The Star Fleet Battle Manual was an unauthorized set of miniature rules to simulate ship-to-ship combat in the Star Trek universe. It was first published in 1972 by Lou Zocchi and his company Gamescience. As miniature rules go, it was anything but "miniature" in scope. Forget a table top, the game was ideally meant to be played using a barren floor in an empty 8 x8 room. And that was the minimum. A 12' x 12' floor space was considered ideal. I mean who doesn't have an empty one of those kicking around?

The rules were highly complicated and required a great deal of record keeping, recording each turn how a ship's energy was being allocated (shields, weapons, life support), damage to shields/engines/weapons/life support, a ship's course and speed. Movement was simultaneous. Each player wrote down course, speed, and energy allocation on a paper ship control sheet. These plans were then revealed and resolved simultaneously.

Ships themselves varied in factors like warp speed, impulse speed, arcs of fire for phasers and torpedoes.

Combat required the player to actually estimate what angle to fire at with phasers or torpedoes. After writing down the angle targeted, a string (3' string for torpedoes, 5' string for phasers) and protractor were then used to determine if the angle was correct. This might be the reason for the large space. On a card table, being a degree off might not matter so much. But at 5' distance, you have to be pretty good at guessing the exact angle. It's probably the most physical miniature game in modern times, requiring one to crawl around a lot on the floor, trying to sight targets.

Paramount Pictures eventually took note of Zocchi's game. They didn't go medieval on him, however. Paramount was friendly a Star Trek game but requested Zocchi pay a licensing fee. Zocchi felt the fee was too high and pulled the game. He quickly renamed the game Alien Space. The various Star Trek ships and aliens were "cleverly" renamed. The Klingons became the Kuzi. The Enterprise became the "Earthship". I'll let you figure out who the Rojan and the Zeron were supposed to be in Alien Space.

Zocchi's good friend was Franz Joseph1, who wrote the classic Star Fleet Technical Manual. Joseph got Paramount to renegotiate the game rights on better terms. Zocchi could republish the Star Fleet Battle Manual as long as he kept it strictly a "table top" set of miniature rules and used only the names of Star Trek races and ships. The use of characters such as Captain Kirk or story elements was strictly forbidden.

The Star Fleet Battle Manual then reappeared in 1977 with a much better cover.


1 Curious historical coincidence. The Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph created an interesting yellow brick road in front of the Bulgarian National Assembly. Opposite the road is a statue of Tsar Alexander II. This statue was designed by sculptor Arnoldo Zocchi! Amazing! Wheels within wheels! Plans within plans! Riddles in the dark. Back and to the left. BACK and to the LEFT!

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