Tag Archives: STO

The Cult of Dakka

There’s always a tension between gaming and blogging: if I’m blogging, then I’m not gaming, and in a world with a finite amount of time, why would I forego playing a video game in favor of writing about playing a video game?

This is my obtuse way of apologizing for my long blogging absence.

Suffice to say, I’ve been really busy in STO. For starters, I got my Romulan to level cap in the second or third week after Legacy of Romulus was released. For those of you familiar with my MMO-gaming habits, this is a big deal. I’m usually unable to commit to a game for an extended period of time, so I surprised myself by so consistent logging in and leveling up. It didn’t hurt that the EXP rewarded from storyline missions is absolutely absurd; I was gaining at least a level per mission. This, combined with my +5% experience boost for being a veteran, made leveling very easy.

But I’ve been done with the Romulan story arc for several weeks now, and I’m still consistently playing. This is another first for me; I’ve not hardcore committed to STO’s end game, but I’m still logging in every day or every other day, earning dilithium and slowly gaining Romulan and Nukara marks. It’s actually a pretty fun experience, slowly working toward some long term goals.

This, finally, gets me to my post’s title: I love my Mogai Heavy Warbird.

For the vast majority of my STO playing experience, I’ve been a fan of beam arrays. In my mind, beam weapons are the quintessential Star Trek weapon. In the same way that Gene Roddenberry said that the Federation wouldn’t have cloaks because good guys didn’t “sneak around”, I’ve always associated beam weapons with the (good) Federation and cannons with the (bad) Klingons. On top of that, I’ve always seen cruisers as the “true” spirit of Star Trek (more random childhood assumptions on my part!), and cruisers and beams were made for each other.

I’ve always known that there was a world of escorts and cannons out there, but I didn’t want to try them. That is, until I read about GeeCee’s continued love of cannons and escorts. So, slightly intrigued, I thought I’d try out cannons on my Mogai.

I… I don’t think I can go back. Decloaking, obliterating my enemies, and recloaking — truly, what is best in life?


Legacy of Romulus, i.e. Talking Myself Down From Buyer’s Remorse

This deal is getting better all the time.
– Not Lando Calrissian

In a fit of madness, I purchased LoR’s Legacy Pack. I… don’t completely know why I did. I convinced myself that I was going to get the Remans (so 600 Zen, or $6), and the Starter Pack ($20). And then there was some sort of mental gymnastics in which I said, “well, I’m already going to spend $26, and $99 isn’t that much more!”

This is why my wife runs the budget of the household.

Regardless, I’ve really not been feeling much buyer’s remorse, mostly because I’ve deluded myself into thinking that I’m going to maximize every drop of play out of these half dozen plus ships. (“And a Special Reman Duty Officer Mini-Pack! Oh man!”)

Anyways, today STO’s devblog announced two separate updates concerning the Romulan ship line, both of which make the Legacy pack a better deal. First, the Legacy pack now comes with the Haakona Advanced Warbird, as well as the TOS Romulan uniform costume pack. I hadn’t originally been sold on the Haakona, both intellectually or actually (ha, see what I did there?) — but the new pictures, plus the “vector mode”, make it much more interesting. While a ship that is actually shaped like a warbird is a little silly…

… it’s also completely awesome, shut up. And while I think the TOS uniforms are terribly gaudy, at least I now own them.

Secondly, the consoles that come with the Refit and Retrofit versions of the same ship can be combined for a passive set bonus. This makes my purchase of all Romulan C-Store ships a more comprehensive purchase, too. Especially that turn rate bonus for the D’deridex…

Trials and Tribble-ations

HZ’s post yesterday, on bad habits and flaws, got me thinking about my own on-again, off-again blogging habits. I think one of my biggest issues is that I treat blogging as this incredibly ambitious project, and then abandon it as soon as I feel it’ll take any sort of time or effort.

I don’t really have a solution, except to try to be a little more realistic with my blogging goals. So, for instance, watching and reviewing every Romulan episode in preparation for Legacy of Romulas? Not going to happen! But posting a few thoughts on a few episodes, in a post where I update readers about what I’m currently up to? Now that’s a little more doable.

This Weekend’s Tribble
STO is doing one of their Tribble Test Weekends, and as always, there’s the promise of an unannounced reward for players who test the server for over any hour. Tradition dictates that it’s probably going to be a tribble, with the most popular guess being a tribble that grants a Romulan mark every hour. That certainly wouldn’t be the end of the world, but I’m personally hoping for a DOff.

I’m patching for the test server even as I type. Getting an hour in won’t be that difficult, even if I am going to generally avoid all of the Romulan content. I hear there’s new beginning Klingon missions; I think I’ll try those out!

Classic Romulans
Thanks to Amazon generous Prime Instant Watch offerings, I was able to what two of the three Romulan episodes from The Original Series — in HD and remastered!

Balance of Terror – The big draw of this episode is the scenes set on the Romulan warbird. Mark Lenard‘s performance as the Romulan commander is really engaging, and it’s clear why the actor was brought back later as Spock’s father Surak. Outside of that, though, I found the episode a little lacking. For instance, it isn’t clear what tactical advantage the Romulan’s cloak provides, as at this early juncture the Enterprise is still able to track the Romulan ship even when it is cloaked. Furthermore, the entire episode plays out like a destroyer-submarine fight (it was apparently inspired by The Enemy Below), with the Enterprise using phaser shots set to “proximity blast” like depth charges.

The Enterprise Incident – Look, any episode that has Kirk being declared insane is on its way to being a great episode in my book. And there’s this cool story about the Enterprise being sent to steal a new-and-improved Romulan cloaking device, with Kirk’s faux insanity used as plausible deniability. But, as always, The Original Series writes female characters absolutely terribly, and so the sexy Romulan commander‘s only defining characteristics were 1) her sexiness, and 2) her infatuation with Spock. At the least, Cryptic did a really good job recreating those absolutely gaudy 23rd century Romulan uniforms.

I know that the Romulans also make an appearance in “The Deadly Years“, but I’m not really inclined to watch it. I guess I still have “The Good Troi Episode” from TNG. And “The Defector“, naturally.

I finished Spec Ops: The Line last night. Wow, that was something.

Republican Values

I’ll be frank: I have never really been a fan of Romulans. I already like one militarized, duplicitous race of alien imperialists, and they paint their ships ochre. In fact, all I’ve truly ever wanted out of Star Trek Online was the ability to play a Cardassian — not an alien-gen, but a Species: Cardassian officer who was committed to rebuilding the Cardassian Union as a force for good in the galaxy.

So I’m quite surprised at how excited I’m for STO‘s first expansion pack, Legacy of Romulus — especially given that it is completely focused on a race that I’m “not that into.” And heck, that’s growing less true by the day; I think I’m going to watch some of the more Romulan-centric episodes of the various series through Amazon Prime. I seem to remember GeeCee pumping herself up for STO in a similar way, so maybe it’s a time-honored tradition?

Also, it doesn’t hurt that I’ll be playing as a loyalist of the Romulan Republic. In essence, it’s the “reform” or “restoration” story that I wanted for my Cardassian: in the wake of an unmitigated disaster, attempting to create a more representative body politic against the militant opposition of the old order. But in this case, I’ll have pointy ears instead of a sinewy neck. That motivation speaks to me far more than the STO‘s Klingon “we need to fight because that’s what we do, and also honor.” And it makes the duty officer missions I run that much more significant, ya know? I’m not simply sending my astrometric lab technician to a conference; I’m proving that the Romulan people will once again be a leading power in the galaxy.

Now the only question is: pure Romulan, Reman, or Liberated Borg Romulan? Honestly, I’m leaning toward the first choice, though I’m strangely drawn to that female Reman character design…

Ragnar Wrex, Gorn of SCIENCE

If you’re not playing Star Trek Online as a massive, bipedal lizard SCIENTIST that BITES PEOPLE, then you’re playing it wrong.

After an extremely long hiatus of over a year, I decided yesterday to download STO and give it another shot. Many moons back, I purchased a lifetime subscription for this very purpose: the ability to drop in and out of the game at my leisure.

Several years back, Melmoth wrote an incredible piece on returning to old MMO characters. Being Melmoth, it’s both well written and funny:

And that’s pretty much your standard reasonably high level character in an MMO after you’ve been away from them for any significant period of time. You start looking at all the buttons and, if you have any sense, run away screaming. If you don’t do that, then you’re possibly the sort who laughs merrily at all the power that your character must possess, because look: there are six finger-aching hotbars worth of buttons there! So you immediately run into a fight with three or four mobs of plus five levels, and as your character’s health starts to careen its way off the side of the screen you start maniacally pressing buttons in the order that you seem to vaguely remember from several months ago, and it all goes downhill from there. You find the button for ejecting your character’s armour, you find the button that sends up a flare in order to attract all the other mobs in the zone, the button that changes your hair colour, the one that launders your underwear (which you note down because it’s about to become quite useful), and you find the button which announces in General Chat that you’ve taken off all your armour and are currently flashing your whiter than whites at fifteen hundred angry orcs. And that’s when you remember that you were thinking of the buttons for another character, from a different game entirely; you watch your character vaporise into a cloud of bloody droplets, and all you can think is ‘well at least I know which button gets those stains out of my character’s underwear’.

Aaaaaaannnnnnnnnnddddddddddd that’s what happened to me, except even worse. Well, maybe not worse. But I’ve not played STO since the game went free-to-play, so eighteen months of updates flashed before my eyes: here are your 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000 day awards! Let’s drop those old quests, and here are a few new ones! Now here are some quest givers, chatting you up! Respecs! New currencies!

So I did what any self-respecting returner would do: I made a new character.

“My Hegemony, right or wrong.”

Ragnar Wrex is a gorn of science. Before the outbreak of hostilities with the Klingon Empire, he was an up-and-coming figure in the field of applied quantum manipulation, with two published papers in press and a joing Federation-Gorn research appointment lined up on Cestus III. In fact, during the Siege of Gornar, one of Ragnar’s papers was presented in absentia to the Vulcan Science Academy.

But times change, and now the Gorn King Slathis has sworn fealty to the Klingon Empire. The KDF, always short capable engineers, humbly requested that its newfound “ally” supply a cadre of technically minded gorn for advancement in the Klingon navy. Ragnar’s engineering abilities soon caught the eye of a particularly technologically inept Klingon captain — and the ignorant Klingon, taking Ragnar’s height and strength as proof of leadership capability, submitted the gorn’s name for officer training.

In private, Ragnar despises the Klingon Empire. A true believer in the Hegemony’s manifest destiny, Ragnar believes that some day, he and like-minded gorn will overthrow the Klingon occupiers and restore the Gorn Hegemony to its rightful place as a first-tier interstellar power. Then, and only then, will Ragnar be able to run his experiments in peace.

Ships of the Line: U.S.S. Kosciuszko

The Battle of Vega Colony didn’t simply herald the return of a more militant, more dangerous Borg threat; it also witnessed the wholesale slaughter of some of Starfleet’s most skilled officers. In the weeks following the Borg incursion, the already hard-pressed Starfleet was forced to reshuffle its entire command structure, promoting hundreds of experienced, if unexceptional, veterans from the homefront to the front lines. This resulted in dozens of vacancies among the fleet’s so-called “milk-run captaincies”, commands that saw outdated vessels run mundane but essential missions throughout the Sirus Sector.

The recently-promoted Lieutenant MacKenzie Mallon was the beneficiary of just such a captaincy, and in mid-2409 became the acting captain of the the U.S.S. Kosciuszko (NCC-93542). The Koscuiszko was exactly what you would expect from the first command of a recently-promoted ensign — dilapidated and decades out-of-date, the Kosciuszko was suited only for the simplest of scientific surveys in the Delta Volanis Expanse. Perhaps worse yet, Mallon and her crew had to contend with the Oberth-class’ unlucky history: the gruesome fates of the Vico, the Tsiolkovsky and the Yosemite are the stuff of Federation urban legend, and among the most superstitious of Starfleet personal, assignment to an Oberth is akin to a death sentence.

Lieutenant Mallon refused to let either her ship’s age or its ill-fated legacy dampen her crews’ spirits. Under her command, the Koscuiszko made a name for itself as a dependable cargo escort, helping carry goods from Vulcan and Andoria to recently established colonies throughout the Delta Volanis Expanse. It was in this capacity that the Koscuiszko came to the aid of the damaged S.S. Azura, saving its crew from the depredations of Orion pirates. Also of note, the Koscuiszko participated in the successful evacuation of Starbase 24, evading the incoming Klingon attack force long enough to transport out the base’s remaining civilian staff.

But perhaps the Koscuiszko‘s most famous engagement was the Battle of Iota Australis 469. Over the course of a two-day period, the Koscuiszko successfully defended the Iota Australis research station from four Strekkelan attack waves, including one lead by the Strekkelan command cruiser Trokent. The after-action report attributed victory not only to Mallon’s unflagging leadership, but also to the engineering enhancements the captain had ordered to the ship’s plasma manifolds. Such a striking combination of command and engineering ability drew the attention of more than one Starfleet admiral.

Meet the Crew: MacKenzie Mallon

“Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”

Mallon never intended to be a starship captain — not this life, anyway. She joined Starfleet intending to be an engineer, or a deep space researcher. But the Borg incursion against the Vega colony left Starfleet with a crippling shortage of combat-ready officers, and Mallon has quietly set aside her scientific aspirations for the command track.