In the Federation Starfleet, the practice of conducting battle simulations (also known as war games or battle drills) was a common method of honing the tactical and combat skills of starship personnel.
Starfleet Academy routinely used battle simulations to train its cadets, such as the Kobayashi Maru scenario, which detailed a no-win scenario. It was in existence in one form or another since before the 2250s. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; VOY: "Learning Curve")
Performance in battle simulations were a factor in starship crew evaluations, including promotion decisions. Simulations could be scheduled in conjunction with duty shift schedules. (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part I", "Lower Decks")
In 2268, Starfleet conducted an elaborate simulation involving Doctor Richard Daystrom's experimental M-5 multitronic unit, designed to autonomously operate all starship functions without the input of a ship's crew. The USS Enterprise was equipped with the M-5 unit to test it's function-ability in several areas. As a test of the M-5's tactical and strategic capabilities four other Constitution-class starships were assembled to launch a coordinated attack against the Enterprise. Commodore Robert Wesley commanding the USS Lexington led the attack force which also included the USS Excalibur, the USS Hood, and the USS Potemkin.
However, the M-5 malfunctioned during the simulated attack; rather than firing with minimum-powered phasers, the M-5 attacked the battle group with full-powered phasers and photon torpedoes, causing substantial death and damage to the fleet as well as completely crippling the Excalibur and killing everyone on board. Enterprise Captain James T. Kirk managed to force the M-5 to deactivate before the remaining starships launched a final attack to destroy the Enterprise. (TOS: "The Ultimate Computer")
"Operation Lovely Angel"Edit
In 2365, the crew of the USS Enterprise-D participated in a battle simulation in the Braslota system, overseen by Zakdorn strategist Sirna Kolrami, known as Operation Lovely Angel. Enterprise captain Jean-Luc Picard was originally against participating in the simulation, but with the recent discovery of the threat from the Borg, he recognized the need for his crew to practice their combat skills.
An away team of forty crewmen from the Enterprise, led by Commander William T. Riker, boarded the obsolete and deactivated cruiser USS Hathaway and reactivated its systems in the space of 48 hours. However, the Hathaway was no match for the top-of-the-line Galaxy-class starship, and so Riker's team prepared a few surprises. Riker's temporary first officer, Lieutenant Worf, hacked into the Enterprise's tactical systems and projected the appearance of a Romulan Warbird, creating a diversion that allowed the Hathaway to score multiple hits against the Enterprise.
However, the simulation was interrupted by the appearance of a Ferengi Marauder, whose DaiMon believed that the two Starfleet ships were engaged in some sort of internal struggle over advanced technology. The Kreechta attacked the Enterprise (whose crew had originally thought that the Marauder's appearance was another trick programmed by Lieutenant Worf) and disabled the larger ship, leaving it powerless to defend the smaller Starfleet vessel. Bractor demanded that the Hathaway be turned over to him.
Fortunately, an act of subterfuge by Wesley Crusher had provided the Hathaway with a small amount of antimatter to power the ship's warp drive. Riker and Picard devised an elaborate illusion in which the Enterprise appeared to destroy the Hathaway with torpedoes, but in actuality the Hathaway escaped in a brief two-second warp jump to the far side of a nearby planet, where it was able to hide. Worf then programmed a sensor shadow into the Ferengi ship's computer, making it appear that Starfleet reinforcements were approaching the system. Apparently outnumbered and with its potential booty seemingly destroyed, the Ferengi ship retreated. (TNG: "Q Who", "Peak Performance")