FASA and Star Trek: The Motion Picture – “Houston – We’ve had a problem!”

Any FASA Star Trek Starship Combat Simulator player – or RPG player for that matter – will notate that there are some MAJOR inconsistencies when it comes to on-screen reality and the ship stats that we’ve all used over the years. Over the years – we’ve had minor debates; do we change it to match on-screen truths? Do we live with it the way it is? Do we change it just enough? What exactly do we change?

While purists will simply keep the material the way it was…and in some ways – that is best (see below), many folks want a little more accuracy. So to discuss the accuracy problem – we need to fist define exactly what ships we need to address… And before we address those ships – we need to make for some allowances. For those of us old… er – seasoned FASA Trek fans, we remember when there WAS no internet, it was a huge thing to draw ships, create stats – hell – even home computers were in their infancy.

And of course – the stats that FASA created were meant for balance, not necessarily accuracy. While FASA did have access to some material beyond what the average “joe” would have had in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s – they still had limited information – and did what is still arguably one of the BEST jobs in publishing gaming material for the Star Trek environment. But balance had to be the key – and many decisions were base on keeping things in check…

THE VENERABLE D-7
First new trek ship we see is the updated Klingon battle cruiser – or D-7. Even calling it a D-7 now bring up questions and some division…but for the sake of FASA and our little universe – we’re going to call it a D-7m and say it is indeed the K’Tinga variant. We wont get into size, crew – all that kind of minutia; we’re interested in how dangerous it is – and by that we mean how many weapons does is have. (In fact, most of what I’ll chat about here covers the REAL weapon loads of our on-screen favorites). Thanks to the internet and great shots of the studio model – we can determine that the D-7m has a whopping 8 disruptors – 2 under the bridge, 2 at the neck joint, 2 under the wings and finally 2 next to the shuttle bay. And of course the two torpedoes – 1 forward and 1 aft. FASA list only 4 for the D-7m and 6 for the D-7r and D-7s…never actually getting to the 8 disruptor units seen on the model. To make it even MORE complicated – the studio model was later modified – with much of the (in my opinion) awesome detailing removed. Some later photos don’t show 8 disruptors. OK – so here’s where the trouble starts – the FASA universe has ALWAYS had the Klingons less powerful than the Federation…with numbers to make up the difference. This mirrored much of the Cold-War’s belief that the Soviets vs NATO would be about numbers…NATO equipment could take out two Soviet tanks for ever one they could take out – but they had three tanks to every one we had. Fortunately, of course, we never needed to find out which strategy would have worked. HOWEVER – FASA kept this general belief in their game system and the ships reflected it.

So, the D-7m had only 4 KD-8’s…and two KP-3’s – that meant a WDF of 42.4 {NOTE: 2nd Edition Klingon Ship Manual list the WDF as 33.4 which would be the WDF if you did not include the aft torpedo!} This is roughly 1/3 of FASA’s enterprise class (89.2) – if you use the ACTUAL weapons load of the D-7m…your number is more like 66.8 – which is ALMOST within the computer limits of the ships ZD-6. (For those of you who are somewhat new or don’t know – FASA uses computer WDF as a major limiting factor so things don’t get out of hand.)

UPDATE (11/21/2016): We’ve gotten something of an AMAZING set of close up shots of the D-7 from TMP and the conversion to Quronos 1. Click here for the images. The long and the short of it is that there are only 6 disruptor emplacements! Not 8. The two disrputors in questions (under the forward corner of the wings) are indeed some other system and not disruptors. While FASA’s D-7m would be short 2 distruptors (easily corrected), the D-7s would be right on! 

GOOD OLD ENTERPRISE

Oddly enough – when you look at the NEXT ship – the Enterprise refit – you get a total of 12 phasers! 12 you say?!? Why yes – you get the usual 6 on the saucer – 3 on top, 3 on bottom. You then get 2 above the shuttle bay…and here again can be an argument – are they linked – like the dual emitters on the saucer? Or is each on separate? For our argument – we’ll say they EACH is separate. You also get 4 on the underside of the secondary hull! And AGAIN! Are they each separate? Or in banks? For our FIRST look at it – we’ll say they’re each individuals. This gives you an AMAZING 153.4 WDF – low and behold – almost 3 x the D-7m! Unfortunately – the computers become an issue. The M-6 can only handle HALF of that WDF…and thanks to the internet – we know there is only one major computer core. Even the M-6a and M-7 don’t have the full 153.4 available. (I’ll discuss a few solutions down below – keep reading!)

“IT’S ONE OF OUR, ADMIRAL”

The next major player in the movies is the Reliant… we now know that she’s a Miranda class – but in the day – it was a Reliant class. We have a double problem with the reliant – FASA never made a “megaphaser” or “heavy phaser” weapon system. That throws a major wrench into the issue – we here at STSTCS created a megaphaser system – and so for the sake of argument – that’s what we’ll use. Lets start out going overboard/all-in – lets say the 6 phasers on the hull are FH-11’s…that’s (64.2 wdf). You then add in two megaphasers – lets say FMH-5 – that’s 50% stronger than the FH-11 (29.4 wdf) {NOTE: To prevent the mega-phaser from being an unfair advantage, the firing arcs are VERY restricted.} Now comes the whopper – 4 FP-4’s (50 wdf) – this gives you a total of 143.6 WDF. Now again – in game terms – NO PROBLEM! The Enterprise class is still (ever so slightly) better yet the two are evenly matched – Wrath of Kahn makes TOTAL sense! But the computers just don’t work…

THE GREAT EXPERIMENT

And last but not least in the classic pantheon is the Excelsior class…and here again you’ve got some serious up-gunning to do. This one is actually tougher than it seems as there are precious few studio-model shots of the secondary hull…and everyone has had a slightly different take on it. On-screen – you’ve got a huge 14-16 or even 18 phaser emplacements. The 10 on the primary hull are easily recognized – no problem there. However – on the secondary hull – some “model” photos show 4 separate phasers on the underside – same as the Enterprise refit. Some show only two banks 1 port and 1 starboard. The aft phasers are the same – in some images, there are two separate phasers above the upper shuttle bay. Other images show a single bank, while some photo I saw had two banks on the top and two on the bottom. With images of the Enterprise B and Lakota no more help, it’s a hard call… Since the Excelsior is supposed to be “the-shit!” lets go all out here and say 10 on the primary hull and 8 on the secondary hull. 18 FH-11’s (192.6 WDF) and 4 PF-4’s (50 WDP) for a total of 242.6 WDF. A little high, but compared to the adjusted D-7m – seemingly on target with the 3 to 1 odds…but then again –UGG! Computers…

I’m not going to look into the BOP…it seems like it’s on par with accuracy…so we can move on to what to do with what we have…

So how do we overcome these issues?

First is to address is the limitations FASA created – namely the computer problems. Now FASA themselves “fudged” a few times – but even so – we have to adjust some stuff to make the “full-Monty” for any of these ships to work. If you do up-gun and up-equip – and with some minor tweaking where needed – all of these ships work when compared with each other. However – this begins a slide down a slippery slope…namely the OTHER FASA ships…like the D-20 or the Durrett…using the above versions would mean these ships are WOEFULLY under gunned…and in fact you’d probably want to make adjustments to all the various classes to make them more inline with our proposed high-end modifications. Since none of these are that far outside the “balance” of the FASA universe, it might be worth taking time to modify all the various established ships using these 4 as you base line. (Future project?? Hmmm!) The advantage to this version is that you produce a MUCH more accurate final end product. You also have what is essentially NEW ships to use in established scenarios. Hurray! The disadvantage is that your Combat Efficient is now SO different that changes to scenarios like The White Flame become very necessary. OR you have to spend a LOT of time tweaking all the OTHER ship from FASA so nothing gets out of balance.

The second possibility is the one we adopted here – and is to mix your weapon systems. For example – the Enterprise class has it’s main FH-11’s but then the secondary phasers are weak FH-1’s… While we use this version – I’m not overly happy with it. And if you used and adjusted D-7m…the Enterprise class is now undergunned. However – if you also modify the D-7m to have two sets of disruptors – one heavy set and one light set – it’s all in the realm of possibilities. (We haven’t published a “movie” version of the D-7m – but we may soon.) The Miranda class also has to be somewhat under whelming as well – and Excelsior. Again – this is the general approach we use – and is the easiest to “fit” into the current FASA system without having to redo EVERY single ship out there…

And of course the third possibility is to just “live with it” – and by far this is the EASIEST solution. However – with so many other ships out there – it might be time to address this little issue – make some modifications!

In the near future – I think we might publish “actual” movie versions of the listed ships…but in the mean time – we’ll just “tweak” the current designs to fit the on-screen actual and go with that.

FINAL THOUGHT

It is interesting to note that even up-gunning the above mentioned ships, there is only a small change in the actual capabilities of the ships listed. The D-7m STILL only has 44 points of power, the Enterprise would only have 60 and so on… Each of the above listed ships would HAVE more weapons, but wouldn’t really be able to USE more than what they traditionally would.

Captain Kirk

8 Comments

  1. Re, TNG vs TOS/Movie firepower: It’s pretty clear that TNG ships are in fact supposed to be far more powerful. One of the most conclusive statements about this comes from DS9’s episode “Paradise Lost”, when the Defiant confronts the Lakota (Excelsior class) and we get this exchange:
    KIRA: The Lakota’s targeting their weapons on our warp engines.
    O’BRIEN: They’re bluffing. That’s a Federation ship. They’re not going to fire on us.
    BASHIR: I hope you’re right about that, Chief.
    WORF: Continue on course.
    KIRA: We’re in weapons range.
    WORF: Raise shields.
    (Boom)
    WORF: Damage report.
    DAX: Port shields are at sixty percent.
    O’BRIEN: Someone’s been upgrading the Lakota’s weapons. That’s a lot of firepower for an Excelsior-class ship.

    and after several exchanges of fire:

    DAX: Shields are almost gone. We have major systems failures on decks one, three and four.
    WORF: What about the Lakota?
    KIRA: They’re in worse shape. One good hit will probably finish them.
    O’BRIEN: And kill everyone on board.

    Despite the upgrading, Defiant ate Lakota’s lunch in the end, despite being 1/3 her size

  2. A related note and question. Why are the t n g ships. Considered super powerful in comparison to the “older” ships? My take: better sensors, data processing, warp travel but no truly outrageous powerful weapons or shields. Not until the post best of both worlds era and the wartime dominion war pressure tech developments

  3. I have to admit, I think Ragar’s answer seems a quick and logical solution.

  4. I’m not sure you’re comparing apples to apples on some of those FASA ships. For instance, you compare the D-7M to the Enterprise when the contemporary of the D-7M (2/11 introduction) was the Constitution MkIII (2/12 introduction). In that one on one matchup, the WDF is still in favor of the Connie but they’re within 10 using your revised numbers. And, as you pointed out, it would rarely be a 1:1 matchup considering that just the D-7M without including the other marks was produced at a rate of over 10x that of all the marks of the Constitution class combined.

  5. When looking at these ships (the D7 and Enterprise for example), we have to understand that space battles are 3-dimensional and ST:STCS is a 2-dimensional game…and a board game at that. To keep the game streamlined and fast action (again, for a board game) the ships themselves needed to be streamlined. However, this does not mean that they don’t play “accurately”. Look again at the Enterprise – she has 12 phaser emitters in 6 banks on the saucer section alone, BUT in 3-dimensional space, she could really bring only half of those to bear except in the narrowest of planes. Those remaining phaser banks really only cover firing arcs (remember, 3-d) that the banks on the saucer cannot cover – especially with the massive blind spots generated by the warp nacelles. Likewise, the K’t’inga can only bring 4 of its disruptor emitters to bear to the front – so is FASA’s version really that far off?

    Yes, the Klingon (and to an even greater degree, the Romulan) ships are inferior to those of the Federation – and they should be. After all, a free society where ideas are shared will often produce a better product than when a single group dominates and subjugates those around them. Even so, the Klingon and Romulan designs should have had more parity overall than represented in the Ship Recognition Manuals. This isn’t a fault of FASA’s. They had to get approval from Paramount for (literally) everything they did – and Paramount interfered with everything. As a result, the Federation ship designs were average quality and above while the Klingon and Romulan ships (with only a handful of exceptions) were poor to average designs.

    Fortunately, FASA supplied design rules to allow players to correct these faults (and we have all made corrections to be sure). This is where the game gets really, really fun.

    Recently, I have made some observations and alterations to the D7 and K’t’inga class warships (if you compare these ships side-by-side, you can obviously see that they are two very distinct and different designs) that you like:

    http://ststcsolda.proboards.com/thread/733/reworking-d7-ktinga

  6. Myself I would like to see the newer ships fit in better with the older, in such a way as to not destroy the time line or the consistency of theolder ships. I have noted and did when I was a n avid player playiung the Klingons noted that the avaliable computers for all the ships were gmaking it impossible to do any Upgrades, This was a problem fro the Klingons as they had some really wimpy computers, I suppose we could use multipule computers, but
    then you staer running into weight problems. would it not be realistic that the computers in FASA’s time line that computers and equipment got smaller and lighter with the introduction of new materials and manufacturing processes as they hav in our real world. Still this would require a lot of work on bothe the time line, and the introduction of “new old euupiment” as it were. I wander here I know , but , it is only for the love of the game and noting that to really make itr life like, (ie. like the movies will in many ways reflect on all of the existing time line), and FASA’s origional building of the Game
    Tim

  7. I rather got the impression the D7s(?) in star trek 6 scared the crap out of the Enterprise crew.

  8. rather than consider the ’emitters’ of said beams/bolts consider that the ships may have more ’emitters’ than previously considered but still only the same number of chargeable units capable of transferring power to these ’emitters’ Think of it this way some vessels have traverseable emitters capable of changing from a wide arc and other ships prefer multiple emitters with limited traverse….its whats inside that counts :)

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