I have been slow with blog posts lately because I’m dealing with a serious family illness (mom). 😦 I’m still following news on STO mainly because it offers a distraction from the real life suck.
In any case, Season 13: Escalation was released a couple of days ago amidst a lot of skepticism.
Aside from a new feature episode, competitive PvE queues, yet another new reputation and changes to the STF queue interface that nobody asked for, the big headliner for the season is the much-discussed “Space Rebalancing” changes that had been on Tribble for the past few weeks.
The list of changes is staggering, and even if you read through all the notes you might not immediately appreciate what the changes mean in practice. Some consensus seems to be:
- Torpedoes are even less viable than before. The Omega Kinetic Shearing trait which was the only good boost that previously gave torps a new life, has been neutered into uselessness. Not good.
- Even with just going with the patch notes, science damage have been nerfed across the board. The big hitters like Gravity Well, Subspace Vortex and DRBs have all lost a significant part of their damage output.
- Plasma Science Consoles are now “worthless” — with a caveat. The plasma damage proc that made these consoles highly desirable to DPSers has been severely nerfed, but that proc is only one of three benefits and if you use these consoles for their other boosts, they are still viable. In the end I don’t think this is a bad thing, because this will likely free up Science console slots for people to try different things now.
- Some unpopular abilities got boosts; previously useless things like Boarding Party and Tyken’s Rift are now more viable, which is not a bad thing.
- Pets are much more effective, in the sense that they are more durable (new immunity to torpedo spreads and warp core breaches). They’re still dumb as bricks though and can’t follow orders. Grrr.
The list goes on and on, really too long to list. I haven’t had the opportunity to test things out too much yet, but I did manage to squeeze in three tests so far. I don’t have a combat parser, so any observation is entirely anecdotal; I should be able to refine these results better with additional tests.
- Heidy’s set up is heavy Science-Exotic Torpedo boat — everything about that build has been nerfed, so I’ve been dreading how this patch will affect her. I took her out for a few CCA runs, and she’s come in 2nd and 3rd places fairly regularly. I actually don’t recall her placing 3rd very often previously, so maybe it means she’s slipping down the DPS scale slightly relative to everyone else, but overall she is still holding her own. Granted, I was flying her “as is” without tweaking, which I will need to do soon (such as replacing OKS with something else). Yup, more tests are needed.
- I wanted to test the old meta, i.e. BFAW-everything and see how it performs… and I can’t tell. I DID notice my shots are missing a LOT, thanks to the heavy accuracy penalties that now come with BFAW. Does that mean BFAW is now useless? That would suck because it means the “Target Rich Environment” trait I recently got would be useless too.
- Related to No. 2 there, I also wanted to test my cannon boats, because Cannon Scatter Volley received the same Accuracy penalties as BFAW. I took Congilla’s BoP out on some Tau Dewa sector patrols, and I was astounded at how badly it performed. Prior to the changes, Cong could hit each wave with a Gravity Well, mow them down with a CSV barrage (boosted by Withering Barrage), and finish things off with a Torpedo Spread. Now? CSV cannon fire are missing left, right and center. They hit often enough to clean up the lighter ships, but not nearly enough to take down heavier ships. It took almost twice as long to get through a patrol, and he even died a couple of times — which never happened before.
This last test was particularly alarming. With the CSV nerf, cannons are even less viable than before! The performance was so bad that I don’t see any point for Cong to fly the Kor BoP anymore — the original setup was a Gravity Well/CSV-Withering-Barrage raider, doubling as a stealth bomber with the Enhanced Battle Cloak. Now that CSV is broken, and torpedoes severely neutered, the whole point of this ship is flushed down the toilet. I think I’ll move Cong back to the Pilot Raptor with Cannon Rapid Fire — at least he will have the pilot maneuvers to help keep him on target, along with heavier frontal assault power and stronger hull.
That sucks because I am such a big fan of the Kor (and BoPs in general).
The CSV nerf pisses me off more than anything else – cannons are already considered subpar, with their narrow firing arc and marginally higher damage than beams. And now their highest damage modifier is nerfed so hard, cannons can’t even reliably hit enemy ships! This isn’t rebalanced at all, Cryptic!