Cardassian Damar Intel Science Dreadnought
Build Overview and Focus
Last Updated March 2023
This build takes an Exotic platform and leans more into the tactical side of things, employing Entwined Tactical Matrices, Morphogenic Set, and Superior Area Denial to amplify its hangar. It also leverages Intel seating. There are other ways to deploy space magic and they're all effective to some extent as the full spectrum of my exotic builds demonstrates.
With the Intel revamp of 2022, I wanted to leverage a science ship with Intel seating to use Ionic Turbulence Furthermore, I wanted to lean more heavily into tactical seating, meaning at least 3 seats, and preferably a hangar as well. Few ships met that bill and out of all of them, the Damar was the most accessible.
Why an Engineer?
The short version is that I already had the build set up on an Engineer and the Iktomi and Ceaseless Momentum are expensive. Besides that, as the highest-parsing build even though my other toons are Tacs/Scis, it’s a strong counterargument to the idea that engineers can’t do DPS/can’t do sci builds effectively. (Note that effective is not the same as optimal; Tac Rom Alien still wins that argument). At first it was kind of a happy accident, now it's here to prove a point: Engineers can still do silly-high DPS with Exotics. It's the same reason why I don't fly the Verne/Sui'Mor, which have a theoretically higher ceiling.
The Engineer is the weakest for exotic builds by about 5-10% final DPS at this level of performance. Tactical captains using exotic builds benefit from Tactical Fleet, Fire On My Mark, and Attack Pattern Alpha, and Go Down Fighting. Science captains benefit from Scattering Field, Science Fleet, and Sensor Scan as well as the utility of Subnucleonic Beam. In contrast, the Engineer has only one useful offensive ability for an exotic build - EPS Power Transfer. Nadion Inversion and Intrusive Energy Redirection are largely wasted on an exotic build (although the latter procs Drain Infection). The Engineering captain’s other abilities are largely focused around durability.
I have tried to make up for the lack of offensive captain powers by making it a glass cannon, with only two weak bridge officer heals, plus the captain powers and a couple of personal traits for healing/survivability. Thus, all of the console slots are devoted to offensive purposes. Given the results on this ship exceed any other build I've done, I don’t miss the Tac/Sci career powers. If someone wants to expand on this concept using a Tac, be my guest.
Focused on Entwined Tactical Matrices + torpedoes sub-emphasis for scitorp builds
Hull Image Refractors console for survivability
Varied bridge crew vs all Superior Romulan Operatives/Pirates
Natima Lang was a Cardassian political dissident and professor of political ethics during the turmoil leading up to the Dominion War. She and her colleagues were forced to flee the Cardassian Central Command, but escaped pursuit from the Obsidian Order with the aid of the Ferengi Quark and disgraced Cardassian agent Elim Garak. She vowed to continue her work in the Cardassian Underground to bring true reform to Cardassia. Her namesake vessel promises a different approach than standard Cardassian tactics, utilizing a combination of science and tactical abilities to considerable effectiveness.
Using the EZRA rubric, this build would cost 684.30 USD to replicate. That is far more than what I spent on STO to make it. If the cost looks daunting, don't worry! Lower-budget alternatives are provided below.
Elite Captain/T6X upgrade, all fleet unlocks
1 Lockbox ship (Mirror Engle)
4 T6 C-store ships (Somerville, Shran, Gagarin, Damar, Clarke, or cross-faction equivalents)
2 Lobi ships (Iktomi, Maquis Raider)
2 Event ships (Jarok Alliance Carrier, Neutronic Eddy Generator), 3 Event items (Temporal Vortex Probe, Kobayashi Maru Transponder, Imperial Rift set)
3 Lockbox consoles, 8 lockbox traits including Ceaseless Momentum, 4 non-standard doffs, 2 lockbox bridge officer abilities, 1 lockbox boff
Reputation + fleet gear; all Mk XV Epic
0 R&D Promotional ship or Lockbox ships
February 2023: Replaced a Hierarchy Boff with a Watcher. Replaced a Particle Focuser with Genesis Seed. Replaced Regenerative Crystal Shield with Revolutionary Covariant Shield. Replaced Revolutionary Engines with Competitive Engines. Was at 287K ISA/679K ISE/465K HSE
December 2022: Replaced Webspinner with Micro Dark Matter Anomaly. Replaced Improved Gravity Well with Superior Area Denial. Added more Superior Romulan Operatives. Replaced Elite Obelisk Swarmers with Elite Alliance Fighter Squadrons. Was at 262K ISA/573K ISE/427K HSE
April 2022: Transitioned build from Palatine to Damar. Replaced Elite Peregrine Fighters with Elite Obelisk Swarmers. Replaced Lorca's Custom Fire Controls with Genesis Seed. Replaced Into the Breach with Unconventional Systems. Replaced Chronometric Inversion Field with Ionic Turbulence. Added 31 of 47 over 26 of 47. Added Wide Angle Heavy Disruptor Dual Beam Bank
October 2021: Posted build
This ship is heavy on exotic damage but still ventures into some build spaces with supportive abilities, hangar bays, torpedo damage, as well as concessions to survivability. Since it is so diverse, it also intentionally has a subgoal that leads to it being somewhat themed.
Since this is an exotic build, using an ultimate is not really worth it. The Tactical ultimate only benefits weapon damage, which is a very low percentage on this build and the other 2 ults are garbage.
Two points in Hull Restoration/Hull Capacity are low opportunity cost for relatively high survivability gains.
I always take a single point in Hull Plating, but other resistance skills and Damage Control are not worth it. Likewise, 2 points in Impulse Expertise is an appreciable boost to maneuverability. Warp Core Potential and especially Warp Core Efficiency help boost power to subsystems. Efficiency is particularly good at adding power to subsystems I am not allocating much power to.
I take a single point in EPS Power Transfer to recover power levels faster after drains or Full Impulse, but it's low impact on this build.
Since I don't want to use Emergency Power to Auxiliary to reach a max of 130 Aux, I take extra points in Defensive, Aux Subsystem Performance and Warp Core Potential to cap out power. Need Neutronic Eddy Generator to make this work but that's a good choice anyway.
Single points in Shield Restoration/Shield Capacity are low opportunity cost for relatively high survivability gains. Since I need skill points elsewhere, only 1 here for those.
Since Control Expertise and Exotic Particle Generators are primary offensive stats for this build, I want those maxed out and take Control Amplification. Drain Infection and two points in Drain Expertise add minor benefits. The Drain Expertise is more useful on another build that uses Charged Particle Burst.
The rest of the science skills are of little value on this build and are completely skippable.
I do use multiple projectiles, so 3 points in Projectile Weapon Training is merited. Energy weapons are a very low contribution; a single point is fine here. I only take 2 points apiece in Hull Pen, Shield Pen, and Weapon Specialization as those only benefit weapons and thus aren't a major damage component. Maxing Weapon Amplification is essential to optimize gains from the Imperial Rift 2-piece set, which scales Exotic CrtD based on that stat.
I like taking 2 points in defense. Defense is a small contribution to avoiding incoming damage but also helps reduce enemy crits when you're not moving. I only take 1 point in accuracy; weapon damage and output is not a focus on this build.
Coordination Protocols, Defense Coordination and Offensive Coordination are good team boosts so I always take those. They also benefit hangar pets on builds that have those. Improved Tactical Readiness is essential for reducing tactical cooldowns along with the rest of the cooldown scheme.
There are two crucial unlocks: battery expertise (improves duration of consumable batteries) and threat control which either increases or decreases threat based on threatening stance.
This ship’s primary role is Exotic DPS using bridge officer powers, exotic torpedoes, and other non-weapon effects. The primary offensive statistics for this ship are the Exotic Particle Generators skill (EPG), Critical Chance (CrtH), Critical Severity (CrtD), Auxiliary power (Aux), +Exotic, Damage Resistance Reduction (DRR), and +Bonus Exotic Damage. Secondary offensive statistics are Control Expertise (CtrlX) and +Projectile Damage as well as Weapon Amplification, since that skill boosts Exotic Critical Severity through use of the Imperial Rift 2-piece.
The Morphogenic weapons, Dual Beam Bank, and Dyson Proton Weapon are purely there for set bonuses and contribute very little meaningful damage.
Drive Train: The Imperial Rift 2-piece is best-in-slot for exotic builds. The 4-piece is competitive, but not quite as good IMO unless you can guarantee a good use of the active. If it's not available, use the Temporal 2-piece instead. This ship in particular benefits from having the Prevailing (Competitive) Engines so I'm using the Revolutionary Shield so I can fit the engines.
Hangar pets: You could swap the Elite Alliance Fighter squadrons out for Normal (Blue) To'Duj Squadrons if you have them. I don't, and I'd prefer torpless fighters that buff me (which the Alliance fighters do) anyway.
Exotic Subflavors: In my opinion, there are 4 main flavors in the Exotic space right now. All of them are pretty similar overall and all can be combined to a certain extent, but there are subtle differences:
"Clicky" builds are going to lean more on universal consoles with powerful actives, the Cutting Tractor Beam console to boost damage of those, and the Unconventional Systems trait to reduce cooldowns. This also pretty much forces a lower-cooldown "Control" bridge officer power than only having Gravity Well, so you'll see Tractor Beam/Tractor Beam Repulsors as a mule. The downside is that acquiring all those clickies is expensive and some of them are quite finicky. This is the highest-end sci meta, but is very expensive and only works superbly on certain maps.
TacSci builds are going to emphasize torpedo spreads with the Entwined Tactical Matrices build. This'll require 1-2 extra boff powers devoted to Tactical powers, possibly with Kemocite or an attack pattern on top and works well on things like the Fleet Nautilus that have excess Tactical seating. This also leads to a synergistic choice of the Morphogenic 3-piece. This build is specifically focused on this subflavor.
DSD builds emphasize the Deteriorating Secondary Deflector more. While most any high-end sci boat will be running Structural Analysis and DRB, this lean goes beyond that. This means you'll see powers like Tyken's Rift or Charged Particle Burst. Mathematically, this means an emphasis on Cat2 damage or -DRR, because the DSD is super-heavily-loaded with Cat1 already. This kinda works better with the clicky focus because Delphic Tear is a thing. This is the cheapest build to start building effective exotics with.
SIA builds emphasize Spore Infused Anomalies above almost all else. This has some hard decisions against a TacSci lean because that's 2-3 boff powers going to Tac that could be going to more anomalies or more triggers for Spore Infused Anomalies. It also has some conflict with the clicky focus because SIA doesn't scale off of +Exotic or +Bonus Exotic damage consoles like Delphic Tear or Causal Anchor or Temporal Vortex Probe.
Alternate exotic types:
Please see my Dranuur for a DSD/SIA-focused ship with a healthy amount of universal consoles. Repeated testing has shown that the DSD/SIA focus is stronger but if you like Tac-Sci, both are very viable up to and above 700K DPS. Alternately, please see Tilor's Iktomi for an example of a clicky-focused ship.
Could slot the Delphic Torpedo and Dark Matter Torpedo in the back, displacing the Morphogenic weapons, with the Delphic AP DBB up front. This brings a 2-piece bonus that provides CrtH/CrtD but the biggest advantage is freeing up a console slot for another powerful Exotic active. These tend to be expensive and the focus of this build isn't console actives.
Replace the Morphogenic console with the Cutting Tractor Beam console
The first thing to drop would be Hull Image Refractors (T6X upgrade)
Plasma Storm can be replaced with something like a Constriction Anchor which should be relatively cheap on the Exchange, or the Nukara Particle Converter at an extreme budget level.
If the event consoles (Neutronic Eddy Generator, Temporal Vortex Probe) aren't available, swap in the Chronometric Capacitor (Mission Reward; Time and Tide) and the Proton Particle Stabilizer (Dyson Reputation). Alternately, the 8472 Counter-Command Relay is another option (Mission Reward; Surface Tension). This probably means you're going to need Emergency Power to Auxiliary unless you have another source of Aux power to max it out.
Delayed Overload Cascade could replace Subspace Vortex, but it's finicky to use well and doesn't trigger Spore-Infused Anomalies
I did a lot of tweaking in the Exotic calculator to come up with the highest-damage combination of damaging science powers.
The meta would be to fly a Tactical captain, specifically a Romulan Alien. This would result in swapping Grace Under Fire for A Good Day to Die
Ablative Shell -> Intelligence Agent Attache if using a tactical captain. Engineering captain powers have little effect on exotic damage.
Give Your All -> Pseudo-Submission and hope the placate is enough/tank is good
Alien trait would go to something like Into the Breach
If low budget, (try and keep the ones at the bottom)
Drop Unconventional Systems (Elite Captain unlock)
Context Is For Kings -> Operative
Ablative Shell -> Techie
Enlightened -> Astrophysicist
Grace Under Fire -> Innocuous
Resonating Payload Modification -> Projectile Training
To truly make a meta exotic build with unlimited budget, you'd need the following along with boff/console/trait tweaks above
Ceaseless Momentum -> Terran Goodbye
Entwined Tactical Matrices -> Universal Designs
This would be a fairly large departure from how this build is structured
If low budget, (try and keep the ones at the bottom)
Drop Ceaseless Momentum (T6X upgrade)
Strike From Shadows -> Onboard Dilithium Recrystallizer
Improved Gravity Well -> Improved Command Frequency
Improved Photonic Officer -> Unconventional Tactics
Spore-Infused Anomalies -> Electrified Anomalies or Improved Critical Systems if available, else
This build doesn't really work without Entwined Tactical Matrices
Strike From Shadows is nice for the placate/universal damage. It's something of a preference if you'd rather have Strike From Shadows to reduce threat and provide some damage or Improved Gravity Well. The Ruin of Our Enemies is an option but can be very fickle to stack up outside of specific maps and team compositions.
Superior Area Denial is an excellent trait for ships using Fire-at-Will or Scatter Volley that also have a hangar. While it is extremely expensive, captains wishing to use this trait on multiple characters would benefit from saving up and acquiring it via the 12th Anniversary Bundle, which is how I did it.
These are pretty much the best you can get
If low budget
Drop the security officers and pick up a Matter Anti-Matter Specialist that gives CtrlX on use of EPtE. A green or blue should not be too expensive. Also add a Projectile Weapons Officer (reload)
This ship uses Improved Photonic Officer as its primary cooldown mechanism. Don't need Boimler Effect or anything else. If Improved Photonic Officer is too expensive, consider picking up Torpedo Astrometric Synergy and the Chrono Capacitor Array trait, dropping Omega Kinetic Shearing and Particle Generator Amplifier
With as many abilities and synergizing concepts as this ship employs, an efficient control scheme is essential. There are many ways to set up such a ship, so I don't pretend to assume that my way is superior. It works for me, especially with my background in RTS and MOBA games, where pushing many different keys quickly is essential:
[Spacebar] is my spambar. It includes Emergency Power to Engines, Exotic Particle Floods, Auxiliary to Structural, Lanch Fighter Squadrons, Torpedo Spread, Structural Analysis, and Photonic Officer.
 is used for Cannon Scatter Volley to trigger Torpedo Spread and fire the Gravimetric Torpedo in close succession
 is my big buff key. It includes Nadion Inversion, Intrusive Energy Redirection, Exotic Particle Floods, Engineering Fleet, Red Matter Capacitor, Kobayashi Maru Transponder, and EPS Power Transfer
 is my bread-and-butter Exotic combo: Ionic Turbulence, Gravity Well, Subspace Vortex, DRB, Very Cold in Space. I have to not spam this too hard for fear of reactivating Subspace Vortex. I also include Fire at Will here for an off-rotation of torpedo spreads
I also bind "Fire all weapons" to right mouse.
Everything else is manually triggered.
Pre-buff the spambar prior to countdown (in PUGs) or prior to launch call (premade). Hit the first group with basic Exotic combo, leading with Chronometric Inversion Field and staggering your cooldowns on anomalies every 2 seconds. On ISE, use EPS Power Transfer -> Genesis Seed, Plasma Storm, and big buffs here as well. Next, hit Evasive Maneuvers and fly to the left side, using any remaining big buffs. Target the generator with Tyken's Rift and whatever other exotic powers are available along with another torpedo spread and the rest of the consoles: Dark Matter Anomaly, Delphic Tear, Neutronic Eddy Generator, along with Relocate Mines. Save GW/SSV. As the generator is about to die, turn and engage the ball of Nanite Spheres with a second Grav Well on a longer run. On a shorter run, simply bypass the spheres and fly to the right side. Can use a Reinforcements cooldown here as well. In general, Delta > Nimbus.
Activate Evasive Maneuvers and Deuterium and fly to the right side, rinse and repeat with as with the left. Save big active heals for this part in iSA because PUG teams don't always fly over to right generator quickly. As it's dying, turn back on the gateway. Evasive Maneuvers might be available here as well to go even faster. Activate Quantum Singularity Manipulation and FIRE EVERYTHING! Close to 5 km and drop the Anti-time bubble and your third GW (second on a fast run) with the boost from Quantum Singularity Manipulation. Another Relocate Mines should be used here to pull in the mines. With any luck, the 400+ CtrlX Grav Well will also suck in the remaining spheres. All the universal console clickies should be available here as well. Finish off the tac cube and that should be it. On a slower run, I can often get a third round of big buffs and console actives on the gate or tac cube if I use them again on right transformer.
Don't prebuff too much. Drop your opening salvo with every long cooldown buff on one of the first Tac Cubes with the goal being to pull the spheres in as well. Use the 5 minute powers here. Stay close to your tank and be prepared to drop a Bio-Molecular Shield Generator to help them out if needed. Taking down the individual tac cubes farther back in the formation might take a little longer. Another trick to be careful of is to avoid triggering both DRB and Structural Analysis at the same time/target since the Deteriorating Secondary Deflector doesn't stack. The -DRR is good and does stack between them, but the DSD is so powerful that we want to spread that debuff out further. Once the queen's guards are down move to the large dreadnoughts, focusing fire with your team. Console actives are likely coming back at this time so use as available. Chronometric Inversion Field is best saved in case one of the pickles activates Feedback Pulse; ditto with the queen though a premade team should have a science captain to cleanse it. Since your damage doesn't really fall off with distance, staying more than 6 km from the queen will prevent deaths to Aceton Field. Make sure you're using Relocate Mines on large, healthy targets as it's available as well as your fleet summons and batteries!
Numbers from record ISE.
Deteriorating Secondary Deflector: 121.2K
Genesis Seed: 70.1K
Spore Infused Anomalies: 61.7K
Particle Emission Plasma Torpedo: 51.7K
Gravimetric Torpedo: 43.6K
Dark Matter Torpedo: 43.1K
Very Cold In Space: 54.9K
Elite Alliance Fighter Squadrons: 38.3K
Destabilizing Resonance Beam: 25.8K
Micro Dark Matter Anomaly: 24.1K
Gravity Well: 22.9K
Delphic Tear: 21.3K
Anti-Time Entanglement Singularity: 18.2K
Entropic Rider: 18.1K
Fek'Ihri Torment: 15.6K
Subspace Vortex: 15.4K
Plasma Storm: 15.4K
Wide Angle Disruptor Dual Beam Bank: 15.2K
Morphogenic Energy Weapon: 12K
Concentrate Firepower: 11.1K (from another player)
Neutronic Eddy Generator: 8.6K
Temporal Vortex Probe: 7.9K
Omega Kinetic Shearing: 7.6K
Delta Summons: 4.9K
Drain Infection: 2.6K
Refracting Tetryon Cascade: 2.4K
Dyson Proton Weapon: 1.9K
Morphogenic Torpedo: 0.4K
Aftershock Gravity Well: 0.2K
Distributed Targeting: 0.2K (from another player)
Weapon crits were around 50%, exotics were generally higher, up into the 90s.
Most science ships with Intel seating could handle a variation on this build, but precious few can do so without picking up an undesirable LtCmdr Engineering along the way. The Vulcan T'Pau Scout Ship, if available, trades the 4th fore weapon and hangar for a better mastery package, raider flanking, and considerable maneuverability. Pick up Lorca's Custom Fire Controls over a Focuser in that case. For more expensive ships, the Daemosh could also run this build, as could the (original) Crossfield. The former would also have to swap a focuser out while the latter would have to drop a Aux2SIF in favor of a temporal ability like Chronometric Inversion Field. Neither has a hangar. Beyond that, you're looking at ships like the Section 31 Intel Science Destroyer, which has everything but the hangar or the Ba'ul Sentry Vessel which would drop Hazard Emitters to pick up Kemocite and also has no hangar. The Son'a Command Science Vessel or the Annorax could use this build as well; the former again is 3/3 with no hangar and needs to swap a Focuser for Lorca's Custom Fire Controls while the latter would drop Auxiliary to Structural in favor of either Kemocite or another science ability like Delayed Overload Cascade.