After what seems to be a long, long delay, Cryptic dropped a surprise Ship Sale this past weekend. And since it was a surprise, I was sitting on a nice, big pile of exactly ZERO Zen, so I sighed and figured I would just watch this one slide right by me again. Despite the inflated dilithium exchange rate, my friend Fungi went nuts and bought a whole wad of ships, so in a fit of illogical jealousy, I threw caution to the winds and dropped 2.2 million in dilithium on the Exchange. And now? Now I am the proud owner of four (count ’em!) brand new ships!
New ships are fun, especially if the new toys fly significantly different. But new ships are also expensive, and my inner-Scrooge keeps me in check; apparently the last time I bought a ship was Februrary 6… that’s almost eight months ago! I don’t buy or fly a ship solely for its Ship Trait, because that can get insanely expensive — the ship itself has to be “endgame” quality and be the primary ride of at least one of my toons, and once I decide on a new ship, I’ll pick the variation that strikes the best balance between layouts and Ship Traits. Bonus points for Ship Traits that can benefit other toons, which I’ll get to later on in Part 2.
Right now? I wanna talk about my two new Pilot ships.
Mercury-Class Pilot Escort USS Horus, NCC-92550 for T’Leia
T’Leia has been flying a T6 Intel Phantom Escort since Delta Rising came out, which was upgraded to a Fleet version (USS Scorpio-A) a few months ago. I had that boat as tuned as I could, which T’Leia flew like a regular escort rather than a stealth fighter. Not to say it wasn’t effective: she could chew through waves of Borg and Tholians in Red Alerts with ease, yet at the end of the day, I honestly think I can get the same results with any T5 or T5U Escort platform.
The T6 Tactical Pilot Mercury Class (USS Horus) I got for her over the weekend is another animal entirely. For a breakdown of the mechanical differences between the Phantom and the Mercury, have a read at Admiral Sager’s detailed discussion: it’s got everything you need to know, by the numbers. From my anecdotal point of view and my play-style, the Mercury outpaces the Phantom in three areas:
- The Mercury’s 5-2 weapon layout is a frontal attack ship captain’s wet dream, against the traditional 4-3 of the Phantom. While T’Leia was able to slice through enemy waves in her Fleet Phantom, the amount of firepower the Mercury brings puts it to shame! Of course, a frontal load by itself means very little if the ship can’t point its nose straight, which brings us to….
2. …The Mercury’s turn rate of 20 outpaces the Phantom’s already-impressive 17. No contest here: I have had absolutely no problem pointing the Mercury’s nose at exactly where it needs to point.
3. Last but by no means least, the Pilot maneuvers are Da Bomb! This is the feature that really puts the Pilot ships over the top; ducking to the sides to break target locks, speeding ahead to dash out of range, and the backpedal for additional cannon-time is just the best.
I transferred all of the Fleet Phantom’s gear over to the Mercury and did a bunch of test runs. Gawd, T’Leia kicked ass and didn’t bother taking names! I still need to get settled in and used to flying the Mercury, but so far it feels like a perfect fit, entirely different from when I first got the Phantom. At this rate I’ll probably forego the upcoming T6 Defiant altogether!
Kortar-Class Pilot Raptor IKS Simius, for Congilla
The other pilot ship I bought is the KDF Kortar-class Raptor, for Congilla and his crew of monkeys. This boat is the functional equivalent of the Mercury with more hull, less shield, plus a cloak, so everything I said above applies to this guy as well. But wait, there’s more! The KDF Pilot Raptors look absolutely BADASS. In fact, I think they’re the best-looking KDF ships, ever.
Congilla has flown two “endgame” ships previously, the T6 Mat’Ha Raptor and the free T5U Breen Plesh Brek raider; it’s essentially the same set of gear that has been transferred between the three ships, so I can do an apple-to-apple comparison based on my experience of all three.
At first I thought the Mat’Ha was going to be Cong’s endgame ship; with its 5-2 weapon layout and 15 turn rate, it might have been the zippy escort I wanted for my KDF tactical captain. Unfortunately, I soon found that turn rate of 15 was too low to be considered “zippy”; with dual cannons it’s a real struggle to keep the enemies within the frontal 45 deg cone.
The Plesh Brek had the zippy turn rate of 19, in addition to a nice Raider flanking bonus. Its drawbacks were the lack of a cloak and more importantly, its 4-2 raider weapon layout. Despite the loss of frontal firepower, I still prefer the Plesh Brek over the Mat’Ha because at least I could stay on target consistently.
And so here we are, the Kortar Pilot Raptor: it combines the 5-2 weapon layout of the Mat’Ha with the turn rate of the Plesh Brek (only better at 20). It has a standard cloak, but best of all the pilot maneuvers. Barring an exceptional showing of the upcoming T6 Bird-of-Prey, I think Congilla has found his endgame ship.