Space combat referes to any gameplay that takes place on system maps, with ships of various classes trying to outmaneuvre and get position on their opponents' starship. Captains will be expected to employ a variety of strategies and tactics to ensure they achieve a victory while their enemies breathe the cold hard vacuum of space.
These correspond to the image shown above.
- Impulse Control: Slider that controls the speed of your Ship
- Shield & Hull Strength: Indicates the current strength of your shields and hull. Clicking the center of the ship will equally distribute the shields. Clicking the Arrows will take power from the 3 other shields and transfer a percentage to that shield.
- System Power Level: - Shows the current amount of ships power and where it is diverted. By clicking the icons at the top you can redistribute systems power to other systems. Systems include Weapons, Shields, and Speed. The = symbol will distribute the power equally among the systems.
- Weapons Control: Grants the ability to control individual weapons and fire groups of weapons at once. You can fire all phasers, all torpedoes, and all weapons at once.
- Tray Powers: Attaches your powers to a selectable bar. Each slot is assigned a hot key. The first row is 1-8, second row is Ctrl 1-8 and the third row is Alt 1-8.
- Bridge Officer Powers: Gives you access to the special space-based abilities of your bridge officers.
There are a few general tips and tricks that apply to space combat with all ship types and playing styles, and that most players should familiarize themselves with.
- Keep your shields up. Remember to re-route shield power when needed, and use healing abilities such as Science Team, Emergency Power to Shields, and Transfer Shield Strength.
- Turn to distribute damage across your shields, and keep exposed hull facings away from enemy vessels. Shield power should be redistributed frequently to prevent torpedoes impacting the ship's hull. Any level of Tactical Team will grant ten seconds of automatic shield redirection towards damaged facings.
- If you see a torpedo incoming on a depleted facing and are quick, you can hit Brace for Impact to reduce the damage you'll take and maybe even recover some hull integrity.
- If your hull integrity starts to fall, you can use abilities like Engineering Team and Auxiliary to Structural to bring it back up. Hazard Emitters grants a reasonable hull heal over time and will also purge potentially deadly Damage over Time effects, which are commonly inflicted by Romulan and Borg enemies.
- Use your batteries. More will drop so don't save them for a rainy day. They can provide a much needed boost to your power levels, and bring disabled systems back online.
- Don't stop moving: a stationary target is an easy target. Being mobile grants a boost to your Defense Rating, which makes it harder to hit you; the bonus reaches its maximum at around three-quarters Impulse, but even moving slowly is better than not moving at all.
- Keep your target within the firing arc of your weapons. Cannon-using ships like Escorts and Birds-of-Prey should bring forward weapons to bear, whereas Cruisers should keep their broadside facing the target.
- Use energy weapons such as beams and cannons to weaken a target's shields until they are down, and then fire torpedoes directly onto the hull to maximize their damage potential.
- Re-route as much power as possible to weapons. At a power level of 25, weapons will deal only half their rated damage. At 50 power they will deal their rated damage and at 100 power they deal double damage.
- Make sure to use universal damage enhancing abilities like Emergency Power to Weapons and Attack Pattern Beta, as well as weapon-specific enhancers like Cannons: Rapid Fire, Beams: Overload, and career-specific damage enhancers like Attack Pattern Alpha.
- Try to focus on a single shield facing to punch a hole in a target's shields as quickly as possible.
- Proximity is a factor in space combat; more damage is done at close range (at or within 5km to the target), and you'll do less if they're further away.
- If friendly vessels (either NPCs or player team-mates) are also engaged in combat, try to coordinate your efforts and focus fire on the same targets.
- As with survival, use your batteries. Weapon batteries will bring disabled weapon systems back online and provide a significant boost to your weapon power level for a short duration.
- The higher the impulse power is set to the larger your turning circle will be.
- Exploding ships do damage to you. If it's going to blow, get out of the way fast!
- The standard firing range of all ships is 10 kilometers; close to this range to attack a target and withdraw beyond it if it becomes necessary to retreat. The Long-Range Destabilized Tetryon Heavy Cannon has a range of 12km unlike most other weapons
- Do not fly at Full Impulse into the weapons range of an enemy vessel, as you will arrive with only 5 power in the ship's other subsystems. This will massively reduce survivability and combat effectiveness until the power levels return to normal. Instead stop 3-5km short of bringing weapons to bear . For more information see: Power and Subsystems.
- If you are in a team, especially in PvP or a Special Task Force, you should always stay together. Regroup as quickly as possible if the team becomes separated.
A captain's choice of career and type of vessel have an impact on which tactics will be effective when in combat. To maximize combat effectiveness, players should focus on their strengths and exploit the damage potential of their ships. Though players should experiment to determine what tactics work best for them, there are a number of standard tactics that many players will find effective.
A ship with a high damage potential such as an Escort or Battle cruiser is at the apex of its combat prowess in an alpha strike. Put simply, the alpha strike is the very first attack by an allied group against an enemy group. A good alpha strike can immediately imbalance the terms of the ensuing engagement to the player's advantage and when in PvP, disorient and intimidate the enemy.
The way to perform an alpha strike is two-fold. First the player must strike their opponent as quickly as possible, before they have time to respond. Second, the player must use everything at their disposal to maximize their damage potential. The heaviest weapons available should be used, the maximum 125 weapon power should preferably be in effect, and all available buffs should be applied at once (though not all buffs stack). If there are multiple allied vessels within range, all should focus on the same target.
When commanding a vessel with weak defenses or limited healing ability, such as an Escort or Bird-of-Prey, it is necessary to avoid enemy fire as much as possible. The standard hit-and-run pattern is to charge weapons and associated buffs before reaching weapons range, dealing as much damage as possible in one or two volleys, then overshooting the target and moving out of range of its own weapons. It is important to maintain momentum throughout the maneuver to minimize the period of time that the player's vessel is exposed to enemy fire.
In order to aid the running phase of this tactic, there are several options that enhance a players ability to evade incoming fire. As the name suggests, the ability Evasive Maneuvers is useful in this situation. Alternatives include engine batteries or Deuterium surpluses, or the ability Auxiliary to Dampeners.
Bird-of-Prey and some Warbird captains have access to the Battle Cloak and Enhanced Battle Cloak abilities that are extremely useful in evading aggression, as the ship does not need to stand down from Red Alert in order to cloak. Cloaking devices also grant an ambush damage bonus, which aids with the initial 'hit' - but be mindful that there is a reactivation delay, which will impede using the cloaking device for the 'run' part of the maneuver. The Quantum Singularity Manipulation trait also grants a very short duration cloak that does not disable weapons or shields.
As an alternative, science captains at the rank of Captain grade 8 have access to the Photonic Fleet which generates a number of holographic vessels that can act as decoys, whilst certain Warbirds can use the Warp Shadows Singularity Core ability to create several decoys as well as temporarily cloak themselves in combat.
Healing and Support
Vessels with strong defenses that have access to a broad range of healing abilities, such as carriers or cruisers, are well suited to support. This involves focusing skills, abilities, and resources on healing and buffs. Clearly this tactic is only applicable in scenarios where another allied vessel is available, primarily in PvP or fleet actions.
The most effective strategy for healing is to choose a single recipient and then focus all of one's attention of keeping that player alive. In a triage situation where multiple allies are in need of aid, one should prioritize those that have the best chance of survival and that can return to full strength as quickly as possible.
A player who specializes in science will find great versatility and effectiveness in the careful use of debuffs. Abilities such as Tractor Beam and Subnucleonic Beam can be devastating when used properly, however users of these tactics must keep in mind that DPS is still important and must either deal a reasonable amount of damage themselves, or team up with a damage-dealing ally.