U.S.S. Ascendant

T5 Sovereign Assault Cruiser

Build Overview and Focus

Last Updated 2024

The T5 Sovereign was the ship I selected from the ship vendor at level 40 back in 2016 when I started playing, and I suspect it's the ship of choice for many new players making that same choice today. This is the best of the cruisers you get from leveling (the T5 Galaxy Exploration Refit available at Vice Admiral is not good). While it pales in comparison to T6 ships, if you're a true F2P player and you haven't completed any of the events yet, this is likely the ship you're going to be piloting for a good while as you enter the endgame. We know that most players start with energy builds (we did), and there's a need to have a Basic Cruiser Build that will take you through endgame. 

The goal of this ship build is to give you an Advanced-capable ship to finish out story missions, and grind reputations and/or fleet gear. We're going to very strictly limit the budget and make this as accessible as possible as one of our Starter builds:

This is not a ship that you'll be able to build on Day 1 of hitting Level 50, this is a ship that you can build toward on Day 1 of hitting Level 50. We'd like to point to the long-standing Baby Steps 1 for a Day 1 build, and Baby Steps 2 for like a Day 10 build, but if you're thinking about Day 30 on this tier of ship and build, this is the ship for you. This is also a useful example of how a coherent, well-thought out build with minimal investment and good piloting can match or out-perform people in expensive ships with no idea what they're doing. And it's not necessarily their fault, because STO is terrible at teaching shipbuilding. However, that's why you're here so let's get started. 

Platform Selection

The T5 Sovereign has substantial Engineering seating, which isn't necessarily desirable for high-end play but works great when you're getting started for survivability and cooldowns. More importantly, it has 3 tactical boff abilities rather than the 2 on the T5 Galaxy available at Vice Admiral and that matters, so we're using that ship over the Galaxy. Plus, I prefer the Sovereign appearance-wise. 

This is a starter build, with no C-store items, no upgrades, and 10M EC limit. There are no Lobi, lockbox ship or promotional ship items, and no gear on this ship has been upgraded or re-engineered. See the build costs page for more detail.


The ascendant is newly-arrived into a position of power, still learning the full measure of its strength, but having recently achieved or actively achieving mastery of its domain. It has transcended prior limitations to reach new heights and abilities, just like this ship.

Meta Analysis

A word of warning: it is highly unlikely that a new player will be able to replicate those numbers for four reasons:

Budget Analysis

Using the EZRA rubric, this build would cost 1 USD to replicate. In practice, this build is easily replicable for even pure F2P - the items purchased from the Exchange should not even require the energy credit unlock. 

Change History

Build Focus

This build combines energy DPS with survivability. There are some small contributions from projectiles but those are tertiary. It's also designed to make this ship far more spry than its base configuration.


Skill Unlocks


This ship is a classic energy + 1 torpedo set up. It has absolutely zero investment into exotic damage, so I am not skilled at all into those.

Intel/Strategist is the best-in-slot choice for non-tank Energy builds. Intel provides substantial damage through flanking and Intel Fleet. Strategist likewise adds damage through Logistical Support, Maneuver Warfare, and Show of Force, as well as some damage reduction through Layered Defenses.


Starship Weapons


Torpedoes: The torpedo is not just here for immersion. It hits very hard while not taking weapon power away from a very power-hungry build. 8 energy weapons on this budget on a tactical captain will be difficult to maintain power levels while using Beam Overload. 

Mixing in DBBs and Cannons: Despite "don't mix weapons" being conventional wisdom for good reason, I've chosen to mix in the Wide-Angle DBB and two turrets. The reason why is that this build lacks the power management resources to effectively use eight beams, so a torpedo is needed. Since the tactical seating is so limited anyway, we'd rather set up the build to fly nose-on than try and alternate between broadsiding and nose-on. On a 4/4 ship using beams, that means you're running 2 turrets in the back. It's not ideal, but as with many things involved in building a 4/4 T5 ship on a very thin budget, there are compromises that have to be made. 

Mods - these don't really matter at this point and you shouldn't spend dilithium re-engineering yet so they are not listed. Mods are default for all weapons. Save it for after Mk XV. 

Leveling - The Terran Beam is from Tier 6 of the Terran Reputation and the Wide Angle Heavy Dual Beam Bank is from T5 Discovery. While you're leveling those reputations, Dual Beam Banks from Sunrise at Mk XII Very Rare are serviceable substitutes. The Gamma weapons likewise are from Tier 6 Gamma reputation. The Trilithium turret can replace that in the interim. You can get a Very Rare Phaser Turret Mk XII from Sunrise also to fill in for the Heavy Bio-Molecular Turret until that reputation completes. 

Firing Order

Starship Equipment


Drive Train: We're starting off cheaply, with the Bajor 2-piece providing some Cat1 Phaser Damage as well as a hefty power boost from the Bajor Core and the Discovery 2-piece providing some regeneration. The Bajor Core's passive will teach you to fly better since its power drain benefit only occurs within 2 km of targets, also benefitting the Point Blank Shot trait and general energy DPS. If you see swirls coming off the enemy ships to yours, you are close enough. If you're not, get closer. 

The Discovery 3-piece does not perform well on a ship such a low amount of hull hit points and will unnecessarily draw threat. There are better options but they generally involve fleet gear. 

If you have access to fleet gear, the colony deflector used on builds like our Arbiter is a good replacement and an Elite Fleet Plasma-Integrated Warp Core from the Fleet Spire are better choices; this will necessitate buying the Stamets-Tilly Engines to keep that 2-piece, or you can switch to Prevailing Regalia Fortified Impulse Engines (aka Competitive Engines) for more speed. Another choice would be Romulan Prototype Combat Impulse Engines for the small amount of weapon critical severity. 

Leveling: While leveling Discovery reputation, I would slot the Preeminent Warp Core from the "Melting Pot" mission and Regenerative Crystal Shield from "Para Pacem." Bajor Defense 4-piece is also an option, but that is a lot of runs of that mission. 

Starship Consoles

Set Bonuses


Meta-Focused Tweaks:

Bridge Officers

Meta Notes


Personal Traits


Starship Traits

Meta-Focused Tweaks:

Reputation Traits

Active Reputation

Duty Officers

Meta-Focused Tweaks:



This ship manages cooldowns via A2B. It's fallen out of vogue on higher end builds due to needing more build space and precious aux power, but it's cheap/free to set up with a little grinding and effective, especially on a ship with so much engineering seating. 

Link to CDR sheet for this build 

Ship Stats


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, but I kept this one very simple for new players: 1 spambar. 


I start with basic combos for the first 3 cubes. In an ISE run, I will use all of my longer cooldown buffs in the first fight, but not ISA. Trigger Evasive Maneuvers to fly over to the left transformer and fire off all major abilities while at 1/4 impulse or stopped within 2 km of the transformer. Target the nearest generators first, then switch to the Assimilator and transformer. The transformer should be hit with Focused Frenzy and Fire On My Mark. I rotate to face inward toward the gate. When the transformer is low health, fly past the ball of spheres. Once they start thinning out, Evasive Maneuvers again (reset due to Emergency Power to Engines) and head to the right side. Rinse and repeat, then Evasive Maneuvers to fly between the Tactical Cube and Gateway. Some clever angling will keep the torpedo/DBB firing as well as the aft beams. Make sure to flank the Tactical Cube. Frenzy and Fire On My Mark should be available here again. Lastly, don't forget to summon your Fleet Support, Delta Alliance Beacon/Nimbus Pirates/Beacon of Kahless, etc. In an average ISE run, I can get two off: one at left transformer and one at the end. 

The importance of Crit and Flanking cannot be oversold. I saw significant increases in DPS from boosting Crit in doffs and traits. There are players with better gear and piloting skills than I who've achieved much, much higher percentages, but I will say broadly that when in doubt, add crit. Since flanking includes extra crit chance/severity with Intel, you can't go wrong with flanking either! Look for the downward pointing arrow on your target. 

Parse Breakdown

Numbers from record ISE:

Weapon crits were around 45% on average; flank rate between 30 and 40% averaged across weapons. The team composition for this run was this ship, 2 supports, a support tank, and a high-end CSV build. 


This build is pretty basic, but could also be applied to the Vor'Cha Retrofit at T5 from the KDF as well as the APU Cruiser and Mirror Sovereign. The Hirogen Hunter Escort is a popular cheap T5 ship from the Exchange and could run this build, but you'll drop Reverse Shield Polarity and Directed Energy Modulation to pick up the maximum ranks of Cannon Scatter Volley and Beam Overload along with Attack Pattern Beta. I would take Science Team in the Ensign Universal seat and drop the Bio-Molecular Turret since it is a 4/3.