Support Basics

Support Builds

Last Modified: 9 February 2024

Support builds in STO are not generally healers but rather buff/debuff ships designed to help teammates reach new DPS thresholds. Support builds by their very nature are not intended to be DPS machines in their own right and are typically geared for Elite content only; Advanced is too easy/fast for a support build to really shine. Supports and tanks have this in common; it's not that they can't function on Normal or Advanced, but they only truly serve a needed purpose on Elite.

The general idea is that support DPS needs to be lower (around ~100K or even lower) for a true high-end support. That statement is correct, but should be qualified. Since "DPS" stands for damage per second, the support build's own preferred DPS will depend on how strong are the DPS builds it's supporting. If you're supporting players less than 400K or 500K, then it's to their benefit to bring enough DPS to accelerate the parsed run. Bringing a 75K or 100K support build to a run filled with 150-300K players will not increase their DPS substantially, despite the buffs and debuffs offered, because the map simply takes too long to complete. Supports can help amplify a suboptimal build but they won't truly shine, and they can't pilot for their allies. Support builds take good builds flown by good pilots and make them great or even exceptional.

There is not a clear number or metric to measure to evaluate a support’s performance in amplifying their team. SCM (STO Combat Meter) contains a debuff % statistic that compares the base damage of an ability against its actual applied damage to determine how much a target is debuffed, but debuff is not the ONLY way in which supports can assist their allies, as it will not account for direct damage amplification like Concentrate Firepower, Distributed Targeting, or Radiant Subatomic Pulse. Credit to ProLevel for the explanation. Some other metrics used on this site for evaluating support builds include:

Your main goals on any Support build are:

It is possible to combine many support concepts (particularly traits and consoles) on a tank build. This is common or even expected on very high-end DPS runs. Due to the proliferation of on-hit debuffs, Supports should be built starting as an AOE energy build (Fire at Will or Cannon: Scatter Volley) just like tanks. Warning: it will be difficult to fully produce a high-value support on an extremely tight budget.

How Supports Contribute

Support contributions fall broadly into 3 categories:

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. If you're looking to min-max for 1M DPS supported runs, this site will not probably help you much.

Ship Basics 

There's a large combination of things that interact to evaluate a ship's suitability for support builds. We subdivide supports into 2 subclasses: Anchors are bringing Gravity Well III and focused more on high Control Expertise to help group and clump enemies. The other subclass, the Spotter, brings a Commander Tactical seat and is focused on maximum debuff  / damage amplification with a weaker spec into Control/ Gravity Well.

Here's our list:

Bridge Officer Seating



Power Levels

The same power levels used for generic exotic builds could apply to supports. Many support effects scale with Auxiliary power (such as Sensor Scan from science captains or Ionic Turbulence). You need sufficient weapon power to keep firing. Maximum weapon power may lead to too much selfish DPS, but that'll depend on your team's needs. Shield power can be helpful to increase the output of the Tilly Shield if in use. 


In general, the same gear for generic energy weapon builds is used for tanks (look for entries under "tanking"). Of particular note:

Visual Gallery of Consoles.pdf

Upgrading and Rarity

The necessity of upgrading gear on a support build depends on two things:

If you're not making self-sufficient builds and you're supporting high end DPS players, feel free to leave your weapons and tactical consoles at low upgrade levels like XII (or even II if you're ambitious and have a low-level alternate character for opening weapon lockboxes). On the other hand, self-sufficient builds supporting less capable players will see significant personal DPS gains from upgrading to Mk XV and less so from upgrading rarity. 

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. We do call out traits that are specifically better for support there, but there are some highlights below for a quick overview of support-specific traits. Most of them will NOT be F2P-friendly. Some traits can be enhanced at the Fleet K-13 holding for marginal gains; those are options as well. It'll be hard to find a full suite of traits that will fully embrace the support role while staying F2P, but otherwise just build for energy damage and slot what you can:

Starship traits:


These first two traits are likely very difficult to acquire, but these make your energy weapons shred enemy resistance. The rest are less effective but much easier to acquire.

Ally buff:

Personal traits:

Again, generic energy weapon traits are helpful at the new/F2P level that are captured in the tier list. For more expensive personal traits that are specific for support:

Reputation traits:

List is sorted top to bottom in terms of priority:

Active Reputation Traits:

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

Duty Officers for F2P/New players

Most duty officers for supports are going to trend towards marginal impact and/or expensive but there are a few standouts:


An overview of piloting and ship handling is covered in our Mechanics slides. Supports generally need to stay close to both enemies and teammates due to a large number of on-hit or PBAOE effects. 

External Resources

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