Friday, 6 July 2012

Things I Wish I Knew The First Time Around

We have a lot of brand new players joining the fleet, with a lot of questions.  I remember when I started playing this game, I spent a lot of time confused and overwhelmed and I also made a lot of mistakes that cost me c-points to correct, and more importantly, cost me some fun along the way.  So I'm taking it upon myself to enlighten and inform to make your STO experience more enjoyable.  I'm not a doctor, I don't play one on TV, so my advice isn't gospel.  Think of it as a starting point.

Help, I’m Stuck!
I'll start off with the second most embarrassing and frustrating little thing in the game: you've beamed down to Starfleet Academy and the beam out button is greyed out now you can't leave?  How do you get out? Well, at Starfleet Academy the beam out button is actually a conversation button located at the lower right of the screen.

The Exchange
The Exchange is available in most starbases. It is essentially a Craigslist where players can post items for sale to all other players.  Use it to find nice weapons, armor, shields, bridge officers, duty officers, etc.  It is a great place to get items you can’t get elsewhere, including some items from the c-store (now Zen store) or lockboxes.  If there’s anything you want, usually you can find it here.  Use it to sell pick-ups that you can’t use and to get items you really want or immediately need.  If the item goes unsold for several days it will be mailed back to you.

Mail can be used as sort of a makeshift bank for items you don’t have room for.  Use it to store extra duty officers (mostly refugees for easy access and common duty officers to be upgraded) and to send unbound items to your other characters.   These features are only enabled at the mail terminals located in starbases, and not from the mail tab on your minimap.  Items that have expired from the exchange are sent through the mail and must be picked up at a terminal.

Getting to Your Missions
Before access to the Borg engine and quantum slipstream drive, travel in sector space can be very slow.  The game allows you to transwarp to mission starting locations, and early on the price for this ability is quite cheap.  Use it.  You’ll make energy credits on the time saved.

Bridge Officers
I spent quite a bit of time misguidedly stressing about my boffs when I first started playing. Don’t worry about your early bridge officers. They are easily replaced later on with better ones and if you get attached you can save their appearance in the costume shop and rebuild them all with better traits.  You’ll always get more bridge officer skill points so feel free to spend on them, but don’t waste points until you start accumulating a backlog.
Skill Points
How you spend your skill points is probably the most important decision after character creation and admiral ship selection.  Don’t feel like you need to spend your skill points immediately.  If you are unsure as to what to spend them on, wait until you have a better idea about what you want to accomplish.  See my comprehensive guid to skills for more information.

Leveling Up
When you are promoted to a new rank you get a free ship from Admiral Quinn (you must talk to the admiral in his office and he will send you to the shipyard), and the opportunity to buy and use better equipment.  I recommend going to the exchange and upgrading all your gear immediately with whatever the best affordable equipment is.  Usually this is rare (blue), though sometimes not.  If you can, go to Memory Alpha to craft items. You can replay episodes to get duplicate rewards in some cases.  Come back after you have been promoted to get fancy items at a higher rank.
When you level up (not necessarily in rank) you get new captain abilities, but depending on how full your abilities tray is they may not appear automatically.  Periodically check using the little tab on the top right of your abilities tray to see if you’ve gained any new skills. The full list is here 

Ship Concepts
Most concepts can be viable if the captain is good and the ship setup is well thought out and tested.  Just because something is unconventional doesn’t mean it’s worthless. That being said, if you ever see someone flying an Odyssey Cruiser or a Galaxy Dreadnought with rainbow beams or a Defiant with Skittles cannons (all different energy types) you know you are playing with an idiot whom you can either exploit if you are playing against them or will ruin your team if you are playing with them. Bonus points for a Defiant with rainbow beams.

Buy a huge stack of provisions and medical supplies from the commodities broker in Earth Spacedock and keep them in your bank, as they are quite frequently used in missions and duty officer missions.  The rest of the commodities are probably easier if you just replicate them when needed, though this is a bit more expensive than buying them from brokers.

While doing your missions you will acquire data samples such as alien artifacts, mineral samples, radiation samples, etc.  These are used to craft special items at Memory Alpha.  A tutorial for this is given early in the game and is started by talking to Lt. Cdr. E’genn in Earth Spacedock, but usually after you begin to accumulate data samples. The Multiphasic Event (see your calendar by clicking the little Starfleet Logo on your minimap) is a great opportunity to get crafting supplies, as are many duty officer missions.  You can also craft items to sell if you have a glut of data samples. Or you could just sell the data samples.

Particle traces are immensely valuable, especially methogenic and anyon.  Do not squander these for limited rewards. A single methogenic particle trace can go for 100,000 ec on the exchange. In many cases you are better off buying a comparable weapon rather than using the particle trace to craft it.
Likewise, you have the opportunity to craft even marked items which use unreplicatable materials. Never buy these with dilithium, get them off the exchange instead if you want to craft with them. I prefer not to bother at all and just buy a comparable item straight from the exchange myself.

Energy Credits are easy to get, especially if you’re a tactical captain in an escort (by winning Starbase 24 and selling your very rare prize).  Use them to buy practically anything from the exchange.
Latinum is a little used currency which you can get from playing dabo in any Ferengi run establishment, and from some duty officer missions.  It is currently used in some duty officer missions, one of the Breen front repeatable daily missions for dilithium, and to purchase ship holoemitters which change the appearance of your ship, and to buy one of several floor trophies for your ship’s mess hall. That is it. It has been rumoured that more uses for latinum are coming, but somehow I doubt that will ever happen. Keep a small supply on hand.

Dilithium is the hardest currency to obtain. Spend it wisely and choose options that give you more dilithium when they’re available.  Never spend dilithium or c-points on something you can get with energy credits.  You can only refine 8000 dilithium per day, so be refining constantly.  Watch the dilithium exchange for the going rate to turn dilithium into Zen (formerly c-points) and make your purchases when the rates are low and then make your Zen store purchases when there are sales on, as sales are not infrequent.  You can also occasionally get Zen by filling out surveys on the Perfect World website, but do not do any of the free offers or give out phone information as these are often not free at all.

Dilithium can be accumulated relatively quickly by doing the “Dailies”.  These are missions that you can do once per day that reward middling to decent amounts of dilithium

Before doing PvP, make sure you talk to Mackenzie Calhoun on DS-K7, as he will give you a repeatable mission that rewards 1440 dilithium with every third PvP you complete.

Later in the game you will get access to the STF missions, and will be rewarded with common Borg salvage and rare Borg salvage.  The mk x equipment isn’t very special, probably not noticeably better than the equipment you already have at this point, so I recommend turning your common Borg salvage into dilithium by speaking to Commander Roxy. Once you get a decent supply of mk xi STF equipment and start moving on to mk xii, turn your rare Borg salvage into dilithium as well.

The very first c-store purchase you should make is to increase your energy credit cap from 10 million ec to 999 million. It’s relatively cheap but vital once you start making some real money. The second is to increase your duty officer roster from 100 to 125.  You can get the job done with 100, but the extra 25 slots give a nice bit of cushion.

You can buy a Type 8 Shuttle for next to nothing, and you get a freecheap Danube Runabout with the season 2 episode “The Vault”.  These small craft come with special issue-s phasers, torpedoes and equipment. The way the description of the special shuttle issue weapons and equipment is written up makes it seem like you have to use issue-s equipment for everything. You do not. What they don’t tell you is that you can use your regular ship equipment on your shuttle. The issue-s equipment is weak. Just transfer your main ship equipment over or buy more regular equipment that is more suitable for a shuttle.

Special Duty Officer Missions
If you ever see a duty officer mission with the following format #/# (ex. 1/7) it is a mission chain that will offer you usually very good end missions, some repeatable, for fancy duty officers, and there is never a failure that will stop the chain or prevent the reward.  Do these immediately.  Most of these are in the nebulae adjoining the main sectors, and in Cardassian space.  One mission in particular, Negotiate Delivery of Rare Commodities, and it’s repeatable version (unnumbered, so watch out for it) Negotiate Delivery of Additional Rare Commodities, provides the opportunity to craft purple mk xii consoles, however you will not have good enough duty officers to make this worthwhile for you (you require 5 officers with resolve, preferable engineers, and it is probably not cost effective until you get your critical success rate near 20%), so I recommend selling the resulting Strange Alien Artifact on the exchange for about  1 million ec.

Crystalline Entity
Do not even attempt to do the Crystalline Entity mission unless you are in a fleet that has set up a fleet only instance of the mission and everyone has read the walkthrough or else it will just be two hours of annoyance, aggravation, shouting, name calling and general unpleasantness.
There is not enough content in the game, so try to do everything available and make it part of your playing routine.  This will help to keep what there is fresh.

Mystery Lock Boxes
Mystery lock boxes are rewards for many missions and almost always contain a regular lock box.  Very rarely you will get a gold lock box, which is bound and non-transferable, which you can open with a master key (available for about 800k on the exchange) which gives you a moderately better chance of getting good stuff out of the box than a regular box, but is still likely to give you garbage.  Just sell the mystery boxes on the exchange (going rate is approximately 20k).

Well, This is Useless
Here's the most embarrassing and frustrating little thing in the game: When you reach rear admiral upper half you will be invited to join Omega Force by talking to Admiral D’vak at DS9.  After talking to him, he will send you to Commander Roxy to receive a requisition for a mk x item. You will sit there for several minutes wondering what do with this thing, as the requisitions officers do not seem to be aware that you have it. For some reason the developers thought it best to give you not an actual mk x requisition, but an item of a similar name that you must first right click and select “use” before it turns into a real mk x requisition.  I sat there for 20 minutes on that one. With my second character.

Learning More
Try reading the wiki.  Some of the information is out of date but it is pretty good.  You can also ask questions in zone chat and often get good answers. Plus bad answers. Plus abuse. Plus bad typing, spelling and grammar.

The forums are a great place for information.  If you’re ever looking for the answer to something that you’re wondering about, or for discussion about certain topics, check there.  There are also a huge number of idiots.

Lastly, enjoy the early levels of the game. You will never get them back.

If there’s anything else that anyone would like to add, or questions you would like answered, please mention them in the comments.

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