Warp speed is an indispensable part of Star Trek, helping build story and cross the vast gulf of space associated with the realities of space travel. In traditional Star Trek: Starship Tactical Combat Simulator rules, warp speeds were largely used to allow vessels to disengage from combat or were ignored with regards to true science and the “relativistic” nature of the speed of light.
Most starship combat should begin with vessels at sub-light speed (although some scenarios call for vessels to be at warp speed before combat.) In a campaign setting, warp speed can often be the difference between winning a battle or winning a campaign. More than once, a squadron commander may determine that his units may be needed later rather than risked in a combat that is quickly turning against him. This creates unique tactical options that help keep the game fast paced and exciting.
Power for Warp
In order to engage the warp engines, a given starship must have power that it can divert to the warp nacelles. Each warp speed level requires additional power. To determine the amount of power necessary, add the power of all warp drives (undamaged) and divide it by the maximum emergency warp speed for that vessel. Do not include impulse power levels in this calculation.
Example: A Constitution Mk III has a total of 36 points of warp power and an Emergency Speed of Warp 8. This means that each warp speed level requires 4 points of power to achieve (36 / 8 = 4.5 rounded down to 4.) The captain of a Constitution Mk III would therefore need 27 points of power to jump to Warp 6. To achieve the Emergency Speed of Warp 8, the Constitution class would need to generate 36 points of power.
Once a given warp speed is reached, it can be maintained using considerably less power. Each warp speed maintained costs 1 point of power per engine. In the above example, the captain of the Constitution class vessel would need to allocate 12 points of power to keep the ship traveling at Warp 6. However, to increase speed to warp 7, the captain would need to allocate 31 points of power. Once at warp 7, he could maintain the speed for 14 points of power.
Power to jump to warp speed may be generated by any of the onboard systems for a given ship. This includes the main warp drive, impulse drive and even auxiliary power or battery power. Note that once battery power is drained, the vessel must drop to the appropriate warp speed or to sub light speed if insufficient power is available to maintain a warp field.
Going to Warp
In game terms, any vessel that has sufficient power may attempt to go to warp in Phase 3 of any Turn. Depending on the speed and power requirements, other systems may be powered during the same turn, including shields, weapons or sub light movement. Once a vessel has gone to warp, it is removed from the map. The appropriate player must keep track of the speed and power used by the vessel for subsequent turns in case of pursuit, until the scenario ends.
Any vessel that warps away may be pursued. Opposing vessels may attempt to jump to warp in pursuit at the end of the next Turn. If a pursuer is unable to achieve the same warp speed as the fleeing vessel, they will be unable to catch the departing ship. For each turn that the opposing vessel does NOT jump to warp in pursuit, add 1 warp speed to the needed overall warp to catch the fleeing vessel. If an attacking force does not quickly pursue, it is likely that the fleeing vessel will escape.
Combat at Warp
Combat at warp speed was originally “ignored” in the basic rules. However, in the Campaign rules, combat at warp speed can become an interestingly dangerous game for both sides. The Standard Warp Escape Rules necessitate that the fleeing vessels may become part of a pursuit situation, with one side attempting to outrun or evade the other. To simulate most warp speed pursuits, place the “fleeing” vessel in the center of the map, with the pursuing vessel at the trailing edge of the map. For each warp speed the fleeing vessel is maintaining, move the fleeing vessel one hex closer to the far side of map.
If the pursuing vessel is able to increase it’s warp speed beyond the fleeing vessel, it may move to any location on the map at the beginning of the next turn.
Power not used to maintain the given warp field may be used to power weapons and shields as needed. Photo Torpedoes and Plasma Bolt do not suffer from the relativistic problems of warp speed and may be fired as normal during warp combat.
Beam weapons may only be fired within the “warp fields” of the two vessels in question. The warp field extended forward and aft of the fleeing vessel in a field equal to the current warp speed. The field also extended port and starboard in a field equal to half of the current warp speed per side. For example – a ship traveling at warp 6 would have a field 6 hexes in front and 6 hexes behind, while also having a field of 3 hexes on each side. If the persuing and fleeing vessels fields touch, the two vessels may use beam weapons to fire on each other. Otherwise, no energy weapons may be used during combat.
NOTE: More complex “Warp Speed Combat Rules” can be substituted for these rules, but it may slow the pace of any given scenario.