Having gone through few hundreds of space elites, so now I can finish any of them in about 7 - 8 mins each, getting optional with 99% probability, I have a few thoughts to share.
1. General builds:
Everyone should bring Attack Pattern Beta. This is a must.
If you're packing omega set proc, use it when the shields are down, especially if you see guarambas in the team. And more especially if guarambas are in siege mode. Most guarambas pilots have javelin on stand by and just waiting for the opportune moment to use it. That is usually when the shields are down. Add omega proc to that, you'll get extra 50K damage.
1.1 Standard point escort
2xTT1, 2xCRF, 1xTS, APO, APB
Tech/sci skills to taste. Some people like THY instead. Hell, some people can even stack TS and THY, not sure how they do it (but I sure like to know). Personally I pick TS for more punch across the board.
Qin Heavy Raptors can squese 2xTS at the expense of lower CRF. Or chain Omega... Or beta. Possibilities are endless.
1.2 Standard AoE escort
2xTT1, 2xCSV, 1/2xTS, APO, APB
Tech/sci skills to taste.
Note that CSV3 is hard to get and will drain power like mad. CSV2 works just as good.
If not heavy DPS, cruiser must bring APB.
Spec into heals, thick hull/shields and threat control. You're cruiser for tribble sake!
Don't fly cruiser myself, so can't recommend more, but I do know few odies that can take right probes + right cube solo in KASE, but sadly I've seen a lot more odies gloriously fall to a probe.
I would like to see some sort of strip shields ability on every cruiser build. Perhaps Target Shields Subsystem or similar, since you're packing beams anyway. Or Polaron beams + points into syphon? Why not? Dps is done by escorts anyway.
Drain/disable shields + torpedos are an interesting option to explore.
Again, good carrier can take right probes and right cube on KASE before the attack team finishes left.
Most importantly watch the team chat. I setup separate chat window for team chat with nothing else. I do loose detailed loot info or who needed what, and sometimes I need the green item for I don't see that it is green. Also the chat window is buggy, and on every start I need to switch to team chat, change the drop down to something else, then change it back to "Team", then type "tt" for comms check. Nevertheless. SET UP TEAM CHAT.
Cure is the hardest of all space stf. As a general rule I don't go to cure unless I have 1 or two more good team members, for it's just not worth it. But with a good level of team cooperation cure becomes as easy and almost as fast as Infected.
I dreaded Cure for a while myself, and I still remember my first successful run: we picked a very strong team on Infected, zapped through KASE and pre beta vet took lead on Cure. He suggested "middle cube" strategy and I asked him to explain it in details, cause I didn't quite understand it, but it is always interesting to try something new. We zapped through Cure in 6 or 7 minutes and it was perfect run: everyone knew exactly what to do, every team member was aware of his and others tactical objectives and surrounding. Team chat after the game was full of "wow" and "it was a perfect run".
Since then I've chosen "middle cube" as my default and only strategy for Cure, so here it is:
2.1.1 "middle cube mambo"
AoE Escort takes kang, 1 person can do it easily enuff. 4 ppl in attack team. Attack team should take inital bop on right. Otherwise kang def will need to clear 2 bops from all 3 sides. Some ppl can do it, but it is difficult without compromising kang. Attack team must kill anything heavier than bop on the side they are working on, bops are optional. Do not drop out of full impulse to kill bops if defender is near, as you're normally needed on the attack front. Dropping out of full impulse or loosing on EM means you'll take longer to get where you needed the most.
Good carrier captain can easily take bops on all sides too.
1. Kill right probes - 5 mins
2. kill middle cube - 3 mins
3. 1 strong escort + kang def clears left
4. 3 ppl clear right and kill right cube
5. everyone party on left cube - 3 mins
if it takes longer than 5 mins for 1, I leave the game. Optional will be lost and the rage will ensue in team chat. This is unpleasant and I'd rather do something else.
* kill lower probes first. Easy to do from beneath outside of cube range.
* See alive Raptor or Negwar - concentrate fire on them to kill them quick.
Some ppl prefer "middle probes - right cube - middle cube - left cube" approach. I don't play it as it's taxing on kang defendor for he should dash quickly between right and left, which could be difficult. And everyone flies right on Cure anyway.
2.1.2 "Klingon Style"
Having 1 strong defendor and 4 high dps escort or 3 escorts + good tank, you can just kill the cubes as you go along, i.e. right, middle, left. Time is very important here as after the first cube goes down, 1 should be pulled from attack team to clear spawn on other gate. And the probes has to be destroyed very quickly to avoid additional raptor/negwar spawn.
2.1.3 "Probes - cubes"
Ppl coming from Normal prefer probes - cubes approach. I don't play it anymore either, unless I draw very junior team. For the following reasons:
* Attack team logistics takes too much time - you spent a lot of time travelling. As a result kang defender should defend 3 lanes for longer, it increases chances of error.
* 2 person may be needed on kang, that affects overall attack team performance.
* at some point bops start to come in threes from each side making kang defendor job even more difficult.
Some ppl bring turrets. I do not bother: turrets only fire for first 2 minutes or so (why?!), cd on them is 5 mins. And normally we finish in 7 - 8 minutes, so you only drop 1 turret per game. So stick a subspace field and a large shield battery or red matter if you have it. And I don't like to manage my inventory during the run.
I consider Infected as a quick and dirty run for dil. I also use it to pick up team members for the rest of space STFs.
There is already one metric tonne of material written about Infected, so I won't repeat it here.
1. clean up left transformer - 3 - 4 mins. (11 / 12 min mark)
2. clean up right transformer - 2 - 4 mins (8 / 9 min mark)
3. clean up spheres and gate - 1 - 4 mins ( 7 min mark )
Personally I do not like to take on a cube when it is too close to the gate, as the gate can still one shoot you from any side, despite many so called "fixes". It's just as easy to fly around the gate and kill it from there.
Just a few notes:
* fighters don't know about 10%. So if there's a carrier in the team, escorts on both sides should be prepared to kill generators quickly.
* Escorts should stick to 1 escort per generator. On the other hand Escorts should help a cruiser or a carrier on transformer. They are slower to turn and generally have lower dps.
* bring attack pattern beta.
* if you packing omega proc, use it when cube shields are down, same for sensor scan.
Since I've learned how to solo cubes on KASE with 100% success rate, I find it the most boring of all space STFs. It's not as fast paced as Infected, nor does it have challenging battles like Cure, for Raptor and Negwar under a cube are challenging and I'm always happy when I manage to kill them both without duying. And given typical 9 minutes run on KASE 5 of those you're spending either travelling or banging thick structures.
Donatra is one stingy old hag.
DO NOT spawn a cube if you can kill it quickly enough. It creates problems for probe defenders as the cube wanders into the field, and then it takes 1 or 2 escorts to drop their current tactical objective and manage the cube. And in general it disrupts fast travelling across the field because you have to wait for Red Alert to expire, travel, engage, then wait for Red Alert to expire again and then travel. Or burn EM which you may use for something else.
My personal preference to kill all generators before taking on cubes as when the cube blows on top of transormer it damages it, which in the end saves time. Normally I explain in the team chat that I will take out outer generators so that rest of attack team can take out two inner ones. And you can tell good player by how he tries to fly to outer generators first.
By now I consider a perfect run for kase when 2 gates are blown exactly at once, so there's no sphere spawn, and when Donatra dies before first cloak.
2.3.1 "3 + 1 + 1"
2 people on probes right and left
3 ppl attack team, starting far left, working clockwise. Everybody goes left on KASE anyways.
Leave left gate at 10% with one person guarding it and the probes. When right gate reaches 10 - 30% depending on dps, group leader gives command to kill left gate.
This is simple and effective strategy that works well for any pug team. Moreover our general "all star team" didn't notice any significant improvement on other strategies. Most of the time is still spend pounding the gates.
2.3.2 2 + 1 + 1 + 1
Sometimes a superstar player wishes to take a side on his own in this case 2 ppl on probes, 2 main attack team, and one person soloes the other side on his own. In my experience it doesn't save time at all because the more ppl you have in the attack team the better "Attack My Target" and APB powers perform.
2.3.3 2 + 2 + 1
Good teams can choose strong AoE escort to defend both lanes (this is not too hard - even I can do it). Then 2 attack teams (one dps escort in each) clean up both sides simultaneously. In order to work effectively one needs to even out dps in attack teams. That way gates can be brought down almost at the same time.
In short flotilia admiral or "a leader among equals" since we're all Admirals anyway. I personally believe that Admiral title should be something that requires more achievement. But in this game everything boils down to "korean grind", so don't quote me on that.
Traditionally this title belongs to the person who hosts a game, all orders should come from him. Do not try to issue commands yourself, especially if you're invited to a group with 4 ppl in it already, they may have played 20 games right before this one, group dynamics and chain of command is already established there, and you'll just look foolish. And defo will not be invited again.
* Group dynamics
Some people find it funny to drop a turret by the gate on Infected so it aggroes the cube, and then enjoy the chat rage that follows. Sense of humor and a good portion of self irony will help in that situation as in life in general.
Sadly Kerrat is gone now, and there's no place anymore where you can vent off your steam, fire insults, kill members of opposing fraction while earnin' dil and experience. Now that unused rage will spread equally across other channel in equal amounts.
* Sensor Scan - does -dmg res proc stack? The icons are hard to understand.
* Sometimes Donatra can't cloak - why? Power drain? Sensor Scan + SubNuce? Anybody? She's nasty hag, and I'm sure a lot of ppl would like to kill her as fast as possible.
* When I droped turrets on cure they fire for first 2 mins or so, then they stop firing. Why?
* Why on earth there's "kick" button on team management window but it is always greyed out? Normally if a one person is being thick I ask team to disband and recreate, but having a kick button working would make life a lot more easier.
* Aggro calculation is a big mystery. Simply how does it work? Why do I get aggro even before I used any ability not to mention firing a weapon.
The good thing about STF missions is that they teach team work, survavibility, situation awareness, tactical and strategic thinking. But the loot system is horrible. It escapes me why do we still have green mkX drops on EliteSTF and I see one gold box in perhaps 50 games. Not to mention that out of 600 or so STFs I played across 6 toons I have yet to see a purple tactical weapon console. Gosh, for all know they only exist on exchange. Or last night we played very good CSE with 7.5 minutes left in timer, but the optional loot was only mkXI blue shield and deflector. The whole team just went "wha?!" or more likely "why bother?". Myself included.
This leads me to thinking that a reward system is broken, because on one hand it is essential to have high level of team work to achieve the objections, but on another there's no appropriate reward for it.
Not to mention the mkXII veteran gear drop. I personally know few people with 300+ KASE runs but no proto deflector. They are all excellent players, but when my newly created toon receives proto deflector on it's 6th STF run, it really annoys them. (Hell, I would give that deflector to them, just to make them happy, cause it doesn't mean a lot to me.) As it is annoying when an ody we put on probes, misses a probe, gets killed a few times and grabs proto deflector at the end. As if the proto tech was included into optional grab loot I'd have no problem passing on it for them.
I'd personally like to see an additional +100K ec reward for each extra minute left on optional for each team member or a dilithium, something to make it worthwhile.
I know it is problem for some ppl when I ask the team to pass on purple salvage in optional roll for 1 member who doesn't have all gear yet. I remember spending 2 weeks of constant runs just to get full mk xii outfit, so now if a team agrees to it I'll happily pass on optional pbs for 1 member. Few reasons: full set of borg mk xii usually shelves 20s off per each member or so. If all 5 are equipped that 5 * 20 = 100 seconds. Almost two minutes. Hell, I'd go for it.
On top of it we usually get pbs drop in optional every second or third game and 2 pbs in optional are not that uncommon. So that's roughly 10 games or so to equip fully.
Couple it with that it usually takes about 10m total for each space elite for set team, we can run 6 of them in an hour.
Many kudos goes to all patient people for help, patience and time to explain to me simple and complex stuff in this game. Hell, there's still a lot to learn in this game, and I'm still learning. I like to name few of them exceptionally:
Kruul for his help, patience, guidance and a wealth of information that he's given me already. And for showing me how fun KDF side can be, despite my intial dislike for red interface. I'm sad that it happened the way it is, and I hope that you're not mad at me anymore.
Aug, Asphe, Azgul, Rolf and Ben-o for being my all star team and sticking with me despite my obsessive compulsive command disorder. Rolf personally for being the finest carrier captain I've pleasure to fly with, Kitty for being the finest ody captain, and Aug for being the best wingman I flew with (hell, he can clear all Cure all by himself, I just stand by and clear small pieces).
Atma for setting up higher goals for me to achieve in the future
For all other friends in my friend list too as I'm still not sure about people privacy expectations in this game, so I won't list them.
And to all other players in this wonderful game world as you're making in what it is - alive, social and vibrant.