Whew! I pretty much blew my entire Zen reserve this Black Friday, and got myself a couple of new toys. Yes I got the brand spanking new T6 Science ship bundle, but no, today I want to discuss the other bundle I got, namely the T6 Escort (Defiant) bundle. I realize it’s old news now, but having flown all three T6 escorts over the weekend, I can finally offer an informed review.
My two Tactical mains, T’Leia on the Fed side and Congilla on the KDF side, have been flying their respective Tactical Pilot Escorts for a while now. They’re both cannon-builds, so my original interest in the T6 Escort bundle was in the Starship Trait: Withering Barrage, which extends CSV by 4 seconds. This is a powerful trait for cannon ships; with it, you can run two copies of CSV and have over 93% up time. Aside from that, the Space Barbie Enthusiast in me loves the classic Trek escorts – the Defiant, the B’Rel and the T’Liss/T’Varo!
In both cases, I ported over all the gear from the Tactical Escorts, so it has been mostly an apple-to-apple comparison in terms of performance for T’Leia and Congilla. I also flew the Malem with my Romulan backup toon, Lahae, but since her default ship is a Morrigu which uses DBB and Omnis, there isn’t a direct comparison, so I will just touch on the Malem briefly.
Mercury vs Valiant
I was frankly a bit surprised at how similar these two ships are. They have the exact same console layout (the Fleet Valiant does, anyway)… and they have the exact same default BOFF seating. The Mercury does upgrade the hybrid Pilot seat from the Lt.C Tac to the Cmdr Tac, and it adds a hybrid option to the Lt. Sci seat on top. It’s an advantage — but not a major one –since I prefer basic Tac and Sci abilities over Pilot ones, the added option does little for me.
In terms of base stats, the Valiant has significantly more hull (Fleet Valiant at 44000 vs Mercury at 38800), has an arguably better console, trades some engine power for weapons power (15w/5e vs 10w/10e), and…. otherwise inferior to the Mercury in all other ways. The Mercury has slightly more shields, moves faster, turns better, has better “traction”, and the killer 5/2 weapon layout beats the Valiant’s 4/3.
As if that’s not enough for the Mercury to win the race, it also has the Pilot Maneuvers… which blows the Valiant completely out of the water. Not only do the Pilot Maneuvers grant brief immunity, the retro rockets are extremely handy in keeping cannons on target without the need to slow down.
Even though in practice the Valiant is still very capable (and granted, I did not get the Fleet version), overall the Mercury can do everything better. As much as I prefer the Defiant’s looks, T’Leia has gone back to the Mercury after grinding out the Starship trait.
Honorary mention goes to the Fleet Phantom, since T’Leia flew that since Delta Rising before she upgraded to the Mercury — that ship’s base stats are a hybrid of the Mercury and Valiant, but with the 4/3 Weapon layout. Otherwise I didn’t include the Phantom in this comparison because of two reasons: the Intel Boff seats and the built-in cloak. With those two features, I found the Phantom to be a very different type of animal — her ideal role is that of a stealth-alpha-striker, although she can easily occupy the Valiant’s niche if you go with a more traditional build.
Kortar vs Kor/B’Rel
After moving T’Leia back to the Mercury, I sorta figured Congilla will go through the same thing: get the Starship trait, then back to his Kortar. It’s only when I started playing that I realized the comparison is actually very different on the KDF side.
See, while the Valiant and the Mercury share strong similarities, the same is not at all true between the Kor and any of the Pilot Escorts. So much so that it’s not worthwhile to do a stat comparison… with the lowest hull but highest turn rate in the tier, four universal Boff seats, an Enhanced Battle Cloak and being the KDF raider ship, the Kor/B’Rel is in its own class in the Klingon fleet.
While I lamented the loss of the full frontal assault fury of the Kortar, but being able to zip around throwing down Gravity Wells and spraying torpedos while cloaked… that’s something else entirely! Admittedly the effectiveness of stealth-bombing a shielded enemy is questionable, but I’ve found a few ways to play around that. Either wait for a teammate to crash their shields, or use some other sort of Sci shield drains (I haven’t tried the latter yet myself, so take this with a grain of salt); my main tactic is to approach an enemy from the rear arc under cloak. Hit them with a Gravity Well, then decloak and let loose. Between the decloak bonus and raider flanking bonus (for added fun, use the Intel Specialization), this opening attack can be devastating. Then I make a quick 180 turn as I recloak, firing off my rear torpedo spread at any survivors. Sometimes things get dicey, but damn if this thing isn’t fun to fly!
Disclaimer: In case you think this ship is totes DA BOMB, remember it does have a couple of down sides. One, despite having the crazy flexibility offered by all universal BOFF seats, it only supports 12 Boff abilities, less than the standard 13 for T6 ships. Two, if you already own the T5U B’Rel Retrofit, it may be difficult to justify buying this ship as it offers little incremental advantage.
What about the Malem?
As I promised, I am not including the Malem in any sort of comparison. I did fly it with Lahae and it plays somewhat similarly to the Kor/B’Rel, albeit slower. I have only one slight complaint about it though — I find the BOFF seating just a tiny bit awkward. For my tactical captains I’m accustomed to running seven Tactical BOFF abilities: TT1, KLW1, APBx2, CSVx2, TS2…. and the Malem gives me five — which is too few for me, unless I used the Lt.C seat for Tactical as well — which gives me eight, now it’s too many… not to mention that makes a total of three ensign level Tactical abilities. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, as I can always use the Uni seat as a hybrid Pilot, but it does put a slight limitation on flexibility.
Overall, I’m quite happy with this bundle, especially with something I originally intended to get just for the Starship Traits. The Valiant is a bust, but I expected it. On the other hand, I like the BoP so much that I upgraded it to a Fleet version, and now it’s Congilla’s new ride. As for the Malem, despite that little nuisance of Boff seating, it’s still in the running against the Morrigu as Lahae’s endgame ship. Not a bad purchase at all!