The dreaded Dreadnaught Romulan Warbird has been added to the Cryptic store in Star Trek Online MMO universe—selling for 2500 ZEN ($25) or a 3-pack for 5000 ZEN ($50). The ship comes in three variants each of which have a different console and a particular bent towards Tactical, Science, or Engineering. These are the dreaded flagships of the Romulan space navy and to fill that role, they are huge, lumbering, and armed-to-the-beak with a powerful front arc (sporting 5 weapon hardpoints.)

The last virtual item spotlight was also a STO ship, the Tholian Recluse Carrier; STO comes up a lot in this spotlight series because the game itself fits nicely to providing important gear (ships) that are fundamental to the game as virtual items in a way that few other MMOs would.

The specifications:

Weapons: 5 fore, 3 aft; and can equip dual cannons

Bridge Officers: 1 Commander Tactical; Lieutenant Engineering; Lieutenant Science; Lieutenant Commander Universal; Ensign Universal;

Consoles (varies): Scimitar—5 Tactical, 2 Engineering, 3 Science; Tulwar—3 Tactical, 2 Engineering, 5 Science; Falchion—3 Tactical, 4 Engineering, 3 Science.

Devices: 4

Crew: 3,000

Turn Rate: 7 degrees per second

Impulse Modifier: 0.18

Hull Strength: 43,500

Shield Modifier: 1.35

Scimitar—+10 weapons power, +5 engine power

Tulwar—+10 auxiliary power, +5 engine power

Falchion—+10 shield power, +5 engine power

1 Hangar Bay: Scorpion Fighters

Can equip Romulan Drone Ships

Romulan Battle Cloak

Each of the variants comes with a specialized console that excels in one particular task fitting to the design, all three consoles can be placed into any one dreadnought warbird of any flavor and when stacked together activate a special Thalaron weapon.

The Scimitar class receives a [Console – Universal – Cloaked Barrage] that enables the craft (for a short period of time after activation) to fire from cloak a massive barrage of weapons fire against foes in the field. I discovered this, combined with the battle cloak, meant that I could break away from battle, sneak in again, and strip shields off opponents—or perhaps hull—as they were busy fighting my comrades.

The Tulwar class receives a [Console – Universal – Singularity Distributor Unit] that gives a particularly interesting effect in that shield power doesn’t drop to zero when under cloak; as a result, cloaking can become a way to restore or regenerate shields after losing them in combat. It has the secondary useful effect of taking away the fear of shields dropping while battle-cloaking in combat (because that torpedo will still hit you even if you cloak.)

The Falcion class receives a [Console – Universal – Secondary Shields] which feels more like a situational power more than anything as useful as the other two, but it still comes in handy. The secondary shields console, when activated, gives a short period of extra shield hitpoints that absorb incoming damage before it hits the proper shields (giving time to recharge them) or the hull (if shields have failed.) This can come in handy when fighting enemies who knock out shield subsystems, like the borg, or in general anytime a ship needs to survive a barrage of incoming energy weapons fire in order to recover hull or restore subsystems.

When all three of these consoles are equipped in one vessel, however, the real fun begins and a power becomes available called Thalaron Pulse. Activating this ability stops the ship in place and starts powering up over an aggravating 12 seconds—but the effect can be devastating, especially to small ships in a 90-degree 10 kilometer field of effect in front of the ship. When charging-to-fire the thalaraon weapon the Secondary Shields console actually comes in very handy for general survivability.

As a plus: the animation for this weapon is awesome to watch.

Playability and PvE content:

In flight, the Dreadnaught warbirds turn like cruisers, but benefit greatly from engines and skills that up the turn rate, they’re not quite the graceful whales of the Odyssey or the Atrox (with one extra degree of steerage of the latter) it still feels a little bit slow on the plumbing. The standard loadout includes dual cannons and beam weapons and bringing that front arc to bear makes this ship feel like a fearsome beast—although with the slower turn rate and high inertia captains should treat it like a front-heavy cruiser or otherwise overtake targets during frontal assaults.

The battle cloak makes up for a myriad of sins in this respect giving the ship the ability to quickly get turned around after overshooting a target (if attacking at full impulse) but it’s not a bad broadside-beam-boat if built that way. The fixture of cannon, though does mean needing to use anything at the captain’s disposal to get turned around again to bring the heavy weaponry to bear. Add on the Cloaked Barrage ability and the cloak-and-turn trick becomes a fearsome strategy.

The variants offer a wide variety of approaches—but the weapon loadout suggests medium-range engagements in the frontal arc in general. A Dreadnaught set up for massive assault could take advantage of the heavy tactical layout and the two universal to put more maneuvers and weapons power at the captain’s fingertips. However, a control-and-support Dreadnaught could use the universals to add more science powers (with crowd control and confuse) to give the drone ships and teammates more of a chance to herd enemies into a thalaron weapon blast. While I don’t feel it, it could also be possible to make this ship absorb a lot of firepower to act as an alternate tank, using the secondary shields to absorb alpha strikes, with shield/hull engineering powers to increase loiter time, or to feed into Feedback Pulse to help weaken and weed out foes in the field before vanishing into cloak.

The Dreadnaught class is too slow for a proper hit-and-run and feels a lot more like scythe-through-and-run–slowly mowing over a group of enemies, or bearing down on one ship like a horrifying demonic plague with the Imperial March booming only to fly past and then vanish into cloak.

It’s hard to get a good grip on the Dreadnaught, it’s almost a jack-of-many-trades that works well with the frontal arc of firepower and Emergency Power to Weapons along with other skills; but its slow turn rate makes it too easy for small craft to get out of its powerful main arc. It works as a beam boat, but feels a little bit weird in that configuration. Some players have been going full cannon-battery up front and made alpha-strike monsters (using the Cloaked Barrage) and often with two torpedoes up front of differing variety to add flavor; others have designed beam-boats with arrays mixed with dual-arrays to take advantage of that lethal front arc but provide broadside capability.