Some time ago I began a thread on rec.arts.startrek.tech in which we attempted to rank the various classes of starship against each other. This was intended to come to some sort of consensus on all those arguments about which starships "kick ass", which are "wimpy", how Defiant would fare in battle against one of the Enterprises, and so on. Originally we simply assigned overall strength values to each class, but I have since expanded this to examine ships in each of seven categories :
Rates the strength of the phaser, disrupter, or other beam weapons carried. The figures for phaser power output are calculated with respect to the Galaxy class so as to make them internally consistent with the strength indexes. The Galaxy class numbers in turn are loosely based on (but are a little more conservative than) the numbers generated from the "Power" section (accessed via the blue button below). A ship gets one point for every 50 TeraWatts of beam power.
Rates the strength of the torpedo armament. I have come up with a whole slew of different torpedo tube systems, somewhat based on canon but mostly on speculation. The tubes are rated against each other according to how many torps they can fire per second, like so :
|1 every 4 seconds
|1 every 2 seconds
|Type 1 burst fire
|4 every 2.85 seconds
|Type 2 burst fire
|8 every 5 seconds
|Type 3 burst fire
|10 every 5 seconds
|Type 4 burst fire
|12 every 5 seconds
|4 in a second, with 3 second reload time
|4 per second
|2 per second
|1 every 8 seconds
|1 every 5 seconds
|3 every 10 seconds
|2 every second
|1 every 6.25 seconds
|1 every 4.166 seconds
|1 every 2.5 seconds
|1 every 0.8 seconds
|1 every 10 seconds
|1 every 5 seconds
|2 per second
|2 per seconds
|HUMAN (Pre Federation)
|1 every 5 seconds
|VULCAN (Pre Federation)
|1 every 10 seconds
|1 every 6.66 seconds
For burst fire systems, the rate is the overall average - so a Type 3 burst fire can fire 10 rounds simultaneously every 5 seconds, giving it am average rate of 2 per second. The reason the Federation has many more torpedo systems than the others is partly a result of the fact that we've seen many, many more Federation classes than we have of any other species, but also a reflection of the fact that the Federation seem to rely on torpedo fire far more than most others do.
The relative strength of torpedoes carried is shown here :
There is a slight canon basis to this; for instance the fact that the quantum torpedo is 2.7 times as powerful as a photon is in line with the DS9 TM's suggestion that Quantums are rated at 50 isotons compared to the photons 18.5 isotons. However, note that the 50 isoton quantum explosion is generated by a 21.8 isoton matter-antimatter "trigger", and depending on the percentage of this energy which is used up in starting the quantum reaction, the Q-torp could have a yield up to about 70 isotons. Also note that these figures are directly contradicted by at least one episode of Voyager which indicates that the photons carried by that ship have a 200 isoton yield. However, I had to pick some ratio and 2.7 seemed as good as any.
Micro torpedoes are mentioned in the DS9 TM, and are carried by smaller ships like shuttles. I assume that other races have Micro torpedoes, and that all micros are 1/50th the power of normal torpedoes.
Attempts to rank the ships according to how well they can use the weapons they have. Basically, the rule I followed was bigger and newer ships have the room for better fire control systems than older or smaller ships.
Is one of those that is ranked just according to how ships seem to fare on screen. Each 2,700 TeraJoules of shield capacity gets one point.
One of the most complicated sections! The hull figures are now composed of several different elements - hulls can be different thickness' - light, standard or heavy. They made of Monotanium, Duranium, Duranium/Tritanium alloy, Kelindide, Variethiel or Bioarmour and can be single or double layered. And the effectiveness of the structural integrity field is also taken into account.
Monotanium was mentioned in a Voyager episode and is presumably an earlier variation on what I call the "Numberanium" type metals. I have used it for the TOS-era ships, and it counts for 0.625 points. Duranium is used for the TOS-movie era ships and counts for 1.25 points, while the Duranium/Tritanium alloy is mentioned in the TNG TM for modern ships and gets 6.25 points.
Kelindide is mentioned in the DS9 TM as being one of the major materials in the hull of DS9, and I have used it on all the Cardassian ships. It gets 3.75 points. Variethiel is an invention of my own and is the material the Dominion uses in its ships (hey, I had to call it something!); it gets 6.875 points. Bioarmour is used on 8472 and Breen ships, since these have been mentioned as using living ships, and is worth 18.75 points. Outer and inner hull layers have been mentioned several times in TNG, justifying their inclusion. Basically, double hulls double the strength.
Hull thickness is another multiplier - light hulls divide the strength by 4, standard leave it alone, heavy double it.
Then, there is the level of Structural Integrity Field - low, standard or high. Low SIF multiplies the strength by 2, standard by 8, high by 16.
Extra strength can then be added for either polarised, high density or ablative armour. Polarised armour is mentioned as being used by Enterprise in the new series, High density armour is an invention of mine, and basically covers any armour that isn't polarised or ablative. Ablative armour is, as we all know, used on the Defiant and other modern Fed ships. Points are added per cm of armour - 25 points per cm of polarised, 100 per cm of HD, or 150 per cm of ablative.
All this sounds very complex, but it's essential if you're not going to have modern shuttles with ten times the hull strength of old battleships just because they're newer. I think the system works well, and I'm very proud of it!
Is based on a direct comparison of the maximum rated speed of the class, in multiples of lightpseed. For warp factors up to 9 the formula Speed = Warp factor ^ (10/3) is used; for speeds above 9 the formula detailed on the "Warp Scales" sci-tech entry is used. No account is taken of how long the top speed can be maintained.
This is another area that has been fairly heavily modified. You would not believe the stuff I've gone through to come up with a system that can allow shuttles very high agility without giving them absurdly high strength - it's something I've been working on for literally a year or more now! In the end, after playing with logs and god knows what else I settled on just taking the cube root of the agility number. This still makes the shuttles more powerful than I would like - instead of a good shuttle weighing in at around 50, I'd prefer it to be 5 or 10.
All of these factors are scaled so that the Galaxy class starship comes out at 1,000 in each category. This makes it easy to compare one class with another in any category - you can tell at a glance that an Akira has about one third of the shield strength but five times the agility of a Galaxy. Note that the categories do NOT relate to each other - if a ship has 1,000 in phasers and 1,000 in torpedoes it does not mean that these two weapons are of equal strength to each other, just that they are both equal to their Galaxy class equivalents.
The categories are then weighted to give an overall strength according to the formula :
Strength = [(2xPhasers + 2xTorps + 0.75xRange/accuracy + 1.5xShields + 0.5xHull + 0.5xspeed)/ 7.25 + Agility(1/3) ] x (1000/1010)
The idea of this is that some factors are obviously more important than others - I know many will disagree with how much more important, but I don't think there really can be any 'right' or 'wrong' about this so I've just how weighted them according to my 'feel' of how important they are. The final (1000/1010) factor is a fudge which brings the strength of the basic Galaxy class down from 1,010 to 1,000. While the distribution of strengths between the various categories is pretty much my own choice, the overall strength indices mostly emerged from the consensus in the debate on RAST.
The idea of the overall strength index is that one vessel of strength 1,000 would be an even match for two vessels of strength 500, or three of strength 333 - and so on. Note that this is not intended to take account of factors such as the luck or skill of the crews involved - hence pulling some fancy technobabble trick with the main deflector to disable your enemy (the kind of thing Janeway used to do to defeat the Borg every year) does not count towards your strength index.
This list applies to the Trek universe in 2375, i.e. around the end of the Dominion war. I have generally assumed that ships which pre-date this time have received upgrades to their major systems to bring them broadly up to date. Hence, although we have been seeing the Miranda class since the USS Reliant in Star Trek II, I assume that the Mirandas we see in modern Trek have DS9-era shields, weapons and sensors. Typically I rate such vessels as being slightly behind modern ships of equivalent size and purpose, since there is presumably a limit to how much you can do with upgrades. I have also assumed that there has been a fleet-wide program to modify the shields of Starfleet vessels in order to make them effective against the Dominions weaponry.
Lastly, the numbers of ships. Starfleets size is a big bone of contention - not so long ago some claimed that there could be less than a hundred capital ships in the fleet, but recent DS9 eps have shown this as a nonsense. For discussion of the size of Starfleet, see my Articles section. The numbers of specific classes are loosely - very loosely - based on the frequency we see those classes at during the show. Non-federation powers are ranked so that their fleets come out with roughly the sort of strength that I feel they have relative to the Federation.
I know this is all terribly arbitrary, but it's been fun - and frustrating - to do, and I think overall it holds up moderately well. Naturally, I'm sure you'll disagree but hey, it would be dull if we had nothing to argue about!
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