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!


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.

Star Trek Online: The 2800 Return this weekend

Who are “the 2800”? They are the 2,800 ships in the Dominion fleet that was swallowed up in the wormhole by the Prophets during a crucial point in the Dominion War. Their elimination gave starbase Deep Space 9 time to complete mining the mouth of the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant, and was the turning point to a long, protracted war.

Now, they’ve apparently returned to continue the war.

This weekend, Saturday, February 12th, the Klingon Empire and the Federation will reluctantly join forces once again to battle the foe that nearly destroyed the Federation once before.

The Federation News Service will be there with a full report.

Star Trek Online FE305: Cutting the Cord (spoilers)

Cutting the Cord

After last week’s epic episode, “Coliseum”, those of us at the Federation News Service were intrigued to see just how they could possibly top that nod back to the high point of the Star Trek franchise — the very beginning.

Maybe they could have stayed in a retro mood, and maybe it would have been better if they had. “Cut the Cord”, the finale of the “Cloaked Intentions” arc, instead took its cues from “Star Trek Nemesis”, the movie that finally killed the Star Trek franchise. Nonetheless, it was still a fun, if literally on rails, experience.

Details, and spoilers, after the break.
Continue reading Star Trek Online FE305: Cutting the Cord (spoilers)

Star Trek Online: Out in the Cold (spoilers)

In last week’s episode, “Cold Call“, we were introduced to the Deferans, a race that believes in balance in all things. They, for instance, see no reason to side with either the Klingon Empire or the Federation, and consider both allies against the Breen.

Searching for ancient Preserver technology, the Breen found evidence on the Deferan homeworld; and found as well, a non-violent, pliable civilization that they could exploit for their own, cold-hearted purposes.

While the Federation News Service (our STO fleet/guild) was setting up a foreign desk in the recently-liberated Deferan capital, beat reporters sent word that the Breen were in hot pursuit of some Deferan ships that had taken refuge in the tail of a comet.

We were first on the scene with the story. Ambassador Longasc’s flagship Amgarrak headed the fleet response; Bryn and I followed in our Intrepid-class science ships, the USS Monterey and the USS Auryn. Captain Xerxes warped in with her escort, the USS Redoubtable, and Lieutenant Thomas with his first command, the Miranda-class Scorpius, followed closely behind.

We dropped out of warp at the last known source of the distress call.

To all ships in range, this is the Deferi freighter Sabok! We are under attack and require immediate assistance! We have no weaponry aboard and our shields are failing! Anyone who can hear this, please help!

It’s said in space, nobody can hear you scream. But everyone can hear a distress call. Two Deferi freighters were pinned down by the Breen, only the comet’s tail protecting them from utter destruction. We headed in to save our newest allies.

It was a glorious fight, and the Breen seemed to have an endless supply of ships, each seeming larger than the other. The Amgarrak kept the attention of the capital ships as the Scorpius and the Redoubtable picked off the support craft. The Auryn and the Monterey were kept busy keeping the Amgarrak’s shields up and the Breen weakened.

The skies were finally clear of Breen, if not of huge, speeding comet.

A second Deferi ship needed our aid.

The is the Deferi ship Paktau!

We escaped from a Breen slaver attack and our antimatter containment unit and warp coils are non-functional. We need some replacement parts immediately! We are on the verge of a warp core breach! Is there any ship within range? Please help!

They need Warp Coils? How about some Seismic Stabilizers? Provisions? Entertainment Units? The industrial “Aid the Planet”-strength replicators that now are standard equipment on all Federation ships could make whatever was needed. We were in the area, and not even a handful of Breen capital ships could stop the FNS. If we could not defeat the Breen, perhaps we could at least tie up their industrial capacity for ship replacement.

One last ship, the Sobok, fled at the first sign of the Breen, and had perhaps taken refuge in the neighboring Zaria system. If we defeated the Breen there, we might well stop their slave trade forever. It was a chance we could not lose.

Turns out the Breen love their slave trade as much as they love their children — perhaps more. The fights we saw dwarfed the other ones; a dozen capital ships all protected by frigates and fighter swarms attacked from all sides. I’d like to think my Photonic Fleet made the difference, but it was a team effort all the way.

Was it all for nothing? When the Breen were destroyed, we found the Sobok empty — the crew taken to the Breen slave pens on the planet below. A transporter interdiction field prevented us from beaming the Deferans to safety but not, oddly, from beaming down ourselves.

The five captains, after a quick trip to the weapons lockers, met at the underground coordinates closest to the Deferi life signs.

The Deferi were imprisoned in force fields, packaged for easy sale and transport. We could not get near them, but tricorder readings suggested three control points deeper in the cave system.

We resignedly charged our weapons and went a’hunting, Breen-style.

The Breen cannot survive hot plasma. When we returned to the main cavern, though, the Deferi prisoners were gone — the skeleton crew on the Sobok had beamed them up as soon as we’d dropped the shields.

The Breen, however, were still in the area; after a mocking call from a Breen commander in orbit, the now-disgraced Breen slaver and a squad of his best ice warriors came after us. If he killed us, his reputation could perhaps be restored. If he fell, as he did, well, his reputation would suddenly become somewhat less important.

Cryptic is doing an amazing job on these weekly missions. It is shocking how well they are received; there is simply nobody with any real complaints.

As one of the only MMOs that allow full level adjustment so that any group of players can match levels and do missions, STO is doing a stellar (heh) job of getting people logging in and into the latest content, no matter what their level. Naturally, being higher rank gives you more options, but we had fleetmates in everything from the basic starter ship to the most advanced ship in the game working together on the same mission, same task, and everyone could contribute.

That’s the way it should be done, that it needs to be done. STO is finally reaching its potential.