With Season 5 we saw a revamp of the often maligned STF (Special Task Force) missions that form a good part of Star Trek Online's endgame content.
Under the previous system these missions consisted of three (let's ignore Terradome...for now) big missions designed for a team of five players (none of those namby pamby bridge officers here) which would take a decent team an hour or so, and for a PUG (Pick Up Group) would take several hours, or possibly result in being uncompleted due to poor communication or just bad synergy.
This guide is to help you through the STF's - I'm not going to give away every secret, but I'm going to help you with basic setup, where to go and what to do, how to go for that optional you're missing, and how to avoid your fist and your monitor becoming a bit too closely acquainted...
That was the Past
The 3 Borg related STF's have been split into six smaller, bite sized missions accessible via the PVE (Player vs Environment) queue system.
Khitomer Accord Space
Khitomer Accord Ground
I have presented this list in 'story order', that is the order they were presented in before hand, and which should you take the time to read the story, it follows. I shan't explain the story in this post - that'll come later on, but I would like to offer out some advice on completing these missions.
I'd also like to point out this thread which contains information on the rewards for the STF's and why you might want to run them.
What to bring to the party:
It's worth noting that there are a number of possible gear setups that are quite viable for the STF's and which one you choose is up to yourself, there are however some important elements to note regardless of your choices. Ground Regenerators: I'm putting this first, as if you play on elite, you will die. And when you respawn or are revived, you have a good chance of taking an injury, this has a detrimental effect on your ability to complete the mission, I would suggest 40 each of Major and Minor for each run, just in case. Keep these (and any criticals you find) in your bank, they work just fine from there, and hitting 'U' to bring up your paper doll and clicking injuries will let you use these to heal any damage. They can be bought (with the exception of criticals) from Device vendors on all major starbases. An Expose Weapon - something such as the Pulsewave or stun pistol is particulary good, they have lower fire rates but do decent damage. I suggest these two as they give you a choice of AOE (Area of Effect) or single target weapons. Both have their uses and I'll explain more as I tackle the individual missions later. It's worth noting that I would advise against Minigun at this time as due to it's incredible rate of fire the Borg can adapt to it very quickly causing you to have to remodulate quickly. Your choice of energy flavour is up to you, Plasma can be quite wasted as you'll tend to take down Borg so quick that the DoT (Damage over Time) is wasted. Antiproton, Tetryon, Polaron and Phaser are recommended. MK X Blue for normal, Mk XI Purple for Elites. An Exploit Weapon- To exploit the exposes obviously! Exploits deal extreme damage to any enemy and are particularly useful with some of the tougher Borg but will help you deal with all the Borg. It is highly suggested that you bring a different flavour to your expose weapon to prevent the Borg adapting to your weapons too quickly. MK X Blue for normal, Mk XI Purple for Elites.
ArmorMK X Blue should be the absoloute minimum for 'Normal' STF's, Mk XI Purple for Elite STF's. Polyalloy can be handy if you're likely to get up close and personal with the Borg, and you ARE likely to. Others may have different preferences here, Plasma [Pla] resistances are handy, as are modifiers that knockback enemy or boost your own health points. ShieldsShields follow the same level suggestions as Armor, and I would also suggest similar modifers, with the exception that having a [Cap] or [Reg] modifier can be extra helpful as your shields will take a definite pounding, the extra capacity or increased regeneration speed can make the difference between taking blows to your health or to your shields. KitsNow I primarily play an Engineer so my main expertise is there, but kits tend to fall into two categories - Supportive (Buffs and Heals) and Offensive (debuffs,attacks, exposes) If you're serious about being helpful to the team I'd say have at least one of each. Engineering Kits
As an engineer I carry Fabrication Specialist - the pets here (turrets, mortar etc) are great for a bit of extra damage, or for other uses (see: The Cure, Ground). I also like Enemy Neutralization - this helps debuff enemies which makes it easier for the tacticals or other damage dealers to take the enemy down. The mines and transphasic bomb in this kit also deal some awesome kinetic damage through shields when used well.
Medic, or Borg Medical are great kits for keeping your team alive if you're having a tendancy to spend a lot of time face down on the floor. I haven't seen the Borg Medical kit drop since the revamp so it may be in limited supply, but the nice thing is in addition to team heals and buffs it also contains Tachyon Harmonic which can strip away Borg shields nicely. Both contain Nanite Health Monitor which allows you to play a somewhat passive team support while beating back the Borg.
On an offensive note, try the physician kit, with this you can pack a real punch in close quarters, or help a tactical with a pointy stick do the same. Bioresearch also comes with a high number of expose powers, particular helpful if you're the sort who prefers to carry a couple of Exploit weapons instead of exposes.
Tacticals as you may have guessed have loads of offensive options to them. Close Combat specialist can be nice for avoiding roots with the motion accelerator but to my mind does little to offer your more offense, and that's what you should be gunning for.
Operative: A must have for The Cure optional in my opinion, it can be done without, but it's certainly a damn site easier with.
Battle Strategies is your assist kit, plasma grenades give a nice AOE, Battle strategies helps your teams DPS and supressing fire can cut down on some of that heavy fire the Borg are known to throw about.
Grenade satchel isn't subtle, but there are few Borg who can stand to a mass of plasma stun and photon grenades, the Smokes can also be nice if you're trying to bypass the Borg for any reason, just don't through them at Armek.
Squad leaders my favourite: the photon grenade can knock the Borg about before a full engagement and the Smoke reduces their ability to target you. Overwatch boosts your damage resistance, and debuffs the enemies Win Win, and it does the same for nearby allies too. Rally Cry gives a damage bonus and health bonus to nearby allies - your only healing kit as a tactical.
So, now you have your kits, weapons, armor and shield. What are we going to put in those device slots? Hyposprays: Buy large, anything else is worthless, and they're always good in a pinch. (Science may not need these due to their large number of heals) Energy Cells: Again - large, not like you spend energy credits on ships anymore...Nice for putting an extra punch in your opening salvo (Tacticals can perhaps do without if needs be) Shield Charges: Grab the large, pop them to prevent your shields falling at that critical moment, a large will restore most, if not all of your shields. Frequency Remodulators: DO NOT FORGET THIS, as you know if you watch Star Trek, have casually heard of the Borg, they adapt - meaning after 4/5 shots they bring up shields (this is represented by a green glow in game and ADAPTED appearing above their heads. When this happens switch to your other weapon, and following that hit the remodulator (this should be in a device slot on your captain, and in your power tray to use, just like a kit power) the remodulator takes 4 seconds to activate, it doesn't sound long but it can be a very vulnerable time - pick well and don't be afraid to use the melee attack if you can't remodulate safely.
Variations of these items offering extra resistances or damage types are available via the Defera invasion crafting table.
Other items to consider: Tribble of Borg: A C-Store item, this little fella provides damage resistance and damage buffs vs the Borg, if you don't want to plonk down points for him it's worth taking another tribble that offers resistances, the Crossfire tribble is nice, but many will work well for different reasons. Devidian Cane A handy crowd control item that was the limted reward for the Devidian series - occasionally available on repeat. This item lifts the Borg in the air and gives you a small portion of their health points. Synchronic Proton Distortion Prototype Assault Rifle A unique rifle from the Devidian chain of missions, (Spin the Wheel) This weapon deals Antiproton AND Proton damage in its different modes, this can be helpful to avoid the remodulation of Borg (giving you three weapon types to cycle before remodulating) and also helps in The Cure vs Armek.
Space is going to vary a lot depending on what you're flying, Escorts, Cruisers and Science ships fly in quite distinctly different ways, but the basic gear you carry should be quite similar.
Components: I'm putting this first, as if you play on elite, you will die. And when you respawn or are revived, you have a good chance of taking damage, this has a detrimental effect on your ability to complete the mission, I would suggest 40 each of Major and Minor for each run, just in case. Keep these (and any criticals you find) in your bank, they work just fine from there, and hitting 'U' to bring up your paper doll and clicking Damaged! will let you use these to heal any damage. They can be bought (with the exception of criticals) from Device vendors on all major starbases.
Weapons: Lots of energy weapons, Mk X Green for Normal, MK XI Purple for Elite
Projectice Weapons - Don't bother with mines, it's all about the torpedoes. Think quantums if you want to play it safe, but escorts in particular can do well with a good range. Plasma does nice DoT on gates, cubes, etc, photons maintain higher DPS if you're good with them. Transphasics tend to be….poor - leave them in the bank, Tricobalts pack a nice punch but provide much lower overall DPS so generally aren't as handy. Chronitons are a science ships favourite providing a bit of extra crowd control by reducing DPS.
Beams or cannons? If you're an escort spec out on Cannons, spare a slot for a forward firing torpedo, and a slot somewhere for a beam for Beam Overload 3 if you have it (or maybe Target Shields 3). If you're a cruiser or Science ship I'd recommend beams all the way, an array of Fire at Will, Beam Overload, Target systems makes beams a much more versatile choice and gives you a hell of a broadside to compensate for your slower turning compared to escorts.
Engines, Shields and Deflector: I always say play to your strengths, you know your bridge officers by now and know which science boosts you need for your bridge officer slots so bring a deflector to match, the best you can buy.
Shields: Resilient for escorts to take some of the battering, but I prefer covariants for other ships as you can stand the pounding longer.
Engines: Take your pick, something that gives you some degree of resist to tractor beams would be nice, but otherwise knock yourself out. Engines seem to offer little in the way of real perks. That said it may be worth considering something that gives you an extra burst of speed as being in the right place at the right time can make the difference between winning and losing.
Sets: The retro Borg set (assimilated shields, deflector and engines) are still a very popular choice, as are the crafted Aegis set. The MACO, Honour Guard and Omega Force sets don't seem to match up quite yet…more on those in the future once they've had the talked about balance pass and I've had chance to try them out. The Retro Borg set, put simply, helps you tank well - it gives lots of shield heals when you least expect it and frankly, any survivability you can get, helps.
Devices: Batteries, lots of them - weapons are a must, and shields too, but I like the Red Matter Capacitor if you have it, as well as engines for the afore mentioned maneuvarability.
Consoles: I won't mention C-Store consoles as these can be maddening if you don't have them all, and none of them are needed to complete the objectives (though I'm sure some do help!) but I'd recommend going for weapons boosts for tactical slots, and power boosts for engineering - science obviously play to your Boffs.
:pWork In Progress: Please take the advice as such.
To Come: Bridge Officer Powers, Which ship to fly, and differences vs normal PVE:p
I just added some strategy write-ups to the STO wiki for the Infected & Cure space missions. I've beat the optional objectives multiple times on Elite using those strategies, feel free to copy / adapt them as you see fit. The more people who know these strategies, the better.
Until today the space portions had either not had strategies attached or been pre-season 5.
What you have so far is very good, and a great help for newbies. One thing I would suggest adding to the weapon section though is a discussion of which weapons to use; i.e. weapons like snipers being advantageous in that they have a higher damage per shot, so you get to deal more damage before the borg adapt, etc. I've seen too many people running around with phaser miniguns or tetryon dual pistols for my piece of mind the few times I've ventured into the public queues.