Following a little chat on the STOA channel today, here is a post to discuss the ideas of captain class (eng, sci, tac) the roles and the ships.
For example, I put forward that a science captain in anything other than a science ship is then trying to be something else, eg an engineer. If you want the extra engineer slots rather than science, then you're not going to be able to put science skills in there, therefore you're trying to do engineer stuff. Likewise with tactical ships - if you want the extra weapon options, then you're looking to do more of a tactical role.
I'm not saying that's wrong and shouldn't happen, but then you're not really a science captain, you're a tactical captain with the wrong colour shirt on, and not enough of the 'captain' skills to make it work correctly.
A science captain in a tactical ship can do more damage than a science captain in a science ship (all things being equal, not looking at how well it's played etc!) but it won't be as much as a tactical captain in a tactical ship.
Of course you CAN take any ship you fancy, but it won't be playing to the strengths. This is why I don't actually play my science captain much now - I prefer the tactical style, so I rolled some tactical captains rather than try to get the best of both worlds, and deliver the best of neither.
Frankly I think mixing ships and classes can have some major benefits. For instance an engineer in a escort would last longer than a tac in a escort and do just as much or a bit less damage. Why? Escorts are pretty weak as it is, and engineering captain abilities are built for surviving where as a tac are built for damage. No you can take tac BOffs to boost damage.
So while mixing them up may not be playing to their strengths, but you could be compensating for their weaknesses. Frankly a Sci in an escort could survive a while and do a good amount of damage. Obviously you won't be focused on healing others, you'd be focused on healing yourself.
Cruisers aren't much different than science vessels, so putting a sci captain into a cruiser could be beneficial. As a matter of fact it could help you tank since you can spawn all those holo ships.
You shouldn't look at it as a sci captain in a escort is like trying to be a tac captain, it's more of using the sci captain's strengths to make the escort work better/differently.
I would agree with everything that the OP stated. I've only been playing STO for about a month, but it would only seem logical that if Captains want to get the most out of their abilities they should choose a ship that matched their specialization.
This reminds me of the Hybrid Tax in World of Warcraft. This 'tax' is used to describe the baked-in reduction of the DPS of classes that can fulfill multiple roles. There is not necessarily a limiting factor that is visible in-game, nor is it a drastic reduction, and may be partially overcome with high skill. However, in general a class that can fulfill multiple roles will naturally have a lower DPS than "pure" DPS classes.
Presuming a Captain decides to use a ship outside of their specialization then they would be experiencing STO's own version of the Hybrid Tax.
While it is true, that Captains can use most of their potential in their respective Ship classes, I think it is a one sided point of view. So basically, I have to agree with Attilio and need to add another factor, which is important in my opinion: BOFF Layout.
Being myself a Tactical Officer, I take the Caitian Atrox Carrier as an example. Its BOFF Layout (Cmdr Sci, LCdr Sci, LCdr Eng, Lt Tac) allows for some interesting options for Tactical Career Officers. Fully developed Science BOFFs offer you interesting Skills like Feedback Pulse, Tyken's Rift or Gravity Well, which can also create a lot of Damage. Add an appropriate Space Set to the Ship and you don't even need to respec to use its full potential.
In any case, this game is designed to allow for myriads of options. However, in the end, there is only one true option. That would be the one that works best for you and you alone.
STO is very complicated. There are, when you look at it, a lot of ways to min-max your character, assuming you're dedicated enough.
For instance, if you run a no-aux build on a science vessel carrying a tactical officer, you can deal colossal damage using Tractor Beam Repulsors, which deal damage based off of particle generators and are buffed by tactical skills and since you are running low aux, you don't push them far. I believe they nerfed it, but I haven't tested it.
You're unlikely to be bad if you go sci/sci or tac/tac or whatever. It's the most natural combination,and most content in STO is pretty forgiving. That doesn't preclude you from being useful if you are doing something weirder, but I suspect it requires a) more investment, b) serious skills, c) a hell of a build.
As an almost exclusively PvE player, I can vouch for the effectiveness of mix-and match combinations. My personal favorite for a long time has been a Science captain in a Cruiser. I get the massive hull strength of the Cruiser, plus the benefits of healing and of photonic fleet, which can be very handy for distracting multiple enemies, or for taking the heat off when my ship is low on huill strength. Also, many of the newer ships are hybrids anyway, so it doesn't make as much difference which kind of captain you use. The Odyssey is a case in point. The basic Odyssey is a Star Cruiser crossed with a Science Vessel. The C-Store Odysseys give you even more options since they come in three different setups, each one emphasizing a different speciality.
I get bored flying around in the same ship all the time, so I like the variety of having more than one class of ship even if it means that I don't have the optimum mix of ship/captain/equipment. That said, I have recently started concentrating on one ship per captain to upgrade my equipment and find a more effective skill build to get the most out of those ships. Once i finish that project, however, I'll be back to playing musical chairs with my ships, just like before.
Some very interesting points here - love it!
I do think that carriers are clearly something that goes against my original statement, as Tac proves every time he's in one!
But for the others, again I still think that if a science captain can boost damage with Doffs to be close to a tac captain, a tac captain can use doffs to also boost damage, making the difference between the two greater again.
And a science captain in a cruiser then being able to tank.............is a science captain doing the role of an Engineer. Also, the cruiser doesn't turn as fast so console space is wasted in upping that skill so that the deflector can be pointed at the targets.
I'm still not saying that people shouldn't do it, and that they can't do it well, nor that it can give some really cool ability mixes - but that it won't be as good as the class/ship matching for the pure roles.
And the discussion started around someone asking in chat what next level ship they should be looking at - and if someone has to ask that question and has no idea why the other ships are or aren't an option, then I think that they need to go with the safer option of the ship for their class or they'll face a steep learning curve.
Perhaps this begs the question: what are the definite roles of the captain types in STO? Are there definite required roles? Tactical officers are pretty straightforward - they deal damage. But do they need to be purely focused on that or is there worth in adding in some tankyness or crowd control, for instance? Do they need to do pressure damage or spike? (Ok, that's a rhetorical question - it's spike). The question is more tricky in the case of a science officer - healing? buffs? debuffs? snares? energy drain? shield drain? subsystem shutdown?
I tend to approach this from a MOBA perspective - where calling someone a 'tanky burst assassin' is perfectly legitimate and that character can be applied to a number of situations and team breakdowns. I don't see a problem with thinking that maybe I want to build a character focused on crowd control and healing, and take a science captain in a cruiser with lots of holds and snares to do it. Am I doing an Engineer job or a Science job? Perhaps I'm doing both, with fair-to-good effectiveness in both. Perhaps the situation demands a hybrid approach.
I would personally shy away from assuming that there are only 3 roles in the game - STO is very unlike other MMO's in this.
These are the roles of each ship and career. Ship obviously for space and career for ground.
Cruisers: Tank enemy, heal allies
Science Vessels: Heal/buff allies, debuff enemy
Escorts: Cause lots of damage
Engineering Captains: Tank enemy, provide support
Science Captains: Heal/buff allies, debuff enemy
Tactical Captains: Kill everything in site
Do you need to follow these roles? No.
I have and always will be a firm believer that anyone should choose any ship they like. There is no right, wrong, or safe answer to that. The only answer is this, as you level up try each type of ship and see which you like. Once you reach rear admiral you can make a decision. If you don't like the ship you're in, you can always change it.
The reason people ask what ship to use next is because they are looking for the "best" ship. There is no such thing. You make the ship the best, not your career nor the ship itself.
I agree that it shouldn't be a hard and fast rule - look at all the different classes using (for example) the Breen ship in many different ways.
Hybrid roles are more complicated, though, and require a deeper understanding of how it works together.
If someone is comfortable enough to ask "I'm looking at getting a cruiser for my science toon because it will allow me to do.................whatever. What do you think?" then that's great.
If someone literally just asks "what ship should I get next?" then I don't know if they understand the implications of what a different class of ship are.
Essentially, you wouldn't have someone guarding the IKS Kang in CSE unless they were ready for it, so why suggest that someone gets in to a relatively complicated way of playing before they are ready?
I may not be explaining myself well!