I forgot to mention up top, but if anyone wants to repost this or link it for their fleet members or on your own websites, feel free. It's probably better to link it, since as people post more tips I will try to keep up and edit the list to include them.
I got a question from someone asking about whether it was better to go with a "hybrid" setup (tactical officer commanding cruiser, etc) or go with a "pure" setup (science officer commanding a science vessel, etc). I wanted to paraphrase the answer I gave here.
I didn't have a ton of time to experiment with this during beta, but in general it's a way to further customize your ship. For example:
- If you're a tactical officer in a cruiser, you'll get abilities that let you do more damage, combined with a cruiser's survivability.
- If you're an engineer in a cruiser, you'll get more defensive abilities, which allows your cruiser to handle damage even better than normal.
- If you're a science officer in a cruiser, you'll get those nifty crowd control type abilities, in addition to the cruiser's survivability.
So which way is best? Really depends what you want to do. I can see a lot of people mixing it up to add a slight edge to the ships they're flying.
That doesn't mean a "pure" approach is a bad setup either. Consider science vessels. Sure they're not as weapon-focused as the escorts and they don't have the crew and warp core of the cruisers. But they get extra science officer stations and bonuses to auxiliary power. So while the cruiser wins fights by wading through them, and the escort wins fights by doing massive damage, the science vessel wins fights by controlling the battlefield - spatial anomalies that root enemy ships in place or slow them, jamming their targeting sensors so they can't fire, opening singularities that do area damage, inserting viruses into their computers that cause them to fight each other.... when you combine multiple science bridge officer stations with a science officer captain.... well, it can get pretty scary.
In the end I think the best recommendation if you're not sure what kind of ship you want for a character is to try them all at LTC 1. It will cost you energy credits, but it will let you get a feel for the different ships and how they interact with your abilities, before you go and invest a ton of skill points in something you don't really enjoy flying.
I hope this helps folks who are trying to figure out what they want to be when they graduate out of their Mirandas