You will be Assimilated…

A Solo Scenario for Full Thrust based in the Star Trek Universe

The darkness of space, the final frontier, a starship flies through the void. Lights flicker across the hull, the navigation lights shine upon the grey paint. A name and a number can be picked out of the darkness, USS Fearless, NCC 1862.

“Ensign, begin sensor sweep, we must have this stellar core fragment trajectory mapped before any Klingon vessels approach us. Keep to a wideband EM scan. Tactical, maintain yellow alert, I will be in my ready room.”

Captain Samantha Price, looked at the viewscreen as she left the bridge. The darkness no longer scared her, as it did when she was a child. Through a door, she sat at her desk, pressed a button.

“Captain’s Log, stardate 8496.7, this standard stellar cartography mission is going smoothly, with no surprises. Even though talks with the Klingon Empire continue, I am still wary of how close we are to the neutral zone, and that those cloaked ships can easily creep up on us. We are maintaining a high level readiness in case of trouble. In three days, we shall rendezvous with the USS Kiev, one of the troublesome Excelsior class starships and three other Federation ships including our sister ship the USS Columbia for a few wargame manoeuvres. I am looking forward to teaching the new captain of the Columbia a new trick or two.”

“Bridge to Captain Price.”

“Yes, Price here?”

“Captain, sensors have picked up something strange, maybe as a result of the core fragment, but it is cuboid in shape, and approaching us at warp 9.3. I think you ought to come to the bridge.”

“On my way.”

Price walked calmly back to the bridge, probably only another core fragment, so small, the original sensor sweep missed it.

“What is it Number One? A fragment?”

“No sir, we think it’s a ship.”

“A cuboid ship, you haven’t been drinking that Romulan Ale have you? Of course you haven’t, go to red alert, ready phasers and prepare to raise shields. Begin broadcasting welcome messages on all frequencies.”

“The cube is powering up some form of weaponry, sir”

“Hold on, we don’t know if they are hostile do w…”

The USS Fearless rocked as though caught by a huge hand. A dark metallic cube can now be seen, emitting a beam of phased light, holding, playing with the ship as though it was a toy. Another beam, this one rips the ships apart into a thousand million pieces.

The Borg have arrived…

The Introduction

Star Trek is probably the most popular science-fiction phenomena ever. It is enjoyed by Trekkies (or Trekkers), SF fans, gamers, and ordinary people alike. It has grown considerably since the original TV series from the sixties. In the early seventies saw the animated series, while around the early eighties we saw the crew hit the big screen in a series of movies. Paramount capitalised upon the success and introduced a whole new generation (groan) to Star Trek with a new television series. Into the nineties, we now have Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and a new series of movies based on The Next Generation (TNG).

It was in a TNG episode, “Q Who?”, that we first met the Borg. Q had sent the Enterprise far across the galaxy and there it met these enhanced humanoids, travelling in their now familiar cuboid “ship”.

We find that the Borg are not individual entities, but operate as a conscious collective, able to react to and oppose rapidly any attack against them.

We met the Borg again at the end of the third series with the critically acclaimed two parter, “Best of Both Worlds”. Captain Picard is kidnapped by the Borg collective, and forced to lead them to sector 001, the Terran system (Earth). He is surgically altered and goes by the name Locutus. The Borg fight Star Fleet at Wolf 359, losing a large number of ships and personnel. Eventually the Borg were defeated by the crew of the Enterprise, and Picard was rescued and restored to his human self.

The Borg were given a human face in the fourth series episode, “I, Borg”. Here a Borg scoutship was found by the Enterprise to have crashed on a planet, an away team found a survivor and beamed him (it) back to the Enterprise. In an attempt to destroy the Borg, the Chief Engineer, Geordi La Forge, strikes up a “relationship” and name the Borg, Hugh. The Borg now known as Hugh, separated from the collective, starts to get a sense of individuality. He is then reunited with the Borg collective.

One more time we meet the Borg was at the end of series six in the two parter, “Descent”. Here we see the impact of Hugh’s individuality on elements of the Borg collective. The Borg in Descent, are very different from what we have seen before. Both parts of this Borg story are excellent episodes for inspiration for games. Most Star Trek battles are fought between huge starships, in Descent, we see the possibility of ground actions between Star Fleet personnel and the Borg. Transport and air support for Star Fleet could be provided by the shuttles carried by the Enterprise.

The events of Wolf 359 are re-counted in the pilot episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Emissary”. Commander Sisko fought on the Saratoga against the Borg, before the ship was destroyed.

The Borg can be found at the main adversary in the film Star Trek: First Contact.

The Borg are a recurring menace for Captain Janeway of the USS Voyager, even one of her crew is an ex-Borg (Seven of Nine).

One of the major problems of gaming conflicts between the Federation and the Borg, is the sheer invulnerability of the Borg. They are very powerful, they can quickly react to any weaponry, and formulate a defence. The Borg ships are also very large, too large.

The Borg are an opponent to be feared, their sheer ruthlessness and virtual invulnerability makes them unbeatable. Luckily for The Federation, the first time they met the Borg, they had the power of a Galaxy class starship behind them, or did they…

The Scenario

This conflict between the Federation and the Borg takes place, over eighty years before the events of “Q Who?”. This is the time of the movies, Kirk and company are still flying in the Enterprise around the Universe. Most ships now have the new engines, as seen in the first Star Trek movie.

Around stardate 8496, five Federation ships went missing. The USS Fearless first of all never arrived at some wargames manoeuvres with the USS Kiev, the USS Columbia, the USS Sachsenwald and the USS London. These four ships reported this, and then a day later sent a final message that they were engaging an alien vessel of some kind. They were never heard from again. It was presumed that the ships were lost with all hands, as minimal wreckage was found close to their last known location. The alien vessel was never seen again. Further investigation was halted as new developments took over, the Klingons started making noises about certain colonies close to the neutral zone which resulted in large movements of Federation ships. The files on the incident involving the five starships were eventually closed.

The four ships had encountered a Borg scout ship, that entered Federation space on a reconnaissance mission, to find worlds for possible assimilation. How it does this is open to discussion. It is unlikely that it travelled at warp, but possibly used a wormhole of some kind, to travel the vast distances between the part of the galaxy, the Delta Quadrant, that the Borg originate from and Federation space. They may also have used the transwarp conduit used by the Borg ship encountered in “Best of Both Worlds”.

The Borg scoutship encounters the four Federation starships on an intercept course. Hails by the ships fail, and the Borg decided that the precautionary action of charging the phaser banks by the starships as a hostile action and opened fire. The Federation ships respond to this unprovoked attack, and prepare to return fire, battle has commenced…

This solo scenario recreates the incident, enabling the player to see if he (or she) can defeat the Borg and survive the attack

The Borg ship is not moving and is placed on the centre of the table. For the purpose of the scenario, the Borg ship does not move during the game. (Statistics for movement in Full Thrust are given to allow players to use Borg ships in other games). The four Federation ships must be placed within six inches of any table edge; their starting velocities are resolved by throwing 2D6.

The game is over when either the Borg ship is destroyed, or all four Federation ships are destroyed. No Federation ships may leave the table unless all weapons have been destroyed.

Though this was designed as a solo scenario, four players could partake, each taking command of one of the ships. An impartial umpire could control the Borg.

As for the class of the four Federation ships, I think in many respects this would depend on what models are in your collection. However, for those that wish some form of guidance; the USS Columbia and USS Sachsenwald are both Reliant class ships; the USS London is a Constitution class ships (like the Enterprise NCC 1701-A); whilst the USS Kiev is an Excelsior class ship. I would suggest that you don’t use four Excelsior class ships as this is very power-gaming and not in the spirit of the scenario.

The Rules

On first reflection, most people would think that Star Fleet Battles from Task Force Games would by the ideal choice for rules. Though many people use and enjoy the rules, there are some considerations. Star Fleet Battles is based around the original television series and as such could be used, but would need some work in order to utilise ships from the movies era. What can be found problematic, is that Star Fleet Battles really works best when you only use two ships – as often seen on the television show.

FASA did produce a Star Trek starship combat boardgame, as part of their Star Trek role-playing game. This boardgame did have statistics for movie era ships, but is now sadly out of print and difficult to get hold of. It was also somewhat convoluted and complicated to play.

One of the most popular games in recent years has been Ground Zero Games generic starship rules, Full Thrust. The release of the second edition introduced even more gamers to the rules. Their realism and simplicity has enabled many a player to take command of a huge starship and open fire with all weapons against an enemy. I am somewhat biased in many respects, but in my opinion, these are the only starship rules worth playing. Problem, they are generic, and not based around Star Trek.

In the 1992/1993 wargaming show and exhibition season, the Society of Fantasy and Science Fiction Wargamers staged a Full Thrust participation game, this was successful, eventually winning the Best Participation Game at Bristol’s Reveille ’93. The following year, the SFSFW were once more to stage a participation game at Reveille, however, their original choice – the award winning Battle of the Five Armies – was not in a fit state. It required large amounts of work to bring it up to scratch for what we regard as the final show of the season. Our new game – Destroy All Monsters!!! – was not quite ready, still requiring some figures to be painted and buildings constructed. We needed something quick, and something not requiring too much work due to time constraints. The choice of doing Full Thrust was obvious, but it was only with the release of the MicroMachines Star Trek collections that allowed us to finally end up with Star Trek – Full Thrust. Quite some time was spent on converting the generic rules to sit the Star Trek universe.

Playability was one of the main constraints, rather than total accuracy. We were trying to fit the rules for Star Trek, rather than writing accurate rules from scratch. For this article I have changed the Full Thrust names for weapons and systems to names from Star Trek. Beams are now phasers, firecons become tactical stations, screens are turned into shields and so on. To maintain some form of continuity, I have retained the original symbols from the Full Thrust rules.

There are two new weapons, which there are new rules for.

Photon Torpedoes

In order to use photon torpedoes, the player when writing his movement orders must nominate his target, by writing the name of the target on his record sheet. If at the end of movement, the target is within 18″, then the torpedoes have a chance of hitting. The player throws three dice, and damage will depend on the level of shields the target has, as per the normal rules. For this scenario, the target will always be the Borg.

The Borg Tractor Beam

This is a violent weapon, that grabs a starship, drains the power from the ship’s shields first and then from the ship’s systems. At the same time, the beam physically shakes the ship, causing structural integrity to fail, eventually shaking the starship to pieces.

The Borg can use their Tractor Beam to capture a ship within 6″. This is a firing action (requires use of a Tactical Station (firecon)) and will be successful on a score of 4,5,6 on a D6. A captured ship will stop dead and will not be able to move (but can fire). Each subsequent turn the captured ship can try to escape, a 6 on a D6 is required. Each turn the beam will reduce shields by one level and the player must take action as though a Threshold Point has been reached. Throwing a D6 for each system on his ship; the system is “lost” on a roll of six. Once all shields have failed, each additional turn will result in D6 points of damage, as well as the “Threshold Point” damage. Each turn the Borg’s beam holds a ship, this utilises one of the Tactical Stations, which it cannot use to fire weapons with. Thus if the Borg held each ship with the beam, it would not be able to fire its phasers. The normal tactical usage, is to hold a ship and blast it with phasers as well as the damage from the beam.

The Borg’s Tactics

For the purposes of this scenario, the Borg will not move, unless all four Federation ships remain out of range (at one end of the table like skulking rabbits). Movement will always be to the nearest Federation ship, keeping its speed to only eight inches. They will attempt to fire on each target, using one phaser on each. If a target is out of range, or is held by the tractor beam, then the Borg will attack the closest ships, starting with the ones held by the tractor beam.

If you do have an impartial referee, he should apply the same rules.

Damage to the Borg

The Borg take damage the same way as Federation ships. When it comes to Threshold Points, there are a few differences. The first Threshold Point is ignored, and for all subsequent Threshold Points, systems are only destroyed on a roll of six on a D6.

The Borg can also regenerate damage, they do this at the beginning of each turn, a roll of six on a D6 allows them to “mend” one destroyed system. The Borg do this by re-routing power via conduits from other systems, and using other such Star Trek techno-babble. If the player wants, and this does take account of what happens on television, he can apply this “mending” of damage to Federation ships.

People may not agree with the statistics of the ships given, but if they are not happy, they should make alterations to suit their own tastes and interpretations of the evidence gained from the television and movies.

Models and Scenery

Rather than specify exactly which ships you should use, take account of the ships you have in your collection or are easily available.

The metal FASA/Citadel ships which were produced in the 1980s are nice, has a wide range of Federation ships, but are near impossible to get hold of. Their rarity and popularity ensures a high price when they can be found. As with all metal kits, a degree of modelling skill is required to assemble these miniatures. The paint scheme of the Federation is open to much debate, depending more on the lighting director employed, than consistency. There is one other thing to consider, FASA/Citadel never made a Borg scout ship.

A cheaper and sadly no longer available range, as already mentioned, is the MicroMachines range of plastics ships. The range contains all the ships needed, and the Borg ship is perfectly scaled as a scout ship. The detail and painting aren’t wonderful, but they are extremely good value at three for less than a fiver.

Scenery can be just a normal table, but use of a black cloth or sheet, splattered with white stars and galaxies will only enhance the game. Professional painted star mats are available from suppliers, such as Ground Zero Games.

If you wish to have additional scenery, you could use asteroids or planets. Resin asteroids are available, but you can make your own from sponges or foam and spraying them grey. For a planet, you can use a football and spray with paint of a planet colour (blue or red are best). Assume all scenery blocks line of sight.

The Alternatives

This scenario can easily be converted to allow the use of different ships, more players, and other factors.

You could set the scenario away from the films era in either, the original television series or The Next Generation. Various ships are available from the old FASA/Citadel ranges and MicroMachines. You use Klingons or Romulans, again from any era, but stick to around four ships.

You could play against a large Borg ship, and employ more Federation ships, maybe even aided by Klingon allies. You would have to make more the Borg more powerful and possibly less susceptible to damage.

A final variation, is to use, instead of the Borg, a Cardassian space station. Using the MicroMachines’ model of Deep Space Nine, you could have additional support in the form of Cardassian Galor class warships.

The Reprise

What I have hoped to show you is a simple scenario that can be played alone on an evening when there is nothing on the television and wargaming friends are unavailable. It is also easy to convert the scenario, for a multi-player game or take account of what models you have in your miniatures collection. The scenario does work best using the Full Thrust rules, which are simple, and convert easily to solo play.