he Excelsior is the undisputed queen of the battlefield in the old FASA Trek
game system. Only the super-heavy ships from the TNG Officer's Manual have a chance against the Excelsior, but if we exclude TNG-era vessels it is
almost impossible for any single Klingon or Romulan ship to tackle the Excelsior
one-on-one. Even the impressive Klingon
L-24 battleship is not quite up to
par, and only once or twice have I ever managed to beat an Excelsior with an
L-24, and then it took a lot of lucky shots. Otherwise, the Excelsior is
the thug of Starfleet: massive, awesomely powerful, capable of clobbering
multiple smaller opponents.
Artistically, I must admit, it took years for the
Excelsior design to grow on me. (click
here for original FASA artwork!) When I first saw Star Trek III I was
horrified by the lines of the Excelsior when compared to the
Yeah, there was the standard saucer-and-dorsal thing with the secondary hull and
the warp nacelles, but everything was so curvy. Curves
everywhere. Curved everything. I don't think it was until Star Trek
VI came out and the true apparent size of the ship became apparent that I
started to get turned on to the design. Now I love it, and consider it to
be a very classy looking thing. So much so that I built my own
paper-and-glue model of it in 1995, which was a pretty massive project in
and of itself.
I have listed three different versions of the Excelsior
below, the first two being from the UFP Ship Recognition Manual and the
third being from the TNG Officer's Manual.
What never made sense to me about
the Mark III model is how it's not too much better than the Mark II.
Indeed, in some ways it is worse off than the Mark II. The
only thing better about the Mark III is it has more power, while the downside is
that it actually has less superstructure than the Mark II. Also, if the
two manuals are right, only 40 of the Excelsior ships were ever built!
This clearly makes no sense at all when we consider how ubiquitous these ships
have become by the time of Star Trek The Next Generation. By my reckoning there
ought to several hundred of these ships in service by the time of
Picard and the Enterprise-D, if not many more.
Getting back to game play, different scenarios may be
appropriate depending on which era the melee is going to take place in. A
scenario in the time of Kirk and Spock would certainly only involve one
Excelsior vessel at the most, since these ships are exceedingly rare and
exceedingly powerful. For limited play I suggest pitting one Excelsior
against three later-model Klingon D-7 ships, or against a Klingon L-24 and an
older-model D-7. The Romulan Z-1 Nova
ship is even worse off, so you could try one Excelsior versus a Z-1 and two or three smaller Romulan
ships. Any way you slice it, for a player to beat the Excelsior it's going
to take numbers. If you expand the melee to fleet-level proportions, I
have always found it fun to build a 'carrier group' of ships comprised of an
Excelsior accompanied by two cruisers, two frigates, and four destroyers.
Face this bunch off against a numerically-superior fleet of Klingon or Romulan
ships, numbering 3 cruisers, 3 frigates, 3 destroyers, and 3 escorts. The
Romulans and Klingons have numbers, but the Federation has firepower, and it all
comes down to which player can use his or her advantage to the best
effect. Such a massive fleet-level engagement takes days to complete, but
can be a hell of a lot of fun.
For TNG-era scenarios the Excelsior has ceased to
become such an advanced brute and is now more of an aged workhorse. The
advanced Klingon, Ferengi, and Romulan designs of the TNG-era kick butt on the
old outdated Excelsior, so now it is time to reverse things: pit two or three
Excelsiors against a single Ferengi Marauder or Klingon
KDF-2 or Romulan
D'Daridex. It is now the Excelsior that needs numbers to match the
advanced firepower and heavy armor of the TNG-era enemy, making for interesting
--- Brad, STSTCSOLD&A
From the FASA Star Trek FEDERATION SHIP RECOGNITION MANUAL, circa 1985
Excelsior Class XIII - XIV Battleship
Notes: On Stardate 2/2210, the first of the new battleships, the USS Excelsior, was commissioned.
This vessel is the newest in Starfleet, and it incorporates many experimental
operating systems. Since that time, Starfleet has announced that another Mk I has been built, the USS
Proxima, which is expected to finish its trials sometime in early 2/2400, and will be commissioned immediately thereafter.
Starfleet Command has contracted for two Mk II versions to be built.
The first of those, the USS Columbia, will be completed and ready for trials in early
2/2400 while the second, the USS Galacta, is expected to begin its trials sometime in the latter part of the year.
All the battleships are being constructed at the Sol III and Sol IV shipyards.
Technical data regarding the TransWarp engines used on these ships is classified and is not available for publication at this time.
These engines operate by capturing the warp envelope in a transporter field and beaming it ahead of the ship to attain the reported warp speeds.
The weapons arrangement of the Mk I consists of 16 phasers and 4 photon torpedoes.
Mounting 8 FH-11s and 8 FH-5s, the Mk I's originally were designed to cover all fields of fire with both
long and short-range phasers. The evaluation teams felt this arrangement could be improved by
removing the FH-5s and replacing them with two additional FH-11s. This meant that the ship would carry only 10 of the long-range
phasers, but the fields of fire overlap more effectively. An improvement in torpedo launcher technology
allowed two more torpedo bays to be added. The torpedo tubes of the Mk I bear only to the fore and
aft, but those of the Mk II are arranged to cover all firing arcs.
The shield system of the Excelsior Class vessels is
reportedly an improved version of the quadri-transducer that delivers more deflector power.
Like the engines, the technical data regarding the shield system is classified.
The Excelsior has been called "The Great Experiment" by many in
influential circles. These ships are the newest of any in Star Fleet and incorporate experimental technology in most of the components required to operate a warship.
With so many new systems aboard these vessels, the process of testing them has been slow.
Prior to being installed, each component was tested and re-tested until it met standards.
Nevertheless, when the USS Excelsior was taken out for trials, the evaluation teams were constantly faced with
primary system malfunctions that would not allow any of the secondary or back-up systems to be tested.
This caused the evaluators to deal with these new components on a one-at-a- time
basis, and thus creating time delays in the commissioning of the class.