While I’m grumpy about the Valiant and the Kor, I’m still having fun with this bundle.
Star Trek Online announced the ‘Defiant Bundle’ pack on November 3rd, containing three T6-variants of the most iconic and recognizable designs from Star Trek’s 50-year history:
- Federation’s Defiant introduced in S03 opener of Deep Space Nine.
- Romulan Bird of Prey from TOS’s ‘Balance of Terror’
- KDF Bird of Prey* First seen in ‘The Search for Spock’
What’s with the Stars? Starting with this review, I’m giving new ships a rating from 1-5 stars representing how much fun I have with them as an average player. Anything 3 or better, you can consider it a buy recommendation on my part.
It goes without saying that the anticipation for the T6 ‘Defiant’ Tactical Escort and KDF Bird of Prey was high. In light of the new abilities offered with other T6 ships, the expectations were equally as high that these ‘re-issued’ ships would set the bar higher in terms of capability.
As an added bonus to owners of the previous incarnations of the Defiant was an updated skin by Thomas Marrone. Not having to re-buy to get access to the skin is one of the nicer benefits of playing Star Trek Online, and it’s highly appreciated by players and collectors alike.
And then we saw the stats.
Getting a handle on what all the fuss was about.
While we were aware through leaks that these ships were coming eventually, the fan base was caught a bit by surprise when we finally saw the seating, layout and stats. For an iconic ship like the Defiant, we expected ‘something more’ than the stats and set bonuses offered. My initial impressions were that these ships were at best marginal improvements over the existing ships, which is in line with what Star Trek Online has done in the past.
If you were buying them for the first time, it was worth a look. But for those of us with the previous versions, it seemed a bit of a stretch to invest yet again in these ships.
Added to the frustration was the concern over the choice of photons for the bonus console. Star Trek Online listened to the initial feedback, and updated the console to Quantum Torpedoes shortly before it’s release. Nice Move STO! Now if only the KDF could get red quantum torpedos, the immersion would be complete;)
On it’s own, it’s a nice little console. Think of it as an extra forward arc torpedo weapon. It lobs out a cluster of 6 quantum torpedoes (plasma for Romulans) that spiral outward towards your target. It’s a nice improvement to the visuals of torpedo launches. They begin reloading almost immediately and you can fire it as soon as each torpedo loads. It does not appear to take advantage of torpedo spreads, and I have not tested high yield yet with it.
Lastly, many of us wanted/hoped these ships to have some or all of the pilot abilities first introduced with the pilot ships. This was one of the initial disappointments I had with the bundle, but after a week of gameplay I’m not as convinced that we missed out in not having these features.
Full Disclosure: Initially I had no intentions of spending money on this pack. Beyond the lackluster stats, the winged design of the Valiant really did nothing for me except that I imagined my ship name would have to be ‘HRH Prince Charles’. The console set bonus for the Valiant is especially weak given the capabilities of the Romulan and Klingon versions. Integral Enhanced Battle Cloak grossly outweighs anything the Valiant has to offer, especially when the feds must use a console slot for a cloak. Adding to my lack of interest was that I never purchased the requisite Romulan ships to take advantage of their console sets. Fast forward a week, and not only have I played with and enjoyed each of these ships for different reasons, I also broke down and purchased the missing Romulan ships to complete the console sets.
Romulan T6 Malem class Light Warbird – 4/5 Stars
I’ve always had a soft spot for Romulan ships, beginning with the classic TOS T’Liss and STO T’Varo T1 Light Warbirds. While they have little use beyond your initial leveling, they have always stood out to me as classic Star Trek designs.
Easily the best ship of the bundle, I have spent most of my time the last week finding new ways to surprise, pin and alpha strike clusters of ships in Mirror Incursion. Initially I tested three Malem builds without the console set, clocking a healthy 18-22K DPS using a mixed beam and DHC build. As I’ve commented before, the first ships I look for are those that support a Lt.Com Science seat.
The Enhanced Battle Cloak gives you access to most of your captain abilities while cloaked. Gravity Well, followed by an alpha strike of CSV3, BO2, and TS3 pretty much eliminates a Terran attack wing in a single strike on Normal. Advanced MI takes a little more effort, but the result is the same. Zipping in and out of cloak almost on a whim, this ship gives me an evil grin.
Adding the console set did initially lower my DPS, but I suspect this came more from my uncertainty in how to use the new abilities. Giving up the engineering slots for the set made this a very squishy ship, so the playstyle is definitely not for toe-to-toe combat. De-cloak, strike, and move away. Repeat. The real challenge I’m having now it trying to work in the Destabilized Plasma Torpedo close enough to the target to matter, without vaporizing myself in the process.
Normally I avoid gimmicky console sets, but since the release of the Command Cruisers, the console sets have been getting better. Yes, there are better builds (and for that please visit /r/stobuilds or check out the resources at stocontinuum), but I like the options this set provides for added torpedo damage and penetration.
I have no idea why the ZPM is on this build. Chalk it up to stupidity. I also didn’t even look at the hybrid pilot seating, as I’ve never spent the time to investigate what it can do. Call me a traditionalist – Pilot seating doesn’t really ‘do anything’ for me.
The build is Polaron based, and takes advantage of the Delta Ordnance set bonuses (Bonus radiation damage, CD reduction on the Neutronic Torpedo, and the ever-cool looking Isokinetic Cannon). I’m toying with replacing the Romulan Hyper Plasma with a turret or even the Tholian Web Mines, but it seems wrong to play Romulan without farting green death as you overshoot your target;)
Ultimately the T6 Malem is the ship I’m looking forward to each night to run my dailies. I have 3 versions – the above cannon/torp/dhc mix, plus 2 plasma beam array variants with different attack pattern focuses – and all of them function admirably in almost all scenarios. Like anything, using the right ship for the right mission is key – but for now I think I will be buying Fleet versions for at least my tactical captains.
Klingon T6 Kor class Bird of Prey – 3/5 Stars
With minor improvements over the T5-U or even the Fleet variant, the T6 Kor is at best underwhelming. The addition of the hybrid Pilot/universal seat seems like a good idea but in my initial builds I ignored the options. That may be a huge mistake on my part, and I’d enjoy advice on how to take advantage of it.
The ship looks great, and it benefits from Raider Flanking bonuses. Your skill as a pilot is essential to take full advantage of the design, but in all honesty I was expecting something more from this ship. As I mentioned earlier a T6 BOP was #1 on most KDF players ‘must have/ take my money’ list. You would have thought that with all of the new technology at our disposal, this ship could have been so much cooler. Yes it already has the Enhanced Battle Cloak and all-universal seating and these features on their own are amazing and not to put too fine a point on this – it is a great ship, but it’s not a generational step forward.
What could have made this better? I’m open to suggestions – maybe a second quad cannon who’s set abilities with the previous quad cannons might be a ‘Sustained Auto Cannon’ boosting penetration on a single target. Or, maybe the Kor would be allowed access to ‘some’ of the KDF class-limited consoles. Anything to make this ship stand out as being uniquely Klingon and a little more that just a marginal refresh.
Again I used my Universal Lt.Com seat to add a Gravity Well to the mix with a skills build not to dissimilar to the T6-Malem. In MI it’s a practical contender and in Red Alerts or ISA, it can hold it’s own. Getting to know your position in combat is important to take advantage of the Raider Flanking, and with some practice I think I could see this being a very viable ship. My DPS varied wildly (from 15 to 25K) with this ship as it was a challenge to take advantage of the Raider Flanking.
It is a fun ship to play with, but I have 2 others just like it in my inventory.
Would it warrant a further investment on my part for a fleet variant? For me it’s unlikely as I’m having significantly more fun with the T6 Kolasi Destroyer. (I’ve been writing that review for 3 weeks and each time I start, I end up playing instead of finishing the review lol.).
If you are thinking of purchasing this ship on it’s own, do so only if you can make the pilot seating option work for you and if you don’t already have the B’Rel Fleet version. I can’t recommend the T6 Kor over the existing Fleet B’Rel or the T5-U.
Federation T6 Valiant Tactical Escort – 2.5/5 Stars
I need to clarify my dissatisfaction with this ship. On it’s own it’s marginally better than the existing Fleet Defiant, and in-game it performs as expected. If you don’t already own the Fleet Defiant, then this is the ship for you. But as with the T6 Kor, this ship isn’t a significantly forward-thinking enough design to warrant it being a T6 level ship.
The biggest downfall of this ship is it’s requirement that it use a console for a ‘basic cloak’. Given that our Intel ships from a year ago can have an integral cloak without wasting valuable console space, we had hoped that this version would not only have the cloak built-in, but that it would be an improved version of the cloak.
Stylistically it is the best looking of the three. Thomas did a great job on the skin, and the subtle enhancements really make this a stunning addition to any collection. I ditched the Valiant skin almost immediately. The ears/wings just don’t do it for me and lets be honest – the Defiant IS the king when it comes to good looks.
In combat I had little difficulty in pushing my DPS to 27K, and with a little effort I was able to take advantage of the basic cloak to reasonable effect. I tried a number of builds, but as I am spending most of my time in Admiralty and MI – I stuck with the tried and true mix of 2 DHC, 1 dual beam, fore and aft torpedoes, and 2 AP 360’s. On my Tactical toons it’s a resilient escort, but other than it’s looks, it’s not something I would invest in for the Fleet variant. I’m playing around with a plasma-build with my engineer, and while it’s more survivable, it’s not something I’d want to play with on a long term basis.
What could have been better?
1.) Give the Valiant at least integral cloaking, just like the Intel ships released last year. The treaties that prohibited the Federation from using a cloak are already null and void, and having us use a first-generation cloak in a console slot is a major ‘minus’ to the design. It doesn’t have to be a Battle Cloak, or the enhanced Battle Cloak. Just skip the need for wasting a console slot.
2.) Create a new console set, based on Quad Cannons. Give the Valiant a second set of QC’s allowing owners to run with 2 quad cannons on the T6 Version. To be perfectly honest the ONE COOL FACTOR with the original Defiant was the quad cannons and it had a pair. #T6ValiantNeedsaPair Now that the DMG modifier is once again viable, this would make for a very deadly arrangement and would have made the Valiant a much-more sought after ship.
3.) Either a +1 weapons slot forward, a Lt.Com science seat or the Enhanced Battle Cloak. (Yeah, Yeah, I’m a dreamer).
My first impressions were based on comparing these ships, and that was wrong. Performance-wise the have some similarities, but they are unique ships, with differing capabilities and roles which is ‘as it should be’. Ignoring my issues with the Kor and the Valiant, they are an enjoyable bundle (with or without the consoles) and very capable ships in their own right.
If you play all three factions, then the set is a decent buy especially if you don’t already own the B’Rel or Defiant.
Will I continue to play with them? For my Tactical Romulan Captains the answer is heck yes, lets line up the fleet versions until they come out with another new ship for me to try. The others will likely be gathering dust by the time the Mirror Incursion event ends.
* KDF Bird of Prey: In the original script for ‘The search for Spock’ Romulans were going to be the primary antagonists, with Vulcan playing a much larger secondary role. While this was later changed to Klingons and the Vulcan role minimized, while the class of the ship remained as ‘Bird of Prey’. Chalk this up as another Star Trek continuity anomaly.
According to an article on io9.com,  Harve Bennett’s original outline for Star Trek III would have involved Romulans coming to Genesis instead of Klingons and them finding the world very rich in dilithium. The Romulans then begin to mine the planet until the miners begin being killed by a feral Spock, who’s aging was still tied to the aging of the planet. At the same time, Vulcan, upon hearing of the Genesis Device, is so horrified to discover that the Federation created such a potential weapon they want to secede from the Federation. This would have sent Kirk to Vulcan, with the crew of the Enterprise, to face the angry Vulcans. The article states that Robert Meyer Burnett, CEO of the Ludovico Technique and producer of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Blu-ray DVDs, felt like this would have been a more serious, “perilous” and above all epic story than the actual produced and released film — and it would have featured a Romulan commander along the lines of the thoughtful antagonist from the original Romulan story, “Balance of Terror.”