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I'm new to STO with a lowly level 19 Lt Commander playing the free game. I'm currently pursuing the diplomatic course using DOFF assignments. Right now an entertainer, bartender and chef are needed for the current step. That would be about 50,000 - 60,000 energy.

Is there a way to train crew for those positions? Also how do you accumulate large amounts of energy or latinium?

Finally I have several lock boxes. Is the only way to get the keys to buy them?
 Dear Sandtrooper, 

Welcome to STO... and its complicated economics...

Well done for doing the diplomacy first- its the most useful of the doff trees for the transwarp options. Unfortunately, you cannot train bridge officers ( boffs)  or and other duty officers( doffs) to fit positions. You will need to buy them off the exchange, costing around 20-30K Energy credits ( EC) each. 

In STO there are 3 principle currencies, with 2 minor ones.  EC ( used for the exchange and most items), dilithium ( used for the endgame for fleet and reputation gear) and Zen ( bought with real money ($) from ARC or cryptic for the nice endgame ships and some gear, this is how Cryptic makes money and rips us all off. ). The minor currencies are good pressed latinum ( GPL) used for dabo and some doff assignments, and not for much else. The other minor currency is Lobi, used to get some gear for the lobby store. These come from the lockboxes whose keys are purchased with real money ( i.e. $ or GBP) from the Zen store or bought from the exchange using EC. 

Now I can't claim to be an expert on playing the exchange for EC ( speak to puckalish about that. ) At your stage in the game, it will take some time to build up EC by selling loot drops to vendors on ESD and selling nice gear ( like rare and above weapons) on the exchange for higher prices. At lv 19-50 you just need a bit of EC to buy some decent quality gear off the exchange for your ship ( uncommon-rare). It is only until you reach engame that you will need lots EC to buy the rare items ( costing upwards of 28 million! Im still working for that). There are some people who accumulate 100's of millions of EC, which makes my head spin. 

Well, hope this helps, the best thing for you to do if you're in the fleet or even on these forums is to speak to the people who are real experts at this. I'd recommend @puckalish or any of the admirals. This page on the STO official wiki will also help.

Good luck,

First off, Jack's spot on about all the basics... which is really all you should worry about at level 19.
The only note I would make is that, while Zen is the currency that is purchased for 'real world' money, there is interaction between the currencies (most obviously, facilitated, by the Dilithium Exchange, which is currently running at the low 200s of Dil to 1 Zen). I would also argue that Cryptic's only ripping us off if you feel like the valuation of what you paid for is worth less than what you paid for it.

The fact of the matter is, you're going to change gear so much and pick up so many DOffs and BOffs on the way to the end of the game, that you don't want to make any big purchases yet.

Next, to your specific questions:
1. How to get Duty Officers (DOffs) required to complete certain Assignments - there's a lot there, but, simply, you can buy DOffs on the exchange and get them from missions and assignments. To build up your crew, three things are kind of mandatory. One is simply going to Starfleet Academy and going to the Personnel Officer in the little building past the pond (in the same booth as the cat-dude, but you gotta go right up to her on the other side) every couple of days. Another is to complete Colonization Cluster assignment chains (marked as little silver boxes with busts/heads in them on the map) and relocate refugees. This means you need to pick up every group of colonists and refugees you can as you look at assignments on your way through space. For a more in-depth take on DOffs:

2. You accumulate large amounts of EC (energy credits) by various means... I mix up crafting (you'll get into that in a level or two and should do you research there, too), running missions (and selling junk loot to vendors), and, mostly, playing the Exchange. In the beginning, I'd suggest playing around with the sort settings and seeing if you can find some commodity or another that's stackable where the price-per-unit on a stack is far off from the price when sold individually. Then, break it up... it's tedious, but can get you a good war chest if you're diligent. While you're doing this, start charting out some higher-ticket items (lockbox ships, traits, high-end materials, etc.) and see what a high and a low price are. Buy low, sell high. Bang. Hit the lights and cue up the Donna Summer, it's party time (or, rather, a long grind and lots of risk-taking because the in-game economy is turbulent).

3. Lockboxes - someone else might be better to speak with about this (I know folks like Kenthend love opening them and I love their scraps, lol...), but lockbox keys are very pricey and lockboxes are not. When you open one, you get lobi (the only guarantee, and not a lot per box, but the only consistent way to get lobi), as well as some other items... there's usually useful stuff in there, but it's a gamble. You might end up with stuff worth a lot less than a lockbox key or with a sick ship that everybody wants, in which case, you made it (still, don't waste your newfound fortune, share some of it with me!).

That said, there's no better time to start learning yourself on earning than right now. And, if you joint the STOA fleet, you'll get access to some graphs of stuff I've been tracking to give you a head start on that EC-making, as well as plenty of great tips in chat about time-sensitive ways to earn stuff in the game.

On that note, you'll want to track in-game events (like the Dilithium Weekend that just passed) and how they affect pricing... what commodities are limited-time only and sellable, how scarcity or abundance (say, when there's an event that gives a special reward for a particular mission that rewards Rubidium, the price of Rubidium plummets, as all the players going for the reward dump it in the exchange) affect value.

Dunno why I wrote a wall of text for three simple questions... I guess I felt I had to earn the title "expert," lol, but take it slow, don't buy much (if anything) at this point, and start watching prices... you'll get a feel for things by the time you need money (unlike me, who waited a really long time to get up on my in-game money).
Thank you both for taking the time to respond. STO is the first MMO, I've ever played so the learning curve has been steep when you factor in DOFFs, BOFFs, consoles, R&D etc.

I've been doing a little of everything with assignments, so probably need to be more focused. I'm pursuing the diplomatic course because I want to go to DS9. Smile I have sold a couple of things on the Exchange but need to get more in depth.

Is the cost of subscribing or buying Zen worth pursuing in your opinion?


Personally, I bought the Lifetime subscription in October 2012, when it was on sale. I paid roughly 180 €, which equals one full year of monthly paid subscriptions. For me, it paid off. The monthly stipend of 500 ZEN is just sweet and then their are of course other perks to consider.

Even subscribing for just one month can have its benefits as you retain the Account Bank for example, which is awesome to quickly switch stuff between characters.

However, don't be too quick in your decision. Think thoroughly about it and only if YOU think the game is worth to put some money into, my advice would be to wait for the next Lifetime subscription sale.