STO: A Case of Galor Envy

Cardassia is MINE!

Okay, no, this isn’t MY Galor, but that of my good friend Longash. I’m not quite sure on all the details, but I believe he borrowed money from an honest looking Ferengi to get the ship. Anyway, like the holiday Jem’Hadar Bugship, the Cardassian Galor cruiser has a custom bridge, along with some uniquely Dominion design features such as no chairs. Except for the captain.

Bortas and Galor

The slippery thing moves like a FISH. Long got consoles and doff powers and whatnot to give the ship an incredible 21 degrees/second (366 radians/kilosecond metric) turn rate. That’s a tighter radius than most escorts. Combined with unique weapons and all the powers normally reserved for big, massive ships like the Bortas I’m flying here, this is one heck of a ship.

Narad@Heretic, Krontar@Tipa, and Longash on the bridge of the Pandora

Special enough that a dev — Heretic — came by to visit. He was getting a bridge officer trained by Longash. Because (as Heretic pointed out) even devs need their bridge officers trained. Yeah, but how much did he pay for his ship? His Galor is running with a complete Cardassian crew, from captain down to ensign.

Prices for the Galor have fallen from 800 million energy credits to about a tenth that today. Soon everyone who wants one will have one.

I’m still holding out for the bugship.

STO: “The 2800” episode 1 — Second Wave

We have been waiting for the new Featured Episode arc for a year. The fleet — Federation News Service, supplier of embedded journalists to Starfleet — was logging in more and more, getting ready to do whatever would be asked of us. Fleet mates were watching the relevant Deep Space 9 episodes. We were totally there.

We even specified uniforms of the day (four variations) so we’d be dressed appropriately. Because while the poor, doomed residents of Deep Space 9 didn’t know what was going to happen — we did.

I shouldn’t say that. I think the current Deep Space 9 commander knew, because he got out alive, leaving his XO to die. But we’ll get to that.

We gathered outside Deep Space 9 — I, Talyn, Azz, Galo, and Kermoon. Well, I shouldn’t say “together”, since we were in three of the many instances outside DS9. And we weren’t ready to start, even though we all had “Start Second Wave” buttons, because you get those whenever anyone has gotten the quest. One of us had gone to the Episodes screen and gotten it, we all had the button, but only one of us was going to get the end rewards. ANYWAY. We all entered the mission — and found ourselves on Deep Space 9.

Well, most of us. Talyn got his own instance.

We were called up to Operations, where the station XO greeted us and apologized for the commander being away, making preparations for the quadrant-wide conference on the Borg invasion. Perhaps if we could go find the delegates and tell them there was some delay…

I was reading (this is sort of parenthetical) recently that Star Trek was a futuristic depiction not of our society, but of Victorian society — tall ships, a love of old books, a complete absence of social technologies — a future where our present had never happened. Not surprising, since the tall ships of the Horatio Hornblower Sail Age stories were an explicit inspiration for Star Trek.

Anyway, the point I’m making here is, why can’t they just use their comm badges to inform everyone of the delay? Or send an ensign? I’m a VICE ADMIRAL. I should be ATTENDING this conference. Which eventually does happen. I’m foreshadowing again.

Well, we could have just chatted with the delegates and continued on the quest, but each delegate also had a task to perform. The Cardassian ambassador wanted some Bajor slave wine from the occupation. The Deferan ambassador wanted to get his freak on in a holosuite. The Andorian ambassador wanted some ship repairs (completed as Duty Officer missions) if you were a Federation captain. If you were a KDF captain, the Klingon ambassador (a Gorn) wants your crew to help with some espionage (again as Duty Officer missions). Many of those missions have sub-missions. Basically, you run around and complete meaningless tasks.

I’m really not sure what the point of those was. With a full group running around, it was hard to keep track of who was doing what to which quest. This portion was clearly better for one or two people — Bryn and I did it over as a duo and it worked well.

Anyway, mini quests done and delegates notified, we took the turbolift to the conference room and took a seat at the table.

The conference started immediately. The Klingon ambassador (who was a Gorn) trumpeted that that Klingon empire was strong and would never accept defeat (the Gorn, remember, are a conquered race. Talk about your textbook Stockholm Syndrome). The Deferans proposed to do nothing and let everyone else help them because that has worked so well with the Breen and the Borg. The Cardassians aren’t big fans of anyone else. The Federation ambassador promises to keep the entire quadrant safe, eventually. They’re really working hard. A solution is just around the corner. Your words may be assimilated by then but help is on the way.

This discussion isn’t going anywhere. The station commander asks for our input. If your diplomacy skill is high enough, you get the decisive arguments and can select them. Otherwise you have to drill down into a conversation tree. Your arguments are either persuasive or miss the mark. I think you get an accolade if you sway all of them to your side.

That’s when the wormhole opens and a Dominion fleet streams through. They quickly strike through DS9’s defenses and beam Jem’Hadar troops into the promenade. The delegates must be brought to safety, by us!

The turbolift drops us onto a promenade in ruins. Jem’Hadar troops are everywhere. Tactical officers can take a gun from a fallen security officer and give it to the Gorn. Engineering officers can unjam a bulkhead and free a security officer. Science officers can heal a security officer. Doing all three gets you an accolade. It’s a running fight down to the ship docks, and we needed both energy and melee weapons to take the Jem’Hadar down. Several Cardassian Lock Boxes dropped, and quite a lot of Ketracel White.

I, as a fabrication engineer, was a little depowered because I could not make most of my devices, like turrets and stuff. Fab engineers are not allowed to make their devices on DS9 because they are considered spammy. Fine, but I felt underpowered on our trip to the docks. I was able to call down some Orbital Bombardments now and then. I don’t know from where, or how it hit without blowing a hole straight through the station, but there you go.

We eventually made it to the docks, cleared the area of enemies and boarded our ships, splitting the delegates between us, apparently.

(I just realized I took no screenshots of the space battle… sigh… well, it was kind of busy).

The space around DS9 was sick with Jem’Hadar fighter ships and boarding parties. The station shuttle fleet was hemmed in. We made short work of those ships — there must have been twenty, easy. But we were up for it.

From the wormhole came a new Dominion battle group — several battleships, a squadron of support ships and heavy escorts, and an enormous Dreadnaught. We were going to need help. Four Federation starships were in the area, dealing with portions of the attacking fleet. We had to go help each of those ships with their battles so they could be free to help repel the battle group, while also opening a path for the refugee shuttles to escape to Bajor.

Just as we finished that, the vanguard of the Dominion battle group reached DS9.

My name is Loriss, and I speak for the trees. Er, Dominion.

Cutscene as a Jem’Hadar beams in to DS9 Operations and kills the XO, leaving the station commander (who escaped on the Defiant) squawking on comm about what was happening. A Vorta woman beams in and announces that she is Loriss, and is claiming Deep Space 9 on behalf of the Dominion.

You can either warp to Bajor at this point, or stay behind and kill the battle group. There doesn’t seem to be any reward for sticking it out. Plot-wise, the battle group made it to the station, after all.

Warping out brings you to Bajor orbit, where you release the delegates to their delegations and receive your reward (if you remembered to get the mission before starting it. I had to go back and do it again.)

Loot is one of two weapons, some Jem’Hadar pistols or a Jem’Hadar rifle. The rifle is part of a set, the set which will clearly be completed by other episodes in this arc. So get that. Do it again for the pistols if you like. The other rewards are consumable weapon power-ups. Presumably future episodes will need these weapons, so look for more ground missions in this arc.

Krontar! Of House Krondor!

Here’s my Klingon captain modeling the rifle. Look at his spindly legs and laugh! Laugh! Ask him about his smooth forehead! See how he cowers in fear! He is no true warrior! Hahaha!

Anyway.

Having now done the episode four times (twice for T’pral, once for Tipa, once for Krontar), I can say it works best with one other person. One person has to run around a lot in the meaningless task portion (which is optional, I have to point out). Two people can do it far more effectively, and are also sufficient to clear the promenade and take on the battle groups outside the station. Five — a full group — is too many for the pre-conference stuff (which should be skipped in a group that size). I guess three captains, one of each specialty, would be best in order to pick up the accolade in the promenade. High diplomacy is helpful, too.

We know the plot going forward; the summaries for all the remaining episodes have been posted. What we don’t know is — are any of the episodes going to require a full group? Previous feature episodes — the Breen arc, especially — have taken great advantage of full groups. Some, the Devidian Arc, have been balanced between the two.

I would really like to know ahead of time what sort of group we should be bringing to these things. Knowing what I know now, with our full group today, I’d have skipped the subquests, but we really had no idea if they were important to the plot or eventual reward in some way. I’m still not sure.

But whatever. I do know now, and now so do you.

See you next week!

This has been T’pral Zarek reporting for the Federation News Service.

STO: STF Walkthrough — Khitomer Accord (Space)

Khitomer Accord (Space)

It was pointed out to me at some length in an elite STF tonight — Infected — that while these STF walkthroughs are fine for the normal mode task forces, elite task forces take slightly different strategies. Those strategies would work in normal mode, too, but nobody bothers with them. In normal mode STFs, these walkthroughs work fine.

Khitomer Accord is the most complicated of the space task forces. The Borg are attempting to go back in time via the time portal and arrange the past and present more to their liking. Probes are going to warp in on the two gateways and head (slowly) to the time portal. If ten get through, the mission fails. If even ONE gets through, the optional objective fails. Every one of the gateways, generators and transformers must be destroyed within 15 minutes, or the optional is failed.

Once all those are destroyed, an assimilated Reman Scimitar — Donatra’s Scimitar — warps in. Once her ship is destroyed, the mission is won. The optional rewards and the mission rewards spawn above the time portal.

Let’s take this step by step.

Playbook for Khitomer Accord (Space)

There’s a tactical cube guarding the time portal at the start of the mission. Destroy that.

ONE SHIP needs to head over to the complex on the right. This is usually a tactical ship. This ship will destroy every probe and sphere that warps into that gateway. Those ships will head slowly toward the time portal once spawned. It is IMPORTANT that NO PROBE gets through. They don’t have much health, they die fast. Spheres will spawn occasionally as guards; they must be destroyed as well, but probes always die first.

Some groups leave a ship in front of the time portal to take care of probes from both sides, but in my opinion, this lets probes get too close to the portal.

When the lone right side guard isn’t killing stuff, it should be taking out the nanite generators around the transformers. It’s important to always be shooting something in this STF (in all of them, actually).

Everyone else goes to the left side. Another tactical ship could be dedicated to taking down the probes, but it’s no hardship for the team working on the generators and gateways to just take them out as they spawn. As long as someone does it.

The left and right complexes are copies of the complex from Infected, and die the same way. Kill the generators around one side, then the transformer, go to the other side and take down the matching generators and transformer, then the gateway.

Once the left gateway is killed, the RIGHT gateway will spawn a patrol of four probes and two spheres. Everyone should be headed there at full impulse to deal with the spawn, then take out the right complex as was done with the left. Spheres will continue to warp in to defend the complexes; it’s important to keep those in check, but it’s also important to get the gateways down before the optional timer expires.

Once everything is dead, Donatra’s ship warps in near zone in. She does considerable damage and also occasionally spawns tractor probes to keep you in place. Every so often she will cloak and move away. When she decloaks, she will charge up her thalaron weapon and fire it, doing massive damage to everything in a cone in front of her. There will be lines showing her firing arc; move out of it if you’re in it. Use evasive maneuvers if you need to. Best strategy is to keep generally behind the Scimitar as it is very weak from behind.

Once she’s dead (and there’s no timer at this point, take as long as you need), fly up above the time portal and grab your reward.

If you’re new to Khitomer Accord, just stay with the main group and you’ll do fine — if you see some probes and you’re in a position to shoot them, shoot them. If spheres are dogging you, pull them back to the group and get everyone shooting it. Don’t be flying 20km out trying to solo it; the STF needs your weapons on the mission objectives.

Khitomer Accord (Space) is actually easier than Infected (Space). Being responsible for the right side while the rest of the group is doing the left side is a real lift. But if someone flies up and tries to help, let them — head back to the main group.

STO: Red Gift Box, v2. Now with more cash needed!

It'll cost you to open this box.

At the winter holiday event. Cryptic dangled a Jem’Hadar starship in front of the players. “Run the race in Q’s Winter Wonderland,” went the line, “and you will win a gift box that could contain this highly desirable ship!” The chance of that race dropping one of the red gift boxes was less than 1%. The chance that the red gift box, once obtained, would have a ship inside was far less than 1%. You could _buy_ gift boxes for $1 each. On the forums, people reported spending between $50 and $200 for red gift boxes until they obtained one of those ships.

Most ended up with stacks and stacks of useless items, and no ship. I was one of those; I only spent about $30 on red gift boxes. That was my wake-up call. All that money for nothing. Never again.

At least there was a really, really small possibility of obtaining the ship for free.

Along with the new feature episode this weekend comes the Cardassian Lock Box. This will drop as loot in the game. The lock box can contain:

  • A box with a Cardassian Galor class cruiser starship.
  • A box with a powerful cross-faction starship console.
  • A box with a Crossfire Tribble.
  • A Duty Officer Pack just like the ones sold in the C-Store.
  • A Large Commendation Boost
  • A smaller Commendation Boost
  • A Skill Point Boost
  • A box with a shuttle pet.
  • A box with a Dilithium Horta companion pet
  • A box with a Sehlat Cub companion pet
  • A box that when opened unlocks the Deep Space Nine Federation Costume Pack for the account.
  • A Shield Pack box. This box contains a random blue or purple quality shield for a starship or personal shield for ground use.
  • A box with a stack of Gamma Quadrant commodity items for use in Duty Officer missions.
  • A box with a stack of double bonus consumables

More detail on these options at this link, but it boils down to boxes containing the ship, and boxes not containing the ship. You can certainly expect you will open boxes not containing the ship hundreds of times before opening a box that contains the ship, the Cardassian Galor-class cruiser.

The boxes drop for free. But opening them costs cash — 100 CP per master key. That’s a bit over a dollar per try. How much is this ship worth? A week’s wages for something that is pretty comparable to the Excelsior-class ship already in the C Store.

The Cardassian Galor-class cruiser

it’s not a bad ship, the Galor (full details here). It’s appropriate to put it in the cash shop, the game having gone free to play, after all. What I object to is the lotto aspect of it. If you think the average player will spend $100 (random number pulled from the air, likely on the low side) on this ship, put it in the cash shop, charge $100 for it, and everyone who wants one can send the benjamins your way.

Trying to _trick_ players out of their money, though — that’s low. Yes, it’s done in lots of other F2P games, and it’s low for them as well.

The forums are, predictably, on red alert. 61 pages of stunned and angry players as of this writing, many still reeling from the Red Gift Box scandal and wondering how Cryptic could pull the same stunt twice in a row. They’re hoping to trap the new F2P users, say the conspiracy theorists.

Longasc of the German fleet Rhodanjugend (not the real fleet name) plans to sell the boxes on the exchange to people with too much money, and perhaps earn enough to BUY the ship outright from those who choose to sell them after they finally win them. Sounds like a plan to me.