Monday, 9 July 2012

Guide to Skills

We have a bunch of new players in the fleet and I've seen several players ask questions about skills in the chat.  I thought it would be useful to do an overview of the skills available.

Where you spend your skill points are the most important decisions you’ll make as you level up through the game.  You only get so many skills points to spend, there are nowhere near enough to do everything you want, and it costs c-points to change your selections.  It is therefore very important that you plan ahead and spend your points judiciously.  Focus on the first three ranks of the skills you want first before moving on to the next three and final three, as the diminishing returns after 3 and 6 points are severe. I find that ground combat is more difficult than space combat, so I would assign points to most of the ground skills except Threat Control.

I’ve summarized the various space captain skills by captain rank with my opinions below.  As always, I am not a doctor nor do I play one on TV, so my advice isn't gospel. But I have played this game a lot, probably too much over the last few months, with several characters of radically different configurations, so I believe my opinions to be fairly solid.

Lieutenant (really cheap, very economical value, not too much of a waste to put points here):

Starship Attack Patterns: Absolutely vital for tactical captains in escorts, and quite useful for tactical captains in other ships or other captains in escorts.  Max this skill out for the former, 6 ranks for the latter, but wait until you actually have access to attack pattern abilities to spend any points on them.

Starship Weapon Training: Mandatory for everyone.  Max.

Driver Coil: A luxury skill that makes it so much easier to travel in sector space, but pretty much useless in combat.  No more than 3 ranks, 0 if you are really, really serious about winning Starbase 24 as the points could be spent elsewhere that have an actual combat value.

Starship Batteries: I don’t use batteries all that often, so I don’t find this useful.

Starship Hull Repair: Absolutely essential for pretty much everyone: for escorts to keep yourself alive, for cruisers to keep your teammates alive. Max.

Starship Flow Capacitors: Good for science captains that use abilities like tachyon beam, as well as for subsystem targeting. Also surprisingly useful for other ships if you use the Omega Force set, or are a Klingon and get the plasmonic leach console.

Starship Shield Emitters: Absolutely essential for pretty much everyone. Max.

Lieutenant Commander (fairly cheap, mostly useful skills):

Starship Energy Weapons: Essential for everyone except torpedo focussed builds.

Starship Projectile Weapons: Essential for torpedo focussed builds, somewhat useful for the escort and cruiser builds that use one torpedo launcher.  0, 3, 6 or 9 ranks depending on how torpedo oriented your build is.

Structural Integrity: Essential for pretty much everyone. Cruisers may not require maximum ranks in this.

Starship Subsystem Repair: Almost never comes into play, doesn’t do much when it does.

Starship Warp Core Efficiency: Later in the game this will not be particularly effective as all your power levels will be quite high. 3 ranks is probably ideal.  If you plan on boosting all your power levels, such as a cruiser with multiple emergency power abilities, or are a Klingon with plasmonic leach console, avoid entirely.

Starship Power Insulators: Until recently this skill didn’t do anything, but now it works as intended.  3 ranks is probably all that is necessary, or some equipment might also give the required protection. May be more useful if you intend to do a lot of PvP.

Starship Shield Systems: Absolutely essential for pretty much everyone. Max.

Commander (moderately pricey, some discretion is required):

Starship Maneuvers: Pretty useful for surviving.  Take either 3 or 6, maybe even max if you are a tactical captain in an escort.

Starship Targeting Systems: A missed shot does no dps.  Max if you want to be a primary damage dealer, important for everyone.

Starship Electro-Plasma Systems: Essential for cruisers, useful for everyone who has emergency power to shields or for science ships that must switch between weapons and auxiliary.

Starship Impulse Thrusters: Pretty useful for everyone. 6 or even max if you’re having a hard time keeping your target in front of you.

Starship Warp Core Potential: Pretty useful for everyone. 6 ranks is probably good, the upper ranks are probably less cost effective than taking ranks in the higher level system specific skills.

Starship Graviton Generators: Only get if you are a science captain in a science ship and would like to get the ability Gravity Well 3 (if you are a science captain in a science ship you want this).  0 or 6 ranks.

Starship Particle Generators:  Only get if you are in a science ship and use your science abilities to do damage directly. 0 or max.

Captain (fairly expensive, choose wisely):

Starship Stealth: Only an issue if you have cloak or mask energy signature, and even then not important.  Ignore.

Starship Threat Control: Why would you want more people shooting at you?  Well, you might if you are an engineering cruiser trying to keep your more powerful teammates alive, but it apparently doesn’t even work.

Starship Engine Performance: Vital for cruisers as engine power improves your abysmal turn rate. Quite useful for everybody.   3 ranks for escorts, maybe 6 for escorts and science, 6 for sure for cruisers.  Max is not worth it as you can always adjust your power settings and get better economy from lower ranks of the other power performance skills.

Starship Hull Plating: Useful for pretty much everyone. 6 ranks is probably ideal.

Starship Shield Performance:  Pretty good for everyone, though better for those who use shields that regenerate quicker. Perhaps not vital for escort captains whose tactics will involve hit and run.  At least 3 ranks.

Starship Inertial Dampeners: Does not provide all that much of a benefit, as tractor beams will still keep you well and truly stuck.  Escorts with enough skill in inertial dampeners will be able to turn while in a tractor beam, so 3 ranks is probably ideal, but ignore if you’re a slow ship that’s not going anywhere anyway.  Sometimes when I fly my carrier I can’t tell if I’m in a tractor beam or not.

Starship Sensors: Not really useful. Ignore.

Admiral (very expensive, so you will have to be thrifty):

Starship Energy Weapon Specialization: Absolutely critical (see what I did there?) for an all gun escort running antiproton weapons, as this boosts your criticals.  Pretty good for anyone who relies on energy weapons for their primary damage.

Starship Projectile Weapon Specialization: Only useful for captains who use torpedoes as their primary damage.  Even if you are an escort or cruiser captain running a torpedo launcher as a secondary weapon, no more than 3 ranks as it is probably better to use these points elsewhere.

Starship Armor Reinforcements: Fairly useful for everyone, may even allow you to survive Borg heavy plasma torpedo attacks in elite STF missions if you are in a cruiser.

Starship Auxiliary Performance: Vital for science ships, probably not particularly valuable for anyone else.

Starship Weapon Performance: Anyone would benefit from 3 points to this, except a torpedo boat.

Starship Countermeasure Systems: Unlike in real life, there’s not much in the way of countermeasures in this game. Avoid.

Starship Subspace Decompiler: Useful for science ships running photonic shockwave and viral matrix.

Agree? Disagree? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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