With the revamped fleet mark rewards for the various fleet events, I've found myself playing a bit more of the events, at least during the bonus periods. I'm not really sure what the best events are for the mark to time expended ratio, but I've always been fond of Starbase Blockade to some extent, perhaps because it requires a bit more skill than just random pew pew. Of course, due to that very reason, it can be a very frustrating experience, particularly with a team that doesn't know what to do, or worse, one that refuses to be told what to do. So here are a few tips and tricks I've learned regarding Blockade over the last few months that I thought might help others improve. Some of this may seem obvious, but there are quite a few people who clearly aren't aware of this information.
*BUFFING TRANSPORTS: Unless you can eliminate a group of enemies within a couple seconds of reaching them, the transport is going to need your help, especially if it's been in-system for a while before you got there. It will never do anything to heal or protect itself. The single most important buff you can provide it is Tactical Team. As long as it has some shields remaining in any facing, Tac Team will allow it to automatically redistribute remaining shields to facings that are currently under fire. For the sake of simplicity, let's say a transport has 1000 shields in each facing, that its aft facing is totally down, and that Science Team heals 500 shields to each facing. You can have three people come along and use Sci Team consecutively on the transport while its aft quarter is under fire. That will essentially give it 1500 total shield hp healed, at the cost of the X Team abilities now being on cooldown on three people. On the other hand, one use of Tac Team will automatically move shields from the three other facings to keep healing the threatened quarter as long as the skill is still active. That's potentially close to 3000 shield hp more hits it can take on that quarter. It's true that it will be drawing power away from other facings, but by the time its side facings are in danger, it should be nearly ready to warp out. You should always have other buffs to use on the transport in times of need as well, depending on context. Obviously, if the transport has utterly no shields left anywhere, you'll want to use Sci Team, Extend Shields, or Transfer Shield Strength instead. If it's about to explode, use Hazard Emitters or Engineering Team. Always be aware of what buff the transport needs at the time. And remember, the transports usually need your defensive buffs more than you will.
*KEEP MOVING: The opening comm of the mission tells you this, but it really is important to never stay in one place for too long. The longer you spend defending one transport, the longer another one goes undefended. This is only exacerbated if you decide you absolutely must try finishing off the enemies in a group even after a transport has departed the system or has been destroyed. There will eventually be three transports in the system simultaneously, so it's important to get to where help is needed. I'm not absolutely sure how accurate this is, but I've also been told that the faster all enemy ships in a group are disengaged, the faster they will warp out as soon as their targeted transport is either departed or destroyed. This in turn will allow a new transport/enemy group to warp in sooner. If this is the case, then staying behind to fight enemies once a transport is gone not only pulls necessary resources away from any other transports that are in-system, but delays more transports from arriving. You might note that even with your team's best efforts, it's very difficult to save any more than 18 transports, with the last three stopping just short of the starbase as time runs out.
*THREAT ASSESSMENT: As a corollary to the previous point, you need to know where to go once you get moving. Some people like to roll as a single team unit. That's great, except that it means there will always be two transports left alone. If the team can wipe out the enemies fast enough to move onto the other two in time, wonderful, but that is seldom the case. If you see a transport out there all alone (apart from the baddies chasing it) and you feel confident that you can protect it, by all means break off from the team. Ideally, the team should be able to break into at least two groups, possibly three if it has any solo-capable ships. If you see five ships all protecting the same transport while two transports are exploding, something is obviously wrong here. If one of your teammates mentions early on that they can handle groups solo, and you have no reason to believe they are full of it, let them do what they're doing and don't fly into their enemy group unless they ask for it. If they can handle themselves, it is a boon to your team and it would be wasteful to assist them needlessly when you can ensure the safety of a different transport.
*ACTIVE DENIAL: Some of the greatest abilities in Starbase Blockade do not involve using your ship's weapons at all. In fact, properly used, science abilities can be king. You may sometimes notice (or yourself use) a ship flying straight into the enemy with Tractor Beam Repulsors pushing everything away. As annoying as misused TBR can be in other missions, it is a godsend for Blockade. Combined with evasive maneuvers and a back and forth sweeping maneuver, you can knock every single enemy well beyond weapons range. You may wish to stick around to make sure none of the enemy get the bright idea to use evasive of their own to catch up, but in most cases, using TBR will focus all their ire on you, which leaves the transport safe and on its way. Gravity Well can work too, but it will only deal with a portion of the enemy group. Used as a supplement to TBR, it can hold back any enemies you may have missed with your sweep, or anything that manages to rush ahead. On the engineering side, Eject Warp Plasma can also work to slow down the enemies, but it is much more difficult to spread to maximize the enemies that get plasma'd.
I've probably forgotten a few important things, so please feel free to add your thoughts on how to maximize the rewards from Starbase Blockade.
So, Tac Team and Transfer Shield Strength on the Transport and then TBR everything else away...basically.
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For the most part. As a sci skipper in a sci vessel (don't know if that necessarily improves the effectiveness of my TBR, but of course you'd need a sci ship for higher level TBR) I can save at least one transport per wave solo, often two if I really have to, without firing a single weapon the whole round. For those who rely on DPS, the rest of the advice still applies.
Your strategies need to differ on the enemy and the type of ship you fly.
An escort is about buying time, use tactical team and either TSS, or HE to keep it alive longer. Mostly you want to use you large buff and kill off as many as possible.
A cruiser is going to be in the battle a bit longer, it should throw buffs then position itself between the enemies and the transport and kill off ships as they close, you have a lot more heals to throw out so you don't even need to kill off the enemies.
Science ships are on easy mode here. Gravity well, TBR and throw heals to the transport, ships out of range pose no threat and can just be ignored.
Carriers need shield drones, even with only 4 drones on a transport all but the strongest groups won't be able to get through their regen.
The borg neutralize shields, the transport is dead with none. Watch for the neutralizer than throw HE to clear it.
The orions will swarm the transport with fighters as many ignorant captains go off to battle the larger ships. If you have shield drones they'll pick the drones off then the transport.
Enemy ships don't actually engage the transport until a player gets to within about 20k, so keep your distance or go at it, don't do anything inbetween.
EPS (and possible TSS for some reason) will give the transport a boost in speed, use them on the transports
There will be 3 transports on the map unless you let them die and it gets staggered, find your strongest players and let them handle one while others pair up.
There are basically 3 types of groups, 0, 1 or 2 battleships. The groups with 2 battleships need to be handles by pros or multiple people.
Starbase Blockade is super easy, so it's rather amazing how many people screw it up. Your number one priority is keeping the freighter alive, not killing each mob.
In addition to the OPs tips:-
Tip 1 - Every ship should have atleast one tactical team (preferably two), extend shields, hazard emitters and/or aux to SIF and transfer shield strength. That should be enough to keep a freighter safe while you deal with the NPC mob.
If you're a carrier use shield repair drones.
Tip 2 - Each mob will generally have two (or less) ships that you can't aggro. Aggro the mob, destroy the ships that can't aggro'd then move onto the next freighter. The aggro'd ships will leave the freighter alone and instead focus on you.
Tip 3 - If you're an escort, use cannon scatter volley.
With my cruiser builds, my basic plan of attack is:
1. Get to transport
2. Drop TT1 on it and any heals that are needed
3. Hit evasive and run a line between the transport and perusers dumping a cloud of warp plasma or Theta radiation between the two parties for an AoE slow. (This snares all of them most times)
4. Hit FaW on beams and start spamming to grab aggro.
5. Dump TT1 and heals again on transport
6. Start moving off in search of next transport (even if most/all persuers are still alive cause it just doesn't matter any more). By then perusers are our of range of transport, attacking me or the transport will survive to warp out by itself without further intervention.
Escorts are almost a waste of time in this mission. They have their place but have to spend too much time just DPSing. And can't single handedly save transports most times in my experience.
Sci's with GW and TBR, and cruisers with FaW and EWP can act better independently to save individual ships as they can slow or move the enemy out of range, then just simply move on to the next ship.
Also, 3 transports warp in at a time. I've seen too many times people bunch up saving just 1 transport while the other 2 get killed. Usually it's the escorts in their pack shark feeding frenzy that I see this most with. Often even if I'm at a transport 1st and they all swarm in to help (which they aren't most times) I just leave it and go and search for and help the other 2 transports as best I can.
And despite having lots of TT1, escorts for some reason neglect to use it on transports.
Probably a solid blockade ship is this years anniversary ships. Ideal setup would be:
2x TT1, FAW2
ET1, A2SIF1, ES2, EWP3
HE1, TSS2, TBR2/GW1
That'd defend transports quite well by itself. 3 of those could handle the whole mission by themselves.
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A couple of other useful things which haven't been mentioned:
Attack Pattern Delta: The Damage Resistance buff is useful when applied to the transport. As soon as your ship gets within range of the transport this should be applied along with a Tactical Team on the transport. Good for ships with an abundance of Tactical BOff slots to have in this instance.
Scattering Field: Apply the extra Damage Resistance to the transport to make it better at shield tanking. Must stay within range.
EPS Transfer: Should be applied to the Transport for a bonus to Engine power and shield resistance; Will aid the transport at reaching the Starbase more quickly and put more distance between it and its attackers. This is an extremely useful buff when applied to the transport.
AMS: Useful for the placate. Should be saved for when the freighter is in dire straits.
Photonic Shockwave: While it's not nearly as useful as heals or TBR this power can be used to break an enemy Tractor beam lock (or multiple locks) on the freighter. Some Science ships with an abundance of Science BOff slots might find this useful for this instance. The repel, although not nearly as useful as TBR, can be used to create some additional distance between the freighter and its attackers as well.
Chroniton Torpedo Spread or Chroniton Mines: Proc chance. Spread is preferable.
Conn Officer DOff - Evasive Variant: Reduces cooldown on Evasive Maneuvers. May run up to 3.
Sample Science ship for a blockade:
TT1, APD1 or TS2
HE1, TBR1, ST3, TBR3
HE1, TSS2, PSW1
Sample Cruiser for a blockade:
TT1, APD1 or FAW2 or TS2
EPTA1, ET2, EWP1, ASIF3
EPTS1, ASIF1, ES2
Sample Escort for a blockade:
TT1, APD1, TS3, CSV3
TT1, APD1, CSV2
You cannot polarize someone else's hull, AFAIK. Just yours. So polarize hull is useless here. No one's gonna tractor you, and if they are, they're tractoring the wrong guy and you're winning, so who cares?
I just experienced what I can only sum up as the greatest example of how NOT to run Blockade that I've ever seen. I've seen bad PUGs, but it was almost as if this one was deliberately daft. I can, without any bravado, truthfully say that I would have been just as well off if I had been solo in the round. With every wave of freighters, I'd do my usual run of diving into the group, throwing several buffs on a freighter, and TBR-bombing the enemy group way far back. The freighter was bloody clear all the way to the starbase. On the first wave, it almost started out looking ok, with me solo on a group as I prefer, and two other people each on the other two freighters. Of course, soon after mine was in the clear, and I started thinking about heading off to assist, I saw both explode. OK, I thought, maybe it's just not a great start. What followed was the rest of the team almost perpetually trailing after the enemy group I had just constructively eliminated as a threat, sometimes after the freighter had already warped out. They would just keep fighting them for no reason, sometimes loitering around for half a minute after the enemy did as though in a state of bewilderment before departing for their next objective. On the rare occasion that they didn't just make a beeline for the enemies I'd just knocked away, they were unable to even once save a freighter that I hadn't already reached first. By the end, 13 freighters were saved, every single one of which I had directly cleared.
Also, on another note, why can't Blockade have level-based match-making? I don't mind occasionally getting the stray lieutenant in a group, but far too often I've come into a round with maybe one other VA, and three people under level 20. It doesn't exactly seem fair for the higher level people if they end up carrying the round. I know the Mirror Universe Incursions have level-gated matches, so why can't this?
Attending Blockade with non-Fleetmates is a waste of time. The penalty you take on your paycheck is huge. Even if the rest of your fleetmates are just you in another window, it's STILL better than a bunch of filthy mutants.