Last revised: 2000.08.06
Yes, battles. The setpiece of all space operas. Used to generate tension, create excitement, and showcase special effects wizardry. Obsessed over by fans who like to pit imaginary combatants against one another. And in the case of Star Wars versus Star Trek, a never-ending source of debate.
Sun Tzu was enamoured of war, but not battles. In his opinion, an ideal victory in war would not require a battle. Or, as some pundits have put it, soldiers think of tactics, while leaders think of strategies. Having said that, battles are sometimes necessary, and it's sometimes interesting to ask how Imperial soldiers or fleets might have handled battlefield defeats in Star Trek, or vice versa. For example, the Federation lost the third Battle of Bajor, so how might the Empire have won? The Trade Federation lost the Battle of Naboo, so how might the Federation have won?
Of course, if we're playing this particular game, we have to remember that it's too easy to tilt the playing field. Therefore, we need some ground rules:
Equal intel: both sides have as much intel data as their enemies' natural foes would have. For example, a Federation starship would not be surprised by an Imperial hyperspace jump. Conversely, an Imperial ground commander would not be surprised by transporters. This means that Imperial forces will be using transport scramblers and sensor jammers whenever possible (and don't give me that nonsense about how they wouldn't be able to do it; we've seen countless natural phenomena that stop transporters), and Alpha Quadrant forces will try to snare Imperial ships with tractor beams if possible (given the range restrictions of Federation tractor beams), to keep them from jumping into hyperspace.LI>
Neither side can use lost technology ie- no Suncrushers, Genesis devices, phasing cloaks, or ancient Sith superweapons).
Neither side can use the other side's technology. They may know about it, but they don't possess it. For example, the Federation wouldn't be able to use a planetary shield to defend Hoth, and the Empire wouldn't be able to use self-replicating mines to block the Bajoran wormhole.
Both sides' technology works. We'll have none of this inane stupidity of one side's technology working perfectly while the other side's technology becomes totally useless.
The "visiting team" has resources which are appropriate to the battle and their capabilities. For example, the Empire must fight the Siege of AR-558 with just one ground unit, but they can throw in as large a fleet as they can muster for "do or die" battles such as the Battle of Cardassia Prime. Conversely, the Federation can throw in as large a fleet as they can muster when replacing the Empire in the Battle of Yavin.
After receiving some complaints, I realized that I hadn't fully described the condition of the "visiting team":
The "visiting team" is in an idealized condition, ie- at the height of its strength, without having to worry about enemies in its own galaxy. In other words, the Empire has all the ships and weapons it built for the civil war, without having to worry about the Rebellion. The Federation has all the ships and weapons it built for the Borg and the Dominion, without having to worry about either of them. Of course, this tends to give an advantage to the visiting team.
The "visiting team" doesn't get to use any special characters with special powers. In other words, no shape-shifters, sith lords, or any other unique characters. The home team gets to keep whatever special characters it had in the original battle, thus counter-balancing the advantage granted with the previous rule.
In my opinion, anything else would be unfair. So, without further ado ...
Star Wars Battles
Star Trek Battles
The First Battle of Bajor
The Second Battle of Bajor
The Third Battle of Bajor
The Battle of Chin'toka
The Siege of AR-558
The Battle of Cardassia Prime
General Strategy Notes
You can win wars while losing battles, and you can win battles while losing wars.
The purpose of a battle is to achieve a specific mission objective, not to fight for the sake of fighting.
Victory or defeat in a battle is therefore defined by your ability to achieve your objectives, not your kill-count. In May 1942, Japanese and American carrier groups clashed in the Battle of the Coral Sea. The Americans took heavier losses, yet the battle was a strategic victory. Why? Because the Japanese objective was to take Port Moseby, and the American objective was to stop them. The Americans achieved their objective, and the Japanese didn't. Furthermore, the superior American manufacturing and recruitment base meant that they could afford their losses more easily than the Japanese. A war of attrition always favours the numerically superior combatant. For example, suppose your enemy outnumbers you by a thousand to one. Even if your ships kill fifty of theirs for every one of yours, you'll be one step closer to defeat with each and every battle.
Perhaps the scoring system on the page can now be understood. If the visiting team can achieve the mission objectives without fighting, then it wins. I point this out because some Trekkies have complained that I shouldn't score Imperial victories for battles in which it avoids fighting altogether. They fail to recognize that victory in war is the achievement of mission objectives, rather than pointless killing.
I was somewhat surprised by the volume of E-mail generated by this page. I suspect that the combination of SW/ST historical events and "what if" scenarios creates a bit of a role-playing atmosphere (I wonder if someone out there has ever tried merging the rules for the ST and SW RPG's).
As a result, I suspect that this page will become something of a steadily accumulating and evolving entity. I have received some excellent suggestions (as well as some turkeys, of course), and I have already made several revisions.
I grow weary of Trekkies complaining that some of the Empire scenarios are "cop-outs" because they use hyperdrive to accomplish the mission objectives without having to fight. I've noticed something interesting about these folks: they never have a problem when Federation transporters are used to do the same thing. It seems to me that they're such rabid Trekkies that it never even occurs to them to treat the two sides fairly.