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Skills are an important aspect of your character development process, however, the game does a poor job at explaining how skills work and what they actually do. Often times players will not know, how to spend their skill points and depend a lot on guess-work. This guide is intended to help you get a clear understanding of how skills affect your character, starship, abilities, and other stats.
- 1 Basics
- 2 Spending skill points
- 3 Some fine points
- 4 Summary
- 5 See also
What are skills?
In Star Trek Online skills are passive attributes of your character, that influence the effectiveness of your abilities, weapons and other stats. You improve a skill by spending skill points. Unlike many other games they are not organized in a tree or other hierarchy that requires you to learn certain skills to unlock others. Instead, a new tier of skills is unlocked each time your player rank increases (i.e. every ten levels), which depends on you spending a predefined amount of skill points on skills of the previous ranks.
Skills vs abilities
We need to distinguish between skills and abilities. The former are passive attributes, the latter are powers. So, spending skill points does not unlock new abilities. Well, this is not entirely true, since through the spending of skill points you will level up eventually and the game automatically unlocks predefined abilities on certain levels. But how you spend skill points has no effect on which abilities your captain gains.
Skill points vs bridge officer skill points
The confusion between (player character) skills and (bridge officer) abilities is also induced by the fact, that you spend "bridge officer skill points" on the abilities of your bridge officers in the "Skill" tab of the status window. It should be noted, that spending bridge officer skill points has a totally different meaning and effect than spending skill points:
- Leveling up skills by sending skill points boosts the effectiveness, strength, and/or power of the abilities and attributes, that the skill is contributing to (more on that in the next part of the guide). It improves the quality of your abilities, character, or starship.
- Leveling bridge officer abilities by spending bridge officer skill points reduces the cool down of that specific ability for that specific bridge officer. It improves the frequency at which you can use that bridge officer ability.
Spending skill points
Many players find it hard to decide how to spend their skill points, because it is not easy to decide, which skill is a good choice and what price is appropriate.
Finding contributions to abilities
In most situations you will want to improve an existing ability and need to find out which skills are the ones that contribute to that ability. Star Trek Online does a poor job at helping you decide this. There are a number of ways to find the relations between skills and abilities, but all have their disadvantages:
- Using the "Highlight Contributions To" function: In the "Skills" tab of the status window is a drop down menu in the top-right corner. This menu allows you to choose all unlocked ground and space abilities. When you select one all skills that directly affect the ability are highlighted with a yellow frame. The downside of this method is two-fold. First, some abilities have not their usual names and some are attributed to your ship instead of the correct bridge officer; second, you cannot look up the contributions for the abilities, that you have not yet unlocked, which makes it hard to plan ahead. Nevertheless, this is probably the best way to go.
- Looking in the "Skill Details" window: When you click on a skill in the "Skills" tab of the status window a "Skill Details" windows will appear. In the description text there is a short list of example abilities that profit from the selected skill. This is useful if you want to know if a skill might affect more than one ability, or want to plan ahead and boost abilities you are about to unlock but have not available yet. The information given in the details window, however, is not complete. You are probably better off looking the skill up on STOWiki. For many skills we have a complete list of affected abilities and you can always help us to make the articles more complete.
- Looking up abilities in the "Available Abilities" window: You can open a list of all the abilities that can be added to your power tray by clicking the PADD icon in the top-right corner or pressing "P" (default key binds). When you select an ability the info text on the right will list all contributing skills. The problem with this approach is that only the abilities for your current locale (space/ground) are displayed and there is no way to look up the bridge officer ground abilities, as they can not be dragged to the power tray.
Finding contributions to other attributes
Skills do not exclusively boost abilities. Some are solely dedicated to improving attributes of your character or starship and others do a little of both. The following table lists which skills do not only boost abilities:
|All||Starship Attack Vectors||
|All||Starship Combat Maneuvers||
|All||Starship Battle Strategy||
|All||Starship Command and any "<Ship Type> Captain" skill|
|All||Any skill from "Starship Energy Weapons" and "Starship Projectile Weapons"||
|All||Starship Warp Core Training||
|All||Starship Auxiliary Systems Efficiency||Auxiliary Power Setting|
|All||Starship Energy Weapon Efficiency||Weapon Power Setting|
|All||Starship Engine Efficiency||Engine Power Setting|
|All||Starship Shield Efficiency||Shield Power Setting|
|All||Starship Subsystem Repair||Starship Subsystem Repair Speed|
|All||Starship Hull Repair||Starship Hull Repair Speed|
|Tactical||Assault Training||Grenade, rifle and assault weapon damage|
|Tactical||Close Combat Training||Pistol and martial arts damage|
|Tactical||Soldier||Grenade and rifle damage|
|Tactical||Special Forces||Assault weapon damage|
|Tactical||Martial Arts||Martial arts damage|
|Tactical||Firearms||Pistol, rifle, and assault weapon damage|
Even skills that improve another stat, but not an ability, might contribute indirectly to some abilities. E.g. "Warp Core Training" will increase your weapons power levels and thus boost the damage by energy weapons and related abilities like Beam Array: Fire at Will.
It should be noted, that improving a skill will be more effective at the first levels of that skill than at the high levels. Although the misleading in-game chart suggests a linear mapping from skill level to skill bonus, the caption text of that bar chart reveals the truth: Investing into a low level skill will give a greater bonus, than investing in a high level skill.
E.g., Starship Energy Weapons Training will grant a +6 bonus for investing 100 to obtain the first level. That is ca. 17 per skill bonus. But the last level only grants +.5 bonus (difference between level nine and eight), which is effectively a price of 200 per skill bonus, i.e., more than ten times more expensive (see table).
Now, speaking again in general terms, not only the above example, what is a reasonable amount of to invest for +1 bonus in any skill? A good deal is ca. 50 per +1 skill bonus.Especially captain and admiral rank skills will be more expensive and it is a good idea, if you can increase a lower rank skill that affects the same stat or ability than a captain or admiral skill. Commander rank skills are especially recommendable, because they are not affected as much by diminishing returns at a good price.
Post Script: The theory is sound but the application, not so much. I tried it both ways and found that putting the maximum points to a particular skill makes a very big difference in the game. Spreading the points out for a maximum return will only make you an average player. In other words, if you decide to be a Tank, Healer or Shooter, maximize those skills and you'll be a lot happier with the outcome.
Some fine points
How do traits influence skills?
When you create a character, you will select four traits. Traits can do any number of things, like granting abilities or modifying attributes like damage resistance, but some do grant additional skill bonuses.
|Astrophysicist||+ 10 Starship Operations Training|
|Techie||+ 10 Starship Engineering Training|
|Warp Theorist||+ 10 Starship Warp Core Training|
If you are one of those players, who want to max out certain attributes of your character, you need to start right at the trait selection screen.
The take-away points are:
- Skills are a different thing than abilities. The latter grant powers, the former passive bonusses to that powers and other attributes.
- You can look up, which skills contribute to which abilities, using the drop down menu on the "skills" tab of the status window or STOWiki.org.
- Skills do also boost starship and character stats, don't forget them.
- Skills have diminishing returns at higher levels.
- A good deal is to spend approx. 50 per +1 bonus.
- Commander rank skills have a good cost-benefit ratio.
- If you are crazy about maxing out skills, you need to choose the right traits for your character.