Sunday, January 31, 2010

Welcome to Arathi Basin, STO style

I chuckled a bit to myself after the first couple times I ran one of the space battlegrounds called "Hostile Engagement - Capture and Hold - Space - Salvage Operation" and realized it was Arathi Basin in space. The battleground features five nodes which have to be captured and held, with one central node. Imagine the abandoned space station in the middle being the Blacksmith, and the four remaining nodes being the stables, lumbermill, farm and gold mine. Even the number of nodes line up. Once held those nodes give you points, though unlike in Arathi Basin, you points count down instead of up. Both teams start off at 1200 points and the more nodes each team has the faster the other team loses points. There are some missing pieces that would complete this battleground however. Like some sort of indicator on the map that shows who is in possession of each node at the moment. Right now you look at the map and it just shows you that. Auto-grouping would be nice too, though not strictly necessary as grouping gives you no benefit over flying solo. And I would love to see timers and influence indicators. As I said, you have to capture the nodes, but you have no indicator how long it will take to capture individual nodes so you end up sitting there. I've sat on a node for 1-2 minutes and they never changed so it's either a bug or something else was going on. Some kind of influence/possession indicator would help with that.

As far as battleground go, there is some terrain to maneuver around, though obviously it's very limited. The name of this game is travel in small packs and like in Arathi Basin, cap those nodes. Capping is everything and you are killing the opposing forces as a consequence to capping. Traveling alone is not a good idea as you can be jumped by multiple forces at any time. The physical lay out of the nodes -- one central node, with one node on one side and three lined up on the opposite side of the map -- tell you all you need to know in how you should fight this battle. You want to hold the side with the three nodes and keep the central node if at all possible. Essentially all you need to do is keep to one large group, or perhaps two smaller groups. One protecting the central node and reacting to the other smaller ones, and one roaming the smaller nodes and reacting to the central node as required.

Once you get the strategy down you will see that the Klingons seem to have the advantage in the Tier 1 level. Cannons are better than the default phaser banks on the federation ships, and all you need to do is make yourself into a turret with your impulse set just high enough to maneuver and snipe. Staying grouped helps tremendously as you can focus down someone very quickly. If you do get caught off alone and jumped by multiple forces, make sure you are keeping your shield up and shift over to your speed setting then hit evasive maneuver for a quick get away. Head toward friendly forces obviously. Of course dieing isn't at all a big deal in STO as you will respawn in about 10 seconds and can be back in the fray even before the other guy you were just fighting even recovers. It's an issue in PVP that I think needs to be addressed at some point, because there is zero impact in dieing. You die, respawn and get right back in the fight.

I've only run one ground battleground, but as I'm primarily interested in the space aspects of Star Trek I ignore those battles now. The only other space battleground I've gotten into is the "Cracked Sphere" battle, where the objective is simply to kill 15 opponents. The first to 15 wins. The strategy for this battle is very simple. Stick together and never stray apart. If you are Klingon, just pick a spot and let the Feds come to you as it plays toward your firepower advantages. If you have voice comms let the leader pick a target and the entire group focus it down in a few seconds. Rinse and repeat to 15. If you can get this battleground to pop regularly it's the best battleground for points in my opinion as the battles are very short.

I'm very close to LCDR right now where I'll get to experience Tier 2 ships and battles. So it'll be interesting to see how things shake out at that level.