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Dark's Guide to Shields and Armor - Damage Resistance and You!

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Dark, Mon 21 Jan, 2013 11:32 PM
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    #1
     –  Last edited by Dark; Sat 21 Feb, 2015 6:47 PM.
    Warning
    Note that this was written prior to the release of Legacy of Romulus, and does not account for any new gear that may have been released since. The numbers and general information will be correct, but the equipment suggestions may be outdated (especially noteworthy are the consoles for sale in our Dilithium Mines).

    Hi! I'm Aeren@Dark83 in STO, and recently I've been answering a lot of build questions in {UFP-UFPK} and here on the forums. I find I'm repeating myself a lot while not being as thorough as I'd like to be, so here we go!

    Updated 2015 02 21

    Goal of this Guide

    I use the word armor to refer to the Engineering Consoles that add damage resistance to your hull. This guide is intended to help you decide how much and what kinds of shields and armor you want, so I will first explain how your shields and armor mitigate damage to your hull.

    Note that the resistance granted by armor only applies to damage taken by your hull. It has no effect on the damage your shields takes. Also this is written with PvE/STFs in mind.

    For the examples in gold italics, I will be using normal shields, with a hull resistance of 10.7%. The incoming damage will be a 1000 damage energy weapon and a 1000 damage torpedo.

    How Damage Is Taken - Energy Weapons

    So you've been hit by an energy weapon. What happens?

    1. First, your hull suffers the bleed-through damage.
    Of the 1000 damage beam, 10% bleeds through. Of that 100 bleed through, 10.7% is resisted. Your hull takes 89.3 damage.

    2.a. Second, if your shields are down then the remaining is applied to your hull.
    Without shields, your hull takes the remaining 900 damage. 10.7% is resisted, so your hull takes a further 866.7 damage.

    2.b. However, if your shields are up, then remaining damage is applied to your shield.
    With shields, the remaining 900 damage is dealt to your shields.

    2.b.1. If your shield facing can take the damage, we're done.
    If you had 1000 shields, then you will have 100 remaining.

    2.b.2. If your shield facing drops from the damage, your hull takes the remaining damage.
    If you had 100 shields, then 800 damage will get through to your hull. 10.7% is resisted, so your hull takes 714.4 damage.

    Without shields up, your hull takes 956 damage. If your shields stay up, your hull takes 89.3 damage and your shields take 900 damage for a total of 989.3 damage. If your shields were barely up (at 100 health), then your hull takes 803.7 damage and your shields take 100 damage, for a total of 903.7 damage.

    We can see that against energy weapons, shields basically function as extra hull health. Your ship is dealt roughly the same amount of damage (903.7 to 989.3) regardless of if the shield is up or down.

    How Damage Is Taken - Kinetic Weapons

    Please note that kinetic weapons deal double damage to hulls, and that all shields have an innate 75% resistance to kinetic damage. (Everybody says this everywhere, but I can't actually find a source to link. Sad)

    So you've been hit by a torpedo (or other kinetic weapon). What happens?

    1. First, your hull suffers the bleed-through damage.
    Of the 1000 damage torpedo, 10% bleeds through. Of that 100 bleed-through, 10.7% is resisted. Kinetic damage is doubled against hull, so your hull takes 178.6 89.3 damage.

    2.a. Second, if your shields are down then the remaining is applied to your hull.
    Without shields, your hull takes the remaining 900 damage. 10.7% is resisted but kinetic damage is doubled against hull, so your hull takes a further 1733.4 803.7 damage.

    2.b. However, if your shields are up, then remaining damage is applied to your shield.
    Shields have an innate 75% resistance to Kinetic damage. The remaining 900 damage is thus reduced to 225 damage and dealt to your shields.

    2.b.1. If your shield facing can take the damage, we're done.
    If you had 1000 shields, then you will have 775 remaining.

    2.b.2. If your shield facing drops from the damage, your hull takes the remaining damage.
    If you had 100 shields, then 125 damage will get through to your hull. 10.7% is resisted but kinetic damage is doubled against hull, so your hull takes 223.25 111.625 damage.

    Without shields up, your hull takes 1912 893 damage. If your shields stay up, your hull takes 178.6 89.3 damage and your shields take 225 damage for a total of 403.6 314.3 damage. If your shields were barely up (at 100 health), then your hull takes 401.85 200.925 damage and your shields take 100 damage, for a total of 501.85 300.925 damage.

    We can see that against kinetic weapons, shields make a HUGE difference. Even with just 1/25000 shields 67.5% of the torpedo's damage disappears. You always want shields up when facing kinetic weapons.

    How To Resist Damage - Shields

    Very obviously from the previous section, you want to always keep your shields up. Towards that end, you will want more shields and/or tougher shields, and the ability to bring your shields back up.

    Shield Capacity

    There are primarily two ways to have more shields. The first is the type of shield - Covariant shields have more capacity than standard shields, at the expense of slower regeneration. The second way is with Science Consoles. To simply increase your shield capacity, use Field Generators. This is the recommended method to increase capacity, as you can get +20% per console. (They stack linearly, so two will give you +40%.) An alternative is to use Emitter Array consoles. This is not recommended if you're just looking to increase capacity, because at the maximum +30 bonus to the Shield Emitter skill, you will only receive a little over +8% capacity.

    The skill Tactical Team will instantly redistribute shields for you, effectively raising the capacity of any one shield facing as it draws from the strength of other facings. This is highly recommended. Either tap it when one shield facing starts to drop, or use two Tac Teams (or 1 Tac Team and 2 Conn Officer DOffs) to have it up 2/3rds of the time.

    Shield Hardening

    There are several ways to harden your shields, by which we mean to increase its damage resistance. Note that shield resistance is multiplicative - two separate +50% Shield Resistance boosts results in +75% resistance. I'm unclear on how the MACO's +10% resistance to all energy and +20% resistance to Plasma stacks.

    Other than the high end shields and shield modifiers, your Shield Resistance will primarily come from three abilities. Extend Shields gives a massive boost to shield strength, but can only be used on others. Transfer Shield Strength gives a small amount of resistance, and is mainly used as a heal. The best way to harden your shields is to carry two copies of Emergency Power to Shields and have one copy active at all times. (See my Guide to Keybinds for an easy way to do that.) The Engineering Captain's Rotate Shield Frequency ability will offer a nice boost to shield resistance, but has a rather long cooldown at 1.5 minutes.

    Your Shield Power will also affect resistance - the higher the better.

    Shield Recovery

    There's two different ways for your shield to recover - "Shield Heal" and "Shield Regeneration". I honestly don't really care about the subtle differences, I just need my shields to get back up ASAP. Note that your shield power will affect your shield recovery, so keep that setting at least at 50 most of the time. There's a few consoles that help with this, but passive recovery will be insufficient in a firefight. The Shield Emitter Amplifier Science Console gives a bonus to regeneration, and the Field Emitter Engineering Console gives a trivial boost to Shield Power. Regenerative Shields will regen faster, at the cost of lower capacity. The Shield Battery consumables will repair disabled shields as well as boost the power and heal your shields, so keep those handy.

    Your shield recovery will primarily come from abilities, and the previously mentioned Emitter Array Science Console will increase the effectiveness of most of these abilities.
    Emergency Power to Shields will increase shield regeneration, and should always be running to harden your shields anyway. It's not a useful in-combat shield heal. Transfer Shield Strength is an excellent shield heal, and with a short cooldown of 45s it's your go-to ability for healing shields. Brace For Impact becomes a reliable, massive shield heal if you slot 3 Shield Distribution Officers. The wiki link is out of date though - while BFI is active, you have a 50% chance per DOff per hit of healing a large amount. In spite of whatever the Reverse Shield Polarity description may say, it effectively makes your shields invulnerable and heal from damage. Use it while you still have a sliver of shields remaining, and it'll get back to full rather rapidly. Science Team will heal shields for a nice amount, and can be used every 15 seconds, but will conflict with Tactical Team. Extend Shields is actually more useful for keeping your friend's shields up (as it gives a lot of resistance and a little regeneration) than healing it, so pair it with TSS if you're trying to help them.

    Your Shield Power setting will affect the innate regeneration rate - the higher the better.

    Just wanted to point one thing out. Mark XII Purple Emitter Amps provide 15% stacking shield regen. Mark XII purple Field Emitters provide +4 Shield Power. Each point of power provides 4% regen. So the emitters actually are 1% better than the Amps, but the downside is they take up an engineering console.

    How To Resist Damage - Damage Resistance

    Damage Resistance applies only to hull damage. It's a little imprecise to have Shield Resistance and Damage Resistance, but that's neither here nor there.

    First of all, the numbers that consoles and abilities display are Damage Resistance Magnitude. Damage Resistance Magnitude stacks additively. Two +20 DRM consoles result in +40 DRM.

    However, Damage Resistance Magnitude has diminishing returns in relation to the actual Damage Resistance percentage, which is what incoming damage is actually reduced by. See more details here. The actual formula is there, but keep the following in mind for subsequent sections of my little guide:

    Magnitude 12 = 10.7%
    Magnitude 32 = 24.1% (+13.4%)
    Magnitude 52 = 33.6% (+9.5%)
    Magnitude 72 = 40.8% (+7.2%)
    Magnitude 92 = 46.2% (+5.4%)


    You may be wondering why I started that table at Damage Resistance Magnitude 12, and why I used it in my earlier hull resistance examples. That's because 6 ranks in the Hull Plating and Armor Reinforcement skills grant 10.7% resistance to energy and kinetic damage, respectively. If you're worried about your Damage Resistance, you probably have 6 ranks in these skills anyway. That essentially gives you a base Magnitude of 12.

    This diminishing returns is important to keep in mind, because there are multiple ways to increase Damage Resistance Magnitude, and the more you stack on the less you are getting from it.

    Resistance from Abilities

    There are a number of common abilities that will increase our Damage Resistance.

    Most people carry either Polarize Hull or Attack Pattern Omega to counter Tractor Beams from the Borg. Almost everyone carries Hazard Emitters, which clears Plasma DoTs, and is also handy for cross healing. Absolutely everybody has Brace for Impact, which gives considerable Kinetic resistance. Most people with spare Engineering BOff slots will carry Auxiliary to Structural, which gives damage resistance for 10s with a 15s cooldown, and should be constantly cycled if possible.

    I may have missed a few, but they can't be all that important. Wink The above are extremely common abilities which are carried by most people. I won't actually account for them when I discuss consoles, but it's important to keep in mind that you'll often have extra damage resistance from your abilities.

    Resistance from Gear and Devices

    I'm going to touch on shields for just a moment. Resiliant Shields only have a 5% bleed-through, thus reducing damage that gets passed to hull. It doesn't really matter that much though, since everybody ends up in set items anyway, and I've been ignoring set bonuses for this general guide.

    Everyone should have a Supspace Field Modulator. If you don't have it, be sure to pick it up from Skirmish for a nice Energy resistance boost.

    Resistance from Armor Consoles

    There are four kinds of armor consoles. The first resists only Kinetic damage, the second resists both Kinetic and all Energy damage, the third resists two Energy damage types, and the forth resist four Energy Damage types. The more types of damage it resists, the less rating each console gives.

    For STFs and Fleet Actions you'll only be worried about Kinetic damage from torpedoes, Plasma beams and Plasma DoTs from the Borg, and maybe Tetryon from the Tholians. So I'll be looking at the Electroceramic Hull Plating, Neutronium Alloy, and Monotanium Alloy consoles.

    At the highest marks and rarities, the first gives +40 to Plasma and Tetryon resistances, the Neutronium Alloy gives +20 to all resistances, and Monotanium Alloy gives +40 to Kinetic resistance. I will compare them with the assumption that you have a base of 12 Damage Resistance Magnitude. I will also abbreviate Neutronium Alloy to Neu, Electroceramic to Ele, and Monotonium to Mon because I like having neater columns.

    If you are using one armor console:
    1 Neu = +13.4% vs Everything
    1 Ele = +22.9% vs Plasma and Tetryon
    1 Mon = +22.9 vs Kinetic

    This is pretty good for one console, so I highly recommended grabbing at least one. You need to protect yourself against both Kinetic and Plasma, so I would go with the Neutronium Alloy. Kinetic damage is greatly reduced by shields so you could just go with Electroceramic if you have no problem with kinetic bleed-through damage.

    If you are using two armor consoles:
    1 Ele + 1 Mon = +22.9% vs Plasma, Tetryon, and Kinetic
    1 Neu + 1 Neu = +22.9% vs Everything
    1 Neu + 1 Mon = +30.1% vs Kinetic, +13.4% vs Everything Else
    1 Neu + 1 Ele = +30.1% vs Plasma and Tetryon, +13.4% vs Everything Else

    I will go through these in order. 1 Ele + 1 Mon is functionally equivilant to 2 Neu consoles when fighting Borg and Tholians, and will be cheaper on the Exchange. I think it's silly to restrict yourself like that though, and recommend against it. 1 Neu + 1 Mon focuses on Kinetic damage, but as I demonstrated in the earlier section, if your shields are up it will reduce Kinetic damage considerably. I don't recommend this either. I actually believe one Neutronium and one Electroceramic will provide the best results for for STFs, mainly because Plasma DoTs bypass shields. I personally use 2 Neu Alloy consoles when I have 2 armor consoles.

    If you are using three armor consoles:
    Don't do that.

    Unless you really have absolutely nothing better to put in your console slots (which I don't believe), you shouldn't put in more than 2 armor consoles. A 3rd armor console only gives a little over half the gains of your first armor console, and there so many commonly used abilities and devices also boost Damage Resistance Magnitude that you really would be wasting your console slots. Stick a Universal Console in here.


    Closing Statements

    With regards to survival, my observation is that in STFs there tends not to be huge spikes of damage. Unless you aggro'd a dozen spheres in an eSTF, you're not going to have too much trouble with beams. In fact, you would do better with a Regenerative Shield than a Covariant Shield because it handles constant pressure better. The only spikes that come to mind are the torpedo spreads, the plasma balls, and the invisible torpedoes. If your shields are up you should be able to survive and heal through the torpedo spread, and a Covariant Shield won't do anything against the latter two anyway. In other words, when people want capacity in their endgame shields, they're generally talking about PvP, not STFs.

    The conclusions I draw from the above data is that we always want to keep our shields up. So long as we can do that, then our hull only needs to be protected against bleed-through and Plasma DoTs. Further, there are abilities that practically everybody has which will increase Damage Resistance. This lowers the value of having too many armor consoles.

    My best advice is to learn from your deaths. If you die because your shields keep popping, see if you can make them stronger. If you cook to death with your shields up, see how you can improve your resistances. If you never die, then redirect some of your resources to other things. My personal philosophy is to deal as much DPS as possible while being able to survive.I believe so long as your shields are up, they're sufficient. So long as your hull stays intact, your resistances are sufficient. Your shields and resistances should be at the minimum necessary to survive, and the rest should go towards other things - your ability to support others, or the damage you deal. That maximizes your contribution to the team.

    I hope this helps. Remember, I'm pulling for you, we're all in this together! If I made a mistake, don't hesitate to correct me. Wink

    2015 02 21 Update

    Research has confirmed the 75% Kinetic damage reduction from shields, and disproved that Kinetic damage is doubled against hull. The balancing factor against the shield damage reduction appears to be entirely in higher raw damage numbers.

    Also note that in the current meta, Resilient shields are considered the best, because while 90% of damage is applied to shields, only 5% hits hull. That means 5% of all incoming damage just disappear.
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    #2
    This is a great guide! A must-read for many players, both old and new Big Grin

    Thank you for posting it!
    Kains
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    #3
    I honestly don't really care about the subtle differences, I just need my shields to get back up ASAP.
    Hear hear! Brilliant stuff Dark, a lot of thinking and work clearly went into this. Respect!
    McClintock
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    #4
    Update - 2013 02 07

    Added minor notes on Shield Power in the Resistance/Recovery sections, and pointed out that shield resistance stacks are multiplicative while damage resistance magnitude stacks are additive.
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    #5
    "The Shield Emitter Amplifier Science Console gives a bonus to regeneration, and the Field Emitter Engineering Console gives a trivial boost to Shield Power."

    Just wanted to point one thing out. Mark XII Purple Emitter Amps provide 15% stacking shield regen. Mark XII purple Field Emitters provide +4 Shield Power. Each point of power provides 4% regen. So the emitters actually are 1% better than the Amps, but the downside is they take up an engineering console.

    On my Steamrunner I run 2x Amps and an Emitter. Because they all stack it works out to 15%+15%+16%= or 46% total regen boost.
    JamesRean
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    #6
    I have incorporated your comment into the guide. Smile
    I actually don't use either myself, so never really looked into it. Tongue Out
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    #7
    As the wep guide, very helpful Smile
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    #8
    Oh man, EPtS may be getting nerfed. 20s duration to 30s. I'm not sure if I prefer that or for it to stay at 100% uptime with lowered values.
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    #9
    Updated: Kinetic damage is not doubled against hull. Vel'gon checked it out, and saw no indication of that.