I. State of the Economy – Duty Officers
This week I was summoned into Admiral Quinn’s office for what my crew believed would be the inevitable court martial of Moneybags. Nope. It turns out that Starfleet is just like every other government organization in human history, and because I excel in doing remedial, middle management tasks – Starfleet gave this Ferengi a promotion to Fleet Admiral.
Thank you, thank you. It is a well-earned promotion, even if they do actually give it to everyone. But in truth, I’ve earned my rank, because nothing says Fleet Admiral in Starfleet like managing Fleet Holding construction assignments, filling Fleet Holding construction projects, managing Fleet Holding provisions, managing Bridge Officer rosters, managing Bridge Officer skills, managing Bridge Officer uniform quality with Winter Wonderland uniform accessories, managing Duty Officer rosters, managing Duty Officer work schedules, researching and developing new technologies, listing new technologies on the energy credit exchange, managing Dilithium supplies on the Dilithium exchange, and upgrading old equipment to higher quality. Oh how I enjoy role playing bureaucracy!
This Ferengi has made the rank of Fleet Admiral just in time to feel like I’ve become a paperwork pushing desk jockey as soon as I log in every day. It isn’t easy being this good looking, AND rich. Actually, everyone can be good looking, because Starfleet is so vein we put a tailor just about everywhere, even in the fleet Dyson Sphere holding. But not everyone can be rich, because if you are seeking personal gain and/or profit in whatever Quadrant of the Galaxy we’re conquering this Season you too must be a paper pushing desk jockey managing remedial tasks.
It might sound sexy to fly like a fighter jock in a tweaked out Escort that hits the DPS 50,000 club, but you know what is even more sexy? Buying the Delta Rising Operations Pack using excess Dilithium without breaking a sweat. Trust me, saving that Benjamin is sexy like an Orion strip club on Risa filled with three breasted aliens who have big hands. Rub those lobes baby!
Being a leader in any occupation requires you to be an excellent manager of people, and for a Fleet Admiral in STO that means managing Duty Officers. Show me a player who is struggling in Star Trek Online, and I’ll show you a player who has poorly managed their Duty Officer Roster. Whether it is for Active Duty Rosters (combat), earning Dilithium, earning XP/Specialization, fast tracking the leveling of your Starbase projects, leveling your R&D schools, or crafting the R&D special projects – the Duty Officer system in Season 10 is functioning as either the gateway or the fast track to advancing yourself for personal gain and/or profit.
The R&D DOFFs from the Xindi lockbox have disappeared off the EC Exchange over the last two weeks, and for good reason too. Consider for a moment that those Xindi DOFFs are the single biggest difference between the people making freighter loads of EC with the R&D crafting system, and the people who are burning through their EC in the R&D crafting system.
So as you get the Fleet Admiral promotion, and especially for those who earn Dahar Master – if you have neglected your Duty Officer Roster, you need to get that squared away sooner than later. This is Season X, and X marks the spot for treasure by ditching the old greens and blues and cashing in for purple. As each Season and now half-Season brings a new change to STO, the constant is the ability to leverage the Duty Officer Roster for personal gain and/or profit.
II. Profits and Losses
Over the past few weeks four friends of mine who used to play Star Trek Online, have returned to playing Star Trek Online. Obviously we cannot draw conclusions from this incredibly unscientific sample size, but indeed all four players admit that Delta Rising is not the reason they returned – rather the New Year, family considerations, etc… are more relevant reasons.
What I find interesting is how they describe how the game has changed from when they used to play regularly. One player in particular, who was something of a financial rival of mine back when New Romulus was the new thing, has returned to the game with over 2 million Dilithium and 750 million EC, and his observations of how the game has changed since he stopped playing before Season 8 has been fascinating to me.
When he used to play, all of the activities he played involved five player groups. Since he returned, he does very few activities that involve an instance where there are only five players. For Fleet marks he farms Deferi, for Nukara marks he farms Nukara Prime or CE Advanced, for Romulan marks he plays on New Romulus, for Dyson marks he plays the Dyson ground battlezone, and for Undine marks he plays the Undine space battlezone. In other words, only when he does STFs earning Omega marks or blasts the Battle Hymn of the Argala System Patrol with us earning Delta marks is he in an instance that conforms to the traditional five man team construct of Star Trek Online in the past.
The open multi-player instances make Star Trek Online feel more social, and it makes playing with friends a more inclusive experience. But what is also true is that these larger instances – except ironically, for the new Delta Quadrant battlezone – are the very best places to build wealth in STO in Season 10 (particularly in groups with friends), and in my opinion, that is the biggest change in the game that took place in 2014.
III. Markets and Opportunities
In Season 10 every player of Star Trek Online spends time improving the quality of their character, or replenishing wealth recently spent in conjunction with that activity. That basically means every player in the game is slowing developing a more capable character, increasingly outfitting characters and bridge officers with better equipment, flying a stronger ship, improving the damage output of their ship, increasing the ships resistance to damage, and generally improving the overall quality of a ship in combat. So how is it that every character in the game is getting better, yet so many people are complaining that STO is getting harder?
I joined Starfleet to get away from all the poor, pathetic whiners on Ferenginar, but one look at Starfleet Command these days reveals the incredible irony of my decision. The degeneration of the conversations at Starfleet Command has hit an all-time low in my opinion, and the default position in disagreement is increasingly disrespect. Star Trek Online is a very easy game that is generally learned intuitively through gameplay, but there is no instruction manual and as characters get higher level, the game can start to become counter-intuitive.
I found it noteworthy that, in a recent Priority One live broadcast session – Elijah and Cookie basically discovered the benefits of Flow Control as it relates to DPS. How long have they played STO? How could they not have known? Quite easy actually, because without players who are smart about DPS explaining to them (and all of us) why Flow Control can increase your DPS, how does anyone really know these intricate details of the game? That type of useful information certainly isn’t part of any tool tip attached to skills or items, and finding that kind of useful information at Starfleet Command is only possible when you already know what you’re looking for.
I do not know Elijah or Cookie, but they are both great examples of how players improve themselves in Star Trek Online, although some Podcast listeners might misunderstand what Elijah or Cookie did exactly to get better. Just like everyone else, both of them are leveling their characters, improving the quality of their equipment, and have improved the overall quality of their ships – but everyone is doing that, and those improvements are not the reason Elijah or Cookie are substantially more impressive gamers than they were just a few weeks ago when I first met both of them. The reason both players advanced significantly over the last few weeks is not because the quality of their characters and equipment improved, rather because the people behind those characters are playing smarter.
Smart is the most underrated skill in the game, and I consistently find that playing smart is the most difficult skill to master in Star Trek Online. It isn’t because people can’t do it, rather it is more often because people don’t understand what it means to play smart in Star Trek Online. The definition of playing smart is the efficient pursuit of a player’s objectives in the context of a player’s time and a player’s style. That’s not as easy as it sounds. It is important to understand that playing smart is unique for each individual player, so simply copying what someone else does probably won’t help you play smarter… but I’m hoping that by seeing the context of what playing smart looks like for Moneybag, you’ll be able to see how you can play the game smarter in context of your gaming time and style.
I define my objectives in STO like this:
#1 is a daily objective. I log on or log off each of my KDF characters 3 times a day at either the security officer at Ganalda Station or just inside the Azure Sector. I DOFF the Eta Eradani block, the Pi Canis block, and the Tau Dawa block for Prisoners, Colonists, and Contraband. I run 2 accounts at the same time, three KDF characters per account, and spend about 5 minutes doing 2 characters at once – usually takes about 20 minutes or so to go through my 6 KDF characters. 20 minutes x 3 times a day = 1 hour a day of interactive game play earning 48,000 Dilithium (8000 * 6) over a 24 hour period of time.
#2 is a multi-month objective that spans the length of time between Dilithium weekends. As you might expect from a Ferengi named Moneybags, my entire play style revolves around Dilithium weekend. There are now 6 reputation systems, which means every primary character must earn 6,000 marks; a minimum of 1,000 marks in each reputation school. Until all 7 of my primary characters have 1,000 of each reputation mark, I’m rarely doing much else than earning reputation marks somewhere. Once I reach 1,000 of each reputation mark on each character, if I have nothing to do I will pile more marks on my Federation characters, but more commonly that’s when I try new things, go to new places, or play older content that I previously skipped.
#3 is an objective that spans an undetermined period of time, but likely until final completion. This is a new objective for me in Season 10. For the most part, I’m only actively crafting on 1 character per account. The reason I am leveling all R&D schools to level 15 on each of my 7 primary characters is because of the traits, not because I intend them to be crafting characters. We all know how expensive crafting is, so I stick to the least time/work/cost approach of Researching 6-7K XP a day with each available slot.
#4 is an objective that spans an undetermined period of time, but likely until final completion.
If you want to be successful in any MMO that is constantly evolving, you can do what everyone else is doing and go with the flow, and you will gradually get better over time – just like everyone else. But if you are looking to move from “below average player” status or “average player” status to “good player” status, or even “great player” status – you should follow the lead of Elijah and Cookie and start playing smarter, be adaptive with changes, and seek knowledge towards achieving your personal objectives in game. Starfleet Command may be a place for information, but it is not a place of knowledge, so seek a better knowledge source. The first step is to define your objectives, then apply the context of your time and play style towards those objectives through the pursuit of knowledge, rather than simply improving your stuffs. As you refine your activities to be more efficient, you will find everything gets easier. If it didn’t sound so Vulcan it would probably be a Rule of Acquisition: improving your resources will allow you to compete with the competition, but the continuous pursuit of knowledge enables you to defeat the competition.
IV. Profit Tip of the Week
With the release of Delta Rising, Cryptic tweaked the reputation mark system so that every 20 hours, the first time you earn any of the various reputation marks, you earn a “daily” reputation bonus reward of 55 marks. This suggests there is a Cryptic sponsored style of gameplay regarding the daily accumulation of reputation marks.
In the old days, players would cycle through the queues and farm a specific type of mark leveraging repetitive content, and earning lots of reputation marks in bulk all at one time was the most efficient way to earn reputation marks. Under the new system, in order to maximize reputation mark earnings over time, a player should do one thing that earns a specific type of reputation mark per day – and move on.
I have found the most efficient way to earn marks is to do something like: one mission at New Romulus (~65 Romulan marks), queue a Crystalline Entity Advanced (~115 Nukara marks), run the Dyson shpace battlezone (~200 Undine marks + Isomorphic Injections) followed by the Dyson ground battlezone (~300 Dyson marks + Cybernetic Implants), run an Infected Space Normal (~90 Omega Marks), then finish with one round of the Argala Patrol (~65 Delta marks). This process usually takes less than 1.5 hours, but can take less time depending upon how quickly you can get through the battlezones.
Is this better than the old way? No idea, but it’s different – better or worse is subjective. The only change I have observed over time is that the rate of earning Omega marks has dropped, but the rate of earning other types of reputation marks has increased slightly. If you want to farm a bunch of Romulan marks in a single night, that is certainly possible now on New Romulus, although from a time/reward perspective Epohs are still king. Nukara Prime, the Dyson ground battlezone, and the Undine battlezone are still – mostly – good places to earn lots of reputation marks, so the new ‘daily’ change has had very little impact on reputation mark earning rates for those three reputations. Delta marks… that’s a different story.
I prefer Bug Hunt Elite and the Argala Patrol. I enjoy playing the new ground battlezone in the Delta Quadrant area, but you won’t see me there anytime soon. The problem is the rewards are far below par of existing battlezones from a time/reward perspective, and the area isn’t competitive at all with other ways to earn Delta marks or Dilithium. Until the rewards of the new battlezone are improved – a lot – I’ll keep doing other things to earn Delta marks.
On Dilithium weekend those 800 reputation marks you earned that one day can be cashed in for an estimated 12,000 Dilithium earned via marks alone, and doesn’t include the Dilithium earned while actually doing those activities (at least 5K), nor the Dilithium that can be earned by cashing in the Isomorphic Injections and Cybernetic Implants on Dilithium weekend. This new “Cryptic sponsored” way of efficient reputation mark activity does earn 20,000+ Dilithium per character in 1.5 hours of game play.
V. Market Watch
Dilithium Exchange Rate: 158
Contraband Price: 47,499
Lock Box Key: 2,027,000
Argonite Gas: 330,000
Radiogenic Particle: 130,000
Plekton Particle: 200,000
Craylon Gas: 27,000
Salvaged Technology: 415,000
Copyright © 2013 Priority One Podcast.
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