For those of you coming to this page straight from the home page, the paragraphs assembled here should provide a fair introduction to what many more seasoned players will expect you to know when you join cooperative multiplayer. It is still highly recommended to read (and hopefully digest) the rest of the guide when you have the chance of course.
Easily the most favored form of online play, many people find cooperative multiplayer the most relaxing and enjoyable form of Fleet Operations game play. Most people play on default settings: Normal Resources (4000 dilithium, 2000 tritanium, 500 supply), with Observers enabled, NPC disabled, Ally Trading/Giving Units enabled, and with Shroud/Fog on.
The early game phase of a cooperative multiplayer game can play much like a one on one match. Usually you can thus begin by building your shipyard(s), destroyers, and mining in the same manner (as described in the rest of the strategy guide). However, if you have determined that mixed tech units are worth it, generally your second or third shipyard should be a mixed tech yard.
Make sure to check out some of the really cool (and useful) commented games in the Video Database. Be advised that it is extremely useful to listen to the commenting in these games to see what players (and you!) can improve upon.
If you wish to get involved in recording Fleet Ops games, the Replay Making page by Myles is a must.
Additionally, this thread should provide an overview of how to record your own replays via Camstudio.
You can upgrade each yard you make (for resource costs) to allow your allies to repair their vessels at the yard. You will have to research Service Contract on each yard you want your allies to repair at.
It is a good idea to reduce some unnecessary costs if possible. The Federation and Romulans have their own specialties in cloak detection. It should not be necessary for every player to research cloak detection if one player in a team researches it (and if possible, shares it). Note that EM Scout Cubes, Talon scouts, and manual targetting B'rels/Vutpa' can be traded without losing precious technology. Of these, the Talon is the most beneficial, as any player can choose to upgrade it to a refit and thereby gain a strong form of cloak detect. The same logic should be followed for cloaked scouts (i.e. Klingons and Romulans).
A good team is also one which has generous members - give resources without question (if you have enabled this option at the start of the game of course) and anticipate the supply needs of your allies. Ask if they need resources at regular intervals. More information on how to trade is here.
Remember that you can give most units (if the option is enabled), but those vessels will not have the Level 2 or 3 abilities once transferred (or any universal upgrades).
If you capture units that are available to the same faction (and generally avatar) as of your ally, give them as then your ally will gain access to the special abilities of those units and thus they will become more combat effective (aka, capture a Rhienn, give to ally, ally is Romulan, now ally can upgrade them and give them special weapons).
It is of course one thing to be good at playing against a single player, but to anticipate the capabilities of two opposing players - or more - you must be aware of what your teammate(s) strengths and weaknesses are and how to cooperate with them. The best team is generally only as good as its weakest member, and even if you might be the stronger player, you could very well lose because you do not lend a hand when it is most needed. In order to succeed, you must be familiar with what build order your teammate is using, how good he/she is with using particular units and micromanaging in general.
Although it is fairly obvious, it deserves to be said again: communicate often with your ally. Ask them when they are prepared for an attack and if they need back up. Let them know if you have found an unattended unit of theirs, and give advice if you can. Often it is very prudent to announce to your teammates what your opponents are doing that way you can all be prepared (for instance, telling your allies where a fleet is heading, what stage in the tech tree they are, whether they've just gotten Starfleet Command - etc).
Above all else, pay attention to the mini-map. If your opponent is engaged in a battle, they are likely incapable of taking the time to type out exactly what they need. Think ahead and don’t wait for frantic pleas of assistance. For instance, if told to guard the base, do not stop attacking altogether for all eternity (unless expressly told to). Use your brain.
Make joint attacks and retreat in unison. Join your ally’s fleet for an attack or attack someplace else to spread your opponent’s fleet. A combined attacking force will obviously limit your potential losses if you know exactly where your opponent’s fleets are. If you can just barely win an engagement on your own, try to wait for your ally to join you before engaging. By bringing the most force to bear on one opponent you stand the greatest chance of winning. Risking your fleet is just the sort of thing which will weaken you so much that you will not be able to recuperate. You can also have an ally attack one opponent and retreat so that you have an opening to harass the other opponent. Draw your opponent’s fleet into the waiting jaws of your ally’s vessels. Remember, you cannot win a team game by building turrets and staying within your base: if your ally falls, you will too. It is only a question of when.
On the other hand, if your allies are far away from you and engaged with your opponent's fleets, sometimes it is best if you take the initiative and attack your adversary's vulnerable mining and production facilities. If your allies can hold off enemy forces long enough, those adversaries will have nothing to replenish their thinned ranks when they come back.
Identifying Your Opponent's Avatar
Borg Opponent: Does the Resource Assimilator have avatar text in its tooltip? If yes, the player is Optimize.
Dominion Opponent: Hover cursor over Construction Yard to check build list for Breen Cruiser (Breen Aliance).
Federation Opponent: Hover cursor over Antares Yard to check build list for Norway/Nova (Admiral Mayson).
Klingon Opponent: Check whether the Kahless Station has a Torpedo (Martok) or Beam (TaQ'roja) weapon at startup.
Romulan Opponent: Hover cursor over Staryard to check for Griffin (General Helev) or Shrike (General Mijural).
What to do and not to do in Team Games - a Rehash
Collective Uplinks should be placed behind one's base and adjacent to the Assimilation Center for protection.
When selecting a chassis on a Collective Uplink, wait until you have enough resources to immediately begin construction of the vessel (to reduce the likelihood of your opponent destroying the uncompleted and expensive chassis).
Group fleets by range and speed - don’t group all ships together in one big fleet. Be wary of some ships which cause your formations to spread out.
Expand quickly, and do not stop expanding if you have lost your expansions.
Keep your mining at full stock - three miners for non Borg.
Focus on the same big targets that your ally attacks (i.e. starbases, Cubes, Spheres, Perimeters).
Attack by issuing movement orders ahead of the enemy's units as they run, instead of right clicking on the enemy units (aka directly clicking to attack them). Your units will attack according to AI priorities (weakest most damaged ships first, etc). Another trick is to hit "K" (kill) when your units are in range as they will then hunt down the visible enemy units without the infamous "stop and go" behavior. The units will however not overtake the enemy vessels using this command, so keep this in mind when you attack a long line of your opponent's units.
Look at the minimap when someone says they are being attacked... and don’t just say "where!?"
Go out to attack and harass: never stay inside your base for the entirety of a match or build a WALL of turrets.
Automatically giving a few hundred dilithium and tritanium when someone’s main base is under attack (to upgrade quickly before damage is wrought).
Make joint attacks when possible.
Defend your base and allies within range of your own allied stationary defenses to allow covering fire.
Do Not Do
Do not “Mass-Repair” - select damaged ships and individually repair them.
Do not harass miners or prototypes while taking fire from a turret / starbase if you risk losing your ships.
Do not forget idle miners after retreating them or when scouting. Every second counts!
Do not decloak by “attacking” a vessel - instead hit the cloak icon to “decloak”.
Do not leave a battle if your ally joins the fray (unless otherwise told to).
Do not stay cloaked while your ally gets pounded amidst your cloaked fleet – do not cloak withdraw if your opponent cannot (unless the tides really are against you).
Do not attack the starbase first - kill off the surrounding structures and units instead.
Generally do not attack the strongest units first (exception being the Borg Cube as explained in General Strategies).
Do not be stingy - i.e. do not give resources with a delay or require your ally to be questioned as to why they need the resources (easier to give then to have to say "yes, I only want XX, I'll give you back the rest later I promise").
Do not send your entire fleet after a single target if it is just a destroyer or two.
Pairing Advantages and Failings
While setting oneself to "Random" is commendable and often the mark of a seasoned player, certain factions naturally have better couplings then others:
Federation and Borg get the advantage of Newtons to repair Borg vessels (albeit slowly), while vinculum Dodecahedrons can restore the energy of many swift Federation units.
Federation and Dominion get the advantage of V-15 Dreadnoughts, Miranda II warships (long range, pulse armed), and Newton vessels for repairing the strong hull of damaged V-15 Dreadnoughts.
Romulan and Borg get the advantage of a strong Borg early game which is usually countered by building torpedo armed vessels. Romulan Leahvals and pulse-armed Shrikes and Rhienns can easily and efficiently destroy these types of vessels.
Romulan and Klingon get the advantage of quick debilitating early hit and run attacks on mining using cloaking, but generally have less staying power than other combination of factions due to the weaker defense of Klingon vessels and Romulan mining defenses.
Klingon and Borg/Dominion can trade resources for supplies and produce enormous amounts of ships very quickly.
Romulan and Dominion get the advantage of Shield Recharging C-11's keeping Dreadnoughts alive forever.
Dominion with any faction gets the advantage of cheap supplies (provided a bit of currency is sent the Dominion's way to establish Ketracel Synthesizers stations).
Dominion with any faction gets the advantage of C-11 Energy Beacon keeping allied ships charged up with special weapons. A reserve fleet of C-11's can allow allied vessels to continually recharge their energy and become very powerful. To a much lesser extent this can be done with the Dodecahedron's Neural Transceiver (and even less with the Norway). Some not-so common sense examples follow:
- Cho'naQ: these vessels have rather high damage per second, but run out of energy quickly.
- BortaS: the ability to fire Ion Storms more rapidly or put down turrets.
- Defense Battery: keeps those Romulan turrets firing when there are no Singularity Transmitter's in the area.
Mirror matches (when allies are all of the same faction) get no mixed technology. Federation and Federation however get the advantage of dual warp-ins which can devastate any chance for the opposition to expand if both warp ins are sent to the same location. Borg mirror matches are especially weak because while individual Borg vessels are powerful, each one lost is a huge setback. Likewise, most Borg vessels are slow and rather monolithic in their task structure (an Assimilator can assimilate, it can’t harass) and thus the Borg should usually be mixed with non Borg to allow more flexibility in tactics.
Starting Position Techniques
On maps where players of opposing teams are not simply lined up - equidistant from each other - it can be important to consider the factions in play when determining who should be situated where.
In general, Romulan players should be furthest from the enemy - their miners are the easiest to raid, due to their weak defenses, and their economy can thus be disrupted fairly quickly. Borg players can commonly be situated on the front lines with the least trouble for the converse reason: their miners are difficult to raid and faster than the average freighter, so that they can retreat more easily from expansions that are threatened.
The Federation has access to powerful turrets and faster constructors which allow the player to move around the map placing defenses near the front lines if necessary. This can be used to bolster allies in a pinch and thus Federation allies are usually to be placed toward the front lines. Their freighters are not too shabby either in terms of defense. Dominion freighters (the slowest type of miner) are the most sturdy against pulse-armed craft and Klingon freighters are most durable against torpedo equipped vessels. However, since Klingon miners can also become K't'inga destroyers if threatened and the Dominion economy becomes crucial to the team in the later stages of the game due to management of supplies, it is often wise to place the Dominion in a defensible position.
Similarly, in teams where not all players are of equal strengths, it is often best to place the weakest player at the front lines. Although this may seem counter intuitive, as this player will usually receive the brunt of attacks, there are several good reasons to do so. First, most new players tend to turtle up - building defensive structures and not feeling comfortable to go out of the base without a large fleet. Second, newer players will often not be as adept at reading the chat messages, knowing how to react when an ally is being attacked, or determining when to mount a counterattack. As a consequence, by having the newer player in the front lines, the team is assured that this player will very frequently be in the right place at the right time, without need of unnecessarily long explanations which damage the coherence of the team (and sometimes cause temper tantrums from any of the players during or after the game).
As the Borg if your ally is strong offensively, after you have gained a toehold, (probably after your first three to four major vessels) try to research an additional Priority Level and begin hording resources. When possible, have your ally send you additional supplies and resources to quickly construct a high tier unit. In teams of three and above however, begin researching Priority Level 1 and 2 as soon as possible—perhaps even immediately. When you reach the required Collective Connections, have your allies send you the necessary amount of resources to allow you to quickly build a very powerful unit—ideally an early Pyramid, Diamond, or even a Tactical Cube. Another perfectly acceptable strategy for the Assimilate avatar is to have your ally mine more tritanium than usual in exchange for you trading him or her dilithium. Construct only full assimilation Assimilators while letting your ally take most of the dilithium to build dilithium heavy units. Often this strategy works best with dilithium expensive units, such as the Saber, K’beajQ, etc.
As the Dominion you have arguably the strongest mixed technology (in the form of the Dreadnought) available no matter the combination of factions. Thus you should try to build a mixed tech facility quickly. Consequently, after your economy is somewhat stabilized due to the construction of the Ketracel Synthesizer stations, you should build a mixed technology yard. This will cut down significantly on the other vessels that you can build, so if your ally is not very offensive in his or her strategies, this shortcut will likely fail.
Although the Newton is not a combat vessel, do remember that it can easily repair hull damage. For this reason, it is always a good idea to keep a few of these lying around behind battle lines (or send one to your allies) that way everybody can take advantage of mobile repair facilities. This is especially helpful for Romulan and Klingon hull-heavy ships because these ships can quickly reenter the battlefield even if their shields are nearly down. Note that they may be effectively used to clean up after your base has been assaulted as well. Also of special note is that if you do have a strong fleet and have not filled your Warp-In cap, it is often a wise idea to keep the ships in reserve so that you might provide assistance when your main fleet is far away. This can prove incredibly useful when considering the ability of the Descent - warping this in to a soon-to-be dying non-Borg base can ensure that it will last twice as long (due to its shield recharging capabilities).
Just as with the Romulans, Klingon scouts can cloak - therefore it is incredibly wise to procure a number of these and give them to your allies so that they too might see the whole battlefield. Klingon ships are also very good at wreaking havoc behind the lines due to their cloak and mainly pulse weaponry. Use this to your advantage to get a few K'Vorts or B'rels out on the field and kill a few mining vessels at a time, forcing your opponent to bulk up on defenses while your ally(ies) and your main forces prepare to sweep in.
When paired with a Romulan teammate and your opponents can use cloak, it is absolutely necessary that the Romulan player give at least one refitted Talon so that all players do not have to research or construct anti-cloaking technology. These refitted talons should be built and outfitted relatively early to be able to catch sneak attacks and mining raids with greater ease.