Hangar pets are often overlooked being seen as a bonus launch and forget secondary or even tertiary damage source. On some ships and with the right combinations hangar pets can add a reasonable amount to your overall DPS. Pushed far enough it is possible to get over 100k DPS from pets alone, although that could be argued to be suboptimal as you will be sacrificing other better areas which overall would give you more DPS.
To get the most out of pets one of the first choices is the skill tree. There isn’t much to talk about here you will want
- Coordination Protocols: +20% Hull Capacity and Shield Capacity for Hangar pets.
- Defensive Coordination: +20% Defence and Damage Resistance Rating for Hangar pets.
- Offensive Coordination: +20% Accuracy and Base Damage for Hangar pets.
- 5 points in Engineering track: Hangar Health: Hangar pets have an additional 10% Maximum Hull Capacity
- 5 points in Tactical track: Hangar Weaponry: Hangar pets deal an additional 10% Damage from all sources.
The next source of damage I like to look at comes from Doffs and there are two main ways to do this. The cheapest way is to get x3 Flight Deck Officers with increase 10% hangar pet damage per doff when in Escort Mode. While suboptimal this is cheap and a good starting point if you are new to Carrier builds. Ideally you want to move away from Escort Mode as this mode changes Pet AI behaviour which limits DPS output of pets. Though it is an ok way to get a feel for the build before investing in more expensive and more effective options. Hangar pets work best in default or attack mode. All other modes lower efficiency by a noticeable amount.
My preferred way although it costs a lot more, is to get the Scrambled Fighter Starship & Superior Area Denial Traits with x3 Flight Deck Officers that lower Hangar Bays recharge by 4 seconds. Combine this on a Carrier with Quick Deployment Starship Mastery for an extra 20% and high Aux power if you can spare it to knock more time off. Now set the Hangar Bays to Auto launch. Depending on the pet used this can lower the bay recharge down to as little as 1 second (Lost Souls of Gre’thor) Most fighters bay recharge can be lowered down to 4 or 5 seconds if you have two bays and enough Aux Power.
This method has a number of advantages; you are not limited to Escort Mode, the hangar pets are self-healing by 50% hull every few seconds, there is a 5 second damage immune for pets with a 15 second lockout.
Running at approx 110 Aux with Lost Souls of Gre’thor the fastest launch speeds pets, will gain a 125% damage bonus. 95% better then the Escort Doff method. With the slower launch fighters like Jem’Hadar fighters or Scorpion’s you can still get 2 stacks (*) for a 50% damage bonus.
The above method with Frigate pets makes them surprising tough tanks. They tend to survive most fights and due to surviving reach and stay at rank 5 further boosting damage.
(*) I have not worked out the minimum aux you can get away with and the minimum depends on the hangar pet base recharge. I did try 155 Aux which wasn’t enough to get the recharge fast enough for 3 stacks with Scramble Fighters.
As of December 2020 Advanced and Elite Lost Souls have been fixed and now do much better DPS then rare Lost Souls with Elite beating Advanced. Older guides and players who missed the patch notes will say stick to basic Lost Souls. That is now incorrect. Elite Lost Souls are better.
Furthermore I am no longer seeing superior DPS for Stalker Squadrons. Not sure if this is from the same balance patch that fixed Elite Lost Souls or if its related to the infamous invalid skills reset bugs of 2020. So while older versions of this guide mentioned Stalkers are the most powerful hangar pet Feds have access to when using Superior Area Denial, this is no longer correct. In my most recent batch of testing Scorpion, Stalker and Jem’Hadar Squadrons all performed very close to each other. Scorpions now come out on top by a small amount, followed by Stalkers and only a small amount behind are Jem’Hadar Squadrons.
Since the pet changes in December 2020 I am now seeing Elite Scorpions Squadrons doing more DPS in my builds then rare Scorpions Squadrons. Rare Scorpions are doing more Pulse Canons DPS but in the runs I did the loss in canon DPS is made up by the extra DPS from the Plasma Torpedoes. All my runs had strong Gravity Wells which might be causing the torpedoes to splash damage multiple targets. Elites being better might be situational and needs more testing.
The next damage boost is partly down to your pet choice and partly down to personal preference and ship build. Personally I like Option 1 best due to me not not focusing on energy weapons. If you use energy weapons Option 2 is better.
Update: 27 Sep 2020: For clarity while I have a preference for Beam Overload and the corresponding traits in approx 95% of cases Scrabbled Fighters and Superior Area of Denial (SAD) gives far better performance. If you are looking to max DPS pick Superior Area of Denial. If you want to max out Superior Area of Denial use Scatter Volley and Fire at Will with a 5 second delay between the two. Doing this you can have a 100% uptime on Superior Area of Denial.
Update 13th December – My current Universal Carrier build focused on hangar pets over ship weapons. Due to recent exchange prices I am swapping traits around a little from older version of this guide. Some of these options will boost Hangar pets at the cost of losing total DPS. This is for a themed carrier build.
Personal Traits: Holographic Mirage Decoys + Wing Commander + Advanced Rapid Support (Rapid Support only if you take It’s Another Enterprise)
Starship Trait: Scrabbled Fighters + Relaunch and Repair + Superior Area Denial + Superior Command Frequency + It’s Another Enterprise + Obedience is Victory
Ship Equipment: Console – Universal – Swarmer Matrix + Ancient Obelisk Technology Set and either Tilly’s Review-Pending Modified Shield or Lukari Restoration Initiative Regenerative Shield Array or Iconian Resistance see notes below
Bridge Officer Powers: (Rank doesn’t matter) Tactical Team + FaW + Scatter Volley+ Engineering Team + Photonic Officer + EptW + Gravity Well(*) and Science Team. The 3 team skills are only needed if you have the Obedience is Victory trait.
Pets: For feds x2 Blue Scorpion Fighter Squadrons. With the above setup Pet DPS should can go over 100k even 150k DPS. For KDF Rare To’Duj Squadrons. (KDF wont be able to access many of the items above)
*Don’t worry if your carrier cannot fit Gravity well it isn’t essential. I only use it to help boost Hangar Pet DPS when SAD is triggered into a group.
* In the past I recommended Dominion Coordination for ease of use but no longer as carriers have got more popular the exchange prices have at the time of writing shot though the roof. Beam Overload pet builds are easier to use as you do not have to watch your activations timings to max out DPS. With SAD if you keep between a 5 and 10 second delay between activating FaW and Scatter Volley and have some bridge Officer cooldowns reduction. Then you can keep SAD running at a 100% uptime which more then makes up for the 33% damage lost from losing Dominion Coordination. Its a little more tricky to get the timings right, but it will give better performance.
* The 3 part Iconian Resistance set has 5% chance to give team and pets 10% energy weapon damage when using energy weapons. The 4 part set gives the team and pets 33% all damage with a 2 min cooldown. It is possible to fit the Ancient Obelisk Technology Set with the 3 part Iconian Resistance set. This gives a smaller damage boost 13.3% to pets but you can keep the damage boost active for longer. Alternatively if you prefer less pet DPS and more tanky pets look at the mixing in 1 or 3 parts of the Lukari Restoration Initiative Regenerative Shield Array set. If you do not want to spend lobi on the Obelisk set look at a 3 part Iconian set and Tilly’s shield.
Based on my recent testing as of Dec 2020 Elite Scorpions Squadrons are coming out as top DPS for Feds. Top for KDF are Rare To’Duj Squadrons. Main testing done in Stranded in Space against 2 ships only. Followed by a HSA and ISA run. With the above build all Squadrons are massively beating previous top hangar pets like Droneships or Lost Souls. To’Duj Squadrons are standing out far above the other Squadrons in performance. Its possible to push 100k for two hangar bays and even break past 300k and 400k dps with the right group.
(*) As of December 2020 Elite Scorpions squadrons, Elite Stalkers squadrons along with Elite Lost Souls do not suffer from the large DPS drop that many other Elite pets have. Elite Jem’Hardar squadrons do apear to still suffer from the DPS drop making them worse then the basic rare blue versions. With Stalkers I am having a little trouble working out which is best due to all 3 versions getting such close DPS numbers.
StarshipTrait set option 1: Scrabbled Fighters + Dominion Coordination + Coordinated Assault
Due to Coordinated Assault every time we Beam Overload or Rapid Fire the hangar pets gain Rapid Fire 1 and Beam Overload 1, followed by Dominion Coordination giving hangar pets within 10km a further 33% damage boost. You don’t need an energy weapon fitted. An Ensign Beam Overload on a Torpedo or Minelayer boat works fine.
In the case of Lost Souls they cannot make use of Rapid or Overlord so skip Coordinated Assault. Dominion Coordination though stacks with Scrambled Fighters for a total of 155% damage boost to Lost Souls.
For a long time I ran this trait set on a Jem’Hadar Dreadnought Carrier with Attack Ships which gain both Rapid fire and Beam Overload.
Starship Trait set option 2: Scrabbled Fighters + Superior Area Denial
Option 2 works well with energy builds as Superior Area Denial trait supports your main weapons better. This grants Fire At Will 1 and Scatter Volley 1 to hangar pets when you activate Fire at Will or Scatter Volley along with giving your main ships energy weapons a none stacking with itself -30% damage resistance. As before you don’t need an energy weapon fitted to trigger this trait and due to global cooldown it works out better to fit FaW alongside Scatter Volley so you can keep SAD running 100% of the time. Double Scatter Volley or Double FaW will run into global cooldown problems.
StarshipTrait set option 3: Scrabbled Fighters + Fiery Entrance + your preferred Traits.
This works best on Exotic builds as the Fire nova damage is boosted by Exotic. It works even better with Lost Souls and max hangar recharge builds. Every time you use Narrow Sensor Bands or Launch a Hangar pet your ship fires a short range ring of fire around your ship. With max hangar bay recharge the Lost Souls will cause a ring of fire around about twice every second. That’s approx 20 attacks over 10 seconds with hits multiplied by the amount of ship in range. If you stack into into Exotic and fly point blank range into a Gravity Well the Fire Nova damage can multiply up fast in big groups. It’s a bit of a specialty build but if you fancy something different it works.
StarshipTrait set option 4: Fleet Support + Superior Command Frequency + It’s Another Enterprise + Captain Recharge Traits (Relaunch and Repair, All Hands on Deck, Intelligence Agent Attaché) is surprisingly effective. If you are going for max DPS it might not be the best choice over traits that boost your main weapons. If you want a Carrier theme build I have managed to get an 3 battleships and 3 Frigates out at once doing a surprising amount of DPS and they last a long time. Depending on ISE run I get around 20k to 30k extra DPS from these pets. (Update: With Advanced Rapid Support a Personal Space trait this combo allows 4 battleships and 3 Frigates)
Please note before you buy all these traits. I have not done testing on the optimal level of recharge. You do not need all 3 recharge traits. If anyone has tested please leave comments in chat below.
Further expanding on this Obedience is Victory. This is only worth it for full Carrier Themes. The only time I use this is when trying to maximise my pet DPS at the cost of losing total DPS. The attack ship is very fragile but if we managed to keep it alive, it gets me around 4k DPS to 8k DPS. In a perfect run the traits in this section have given me a total of 40k DPS extra. I only really run this combo when trying to see just how far pet DPS can be pushed at the expense of losing total DPS.
Starship trait: Relaunch and Repair: The 5% recharge on captain abilities is effectively 10% every 5 seconds with double bays on a fast bay recharge. Works well with Relocate Mines and other powers. The 25% health Regen to self and hangar pets is not that useful.
Starship trait: Voth Carrier Synergies. When running fast hangar recharge with Scrambled Fighters this is unlikely to be needed but if you really want hard to kill pets add it in. Engineering ability’s grant you 10% hull healing to yourselves for 15 second. All pets gain an Immunity Shield for 15 seconds.
Lastly Tactical Boff ability give 10% all damage to yourself for 15seconds and Enable Aceton mode on all pets for 15seconds.
Starship trait: Hivebearer: When launching a hangar pet or when hangar pet dies: Spawns a Hur’q Swarmer for 30 seconds (max 8 Swarmers at a time). Worth considering only as a NPC distraction as I have not had the best performance out of them and if your hangar bay recharge it too fast they will bug out. With Lost Souls on a max Hangar Bay recharge build the Swarmer’s will do zero damage due to respawning to fast. If your recharge is over 5 seconds these should work. Note: Even on slower recharge bays the DPS I have recorded from these is tiny. They are only good as a distraction for NPC’s to kill. The same goes for Hive Defenses which is in personal traits.
Starship Trait: Target That Explosion Fun but not really that effective from a DPS point of view. Up to 5 nearby allies launch a torpedo at the target when you use any Torpedo or Command bridge officer ability.
Personal Trait: Wing Commander makes the pets level up faster taking half the normal time to reach rank 5. Without this boost pets need to be in combat for 5 minutes to hit rank 5. The rank bonus depends on the type of pet.
Personal Trait: Holographic Mirage Decoys Not really essential as pets are already tough enough with Scrambled Fighters. But if do not yet have that trait or like me you use mines this has a nice bonus of helping keep hangar pets alive a little.
- Console – Universal – Swarmer Matrix: +30% Turn Speed, Flight Speed, and Damage for your Hangar Pets and Targetable Torpedoes.
- Enhanced Carrier Synergy (3-piece set bonus from the Ancient Obelisk Technology Set): Activating any Emergency Power ability causes Hangar Pets to activate a weaker version of the same power.
- Tilly’s Review-Pending Modified Shield This allows your main ship weapons to debuff the enemy shields based on your shield power. At 125 shield power your pets will hit shields 20% harder.
- Lukari Restoration Initiative Regenerative Shield Array Allies shields within 2.5km are healed passively every 6 shields. If you have the 3 part set the range is extended to 5km
For a more complete list of hangar pets, traits and Bridge Officer abilities that benefit pets see https://sto.gamepedia.com/Hangar_pet
There are a number of universal consoles that summon pets. Personally I wouldn’t use most of these unless building towards a full carrier theme over performance.
Notes: None of the damage numbers above factor in damage boosts for hangar pets ranking up in combat. A fully ranked up Lost Soul with max stacks of Scrambled Fighters and Coordinated Assault would hit 165% damage boost. You could add Dampen Energy Signatures starship trait for a further 5% if your really want to maximise pet damage over max DPS.
Update: 27th Sep 2020
A lot of people have asked what is the best pet. This is a difficult question as the best pet changes based on content being played, powers being used, traits fitted and ship being used.
DPS Comparison of various hangar pets including Squads VS Singles
This is not a compete list just what I personally use and consider top tier pets. Drone Ships, Lost Souls, All Squadrons, all 3 Xindi pets. On the Fed side if you have access to the SAD trait the best generic fits on all ships DPS pets you can fit are Scorpions Squadrons. If you do not have SAD trait then I would go for the Mirror Shuttle or Aeon Time ship unless you have access to a Romulan Carrier which is best with Droneships.