(written from a Production point of view)
It is based on the Star Fleet Battles game "universe", however knowledge of Star Fleet Battles is not required to play the game. The game operates under the same limited license granted to Amarillo Design Bureau that Star Fleet Battles has and is restricted to Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated Series, and Franz Joseph's Star Fleet Technical Manual without mentioning any of the principal characters of the show or the USS Enterprise itself. It is based on the same source material as Task Force Games' previous strategic game Federation Space, and the two games are more appropriately "brothers" than "father and son", although Federation and Empire is a considered vastly superior product. (citation needed • edit)
The game involves running the economy and combat forces of seven intergalactic empires: the Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans, the Gorn, the Kzinti, the Lyrans, and the Hydrans, through an eighteen-year conflict known as the General War which takes place starting 168 years after the founding of the Federation. There are involved and detailed rules for combat at a fleet level, ship construction and conversion and economics.
The game has undergone two major revisions, first in 1993 and later in 2000. There are numerous expansions to the game which provide more detailed rules and additional types of ships. Further expansions are in progress which will provide rules for conflicts outside the time frame of the General War and several scenarios have already been published in editions of Amarillo Design Bureau's magazine Captain's Log.
Amarillo Design Bureau released Federation and Empire 2010 in June of 2010. This new edition includes rules clarifications and reworked counters, but is backward compatible with the existing Federation and Empire supplements.