Star Fleet Battles ( best ever tactical spaceship game? )

Stelk's picture
September 20, 2012 - 1:45am

It seems that many of you are looking around for great ideas
to use for spaceship battles and warfare.

Well sorry I did not post this sooner.

Star Fleet Battles was and still is the game that comes
to mind as the BEST ever created spaceship battle system.

If you are like I am, in that you love a true tactical game, then
look no further then this wonderful game. I shelved it a long
time ago and I recently found it again, in a box in my basement.

WOW does it bring back some great memories.

This game has it all! Set in the Star Trek Universe the game has all
the major space races from original Star Trek Universe and a few
beautiful extra's.

The game uses the typical Hex Map for space and counters or miniatures.
Then you have SSD's that are the various layouts of all the ships etc.

You and the others playing then decide how you are playing,
Klingon’s against Feds. Orion pirates against everyone etc etc..
You can even play the game solo. There even space monsters to fight,
like the Planet Killer, aka The Doomsday Machine episode #35 OT.

The game allows a lot of flexibility for play and you can pick and chose
rules, tech level, year of the game ships, monsters, fighters, drone type,

number of rounds in a turn etc etc..

Ships from Dreadnoughts to frigates, even the USS Enterprise, Fighters,
Drones, Plasma Torps you name it, this game has it.

Weapons have firing arcs and ships have facings so different shields
get hit. Energy allocation is a must before the next turn and how you
allocate the energy has a huge impact on the game. Batteries allow you
to carry over some energy or allow you that extra energy store for

HETs, High Energy Turns are an optional game rule that even allow a
ship to do a 180 in space! Oh wait, I forgot to mention there is a risk
that can cripple your ship or even destroy it if you make a HET and do
it wrong.

This is one of, if not the original, SSD space game. SFB's was created
in the late 1970's by Task Force Games. later it was bought out by

Amarillo Design Bureau Inc.

The game has lived the test of time and it is a tried
and true Tactical Simulation Game in the very best
since of the name.

My brother and I use to play this game for hours upon
hours. We have tried almost every possible combination
of battle that one could think of. We eventually made it a
Universe Game, with turns an economy, race shipyards,
race planets, fleets, government negotiations etc etc..

We created our own ships from scratch with the points
system that is included in the original game, with only a
few slight mods of our own.

“I once created an Orion Pirate Ship that had a great
front attack shield and light to almost no rear shields.
This is a design that I borrowed from the Klingon’s


I tossed out a lot of the luxury that a ship has for more
weapon mounts and basically "welded" an extra warp
engine onto a Frigate size hull. When done with the magic
that the Orion Pirates do so well. I could had the power of
a Heavy Cruiser in the little ship and I could fly at fast speed
and still overload all the weapons for a one, maybe two
time HUGE punch that I could devastate the front shields of
a Dreadnought or even take out a Heavy Command Cruiser.
I loved its cloaking device too, < evil grin >.

So, if anyone is looking for a truly great game, one that
you can enjoy over and over, again and again.
This is the game for you!


A few recommendations. Photo Copy your SSD's so that
you have tons of them so that you can have even bigger
and better Fleet battles. Find and use those plastic sleeves,
the heavier plastic ones so that you can use a grease pencil
on the plastic ( plastic is the clear plastic ) and then you can
simply wipe away the marks and never mess up your SSD's.

Put the Impulse Chart in a sleeve with the Damage Allocation Chart

on the back facing the other way for fast reference as needed.

When you put your ship in a sleeve put the
Energy Allocation Form for that ship behind it, facing
the other way, so that you can simply flip the plastic sleeve
over to see the chart on one side and the ship SSD
on the other.

Use various plastic sleeves for each ship you are using
with the Energy Allocation Chart on the back of each
as mentioned above.

You can do the same for Star Bases, Base Stations, Monsters
etc. This way you can wipe the marks away with a paper towel
and you can reuse everything again the next time.


Here are links to the basics:



Training manual and a few SSD's to get you going.

Ship, Drone Shuttles, Fighter etc Counters.


Last notes.

Federation: Don't let a Klingon get behind you if you are
a Federation Ship, you will never lose them, they can out
turn and out HET you and they can shoot disrupters, ouch!

Klingon: The reason you have weak read shields is You are
cowardly Federation ship, you don't run, you attack
and attack well.
Should you fail to attack well.. well then
you self destruct on the
Federations weakest shield and
take him out with you.
“It is always a good day to die!”

Romulan: The plasma torp can be split up as weaker
torps unless it is
the weaker torp to begin with or is one
in a Stasis device launcher.
Firing many smaller torps like
this at fighter and fast attack ships
can make it easier for
you to make it a one on one match against the
other guys
main ship and not have to worry about all the little guys in

the way. Do remember the torps lose strength the more
distance they

Everyone else, RUN from torps or shoot them down
with energy
weapons like phasers. This weakens them so
you can stay alive.

In a last ditch effort over load your space probes and
use them as
weapons, and remember you can use those
shuttles as suicide shuttles
they are not just cute little
things out in space. They also are great to
launch to help
bring down drones, fighters or plasma torps.

If anyone has any questions just let me know.
( I don't work for them, I simply love the game like how I love SF's )

Cogito ergo sum; I think therefore I am.

[Blade Runner]
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.

jedion357's picture
September 20, 2012 - 4:01am
Yeah I played the bejeezus out of Star Fleet battles- first edition, back in the day. bought a copy and tried a few years ago, it was 5 or some other editon, and I couldn't make head or tails of it. Call it impatience of a 40 year old- I just didn't have the energy to sort out the newer edition. But you are right it was "sex on wheels" hands down when it came to ship to ship combat. Big battles could be another thing, though if you massed all you fire on one small ship so that it was totally destroyed and blew up it would damage all the ships around it- Those tactics could shorten a fleet game pretty fast.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

OnceFarOff's picture
September 20, 2012 - 7:41am
I remember playing this back in the day. It was a great time!

Rollo's picture
September 20, 2012 - 9:49am
Well Stelk, I'm gonna have to disagree with you on one point I'm afraid.

In my opinion, SFB is not just the best tactical spaceship game out there (was and still is btw), but I think it IS THE best tactical game of any genre out there (was and still is). :D

...though I also liked Panzer Blitz, Panzer Leader, Squad Leader and Arab-Isreali Wars (all Avalon Hill btw) quite a bit too - still, not as much as SFB!

I spent an awful lot of time playing times. :)
I don't have to outrun that nasty beast my friend...I just have to outrun you! Wink

Stelk's picture
September 20, 2012 - 3:10pm

To think I was a little worried about posting the "best ever ..... " part in the title.

I am still not use to the mature nature and the respect that all the members
of this site have for each other. I thank you all. This site is so refreshing!

This site brings back its own feelings of the "Good Olde Days".

A little off topic, but I use to play Earth and Beyond, a space MMO from the time
it went live until it was canceled :(

This game had a community that was unlike any other mmo I have ever seen or played.
People helped, people did things simply for the enjoyment of helping others and
the common good for all. Memories of this game are what I am finding on this site!

A Truly Great Game! STAR FRONTIERS, and Truly Great People here on this Site.
OK now I need to click on the dice roller on the side to see if I was too mushy.
I rolled a 63 what happens? LoL I even rolled a second time and I got another 63..
P.S. you can still play Earth and Beyond at a site where people you loved the
game have remade the game all on their own and it runs on a server as an mmo.
It is a long process and it is ongoing. For those interested check it out.

It is no cost to you but simply a way for everyone to enjoy the great game.
Much like this site...

Well actually at this site, we do have cooler ship decals and Free Cake and Ice Cream.Tongue out

Cogito ergo sum; I think therefore I am.

[Blade Runner]
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.

rattraveller's picture
September 20, 2012 - 5:39pm
Yes I remember Star Fleet Battles. I remember confirming the rule in book 2 in both book 23 and 17B so that I could legally move one ship move two inches instead of one and three quarters inches.

Seriously it was a fun game but also made at the time of games like Squad Leader where the rule books just kept coming. Sometimes I miss those days.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

jedion357's picture
September 20, 2012 - 6:31pm
I loved Car Wars after I burned out on Star Fleet Battles, though the rules were much much much lighter than SFB.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Putraack's picture
September 20, 2012 - 6:55pm
I am, and always will be, a Star Fleet Battles fan. I've been playing since the first boxed set (Designer's Edition), and all the ones up to now. I can remember my brother and I making the decision to stick with SFB over FASA's Star Trek Tactical Combat Simulator. Even though it was linked to the RPG, we talked through it, and decided to stay with SFB and its "kitchen sink" rules.

In high school, I taught it to my friends, some at my school, one at another. Together, we played what may have been the one and only inter-school SFB game (my team lost, sadly). In college, I taught some more people, including my then-girlfriend-now-wife, to play; she liked Romulans. For a while, it was tradition that whenever any of my friends moved out of an apartment, we'd play SFB in the emptied apartment on its last night. Games faded during the '90s, but I found a group and have been playing with them for 10+ years.

I'll be playing it on Sunday afternoon, in fact; I belong to a once-monthly group. I'm also involved in a PBEM game of Federation & Empire, the strategic-level game. I've got Federation Commander, the easier & quicker game, but I've not tried Starmada or Call to Arms, the even easier & quicker games.

jedion357's picture
September 20, 2012 - 7:28pm
The thing that made SFB so good, IMHO, is that at its base its a game of decisions. Just the engery allocation proceedure is rife with decisions and then the actual game is about movement decisions and choosing the moment to fire over all the other moments on the impulse chart. Any good tactical simulation will be about decisions. KH's has only the movement/fire decisions. Car wars had that too but also had the decisions made during car design if you went in for that portion of the game (and I did in a big way).

The problem is that SFB is so distinctive that the minute you add energy allocation everyone will say that you're copying it.

But SFB rocked as a tactical game, I would criticize it for time consuming damage proceedures and that it didn't handle large fleet actions well, especially where one player needed to handle multiple ships. I would priase it for the distinctive weapon mixes per race and how different weapon's mixes benefited different strategies- that was cool. There was no flexibility of system to build your own ship- that was fairly tightly controlled by the publisher and probably just as well as it kept the game ballanced. i loved the challenge of taking a seamingly weaker ship against heavier opposition.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!