Projectile Basics

Projectile Builds

Last Modified: 10 November 2023

Projectile builds are focused around torpedoes, possibly in combination with mines. Sometimes called "kinetic" builds, these are different from the EPG/Exotic builds in that while some EPG-scaling effects might be used, the emphasis on the build is on the actual kinetic damage of the torpedo. While it might seem that torpedoes and mines have some innate drawbacks like only firing one at a time and a global cooldown between firing, along with a significant damage penalty to shields, these can be largely mitigated or worked around. The current highest-DPS builds in the game are a hybrid between projectile and exotics so there is tremendous potential in projectile builds with the disclaimer that some maps are much easier for them than others and they really shine more on harder difficulties since enemies live long enough for the torpedoes to strike them. 

Your goals when making a projectile build are:

If you'd like a practical example of a build that follows these guidelines at a very basic budget, please check out our Starter Tier exotic build: a T5 T'Varo Refit. It'll 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 

There's a large combination of things that interact to evaluate a ship's suitability for kinetic builds. Remember how energy weapon builds could handle pretty well on cruisers, escorts, and anything in between, but science builds were kind of pigeonholed into science vessels? One of the most important rules about projectile builds is that the list of useful ships is even more narrow. 

Due to the requirement for a LtCmdr Command seat, projectile builds aren't great starter builds for your first ship unless you either have a T6 C-store ship with the seat, or are willing to wait until you have access to Fleet Ship Modules from T6 reputations which is a pretty long grind. Here's a list of ships that you can acquire with Fleet Ship Modules without paying Zen that have LtCmdr Cmd.


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), Hull Plating (x1), Hull Capacity (x1)

Science: Shield Regeneration (x1)

Tactical: Projectile 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 4 Engineering, 1 points in Science, and 19 in Tactical, leaving you 22 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. Engineering skills are of limited use to projectile builds. Warp Core Potential/Efficiency can help up bump up subsystems with low power. 

Science - Shield Restoration, Shield Capacity, Control Expertise (especially if using powers that scale with this like Gravity Well or weapons like Gravimetric Torpedoes)+Control Amplification, Drain Expertise if using weapons or abilities that scale with this like Quantum Phase or Neutronic Torpedoes), Exotic Particle Generator if mixing in exotic abilities, Long-Range Targeting Sensors if using multiple energy weapons. Note that high-end kinetic builds are all using at least some exotic abilities.

Tactical - Energy 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 sample skill build from Eph289's projectile builds includes all the essentials and 25 points in tactical, but also takes science skills to help boost the fact that it's using Gravity Well (Control Expertise, Control Amplification, Exotic Particle Generators). The build does use some energy weapons as well, so some energy skills are taken. 

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:

Specialization Bridge Officer Seats

In general, Command >> Miracle Worker = Temporal > Intel = Pilot in terms of seating. Remember, Command is basically essential. 

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


Here's an example build layout on a T6 Fleet Engle Strike Wing Escort, which is available for Fleet Credits and Ship Modules once T6 reputations are unlocked. It's using Photonic Officer and mines along with Entwined Tactical Matrices, which is why the energy modes are slotted. If I didn't have access to that trait, I'd slot the Mine Pattern on the Commander Tactical in place of Cannon: Scatter Volley and take the LtCmdr Universal/Command as science, slotting Destabilizing Resonance Beam I and Hazard Emitters I. That'd allow my Lt Science on the science seat to be Charged Particle Burst. 

Power levels are a basic way to boost your ship's effectiveness. Projectile builds, however, are fairly non-reliant on power. While exotic abilities and certain traits or consoles scale with Auxiliary power, energy weapons scale with weapon power, and the Tilly shield scales off shield power, torpedoes and mines do not innately scale with power, so power considerations are more secondary on this type of build. 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.

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, 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

For beams or cannons, energy type and subtype doesn't matter all that much and an astounding number of keystrokes have been spent asking whether Phaser or Disruptor is better, should I fill up with Spiral Wave Disruptors or Sensor-Linked, etc. when difference between them until one starts hard-core chasing numbers is minimal. That is NOT the case with torpedoes, where I will say that conservatively there's about a dozen usable types of torpedoes for high-level play and the rest of them are basically trash. The average torpedo is not strong, and 3 whole subtypes are basically not worth slotting (Transphasic, Chroniton, and Tricobalt). This is my personal list of strong/decent torpedoes. If it's not on this list, I personally wouldn't slot it on a kinetic build:

The Torp Finder tool has suggestions for the best torpedoes. The meta 4 for kinetic builds are Enhanced Bio-Molecular, Neutronic, Delphic, and Dark Matter. If Delphic is out of the budget, substitute with Quantum Phase. With the exception of the Delphic Distortion Quantum Torpedo, most other torpedoes recommended there should be available from reputations or missions. 

If you have Ceaseless Momentum, no more than 4 torpedoes can effectively be fired unless you're using very long cooldown torpedoes which is not generally recommended. Even on the Eagle Pilot Raider, 4 torpedoes tends to be the upper useful limit. If you don't have it, the possibilities to fire 5 torpedoes exist but still should probably be avoided. For the purposes of this guide, we're going to recommend no more than 4 fore torpedoes. If you have a fifth fore weapon slot, slot the Wide Angle Heavy Dual Beam Bank from the Discovery Legends reputation.

Firing Order

Once you have selected your weapons, there are basically two schools of thought on firing projectiles (and the first does not apply for console players).

Other Gear for F2P/New players

My preference would is Colony Deflector + AMACO engine + AMACO shield + Imperial Rift core but if that's not available, Colony Deflector + Tilly Shield + Tilly Core + Romulan/Competitive Engines is probably the better setup. Most cores by themselves do not provide any major boost. 

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 Gagarin or its cross-faction equivalent. 

If you're looking to exit the F2P world and pick up your first C-store (Zen) ship, the one you want is the Gagarin or its cross-faction equivalents. Its Entwined Tactical Matrices starship trait is a significant DPS boost on kinetic builds due to granting free torpedo spreads from energy firing modes. Other powerful traits tend to be expensive, but here are a few highlights that apply to virtually all 

Other generically useful things to look for in a starship trait or personal trait are critical chance, critical severity, damage, hull penetration, and shield penetration, but there are many variables that play into evaluating a trait's strength, including magnitude, conditionality, and stacking. Please see the Progression Guide, the Tier List, or our various Builds for more information and examples. 

Reputation traits:

List is sorted top to bottom in terms of priority:

This example is from a build that doesn't need cooldown help and is using Photonic Officer, so Auxiliary Configuration: Offense is the third trait. 

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. 

External Resources

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