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Star Trek Online

Guest Blog: Special Task Forces

By PWE_BranFlakes | Fri 29 Jun 2012 04:27:04 PM PDT

By the STFRaiders

Star Trek Online F2P Sci-Fi MMO game



So, you've now reached the end-game in Star Trek Online; the Romulans, the Breen and the ghastly Devidians have all fallen before you on the journey from lowly lieutenant to being a Federation Vice Admiral or Lt. General in the Klingon Defense Force. You are now called upon to face enemies whose threat is so great that the KDF & Starfleet must for a moment put aside the bitter war engulfing them and as one turn to face the Borg menace. When a character reaches level 44, they are given an option to join Omega Force; the elite group formed by Starfleet Command and the High Council to bring together their best officers for the purpose of putting a stop to Borg encroachments into the Alpha Quadrant and their attempts to meddle with history and ensure the assimilation of all. As a member of Omega Force, fresh from meeting with Admiral D'Vak on DS9, you have the ability to participate in special five-man missions with other players against the Borg which give the opportunity to acquire special end-game gear and rewards.

All this is very well, especially the bit about special gear, but just what are the STFs? There are currently three missions players can participate in against the Borg in the quest to thwart their schemes: Infected, Cure, and Khitomer Accord. These three were further broken down into space and ground portions following the Season 5 revamp of this content so that players could find groups easier for the shorter missions and participate in the style of gameplay which they most enjoyed.
 

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The Story of the STFs

One of the greatest strengths of STO is the fantastic story content, and the STFs are no exception. These missions continue the storyline started in the Borg Collective arc of the Federation campaign, dealing with a new malicious nanovirus developed by the Collective which has the capability to infect entire planets, eventually bringing everything it contacts into a glorious unity with the Borg; or so the Collective claims at any rate. The first STF, "Infected", deals with just such, when Starbase 82 comes under attack by the Borg, who attempt to assimilate it as a prelude to invasion. The player must, during the space portion of the mission, destroy the Transwarp gate and prevent the Borg from bringing further reinforcements into the star system. The Borg have emplaced powerful defenses at the gate and your team must systematically eliminate them before taking care of the gate; once the coast is clear, the team beams down to investigate what is going on and eliminate the Borg presence there. The base's crew is still in the process of being assimilated, and quick teams will be able to save some of the crew members ere they are assimilated. For most of the Starfleet officers stationed here however, it is already too late, and a clean death is the only mercy possible. The players progress through a starbase ever more resembling a Borg vessel, eventually culminating in a fight against Manus of Borg amidst a sea of plasma. Terminating her, the Borg advance has been halted for the moment.

Having failed in their attack upon the Federation, the Borg then turn their attention to the Klingon Empire in the Vorn System where a Klingon fleet engaged in offensive operations against the Borg was overcome and trapped. The Borg have already begun the process of assimilating the captured Klingon fleet in shipyards orbiting the planet; however these shipyards are protected by a forcefield generated on the planetary surface, and a ground assault is necessary to shut down the barrier. The strike team must pass through defensive fields by re-routing power transformers while collecting tissue samples from the Klingons in order to build upon the research from the "Asset Recovery" mission and synthesize a cure for the Borg nanovirus. Once the shield generators are destroyed, a tense battle with Armek of Borg ensues, who is perhaps the most difficult ground boss in the game. Surviving the orbital strikes, powerful melee, and an energy blast that can kill with a couple shots will test your teamwork and wits to the utmost. Once Armek is dispatched to Sto'vo'kor, the team takes to their ships for the space portion of this STF, destroying the orbital shipyards even as they continue assimilating and sending into battle captured Klingon warships against the I.K.S. Kang; lone survivor of the Klingon Seventh Fleet. Once the Kang has been saved and returns to Klingon space, cure in hand, the threat of the Borg nanovirus is averted.
 

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Yet Borg are nothing if not relentless, and when the nanovirus fails to achieve the destruction of the Federation, the Borg revisit their tactics from First Contact using transwarp gates and a temporal portal in the Quadra Sigma system to send waves of vessels back into the past in an attack on Vega Colony. The player themselves witnessed this attack during the tutorial; but for the actions of the player's future self, the Vega Colony would have been overwhelmed and destroyed by the massive horde of Borg drones lying dormant beneath the colony. It is the destruction of the transwarp gates, the damage done to Borg vessels that had transited the time portal and the elimination of the underground facility that permitted your own career to begin, bringing events from the very beginning of the game full-circle.

All very well one might say, that certainly sounds like a lot of great missions against the Borg, but what of that other menace from the early story missions, the Undine? Terradome, the fourth STF mission deals with a mysterious Undine Facility in Gamma Orionis, and we’ll not here spoil the story of the mission, save to say that it is engaging and worthwhile. Terradome is a blast to run with a group of friends or fleet mates and presents a story from start to finish; it is far closer to a traditional story mission than the other STFs are, and I encourage everyone to round up a five-strong team and head over to Gamma Orionis and give this unique experience a play-through!
 

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The Nitty-Gritty: How do STFs work?

At this point I hope you're satisfied that the STFs represent an exciting set of new missions to enjoy in Star Trek Online, but that does no good if you don't know how to get started on them! When doing the Borg STFs, you have a few choices as to how you go about them; via the public queues or via a private one. Both of these are accessed through the PvE queue system, located in the drop-down menu under your minimap (the PvE queue button will be returning with Season 6). If you're by yourself or on a small team, you can join a public queue match in the left-most tab. If you have a full team of five, say a fleet group, you can go to the right-most tab and hit "Create Private" to make your very own queue, which can be password protected. To get others to join your private queue, you can give them the room name and password, use the invite button, or simply right-click their name in chat and select "invite to challenge match". The only difference between a public and private queue (aside from control over who gets in) is that private queues don't have a one-hour leaver penalty, so if you're trying for a difficult accolade, such as completing the optional objective on “Infected Ground”, you may wish to use a private queue so that you can reset the STF without having to worry about a leaver penalty.

You've now started the STF, excellent! As you progress through the mission, you will see a timer start once you reach a certain point; this is for the optional objective. If you complete a specified portion of the STF without fifteen minutes, the team will gain an extra bag of loot after completing that part of the mission. This loot may consist of rare or very rare equipment, Borg Salvage, or Encrypted Data Chips (more on these special STF currencies later), but will never include the special Borg Technology drops which are so coveted. The loot bag is very nice, and provides a nice tangible reward for the good teamwork required to quickly complete the STF, but shouldn't be considered a make-or-break portion of the mission; some folks will leave an STF early when the optional objective is failed, believing that it decreases their chances of getting Borg Technology drops at the end; this is an erroneous belief. What you can get from completing all the optional objectives on either Normal or Elite Difficulties are accolades and special titles; collecting the Mk. XII versions of the STF ground sets and completing the all the optional objective on Elite even grants a special costume unlock.
 

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On the subject of optional objectives, we’d like to take a second to dispel a common myth concerning the space STFs which has caused many bad feelings amongst the community and heated arguments in team chat; namely that Escorts are the only ships worth bringing into elite space STFs because they have the best damage potential. This is quite far from the truth, and it has been our experience that a balanced team with Cruisers there to throw out Extend Shields, and Science ships for control abilities like Gravity well or Tractor Beam Repulsors has a far easier time of succeeding than simply bringing five escorts. Being able to keep the escorts alive (dead ships deal no DPS after all), or pull the enemy into a neat little pile for Cannon Scatter Volley or Torpedo Spread truly does more for the team than a simple extra set of guns. Balanced teams with a bit of coordination are absolutely capable of getting well over five minutes left on the optional timer.

The Loot

Now for the part that everyone has been waiting for; learning about the sweet goodies you get for completing the STFs. The rewards come in a variety of forms, each with a different purpose. Borg Salvage can be exchanged for very rare gear, ranging from Mk. X to Mk. XII, with Mk. XII gear only obtainable via the prototype salvages garnered from STF runs on Elite Difficulty. Encrypted Data Chips are perhaps the most versatile currency, and the only one which you are guaranteed to receive after completing an STF (you also get double the EDC for running the featured STF every Wednesday!). They can be exchanged for normal Mk. X & XI gear, special rare and very rare Duty Officers, as well as the special STF sets, including the old Borg set from before Season 5 launched. Last to mention are the coveted Borg Technology drops, which can be exchanged on a one-for-one basis for the new exciting STF sets designed specifically to fight the Borg. A more detailed explanation of the loot system can be found here.
 

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Sets & Accolades

The new STF sets give the player significant advantages when fighting the Borg and represent some of the best gear currently obtainable in Star Trek Online. The space sets grant extra resistance to the plasma weaponry used by the Borg, as well as having excellent statistics, and the ground sets offer something invaluable when fighting the Borg on foot; a remodulator which works instantly rather than taking four precious seconds to activate, and I highly recommend that everyone who wants to run the ground STFs pick up one of the special sets, even a Mk. X one, as soon as possible for this benefit.

Representing Starfleet, the KDF, and the hybrid Omega Force, each STF set has a different theme, both ground and space. Starfleet's M.A.C.O. set is very defensive in nature, including a powerful Resilient Shield Array, and granting bonuses to shield systems and structural integrity. The Klingon Honor Guard set is focused on concealment, offering an area-of-effect stealth field, as well as a bonus on torpedo damage. The Omega set, available to both factions, focuses purely on offense, adding shield-stripping power with the Tetryon Glider ability, alongside bonuses to accuracy and turn rate.
 

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The ground sets have similar themes, with Klingons gaining a bonus on melee damage and an Adrenal Stimulator, where Federation players gain advanced shield capacitor technologies. The Omega Force set is available to both factions and features a personal stealth field.

Many players in STO also enjoy hunting down accolades, and the STFs offer plenty. The "Team Specialist" accolade can be obtained by completing all STF optional objectives on Normal difficulty, the "Team Commander" by doing the same on Elite, and the "Elite Commander" by acquiring all three pieces of a Mk. XII ground set and earning the "Team Commander" title. If you see someone walking around with that title, or the special costume unlock associated with it, you know that you're dealing with a true STF veteran!

A Word on Difficulty

As we’ve alluded to a number of times so far, there are two different difficulty modes for the STFs; Normal & Elite. Normal STFs are not much harder than the storyline missions you are used to, and can drop Mk. X or XI rewards, including Rare Salvage & Tech. On Elite STFs however, the enemies are harder to kill, deal more damage and require better tactics if one desires to claim victory. Your captain & ship can also get injured on Elite difficulty; more information on Injuries can be found in the links at the end of the article. The rewards however, are commensurate with this increase in difficulty; you receive twice the number of EDCs, and have chances at Mk. XII gear including the coveted ground sets with helmets and capes for Klingon players.
 

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Gearing Up

By this point, you must be wondering how to get your ship and captain ready for these missions. We’ll address ground missions first since they're the most straightforward; until you get one of the STF ground sets, you want the best Energy Dampening armor and Personal Shield Generator you can easily get your hands on, a Pulsewave Assault weapon and a Sniper Rifle, as well as your trusty Remodulator and a generous supply of Large Hypos & Shield Charges. Why these two weapons you might ask? They offer the greatest combination of versatility and damage potential; the rifle allows you to engage the Borg at range or snipe one, causing it to walk away from the safety of its group and into a fire trap, and the Pulsewave offers excellent area-of-effect damage to Borg that are right in your face as well as useful knockback that can save the transformers during Cure Ground or knock drones into the plasma on Infected. Detailed explanations of kits can be found linked at the end of this article.

Getting your ship ready for space STFs is a little bit more complicated, since there are many possible variations of ships and bridge officer powers, so we’ll try to set out some general guidelines and then provide some example builds that we’ve personally found to be highly effective. Always carry heals for both yourself and your team, including Hazard Emitters to put out plasma fires, run tanking abilities like Emergency Power to Shields which reduces the damage taken to shields, and have at least a few control abilities like Gravity Well or Tractor Beam on your team. Avoid abilities like Boarding Party or Photonic Shockwave; these won't do very much to the Borg. Without further ado, here are some example ship builds which will do quite well in STFs, including links to the skill planner which details Bridge Officer abilities. These are not intended to be the definitive 'best' STF builds, which don't really exist, but simply serviceable builds that won't let you down, even on Elite missions.


Odyssey Tactical Cruiser


Weapons: 8x Beam Arrays
Science Consoles: 2x Field Generators, Assimilated Module
Engineering Consoles: Electroceramic Plating, 2x SIF Generators, 1x Neutronium Armor
Other Gear: MACO Resilient Shield Array, Assimilated Subtranswarp Engines, Assimilated Graviton Deflector Array

Intrepid Retrofit

Weapons: 2x Dual Beam Banks, 1x Tricobalt Torpedo Launcher, 3x Turrets
Science Consoles: 1x Field Generator, 2x Particle Generator, 1x Emitter Array
Engineering Consoles: Electroceramic Plating, Ablative Generator, Assimilated Module
Other Gear: MACO Resilient Shield Array, Assimilated Subtranswarp Engines, Assimilated Graviton Deflector Array

Fleet Escort

Weapons: 4x Dual Heavy Cannons, 3x Turrets
Science Consoles: 2x Field Generator
Engineering Consoles: Electroceramic Plating, Neutronium Armor, Assimilated Module
Other Gear: MACO Resilient Shield Array, Assimilated Subtranswarp Engines, Assimilated Graviton Deflector Array
 

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Conclusion & Further Reading

It is our sincere hope that after reading this guide you have a better understanding of how the Special Task Forces in Star Trek Online work, what the rewards are, and why you should get a group of buddies together and go try some out. They're currently the most challenging PvE content in the game, though the No-Win Scenario currently testing on Tribble makes Elite STFs look like a stroll in the park, offering fantastic rewards and a great time with your friends. I highly recommend giving them a try if you haven't already; if you've been intimidated or confused by them, hopefully this blog has answered some of your questions and explained where they fit into the STO storyline. Don't forget to give Terradome a try as well; this is a very fun mission to play with a team of friends and answers the age-old question of "Where's Sulu?"

For some additional information aimed at newcomers to STFs, including basic tips intended to get you through your first normal STF, I recommend that you check out Latinumbar's very helpful "NOOB Guide to STFs."

If you're looking for the sort of advanced strategies required to get the optional objectives completed on Elite STFs, I suggest looking up our own Elite Tactical Reports guide, which also includes a more in-depth analysis of equipment selection and step-by-step strategies to beat any of the Borg STFs.

Also, please reach out @StarfleetCommander in-game and he will be happy to let you know how you can get involved with the STFRaiders and other in-game STF chat channels.

We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors against the Borg & Undine in the Special Task Forces!

- @Naldoran and @StarfleetCommander, STFRaiders


 

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