I've been noticing, recently, that a lot of people are flying Cruisers. A LOT. Specifically the Odyssey. For every Escort or Science Vessel I see, I could count 5 Cruisers. And, out of those 5 Cruisers, odds are at least ONE of them is an Odyssey. Usually, it'll be 2 or 3 (to the community's credit, that used to be a lot higher). People always complain that they tun slowly, so why are they BY FAR the most popular ship type in Starfleet? Well, let's examine each type, shall we?
SECTION 1: AVAILABILITY.
A big reason of this would be the SELECTION. Let's tale a look at the Playable Starship table over at STOWiki. I'm not going to get into the Fleet Ships, those are just buffed rehashes of what we had before. At lieutenant, we have 4 ships. The Oberth is the Science Vessel (C-Store only), the NX is the Escort (C-Store only), and there are TWO cruisers at this tier (one is C-Store only). The trend has already emerged. If we follow that chart down, the status quo doesn't change. One ship each, then the Retrofit off the C-Store. This is the same for Lt. Cmdr, Cmdr, and Captain.
Then we hit Admiral, and the status quo packs it's bags and heads for the hills. Two Escorts (no C-Store versions), 4 Science Vessels (2 C-Store only)... and FIVE Cruisers (2 non-C-Store, one straight purchase, and 2 C-Store Gamble ships). At VA, ALL ships are C-Store (I, however, remember getting my Fed Sci his free Intrepid Retrofit when he hit VA - they need to re-add that). Five MORE cruisers to three Escorts and TWO Science Vessels.
The grand total is as follows:
Getting the Bronze in this category is the Science Vessels, with only 11 variants. The silver goes to the Escorts, with 12. Getting the gold is, of course, the CRUISER, at a whopping EIGHTEEN variants of the lumbering giants. So, they get a point. There's more cruisers than other ships, but no cruiser is a Carrier. Odd.
SECTION TWO: STATS.
For the purpose of standardized comparison, I'll be using the Assault Cruiser, the Advanced Escort, and the Reconnaissance Science Vessel. We'll start off with the most obvious stuff: Power Bonuses. Everyone should know these. Cruisers get +5 to all, Escorts get +15 weapons, and Science Vessels get +15 Aux. So, Escorts hurt more, Science uses more powers, and the Cruisers just balance. That should mean Escorts should win.
The next piece of obvious piece is Base Turn Rate. The Assault Cruiser does 7 degrees per second. The Recon Science Vessel gets 13 d/S, and the Advanced Escort peels off with 15 d/S. So, Escorts turn better.
Technobabble enthusiast will understand the next stat already: Shield modifiers. This is the number your base shield capacity gets multiplied by before bonuses get applied to give you your base shield on that ship. Cruisers, in this case, are the baseline, with a shield modifier of 1. This means, with NO boosts, if a shield says 5,000 capacity, you get 5,000 capacity. On the low end are the Escorts, at 0.9. With no boosts, a shield saying 5,000 on the tooltip will only get you 4,500. So, the Escorts have something of a deficit in the shields department. Science Vessels, however, gain a big ol' 1.3 modifier. This means that a tooltip that says 5,000 will net you 6,500 instead. They can pull their weight in shields. Science Vessels take the cake here.
Finally, it's time for the real gap... Base Hull. The short stick got pulled by the Recon Science Vessel, she only has 27,000. The Advanced Escort, endeavoring to be the middle child, sits on a firm 31,000. A modest difference, an Escort can take an extra torpedo. However, the Assault Cruiser ate too many cakes in its youth, and sits on a fat 39,000. So, for eating too much cake, the Cruiser gets another one.
So, in this category, everyone meets up pretty evenly. No points here.
SECTION 3: POTENTIAL POWERS.
This section is all about BOffs. What kind of powers can your lackeys slot in? I'll continue with the base ships from Section Two.
The Advanced Escort has 7 Tactical power slots, 2 Engineering power slots, and 3 Science power slots. This is clearly a damage spec. Those tactical slots could be firing every gun 9001 times a second. They bring pain.
The Recon Science vessel has 7 Science power slots, 3 Tactical power slots, and 2 Engineering power slots. This guy is gonna make things WEIRD. Black holes and subspace tears will appear all OVER the place! This ship flies in and turns the fight into an episode of the Twilight Zone.
But the Assault Cruiser... the number of frakks given by the Assault Cruiser is negative. This big bucket of bolts is bursting with 7 Engineering powers, 3 Tactical powers, and two Science powers. This guy can bring every healing and resistance power known to MAN. The damage from the Escort can just be healed back, and the Science Vessel is wasting its efforts.
So, we've looked at the ships. They've all got their niche. However, the winning of the Cruiser has become apparent. They're too much like real-life Tanks... take ALL the enemy fire and still have the ability to blow enemies sky high. Plus, there are more varieties of Cruiser. Overall, it's a lot stronger, especially considering that late-game enemies (the Borg) have a lot of durability AND damage, requiring them to be tanked. So, how can the other ships come up to par?
For one, there could stand to be a few more Escorts. They're small, Starfleet should have no trouble producing them. They could also stand to gain a passive, like the Science Vessels having Subsystem Targeting and Sensor Scan. Maybe, Escorts could get B:Faw, B:O, C:Rapid, and C:Scatter for free, with a special passive for Strafing runs (first consecutive volley deals 5% more damage, only reactivates on a weapon after that weapon has not fired for 7 seconds, plus a bigger Defense boost while moving).
Science Vessels are a good mid-ground for ships; they can take a decent beating, they can have the highest shields in the game, and they cam make things wonky. They have a passive, and an ability gain. Their main issue is that they don't have the damage they need unless it's a long, drawn-out 1-on-1. But, they're decently well-balanced and good in a select few situations. There could be a few more of them, too.
CHARACTER GRID (@Lord-Ice): ___ |___ _ Fed ____| ____ _KDF __ ____| Rom Tac_|_Thomas Hale_| __ __Illusion _____| Silence (K) Eng | ___Antilles _ _| _ Mirror Rygobeth__| N'Vek (F) Sci _| __ Rygobeth _| _Lukor Son of Q'Tar | Devala (F)