The player controls the facilities and fleets of one of five galactic powers: the United Federation of Planets (which only has human colonists even if other species join), the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, the Ferengi Alliance, and the Cardassian Union. Players can persuade "minor races" - some of the many alien species seen in STNG - to join their empire through diplomacy, or can conquer them by force.
Birth of the Federation contains examples of:
- Alliance Meter: You have these with minor races you encounter. The meter determines what treaties you'll be able to make with them and how they respond to your requests. The Mizarians will actually give up and join you if you threaten them, but most have to be treated nicely and given lots of gifts to join. Some races are more likely to join like-minded empires. For example, warrior races (Acamarians, Andorians, Angosians, Anticans, Chalnoth, Nausicaans, Selay, and Talarians) are more likely to join the Klingons due to similar philosophies.
- Canon Discontinuity: The arrangements and names of stars and planets are randomly generated and, except for the home system names and the names of Sol's planets, have no relationship to Star Trek canon or to reality.
- An interesting inversion. Since Cardassia Prime is canonically the second planet in the system, the structure of the Cardassia system in-game is a little odd, since the planetary order starts with Cardassia II, continues with Cardassia Prime, and then resumes the normal numerical order.
- Andorians and Vulcans are separate minor powers rather than founding members of the Federation. Tellarites are nowhere to be found.
- Colony Ship: Naturally. Used to settle habitable worlds. All colony ships, except Klingon ones, are unarmed. In fact, Klingons don't have unarmed ships.
- Confusion Fu: According to the Romulan intro video, this is their way to victory:"Misdirection is the key to survival. Never attack what your enemy defends, never behave as your enemy expects, and never reveal your true strengths. If knowledge is power, then to be unknown is to be unconquerable."
- Extra Turn: The effect of an Invisibility Cloak in battle. If both sides have only cloaked ships, the effect is negated.
- Fog of War: Ships and planets have sensors with limited ranges. It is impossible to see what enemy ships are doing beyond those ranges.
- Good Is Not Soft: While the Federation intro emphasizes the importance of diplomacy, it does point out that the Federation ships are meant to end wars, while showcasing the Galaxy class.
- Hyperspeed Escape: Ships are capable of fleeing battles, although they have to survive a battle turn first.
- Infinity +1 Sword: Defiant-class heavy escorts are the most powerful buildable ships in the game. A single Defiant is capable of wiping out a whole enemy fleet, especially since it's capable of cloaking, granting it an Extra Turn at the start of the battle (unless the enemy also has cloaked ships). Only the Federation can build heavy escorts, which means that they have an unfair advantage, which may be slightly balanced by the fact that they're, generally, the most difficult faction to play. And they have the highest tech requirements to unlock, meaning they're only available late in the game.
- Invisibility Cloak: All Romulan ships, some Klingon ships, and the Defiant have cloaking devices, which have an effect on both strategy and battle. Ships with engaged cloaking devices are invisible on the strategic screen and can only be attacked by sheer chance (i.e. if your fleet happens to enter the same cell as a cloaked fleet). In battle, the cloaking device (provided it's been engaged before the battle) grants an Extra Turn at the start of combat, which can often be the final turn. It can be either used to do serious damage to the enemy without retaliation or flee the battle without being fired upon. Since all Romulan ships can become invisible, the game balances them out by making their ships extremely slow on the galactic map.
- The Milky Way Is the Only Way:
- The Ferengi economic victory cutscene states that, with this galaxy's market cornered, it's time to look towards other galaxies, quoting Rule of Acquisition #242: "More is good. All is better."
- One of the Romulan victories plays this straight. They recognize that there are other galaxies, but, being isolationists, they're perfectly satisfied with staying in this one.
- Morale Mechanic: Every system in your empire has a morale meter. It drops when the place is conquered, treaties are broken, or the military's ships suffer a defeat (which works even for systems that have been recently conquered, which is like the French liking German occupation more in 1941 after hearing about German victoriesnote ). Ship victories increase morale. Other factors depend on the race: Klingon morale increases with declarations of war and news of planetary bombardments of enemies, and decreases with peace treaties; the reverse is true for the Federation. The Romulans in particular seem to like most things, which is evidenced by the fact that both war and peace declarations increase morale. Each faction has a repeatable project that can be built in a system to try to improve morale. Surprisingly, the Ferengi project (Festival of Fun) is the only one that doesn't reek of tyranny, while all the others involve oppression: Martial Law (Federation, yes, Federation), Police State (Klingons), Tribunal (Romulans), and Inquisition (Cardassians).
- No Quarter: Ships in combat never surrender or try to persuade other ships to do so, although this may not be the case when capturing systems. There is no option for an empire to surrender to another, and they all always fight to the bitter end. The exception is when the player's empire (either individually or as part of an alliance) controls the majority of the galaxy where the victory condition is domination- the player has the option of either accepting their enemies' surrender or crushing them.
- Pintsized Powerhouse:
- Defiant-class ships may be small (although not as small as on TV), but they pack heavy firepower. Plus, their cloaking device gives them an Extra Turn against non-cloaked ships, which can frequently end the fight before it even starts.
- From a strategic viewpoint, minor races whose star systems have dilithium deposits tend to have warships of their own, which can be quire powerful for someone the size of a single system. In general, they tend to be too tough to beat until about mid-game. Getting them to ally with you instead of conquering them also give you their ships, although you can't build them.
- Planet of Hats: Averted in that production in a star system only changes based on morale, not the in-show characteristics of the race that it belongs to (might be worth a mod, if anyone's up to that).
- Proud Merchant Race: The Ferengi view everything from a financial viewpoint. Their intro and ending videos all quote their Rules of Acquisition.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: As expected, the Klingons are this. Even their intro tells the player to never leave the Empire without an enemy, even when making temporary alliances. Klingons can also get along with minor warlike races better than others, including the Nausicaans and the Chalnoth.Klingon Intro: If a Klingon does not fight, he does not breathe! Make allies if you must, but never leave the Empire without an enemy. Klingons are born to fight and conquer! A true leader will never forget this.
- Ramming Always Works: While ramming is a valid tactic during battles, it's usually pointless, since a tiny ship can only do damage up to a maximum of its HP, and a big ship can just use its weapons to blast the smaller one.
- Random Number God: If the Borg happen to spawn near your space early in the game, you might as well start a new game. By tweaking one of the game files it's possible to remove the appearance of the Borg as one of the random events, given the AI's total inability to deal with a Borg invasion.
- Reluctant Warrior: The Federation's hat is diplomacy. Therefore, war tends to hurt Federation planet morale. However, as the Fed intro states, their ships are intended "not to start fights, but to end them." Add to that that the Federation possesses the most powerful buildable ship type in the game...
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Even the "large" galaxy has only a hundred or so stars. There are no binary or trinary star systems anywhere, and almost every star has planets in stable orbits. Red giants will go supernova during the game if random events are turned on, despite the fact that star life spans are on the order of billions of years and it's insanely unlikely that they would happen to explode during a given interval of a thousand. The list goes on.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: If too many bombardment ships are used against a system while you land troops, you'll destroy the colony there and leave nothing to occupy. Nonetheless, one troop transport is always used up if landings are successful (and they're all destroyed if they aren't).
- 2-D Space: In the strategic picture, so that every star in the galaxy is aligned along a very narrow plane. The third dimension can be and is used in tactical combat.
- Utopia Justifies the Means:
Control is the only thing that matters. Methods are not important. Efficiency is what counts in the end. Exploit what you conquer, for in the struggle for survival, every resource is critical. History is written by the victors.
- If the Cardassian intro is to be believed, this is their hat.
Rule of Acquisition #58: There is no substitute for success. It does not matter how success is achieved. Superior numbers are just as effective as superior technology. When all is said and done, any victory is better than any defeat.
- Surprisingly, the Ferengi intro has a similar point, even if it is more economically-centered.
- We Have Reserves: According to Ferengi intro, this is a perfectly viable way to win, if you don't have the technological edge. In the end, all that matters is success.
- We Win... Because You Didn't: If the Borg invade before anyone has the technology to stop them, your best strategy is to try to survive a little longer than anyone else: that meets the criteria for being more powerful than the other empires and gives you the win. The Rubicun system is perfect for this because the Borg are unwilling to attack the Edo Guardian.
- Written by the Winners: The Cardassian intro states this almost word-for-word. The speech itself points out that the methods to achieve victory don't matter, only the efficiency.