Hello faceless space fans! In this post I share all the ship builds I did for gaming Star Trek TNG using the Starmada Unity system. Federation and Klingon, and there are quite a lot of them. It's a monster post.
But First Back on Earth:
This Terrible blog is lucky enough to have some folks who routinely / foolishly read and comment on many posts that I write. Thank you. However, this post has a much more narrow focus and target audience that's best illustrated by this compelling Venn Diagram...
If you don't find yourself on this diagram then you can feel free to to skip this post. I won't hold it against it you. There's nothing here that will really interest you. So don't worry about it.
I mean I read ALL your dumb posts about Napoleonic wargames but you know, it's cool and whatever.
Now we leave earthly concerns behind and get back to space. Where the real action is.
Starmanda Unity Star Trek
When I wanted to start gaming some Star Trek star ship space combat I found some sites on the internet that helped guide the way. This is meant to be one of those sign posts in the internet to help guide others in the same direction. To give a starting off point. It should not be taken as cannon and I should not be mistaken for someone who knows what he is doing. It's just meant to be helpful. If you like, you can click the 'Star Trek' label over on the right (if your seeing the webpage version) to see more Star trek posts on how I got here. Ok, fine, you can just click HERE.
Designing Star Trek Ships was something of a laborious process. First I went to several websites to get the specs on these fictional ships most which vary slightly. Then I had to come up with a clever formula to convert things from universe terms to game stats; for example if a ship had 16 phaser banks then how many phasers should it have in the game? THEN I went along and categorized every type of warp engine and shield generator to cross reference the power output across different hulls and I"M JUST KIDDING I DID NONE OF THAT.
What I did do was start with a medium ship and designed that till it 'looked right' and did my best to scale up or down from there depending if the next ship was larger or smaller / more powerful or less powerful / a personal favorite or fleet filler. Something of an Endless Tinkering but not hard (especially with the dry dock spreadsheet) and in this way whole fleets started to take shape.
General Guiding Principles
All ships like to shoot straight ahead, but the Klingons doubled down on that principle.
Klingon ships are faster and more maneuverable than Federation ships (Klingons have a higher engine) because of above.
All Ships have some Screens that I call 'plot armor.' This is to represent that the first couple of times a ship gets hit you see the crew stumble around, a panel bursts into sparks, someone says "damage report!" and someone else says "damage to decks 3, 5, and 12 and shields weakening" but the ship is totally fine and working 100%. Some ships have more 'plot' than others, probably because they have a sex-ay main character or something.
I use the optional rules Free Form Turns and Graded Turns. A ship must move 2 hexes forward between turns (a side slip counts as going forward but after a side slip a ship must move forward) and some ships have tight turns and wide turns abilities. Small ships also have the Evasive optional rule which I paired down to "-2 to hit/be hit for double the Engine requirement."
I picture Star Trek kind like Sailing ships of the line (but in Spaaaaaaace) which is cool because the TV show was kinda like Hornblower (but in SPAAAAACE). So just like the sailing navy and the rating system, Star Ship ship classes across the fleets have their rough equivalents in the enemy. More on this later.
These ships are designed that a player would control 6-8 ships in mind.
There's more to say but one can ramble on. Everything else is mostly about preferences. Preferences that are mine and maybe not yours. that's one of the strengths of the rule set is that there are several dials that can be turned wherever one likes. For example: I tend to like the simplicity of shields being a protective egg of constant strength around a ship. It makes the game play faster because when Directional Shields are used then you have to worry about defensive arcs and then players always want to reinforce shields and etc..
Now lets present the ships from smallest to biggest.
FEDERATION OF PLANETS
|My complete Federation fleet.|
Known as The Grey Menance.
All saucer and rocket thingys.
The Saber class is the Federation escort ship. It's fast, it's maneuverable, and has a smattering of phasers. But it won't give any ship bigger than it any worries.
The Defiant class is technically an escort ship, but it's super up-gunned and up-powered. That's because it's the hero ship in the DS9 series so it's gotta be cool. It's a tough little ship with lots of guns; when the players realize that the phaser cannons shoot with 3 dice each (because that's what it did on the show) the Federation players smile and the Klingon players say "that ship's gotta go."
The Excelsior is the Federation's medium sized ubiquitous work horse. It's the upgraded version of the Constitution class (the Enterprise in The Original Series was a Constitution class). Any Federation fleet is gonna have a couple.
The Ambassador fills the role of the large ship in the Federation fleet. I actually don't think you see a lot of Ambassadors class ships in the TV series but the concept of there being a ship class in-between the Excelsior and the Galaxy is good for game play. Plus I just think it looks cool.
The Akira is another large ship like the Ambassador class but more modern. It's faster and basically a torpedo ship.
The Galaxy is a capital ship. It's also my favorite and we already know everything there is to know about it from many episodes of The Next Generation. I tried to design it as dangerous and tough as it would go out and explore all by itself but not really a full battleship.
When the Federation finally got around to making a capital war ship; the Sovereign is the result. It's got a ton of guns, even more deadly torpedoes, it's fast, and got strong shields. It's a super-duper-uber ship. But at a TON of points and the hero ship from the movies so it's a got a lot of space to fill.
THE KLINGON EMPIRE
|My complete Klingon Fleet.|
Christmas Trees of Death.
KVORT CLASS (Bird of Prey)
The Kvort is really just a small gunship / raiding vessel. It's a very iconic Klingon ship so the temptation is there to make it really dangerous but it's just a small thing after all.
This is the medium sized Klingon battle cruiser. I figured that if the Federation replaced the Constitution class with the Excelsior class then the Klingons probably replaced the D7 with something. They didn't, and I have talked long and eloquently in previous posts about how I dislike the overall look of the D7 so replaced it with this model from Star Trek Renegades.
The Large Klingon ship is the Vorcha and it's the fleet's mainstay. Besides the Bird of Prey this is the type of ship seen most in the TV series. I love the look of the ship, kinda like an angry crab. It's got a nice mix of weapons but like all the Klingon ships so far it can't shot behind it.
VORCHA TORPEDO MODULE
This is just the Vorcha chassis with a head module outfitted for Torpedoes, essentially it changes out the heavy disrupters for extra torpedo launchers and gains a cool looking hammer head shark look that makes all the Klingon ladies growl.
The Klingon capital ship and big ol' battleship. While other Klingon Ships are sleek, fast, and maneuverable, when they designed this one they thought "screw all that showing who the best warriors are by using skill and tactics, let's just make a big, slow moving, hard thing." It's not very fast and can't turn very well but can take a lot of punishment and dish it out too.
The Norgh class is another capital ship. This ship is not in the TV or movies but it's a cool Klingon-ish model and for game play the Klingons needed something approximating the Federation Sovereign class. So it's a Made-Up Made-UP ship. Aren't they all.
An Exciting Discussion on Cloaking Devices
And other fun stuff: As I mentioned way before, I wanted the fleets to basically have rough equivalencies between them. For example a Klingon large ship is about the same points as a Federation large ship: a Klingon Vorcha class at 300 points is about the same as a Federation Ambassador class at 330.
You will see that across the fleets most of the ships in a given size are roughly within 30 points of each other. You will also see that every Klingon ship has a cloaking device because they all have it on the TV show and cloaking devices are part of the Klingon "Klingon-ness" and are just fun. However, none of the Klingon ships actually paid the points for having a cloaking device because cloaking devices are SUPER DAMN EXPENSIVE. CDs should be expensive because they are powerful. If included in the point cost each Klingon ship would be really expensive and therefore hard to balance for game play. So instead I hit upon this clever strategy that I will share with you now. because it's a blog and it's all about sharing. And telling me how clever I am in the comments.
First off, the Klingon ships pay for a tractor beam which I just renamed a cloaking device in the SSD so that the loss limits come out right. Second, I introduce a rule that Klingons CANNOT cloak all their ships at the same time, but can ONLY have a certain number cloaked at once. I say to players this is because Klingon battle doctrine is not about all the ships being cloaked and doing a mass ambush out of nowhere to an unsuspecting enemy nor is space combat about a big game of hide and go seek; those are things that Romulans would do. Everyone hates the Romulans.
Klingon doctrine dictates that honorable combat means that there's always uncloaked ships and its a matter of shifting targets / out smarting the enemy so that the enemy always knows it's under attack but does not know what to do because Klingons are better at combat. I made all that up but it sounds very Klingon right?
I usually set the limit of cloaked ships to be 1/4 of the total Klingon ships in a force. In effect this means that every Klingon ship CAN cloak but they all can't. And the player has to decide how to use that, has to think it through for the best advantage, like a WARRIOR.
However Klingons still have to pay some points from somewhere for the CDs or it gets unfair really fast. To make up the cost I have the Klingon side reduce their fleet total by 100 points or 5% (whichever is higher) for each ship that is able to be cloaked at any given time. example: if playing an even match game of 2000 points then the Feds get 2000 and the Klingons get 1600 and they can cloak up to 4 ships at once. it helps that most Klingon ships are a little cheaper than their Federation counterparts so maybe they can squeeze in an extra ship. In any game where the points are uneven (because one side is attacking or whatever) make the Klingons the aggressor, it fits their personality.
Or if all that becomes a pain or I don't want cloaking devices I can just use the points as is.
Experimental Victory points:
One more thing before I go. Obviously I really like the Starmada rules though there is one little weakness I have discovered over playing the game a half dozen times: small ships and victory points.
In the scenarios presented in the rule book, victory is determined by the point value of ships destroyed, like victory when one side scores 600 points. This means that large ships are really motivated to attack small ships because they are easy victory points; A 555 point Galaxy class can easily take out a 95 point Kvort.
The small ship is helped by having the Evasive rule, but it creates situations where large ships go hunting for smaller ones which does NOT match my Ships of the Line (in SPAAAAAACE); because in the age of sail, Ships of the Line would not worry about enemy frigates in a battle unless they got annoying.
To fix this I hit upon this clever idea which I will now share with you, because it's a blog and it's all about sharing. That and hearing about how clever I am in the comments. (Does it sound like an echo in here? I feel like I am repeating myself).
Instead of using the actual point values of the ships; I assign each ship class to be worth a number of victory points that is roughly related to it's actual point value. And then the victory condition is some fraction of the total for the whole fleet, like half or so. These values are:
Saber and Kvort - 0pts
Defiant, Excelsior, and Makesh - 2pts
Ambassador, Akira, Vorcha - 4 points
Galaxy, Neghvar, Korgh - 8 pts
Sovereign - 10 pts.
So lets say a Federation fleet is composed of 1 Saber, 1 Defiant, 2 Excelsior, 2 Akira, and 1 Galaxy which makes the fleet a total of 22 victory points. The Klingons would score a win if they destroyed (lets say) 12 points worth.
Since the Saber is worth 0 victory points, Any shots fired at it are kinda a waste, so the Saber is free to fly around all super fast and try to be annoying. However, if it's too annoying (that Saber has hit twice with it's proton torpedo, it's gots to go!) or maybe is getting close to completing some other objective; it's still gonna find itself at the center of attention. It creates a nice dynamic. When a small ship looses half it's hull or one complete damage track it will warp away.
Also, if the Galaxy gets blown up that's like 3/4 of the victory points right there, and that just feels right. Because that was the Enterprise BLOWN UP!
Plot Course for Away from Here. Anywhere.
And there, my internet friends, is how I have tweaked the Starmada system to Star Trek, and my fabulous ship builds that impress all the SevenOfNine types and makes them want to assimilate me. There are worse fates.
and so it is.
Thanks for reading.
Double thanks for leaving a comment.
Triple thanks for writing a comment even if you have no interest in Star Trek or Starmada but that must mean you are also a SUPER NERD!