The last virtual item spotlight also focused on an item in the Star Trek Online MMO universe, the Federation Atrox Catian Carrier, in many ways Perfect World Entertainment’s STO lends itself to virtual markets where virtual items (in this case space ships) fundamentally mean something. Although this column will eventually lean into a fantasy game to look at a sword or some armor or maybe even a costume set, it’s hard to move away from the sheer awe of how much people will go through for a ship in this game.

The Tholian Recluse Carrier is not available in the virtual item store (i.e. the C-Store) and cannot be bought for PWE’s microtransaction currency (i.e. ZEN). Instead, players must earn it by storing up the much coveted lobi crystals gained from the infamous lock boxes and (in very small amounts) from episode re-runs. The carrier costs a total of 800 lobi crystals—which sorts out to about 80 to 200 lock boxes (with a minimum of 53 boxes if you were damn lucky) I suspect the average is much closer to 200 than 80. The cost for a master key ranges around $1.13 to $1.25 so the casual player might be looking at $90 to $250 to buy one of these suckers.

Of course, each of those lock boxes also has a great deal of goodies in them that enhance gameplay and it’s possible to defray the costs by purchasing ZEN by trading for dilithium on the exchange—Star Trek Online’s method for allowing free-to-play users to participate with for-pay currency—so mileage will vary on cost. Needless to say here, this is an extremely costly ship in either time or money; but an interesting item in the universe.

As for specifications:

Weapons: 3 Fore, 3 Aft; and can equip dual cannons

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

Consoles: 2 Tactical, 4 Engineering, 4 Science

Devices: 4

Crew: 2,500

Turn Rate: 5.5 degrees per second

Impulse Modifier: 0.18

Hull Strength: 43,500

Shield Modifier: 1.35

+5 engine power

+5 auxiliary power

Subsystem Targeting

2 Hangar Bays

Tholian Widow Fighters

The Recluse carrier is a beautiful sight with an interesting crystalline structure developed of three spindly arms radiating from a central corridor. Beam weapons fire from across the surface, and often from the tips of the arms, and the fighters are long, pointy crystalline ships. Similar to their owners (the Tholians) the ship design looks like a series of geometric planes with silver and blue highlights. Yellow/orange spots can be seen on the back where the engines are.

The ship comes automatically with two interesting components a Thermionic Torpedo Launcher and a Tholian Tetryon Grid console—it can also equip a Tholian Web Weaver console (for those who want to throw webs in space at enemies.)

The torpedo is of questionable usefulness, delivering not quite as much punch as a quantum torpedo and killing engine and turn rate on the target; however, coupled with High Yield it can be turned into a slow-moving but powerful missile in space combat. The console, however, can be a lot of fun in that it turns the Tholian Widow Fighters into two extra tetryon beam shots every time it’s used (the fighters do need to be in range and launched to use this effect.)

Like any carrier, it’s slow to turn, but it can be used to great effect with appropriate weaponry. It turns slightly faster than the Atrox and sports a heavier hull; but it has a slightly smaller crew. It can take quite a beating and depends heavily on its fighters to deal damage.

The Universal Commander station makes this ship extremely versatile. A captain can slot a Tactical there and make her into a massive damage dealer, using her fighters to harass and whittle down enemy defenses; putting an Engineer there makes the Recluse almost unstoppable in its ability to keep power levels up; and with Science in that position the Recluse is a shield-tank that could spend time with a lot of fleet support or crowd control.

In all its forms, the Recluse can take quite a beating; although without a Tactical in that Commander station the ship itself doesn’t deal that much damage on its own. In many ways, the tetryon beam loadout it comes with is good because it makes the ship into a shield stripper (allowing the fighters to then vaporize the hull with their mini quantum torpedos.)

A good carrier captain will know how best to deploy her fighters to protect the ship and support friendlies during a firefight. Playing Tactical does allow the Recluse to deal quite a lot of sound-and-fury in a fight and with the proper consoles can be quite effective in 1-on-1 firefights; but the Engineer or Science in the universal gives it a much stronger support role and much of flying a carrier is supporting the fighters.

Include the subsystem targeting and a captain can use that to knock out enemy shields, engines, and even weapons in order to turn the tide of a fight in a groups favor.

A person flying a Recluse is showing that they’ve spent the time and energy to grab this ship either because they spent a lot of money, or because they slowly ground up through the dilithium market. It’s also possible to buy them off the exchange for a staggering 70 million energy credits. Right now it’s a little bit of a status symbol in the game and more or less a gimmick that fits in with the current Tholian-themed episodes of Star Trek Online.

It’s unique, interesting design, the versatility of the ship, and it’s presence as an icon and status symbol for players earned it this spotlight.