Earning Dilithium and Building a Starbase

Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about dilithium in STO. This is the in game currency that is used for most everything of value. You can exchange it for Zen, the currency you purchase for real money and use to buy stuff from their store. Dilithium is needed in big quantities if you want any of the top gear/ships/etc.

Recently, in a podcast interview,  the value of 15min of play = 480 Dilithium was mentioned. This figure was given by CaptainGeko, lead designer for STO. Not everything perfectly fits that ratio, STF’s reward a little bit more, but that is the design intention of the games developers.

Now, let’s look at what that means for a player. My goal is not to take a side on the good or the bad here, though have no doubt my opinion may leak through. I also won’t be taking into account that there are some ways to earn Dilithium faster the stated rate. I merely want to analyze what Cryptic’s intentions means for a player.

Okay, you can “refine” a total of 8,000 Dilithium a day (you earn Dilithium but you can only spend Refined Dilithium).  To reach the refinement cap, you have to play for 4hrs (8000/480 = 16 x 15min = 240min/60 = 4hrs). By design, that’s four hours every day running nothing but missions that earn Dilithium. Many actions do not award DIlithium but are events that players wish to participate in (Earning Fleet Marks, earning Romulan Marks, etc).

Let’s look at the cost of some items in game in terms of hours of game time:

Single Fleet Weapons (10,000 DIl) = 6 Hours

Top level gear piece (32,000 Dil) = 16 Hours

Mark XI console (11,000 Dil) = 6.5hrs

To outfit a max level cruiser (8 weapons, 3 gear slots, 10 console slots) would require 286,000 Dilithium (if you just purchased everything) and take  36 Days of Refinement Cap and 143hrs of play time. The 36 days refining is fixed but if you were a hardcore grinder, you could play for 12hrs a day and earn the Dilithium in 12days.

Now, lets take a look at what this means for Fleet starbase projects. A standard Tier 3 project costs 54,000 Dilithium. That translates to 7 days of refinement cap. If we use Cryptic’s ideal goal of a Fleet of 25 people, that is roughly 2k Dilithium per Player per day, or 1hr of play time.  These projects also require 900 Fleet Marks which can be earned at a rate of about 150-200/hr. So 900/25 people is 36/person. So to get one project (of a potential 5) running, a Fleet requires 1.25hrs of gameplay per member per day in a 25 person fleet. Naturally, to run all three main starbase projects would therefore require just shy of 4hrs of play per day per member.

A major upgrade project, such as a Tier 4 Shipyard Upgrade, requires 900,000 Dilithium. That is equivalent to 113 days of Refinement Cap and 452hrs of play time. For a 25 person fleet, that breaks down to 5 days of refinement cap and 18 hrs of play time.

For the Tier 4 Starbase upgrade itself, which requires 1.8million Dilithium or twice the other figure (10 days refinement cap and 36hrs of play).

Now, let’s say you have a Fleet of 25 people who want to run three projects every day to maximize fleet XP growth.  That would net 2,000 XP a day in one category. For the 50,000 XP required to take a category from Tier 3 to Tier 4, it would take 25 days.

In order to do that, the fleet needs 108,000 Dilithium, 2,700 Fleet Marks and 260 DOFF’s a day. That breaks down to 4300 Dilithium, 108 Fleet Marks and 11 DOFF’s per person per day.  This would require 2,5hrs of game play (2hrs earning Dilithium and 30min running Fleet mark events) per player per day. Since anytime you earn a DOFF in game it is random we’ll assume they need to buy them of the exchange. Average price per DOFF is about 45k so 495,000 Credits donated.

That leaves players with a total of 3,700 Dilithium (if they play for another 2hrs) that they can refine a day.  If the players refine the cap and spend their Dilithium on nothing else, they would each have 92,000 Dilithium at the end of the 25 days, enough to pay for the Tier 4 upgrade. If they each also run another15min of Fleet mark events each day, they would also have the required amount of Fleet Marks.

In conclusion, if 25 people, spent 5 hrs every day earning Dilithium and Fleet Marks for their fleet, they can get one category of a starbase upgraded from T3 to T4 in 25days. Regardless if you think that’s to much play time or silly for anyone to attempt because they should just take their time, this is what Cryptic designed the Starbase and Dilithium systems around.


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3 Responses to Earning Dilithium and Building a Starbase

  1. Earnest says:

    A standard Tier 3 starbase projects costs NO dilithium.

    • Wayne says:

      Right, the 1,000 XP projects cost no Dilithium. The example I gave was a group that tried to maximize XP in a category by running the 1,00 XP mission (no Dilithium) and two 500xp missions (requiring Dilithium).

  2. Jarrod says:

    I have to agree with the opinion that is leaking through. While I can’t expect game developers to target me as a demographic, it’s hard to play games like this when people who work full time, have a family and other priorities can never really enjoy the same “powers” that people without those responsibilities can. I still enjoy the game in the at best once a week I get to play it, but sometimes it feels like I’m a kid with a mini golf putter playing with Tiger Woods at The Masters.