At Origins 1979, we released the Pocket Edition of Star Fleet Battles and it sold out by the fall. We decided to capitalize on success by expanding it into a boxed game released in November 1979. (Back then, pocket games were a new thing and were just not taken as seriously as boxed games.) To save time and work, we just took the rulebook of the pocket game and added pages to the end of it, expanding it from 28 pages to 44 (and effectively just moving the staples from page 14 to page 22). Back then, new SFB rules just got the next number in one big sequence, so you will find weapons rules in two places, scenarios in two places, and ship descriptions in two places. The game was exploding (in more ways than one) and we just kept tacking things onto the end of it. These days, people would expect us to sell a "conversion kit" to bring the pocket edition up to a boxed edition standard, but back then nobody even asked for that. Everyone was happy to (in effect) buy the pocket edition again. We also added a second sheet of counters (these days those are considered half-sheets) and more SSDs (which is those days were lose folded sheets).
The pages from the original pocket edition included all of the core elements that are still the bedrock of SFB: General rules, the first timeline and map, Sequence of Play, Energy Allocation, Movement (including Disengagement), combat, damage allocation, firing arcs, control systems, sensors, scanners, Hull, lab, probes, phasers, photons, disruptors, plasma torpedoes, drones, power (warp, impulse, reactor, batteries), shields, security stations and Klingon mutiny, shuttlecraft, critical hits, leaky shields (which went away in later editions and resurfaced in Federation Commander), damage control, tractor beams, transporters, boarding parties, crew units, emergency deceleration, non-violent combat, super-intelligent computers, boom separation, saucer separation, electronic warfare, and nuclear space mines. (Those rules were updated with a half-dozen errata items found up to that point.)
Federation ships included the Federation dreadnought, command cruiser, cruiser, and light cruiser; Klingon D6 and D7; Kzinti strike cruiser and light cruiser; Romulan Warbird, War Eagle, and KR; Gorn heavy and light cruisers, and the generic base station.
Scenarios included The Duel, Fleet Action, Planet Crusher, Space Amoeba, Base Defense, Sabotage, and Surprise Reversed.
Campaigns included the Captain's Game and Star Fleet Defense Game.
The sublight game (which has yet to be reprinted in later editions)
To this we added 16 pages of Advanced Game material including:
- Mass-based Movement: No longer did every ship have a movement cost of 1. The dreadnought slowed down; light cruisers sped up.
- Free movement (no more plotting 32 hexes of movement before you saw what the enemy was doing).
- Tactical Warp Maneuvers, High Energy turns with breakdown
- Kzinti fighters
- New kinds of drones (the first step on a long and slippery road)
- Anti-drones (only because there was a leftover box on a Kzinti ship and we had no other ideas of what to do with it)
- Overloaded photons and disruptors, Gorn swivel torpedo launchers, Ubitron Interface Modules
- Federation tug pods (other empires had to wait for their tugs)
- New more complicated firing arcs for ships from television
- Tholians and their webs, Stasis field generators, Using tractor beams at warp speed
- Ground bases, planets, asteroids
New ships in the boxed designer's edition included the Federation scout, destroyer, and tug; the Klingon C8 and C9 dreadnoughts, and the F5 and E4 frigates; Kzinti strike carrier and frigate; Romulan KF5R frigate, Tholian patrol corvettes, Orion raider cruisers, starbases, and freighters.
New scenarios included Piracy, Duel with a Pirate, Pursuit into the Asteroids, Pirates Go for Big Game, Moray Eel of Space, Cosmic Cloud, Assault on a Starbase, The Coming of the Meteor, Cruise Drones, and The Attack of Shuttle Group #26.
Advanced versions of the Captain's Game and Star Fleet Defense Game were included.
All of the charts, tables, and indexes were updated.
Written by Stephen Cole