Also, this week a new three-ship pack has been made available for purchase in the game's Cryptic Store: the long-awaited Andorian Kumari class escort. She appears to be a beast of a ship and well worthy of her Andorian heritage. So let's get to it!
Several months ago and at the behest of many of the Foundry mission authors, the powers that be over at Cryptic Studios implemented a reward of 50 fleet marks to the Investigate Officer Reports wrapper. What had previously been set up as a three-mission daily was also altered into a single-mission repeatable quest.
Initially, Foundry authors found themselves giddy with excitement; finally, the general player population had been given a reason to play their missions! Unfortunately, in the immortal words of Where Are They Now, and then, tragedy struck. Much to the Foundry authors' chagrin, the playerbase took to the Foundry mission wrapper like sharks over chum, but they didn't undertake story-based or even multiple mob grinder-fests -- they chose to not play the game at all.
A few less-than-honorable authors began creating missions that allowed players to obtain the new rewards but also allowed those players to simply enter into a zone and sit for a while and enjoy the nice view while NPCs did all the work for them. Unfortunately for the story mission authors as well as the grinder mission authors, their work (for the most part) went ignored while the AFK players reaped in thousands of fleet marks.
You know the saying about good intentions, right? Well, that's exactly what happened here. In addition to featuring missions in the weekly spotlight and in the game, Cryptic was trying to find alternative means to rope in the remaining Foundry library and give players reasons to try the user-generated material.
It's apparent from Daniel Stahl's apologies that the means used were clearly not well thought-out and created an air of animosity not just between Foundry story mission authors and grinder authors but surprisingly also between Foundry mission authors and a rather vocal AKF exploit contingent.
It was horrible! Players suffered an entire week without an additional source for the 50 fleet marks! Yes, I'm being facetious! There were a few incredibly irate players who fumed over the fact that the 50 fleet marks had been removed without another source being made immediately available. However, most players knew that Cryptic would get changes made as soon as possible and they would be implemented when possible.
It took the studio a week -- seven whole days to add fleet marks to no less than 34 currently existing missions, including PvP missions! Frankly, I was actually pretty happy that the marks had been added to the Nukara Prime Tholian missions because many of them are easy to undertake on a solo basis, thereby allowing players with limited time to obtain the marks without having to rely on the teamed efforts in the queue.
The losers in this whole crazy fiasco really are the Foundry authors (both story and grinder) who have to continue to fight to have their missions played by the general playerbase. It's a fight they may never win, as it's pretty clear that the majority of STO's players simply don't care about user-generated content as was evidenced by their willingness to exploit it.
One of the best parts of the ill-fated Star Trek series Enterprise was the emphasis that the writers placed on fleshing out the blue-skinned, antennae-bearing alien race known as the Andorians. Even though the species had been featured in an Original Series episode or two, not much had really been written about the race or how it became one of the founding members of the United Federation of Planets until Enterprise.
Actor Jeffrey Combs, in another tour de force performance, brought the Andorian character of Thy'lek Shran to life and sparked the imagination of a huge number of Trekkies. The revelation that his character would likely have been made a regular crew member had the show survived in to its fifth season made the show's cancellation that much more difficult to bear.
But television's loss is now an STO player's gain as three different playable versions of Captain Shran's vessel, the Kumari, are now available in the game's C-Store (Zen Store). In the television show, the Kumari was undoubtedly more powerful than the Enterprise. She was a heavily armed battle escort with as fiery a commander as they could come.
In STO it's no different, with the exception of her hull strength. The Kumari is the first vessel in the game to have five forward weapon slots and the ability to arm cannons. Because of her focus on firepower, she is described as being the quintessential "glass cannon." All of her strength is up-front, and as with other escorts, if she's bearing cannons, her weapons range arc is diminished, exposing her to attack from the side and rear.
There may be four lights, but there are three ships
The three versions of the ship have slight variations in their looks and strengths, and each may have appeal depending on a player's personal preferences. The first ship is the Kumari class, an escort that focuses solely on tactical firepower. The ship contains five tactical console slots and comes with the Phaser Dispersal Array console, which allows the wing cannons to charge up and fire a powerful burst.
The second variation is called the Charal class. It is described as having more balance between firepower and survivability. It defers a tactical bridge officer slot and console slot for engineering products allowing for more hull heal capabilities. She has been equipped with a Wing Cannon Platform console, which when activated will send out two wing cannon platforms that will assist the vessel and fire on the wing cannon's targets.
Finally, the Khyzon class escort places a focus on the science officer and gives up a tactical BOff and console slot in favor of the the science ability to heal and maintain the health of the ship's crew. The Khyzon ship comes with the Tachyon Induction Relay console, which allows the ship's wing cannons to fire a tachyon burst that disrupts the target's facing shields.
All three consoles can be equipped on a single Andorian ship, completing the Andorian Assault Set and providing a bonus called Wing Canon Synergy, which allows the wing cannons to benefit from the player's tactical skills of Cannon Rapid Fire and Cannon Scatter Volley, making the wing cannons very palpable weapons. The ship class comes with a unique bridge interior shown above.
Each ship is currently available separately for 2500 Zen each ($25 US); all three ships can be purchased for a bundled price of 5000 Zen ($50 US.) In order to obtain all three consoles, you'll need to buy all three ships, and as with other C-Store ships, the purchases unlock for all characters on an account.
I'm really looking forward to trying this ship out as I have an affinity for escorts. Twelve of my 14 characters are tactical officers, and two of them are Andorian. So you'll definitely see me flying around in one of these! Until next week, live long and prosper!
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