Thanks for the Feedback here and on Reddit – a few updates below:
Anytime Star Trek Online introduces an entirely new set of STF’s (Special Task Force), there is a period of adjustment that the community goes through to absorb the new mechanics and establish teamwork to overcome the new challenges. Sometimes they are relatively easy and reward well enough that they become popular. Other times it takes significant effort and planning just to get through an STF, and those queues get ignored by most of the community.
One thing is for sure, a queues popularity will change over time, as do the techniques used to get through them. The best example is “I’ve got Kang!” has evolved from being a job you took out of necessity, to something that’s little more than a speedbump in the race to complete a CSA in under 30 seconds.
The new missions have their fair share of confusion at the moment that’s impacting not only the normals but advanced and elite queues as well. I’ve had greater success with runs set up privately through Redditchat or the various DPS channels – but at the same time, I’ve also watched Elites fail in the first 30 seconds with a highly-skilled team, just because someone pushed a Battleship to close to the Starbase with a mistimed tractor beam repulsor.
One last point before the briefing: these techniques represent the efforts of many players, and while they worked for us, they may not be the only way to beat this STF. If you’ve come across other methods, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below.
Mission Brief: The Tzenkethi Front
Regardless of the difficulty (normal, advanced and elite), the mission parameters remain essentially the same. A Tzenkethi invasion force has moved five small staging bases into the Eta Serpentis system, and are launching waves of attacks against the planet’s defences (Klingon Starbase).
Your goal is to intercept the Tzenkethi Battleships – marked by the Protomatter Bomb warning sign on your main viewscreen. In the process of destroying the battleship, you recover the Protomatter Bomb and then use it against one of the five Tzenkethi staging bases.
The STF comes with voice prompts and reminders, letting you know when a player has picked up the bomb, and when a base is destroyed. When you pick up the bomb, your ship will be given a visual cue identifying that you have the bomb. If you are destroyed, the protomatter bomb you carry is destroyed with you.
The Football (Protomatter Bomb)
While in Tzenkethi hands, the protomatter bombs are targeted at your station. They can be deployed fairly close to the station, and the bomb itself cannot be intercepted by weapons or space magic. At about a 2km range, a Battleship can easily deploy the device and hit your station. (It’s instantaneous) For Normal and Advanced runs, the optional objective is to prevent damage to the station for additional marks. For Elite runs, failure to stop this attack on your station is an auto failure.
When the football is in a players hands, your ship becomes impacted by the bizarre effects of protomatter. The first thing you will notice is that your ship is unable to go to full impulse, and you appear to be covered in a type of exotic radiation. This becomes problematic as you try to get to the Tzenkethi bases quickly.
Warning: If you use a teleport ability like Trajector Jump you will drop the bomb and a Tzenkethi group will immediately warp in and claim the bomb. (TY ElectrumLeopard)
Additionally – if you carry the bomb with a Romulan ship, do not use the singularity jump or you will lose the bomb; same thing with the singularity shadows. (TY Nandos)
Some players will experience a visual glitch in that the bomb may appear to ‘drop’ along the way. This appears to be a coding problem in the game, or if you prefer, a false image caused by temporal distortion (a QA happy accident). As long as you have the main marker showing you have the bomb, it will not release until you are in range when you are offered an interaction button to drop the bomb. Deploying the bomb takes a short amount of time, and if you’re taking damage, the bomb will not drop. A second visual glitch appears to happen when you switch alts and make multiple runs – occasionally the bomb identification will not show. There is no easy fix other than restarting the game after you complete the mission.
The Tzenkethi battle groups operate in waves. You will encounter groups of frigates on an ongoing basis, while the bomb groups consisting of a battleship, and a cruiser to provide support. The higher the difficulty, the greater the number of support cruisers and waves of frigates that may appear. Unfortunately, their shields and hull points also scale with difficulty.
When in close proximity to any Tzenkethi ship, the cruisers provide a form of immunity to the battleship exclusively. You can see it visually in the form of a purple tether. This is their greatest strength and their most exploitable weakness.
One tactical point – the Battleship groups are very slow, travelling at about 1/2 impulse. They also appear at random with 2-3 initially, with other groups respawning enough times that the mission can be completed within the time limit even if you lose 2 player-held bombs. The drawback with their random appearance is that if you don’t defend your starbase effectively, you can lose the mark bonus (or on elite, the entire run).
Lastly, when you’ve destroyed 4 of the five Tzenkethi bases, a Dreadnought group consisting of the dreadnought and at least 1 cruiser will appear at or near the last remaining base.
- Speed is important. Once you have the bomb, always look to increase your speed to 100%, and augment it by using Emergency Power to Engines, Evasive Manoeuvres, Engine batteries, or even Deuterium Surpluses to give you a boost to speed. (I LOVE Trajector Jump from the various space sets as a bonus – but only when intercepting other ships) Thanks to DanPMK for the suggested clarification 😉
- Keep them Separated. The cruisers can seriously put a dent into how long it takes to beat the Battleships and the final Dreadnaught. One technique that works regardless of difficulty is Tractor Beam Repulsors. Push the groups apart to isolate and destroy the Battleship. WARNING WILL ROBINSON, DANGER! I’ve watched elites, run with the most professional of players fail, because of a mistimed and poorly directed TBR.
- Kill them in order of size, smallest to largest. This works well for a variety of reasons, and not just limited to the Front.
- Hold that Gravity Well until the cruisers are dead. As with point #2, bunching up a group of battleships and cruisers in a gravity well seems a waste of time. But once the cruisers are down, have fun.
Basic Team Tactics
All three versions of the can benefit from a team effort. You can certainly overwhelm the Tzenkethi with DPS alone, but for most players, a little coordination goes a long way to complete the mission quickly with all of the optional(s) and bonus marks.
- Pair Up. Focus your efforts in teams of two, the remaining player acting as support and base defence.
- Run interference for the bomb holder. This doesn’t mean you have to destroy everything in your path – or go fight the waves of ships in other areas – simply clear the way for the player holding the Football using TBR. The game will let you know when a player gets the ball. The occasional heal and shield support goes a long way to get him to his target.
- Distract the Tzenkethi base fleets. The bomb holder needs a few seconds of uninterrupted time near the station. The easiest is to push them slightly out of range and then pin them using a Gravity Well.
- If you have the DPS – clear a path through the Tzenkethi. I’ve been on Advanced runs with players who have little to no difficulty and simply clear the path for the player with the football.
One last comment about the ‘distraction’ methods is that the longer the mission runs, the greater the number of ships will be around to deal with until the dreadnought shows up. If you’re not careful you can end up fighting an overwhelming force and guaranteeing failure.
The goal is to be effectively unmolested while you drop the bomb while in range. That’s not always the case when pugging, so you need to be a little creative. It can be done solo with a little positioning and ability use.
- Positioning – place yourself on the far side of the station from the defending force. I’ve seen people pop barrier fields to give them the time they need.
- Temporary Hit Points – pop an ability or use a Reactive Armour catalyst to give you the time you need to drop the bomb. This is likely the easiest and most repeatable option.
- Temporary cloaks – Quantum Singularity Manipulation from the Romulan Reputation can temporarily cloak for enough time to deposit the bomb.
- Don’t Stack a Jump and un-targetable – From Joenathon – My guess is that the “Jump” abilities actually apply an unwritten “untargetable” effect on the player which cause the enemy to lose target lock on the jumper. I have tested carrying a bomb and using Evade Target Lock which applies “Untargetable for 1 second” to self and sure enough, I dropped the bomb.
So…… basically, don’t use teleporting abilities AND abilities that cause you to become un-targetable while you’re carrying the bomb.
- Other Tactics – from gerwalk: I’ve found that using Science Team (ST), or Transfer Shield Strength (TSS) if that fails, with the Ablative Field Projector trait, has given me the immunity to Launch the Bomb on Advanced (I have not noticed this while using Emergency Power to Shields; however, I could be wrong). Similar to the immunity given in Mirror Event. The number of enemies hitting you might affect the success of ST or TSS.
With a little practice, even an average player can solo the recovery and use of 2 protomatter bombs.
- If the last two stations are destroyed at the same time the dreadnought may not spawn, breaking the mission. (TY to Rhypskallion)
When skill and planning come together – you get this:
Solo Tzenkethi Front Elite | Where’s the challenge?
(Thanks to SOB for letting me post this as part of this guide).
Leave aside for the moment the incredible, game altering DPS that he’s able to produce. Watch the techniques he’s using to minimise time and danger to complete the Elite version solo.
- Pushing the Battleship group back, while he first focuses on the support cruiser, and then the battleship. When he’s ready to recover the bomb, he’s a short distance from the target AND he’s away from the defending group.
- Notice that he’s NOT engaging every ship group on the map. You don’t need to clear the field in this STF.
- On the second run he’s unable to avoid the defenders at first, so he uses cloaking and positioning to finish the deployment.
- Bomb three he’s using temporary hit points to deliver the package.
- Bomb four takes a little more effort with him pushing back and then dealing with incoming fleets. Again, his awareness, positioning and temporary hitpoints let him finish the delivery.
- The final bomb required additional effort using TBR to forestall incoming bombs to the station and then delivering the device.
Admittedly not everyone has this level of skill, but it’s clear that with a little planning and practice, The Tzenkethi Front can be easily completed.