Blizzard executives are notorious for some of their sayings like “soon,” and “bring the player not the class,” but my personal favorite game design mantra they chant is “easy to learn, difficult to master.” I believe that Cryptic has taken a page out of this book for Star Trek Online when it comes to combat both in space and on the ground. Many of the encounters can be slogged through with basic combat commands and completing the three button attack. For those wanting to get the most out of their experience in the game though, there are many layers to uncover during combat maneuvers which will bring the difficulty (and fun) up a notch. Some moves will be second nature to you, others may be something to try out. The game is still new to me too, so I’d invite you to share some of your tactics and tricks too.
Going to ground, letting a good man die.
As discussed in the basic concepts of ground combat, I spend most of my time trying to be a lawn gnome (crouching). In amongst all of the mayhem I tend to focus on my strengths not weaknesses. This means that as a tactician I get a whole lot more “oomph” out of flanking someone that trying to go toe to toe with a bad guy. My goal is to let my team draw fire while I flank and then pick off the farther enemies capable of doing the most damage. I will do this even if I have a sword master up in my face (I’ll knock him down every so often to buy some time though too).
Don’t be afraid to let your away team take some hits (unless you are geared with the right skills to be able to live through it). The medic will revive anyone that drops so don’t be the hero.
When creeping up on a band of bad guys, there are a couple of different tactics. One is to use an Area of Effect (AOE) root and then hit the whole group with everything you’ve got. Since I’m a tactician, I enjoy targeting the highest ranking or meanest looking bad guy, lobbing a grenade, then using my sniper shot which can usually drop them in a round or two.
Forget the Targs
Dog bites hurt, but if you don’t take out those Targ Handlers, they will keep bringing more puppies to the party. As soon as you see those guys, take them out as fast as possible. The Targs they summon will chew you and your party to bits.
Life gets too hectic sometimes.
How many of you have used the “pause” feature? You don’t get any extra points for not using that thing, so be sure to try it out. It’s a great way to collect your thoughts, review all available options and then go in blasting.
Get everyone into the game.
During ground combat situations when you are with your own Away team, you really have a lot of options for how your group works together. For those not familiar with all of the icons around your team’s portraits, make sure you memorize the information in Dalmarus’ Ground UI Guide. If you find yourself on auto pilot with your away team, you’re getting good performance probably, but you’re better off tailoring their styles and attacks to what you want to do. Put that science officer on heal and buff duty and out of harm’s way with a way point. See if you can keep your team in range of the healing while you blast away at the oncoming rush.
One great tactic for those tough boss-type fights is to use the pause button and then spread your team out while focusing fire (see button 6 in the UI guide) on the boss. This way everyone has the right target and someone is getting a flanking bonus.
Don’t get kicked in the Space junk.
Space combat makes up the lion’s share of the game so get used to the basics and then add some spice to your routine (your crew’s life may depend on it). Again, a great guide for knowing the UI can be found from Dalmarus’ Space Combat UI Guide. One constant about space battle is knowing when your enemy’s shields are down. Watch those torpedo cooldowns and get used to timing the delivery of torpedoes when you hear those magic words “your enemy’s shields are down.”
Dalmarus and I have a running debate over the best tactic on fighting the fighter targets during a fight with a battlecruiser. In early levels the fighters don’t seem to do much damage to my ship, so my philosophy is to let them tickle my shields while I destroy the head of the snake (battle cruiser). Dalmarus believes that knocking out the little guys is the best strategy so the Starfleet gains unfettered access to focus on the big guy.
A constant that we both agree on is the necessity to switch targets. There are times when shooting in front of you is better than just using aft beams on a ship behind you. Get used to maximizing your fire power potential.
Speaking of fast little buggers, don’t try and turn with all of the fighters, they are just too fast. Use the Dalmarus fly swatting technique and get under them so they fly into range of more of your weapons.
Lopsided shields make me a sad panda.
The arrows around the icon of your ship will bolster your shields. Use the arrows. If you have full shields on three sides and one side is empty, then you are not managing your shields appropriately. Get used to clicking that arrow early and often.
The common technique for approaching space combat is to drop out of fast gear far enough from the target that your ship’s energy will balance out and then start blasting as soon as that range finder shows 9.99Km away. Bolster the front shields and continue to use beams until you hear the magic tone “Enemy shields are down” and lob some torpedoes. From here, it’s very fight specific. If you are truly doing a strafing run against a slower battleship, go past the target and launch some mines for the bad guy o fly through. Then get in behind him, tear his shields apart and nuke him.
Outnumbered, but never outgunned.
Similar to the above, I typically pick one huckleberry for my main target and try to pick one that is the farthest from the rest. Those extra few seconds while the other ships are flying over to help their buddy will help you avoid a bit of damage. Try to focus fire on the main target, but don’t forget the earlier point of maximizing your damage output. If the main target is out of reach or another target offers a better option, take what you can get.
There is no right answer, but a lot of wrong ones.
Every ship will be kitted differently, all players will spend skill points slightly different, etc. Essentially there is no “one way to do this right,” but some common tactics should help you be a better captain. The tactics will change greatly depending on career choices and gear, but the above strategies and concepts should help through the first tier of ships.
Please feel free to share your helpful hints and/or silly missteps that you’ve experienced along the way. Good luck out there!