SFC-III had a true cloak.. and lets add that this was a "Combat Cloak" where you could drop into cloak in the middle of combat. The game had a "sensor ping" ability so you could at least manuver to some advantage aginst a cloaked ship. Under certain conditions you could even lock a cloaked target up and fire apon it. You can do this in STO also but you need to be a science officer to pull it off (some will have to tell me if you need to also be in a science class ship.) Players adjusted to it in SFC-III, and they will adjust to it here.
One of the main differences STO has from previous trek multiplayer games that those games were played peer to peer where as STO is server based. The reduces lag and latency to manageable levels. This also allows for truely blazingly LARGE numbers of players in combat.
Ships have differing capabilities. In STO the capabilities are HEAVILY modified by the ships captain and bridge officers talents, Consoles, Systems, and weapons.
I may suggest some specific tactics but my goal here is not to lead you by the hand but to help you develop the flexibility to devise new tactic on the fly.
Players who get locked into formulaic responses become vulnerable to players who stay flexible.
In STO your goals are reduced to thier purest form. You must knock down a target shield and put damage on the hull untill the target is gone. The player needs to manuver to keep firepower concentrated to where it will do the most good while avoiding the same. Against AI ships players have massive advantages in equipment, manuverability, defence, and firepower. Once your involved in PvP its time to toss any and all assumptions. Where possible the ideal solution is to maintain position off of one of the targets shield to accomplish your goal. Humans are tricky though and may not cooperate!
In PvP always assume the following.
1. The other player has more experience.
2. The other player has better officers with appropriate skill to the ships weapons loadout.
3. The other player has a better ship, with better weapons.
Act in combat as if the other player is about to own you and take appropriate actions during the fight. Sure you may loose, but why loose badly? Loose well! Use everything you have. You might be facing an ace player. Eventually we're going to have persistant territorial battles of some sort in this game. If your facing an ace player in an inferior ship keep them busy. Make them work for the victory. Keep them tied up. You may be helping your faction by simply preventing that ace player from being where they would do the most good for thier faction!
Dept. Of Dirty Wrotten Tricks:
Be Inventive! If you know that your out gunned just knock one shield down on the bad guy, point your ship and hit "ramming Speed. Use your abandon ship ability to suicide off down shield. Yes its a dirty foul trick.. it also works.. And if your going to loose anyway why go alone? Take an honor guard with you into the afterlife! Dieing well is as much an art as winning.
The thing to remember is PvP in this game is a no holds barred cage match where you need to pull out of your bucket every sneaky dirty trick you can think of.
And you better be ready to invent some more while your at it. In SFC I got rather adept at dragging an opponent into an asteroid at high speed. In STO being drug by a tractor into the side of an asteroid or a planet isn't instant death as it was in SFC. On the other hand if an enemy is jammed nose first into an asteroid then they are not able to freely manuver. An adavantage has been created to either hammer the target, or taking the window of opportunity to move off and effect repairs while the target gets straitened out. Use terrain to your advantage!
There are any number of other tactic which a player can develop. Some of them are going to be based apon the type of weapons, others on special abilities and equipment. Some will be offensive in nature, some defensive. Playing aginst the AI is a good way to train yourself in the tactics YOU develop. And let me make it clear that you need to practice them so you don't have to think about what your doing in PvP. Your finger and your mind are trained so you can simply "Do" or "Do Not". In PvP ship combat the action is to fast and furious for try.
Most of all you must be flexible. You never really know for certain what your going to run up against in PvP. The player you fight today maybe running disruptors and plasma torps. An hour from now you may find yourself against the same player after they have refitted thier ship with Tetryon beams or cannons with tri cobalt devices, and yet later with anto-proton weapons. You never know for certain, and you don't really have time to guess. You must act always to fight the battle on your terms and be ready to make a hasty retreat when your at to much of a disadvantage.
In the end it is far better to know what YOUR ship can do. Victory aften goes to the player that made the fewest mistakes. Also be aware that you usually have no idea what the mistakes you may or may not have made. Only the evident result of your respawning provide a clue that you did. Because of the massive space melee that happens in this game your mistake may simply have been to be the ship in front of everyone else that recieved the concentrated firepower of all on the enemy ships in a ship not prepared to stand in the furnace!
PvP Victory is currently decided by the "TEAM" that died the least or achived its objectives by holding specific areas on the map the longest in PvP or achived the most kills.. As this game grows we will see other types of PvP. There is talk of persistant PvP zones that are open (nutral zones) where players come and go through out a 24 hour period with victory or defeat calculated at the end of a day and caounting toward some sort of special reward for the following day (perhapes special task force missions only availible to players that participated and achived victory for thier faction) ACtual territorial combat where siezure of a system unlocks PvE content in that system. One on one duels. There are many possibilities for the future Only time will show us what they are to be.
As a starship captain you must learn to be flexible. You must learn what your ship can and cannot do. You can certainly take a ship with over power weaponry that gives you a fantastic first handfulls of vollied weapon fire but rapidly drop in damage afterwards because of the power draw, or you can configure with weapons that don't run you out of power so that the damage you cause is always consistant. Doing this also allows you to shift power from weapons to other systems if you have it to spare. Currently there are a number of player who specialize thier ships and I say more power to them! Just heed this warning.. ships with specialized strengths will also have specialized vulnerabilities!