Sunday, 16 December 2012

How to turn Salat's Engineering Regent into an effective Damage Dealer

Our long time fleet member Salat has a problem.  His character is an engineer and he enjoys the style of the big Starfleet cruisers, but as a result he’s having an understandably hard time doing damage.  He’ll never dps with a purebred escort, but there are certain things he can do to remedy the situation and turn himself into a good secondary damage dealer while maintaining all the cruiser toughness and functionality.

Salat flies a Regent class assault cruiser refit.  The ship is a pretty nice ship, the wide-angle quantum torpedo launcher is even better and is an ideal weapon for broadsiding.  So what can he do to get the most out of his ship?  Here is my proposed setup, using equipment that I know he mostly already has:

3x antiproton beam array
1x wide-angle quantum torpedo launcher

3x antiproton beam array
1x Borg kinetic cutting beam

Why?  The 6 beam broadside is the standard attack of cruisers everywhere.  The wide-angle quantum torpedo launcher is perfect for broadsiding.  The kinetic cutting beam adds potency to the forward attack, plus a little more to the broadside.  I’ve often advocated 1xDBB with 6 arrays and a torpedo, but I’m slowly leaning toward 6 arrays and a torpedo with a turret as it is comparable in a forward attack and marginally better in a broadside, and is only worse in rear.

Can a ship support this many energy weapons at once?  Yes.  While 6 arrays is the standard, at 125 power, 7 arrays hit approximately 5% harder.  The kinetic cutting beam doesn’t add as much damage as an array, but it also has less energy drain and has a nice set power with the assimilated module and synergy with the Borg set.

What about cannons?  Ann@grav1tar had a neat idea to replace the front 3 arrays with single cannons, as you already have to hold the front 180 degree firing arc anyway and this will somewhat boost dps especially when close up, though when not in the sweet spot, it could be troublesome.   At least with the torpedo launcher, you only need to traverse the sweet spot when the torpedo is ready, rather than maintain it.  This is something that perhaps you should explore.  I don’t have the wide angle torpedo, so I can’t help you with this any further.

Borg Deflector, Borg Engine, Borg Shields

Tactical Consoles: 3x antiproton mag regulator

Engineering Consoles: neutronium armor, SIF generator, assimilated module, isometric charge

Science Consoles: field generator, Romulan emitter array

Devices: Deployable turret/Scorpion fighters, weapons battery, shields battery, subspace field modulator

Why? Borg set is actually a very nice set for a tanky ship.  Cruisers do a lot of hull tanking anyway so the regenerative shield, while generally not considered very good, is not much of a liability in this case.  Borg engine is a great convenience when flying around, and you wouldn’t have to swap it out to go fight.  The Borg set powers are also terrific, and the assimilated tractor beam, according to the wiki, has synergy with the kinetic cutting beam, essentially making the tractor beam hit like a quantum torpedo.

Why no quantum chamber? Despite the awesome quantum torpedo launcher, most of your dps in this build is still coming from the antiproton arrays.  Look at it this way: there are 6 arrays, with energy drain lowering their hitting power to about 63% of their tooltip display damage (I did the testing, post will come a little later) vs. 1 torpedo launcher doing slightly better than its tooltip display damage.  The arrays will still be responsible for more of the damage by a ratio of about 2.5:1.  Tactical consoles are additive, meaning that each console you put in adds the same percentage of your base damage to the attack.  While it may look like more consoles aren’t helping much, as a raw number damage boost, each additional console does the exact same as the previous, so you’re not losing any effectiveness by adding more of the same console.  The only reason I can think of for going with the quantum chamber in your situation is that the antiproton mag regulators are really expensive, while the quantum chambers are quite cheap.  Still, the more basic mag regulators aren’t that expensive either.

So we’re using the two piece Omega adapted Borg technology set? Yes sir.  The assimilated module provides a nice little weapon power boost, plus crit boost and some toughness, while the two piece set bonus with the cutting beam provides a 2.5% chance proc per weapon cycle to boost weapon power and provide a brief power drain resistance, which is super useful with a beamboat.

Isometric charge? Isometric charge is an attack console normally reserved for the Klingon Vor'cha refit, but available to the Federation through lock boxes.  You don’t have to open lock boxes to get one though.  The reward packs with them are available on the exchange for less than 200,000 ec.  Just type “isometric” into the search bar, select rare as the rarity, and reward pack for the type.  It works best when there are groups of medium toughness or lower enemies grouped closely together, so may not be the best option for certain situations where those conditions do not apply.  If those conditions do apply, holy crap it’s awesome.  I think it was intended to be used in science ships with huge particle generator skill (it’s boosted by particle generators) and gravity well.

Romulan emitter array? It’s from a neat little series of consoles available from season 7.  There’s a whole bunch of science consoles that all add negative threat control (meaning that they don’t shoot at you so often) and plasma proc to all your energy weapons.  Go to our fleet embassy on New Romulus and purchase this console in the shuttle bay.  I think emitter array is the most generally useful, especially for tanking in a ship that has two EPtSes going every 30 seconds.

Deployable turrets aren’t very good.  Very true, but what else are you going to put there? Also, I want them out of our fleet bank.  They take up a lot of room and no one seems to be removing any of them. So take them from the bank (use ctrl+drag to choose how many of the stack to take so it won't go over your daily withdrawl limit) and use them.

Boff setup:
Tactical Boff 1: TS1, THY2, APB2
Tactical Boff 2: TT1
Engineering Boff 1: EPtS1, EPtW2, RSP2, Aux2Sif3
Engineering Boff 2: EPtS1, EPtW2
Science Boff: HE1, Tractor Beam 2

Why? There aren’t any good beam boff abilities, so we’re focusing on abilities that make that wide-angle quantum torpedo that much better.  High yield 2 is a great damage booster, while spread 1 is good for knocking down incoming heavy torpedoes and small craft, while providing almost the same damage boost as the generally unimpressive high yield 1.

What about beam overload? It only works on 1 attack and it drops your precious weapons power level.  No thanks, not in a broadsider.

What about subsystem targeting? There could be some merit here, but that’s more of a science ship or rear weapon on an escort with too many tactical boff ensign slots sort of thing.

Why not APO instead? As a cruiser in a secondary damage role, your emphasis should be on boosting team damage, not your own.  Your friendly escorts will really appreciate the APB debuff when their dual heavy cannons with cannon rapid fire tear the target apart.

So I’ve heard of the Dragon cruiser build, and see something similar here, but why not EPtS2 and EPtW1? Salat’s main problem is dps, not survivability.  EPtW2 adds a noticeably greater damage boost and weapon power boost than EPtW1.

What about EPtW3?  I don’t think there’s much of a benefit of RSP2 vs. RSP1, so it would be nice to switch it with EPtW3.  However, it also requires a friendly engineering captain who has 6 ranks of weapons power skill.  I’m currently building a character to do that, but he’s not ready yet.  Ask again in the new year or follow the progress of Spork@wertseviltwin in the fleet roster.  Yes, I said Spork.  It’s a perfectly fine utensil.

What if I use Ann’s cannon idea? Should I use CRF then?  The bonus from CRF1 on 3 single cannons wouldn’t be as useful as a THY2.

Why a tractor beam? To keep targets in the narrow sweet spot of course, plus deal some damage.  If you’re more interested in healing and staying alive, then replace with TSS2 (or go TSS1 and HE2 or something to that effect).  If you have two science boffs then you can have one of each and swap as desired.

Why tractor beam 2? It lasts a little longer than tractor beam 1 and does more damage.  Again, it could be swapped for tractor beam 1 and hazard emitters 2 if you prefer.

Only one tactical team?  Are you stupid or something?  My master’s degree in engineering says otherwise.  Read on.

Conn Officer – the kind that reduces cooldown on tactical team and buffs attack patterns
Warp Core Engineer – to give a chance at boosted power every time an emergency power is activated
Shield Distribution Officer – for buffs when brace for impact is used
Projectile Weapons Officer – to increase quantum torpedo rate of fire
Tractor Beam Officer – to add shield drain to your tractor beam

Ah, conn officer.  So that’s what you’re doing.  Yep, a purple conn officer of this type reduces the cooldown of a single tactical team down to 20 seconds, which is almost as fast as the 15 seconds for duplicate ability.  It also gives a big boost to your attack pattern skill, and with the near constant APB that could be quite helpful.

What if I don’t want to use the tractor beam? Then get another projectile weapons officer instead.

Power settings:
1: 100 weapons, 25 shields, 50 engines, 25 aux
2: XX weapons, YY shields, 25 engines, 25 aux
3: 25 weapons, 25 shields, 100 engines, 50 aux
4 25 weapons, 50 shields, 25 engines, 100 aux

How do I use these most effectively?  For maximum dps, run in setting 1.  Once the going gets tough and lots of enemies start shooting at you, switch to setting 2.  Setting 3 is used for running away, while setting 4 is for healing while out of danger.

What’s the XX and YY there? I don’t know what you have for weapons power boosters and captain skills, so I can’t pin down those numbers exactly.  Suffice to say, XX is the minimum weapon power setting that gives you 125 when EPtW2 is used, while YY is the remainder of your available power.

Wait, what? You’re running a Regent at 100 weapon power with chained EPtW2, warp core engineer, and Borg console?  You’re squandering a lot of power.  Don’t you know that any power over 125 is completely wasted?  Ha, ha, no.  While the maximum damage is capped at 125 power, any power above that is a reserve that protects against power depletion.  See this post for details:’ve recently done some testing with beamboats that demonstrates this.  While not entirely down to the pure effects of weapon power, an 8 beam broadside at 125 power plus Borg console and EPTW2 activated immediately prior to firing will do over 20% more damage than an 8 beam broadside at 125 power.  To put that into perspective, an escort with the typical 4 dhc and 3 turrets setup will do marginally less than 20% more damage than an escort with only 3 dhc and 3 turrets.  A 7 beam broadside (closest to this build) shows about an 18% improvement.

Combat Style:
First off, we need to ensure your “Controls” settings are set up in a sensible way. 
Click unselects target: on
Only attack if target selected: off
Assist target on attack: on
Never auto target pets: depends on the situation.
Select attacker if attacked: off (it’s often more trouble than it’s worth if you’re trying to do something else when a new enemy starts attacking you)
Tab selects offscreen targets: on
Keep moving during contact dialogues: on (what is the point of having it stop you? All that ever does is kill you when you complete some sort of objective and a window comes up and stops you then the thing you just killed blows up right beside you)
Auto attack: toggle, change cancels (make sure all your weapons are set to autofire, too. They’ll be highlighted in green if they are)

Under “HUD” I like to have as much enemy target information as possible at all times, both NPC and human.

For this build, you’re going to want to get to broadside position as quickly as possible and stay there.  Flying in at full impulse then powersliding at close range can work well, as can evasive maneuvers when you find yourself slipping out of position.  If you’re in a nice place, and feel like stopping there, don’t.  Stopping sets your base defense to less than 0.  Instead, switch between forward and reverse every second or two.  This will keep your defense rating a positive number.

You should be running with full weapons power and the rest to engines to maximize your dps and maneuverability at first, then switch to shields power once the incoming damage becomes significant.  While arrays do very well at long range, and torpedoes retain full effectiveness regardless of range, getting in close will still provide the best dps, so if you can, do it.

This ship is still primarily a traditional concept cruiser, so treat it as such.  You will be tanking, healing others, and supporting as your main functions.  The only difference is that you also have a better sustained broadside than 99.99% of the cruisers out there.

Where would this build be without the keybinds to use it properly?  I’ve attached the file here (download to your Cryptic Studios\Star Trek Online\Live directory and then enter /bind_load_file salat.txt in the chat window to upload to the game) but you’ll have to set up your trays exactly as I lay out below.

Row 1: 1 Brace for Impact, 2 EPS Power Transfer, 3 Evasive Maneuvers, 4 Miracle Worker, 5 Nadion Inversion, 6 Rotate Shield Frequency, 7 Engineering Fleet, 8 Call Trade Freighter, 9 Full Impulse, 10 Quantum Slipstream
Row 2: 1 Abandon Ship, 2 Fleet Support, 3 Ramming Speed, 4 Assimilated Tractor Beam (Space Set Power), 5 Blank, 6 Isometric Charge (Specialty Console), 7 Scorpion Fighters, 8 Weapons Battery, 9 Shields Battery, 10 Subspace Field Modulator
Row 3 (Lt Cdr Tac): TS1, THY2, APB2
Row 4 (Ensign Tac): TT1
Row 5 (Cdr Eng):  EPtS1, EPtW2, RSP2, Aux2Sif3
Row 6 (Lt Eng): EPtS1, EPtW2
Row 7 (Lt Sci 1): HE1, TrB2
Row8 (Lt Sci 2): TSS1, HE2

And here’s how you use it:
Switch configuration
o Playersay Salat Starship $$ bind_load_file salat.txt
Not a combat command, but by pressing “o” you can quickly and easily reload your bind file.  This is handy for making small adjustments.  I used to use “em” as the command to give myself feedback about what file got loaded, but found out that that actually broadcasts it zonewide, so have switched to “playersay” which is just for you.

Power Presets
F9 "StatsPreset_Load Preset_1"
F10 "StatsPreset_Load Preset_2"
F11 "StatsPreset_Load Preset_2"
F12 "StatsPreset_Load Preset_4"
Use these to quickly change between your power settings, most importantly to go from total offense (setting 1) to offense and tanking (setting 2).  The button for setting 2 is duplicated as it is the one you will need to activate most frequently in the heat of battle, so it is nice to have two attempts at it.  Notice that there is no button for engines (setting 3) as the only time you need to engage this quickly is handled by a different button shown below.

Chain Emergency Power TT and Distribute Shields
space "GenSendMessage HUD_Root FireAll $$ +power_exec Distribute_Shields $$ +TrayExecByTray 3 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 4 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 4 1 $$ +TrayExecByTray 5 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 5 1"
Pressing spacebar will fire all your weapons, redistribute your shields, and activate TT1 and both copies of EPtS1 and EPtW2.  This will give you boosted power to both weapons and shields essentially permanently (just activation downtime), and a good tactical team rate to clear debuffs and grant a small buff your weapons every so often, while keeping your shields balanced.  You don’t have to be constantly hammering away at spacebar, just when one of the chained powers is becoming available or when you would like to distribute your shields.

numpad1 "+TrayExecByTray 2 2"
Pressing “1” on the numpad will activate APB for when you want to use it.  I don’t put it in the spacebar bind because sometimes you just don’t need it and thus would rather save it in reserve.

Tractor Beam
numpad2 "+TrayExecByTray 6 1"
Pressing “2” on the numpad will make people stuck.  Save it for when you have a fast moving target in your sweet spot and need him to stay stuck so you can pummel him with your quantum torpedo.

EPS Power Transfer
numpad3 "+TrayExecByTray 0 1"
Press “3” on the numpad on its own to get a quick boost to your power levels for when you want to either get a little extra defense, speed, shield resistance, healing, and/or hitting power.

Nadion Inversion
numpad0+numpad3 "+TrayExecByTray 0 4"
Press “0” and “3” on the numpad at the same time to prevent power drain.  You get to be my guinea pig to something new that I recently discovered.  I like the versatility of shift and ctrl skills to activate more abilities in a limited space, but I always found those two keys uncomfortable to use with the setup I had.  I had enough buttons (well, almost) get away without them, but season 7 broke the keybinds with numpadenter, and I was hurting a bit.  But now I’ve discovered that you can combine any two keys in this manner.  So by pressing numpad0 and any other numpad button, which I think we can all agree is a really easy thing to do, we can activate similar but bigger effect and longer cooldown abilities with the same button.

numpad4 "+TrayExecByTray 0 0"
Press “4” on the numpad when torpedoes are incoming or a ship is about to explode right next to you.

numpad0+numpad4 "+TrayExecByTray 0 5 $$ +TrayExecByTray 1 9"
Press “0” and “4” on the numpad when everyone starts to open up on you. I used to bind Brace for Impact and Subspace Field Modulator to the same key, but many times I wouldn’t want them at the same time.  SFM and Rotate shield frequency really are built for the same task though, and really go well together to keep you healthy when everyone else wants you dead.

Hull Repair
numpad5 "+TrayExecByTray 4 3 $$ +TrayExecByTray 6 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 7 1"
Press “5” on the numpad to activate Aux2Sif3, and either of the two Hazard Emitters.

Miracle Worker
numpad0+numpad5 "+TrayExecByTray 0 3"
Press “0” and “5” on the numpad to activate Miracle Worker, for when you really, really need it.

Shield Heal
numpad6 "+TrayExecByTray 4 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 5 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 7 0"
Press “6” on the numpad to activate EPtS1 (it’s a little more reliable this way than with the chained space bar) and TSS1.

numpad0+numpad6 "+TrayExecByTray 4 2"
Press “0” and “6” on the numpad to Reverse Shield Polarity, for when you really, really need it.

numpad7 "+TrayExecByTray 2 1"
Press “7” on the numpad to ready Torpedo High Yield.

numpad8 "+TrayExecByTray 2 0"
Press “8” on the numpad to ready Torpedo Spread.  Good for multiple small targets, incoming heavy torpedoes, and getting a little more dps out of your quantum torpedo.

numpad9 "GenSendMessage Throttle_FullImpulse_Button FullThrottle $$ +TrayExecByTray 0 2 $$ StatsPreset_Load Preset_3 $$ +power_exec reroute_shields_rear"
Press “9” to run away really fast while rerouting shields aft.  This is an absolute lifesaver when things get disasterous.

About to die
decimal "+TrayExecByTray 1 1 $$ +TrayExecByTray 1 2 $$ +TrayExecByTray 1 1"
Pressing the “.” on the numpad will activate Fleet Support and Ramming Speed.  I’ve duplicated Fleet Support on either side of the string to make sure it’s the first one activated, as sometimes Ramming Speed is counterproductive.

PageDown "+TrayExecByTray 0 2"
Press “Page Down” for when you want to go fast without switching power levels.

Device1 (Scorpions)
numlock "+TrayExecByTray 1 6"

Device2 (Weapons Battery)
divide "+TrayExecByTray 1 7"

Device3 (Shields Battery)
multiply "+TrayExecByTray 1 8"
These are self-explanatory, but I must stress that to maximize your effectiveness you should be using all your devices liberally.  They’re pretty cheap; don’t be a miser.

Engineering Fleet
End "+TrayExecByTray 0 6"
Pressing “End” will activate engineering fleet (I put this one out of alphabetical order in the tray for consistency’s sake across the different professions).  It’s a long cooldown, and you won’t need it often, so it’s in a somewhat out of the way location.

Console (Isometric Charge)
PageUp "+TrayExecByTray 1 5"
Pressing “Page Up” will make closely grouped smallish enemies go boom.  If there’s just the one big enemy, it’s not so good, so for those situations you should replace it with something else.

Spaceset Power (Assimilated Tractor Beam)
Home "+TrayExecByTray 1 3"
Press “Home” to activate the Borg tractor beam, for synergy with your kinetic cutting beam and to keep enemies stuck.  Again, long cooldown, so it’s put out of the way.

Target Fore
Up "+power_exec reroute_shields_forward $$ Target_Enemy_Near_ForArc 180"
Pressing the “Up” arrow will target the closest enemy in your front 180 degree firing arc while redistributing your shields in that direction.

Target Side
Right "+power_exec reroute_shields_right $$ Target_Enemy_Near_SideArc 70"
Pressing the “Right” arrow will target the closest enemy in your broadside (to either left or right, but usually the way your screen is pointed) while still redistributing your shields right.

Team Heal
` "+TrayExecByTray 4 3 $$ +TrayExecByTray 6 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 7 1"
1 "Target_Teammate 1 $$ +TrayExecByTray 4 3 $$ +TrayExecByTray 6 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 7 1"
2 "Target_Teammate 2 $$ +TrayExecByTray 4 3 $$ +TrayExecByTray 6 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 7 1"
3 "Target_Teammate 3 $$ +TrayExecByTray 4 3 $$ +TrayExecByTray 6 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 7 1"
4 "Target_Teammate 4 $$ +TrayExecByTray 4 3 $$ +TrayExecByTray 6 0 $$ +TrayExecByTray 7 1"
Pressing “`”, that’s the squiggly thing to the left of the number 1, will send all your transferable heals to your current target (if friendly).  The numbers “1” thru “4” will do the same to that numbered teammate.  If you are an engineering cruiser, or any other sort of healboat, you need to be doing this constantly in team play, or you’re not pulling your weight.

Team Focus
F1 "Target_Teammate 1 $$ Assist"
F2 "Target_Teammate 2 $$ Assist"
F3 "Target_Teammate 3 $$ Assist"
F4 "Target_Teammate 4 $$ Assist"
F5 "Assist"
Pressing “F1” thru “F4” will make your teammate’s target your own; useful if you have a team that isn’t really good at communicating and you want to ensure that you are firing on a target that someone else has also targeted.  “F5” will make your target’s target your target, but you shouldn’t have much use for that except to confuse yourself.

Chat Command target my target
g Team Focus fire on $target.
Pressing “g” will instruct your teammates to attack your target. They won’t automatically be given the target, but it does help them know upon whom to focus their firepower.  Very useful for missions such as Fleet Starbase Defense where there are certain ships that need to be destroyed first if you want to succeed (if your teammates are watching their chat window, that is).

Add "throttleadjust .10"
subtract "throttleadjust -.10"
Pressing numpad “+” and “-” will fine tune your speed.

Abandon Ship
Lalt "Trayexecbytraywithbackup 1 1 0 1 0"
You need this ability rarely (you’re an engineering cruiser, after all) but when you do you need it easy to hit in a hurry.  “Left alt” is the easiest button I can think of for this, as it is right next to the fire key.  One word of caution is that you have to clear any existing keybinds that use the alt key or else you may accidentally do something else entirely. I'm experimenting with "trayexecbytraywithbackup" as it does mostly the same thing but doesn't make the annoying beeping noise when it can't activate.

Feel free to modify this in any way you want.  This kind of setup works well for me, but other people are more comfortable with other setups.

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