I've gotten a lot of in-game questions during Space STF's from other players along the lines of, "How are you tanking the Borg in your Escort?" and "How are you doing so much damage?" and I've seen several less-experienced players in Escorts getting walloped quickly in STF's, and I don't see a thread about Escort build specifically for them so I figure I'll start one.
Input from anyone else is welcome of course...
1. The General Purpose of Escorts in STF's... DAMAGE!
As an Escort, your primary purpose in an STF is to do as much damage as possible. To this end, an Escort will ALWAYS do its maximum damage using forward facing weapons and pointing directly at a target. Flying around in circles will only reduce your damage per second (DPS) and increase the amount of time it will take to complete the STF, which is critical on Elite runs.
Your Escort layout should reflect this purpose, focusing on heavy DPS forward weapons (Dual Heavy Cannons, Dual Cannons and Dual beams up front, only turrets in the rear) and staying away from less-effective weapon types (Single front cannons, turrets and beams, Rear mounted beams and torpedos).
Escorts also excel at hitting multiple targets at once VIA Torpedo spread and Canon Scatter Volley (Fire at Will with dual beams also works, but is less effective than running all cannons with Scatter Volley). This will allow you in an STF to kill multiple Priority targets at once (Probes headed to the gate in Khitomer Accord, Raptors and Birds of Prey headed for the K'Tang in Cure space, and the Nanite Probes and Sphers in Infected). Canon Rapid fire and Torpedo High Yield do wield more individual target DPS, but for the sake of completing secondary objectives in STF's, spread skills are more important.
Spread skills also allow you to hit multiple other Priority targets, like the smaller Transfer Conduits in Khitomer Accord and Infected and the Probes healing the Cubes in Cure, which can decrease the amount of time it takes to complete the mission.
There are however some unorthodox weapons layouts that will be addressed later on in this thread...
Another thing to note: Your highest damage output will be achieved by running ALL Energy Weapons of the SAME type! This is achieved by running Tactical Consoles for a specific weapon type, like for Disruptors, or Phasers, etc. If you run multiple-weapon types, you have to run a "general" energy bonus tactical console, which gives LESS overall damage increase than the singular weapon types. And running multiple weapon types for the different weapon proc's isn't effective as opposed to going for overall damage increase.
2. As an Escort in a STF, you WILL have to TANK the Borg!
Now that you are doing massive amounts of damage as an Escort in an STF, you will find that MOST of the time you will be the primary target of the Borg! How do you combat this? The best method is the use of quality gear sets along with Proper Bridge Officer Layouts.
The first thing to know about how to survive in an escort is the proper gear to use. The current mainstay of Escort layouts is the use of the Borg set with an Aegis Shield instead of the Borg shield (Borg Console/Borg Engine/Borg Deflector, Plus the Aegis shield). However, if you don't currently have the Borg set (which cost 5 EDC's at the new STF vendors, not that expensive mind you) a full Aegis set will work in the meantime. The important thing about using 3 pieces of the Borg set is that you get both the random Shield proc and the random Hull heal proc, both of which are LIFE SAVERS as an escort!
UPDATE: The MACO MK XI or MK XII (if you are lucky) are now THE BEST Anti-Borg shields in the game! Use one instead of the Aegis shield with the Borg Deflector/Engine if you can.
As for the shield, the reason not to use the Borg shield is due to the low shield strength of Regen shields, which is what the Borg shield is. The extra Tractor beam is useful in STF's, but you will die faster making yourself not so useful... Aegis shields are preferred at the moment due to the extra Shield skill points and the high shield cap. (Note: I've been testing the MACO MK XI shield, and it works well too, Resilient shields on an Escort can keep your hull damage from getting out of hand)
The second important thing about tanking the Borg are your Shield and Hull heals from your Bridge Officers...
The Critical skills for this are: Tactical Team, Hazard Emitters, Transfer Shield Strength, Emergency Power to Shields, and Reverse Shield Polarity. Yes, there are other heal abilities (Science Team/Engineering Team/Auxiliary to Structural Integrity) but they generally have issues with sharing global Cooldowns with other skills or not being very effective against the Borg.
These skills are in two categories... Shield Heals and Hull heals. The only Hull Heal I have listed is Hazard Emitters, because as an Escort you have a VERY limited amount of non Tactical Skils and this is the only critical Hull Heal you need to have.
As for shield heals, these are CRITICAL against the Borg now in STF's and will allow you to tank even the Tactical Cubes for a good period of time. The important and most underrated skill to note here is Tactical Team. Most new folks consider it a useless ability, but it does two VERY important thing for Escorts: Re-routes your shields to the shield face that is taking damage INSTANTLY, and also gives you a small DAMAGE buff! In order to survive as an Escort, you need to run TWO Tactical Teams. Yes, two! Not just one, but two, and use them every time they become available in order to keep your shields routing to stay alive AND give you that extra bit of damage.
The other shield heal skills will depend on what Escort you are flying specifically, but the general Idea is to at the very least use all of them. That means for your Science officer, run Transfer Shield Strength AND Hazard Emitters, and for your Engineer to run Emergency Power to Shields AND Reverse shield Polarity. Transfer Shield Strength is good because it is a damage resist buff AND an over-time shield heal skill, which combines very well with Tactical Team. Emergency Power to Shields is also a general damage resist buff along with a shield heal, its good at keeping your shields from being overwhelmed by high amounts of damage. Hazard Emitters are going to be your Primary and probably ONLY hull heal, which is also a good skill to use to heal other players in the STF with you if they are taking more damage than you are (Life Saver skill). And lastly but not least, Reverse Shield Polarity. RSP is an EMERGENCY only skill for when your other shield skills are used up, but when combined with using Tactical team, will heal ALL your shield facings 100% instantly. This is a GREAT combo to use in STF's when you are tanking as an escort, and it will save your life!
3. Even as an Escort, it might be a good idea to have a Hold Skill for STF's...
Hold skills in both Khitomer Accord Space and Infected space are CRITICAL for completing secondary objectives! In both of these missions, there comes a point (especially in Elite mode) where someone other than a Science ship will have to use a hold on the Borg ships to keep them from getting too close to the Secondary Objectives. It is a good idea to have a hold skill for such an Emergency as to where nobody else but you can stop these ships.
However, as an escort, you will probably have no more than one and possibly none.
Hold skills are these: Tractor Beam (1 target only), Gravity Well, Eject Warp Plasma.
Special "Consoles" or Items with Hold Skills are these: Grappler (NX-01 C-store ship), Full Borg Set Borg Tractor Beam (requires ALL 4 Borg pieces)
Special "Items" with holds are these: Tractor Beam mines (Replace a rear turret with this)
Now, unless you are running an Advanced Escort or Multi-Vector Assault Mode Escort (C-store) or the Jem'Hadar Bug, you won't have enough BO skills left over to use Tractor Beam or Gravity Well, and no escort can currently use Eject Warp Plasma due to the fact it is only a Lt. Commander skill or higher. So if you are using a Fleet Escort or Refit Defiant, consider the fact that you will have to rely on your team to stop the ships or go out and buy the C-store NX-01 for the Grappler console or run a Full Borg set at the expense of Survivability, or use Tractor Mines and reduce your damage output..
4. Shield Distribution
Now that you are an escort and you are sitting their facing your enemy directly instead of doing multiple turns trying to rotate your shield facing to keep your hull from taking damage, the question is "How do I keep my front facing shields up?"
Well the simple answer is Tactical Team. This will rotate your shields from the facings that are damage to even out with the front instantly. In conjunction with your other shield heals, this will keep you from taking hull damage.
However, there are two other methods other than Bridge Officer skills at keeping your forward shields up...
The Arrow Keys and the Shield Distribution Hot key. With your Arrow keys, you have the option of pounding the UP arrow to redirect shields to the front. However, I tend to use a hotbar assigned Shield Distribution button instead, which seems to work just as well (it tries to evenly distribute shields like Tactical team, but not nearly as quickly).
Either method works fine, but that leads us into our next segment...