Star Trek the Roleplaying Game before and there's a reason for that: they remain perhaps the best starship combat rules ever included in any RPG. They're simple enough that even the wargames-challenged such as myself can grasp them, but they also possess enough depth to hold the attention of players adept at strategy and tactics. On top of it all, the rules are an excellent evocation of their source material and integrate well with the Star Trek RPG. Rather than being effectively a separate game used to adjudicate starship combat, these rules work hand in hand with those of the RPG, thereby enabling starship combat to be as much of a roleplaying experience as arguing morality with rock creatures or teaching alien women the meaning of love.
Even so, the starship combat rules could be used independently of the RPG and it was likely this fact, coupled with the possibility of selling metal miniatures to use with it, that led to the publication of the Star Trek II Starship Combat Simulator in 1983. The Starship Combat Simulator (herafter SCS) was designed by Forest Brown, David F. Tepool, and William John Wheeler and, though completely compatible with FASA's Star Trek RPG, effectively became the centerpiece of a separate, though related, game line. This game line featured not only this boxed set but also miniatures, starship construction and recognition manuals, and small sub-games designed to be played quickly by two players. I have no idea how successful the line was for FASA, but it became a favorite in my gaming groups, something Starfleet Battles never achieved.
At the heart of the SCS's appeal was the way that allowed multiple players to run a single starship, each one taking the role of a different member of its crew. Each player had a paper tactical display where they allocated energy to important starship systems and made dice rolls to determine if they could coax a little extra performance out of them. It was a brilliant way to involve everyone and stay true to what we see in Star Trek. Equally brilliant, though, was the way that the system scaled upwards, so that, if the players wanted to simulate a battle between more than two ships, they could do so without bogging things down. In such cases, the specific details of individual systems were abstracted a bit, making larger scale engagements not only possible but relatively painless to run. It was a lot of fun to play, which is a boast no starship combat system except for Knight Hawks can make in my book and even that excellent system pales in comparison to the SCS.
My only real complaint about the Starship Combat Simulator was that it fed the impression that a lot of Star Trek fans somehow viewed the series (and movies) as being military science fiction rather than optimistic action-adventure with occasional forays into military SF. It's a small thing, to be sure, but I can't tell you how often I've met self-professed Star Trek fans whose primary interest is in space battles and technology, two areas that, while certainly present, are far from the core of Star Trek. Granted, when I was a younger man, I loved those things, too, so perhaps it's simply a phase one goes through. Still, when I look back on my youthful experiences roleplaying Star Trek, there were a heck of a lot more space battles played out with the SCS than we ever saw in any of the episodes or films available at that point. I don't blame FASA for my own misapprehensions, but there is a part of me that wonders whether the existence of a separate starship combat-based game line didn't lend credence to my foolishness rather than discourage it.