Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Comparative Rankings of Starships in Star Trek +

Every now and then I get on a data collection and analysis kick (I once analyzed every single published change made to SWG up to the NGE to see what game systems got the most love). It's not so much because I like chasing little numbers as because when I'm done, patterns pop out. We get to see the large-scale structural information that's otherwise buried in the details.

As a big-picture kind of guy, I live for that kind of info. So I thought it might be fun to try to define most of the canon ships of Star Trek according to a single standard and see what, if anything, popped out.

As I noted, the first thing that jumped out at me was how high up on the list the Defiant and Intrepid classes were. On paper, they shouldn't be that studly, but there they were. The most reasonable explanation I could think of is the "hero ship" story, which says that the ship that the stars of a series fly around in has to keep them alive regardless of how their ship would fare if Star Trek were real. (This is the source of the frequent fan complaint that Voyager really ought to have had its butt handed to it by the Borg on many occasions.)

As for the Sovereign class, it actually did pretty well in my ranking. That said, it's noted in several fan sites that the Ent-E looked pretty lame against the Son'a ships. Only a clever trick (let's hear it for richness of tactical opportunities!) allowed our heroes to limp away from that fight. So the Sovereign class did take a minor hit to reflect its lack of balance (unlike most Federation ships, as noted above).

Concerning the ships of the original Star Trek, I debated quite a while over whether to include them. On the one hand, some people (I'm one of them) have a soft spot in our hearts for them. Additionally, because they've been around since the 60's we've got something resembling a consensus on their features, so that's good for a spreadsheet.

On the other hand, they do start to look awfully scrawny compared to late-23rd-century ship classes. Only my inclusion of shuttles allows the TOS-era ships to look useful. (Except for the Excelsior-class refit, which had to be made burly enough to survive -- if barely -- to participate in the fighting at Deep Space Nine.)

Overall, I figured it couldn't do much damage to include the TOS ships. I knew some people would want to see them, and with the inclusion of shuttles they didn't foul up the relative rankings much at all.

I really had to hustle to figure out how both the TOS-era and TNG-era ships would stack up against the Klingon Bird-of-Prey and the D7/K't'inga classes, though! I like where I wound up, but those Klingons just refused to behave themselves.

Typical. :)

At any rate, there's some more of the behind-the-scenes stuff.