Energy Basics

Energy Weapon Builds

Last Modified: February 2024

Phasers to max! This is the most common type of build in the game and tends to be more immersive as firing volleys of phasers is pretty common in the shows. Energy builds have tremendous flexibility in terms of options and accommodate a wide range of ships from nimble escorts to lumbering dreadnoughts. Energy builds for the purposes of our breakdown include tank builds and could also optionally include a torpedo. Let's dive in. 

Your goals when making an energy build are:

If you'd like practical examples of builds that follow these guidelines at a very basic budget, please check out our Starter Tier energy builds: a T5 Vor'cha using Disruptors or our T5 Sovereign with Phasers. They'll both be linked again at the bottom of the guide. 

Career and Species

Doesn't matter. Okay, there are small differences as you min-max more, but unless your goal is to chase the very top of the DPS leaderboards, any captain career, faction, or species can fly any type of ship and any type of build and do very, very well in any map in the game. 

Ship Basics (Beams and Cannons)

There's a large combination of things that interact to evaluate a ship's suitability for energy weapon builds. Here's our list:

Bridge Officers

Rather than walking through every possible combination of bridge officer skills, let's prioritize what we need:

These are the important ones. Now we fill in the gaps. The priority will depend on what the emphasis of your build is and your available seats:

Thus our decent energy weapon ships have seating to support 3-4 tactical powers, including LtCmdr or higher (Cannons), LtCmdr Engineering seating, and either 2x Lt Engineering or 1x LtCmdr Science to support our cooldown scheme. As we optimize further, more tactical seating is preferred unless mixing in offensive science abilities (aka "Exotic") along with specialization seating detailed below.

Specialization Bridge Officer Seats

Do I need other cooldown help?

Three other easy methods of help with cooldowns are the Readiness skills, Krenim bridge officers from the Fleet Research Lab, and the reputation trait Chrono-Capacitor Array. The question is do we need them?

The answer is it depends and the best way to find out is to take your chosen cooldown scheme and bridge officer powers from above and put it into the cooldown reduction calculator (make a copy) and see what you need. Here's our cheatsheet for general use:

Advanced reading on cooldown mechanics


While the full implementation of keybinding is outside the scope of this guide (and not applicable to console players anyway), PC players should consider using a keybind file or an app like the STO keybind for more efficient usage of abilities. Further discussion and links to the app can be found here


That's it. That's the general formula for energy weapon ship evaluation and how to plan your bridge officer skills. The more/higher numbers of the good things you can slot, the better the ship is. If there's a question of what should be valued more, we would suggest the following hierarchy:

Below is a sample bridge officer layout on the T5 (level 40) Assault Cruiser using Beam Overload. Limited tactical seating forces us to move Beam Overload down to rank I to keep Attack Pattern Beta.  


There are a wide variety of skill trees out there depending on how general or hybridized your build is, but here's the important ones:


Engineering - Impulse Expertise (x2), Electro-Plasma Flow (x2), Hull Plating (x1), Hull Capacity (x1)

Science: Long-Range Targeting Sensors (x3), Shield Regeneration (x1)

Tactical: Energy Weapon Training (x3), Targeting Expertise (x2 or x3), Weapon Specialization (x3), Weapon Amplification (x3), Hull Penetration (x3), Shield Penetration (x3), Coordination Protocols/Offensive Protocols/Defensive Protocols (x2 or x3, possible to skip Defensive)

If you fill these in, you'll have 6 Engineering, 4 points in Science, and 19 in Tactical, leaving you 17 points that can be flexed depending on your build and needs (but don't forget about the Readiness skills per the previous section). Regardless of career, taking 25-26 points in Tactical is valuable to pick up the tactical enhancements Focused Frenzy, Frenzied Assault, and potentially Team Frenzy.

Secondary/Build Dependent

Engineering - Hull Restoration, Hull Capacity, Warp Core Potential/Warp Core Efficiency

Science - Shield Restoration, Shield Capacity, Control Expertise (especially if using powers that scale with this like Gravity Well or (expensive) traits like Fragment of AI Tech)+Control Amplification, Drain Expertise if using weapons or abilities that scale with this like Tetryon weapons or Overwhelm Emitters. This also helps reduce the offline time of Override Subsystem Safeties or if the Quantum Phase torpedo is in play, Exotic Particle Generator if mixing in exotic abilities.

Tactical - Projectile Weapon Training if you're slotting a torpedo, Defensive Maneuvering is a low priority

Skill Unlocks

Battery Expertise and Threat Control are the two most important. Between CrtH and CrtD in tactical, choose CrtH. Our builds section has many full examples to look at.

Example: This skill build is used on Eph289's Fire-at-Will battlecruiser. All the essentials are included and 26 points in Tactical grants the Tac ultimate with Focused Frenzy/Team Frenzy/Frenzied Assault. Two points in Drain Expertise were chosen because this build uses the Quantum Phase Torpedo, which has an AOE shield drain effect scaling with that stat.

Power levels are a basic but very important way to boost your ship's effectiveness. If you want to know the why behind the power level suggestions, check out our advanced reading on this topic.


Our intent with this suggestion is to offer a number of viable gear choices, not to dictate cookie-cutter builds. If you want to use something else, be our guest. For those of you who want a narrowed-down menu from the dizzying array of choices out there, this one's for you. Most of the gear options here, save for non-tactical consoles, are the same ones being used or considered at the high end until you get to replacing weapons for specific procs/benefits, which is very expensive.

Ground rules: only fleet, reputation, easily-crafted, or mission reward items will be considered along with low-tier Phoenix Box rewards. Finishing out reputations is essential to completing an endgame ship. A quick refresher on what those are:

Fleets: Fleets are player groups that allow players to contribute resources (fleet marks, energy credits, refined dilithium, common duty officers, etc.) to various holdings, which unlock a variety of stores carrying fleet-specific items. Fleet holdings with more tiers and unlocks open up more items. Joining a fleet is not essential to succeeding in Star Trek Online, but it can be highly valuable to join a fleet at least temporarily to go shopping even if you don't intend to stay long term. 

Reputations:  There are 13 reputations that reward players for playing specific pieces of content, either battle zones/adventure zones, or task force operations. Fighting against certain enemies will improve a player's efforts with the associated organization devoted to countering them. Reputations must be advanced, typically through daily projects, and takes 70 days of daily projects to fully level to the highest tier (tier 6) for the first time on an account. Starting the reputation climb and advancing through the ranks is a top priority upon reaching level 50. Reputations have both a series of items that combine into sets with bonuses for multiple pieces as well as reputation stores that sell Mk XII items for dilithium. 

Mission Rewards: Come from playing particular missions. It may be desirable (if grindy) to replay a certain mission multiple times. We'll only be recommending items at Mk XI Rare or better because Mk XII Rare should be pretty cheap on the Exchange. 

Phoenix Boxes: Are available from the dilithium store and should generally be purchased in lots of 10 for 40,000 refined dilithium. While some consoles and duty officers are useful and easily available from a rare or very rare token, ship rewards at the Ultra Rare and Epic level are exceedingly unlikely and restricted to a single character. The most frequent choice from the Phoenix Box is the Phoenix Upgrade, which helps upgrade gear items. Phoenix Upgrades are best applied on special upgrade weekends to double their efficiency; it takes about 200 Phoenix Upgrades on an upgrade weekend to take a ship with gear at Mk XII-XIII to Epic Mk XV. 

The Exchange: Allows players to buy and sell a variety of items. Many items are enormously expensive due to their rarity and are thus priced out of the reach of a new or semi-casual free-to-play player; however, they are not needed for this guide. Some items, if cheap on the exchange, may be accessible, like a Mk XII Rare Beam Array so their use may be recommended sparingly.

Crafting: Allows players to create items through leveling their research & development schools (typically via another series of daily projects). R&D unlocks personal traits at level 15, which are particularly valuable in the Beams, Engineering, Projectiles, Science, Ground Gear, and Kits and Modules. Crafting items below level 15 is not efficient as higher crafting skill will lead to greater rarity on first result. 

Picking Weapons and Weapon Types

Beam Arrays do the least damage, but have the widest firing arc (270 degrees). Beam Arrays are the preferred weapon choice for tanks due to their ability to hit targets all around them combined with the Beam: Fire at Will ability. Because of the 270 degree firing arc, Beam Arrays are more forgiving to ships with numerous aft weapon slots, as all weapons can be brought to bear by bringing the ship alongside the target in a technique called broadsiding. 

Dual Beam Banks deal more damage, but only fire in a 90 arc and are restricted to fore weapon slots. Ships that use Dual Beam Banks should fly nose-on to targets and slot 360-degree firing arc weapons in the aft. For this reason, Dual Beam Banks are not popular on ships with 4 aft weapon slots due to the restriction on Omni-Directional beams.

Omni-Directional Beam Arrays sacrifice some base damage but have a 360 degree firing arc. They are restricted to 2 per ship, one from a set and one not belonging to an item set. 

Dual Cannons/Dual Heavy Cannons fire multiple pulses of energy at targets. They have a 45 degree firing arc and are restricted to fore weapon slots on certain ships. Dual Heavy Cannons fire more shots and have additional innate Critical Severity but drain power faster. Cannon builds should fly nose-on to targets.

Turrets fire multiple pulses of energy at targets in a 360 degree firing arc at the cost of base damage (100 vs 288 on a dual heavy cannon). For this reason, they are generally slotted only in aft weapon slots. Due to the difference in base damage, cannons are not popular on ships with 4 aft weapon slots.

Advanced Reading

Other Gear for F2P/New players

Upgrading and Rarity

For the majority of items in the game, a build filled with Mk XII+ gear at Rare+ rarity and flown well is capable of tackling Advanced content reasonably well. Some maps are harder than others and some builds will do better at certain maps than others, but it's certainly possible to quite well with Mk XII and Mk XIII on a F2P/new player build. I've done it twice while building up my builds. 

If you want to fly Elite, you will need to strongly consider Mk XV gear as the difference between Mk XII and Mk XV is about as big as the one between Mk I and Mk XII. Enemies are much harder to kill; while there are a few maps that are relatively easy on Elite that could be completed with Mk XII gear, it would be a slog. 

Epic'd and re-engineered gear is never "necessary" and is only for optimizing builds and/or DPS-chasing. 

Lastly, let's go over things we aren't going to worry about.

Things That Do Not Matter Much

Traits for F2P/New players

See our tier list for starship and personal traits and look for the ones that are free, a mission reward, or from R&D schools. Some traits can be enhanced at the Fleet K-13 holding for marginal gains; those are options as well. 

If you're looking to exit the F2P world and pick up your first C-store (Zen) ship, the one you want is the Arbiter or its cross-faction equivalents. Its Emergency Weapon Cycle starship trait is worth around 20% final DPS on most energy builds even if you don't end up flying it longterm. The next priority should be traits that extend the duration of your firing mode:

Reputation traits:

List is sorted top to bottom in terms of priority:

This example is from a cruiser that doesn't need cooldown help and is tanking with Photonic Officer for cooldowns. It has plenty of HP, so Energy Refrequencer, Tyler's Duality, and Aux Config: Offense are the traits of choice. 

Active Reputation Traits:

These all have 5 minute cooldowns and most of them don't matter much.

Duty Officers for F2P/New players

See our tier list for duty officers and look for the ones that are free, from mission rewards, from the fleet holdings, or from colonization chains.


An overview of piloting and ship handling is covered in our Mechanics slides. 

Full Builds

If you'd like some other resources, check out: