Star Trek: Tirpitz

Hunting the Hunters
April 30, 2010, 8:45 am
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As we were returning to Starbase 39 Sierra from out latest assignment, I received an unexpected communication from my father.  As much as it would have been nice to chat, he wasn’t making a personal call.  Starfleet had lost contact with a runabout carrying a Federation diplomatic team.  The team had been comprised of several civilians, which unfortunately meant that they hadn’t been through even the basic course in emergency survival that the academy requires of Starfleet personnel.  The Starfleet Diplomatic Corps wanted us to conduct the search for the missing runabout.  Once we were provided details on the missing team’s assignment and travel route, we set a course for their last known location in the Mylasa system. 

Hirogen attack

When we arrived at the coordinates provided in their runabout’s last transmission, we conducted an intense sensor scan of the system.  We didn’t detect any debris that suggested the shuttle had been destroyed.  What we did pick up was a single Hirogen ship and a faint distress call.  While we were attempting to track the distress call to its source, we were attacked by the Hirogen ship.  After we disabled the ship, we were able to locate the distress beacon in orbit of a class M planet.  As we approached the beacon, the signal it was broadcasting changed.  The Hirogen had altered the beacon to act as bait for a trap and as a signal to spring the trap.  As soon as we realized what had happened, we were taking fire from a second Hirogen attack ship.  We made quick work of the second ship and then scanned the planet’s surface.  Even though the distress beacon had been tampered with by the Hirogen, there was still a chance that this planet was where the runabout had attempted to land. 


Our scans of the surface located the remains of the runabout and several life signs that matched those of the missing diplomatic team.  For some reason we were unable to beam the survivors aboard, so I decided to lead an away team to attempt to rescue the diplomats.  Surprisingly, Mr. Scharf didn’t attempt to stop me from leading the away team, but he did insist I take Major Iseli and some of her MACO troops to escort me on the rescue.  We located a clearing near the diplomats where we beamed down to the planet.  Within seconds of the transport completing, we found ourselves trapped in a force field.  We were soon contacted by a Hirogen alpha by the name of Tanjan.  He explained that he had set up a series of challenges to determine if the away team was worthy of becoming his prey.  If we didn’t attempt to complete the test he had set up for us, he would kill the diplomats he was holding hostage.  We were instructed that once we were ready to begin, to activate the large device located in the force field with us. 

Doing so initiated a site to site transport, which beamed the away team into another force field enclosed area.  This time, we weren’t alone.  A small squad of Hirogen were guarding another device which I’m sure would transport us to the next step of the challenge when we activated it.  We attacked the guards in an attempt to draw them their attention away long enough for the MACO’s engineering expert, Lieutenant Barrineau, to have a chance to get close to the device and examine it.  By the time we had defeated the guards, Barrineau had been able to determine that the devices weren’t just tied into a transporter system, but to the force fields as well.  Unfortunately, to get a better idea of how the system worked, we needed to continue on to the next stage of the test.  We repeated this process until Barrineau almost had enough information to hack into the system.  We just needed to complete one more transport.  


When we activated the last of the devices, I discovered that I was the only member of the away team that had been transported.  I tried to contact Major Iseli to find out what had happened, but ended up needing to take cover when the Hirogen guards locked in with me attacked.  Looking back, the only explanation I can come up with for how I survived was because I was well equiped.  I used several personal shield batteries and a couple of hyposprays to keep myself awake and alive long enough to knock out the last of the Hirogen guards.  I examined the Hirogen device in the enclosure with me, hoping that the scans I took with my tricorder were being transmitted back to Lieutenant Barrineau and the rest of the away team.  They must have gotten through, because a few minutes after completing my scans, the force fields deactivated.  We were soon able to regroup and begin our search for the hostages. 

Assistant Commissioner Peterson was the first of the hostages we were able to rescue.  We were lucky we found him first, as he alerted us to another trap the Hirogen had set up for us.  It seems that they have a better grasp of holo technology than we believed.  The hostages we had seen scattered around the challenge force fields were actually holograms of diplomats.  If we attempted to rescue any of holograms, they would trigger an alert that would most likely get the real diplomats killed.  Barrineau suggested that if he could access the holograms, he would be able to alter their programing, so instead of an alert signal they would jam the Hirogen’s communication system.  It was risky, but I authorized it.  The Hirogen had held several advantages over us since we arrived on the planet.  We needed to start leveling the playing field.  We engaged several Hirogen patrols as we made our way from holo hostage to holo hostage.  

Defending the cave

With the adjustments made, we set out for the runabout crash site.  Assistant Commissioner Peterson informed us that the crash survivors had taken refuge in a cave not far from where they crashed.  When the Hirogen had beamed down to the surface, all they had needed to do to take the diplomats hostage was to generate a force field around the entrance to the cave to prevent their escape.  After we deactivated the force field, we still had to tag the diplomats for transport up to the Tirpitz.  Just as we got the last of the hostages out, we were attacked by Alpha Tanjan and a few of his hunters.  The cave provided us with cover from the initial assault.  We only needed to worry about dealing with the few Hirogen that tried to enter the cave to attack us.  When Tanjan realized he was fighting a losing battle, he beamed back to his ship in orbit. 

Stopping Tanjan

When we returned to the Tirpitz, I gave orders to follow Tanjan’s ship.  He was willing to take innocent civilians hostage just so he could set up his hunt.  We either needed to take him into custody or make sure he wasn’t able to threaten Federation citizens again.  But he wasn’t going to make it easy for us to do that.  It seemed he was prepared for everything, including having set up a few minefields near the planet that he could hide his ship in when he needed time for his shields to regenerate.  It wasn’t a very effective defense against the Tirpitz.  We could keep Tanjan’s ship in range of our weapons while keeping ourselves outside of the trigger range for the mines.  In the end, we managed to destroy Tanjan’s ship.  With the threat in the system ended, we set a course to return the diplomats to Federation space. 

Out of Character

Cryptic recently released the “Season One, Update One” patch for the game.  Included in the patch is a new difficulty adjustment option for the game.  Players now have the option of continuing to play at the “normal” setting, or increasing the difficulty of much of the game’s content.  For this mission, I was very glad that I decided not to try out a harder setting. 

For a brief section of this mission, it ends up being just the player’s captain versus all the enemy soldiers you encounter.  This event was brought up in a comment left on a previous post.  From the way it was described in the comments, specifically the fact that the player can beam out and then resume the mission with their full away team, this is most likely another game bug.  Still, I liked it as a twist in the story.  The Hirogen Alpha has seen what away team can do as a group together, so he separates them out to see what they’re capable of doing on their own.  I didn’t find it that difficult as a tactical captain.  Maybe because Ruz was carrying a phaser weapon with a cone attack in his expose slot.  If I was lucky, one shot would catch two or three Hirogen at a time and give them either knock back or holds.  It was still enough of a challenge that I needed to use several consumable items to keep my character’s health up.  There were a few close calls, so I’m not sure if I would have made it through on a higher difficulty. 

Another part of the “Season One, Update One” patch that I was looking forward to is the ability to set all of your starship’s weapons to autofire.  Until this point, the player’s been limited to just two autofiring weapons in space.  So today, I tried turning all my weapons on.  I haven’t noticed any problems yet.  I like the change so far.  It makes it easier to activate officer abilities and steer the ship when you’re not hammering away on keys to activate weapons systems as soon as they come off cooldown.  My main concern is weapons power.  I haven’t really paid much attention to how much power I’m using with my shots and abilities in the past.  As long as the guns can shoot, I’ve been happy.  Using a balanced power setting, my weapon power seemed to drop from somewhere in the sixties to around thirty-six at the low point.  I know their’s some math out there that could tell me just how much of a trade-off there is between the amount of weapons fired, and how much damage they do because of the power drain.  But right now, I’m happy.  Maybe when I rank up to my next ship, and I get some extra weapon slots to fill, I’ll see a problem with continuously firing all weapons.


The Big Dig

While we were continuing our patrol along the neutral zone, we picked up a priority one distress call from the USS Phlox.  The Federation along with the Vulcan Science Academy had sent a joint team of archeologists to study a temple from an unknown civilization that had been discovered on a planetoid near the Romulan border.  There were obvious risks in setting up a dig in the neutral zone; risks that had increased as tensions with the Romulan empire grew.  Even so, if the Federation had expected the kind of response the Phlox was reporting, I doubt they would have approved the mission.  

Their distress call had reported several Romulan ships decloaking in orbit of the planetoid.  By the time we arrived in the system, we weren’t detecting any enemy ships on sensors, and the Phlox was still in fairly good shape.  We were able to establish communications with the science ship and were updated on the situation.  Only a hand full of the Romulan ships had attacked the Phlox, keeping the science ship busy.  The rest of the enemy task force had deployed ground forces to the planetoid, who took over the dig site and captured the science teams.  Any rescue effort was going to take several away teams.  Even with the MACOs deployed, we were going to need every combat trained officer we had to pull off a rescue mission.  

Rescuing the hostages


We beamed down to the science team’s camp, which had been reclaimed by the Phlox’s security forces.  From there, our rescue teams fanned out to search for the missing archeologists.  It wasn’t Romulan ground forces that we encountered, but Reman.  And instead of rounding up their captives into one location, they had used a number of portable force field generators to imprison the scientists where they had been captured.  The force fields were strong enough to prevent us from just beaming the captives back aboard our ships.  So our away teams had to fight through several squads of Reman troops to rescue each of the hostages.  

Engaging the Romulan reinforcements


Just as we managed to evacuate the last of the hostages, Amy contacted us from the Tirpitz.  They had come under attack by Romulan ships that seemed to be using the same battle strategy as the ones the Phlox had reported.  Several birds of prey were harassing the Federation ships, while a warbird entered into orbit of the planet.  It wasn’t long before our tricorders picked up the reinforcements being beamed down to the surface.  With our ships engaged in battle, we couldn’t beam off the planet.  So we were forced to defend ourselves from the Romulan reinforcements.   

One artifact protected


It soon became apparent that we weren’t the primary targets of the continued assault.  T’Lol contacted me shortly after the Romulans arrived.  Her squad had encountered a deployment of enemy soldiers with a Romulan commander barking out orders to “destroy the artifacts”.  Scattered around the dig site we had noticed several unusual objects that appeared to float under their own power.  These seemed to be the targets the Romulan forces were concerned about.  Because of the battle going on in space, we couldn’t just beam up the artifacts or beam down shield generators to protect the artifacts.  So we had to improvise.  It was Mr. Scharf that suggested we use the force fields the Remans had used to keep the science team captive to protect the artifacts for the time being.  We used the maps created by the archeologists to deploy our forces and prevent the artifacts from being damaged.   

Holding the line


But that still left us with the problem of being trapped on the planet’s surface with several squads of enemy soldiers.  We tried to use the pyramid as a defensive position, but the Romulans just continued to beam in reinforcements behind the lines we tried to establish.  We lost a lot of good people on that rock.   Major Iseli suggested we attempt to take out the Romulan and Reman commanders, saying that without a command structure, the rank and file troops would be disorganized and may retreat.  At the very least, it gave us something to work towards instead of just sitting around and waiting to be picked off by enemy fire.  According to the after battle reports, I believe we eliminated the commanding officers of twenty squads before the Federation reinforcements arrived in orbit.  With the Romulan task force in retreat, our away teams were able to safely return to the Tirptiz.  

Out of Character

Overlooking the dig site


So I accidentally joined this fleet action.  Back when I was working on the Preemptive Strike mission, I had noticed the USS Phlox near the Rator system but I didn’t realize what it was for.  I just noticed I had the option to communicate with it.  So I went back today, thinking that it had a mission I could pick up, not realizing that it was part of the fleet action I already had in my mission logs.  It took one of my fleet mates noticing where I was and commenting on it for me to realize my mistake.  

And the reason my fleet mate commented on me doing the fleet action was because of a possible bug.  It seems the last time he had tried to complete it, the mission had bugged out when the players were given the instructions to protect the artifacts.  They had managed to set up force fields on all twenty objects, but the game had stopped counting at seventeen.  From my experience, I’ll say that all parts of the mission worked out successfully for me.  So the bug has either been fixed, or I just got lucky with my group not triggering it.  The only rough spot I encountered was a lag spike between the last two parts of the mission, just as a group was trying to invite me to join them.  

If my instance for this mission wasn’t full, it was very close.  The final score listed nineteen players, and I did well enough to pick up a weapon.  It looked like the majority of the players in there were tactical captains.  I think I saw a few science and engineer captains as well, but only a couple.  And they weren’t making themselves easy to spot.  It’s not like any of the engineers were repeatedly dropping shield generators.  I’m sure they were using every skill they had, because it was really easy-going.  I don’t want to say that it was easy.  If you weren’t careful, and strayed a little to far from the other players, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.  But it didn’t force the players to be constantly on the move.  I felt like there was a bit more breathing room than there was when I did the Breaking the Planet fleet action.   

All in all, I would have to say that I enjoyed the mission.  I’m curious to see how they tie this in to the Romulan storyline.  It’s mentioned that the artifacts on the surface give off an energy reading that’s similar to those seen during the Hobus supernova.  I just wondering how they’re going explain it.  Either the Federation just stumbled across the location where the Romulans had already found some sort of advanced technology, or the Romulans discovered a similar set of ruins on another planet and they just wanted to keep the Federation from finding any info from the same civilization.

Vendor Sector Patrol

In the wake of the battles near Rator prime, Starfleet Command decided to increase patrols of Federation space near the Romulan neutral zone.  Our listening posts along the border have detected small forces of cloaked ships moving through the neutral zone, but so far there haven’t been any incidents.  The Tirpitz has been assigned to patrol a number of systems along the border.  

Trading fire with the Hirogen

Our first stop on the patrol route we were assigned was to a starbase in the Ra’kholh system.  The outpost was a key location in the Federation’s efforts to develop moblie holo emitter technology.  The idea is to try to find a way to remove the limitations that current holographic systems force on a sentient hologram’s freedom.  When we entered the system, we picked up a distress call from the starbase.  Their sensors had picked up a number of Hirogen ships approaching the starbase.  We set a course to intercept the enemy task force before they could mount an attack on the lightly defended outpost.  As expected, our arrival presented the Hirogen with a much more attractive target than the station offered.  Several of their ships altered course to intercept us.  We were able to successfully defend ourselves from the initial assault, and continued on to engage the remaining ships.  Once we had cleared the system of the Hirogen, we contacted Starfleet Command and appraised them of the situation. 

Studying the Tkon relic

As we continued our patrol, Mr. Toran picked up some unusual energy readings as we were passing through the Tepheri system.  We altered course to investigate the readings, and came across a series of artifacts that had been scattered into space.  After performing several scans of the objects, we were able to determine that they were relics from the Tkon Empire.  The Tkon were a highly advanced civilization that had collapsed after their home world had been destroyed by a supernova.  We documented our findings and the location of the artifacts and forwarded our information to Starfleet Command.  While the Tirpitz is equiped to perform a basic analysis of the find, a well equiped science vessel would have a better chance of possibly unlocking some piece of forgotten technology.  

Turning back the Romulans

As we returned to our patrol route, we were contacted by Commander Genstra.  A small task force of Romulan ships had been detected by our listening posts as it crossed into Federation space.  Their course and speed put them on a route to enter the T’Liss system.  We were ordered to head to T’Liss and ensure that the Romulans didn’t attack any of our holdings in the system.  The Romulans arrived in the system before we did, but it didn’t appear as if they were there to attack.  In fact, the only ships we ended up fighting were the ships that we both managed to detect through their cloaking systems and that we attempted to communicate with.  Perhaps they were sent to test our ability to detect and track cloaked ships.  In any event, after destroying several ships that attacked us, the remaining cloaked ships we detected retreated back into Romulan space.  

Out of Character

I would like to apologize for the delay in getting today’s post up.  Several unexpected visitors and events over the past couple of days led me to burn off the buffer I had been attempting to create.  With any luck, I’ll have something ready to go at my normal time tomorrow. 

So it looks like we were a little a head of schedule in discussing the Hirogen’s connection with holodeck technology yesterday.  Part of today’s mission had them attacking a holo technology research station.  In the game’s storyline (as presented on both the Path to 2409 and the novel tie in), the Federation is trying to replicate the mobile emitter technology introduced in the later half of Voyager’s run to allow the Doctor to leave sickbay.  It seems they want to give all sentient holographic programs the chance to live full and complete lives like any other members of the Federation.  The game makes it clear that the Hirogen want to get their hands on the research, but it doesn’t really explain why they want it.  Given how often the Holodeck seems to break down and endanger the users, one would think that the Hirogen would rather keep hunting holograms in the giant video game deathtrap.  Releasing the holograms out into the real world might actually make the hunts safer. 

The Tkon Empire is a throw back to an episode in the first season of the Next Generation.  It was in the same episode that introduced the Ferengi in all their… glory?  The Tkon were given a background as a highly advanced culture.  It tells about how they had the technology to move star systems if they needed to.  And yet somehow, they were wiped out by a supernova that destroyed the empire’s core worlds.  Much in the same way that the Romulans have been impacted by the Hobus supernova.  To me, that would have been a very interesting connection to make in the game.  Have it set up so that the Romulans had also found a source of Tkon technology, and had blown themselves up in the same way that the ancient empire had.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to be the case.  Besides the fact that this mission is part of a sector patrol set (which sadly never seem to be expanded upon by the game’s writers), the Memory Alpha entry for the Tkon already mentions what had caused their destruction.

Defending the Psi Velorum Sector

The Tirpitz was en route back to Federation space when we were suddenly attacked.  It took us a minute to identify what hit us.  Somehow, a small group of Hirogen ships had managed to get within weapons range without us detecting them.  Starfleet had received reports of Hirogen vessels being spotted in this region of space.  And from the looks of things, we had accidentally wandered into one of their hunting grounds. 

Rescued by the Einstein

We went to red alert, and I started giving orders to my crew.  Things weren’t looking good for us.  As soon as we managed to break free from the tractor beam one of the enemy ships was using, a different ship would catch us in a new one.  The Hirogen were doing their best to deny us our ability to maneuver.  We were fortunate that the USS Einstein and the USS Falcon both picked up our distress call and were able to assist us.  They bought us the time we needed to go on the offensive. 

Coordinating with the Falcon

We knew it wasn’t going to be a quick fight.  The Einstein was using every trick in the book that their crew new to try to even the odds, while we joined the Falcon in keeping the Hirogen from attacking the science ship.  It was very slow going, but we did start to pick off the attacking ships one at a time.  When it appeared that we had gained an advantage over the remaining Hirogen vessels, they started to retreat from the battle.  We attempted to contact Starfleet command to appraise them of our situation, when the Hirogen received some unexpected reinforcements. 

Romulan reinforcements

We had been so preoccupied with dealing with the Hirogen that we didn’t detect the Romulan task force until they opened fire on us.  They moved into a defensive position, keeping themselves between us and the retreating Hirogen ships.  We’ve faced off against both species before in combat.  But this was the first time we saw them working together like this.  Honestly, I’m not one hundred percent certain that they were working together.  For all we knew, these Romulans had taken part in the battle over Rator prime, followed us once we had left the system, and only attacked once the Hirogen started to retreat.  I was more concerned with keeping my crew alive than I was with finding out why the Romulans were attacking us. 

Targeting their engines

This wasn’t a fight we were going to be able to win.  We had all sustained a moderate amount of damage in battle with the Hirogen.  A prolonged fight with the Romulans was just going to get us destroyed.  We needed to change our tactics.  Instead of trying to destroy the enemy ships, I gave orders to target the Romulan’s propulsion systems.  If we could leave them dead in the water, we had a chance of getting back to Federation space.  It took concentrated fire from all three of us to break through the shields of each of the enemy vessels.  Once we were certain that we wouldn’t be followed, we set a course for Starbase 39 Sierra at our best possible speed. 

Out of Character

So I’ve been dancing around the Hirogen for a while without actually talking about them.  Introduced on Voyager, they are a space going hunter society.  They’re more or less a knock off of the Predator from the films of the same name.  They even going so far as both having a breathing mask they can choose to use.  They weren’t too bad of an addition to the Trek universe in my opinion.  I wasn’t a fan of the way the writers tried to end the threat of the Hirogen.  They had established the race in the series as having a society based on trophy hunting.  Their collections of unusual body parts from prey species showed a male’s social status, and influenced a female’s choice in taking a mate.  So it wasn’t the act of the hunt that was important, but the trophy collected from the hunt that had value.  And Voyager’s crew thought giving them holodeck technology would solve the problem of the Hirogen hunting intelligent species.  A Holodeck.  One of those grid lined rooms on the ship where if you try to take an item out of the room, it disappears.  Am I the only one seeing the problem here?  Did Janeway really think turning the Hirogen into a bunch of achievement point rabid gamers was going to fill the same societal role as hunting?  I’ve got over seven thousand achievement points on my main in WoW, and it has neither improved my social standing nor made me more attractive to the ladies. 

So I guess it’s no wonder they’re back to being bad guys for Star Trek Online.  There’s been a lot of set up in the game to make them allies of the Romulans.  I have to admit that there’s a small part of me that thinks they’d make a fairly decent guard force if you could negotiate the right deal.  “Any non-Romulan ships that come into our space are fair game guys.  Knock yourselves out.”  So far, I’ve only encountered them in space battles.  I’m curious to see what they’re going to be like in a ground fight.  These are guys that sent two hunters to track down one Undine.  I need a few minutes with a five man away team to get one scared enough to retreat.  So a ground fight with the Hirogen may be interesting to try.

Preemptive Strike
April 26, 2010, 9:02 am
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We recently received a priority one message from Starfleet Command with new orders.  Starfleet Intelligence had gathered information from several sources that pointed to a possible Romulan attack in Federation space.  Starfleet had dispatched a small scout ship to Rator prime, a planet near the Romulan border that the intelligence reports suggested was the staging ground for the impending invasion.  The scout ship had been given orders to report back with their findings every hour on the hour, but they had never made a transmission.  Because of this, Starfleet Command decided to send a fleet to Rator prime.  The Tirpitz had been assigned to join the fleet, with orders to rescue any potential survivors from the scout ship and to prevent the Romulan fleet from crossing into Federation space.  

Romulan versus Romulan

Because of how close we were Rator Prime, we were the first ship of the Federation fleet to arrive in the system.  A scan of the system when we arrived picked up a large number of Romulan ships in the system.  More Romulans than we had faced before without back up.  Mr. Toran had an idea to try to even the odds.  By launching a modified sensor probe at one of the Romulan ships he was able to confuse their ship identification system, making their sensor believe they were surrounded by Federation ships.  It didn’t last long, but bought us enough time to get in some hits to critical system and level the playing field a bit.  

Punching a hole in the defenses

Unfortunately for us, one of the enemy ships activated the planet’s orbital defense system before we could stop them.  We came under fire from several orbital weapons platforms.  We were forced to fall back because of the concentrated fire.  It took T’Lol a few minutes to identify a week point in their defense grid.  There was a small section where the weapons platforms were spaced far enough apart that we would only need to engage one at a time.  We punched our way through the satellites and entered orbit over the planet.  

Iseli's MACO soldiers

Once in orbit, a scan of the planet picked up  two facilities on the surface.  Both were highly populated with Romulans, but one also revealed several Federation life signs.  The one with the Federation life signs also appeared to have a functional transport inhibitor, so we couldn’t just beam them up.  We beamed Major Iseli and a squad of her MACO troops down to the surface a few kilometers away from the believed prison facility.  Their orders were to rescue the Federation personnel and to deactivate the transport inhibitor so we could beam them back to the ship.  The away team got the drop on several guard patrols that they were able to take down before reaching the facility itself.  Once they assaulted the prison, they had to work fast to prevent the Romulans from executing their captives.  Among those they rescued another MACO trooper named Tess who was able to fill in details on what had happened.  The scout ship had deployed her squad to the planet when they had detected a number of subspace weapons on the planet’s surface.  Tess estimated that her team had managed to destroy half of the stockpile before they had been captured.  When Iseli reported this information back to the Tirpitz, I gave the order for her away team to finish the destruction of any remaining subspace weapons on the planet’s surface.  Tess requested permission to join the away, but she wasn’t in any shape to assist, and we beamed her back to the Tirpitz.  

Surprise attack

The MACOs encountered heavier resistance as they made their way to the second facility on the planet.  It’s possible that the second facility had been warned of an impending attack by the guards from the prison.  The Romulan guards had enough time to set up a number of phaser turrets and portable shield generators before the away team reached them.  A few guards even managed to get the drop on Iseli and her troops.  If it wasn’t for their personal shield generators, they would have been in bad shape.  It took the away team much longer than we expected to clear the area of guards and set charges to destroy the remaining weapons.  We beamed the away team back onboard the Tirpitz just barely before the Romulan fleet entered the system.  

Battling the Romulan fleet

It didn’t look good for us for a few minutes there.  We were outnumbered and outgunned.  Our sensors picked up dozens of Romulan ships, including one Scimitar class warship.  The very well-timed arrival of the rest of the Federation fleet is what saved us.  We fell into formation with the rest of the Federation forces and engaged the Romulan fleet.  We weren’t the focus of very many attacks by the enemy ships.  The Romulans were attempting to concentrate their fire to take down the larger threats in our fleet.  This gave us several openings to perform attack runs on enemy ships without taking much damage to our shields.  We managed to destroy a majority of the enemy fleet before the remaining ships retreated back into Romulan space.   

Hopefully, with the loss of their forces and weapons, we’ve managed to delay the Romulan’s attack plans.  But somehow, I don’t think this is the end of what they’re got in store for us.  

Out of Character

I am really starting to hate the Romulan ground forces.  It’s not that they’re dangerous.  I can’t recall the last time that my captain or any of my crew got close to being knocked out.  It’s that they have nine lives.  Between shield regeneration, portable shield units, and being able to revive fallen allies, it’s like you have to kill each Romulan soldier twice.  There’s nothing more frustrating than having one down to no shields and a fraction of their health, only to see their shield bar completely refill.  The rewards from this mission included a choice between a plasma rifle and a personal shield.  I’m hoping the rifle will make dropping Romulans a little bit easier in future missions. 

Now while I wasn’t fond of the ground combat, the final space battle was brilliant.  I wish there were more big space battles like this one in the game.  I may be a little biased, as the space battles from DS9 were some of my favorite moments from the series (skip ahead to about 6 minutes in to get to the actual battle, but the whole things good in my opinion).  Most of the time in-game, the player is on their own.  Currently, it looks like a player formed group of ships caps out at five players.  The number of ships that can join the same instance of a deep space encounter also seems to be limited somewhat.  Granted, you can get a fairly large number of players into a fleet action.  But even then it feels like something is missing.  I don’t know how to explain it.  It’s not a factor of how many players are in the fight.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m looking forward to trying some of the group missions later in the game when I get to a high enough level to have access to them.  But what would really awesome in my book is if there was a big set piece battle going on that my group was a part of, and then half way through we would receive orders to break off from the main fleet to complete some objective before returning to help finish the fight.

Supplemental: My Monsters
April 25, 2010, 9:43 am
Filed under: Supplemental

Out of Character

A few days ago, three different members of the STO fleet I’ve joined (EDIT:  Make that four.  I’m sorry I missed that one) took a look at the various different characters they’ve played in the many MMOs they’ve tried over the years.  I thought they were very interesting reads.  They provided a unique insight into the choices a player makes when they’re creating and playing a character.  I felt inspired to take a look at my own history in MMOs. 

I thought I’d start by listing what I remember. 

  • Everquest:  Level 5 Troll warrior on a PVE server
  • World of Warcraft: Level 40 Male Orc Hunter on a PVP server.  Level 30 Male Orc Hunter on a PVP server.  Level 30 Male Troll Priest on a PVP server.  Level 80 Male Orc Warrior on a PVP server.  Level 80 Male Blood Elf Death Knight on a PVP server.  Level 28 Female Human priest on a PVP server.
  • City of Heroes:  Male Blaster, Male Tanker, Male Scrapper all under Level 20 on a forgotten server.
  • EVE Online:  1 ship, under level 10.
  • Age of Conan:  Male Cimmerian Conqueror on a PVP server.  Male Cimmerian Ranger on a PVP server.  Male Stygian Necromancer on a PVP server.  All under Level 30.
  • Warhammer Online:  Black Orc on a PVP server.  Male Magus on a PVP server.  Male White Lion on a PVP server.  Ironbreaker on a PVP server.  All under Level 20
  • Champions Online:  Male Might, Male Darkness, Male Melee-Claws.  All under Level 20
  • Star Trek Online: Male Joined Trill, Tactical career, Commander Level.

So what have I noticed about who, what, and how I play? 

  1. They’re about 99% male.  Of that 1% of females that I’ve played, they’ve all been alts that haven’t even gotten to the half way point of leveling.  If I had to say why that is, I think I would have to narrow it down to two main reasons.  The first of which comes from my days of playing pen and paper RPGs back in high school.  On the few occasions when I played a female PC (or had a Female NPC that was heavily featured in a game I was running), the comments I received were less than stellar.  The most common joke made at my female character’s expense was something along the lines of “it’s like every day of the year is that time of the month for her”.  The only other reason I can think of the amount of trouble I could get into with one.  The argument of “looking at a pretty backside” may be used by many a guy that plays a female character, and I can sorta see where they’re coming from with it.  But it’s not an argument that’s going to let you keep that female character when your girlfriend asks why you’re playing a warrior decked out in a chain mail bikini.
  2. I am a name recycler, but only if I’m really serious about the game.  In games where I’ve had friends ask me to join them and give it a try, I’ve been content to just click the random name button until I saw something I liked.  If it’s a game I’m really interested in playing and I think I’m going to spend a lot of time with one character, some version of Ruz (or Russ in settings without a sci-fi or fantasy element) will be used.
  3. The story’s the thing.  When I make a character, I tend to at least have a small hook of an idea of what I want that character to be.  Sometimes I’ve had more.  My main in WoW started off as “the guy that wants to be on the front line of the fight” and developed into “the grumpy old warrior surrounded by green recruits”.  For Star Trek Online, I started thinking about what I wanted him to be as soon as I pre-ordered the version that would give me access to the Joined Trill race.  Sometimes an inability to successfully mesh my story for the character with the limits of the game spell the end of my time with the game.  In City of heroes, I wanted to build a scrapper with the claws power set.  I wanted a clawed hand, and spent the time to find it in the character builder and get everything just like I wanted.  Then I took it into the game, and the first time he tried to attack a bad guy, he balled up his clawed hands into fists and three blades shot out of the back of his wrists.  It’s hard not to be a Wolverine clone when you’re forced into being one.  And shortly there after, I ended my subscription.
  4. The monster redeemed.  I didn’t really notice this until I remembered what I had done in Champions online: 

    That's your hero?

I started with the giant shark man; a captured villain forced by the government to turn hero.  I followed him up with the college student who gave up dabbling in the dark arts when it turned him into a spike covered demon and then moved on to the dirty bio weapons expert that was exposed to a nasty virus that turned him into a zombie with the power to heal people.  I seem to like creating “bad guys” that aren’t quite so bad.  It would explain why I have so many Orcs in WoW.  They’ve come back from being slaves to demons and blood thirsty savages (until Blizzard threw them under the bus known as Garrosh Hellscream).  I think the only way I’m ever going to get an Alliance character to 80 is when I have the chance to roll a Worgen Death Knight once Cataclysm comes out.  And just like with #3 on this list, it can be a deal breaker.  Warhammer Online is very black and white in regards to good and evil.  There aren’t any repentant Chaos soldiers.  What does this mean for Star Trek Online?  Probably nothing for my Federation Captain.  But if I ever roll a Klingon faction character, I’d expect a pirate or smuggler that’s trying to make good in some way.

Saturday’s Child

We recently received orders from Admiral T’nae to assist with an important diplomatic assignment.  A few days ago a Federation envoy was sent to negotiate with the Aelseans for the rights to mine topaline from their planet.  Topaline is a mineral needed to make life support systems and can be used as a way to block sensors.  It’s incredibly rare and impossible to replicate, so a good source of the mineral would be invaluable to the Federation.  The Tirpitz was being sent to the Aelos system to help guard the negotiations.   

When we entered the system, our preliminary scans detected nothing out of the ordinary.  But I didn’t want to get taken by surprise, so we started a patrol sweep through the system with our sensors at their maximum settings.  We picked up the first group of Romulan ships just seconds before they decloaked and opened fire on us.  We were able to successfully defend ourselves and continue our search, which turned up four more ships.  The last group we found included a warbird, which tried to hold us off while its allies set a course for Aleos IV, where the negotiations were taking place.  Once we disabled the warbird, we set a pursuit course to follow the remaining Romulans.   

Romulans versus Klingons


What greeted us when we arrived at Aelos IV surprised me.  The Romulan ships were already engaged in combat, with Klingon ships.  The presence of hostile Romulan forces was worrying enough.  The Klingons forces made things worse.  We needed to ensure the safety of the Federation diplomats on the planet’s surface, so we joined the battle.  The Romulans and Klingons were so busy fighting each other, that we went unnoticed until only one Vor’cha cruiser was left.  Once we disabled the enemy ship, I sent an away team to the surface to make sure the Federation diplomat was alright.   

Defending the princess


To try to avoid a diplomatic incident, we beamed the away team down a few kilometers outside of the village where the negotiations were taking place.  A few minutes after they arrived, the away team encountered an Aelsean woman who identified herself as the daughter of the king the Federation was negotiating with.  She informed us that shortly before the Tirpitz would have arrived in the system, a group of Klingons had arrived on the planet to try to acquire the right to mine the topaline for themselves.  The away team notified us on the ship of this development, and I gave orders to escort the princess back to her village.  I know the Klingons highly value honor, but I didn’t want to risk them taking the woman hostage on the off-chance they needed an extra bargaining chip.  As they approached the village, the away team was assaulted by several squads of Klingon troops.  Thankfully they were able to keep the princess safe until they reached the village.   

The negotiations continue


When the away team reached the village they were welcomed by the king, as well as the Klingon and Federation negotiators.  The Federation representative, Admiral Akaar, hoped that our assistance of the princess would favorably influence the king’s decision in who would get the rights to mine the planet.  While the king was relieved to have his daughter back, he was more concerned about the safety of his people and the planet.  It seems that the Aelseans were a technologically advanced and war like people a few centuries ago, and had reverted to living in a tribal society when they feared that they would destroy themselves.  They had done away with their ships and their weapons of war, but had left a series of satellites in orbit to allow them to communicate with visitors to their planet.  The satellites were also capable of a basic level stellar study, which is how they had detected a large asteroid, which would soon crash into the planet where the Aelseans hunted for food.  The Aelseans didn’t have a way to destroy the asteroid themselves, so the king decided that Which ever of us was able to destroy the threat to his people would be permitted to mine the planets topaline deposits.   

The away team contacted the ship with this information, and I had Mr. Toran scan for the approaching asteroid.  We quickly found it and set an intercept course to destroy it.  As we got within weapons range, we found ourselves under attack by a small Klingon task force.  Several Birds of Prey were trying to stall us while the IKS Kang, under the command of Captain Ja’rod, tried to stop the eliminate the asteroid.  When it looked like we were about to finish off the last of the ships sent to stop us, the Kang joined the battle.  We took a bit of a pounding  from the Klingon ships, and in the end, the Kang retreated before we could finish them off.  It only took a few quantum torpedoes to destroy the asteroid.   

The atmosphere will do the rest


Having completed the challenge, the king decided to allow the Federation to mine their planet.  Admiral Akaar decided to remain on the planet for a few more days to work out all the minor details with the Aelseans.  Once we retrieved our away team, we set a course for Starbase 39-Sierra.   

Out of Character

So to win a mining contract, I had to turn one deadly asteroid into half a dozen still potentially deadly asteroids.  I think I’ve spent a little too much time with my friends over the years talking about how badly the destruction of the second Death Star was going to screw up the Ewok home world.    

I believe I’ve said it before that I grew up watching the Next Generation and later series of Star Trek.  What I’ve seen of the original series is a bit spotty and mostly from the Fan Collective DVD sets.  So I didn’t realize that this mission was a kind of sequel to the original series episode Friday’s Child until Admiral Akaar explained how he acquired his full name.  After reading up on the original episode at Memory Alpha, it seemed that the game mission follows a fairly similar plot.   In both, the crew has to protect a member of a royal family while trying to secure mining rights to the exact same material.  The appearance of the Klingons in Romulan space for the game’s mission was probably done because they were a part of the tv episode as well.  The game is full of references to all things Star Trek, and it’s times like this where I’m wondering how many things I’m missing for every reference I catch.   

It's not the rock she fears


This mission also features what I think of as the bane of all video gamers:  An escort quest.  Almost every time I come across one, there’s something about it that just drives me crazy.  Either the person I’m escorting is slower than molasses, or their dumber than a bag of hammers and will run off to aggro half a dozen extra enemies.  In this case, the main problem I encountered with the princess was a rather large bug.  Along the escort path to the village, there’s a section early on where it looks like there’s a giant boulder in the middle of the road.  The princess is smart enough to path around the obstacle, but the problem is that part of the first Klingon patrol the player encounters spawns inside the boulder.  This made one Klingon impossible to shoot and kill while it was still able to shoot at the princess.  I tried every ability I had access to and I could not stop the Klingon.  The only reason I was able to complete the mission was because of a second bug.  When the princess lost the last of her life, she resumed walking back to her village as if nothing had happened.  I have to wonder if the princess’ zombie routine was a work around that Cryptic had put in place because of the stuck Klingon.