Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
This guide is finalized, however more content may be added later as I see fit or as suggestions are submitted. Be sure to check back for any new tips.

This is going to be long winded. Before you read it, I'll give the following preface and forewarning/disclaimer:

-This guide is intended for VA-rank ships, but can be applied to lower tier ships by simple logical reduction.
-This guide assumes you're a Tactical officer, although as above, it can be applied as an engineer or science officer.
-This guide assumes you know where your towel is.
-If you have any suggestions or want something added, PM me; don't reply here, I might not see it.
-I realize everyone has different playstyles, and this might not coincide with yours. Don't get butthurt.
-I am by no means an expert; if you'd like to speak to an expert, please contact me in game and I can hopefully put you in touch with one.
-All the loadouts will be from the Tac. Escort Refit slots combination. Use your best judgement when adjusting for your ship. Fleet Escort and Advanced Escort will be nearly identical, but MVAM will be a little harder to use the exact same build due to its Lt. slot instead of Lt. Cmdr. Since other ships won't have a cloak, use range in place of cloak, and the speed boost from Omega to close the distance. You can also use MES, but I'm on the fence on that one.
-All Boff slots will be organize from lowest to highest tier of power, i.e., read left to right as you would in your ship assignment window.
-I'm not going to have the APO vs. APB debate here. If you prefer APB, use it in place of APO. I prefer APO, but as I said, to each their own. In some loadouts you may see both, so you can use both if you prefer or replace them however you see fit.

Glossary of Terms:
Desc - Short for Description. Kinda like this line.
Fitting - The weapons and skills used with those weapons on any given loadout.
How-To - My suggestions on how to use this loadout. Feel free to experiment and find what works for you.
APO1/2/3- Attack Pattern Omega 1, 2, or 3, respectively.
APB1/2/3- Attack Pattern Beta 1, 2, or 3, respectively.
CRF1/2/3- Cannon: Rapid Fire 1, 2, or 3, respectively.
THY1/2/3- Torpedo: High Yield 1, 2, or 3, respectively.
BO1/2/3- Beam: Overload 1, 2... you get the idea.
CSV1/2/3- Cannon: Scatter Volley
BFAW- Beam: Fire at WIll
FoMM- Fire On My Mark
APA- Attack Pattern Alpha
TT1- Tactical Team 1
TB1- Tractor Beam 1
Boff- Bridge Officers

Okay, so we're going to divvy this up into 2 categories, right off the bat. They are, of course, offensive skills and defensive skills. The reason for this is simple; many defensive skill sets can be used interchangeably with different skill sets, or even combined to your liking. The same with offensive skills. Secondly, each skill set I specify will be in its own subcategory, probably with a quirky nickname so I can more easily remember them. Thirdly, use whatever weapon type you prefer. I personally prefer Phasers, before you ask. They're cheap, easy to spec for, look cool (thanks for the new effects, Cryptic) and they're canon. But to each their own; just keep in mind skill cost AND weapon modifiers when planning your loadout. Now, we all know the best offense is a good offense, and since Escorts are almost purely offensive (in every sense of the word), we shall start with our offensive loadouts.

OFFENSIVE LOADOUTS
"Speak softly and carry a big stick" - Theodore Roosevelt

Quote:
"The Cannotorpedosaurus" (Thanks to Firestorm for the name =P)
Desc: Basically exactly as the name suggests. Uses a combination of Dual Heavy Cannons and Torps to create a dependable, constant stream of DPS, but burst damage can suffer if your target is smart or buffed, or both. If you're flying a Defiant and you're a purist, this is the closest build to making your Defiant look and perform like the one in the show, assuming you equip a beam on the aft.

Weapon Fitting:
3x Dual Heavy Cannon Fore
1x Torpedo Fore (usually Quantums)
2x Turret Aft
1x Torpedo Aft
(or)
3x Turret aft
(or)
2x Turreft aft
1x Tricobalt Mine Aft
(or)
2x Beam aft
1x Mine, Torpedo Aft

Suggested Skills:
Cmdr Slot: TT1, CRF1, THY3, APO3
Lt. Cmdr Slot: TT1, THY2, CRF2
Ens Slot: BO1, FAW1 (only if you equip a beam in the aft, otherwise this is a dead slot, i.e., not much can go here)

Suggested Tactics:
For a Defiant, this one is one of the easist to use, although none of them are a cake-walk. Your primary damage source is your cannons and your torpedoes, so your 2 main focuses will be range and timing. When cloaked, charge all your buffs EXCEPT CRF and move into position. Your ideal range should be around 2-3 km from your target, but play it safe if your target is a Science Vessel as they'll see you coming. Its a good idea to buff up from 7-9km away, and then use the speed boost from Omega to quickly close the distance to firing range. Once in range, decloak, activate FoMM and CRF, and let them have it. I can't stress this enough, do NOT use this head-on unless your target is hardly moving or otherwise immobilized. Doing so makes it ridiculously easy to overshoot your target, or them just fly right by you, and waste your entire alpha strike. Your objective should be to focus as much damage as possible onto 1 shield facing. If your target is not buffed, and you're 3km away (or so) you actually want to fire your Torpedoes a split second BEFORE you fire your cannons. This is so that the burst from your cannons will crush a shield facing, allow your already launched torpedo salvo open access to their hull (that's what she said). Otherwise, since your torpedoes move so much slower then your cannon shots, your target will have a precious second or 2 to hit a TT1 or shield buff to restore their downed facing, thus making your torpedoes mostly useless.

Once decloaked, its simply a matter of chaining your attacks. With 2 copies of High Yield and 2 copies of CRF, you'll be able to activate them every 15 seconds, laying on a constant stream of punishment. Don't forget to reactivate Omega once it cools down, but I generally avoid reactivating Alpha if it cools down due to its long-*** cooldown. Save it for decloak alpha strikes.This build works well with Tractor Beams, so if you can squeeze one into your fit (especially if you have a group healer) then do so, if not, stick with something that will keep you alive.
Quote:
"The Little Kahuna" (Because Critting for 60k is a good thing)
Desc: One of my favorite builds, and one seen fairly commonly (probably because its very effective), and one of the more EXPENSIVE builds to use, the Little Kahuna as I call it packs a big punch. Focused almost exclusively on burst damage, this build suffers in the endurance-damage department, so its best suited for hit and run attacks. It is worthy to note this build is MOST EFFECTiVE when used by a Captain with the Accuracy trait, as well as Acc x2 weapons, preferably even Acc x3.

Weapon Fitting:
1x Dual Beam Bank Fore (Acc x2 or x3)
2x Dual Heavy Cannons Fore
1x Torpedo Fore (Usually Quantum)
2x Turrets Aft
1x Tricobalt Aft

Suggested Skills:
Cmdr: TT1, CRF1, BO3, APO3
Lt. Cmdr: TT1, BO2, HY3
Ens: HY1

Suggested Tactics:
This one is pretty straightforward in concept but much harder in practice. First off, you need to make a quick change. On your power tray on the bottom of your screen (assuming you're using mode 3) what position is your Dual Beam Bank in? The first slot? Bad spot, bro. Move the DBB icon so its to the RIGHT of your DHCs. Why, you ask? Because STO handles the firing key in a left-to-right order, so if you press Fire Phasers, the game activates them in order. If you have BO3 charged, and hit fire with you DBB in the left-most spot, guess what happens? It fires, drains your weapons power by 50, and then your cannons fire, doing almost no damage. So yeah, move that real quick, so the 2 cannons fire first, only draining around 24 power, and there's a split second of "chargeup" for the BO3 so most of that power will be refunded when the BO3 fires. Other then that, this build works about the same as the previous one, while cloaked move withing 8km of your target, hit all buffs except CRF1, then move to 2-3km, then decloak, FoMM, CRF1, and open fire. Again, try and fire your torpedoes half a second before your energy weapons so if you catch your target off guard, and the BO3 doesn't kill him, the torpedoes almost certainly will. If you have a healer, feel free to hang around and cycle APO3 and your other attack skills, but if you're in doubt, run away.
Quote:
"The Bunker Buster" (Because 100k crits are even better?)
Desc: Not personally a favorite build of mine, this build revolves around Tricobalts. Your energy weapons are used almost exclusively for shield penetration only, and your high damage tricobalts for some high-crit fun. This is one of the hardest builds to use, not necessarily becuase it requires alot of skill, but because most everyone balances their shields, lowering the chances of a decent tricobalt hit.

Weapon Fitting:
1x Dual Beam Bank Fore (Acc x2 or x3)
2x Dual Heavy Cannons Fore
1x Tricobalt Fore
2x Turrets Aft
1x Tricobalt Aft

Suggested Skills:
Cmdr: TT1, CRF1, BO3, APO3
Lt. Cmdr: TT1, CRF1, BO3
Ens: Erm... Target Engines 1?

Suggested Tactics:
Let me start by saying I hate this build. I suck with tricobalts, they're a pain in the *** and EVERYTHING in the game kills them before they reach their intended destination. However, I've been one shotted by pesky Klingons using this build (or a similar one) enough times to give it some respect, so I'll post it here. Speed is your biggest ally here, as you need to decloak at ridiculously close range, preferably at speed, and drop a shield facing very quickly, and then shove a tricobalt in said shield hole. (Also what she said) Tractor beams can be beneficial to accomplish this, so if you want to use one to keep your target from running away like a scared little girl, feel free. This is also a popular build with the MVAM, as it can use Photonic Shockwave to stun a target, a tractor to hold it, and enough foreward firepower to keep their shields down. I don't condone this overpowered nonsense, but if you want to try it, knock yourself out.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
08-26-2011, 02:06 PM
DEFENSIVE LOADOUTS
"Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the attack." -Sun Tzu

Well, Mr. Tzu, here's the bad news. There is no such thing as an invincible escort (Unless Taylor is following it around). There are however a few tricks and tips to make you, uh, harder to kill. A lot harder. Cryptic, bless their hearts, finally gifted us with a skill that gives escorts more staying power; thank you for that. You'll notice that all the loadouts above have 2 copies of TT1 in each of them; this is for good reason. TT1 has a 10 second cycle time, 30 second cooldown, and 15 second global cooldown with other *team abilities. Here's how to use that to your advantage.

Legend:
EPTS - Emergency Power to Shields
Haz - Hazard Emitters
TSS - Transfer Shield Strength
ST - Science Team
ET - Engineering Team
EM - Evasive Maneuvers
EB - Engine Battery
TT - Tactical Team (perverts)
Aux2Sif1: Auxiliary Power to the Structural Integrity Field 1 (that's a mouthful...)
SFM: Subspace Field Modulator (quest reward for Devidian mission arch)

Quote:
"The Ironclad"
Desc: One of my personal favorite defensive profiles, this build gives you decent staying power and powerful shields, but lacks a bit on the hull repair department. The operative idea is that if you find yourself without shields, you should find yourself out of range, and by that I mean pop an engine battery, hit APO3 to prevent any tractors from slowing you down, and hit your evasive and get out of dodge.

Fitting:
35% Shield Bonus Console
Works well with Aegis gear or your favorite Covariant or Resilient
Induction Stabilizers
Subspace Field Modulator

Skills:
Engineering: EPtS 1 and 2
Sci: TSS 2, Haz 1

How-To:
Fairly simple and straight forward, if you're decloaked, keep cycling the 2 EPtS's even if you're not taking fire. These will add both valuable resistance, and power levels to your shields, thus increasing their intrinsic resistance. Also chain the 2 copies of Tactical Team I mentioned earlier. If you start to take fire and notice your shields fluctuating, hit your TSS2 to reinforce them, and typically if your hull gets near 75% (from bleed through) hit your Hazards to fix it up. Use your SFM for extra defense if needed. If your shields get below, say, 25% and you don't have a healer nearby, LEAVE. Engine battery, APO3, Evasive Manuevers. Get out of town. Important note: if your shields are down when you evasive out, don't immediately cloak unless you're being pursued. Your shields will NOT recharge while cloaked, as your shield power will be at 0.
Quote:
"The Minuteman"
Desc: This one works well with loadouts intended for hit and run, as it gives you the defense to stick around long enough to score a kill, and then the speed to get back out and recloak.

Fitting:
Works well with Aegis gear or your favorite Covariant or Resilient
Induction Stabilizers
Subspace Field Modulator

Skills:
Engineering: EPtS 2, EPtEngines 1
Sci: TSS 2, Tractor 1 (or) Jam Targetting Sensors 1

How-To:
This is a very specific defense profile, useful almost exclusively for those seeking a hit-and-run playstyle. Simple concept, decloak and hit your EPtS 2, hit your TSS2 the minute you start taking damage. Once your target is either dead OR about 20 seconds after you decloak, its time to leave. Fire an engine battery, hit Evasive, and run like hell. If you're pursued, hit EPtEngines, and possibly Jam Targetting Sensors to buy yourself some time. This build is also effective if you know your opponents are using things like Viral Matrix or Target Subsystem Engines, as the EPtE skill will restore power to your precious engines. Even with this build, continuously cycle the 2 tactical teams for best results.
Quote:
"The All-Arounder"
Desc: Not my personal favorite, but I've seen it put to good use, so take it with a grain of salt. Its worth noting this build is good on Fleet Escorts, as they can chain 2 copies of EPtS 1 + Aux2Sif1.

Fitting:
35% Shield Bonus Console
Works well with Borg Gear or Hybrid Aegis/Borg
Induction Stabilizers
Subspace Field Modulator

Skills:
Engineering: ET1, EPtS 2 (OR) EPtS1, Aux2Sif1
Sci: TSS1, Haz2 (or) TSS2, Haz1

How-To:
I've personally never had much luck with this one either, but I know others have, so again its going up. This one focuses on spot healing and HoT healing when you take damage instead of pre-buffing against damage. This requires a keen eye and I feel it detracts from battlefield prowess, meaning you spend more time watching your own health then trying to kill enemies. Either way, if you can make it work for ya... It also makes using the TT cycling difficult as doing so puts ET1 on cooldown, so I don't recommend cycling TT unless you're taking fire. Use your hazard emitters to cure minor hull damage while your shields are still up; if they get low, switch from TT1 to ET1 for fixing up the hull, or Aux2Sif1, whichever you choose. I suspect this build may be more effective if you have a team healer, as it allows you to cross heal with your fleet/team.
Quote:
"The Shield"
Desc: A good, solid shield between you and their torpedoes. Can't argue with that... Has no hull healing whatsoever, so if your hull gets low, time to leave, or find a space whale to cuddle with.

Fitting:
35% Shield Bonus Console
Works well with Borg Gear or Hybrid Aegis/Borg
Induction Stabilizers
Subspace Field Modulator

Skills:
Engineering: EPtS1, EPtS 2
Sci: TSS2, ST1

How-To:
This build also interferes with using TT to keep your shields balanced, so only use the TT while your shields are healthy. Otherwise treat this build the same as The Ironclad with the exception that you can't fix up your own hull. Best used in fleet/premade scenarios, this loadout will have your enemies cursing as to why your shields won't drop, and it will let you clear the ever-feared SubNuc should you or a a teammate get cursed with one.
Quote:
"The Pocket Cruiser" [Fleet Escort Specific] (Thanks to PetRacoon for submitting!)
Desc: A variant on a build posted... uh, up there somewhere, this one relies on combinations of solid hull resistance and bonus defense to evade and absorb damage, while still allowing light spot healing and medium HoT healing.

Fitting:
2x Neutronium Alloys
1x EPS Power Relay (or) 35% Shield Console
Aegis Set

Skills:
Engineering: EPtS1, EPtS1, Aux2SIF1
Sci: ST1, Haz2

How-To:
I have never used this precise build, but I saw it used to great results in a match earlier, so, with permission, I am posting it here. 2 tactical teams are included in the Tac slots, and can be used for a constant shield balance as earlier stated, and the Aux2SIF + Haz emitters combine with the Neutronium alloys to create a ridiculously high hull resistance. Coupled with the bonus defense of an escort and the Aegis gear, this build specializes in evading and absorbing fire, with a sci team for a spot shield heal and subnuc clear. Whatever healing this build can't do on its own, the resistance stacks buy plenty of time for a friendly cruiser to swoop in and top off your shields. A good tactic with this build is to use your evasive to swoop in and out of range of your enemies; the short duration out of firing range allows plenty of timing for healing with the powerful Haz2 and Aux2Sif1. Do note that this is Fleet Escort specific.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
08-26-2011, 02:18 PM
General Tips and Tricks
"My escort has reverse?"

Part 1: Situational Awareness
The most important, life-saving, enemy-killing, absolute best practice to have as an escort pilot is situational awareness. Knowing where you are, your teammates are, and your enemies are is more important then any weapons loadout, skill advice, or build tricks I or anyone else can give you.
An escort has the ability to change the tide of a battle, for better or worse, and its up to you to decide which it is. Knowing the battlefield can help you make accurate judgement calls on where to be, when to decloak and when not to decloak, and who needs your help. An escort lacks the ability to heal teammates extensively, but it can focus enough firepower on an aggressor to take the attention off of a damaged teammate, or in best case scenarios, kill said aggressor, saving your teammate's life AND scoring a kill. Get in the habit of glancing at the teammate indicator on HUD at the left side of the screen to tell how far your teammates are. If you see a teammate 25km away, and his shields are failing, chances are he is engaged, and may benefit from the extra firepower of an escort. In the inverse, if that teammate engaged by several enemies, it may not be a good idea to help, as you will be effectively giving the enemy 2 kills instead of just one. If you're approaching a group of enemies, and ALL your teammates are 25km away, it may not be the best idea to decloak or proceed, as you will quickly find yourself focus fired and probably destroyed. If you're alpha striking a target, and notice a small splatter of damage on your rear shield facing, don't just brush it off as irrelevent! Spin your camera around to see WHAT is attacking you. If its a pet, fine, carry on and ignore it. If its another Defiant, it might be time to change targets or at the very least, activate some extra buffs to protect your glass cannon. Also keep in mind static hazards in the map, like Briar Patch, or rogue warp plasma that a cruiser dropped earlier. Mines are also important to keep track of, as they can decloak you with little to no trouble, thus ruining your alpha strike and revealing your position to those who would see you dead. Be aware of possible cloaked ships; when fighting FvF, if you're in a 5v5 and only see 4 enemies, chances are one is cloaked, and he/she might be lying in wait until YOU decloak. Use that, and bait your would-be killer by "faking" an alpha strike, and once he decloaks to attack you, spin around with a full alpha and return the favor. I can't tell you how many times I've seen Defiants get "tunnel vision" when attacking something, and I've been able to score an easy kill because they didn't think I was enough of a threat to warrant turning around. Also, be aware of what buffs and debuffs are on your ship. If you get subnuced, its a good idea to either beg your team for a Science Team, clear it yourself, or run the hell way.
Keep an eye on your ship, too, it gives valuable information on what's going on; if you're glowing purple, chances are a Har'Pheng is about to detonate and deprive you of valuable hull points, so hit your Hazards to clear it.
Situational awareness saves lives, prevents losses, and scores kills. Use it. Keep your head in the game, and your eyes open, and you'll notice a huge difference in your game.

Part 2: Retreat (better known as, "FLEE, FAT***, FLEE!!!")
This goes hand in hand with situational awareness. No matter how many enemies whine and moan in zone chat because you ran away, do not EVER be afraid to do so. The BEST BEST BEST defense in this game is >10km. Nothing can hit you outside that 10km bubble, unless you're already tagged with a 'Pheng. (Hazards, anyone?) Retreating will save your life, will prevent a notch in someone's belt, and will keep your enemies score one kill lower. There is no shame in retreating in an Escort, it is in part one of your only defensive options, so do not be afraid to use it. Attack Pattern Omega will clear tractor beams, as will polarize hull. EPtE will restore power to disabled engines, as will engineering team and engine batteries. Evasive maneuvers is not your "look at my fancy flight pattern" button, it is your run away button. Don't hesitate to use it.

Part 3: Agility (Yes, your escort has reverse)
I see this all the time, and it gets escorts killed. Silly Defiant pilots with Aegis gear running primary power to weapons and secondary to shields. What's wrong with this, you ask? You're a Defiant, you have no shields! That power is better suited being assigned to your engines, affording you a higher defense score (less shots hit you) and more speed and agility. (easier to close distance, easier to escape, easier to keep your target in your arc)
The other tip for this chapter is don't over shoot your target! As an escort you want to focus fire on one shield facing as often as possible; you can't do that if you overshoot your target. But don't stop! That lowers your defense score to 0, making you VERY easy to shoot. Instead, throw it in reverse. This will give you some defense score, as well as activating the Thoron Distortion Field effect of your Aegis gear, giving you even more defense. You'll also notice its remarkably easy to keep your target in your arch when backing up. Try it sometime! It will take practice to get used to. Practice on NPCs if you need to, to get the hang of it before taking to the Cracked Planetoid.

Part 4: Power Levels
Now, contrary to what I wrote above, you should not ALWAYS have your power levels locked at primary weapons, secondary to engines. When running away, I highly advise you switch to a profile with primary to engines and secondary to either shields or aux; your guns will be of no use since they'll ideally be pointed AWAY from the fight. Use your best judgement on which to secondary; if your build uses things like Hazards or Aux2Sif, use Aux, if not, use shields as hopefully the extra resistance and recharge will save your bacon.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
08-28-2011, 02:07 AM
I'm really disappointed this has gotten over 200 views and not a single reply.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
08-28-2011, 02:29 AM
If you want props for writting it then sure. Nice post. If you want the reason no one is commenting is because every newbie comes on the forums and starts their own thread for help with escorts. Then they get 30 replies with different information. They wont find this thread easily or at all.

Edit - What he said below!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
08-28-2011, 02:31 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by StrykerV
If you want props for writting it then sure. Nice post. If you want the reason no one is commenting is because every newbie comes on the forums and starts their own thread for help with escorts. Then they get 30 replies with different information. They wont find this thread easily or at all.
Its not that they don't find the thread. They usually just don't bother to look.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
08-28-2011, 03:46 AM
It's always good to read other people's perspectives on this. I like to compare them with my own preferences and oftentimes I learn something new.

Thanks for posting, good read!
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
08-28-2011, 04:17 AM
Can also attest to the fact that The Pocket Cruiser does very well in STFs. You wont die from a cube going boom or a HY Plasma or shield neutralizers.. At least on RA.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
08-28-2011, 07:41 AM
Good post, very comprehensive. The problem is you do get a ton of different ideas about the BEST loadout. Your post pretty much covers all the recommended ones.

I didn't see you put reverse shield polarity in any of the builds. I see EVERYONE with this. It's actually kind of annoying, you get someone down do nil shields and bam, full shields. That's why I run it.

I would like to see posts about OTHER escorts. Defiants seem to be the "de facto" choice, but I am in between running the Fleet and Advanced Escort MVAM.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
08-28-2011, 12:08 PM
Fortunately there is no best loadout.

They're all subject to opinion and situational usefulness.

One build may work better solo, while others may work better in groups, ect ect.
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