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Guide: Skills

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Skills are an important aspect of your character development process, however, the game does a poor job at explaining how skills work and what they actually do. Often times players will not know, how to spend their skill points and depend a lot on guess-work. This guide is intended to help you get a clear understanding of how skills affect your character, starship, abilities, and other stats.

Contents

[edit] Basics

[edit] What are skills?

Skill point icon.png
Common icon.png

In Star Trek Online skills are passive attributes of your character, that influence the effectiveness of your abilities, weapons and other stats. You improve a skill by spending skill points. Unlike many other games they are not organized in a tree or other hierarchy that requires you to learn certain skills to unlock others. Instead, a new tier of skills is unlocked each time your player rank increases (i.e. every ten levels), which depends on you spending a predefined amount of skill points on skills of the previous ranks.

Skills are passive attributes.

[edit] Skills vs abilities

We need to distinguish between skills and abilities. The former are passive attributes, the latter are powers. So, spending skill points does not unlock new abilities. Well, this is not entirely true, since through the spending of skill points you will level up eventually and the game automatically unlocks predefined abilities on certain levels. But how you spend skill points has no effect on which abilities your captain gains.

Spending skill points does not affect which powers your character has available.

There are, however, certain skills that, once maxed out, will allow you train a bridge officer in an ability.

[edit] Skill points vs bridge officer skill points

The confusion between (player character) skills and (bridge officer) abilities is also induced by the fact, that you spend "bridge officer skill points" on the abilities of your bridge officers in the "Skill" tab of the status window. It should be noted, that spending bridge officer skill points has a totally different meaning and effect than spending skill points:

  • Leveling up skills by sending skill points boosts the effectiveness, strength, and/or power of the abilities and attributes, that the skill is contributing to (more on that in the next part of the guide). It improves the quality of your abilities, character, or starship.
  • Leveling bridge officer abilities by spending bridge officer skill points reduces the cool down of that specific ability for that specific bridge officer. It improves the frequency at which you can use that bridge officer ability.
Spending skill points improves quality of attributes and abilities; spending bridge officer skill points reduces the cool down for that bridge officer ability.

[edit] Spending skill points

Many players find it hard to decide how to spend their skill points, because it is not easy to decide, which skill is a good choice and what price is appropriate.

[edit] Finding contributions to abilities

In most situations you will want to improve an existing ability and need to find out which skills are the ones that contribute to that ability. Star Trek Online does a poor job at helping you decide this. There are a number of ways to find the relations between skills and abilities, but all have their disadvantages:

  • The "Skills" tab of the status window
    Using the "Highlight Contributions To" function: In the "Skills" tab of the status window is a drop down menu in the top-right corner. This menu allows you to choose all unlocked ground and space abilities. When you select one, all skills, that directly affect the ability are highlighted with a yellow frame. The downside of this method is two-fold. First, some abilities have not their usual names and some are attributed to your ship instead of the correct bridge officer; second, you cannot look up the contributions for the abilities, that you have not yet unlocked, which makes it hard to plan ahead. Nevertheless, this is probably the best way to go.
  • Looking in the "Skill Details" window: When you click on a skill in the "Skills" tab of the status window, a "Skill Details" windows will appear. In the description text there is a short list of example abilities, that profit from the selected skill. This is useful, if you want to know, if a skill might affect more than one ability or want to plan ahead and boost abilities you are about to unlock, but have not available, yet. The information given in the details window, however, is not complete. You are probably better off, looking the skill up on STOWiki. For many skills we have a complete list of affected abilities and you can always help us to make the articles more complete.
  • Looking up abilities in the "Available Abilities" window: You can open a list of all the abilities, that can be added to your power tray, by clicking the PADD icon in the top-right corner or pressing "P" (default key binds). When you select an ability, the info text on the right will list all contributing skills. The problem with this approach is, that only the abilities for your current locale (space/ground) are displayed, and there is no way to look up the bridge officer ground abilities as they can not be dragged to the power tray.
Use the "Highlight Contributions To" function in the "Skills" tab of the status windows to find the skills that boost a specific ability. Use STOWiki to find out which other abilities are affected by a specific skill.

[edit] Finding contributions to other attributes

Skills do not exclusively boost abilities, some are solely dedicated to improving attributes of your character or starship, and some skills do a little of both. The following table lists, which skills do not only boost abilities:

Other Attributes Affected by Skills
Career Skill Attributes
All Starship Attack Vectors
All Starship Combat Maneuvers
All Starship Battle Strategy
All Starship Command and any "<Ship Type> Captain" skill
All Any skill from "Starship Energy Weapons" and "Starship Projectile Weapons"
  • Starship <Weapon Type> damage
All Starship Warp Core Training
All Starship Auxiliary Systems Efficiency Auxiliary Power Setting
All Starship Energy Weapon Efficiency Weapon Power Setting
All Starship Engine Efficiency Engine Power Setting
All Starship Shield Efficiency Shield Power Setting
All Starship Subsystem Repair Starship Subsystem Repair Speed
All Starship Hull Repair Starship Hull Repair Speed
Tactical Assault Training Grenade, rifle and assault weapon damage
Tactical Close Combat Training Pistol and martial arts damage
Tactical Security Pistol damage
Tactical Soldier Grenade and rifle damage
Tactical Special Forces Assault weapon damage
Tactical Martial Arts Martial arts damage
Tactical Grenades Grenade damage
Tactical Firearms Pistol, rifle, and assault weapon damage

Even skills that improve another stat, but not an ability, might contribute indirectly to some abilities. E.g. "Warp Core Training" will increase your weapons power levels and thus boost the damage by energy weapons and related abilities like Beam Array: Fire at Will.

Some skills improve starship and character attributes.

[edit] Diminishing returns

Misleading bar chart in the Skill Details window.
This chart should be displayed instead.
It should be noted, that improving a skill will be more effective at the first levels of that skill than at the high levels. Although the misleading in-game chart suggests a linear mapping from skill level to skill bonus, the caption text of that bar chart reveals the truth: Investing into a low level skill will give a greater bonus, than investing in a high level skill.

E.g., Starship Energy Weapons Training will grant a +6 bonus for investing 100 Skill point icon.png to obtain the first level. That is ca. 17 Skill point icon.png per skill bonus. But the last level only grants +.5 bonus (difference between level nine and eight), which is effectively a price of 200 Skill point icon.png per skill bonus, i.e., more than ten times more expensive (see table).

Starship Energy Weapons Training
Skill Level Total Bonus Total Cost Total Cost per +1 Bonus Bonus at Level Cost per +1 Bonus at Level
1 +6 100 Skill point icon.png 17 Skill point icon.png +6 17 Skill point icon.png
2 +10 100 Skill point icon.png 20 Skill point icon.png +4 25 Skill point icon.png
3 +12 100 Skill point icon.png 25 Skill point icon.png +2 50 Skill point icon.png
4 +14 100 Skill point icon.png 29 Skill point icon.png +2 50 Skill point icon.png
5 +15 100 Skill point icon.png 33 Skill point icon.png +1 100 Skill point icon.png
6 +16 100 Skill point icon.png 38 Skill point icon.png +1 100 Skill point icon.png
7 +17 100 Skill point icon.png 41 Skill point icon.png +1 100 Skill point icon.png
8 +17.5 100 Skill point icon.png 46 Skill point icon.png +.5 200 Skill point icon.png
9 +18 100 Skill point icon.png 50 Skill point icon.png +.5 200 Skill point icon.png

Now, speaking again in general terms, not only the above example, what is a reasonable amount of Skill point icon.png to invest for +1 bonus in any skill? A good deal is ca. 50 Skill point icon.png per +1 skill bonus.Especially captain and admiral rank skills will be more expensive and it is a good idea, if you can increase a lower rank skill that affects the same stat or ability than a captain or admiral skill. Commander rank skills are especially recommendable, because they are not affected as much by diminishing returns at a good price.

Try to invest into skills that will grant you bonuses at a rate of 50 Skill point icon.png per point or less.

Post Script: The theory is sound but the application, not so much. I tried it both ways and found that putting the maximum points to a particular skill makes a very big difference in the game. Spreading the points out for a maximum return will only make you an average player. In other words, if you decide to be a Tank, Healer or Shooter, maximize those skills and you'll be a lot happier with the outcome.

[edit] Some fine points

[edit] How do traits influence skills?

When you create a character, you will select four traits. Traits can do any number of things, like granting abilities or modifying attributes like damage resistance, but some do grant additional skill bonuses.

Skill Bonuses From Traits
Trait Skill(s)
Astrophysicist icon.png Astrophysicist + 10 Starship Operations Training
Efficient Captain icon.png Efficient Captain

+ 10 Starship Shield Efficiency
+ 10 Starship Engine Efficiency
+ 10 Starship Energy Weapon Efficiency
+ 10 Starship Auxiliary Systems Efficiency

Joined Symbiote icon.png Joined Symbiote

+ 3.3 Starship Energy Weapons Training
+ 3.3 Starship Projectile Weapons Training
+ 3.3 Starship Warp Core Training
+ 3.3 Starship Engineering Training
+ 6.7 Starship Operations Training

Techie icon.png Techie + 10 Starship Engineering Training
Warp Theorist icon.png Warp Theorist + 10 Starship Warp Core Training

If you are one of those players, who want to max out certain attributes of your character, you need to start right at the trait selection screen.

Some traits grant additional skill bonuses.

[edit] Summary

The take-away points are:

  • Skills are a different thing than abilities. The latter grant powers, the former passive bonusses to that powers and other attributes.
  • You can look up, which skills contribute to which abilities, using the drop down menu on the "skills" tab of the status window or STOWiki.org.
  • Skills do also boost starship and character stats, don't forget them.
  • Skills have diminishing returns at higher levels.
  • A good deal is to spend approx. 50 Skill point icon.png per +1 bonus.
  • Commander rank skills have a good cost-benefit ratio.
  • If you are crazy about maxing out skills, you need to choose the right traits for your character.
Be brave, don't forget you get a respec token when you reach level 50.

[edit] See also