I’ll be taking a look this week at how to fill the traditional MMO roles in Star Trek Online. First up, we’ll be looking at the venerable Tank. The essential role of a tank, is to absorb damage and protect the group. Aggro is a harder thing to manage in STO than most MMO’s so what we’ll look at most is beefing up survivability. There are a few things that can help with holding aggro, but the biggest (shooting first) has nothing to do with ship or loadout.
1. Your Player Captain
Because STO has a shared space skill tree between all three professions, the only real impact your player captain will have on your role is their few career specific Space Skills.
Tactical- The skills provided by the Tactical Captain do not provide much of a benefit in the role of Tanking.
Engineer- The engineers Miracle Worker and Rotate Shield Frequency are true gems for the tank. Miracle Worker may have a really long timer, but it can take you from certain defeat to victory. To a lesser extent, EPS Power Transfer is useful, but only to the extent that more power is always useful to any role.
Science- The science captain comes in second to engineer. Dampening Field is useful for increasing damage resistance and Photonic Fleet can help take some pressure off of you when things get tough.
2. Ship Type
Thanks to STO’s variety, you are not locked into a particular ship type based on your player captain, nor by your role.
Escort- Escort ships may not be the best tanks, but they can do the job. The main thing they bring the tank table is speed. Fast and more maneuverable than the others, escorts can more easily keep up with the rest of the fleet. Speed also increases defense stats, which can reduce how often you get hit for big damage. And of course, being able to maneuver, allows you to keep your strongest shields towards your enemy, something cruisers struggle with.
The disadvantages to using an escort are the very weak hull, limited engineering console slots and most classes limit the science and engineering BO’s to Lieutenant abilities.
Though I’m not going to look at each individual class, the MVAM deserves a special shout out. It has a Lt Cmdr Science BO which is unique for escorts. That combined with it’s ability to separate into three ships, providing your enemy with more targets, can be useful for tanking.
Cruiser- Cruisers are your tried and true tank. They have the toughest hull which means right off the bat they can absorb more damage. They also have four engineering console slot which we’ll see can be incredibly useful. Commander level (usually with a Lt Cmdr) BO provide lots of healing and power options.
The cruisers poor maneuverability can cause problems with keeping strong shields facing the enemy. This can be negated by focusing on hull protection or certain equipment and BO abilities that keep your shields up, rather than strong.
Science- The science ship can function as a reasonable tank as well. Though they have a much weaker hull than a cruiser, they have powerful shields and better maneuverability. A science ship can better turn to bring it’s good shields to bear, and using it’s many science BO slots can help keep those shields well charged.
Like the MVAM ship, the Intrepid retrofit deserves a special shout out. The deployable armor ability is a great feature for a tank to have as it provides near immunity, albeit for a short time.
3. Ship Equipment
The biggest pieces that will affect your ability to tank are shields, engineering consoles and science consoles.
Shields- It’s tempting to say that Covariant shields, which have the biggest capacity, are the best choice. When they are combined into the Aegis set, this might be true due to the ability to adapt and resist energy types. But Resilient and Regenerative shouldn’t be overlooked. Resilient will reduce the hull bleed through damage (useful for Escorts and Sciences ships with their weaker hulls) while Regenerative will return to full strength quicker (useful for cruisers who can’t turn their weak shields away).
Engineering Consoles- These slots can be the most valuable pieces of equipment for allowing solid tanking. The variety of hull armors/alloys can be stacked to give you a base resistance to all damage types of almost 40% (combined with BO abilities, this resistance can shoot to over 60% for short periods). On a big cruiser with four consoles lots, you can almost ignore your shields and focus entirely on hull healing and resistance.
The engineering slots also provide a shield booster (which does not stack with itself) and a shield regeneration booster). The shield capacity booster can really give some strong shields to a science ship sporting a covariant shield.
Science Consoles- The main use of science consoles is to help boost certain BO abilities (primarily hazard or deflector field). There are some that help boost or protect your crew.
4. Bridge Officer Abilities
Tactical Officers- Most tactical BO’s do not provide a lot of tanking functionality. Fire-at-Will, Torpedo Spread, and Canon-Scatter Volley can be useful in gathering aggro as they are AoE powers. This is one of the few tricks you can have to help keep enemies focused on you rather than your friends. Attack Pattern Delta is also helpful in providing you with some damage resistance when you are the focus of attack, though it may be best for a buddy flying an escort to cast on you.
Engineering Officers- The engineering line of BO abilities does healing best. Engineering Team and Aux to Structural Integrity can help keep your hull strength up. Aux to Structural Integrity also provides a modest damage resistance buff, which due to the quick timer, can be kept active 10 sec out of every 15. Emergency Power to Shields will grant you better shield resistance and Emergency Power to Auxiliary will boost the effectiveness of your science heals and Aux to Structural Integrity.
Reverse Shield Polarity is the shield tanks best friend. When you’re being fired upon it can bring depleted shields to full. Combined with Tactical Team, it can allow you to regenerate all your shields.
Science Officers- Science boosts some nice BO abilities as well, in the form of Hazard Emitters, Polarize Hull, Science Team and Transfer Shield Strength. HE and PH provide a nice damage resistance buff, and HE also makes for a very good hull heal. TSS and ST are good shield heals.
Scramble Sensors and Jam Sensors can be useful in taking the pressure off yourself, but go against the tanks principle of keeping all the pressure on themselves. Drain Energy, Feedback Pulse, Tyken’s Rift and Gravity Well also have their uses but they are more tangental than directly related to tanking.
In conclusion, I’ll present a sample build that would make an excellent tank.
Ship: Galaxy Class Refit
Loadout: Complete Aegis set, 4x Neutronium Alloy, 2x Halon Systems (Weapons and tactical console should match, but any types work)
Commander Engineer- Auxiliary to Structural Integrity 3, Engineering Team 3, Reverse Shield Polarity 1, Emergency Power to Auxiliary
Lt. Commander Engineer- Emergency Power to Shields 3, Reverse Shield Polarity 1, Engineering Team 1
Lieutenant Tactical- Attack Patter Delta, Tactical Team OR Beam Fire at Will 2, Torpedo Spread 1
Lieutenant Science- Hazard Emitters 2, Polarize Hull Plating 1
Ensign Engineering- Emergency Power to Shields 1
With this load out, you are going to want to focus on hull healing more than shields. Keep Auxiliary to Structural Integrity active at all times, giving yourself a moderate damage reduction for the majority of the time. You may want to also activate Hazard Emitters and Polarize Hull just as soon as they are available. Using those two, instead of two versions of HE, gives you more up time with damage resistance. These should keep you hull in good condition, leaving you with Engineering Team for emergencies.
Cycle Emergency Power to Shields 3 and Emergency Power to Auxiliary. Only use EPtS1 in rare circumstances. For the most part, don’t worry about your shield depleting. When your shields are gone and you are focus of a lot of fire, activate Reverse Shield Polarity and Tactical Team to give yourself a full shield heal.