Yeah I know it’s madness. It’s also twenty-five years old. But I thought I’d better put it up on a web site before my brain addles completely through age and… well through playing 3D Star Trek


Years ago I played Star Fleet Battles Star Trek game in the days when you could buy it in a zip lock bag for £4.95 or similar and enjoyed it I did: it was not too complex (though the damage chart was a bit of a brain ache) and it seemed to replicate the TV series fairly well.

But something happened…

Well a number of things really. First off, from the very late seventies onwards, there were the films which put a new spin on the ships. Then other manufacturers got licences to do Trek stuff which left the original designers of Star Fleet Battles in a bit of a divergent, “two different universes’ conundrum.

Then they started bolting stuff onto Star Fleet battles. More races. More ships. More rules. More everything really, except one item: less enjoyment. So I stopped playing.

When the second Trek film came out in the very early eighties – Wrath of Khan (a vast improvement over the very slow first film) it introduced me to thinking about 3D Star Trek. Some of the manoeuvring took place in a nebular at very 3D orientations – gone were the days of the TV series where the model ships flew around all on the same level (Of course, when I say ‘ship’s I should add ‘if you were lucky – as often as not the Klingons were “just beyond the range of our sensors [budget] Captain”).

In consequence I wrote a set of 3D Star Trek rules and had them published in Command Post and – in a cut down version in Practical Wargamer. The model ships were put in plastic spheres mounted in ‘egg cups’ made from the inverted tops of coke bottles and with height delineated by pegs on base culled from the Waddingtons strategic space game “4000AD”.

The combat rules were simple – to anyone used to the original Star Fleet Battles, that is: a mild form of energy allocation based on engine points (like a cut down SFB) with a generic ship sheet rather than one for each type of ship available – simply photocopy and cross off the ones you don’t use (or laminate, use wipe off pens and re-use). Firing wasn’t the four or five types of phasers and three sorts of disruptors – they were all ‘Beams’ and Torpedos were just two types: Romulan and everyone elses.

The new twist – which destroyed many a brain cell – was the 3D movement.

In each turn one decided what ‘attitude’ a ship was at from 5 selections on the Chart: Horizontal, Inclined, Rolled Inclined, Horizontally Rolled or Vertical. From there, the ship’s ‘captain’ went though one of five flow diagrams peculiar to those starting ‘attitudes’ on a sheet called the Movement Flow Chart. Each Flow chart had a maximum of four steps to take you through to the end of the movement phase, using either Pitch, Roll and Yaw or Slip manoeuvres – though not a mixture of both.

This was done 10 times in a turn – 10 phases (rather than the 32 phases in Star Fleet Battles) and the ships moved in different phases depending on the speed set during the energy allocation phase at the start of each turn.

At the end of each phase, ships had a chance of firing some or all of the weapons that they had remembered to power up at the start of the turn (though only once per weapon). Beam weapons were paid for as a ‘bank’ 4 energy meant 4 beams fired – you didn’t have to specify which ones, though with torpedoes you had to arm a specific ‘tube’. Firing cost nothing but arming cost a point.

Hitting a target was done using a pair of D10s as percentile dice to bowl under a score on a 3D “Pythagorean” chart and then, lastly, damage was resolved based on firing angle determined by a 3D rendition of shield angles (the same ones as the firing angles and marked on the Firing and Shield Arcs sheet). Damage was taken on reinforcement firstly (applied using power at the start of the turn) all much like a cut down Star Fleet Battles) and what got through the shields was applied to a ship using a simple D10 role (the game uses only D10s with the odd D6 thrown in for getting engines back on line after an Engine Room hit). The damage to the ship was read from the Damage Chart with 20 options ranging from –4 through 0 to 15 and the D10 was modified with a figure – ranging from –5 to +5 depending on the angle of the hit on the target ship.

Using this system the Damage Chart configures hits depending on where you were shot from – a hit up the lower rear on a Klingon is likely to hit more engines than anything else, for example.


Well I haven’t played the game more than two or three times in the last 15 years. Why? Because it’s not as much fun as it might be, I guess. It’s ok and it’s seem a shame for the whole world not to be able to have another crack at it. And as I thought I’d give it another go, I took the trouble to redo the sheets to put dome colour on them – they’re a bit garish but I wanted to reproduce what I was doing when I last laid this out nearly 20 year ago in Corel draw 1.2!

I thought I’d give it a spin at the Club at some point soon and so I’ve decided to put the play sheets on the web site for all the best reasons: I like to torture people, myself included!

John Treadaway
November 2007