I.K.S. Aiden

T5 Vor'ca Battle Cruiser Retrofit

Released: 2024 - 01

Build Overview and Focus

Something that I've been thinking about for a long time,  some 8 years now, is the idea of true F2P starter builds. Often when you see the idea of a 'budget' build you'll see people throw on 2-4 starship traits and various expensive exchange options. This is in my opinion an unrealistic presumption on how people think and act, and in some egregious instances I've seen people call 'budget builds" 7 C-store ships with gilded gear.

I believe that people are trying their best to reduce the cost to the player modeled after their own knowledge, but fail to understand that not everyone has, wants to, or can spend an amount on a video game. In that effort EPH and I have created a pair of builds that are very close in both performance as well as intent, mine being the Disruptor version with his being the phaser version. Both are held to the same strict budget outlined below as 

Economic Costs

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. 


We are not free of making trade offs. If I were to do this as legitimately as I wanted too, I would have made an entire new account to do this. However,  I like the rest of the STOBetter team, do have real life obligations that consume our time. For the ease of posting and putting these builds together I've opted to do this on an existing character on my primary account. This means that any unlocks and progression I've made that effects my whole account carries over. This includes C-Store purchases but also Endeavors and event rewards. Notable is the Temporal Recruitment which makes my reputation project rewards Mk XIII ultra rare items and the Gamma Recruitment which improves the standard traits from completing specializations.

However, since neither of these things are huge deal breakers, nor is Endeavor progression un-obtainable with just play time, we've accepted these trade-offs in the hope that we can expedite the build progress and get them into the public faster.

This does mean that on this T5 ship I will have a few Mk XIII ultra rare items, but thats just it; no extra upgrades have been applied


Hypocorism of the Irish Aodh, a god of the underworld

Resource gathering

I'm going to steal some methods for EPHs Sovereign here:

Meta Analysis

Normally I would just push numbers here, however I feel that would be disingenuous to do so without caveats. I have a combined playtime of 10,000 hours in this game. I would consider myself a remarkable pilot with a long standing understanding of game mechanics, maps, and more importantly the ability to stretch the limits and the knowledge to predict what to do next.

So the numbers:

Tzenkethi Front Advanced:




The ISE / HSE premades resembled what you would expect an average group of players to be, and while in both I was the lowest contributor, these are still very good numbers that will allow you to hold your own in all advanced content and breaking into elite with developed players.

Budget Analysis

Change History

Mission Replay Requirements

Reputation Item Purchases

Build Breakdown

Lower end energy damage, a spattering of durability and agility choices, and of course disruptors on a KDF ship for thematic reasons all blended together in a small but powerful for the price point package


Skill Unlocks


This is an unoptimized skill tree. There's about a dozen nodes I would respec if I wanted too, however I think this is a fair blend between the wants and needs of the build class and what people might want. I have several more optimized skill trees but for people starting off I think this is a fair tree to follow.

If you have a goal in mind of what you want, you can always copy the skill tree of the build type you ultimately want to end up in:

For people who are just starting their journey, here's some brief overviews of what this skill tree offers:

Engineering Skill Picks

Science Skill Picks

Tactical Skill Picks

Note: I know running these might seem ineffective, but if everyone on your team is using these, its +20% Damage, +20 Accuracy, +20% Hull Capacity and Shield Capacity, and +20 all DRR to all team members, which is more than you can get with any other 3 skill picks


Starship Weapons


As a starter build we are limited to what we can pull from, and mission and reputation gear offers some of the best synergy available with the set bonuses. The Nausican torpedo is often seen as a poor performing torp but at this scale it hits pretty hard, and the set bonus for +28.5% Disruptor damage and +5 armour pen is more than I would get from a tactical console, so is very much worth it.

This ship also offers the ability to slot dual cannons, unlike it's sovereign equivalent. This means that we can slot both Terran reputation weapons. Naturally this means we have to get creative with some of the boff seating and go against some long held standards in slotting both beams and cannons.

As well, building up to this you can just use standard versions of these weapons. When setting these up I got some rare (blue quality) disruptor cannons, beams, and turrets off the exchange for a grand total of 100k ec that I used to carry me through all of the missions needed to get gear, replacing it as I went. If you want to skip this purchase you can use commons or even uncommons (white and green rarity) for the same effect

Starship Equipment

Starship Consoles

Set Bonuses

Tweaks and Notes:

Consoles are a little tricky here, as both the Hull Image Refractors and  Shield Absorptive Frequency Generator are a large chunk of the builds overall budget.

Potential options include another Bellum RCS console, or if you have it the Temporal Disentanglement Suite. This console didn't make it onto the build as I am using Auxiliary power to Emergency Batteries which removes my aux power so the scaling on this console isn't very good for its offensive stats, but is a filler option you can pull on until you've acquired the funds

Bridge Officers


I am doing this on a Romulan Alien, and as such during my level up and from found Duty Officer assignments I get access to bridge officers with Superior Romulan Operatives. Each one grants me +2% Critical Chance and +5% Critical Severity, for a total of +10% Chance and +50% Severity. This is a free option for this character and Federation, KDF, and Jem'hadar would need to buy them from the Fleet Starbase Embassy.

Whiole not needed, this is a huge improvement to performance is why my ship has a resting 41.7% Critical Chance and 168.4% Critical Damage


Personal Traits

3 Crafting traits here for the Beam, Cannon, and Engineering portions fill out the bulk of the wait time on this. Accurate, Innocuous, and Projectile Training make good placeholders until you can get your R&D Schools finished.

** NOTE **: You can run 3 of any schools daily R&D project at any time, do this for fastest progression. I recommend beams first, then engineering, and cannons last.

Starship Traits


Onboard Dilithium Recrystalizer has some interesting interactions. Contrary to popular belief, max is not just 125 power, but the literal subsystem max. If you have a +10 max to that subsystem, you will need to have 135 power present. This build requires 130 Engine power to trigger the buff. To set this up requires:

From here repeating these powers, EPtW, A2B for cooldowns, EPtE, A2B for more cooldowns will constantly refresh Onboard Dilithium Recrystalizer. If you need a top up you can use an engine battery in pre-pulls to avoid this setup but you won't have the Energy Battery for its additional +20% bonus damage.

Reputation Traits

Active Reputation

Duty Officers


Ship Stats


Standard fare here for powers:

Parse Breakdown

Record Damage Breakdown - ISE


This can really go on anything and everything! The great part about a build with this budget is that theres an unlimited portablility. Want to fly a cruiser but can't equip cannons, grab some more standard disruptor beam arrays. Want to fly an escort, slot more tactical consoles.

The only major consideration when adapting to a platform will be the Bridge Officer seating you can fit. That I leave as an exercise to the reader.