I've played since beta but lately don't always play regularly - sometimes taking months off at a time. So for me the whole reputation system is "new". At the moment I have Omega Tier 3 and Romulan Tier 2. I have not acquired any of the cool gear yet since I'm kinda lost on what to get.
First of all, where does one obtain the Omega gear? What "store" do I go to to find it? Same question for the Rom gear if that's in a different place. Is it all simply done through the Rep menu?
Secondly, is it wise to get anything before I hit Tier 5? I don't want to waste resources on getting something at Tier 3 just to get the same but slightly better thing at Tier 5.
Once I do reach Tier 5, what are the must-have, "best" items? I have two primary characters: a DPS-based Tac and a Science captain who also likes to win.
Likewise the new Fleet-related stuff is new for me. I am in a Fleet, currently we're at Starbase level 3 (almost 4). I keep seeing mention of special Fleet ships and other Fleet gear, but as above not sure where to go or what to get.
I do contribute to Fleet advancement, and have been accumulating Fleet Credits. I presume this is the currency with which to "buy" the gear, so like above is it best to wait until we have Starbase level 5? (I can see that will take a loooooong time...)
Sorry for the noobish questions - appreciate any answers or advice. Thanks!
the store is part of the reputation system. It's one of the tabs within that faction.
As you level up, projects are added further down labled "Store Unlock" to unlock the item in question. you fill it up as you would the reputation missions. when it's done, it's found under that store tab. the items cost D, but unlike the requstioning projects that grant you one item, you can buy as many as you want.
As for what to get, it depends on your budget. Ie, I went with a blue MXII reman space set instead of purple MXII to save a little.
Most of the old gear that used to drop (MACO / OMEGA) ground/space is stuff you should probably wait until T5 to get. As you said, you don't want to replace for the tiny upgrade, especially considering the considerable dilithium cost on all.
When you reach t5 for Omega, you have your choice of the different space/ground sets. Personally to maximize DPS I use Omega Deflector/Engines and MACO Shield in space, and full set of Omega on the ground. (You might already have some of this, if you played and got drops a while ago)
One thing that you probably want to unlock is the Assimilated Console (T1 Omega) if you don't have it already, and the Kinetic Cutting Beam (T2 Omega). Using those 2 together will give you a very large damage bonus on any ship that has 4 or more energy weapons because of the weapon power, crit bonuses, and "Omega Weapon Amplifier" proc. (Which happens more than you'd think, especially if you use Cannon: Scatter Volley or Beam Array: Fire at Will).
The omega torpedo is T4, and makes a full set with those 2. I don't use it, so maybe get someone else's suggestions on that. I, on the other hand, use the Romulan torpedo.
Romulan reputation might have some good things you could want:
The Romulan universal console (Zero Point Energy Conduit) is really nice. Giving +1.8% crit chance on all your weapons. That is like having all your weapons upgraded (from rare to very rare, or very rare to ultra rare, etc) because you are essentially getting a [CritH] mod on every gun. It also gives a little bit of power and skills, but if you can find a console slot for it, the crit is what you want. (On that note, check out the Tachyokinetic Converter from Lobi store and Romulan tactical bridge officers to max your critical goodness.)
Depending on the weapons you use, consider upgrading to Romulan Plasma Mk XII at Romulan T4. They can be very powerful, once again especially when hitting multiple enemies with a chance to stack a -dmg resist debuff and a plasma DoT. They are fantastic weapons, especially if you are looking at beam arrays. And they gain extra bonus damage from the romulan set and/or science consoles.
Fleet ships are great. In fact, between the fleet ships and the paid ships (c-store or lockbox), we have created a tier 5.5 of ships. If your ship has only 9 console slots, it is Tier 5: so look for an upgrade from your fleet shipyard. Different ships can be upgraded at different shipyard tiers, so depending on what you fly with your captains you may already have access to a fleet version of the ship you want. (Higher tiers only offer different ships, not necessarily better)
Fleet Equipment can also be very good, and quicker to obtain than the reputation gear.
The [Acc]x2 [Dmg]x2 advanced fleet weapons are very good, and on the Federation side the Elite Fleet weapons will have LESS dps, so get the advanced ones if you are focussing on dmg (The Fed elite weapons will heal your shields).
Advanced Fleet Engines are also very good, get the one that fits you best. The elite fleet engines will lose a bit of maneuverability to give you a tiny bit of power in systems you likely never use (don't fall into the trap, always look at space items while in system space. People often thing that the elite fleet engines are giving them weapons power, and unless you run weapons power at 50% or less, they dont)
Elite Fleet Shields, available at Science T4 are "Very good" for PVE content (if you have the correct resist) and "Fantastic!" in PVP. Much better in PVP because of the Adaptive ability that won't be too good against slow firing NPCs but great against fast firing enemy players.
Buy Fleet Ships ASAP.
Assimilated Module and Cutting Beam ASAP.
Fleet [Acc]x2 Guns or Romulan Plasma Guns
There are two types of projects that let you get items once you have the neccesary Reputation tier.
"Store Unlock" projects, as mentioned above open up tabs when you click the 'Store' icon next to the 'Status' and 'Contribute' ones in the reputation interface. Everything costs Dilithium, but you can buy however many you want.
'Requisition' projects are for a single piece of gear with costs to match. You only get that single piece of gear so put your projects in wisely! You can't cancel them once you've started.
Since you're a returning player you might have some Omega/MACO/Borg Adapted gear already, in which case you definitely want to wait for Tier V to get the Mark XII stuff.
If not you probably want to pick up any Mark X gear you want and save up for the XII stuff while doing reputation.
An additional qualifier for Fleet Gear, you have to check your fleet rank and see if you can 'Buy from Provisioned Stores.' You can see that by going over to 'Options' I believe in the Fleet Menu and looking at your rank. There's a checkbox for the phrase above.
Since you haven't mentioned what ships you're flying I'll add to the generalizations provided above.
Adapted Borg set: The 2 piece Omega Weapon Amplifier is great on any ship that uses Weapon Power, and the Kinetic Cutting Beam is the best 'Turret' in the game. It doesn't benefit from beam powers but it doesn't need to and has better DPS than a turret. Yes it does less damage against shields but it does that much more damage against hull.
The Assimilated Console is very good but not a 'must have' compared to others since not every ship benefits from Graviton Generators.
The Omega Torpedo is unique in that it has 5 'charges' that any torpedo shot takes up, and they regenerate at the same speed as a reloading torpedo. Where it's really noticeable is that it's High Yield torpedo's are Plasma Energy Bolts. Not quite as damaging as the Borg Unimatrix's, but still a very painful experience. Overall it's finicky but still good.
Romulan Reputation is great for the reasons mentioned above, however they are the BEST if you like using Beam Arrays. At Tier V you can requisition an Experimental Romulan Beam Array, which A: Has no power drain by default and B: Comes with a 'free' Beam Overload if you have the other Romulan Plasma Harness 3 piece.
originpi said everything about the Zero Point energy conduit (aside that Power Insulators skill is handy to have,) but as for the Romulan Hyper Plasma Torpedo Launcher, it is a bit different as well by firing 3 slow moving targetable torpedos. They don't do as much damage as other torpedos individually, but where they shine is hitting unshielded targets. You can have a whole lot of torpedo's in flight if you're lucky with Projectile Weapon Duty Officer's equipped and really stack on the damage. Even better when your current target is destroyed, they'll often go after other targets that are near! (this isn't reliable of course, but hey they don't just dissapear like other torpedos!)