Space combat in this game can be rough at times, especially if you are outnumbered or outgunned, and don't have the optimal load for your ship (and sometimes even when you do). So how to you ensure you live to fight another day in a less than ideal situation?
- Know your ship and yourself.
Every gamer has a style that they prefer above all else. Play your combat to that style. Make whatever adjustments to your keyboard, hotkeys, HUD, etc that you need to in order to feel the most comfortable during combat. The best situation you can find yourself in will be one where everything flows naturally and you never have to take your eyes off of what your ship is doing and where it's at in the zone.
You should also be familiar with your ship's capabilities. Memorize which weapons you have, what the hotkeys and abilities are for each of your Bridge Officers, and be able to use them without looking away from your ship on the screen. THIS IS VITAL! In order to win easily, you need to watch the action, not the hotbars! If you get something new on your ship, go familiarize yourself with it pronto!
- Know your enemy.
This is actually a lot easier than people think. Watch your target as you fight it. Is it faster than you? Better at turning? Loaded to the gills with Disruptors? The more information you can gather about it during combat, the quicker you'll be able to defeat it next time you face one. That, and knowing what it's capabilities are is extremely useful in both defense and offense.
Some people (not me) like to memorize stats and mechanics. I say more power to you, but it's not necessary to know how your enemy works.
STO is great in the way of space combat mechanics. But it's also one of the most basic designs of game combat. Yes, really, and no, I'm not dissing the game or the devs. If you've never played Sid Meier's Pirates, or pretty much any pirate game with ship to ship combat, you need to! This will give you a basic understanding of firing arcs, importance of turning and angle to a target, and help you develop a feel for the space combat in STO. But let's assume you didn't play those and have been hiding under a rock somewhere until now.
First, understand that your ship is in one of three categories when facing an opponent: Advantaged, Equal, or Disadvantaged. Lets look at the first one.
This means that your ship is better in one or more aspects than your target. Often times, you have better weapons, or better shields, or better speed. You need to determine which specific advantages your ship has during the fight. This will help you determine which tactics work best.
This means your ship is the same as your opponents. THIS RARELY HAPPENS EVER! If you think it's happening often, then you aren't looking for an advantage hard enough. On the rare occasions when it does happen, your skill and ease with your game interface will determine the winner. Which means that even though the ships are equal, the players are not, as often is the case with an AI or NPC. Which also means, you're aren't equal. The only case where I've seen it happen is the whole parallel universe thingy. And that is just ridiculous.
This means you're going to have a long tough fight ahead of you. First thing you need to do in this situation is determine at which point you will run. No, not joking at all. A good pilot will always set an event or situation as an early fail point, and run when it happens. Can't fight another day if you don't. Finding that spot is more art than science. My personal one for STO is 50% hull, shields less than 30%, and 30 seconds or more on my cooldown for the Engineering team or Boost to Shields, and my enemy is less damaged than I am. At that point, I still have some time to get clear of the fight, but not enough time to continue to duke it out.
A common misconception with being in this category, is lack of imagination. A proper application of skills, resources, and ingenuity can quickly turn the tide in battle. Is your enemy outgunning you? Then minimize your damage with some manuevers. Is your enemy faster than you too? Perhaps a little close combat is in order. Nothing is a waste of effort as long as you aren't past your predetermined fail event. try everything, even if it seems stupid. After all, a stupid idea that works isn't a stupid idea.
Specific Tactics to Use.
A big advantage on the field of battle is knowing how to adapt to your situation. A lot of people will tell you to simply pick one tactic and stick with it. That can work, until you encounter someone who's better than you at that tactic. Then what do you do? Here are some tried and true tactics and Strategies to use out there in combat. (I'm not going to teach you, just brief you on what to do.)
- Slow and Steady.
This is often refered to as "jousting". You simple approach your target, deal as much damage as possible, pass him, fire some more with aft weapons, and then evenutally turn around and come at him again. It allows for your forward shields to recharge, and typically you can do a ton of damage during each run at your enemy. I recommend this tactic for people who's advantage is fast shield recharge and a ton of firepower.
- Fast and Furious
(I hated that movie) This is for anyone with a lot of firepower and more speed than your opponent. Just run circles around them and fire everything you can. Over all, you should be able to overwhelm your enemy with damage alone.
Stop laughing. This is my favorite tactic, and one that took many, many years to master in those pirate games. The idea is that you're combining a bit of both of the tactics above to weaken one side of your opponent, then use that opening to dump as much fire power as you can into their hull. You need to have the advantage of turning, and shield recharge helps, but a true master will not need it, because they know how and when to turn to help evenly distribute the enemy's firepower over all the shields.
- Close Combat
When all else fails, ram them. Or at least, plant your ship on thier hull. This works best against larger opponents than you with slower turning. Im dead serious about the tactic. Pick a part of the hull and just park your ship there. It may seem like a cheat, since you don't take damage from ramming yet, but it's almost a last resort to running, and it works.
Quick End Notes
Almost anyone can use these tactics and tips at anytime. there is no one making you stick with one tactic, or forcing you to keep to it once the battle begins. I encourage you to try everything, learn from you mistakes, and take every opportunity that presents itself.