Budget Build for Newbies

For every toon that has good gear and a lot of resources pumped into them, there are two who are barely developed. Lt. Adam Kunzel is one of my newest toons, and also one who has very little resources dedicated to him. His entire build is done on the cheap, but for what he is, Adam is not ineffectual. I thought I’d use him as a template and write a guide for new STO players, on one possible setup for an inexpensive endgame ship.

Adam flies a T6 Reliant-class Advanced Light Cruiser, which I upgraded to a Fleet version just last night (somehow I didn’t realize the Fleet version only requires a level 2 Starbase, duh). For proving grounds, I tend to use Japori (Tau Dewa) for short runs and Argala-Kazon for longer runs, and Adam can tear through those fairly effectively. Also, this guide should work with most cruiser platforms, even with the last freebie T4 Cruisers. It can even be adopted for escorts, as the beam arrays listed below often come with an alternate cannon/turret option.

Ship Gear

First of all, this is going to be a Phaser build. During the leveling process if you manage to score any Phaser Relay Tactical Consoles, regardless of quality or mark, hold on to them because you will be using those in this build. As for the rest of the gear:

Quantum Phase Applications: You get this 3-item set for free by playing the mission “Stormbound” three times. This is a great gear set for a budget/starter build as it gives a lot of bonuses to shields and shield heals to keep weaker ships alive, and it also goes extremely well with the Quantum Phase Catalysts set below, with bonuses to drain, Aux Power and EPG. The set bonuses are also quite good.

  • Quantum Phase Deflector
  • Quantum Phase Combat Impulse Engines
  • Quantum Phase Resilient Shield Array

Quantum Phase Catalysts: You get this 3-item set for free by playing the mission “Sunrise” three times. This is actually a surprisingly excellent set, with the beam array and torpedo having very effective shield drain abilities. The Console is also an excellent one that boosts base phaser damage, drain abilities, and Aux Power. In addition the set powers are also good to have, including a Quantum Destabilizing Beam “Super Weapon”.

  • Quantum Phase Beam Array
  • Quantum Phase Torpedo Launcher
  • Console – Universal – Quantum Phase Converter

Trilithium-Laced Weaponry Set: You get this 3-item set for free by playing the mission “Beyond the Nexus” three times. This gets you a pretty decent survival tool (the Engineering console), a good Omni-directional phaser beam, and the set bonuses are all good passives. The only “bad” item is the Tricobalt Torpedo Launcher — it’s a slow reloading warhead and it doesn’t hit as hard as it should, but it is worthwhile to put in a rear weapon slot just for the set bonuses if you need help with survival. If survival is less of a concern, I’d recommend replacing it with another beam array if you have a decent one. On Adam’s ship I decided to keep the Tricobalt.

  • Console – Engineering – Reinforced Armaments
  • Trilithium Tricobalt Torpedo Launcher
  • Trilithium-Enhanced Omni-Directional Phaser Beam Array

House Martok Skirmisher Configuration Set: You obtain this set for free by playing the mission “Brushfire”. This set is Disruptor-based so isn’t used on this build, except for the Engineering Console which provides a bunch of passive boosts that help with survival and maneuverability. The latter is important because of the torpedo launchers that will go on this build, and most cruisers will need to have some sort of turn-rate boost to help them get the torpedoes into their firing arcs.

  • Console – Engineering – House Martok Defensive Configuration

Krenim Temporal Manipulation: You get this set for free by playing the mission “Butterfly”. This is a Tetryon-based set so the weapon isn’t used on this build, but the other two pieces, the Warp Core and the Science Console, round out the build nicely. Both provide a bunch of decent passive boosts, but focus on Aux Powers specifically; the Console grants extra Crit Chance and Crit Severity based on Aux Power Levels, and is extremely useful if you run Aux Power levels high. In fact, this console is so useful it’s part of almost all my toons’ builds.

  • Console – Science – Temporal Disentanglement Suite
  • Temporal Phase Overcharged Warp Core

Console – Engineering – Trellium-D Plating: You obtain this standalone item for free by playing the mission “Ragnarok”. This is a decent console that gives you a bunch of damage resistance boosts, Shield and Hull boosts, but also gives bonus Shield power based on Aux level.

One additional item to note is the Prolonged Engagement Phaser Beam Array:  This is currently a top-tier Phaser Beam array that happens to be FREE — if you have access to this, absolutely slot it in. The downside is the fact that this beam array was only available during the Kobayashi Maru Event; if you didn’t get it then, this item won’t be available to you (until they put it in a future Phoenix Pack, I suppose).

If you get everything in the list so far, you will have a full set of essential ship gear: Warp Core, Deflector, Impulse Engines, Shields. You will also have 4-5 weapon slots filled with Mk XII VR weapons, as well as 5 console slots filled (3 Engineering, 1 Science and 1 Universal). What’s left? Assuming we are still talking a cruiser, this leaves 3-4 weapon slots and 5-6 Console slots to fill…. and you haven’t spent a single EC yet! So hopefully you have some EC squirreled away because we’re going to hit the Exchange next.

Remaining Weapon Slots: You want to fill out the remaining Weapon slots with Mk XII Phaser Beam Arrays. I am assuming for a budget build you either don’t have resources to get Fleet Weapons or don’t want to spend the resources, so Exchange is your best bet. The trick here is to NOT buy purple Very Rare arrays, but blue Rare ones instead — the drop of rarity will marginally affect your damage output, but the cost of a blue array is usually a fraction of a purple one. Also, for a budget build I wouldn’t worry too much about the modifications, but do try to give preference to [Dmg] and [CrtD] over [Acc] over [CrtH], and avoid mods such as [Snare] and [Thrust]. Grab the ones with [Pen] if you see one for cheap, but at the lower price range that’s probably unlikely.

Tactical Consoles: Again, I am assuming you don’t have access to Spire Consoles such as Vulnerability Locators, so again we are hitting the Exchange. Same as weapons, you want to look for Blue Rare Phase Relay MkXII’s — they cost about 1/8 of a Purple Very Rare Phaser Relay MkXII, for a difference of 1.9% difference in damage mod. That’s a very expensive 1.9% in my mind!

Other Consoles: Assuming a typical cruiser with 3 Tactical Console slots, that means you will still have 2-3 console slots to fill. This is where you have some flexibility as to what to use, depending on how rich/poor you are. If you have some useful or gimmick consoles you received during the leveling process, they can go into these slots as well. Some suggestions here:

  • Plasmonic Leech – Universal Console – This is still a very useful console to slot, despite its recent nerfing. It drains enemy power through your weapon fire, and steals it for your own use. Leeches have come down in prices on the Exchange, but they may still be the most expensive purchase on a budget build like this one. If you can afford one somewhat pricey item on this build, make it the Leech.
  • RCS – Engineering Console – For Cruisers especially, you may want to include a basic RCS console to boost your mobility, especially with the torpedoes installed. Once again, don’t go for the Purple ones; Blue ones are perfectly fine for this purpose for a fraction of the cost.

Now that we have the ship mostly geared up, let’s take a look at the other stuff.

Duty Officers: There are a few ways you can try to approach this, but I’ll focus on two main approaches.

  • With Adam, I have mostly set him up with a “Drake” build. This means having a couple of Damage Control Engineers on active roster, who provide a chance to reduce Cooldown on Emergency Power to X abilities. Combining them with Emergency Power to Weapons or Engines or whatnot to try to maximize the abilities’ uptime is the key here.
    • The other spots can be filled with Projectile Weapon Officers to reduce Torpedoes’ reload times, and maybe a Warp Core Engineer for a chance to provide extra Subsystem Power when Emergency Power is used.
  • The other alternative is the tried-and-true Aux2B build. I personally haven’t used this setup in a long time, but it’s still effective especially for cruisers with a lot of engineering BOff abilities. The key here is putting 2 or 3 Technician DOffs on active roster, along with two copies of Auxiliary Power to Battery; each time Aux2B is activated, each Technician reduces the recharge time on all BOff ability. This is a handy way to manage Cooldown, allowing more frequent use of BOff powers. The main reason I don’t use this setup anymore is that using Aux2B temporarily drains Auxiliary power — and a lot of gear I listed above runs off high Auxiliary power. You end up periodically losing a lot of the boosts.
    • The remaining spots, as above, would be filled with Projectile Weapons Officers and/or Warp Core Engineer.

Power Levels: This is as good a point as any to briefly touch on Power Level settings. For this build, first and foremost you want to maximize Weapon Power (100). The next priority should be Auxiliary Power, because there are a host of things running off of it — the Quantum Phase drain effects, the Krenim console, and the Trellium-D console. On Adam’s ship I set Aux Power to 70, and left Shields and Engines to 15 each, but you may want to fine tune your settings if you feel you want to have more Shields or Engine power.

Traits: Personal Traits are a tricky thing to discuss because it’s impossible to know what you have available to you, so I’ll skip this part. As for Starship Traits, again I am assuming newbies have no access to any, so for now this can be left alone.

One thing to emphasize is that this setup, despite being a budget build, is very viable as an endgame ship. If you decide to keep it as your ultimate build and to upgrade the gear, remember to NOT UPGRADE the BLUE GEAR, as they are meant to be placeholders until you can afford better stuff. In terms of replacing the blue gear, I’d suggest with the Beam Arrays first (Crafted or Advanced Fleet Phaser Beam Arrays from the Fleet Starbase, then the Tactical Consoles (Vulnerability Locators – Phasers from the Fleet Spire), then everything else after those.

Hopefully this gives new players something they can use for endgame, without breaking the bank and be reasonably competitive right out of the gates.




4 thoughts on “Budget Build for Newbies

  1. Being a newbie can be overwhelming with all the consoles and equipment. You broke all that down very nicely that anyone new will have a guide and goal to aim for. Well done Heidy!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love me some Budget builds since I can be a real scrooge with my Dilithium. I have noticed that whenever budget builds are brought up there are certain things that are never talked about. Things like a natural progression, consistency, and piloting. That last one is a bit tricky but easily contributes more to increasing performance than gear choices do. As a disclaimer: I myself am a lazy pilot, but I understand the concepts. If anyone cares to read the rest of this ramble, I’ll touch on all three concepts below:
    Natural Progression.
    It’s very easy to say: “pick an energy type, slap on some mission reward sets and whatever gear you can scrap up and there you go.” What this doesn’t take into account is the “what next?” question and what this potentially leads to is the very discouraging “I’ve invested into bad gear”, or “I have to buy HOW many new beams/consoles?!” situations. All of these can be avoided if the starting build has a naturally sloping progression. No massive grind gaps. When taking this concept into account, there are a few rules that fall into place for my budget builds:
    1: No Doffs required. Only Purple doffs are really used in final builds. With a few exceptions, purple doffs are not easy for newer players to acquire. This automatically makes any build that requires a certain doff off the table for new people. These will come later in our natural progression.
    2: No non-disruptor energy type. Veterans know that your energy choice doesn’t matter if you know how to build it right. New players do not know this, nor do they have the resources and skill to make every energy type work. The simple solution is to prescribe them a disruptor build so they have something that is proven reliable to fall back on.
    3: No exclusive items. This one is pretty self explanatory.
    4: No reputation items. These are great for final builds, but not for getting started.
    5: No massive EC purchases. Same as above.

    Ideally a budget build can be started in a day, and the mastered over time instead of being pieced together in a week and who knows how long you will be using it before you have finally managed to grind it out.

    I remember reading a “budget” exotic build that had players going out and buying some lockbox items for just a couple hundred thousand EC each. Those same items are now a couple MILLION each. That build guide didn’t really stay consistent and it hurt it’s relevancy. Lucky for us, and newer players, we have seen some high quality mission reward items over the last few years. We are just about at the point where newer players do not need to hunt for anything on the exchange. This is great for them as well as for the guide as it protects the scalability assuming no mission reward items are removed from the game.

    I never see a guide that even touches on this for new people. I understand why, there is a lot that goes into this. It’s more skill than anything, but I think there are a few universal concepts that can easily be taught:
    1: The closer you are the better
    2: The more targets you hit at once the better
    3: Always buff before you shoot

    If you watch any super high DPS runs of ISA or HIVE you can see that on a basic level this is all they are doing. They are hitting their buffs before they shoot, getting right up close to the targets and getting as many in the firing arcs as possible. For a typical energy build, these three concepts will help you get started.

    So after all that rambling, what would my ideal budget build be? Here goes:
    Level 40 Assault Cruiser
    Deflector: Quantum Phase
    Engine: Quantum Phase
    Warp Core: Temporal Phase
    Shield: Quantum Phase
    Fore weapons:
    Nausiccan energy torpedo
    Nausiccan beam array
    Resonant technologies beam array
    Plasma Disruptor hybrid X1
    Aft weapons:
    Resonant technologies torpedo
    House Martok 360 beam array
    Plasma Disruptor hybrids X2
    Engineering consoles:
    Trell-D plating.
    House Martok Defensive configuration
    Polaric Modulator
    Reinforced Armaments.
    Science Consoles:
    Temporal Disentanglement suite
    Nausiccan Science console
    Tactical consoles:
    Resonant technologies console,
    Disruptor induction coils from mission replay

    So far we have a few set bonuses all boosting our damage with disruptors, as well as armor pen. The second torpedo on the aft helps mitigate the power drain from all our beams, since as a new player we lack certain power management tools.

    BOFF Layout:
    LT Tactical: Beam Fire at Will I/Beam Fire at Will II
    En Tactical: Tactical team
    Commander Engineering: Emergency Power to Shields I/Aux to SIF I/ Emergency power to Weapons III / Reverse Shield Polarity III
    Lt Commander Engineering: Emergency Power to Shields I/ Engineering team II/ Emergency power to Weapons III
    LT Science: Science Team I/Hazard Emitters II

    A mix of offensive buffs and heals. No Cooldown management is needed to run this setup as we doubled up on the important abilities.
    For traits, be sure to pick up Point Blank shot and Nanite repair matrix from the relevant missions.

    Now this comment is WAY too long as is, so I will try to briefly list the natural upgrades:
    For Duty officers, this build will easily accept wither technician or Damage control doffs. Tech doffs can be gathered for free from B’tran colonization and you can get 2 Damage control engineers from maxing your engineering commendation. One you claim for free, the other can be replicated for 1 mil.
    Your consoles layout is already pretty solid. As you get consoles you can add them but you should never feel like you MUST grind for anything. The first console you will drop is the resonant tech console when you get to the step below. Just add another disruptor console. Eventually you will upgrade to Locators but no rush here.

    For your weapons, you only need to pick up the Terran task force disruptor and then replace all other weapons but the Nausiccan set with fleet disruptors. Fleet weapons are very easy to work towards and to swap in as you get them.

    Eventually you will want SRO tactical boffs, but again you do not need to get these urgently. This build will serve you pretty well and eventually you will have the resources for these. Don’t burnout on grinding for them.

    The next big leap would be your first event ship, store ship, or ship off the exchange. You will find this build adapts very well to a wide variety of ships. Almost every cruiser, battler cruiser, or even destroyer can support this build.

    Well that’s my thoughts on a budget build that has been tried and true for me. One of my more played toons is still on a variant of this build simply because I haven’t felt my performance has been lagging enough to do a massive upgrade.

    If you bothered to read all of this, and have found your way to this last sentence… I can only hope that your day has infinitely more interesting things in store for you….


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