Currently having a blast in Star Trek Online.     My new character is a Tactical Officer and has reached level 17; my old one is an Engineer at level 14.      The game is a lot of fun, and even better, I’m not paying a dime for it yet.

For whatever reason these online collectible card games have to be featured in every MMO.   When I first saw them in EQ2 I was left scratching my head.    I enjoyed Vanguard’s implementation but it wasn’t enough and was a bit repetitive.  In STO, I see a very smart implementation of the cards, which even works with the lore of the game.   I’m not a single adventurer, or a king of the fantasy world who just happens to do all his adventuring alone; no, I’m James T. Kirk and I have a whole staff of people working for me.   Why wouldn’t I have some idea about all the missions they are performing and some say on what they do next ?

This is a new-ish feature, added as part of the Free To Play conversion on 12/1/11.

A lot going on here, but it's great once you understand it all

You apparently start with a limited number of slots (deck size) for duty officers, and I receive some duty officers (cards) by virtue of leveling.    They have various quality ratings – white, green, blue, purple (common, uncommon, rare, very rare).

Each has a number of traits/abilities

Since you’re the captain of the ship, you direct which officer gets to do what task.   Within reason – some tasks require various traits, officer types, etc.    No, you cannot have your quartermaster attempt to heal your sick officers, you need a doctor for that.

List of assignments. Ones with red icons on the bottom right, cannot be performed, because you're missing something.

The system allows you to accumulate :

  • Experience, skill points, and credits
  • Dilithium, which I understand is an important resource for acquiring ships at some point
  • Commendation Points (alternate advancement!) which earn you things like…. more duty officers and probably other cool things.

It especially works when I run out to do some missions, and suddenly I get a report.    Bob from Science has finished cataloging local binary pairs.   Thanks Bob.    Then I have to think if I want to assign more tasks to them, or just wait until later.    Each of the assignments lasts for a set period of time, so to min/max the whole thing your officers should always be working.

You might have shipboard assignments, like performing a level 5 diagnostic.    Or for particular systems, like reinforcing the military on some plant.    Many can also be used on board your ship, or as part of your away team – they act like buffs, no character is shown, but you may suddenly get a shield buff for instance.    As the low level combat is pretty easy I haven’t tried using them this way yet – the assignments are very cool.

In progress assignment

It’s also fun that you can succeed or fail; or have a critical success, which gives extra rewards.     I managed to make a purple hand weapon for Kelly’s crew, for instance.

You can have a disaster too – only had one so far.   My crew is apparently not welcome for shore leave on Vulcan any longer.

Seems my “free time” will soon be at an end in the game anyway – I think once you hit level 20, you either need to give away one of your old ships, or buy ship slots, to get your third ship.   Then buy the actual ship; or maybe not.   I guess I’ll figure it out as I go.