Federation and empire can be classically labeled a monster game. Seven races (plus various minor races and neutral states), hundreds of ships (sometimes thousands), and record keeping that would make a CPA blush at times; this game is a definite monster. However, it can always get bigger.
The main way for this to happen is to add the Operation Expansions to the mix. There are currently five (Advanced, Combined, Fighter, Planetary, and Strategic). These add rules from the Star Fleet Battles series and incorporates them into the far reaching war of F&E. Trying to find a good balance of these rules is important, because some are good and some I really can't see in the game (SFGs are a good example - I've never really cared for them). I'm planning on working through a few blogs about what might be good from each of those expansions later on.
The other option for creating something extremely big outside of this game is taking the fleet battles into the world of either Star Fleet Battles or Federation Commander.
Fleet battles in F&E are based the total Combat Potential given the the various ships and a die roll. This, along with a number that shows how aggressive you choose to be, determines the amount of damage you do to the other fleet. Then you simply remove the damage inflicted by your opponent by crippling and destroying your ships. The main tactic in the game is trying to figure out how much to bring to any given fight and when to be aggressive or when to hold back. By moving this to one of the tactical battle systems, you may be able to create better situations for yourself you could not account for in F&E.
I cut my teeth on SFB back in the early 90's. I loved it. I bought everything I could lay my hands on and I still have most everything today. The number of choices in this game were amazing, and the detail in running the battles, making tactical choices, and the pure number of ships was amazing. The only downside to it was the amount of record keeping that needed to be done for each ship. The round would be well organized, but the record keeping portion could slow down things for quite a while, especially with multiple ships per fleet. This would be the main detractor from using it as a combat replacement. It would be as slow as a round of F&E, with some battles taking probably 5 to 6 hours of play time just to resolve. However, it would be more spectacular and with good tactics, a fleet at a slight disadvantage might have a better chance of winning the battle. This option would definitely be for those who have years to play a single campaign of F&E. However, it would also be good for those ship to ship battles, and even two on three ships battles that would be reconciled using the Small Scale system in F&E.
Federation Commander is much lighter on the record keeping, since all the information can be tracked on the individual ship cards. It also gives two options of play, the squadron level and the fleet level. Squadron level ships give more options, mainly because the hulls are stronger and there are generally more weapons. Fleet scale reduces these items, but gives a faster game play because of these reduction. A ship to ship battle at Squadron level would probably take half an hour to an hour to complete, while it would probably take half that time to complete a ship to ship Fleet level battle. The main thing to consider here is the tactical situation of each level.
Ships fall faster at the Fleet level, but it is designed to really work well with large fleets (thus the name). If you don't mind paper ships, this would be a good way to see if you could make a difference in a tactical level battle rather than rely on the strategic level ratios. Something like a Starbase battle with 30 + ships on either side would be best for this level
Squadron level is probably best at tactics for three to five ships on a side, because of all the extras you are given on the ship sheet. However, for large fleets, this may get too unwieldy as you try to wear down ships with larger damage absorption. Some of the initial Lyran/Kzinti BATS battles would probably have worked well at this scale.
This is something I want to try one day, but since VASSAL modules for SFB and FC are unavailable, I suppose SFB Online would be the best way to go. Unfortunately, I don't know if those games can be paused or not in mid battle, but since the game is a turn based game to begin with, I suppose it is probable.
A blog for all subjects related to the Star Fleet Universe from ADB Inc. Talking about the games, the background, or its relationship with regular [i]Star Trek[/i].
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