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Poll of the Week: Kobayashi Maru Scenario

Laria Herren

Poll of the Week: Kobayashi Maru Scenario  

54 members have voted

  1. 1. What do you think is the best approach to the Kobayashi Maru scenario?

    • Charge into the situation with weapons at the ready and do whatever you can to save the stranded ship.
    • Retreat at the first sign the ship has been discovered. Sending your own crew to a meaningless death is just as negligent as abandoning the ship in distress.
    • Attempt an unorthodox tactic to throw the enemy off guard.
    • Kirk got it right. When you can’t find the conditions under which you can win, create those conditions.
    • There is no best answer. The point of the test is that there are some situations where every outcome is the same, loss.
    • Have a different answer? Let us know your thoughts below!

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The Kobayashi Maru Scenario is the most notorious test at Starfleet Academy. This test is the famous no-win scenario that tests the character of a Starfleet officer as much as it tests the technical skills of command. The scenario is famously impossible to beat. No matter what course of action you take the outcome is always the same. Only one Starfleet officer ever beat the Kobayashi Maru, and it’s only because he cheated.

While the exact elements of the simulation have changed from era to era the basic setup remains the same. The version that we are most familiar with strands the civilian freighter Kobayashi Maru in the Klingon Neutral Zone after striking a mine. Once the cadet’s ship enters the Neutral Zone multiple Klingon battle cruisers converge on them and attack. It’s considered impossible to both survive the attack still intact and save the crew of the Kobayashi Maru. In a possible variant in the 24th century, a Ferengi transport and an ambush by Romulan warbirds are used in place of an attack by the Klingons.

It is obvious that there is no “right” answer when it comes to facing the infamous scenario. That’s why it is considered unwinnable, and what makes it an excellent tool for teaching command-track cadets. How the cadet chooses to proceed is more important than finding a path to a complete victory. This week, we’d like to know what you think is the best answer to the no-win scenario, if there is one. While you might not be able to win, do you see a strategy that is superior to the others? What do you think is the best approach to the Kobayashi Maru scenario?

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There is no such thing as impossible, only highly unlikely. Tasha is the kind of person who would see that she cannot win, and simply adapt or force the situation in such a way that a victory becomes possible. She likes a challenge, and if you told her that something was impossible, it would be the perfect incentive for her to prove you wrong.

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I find the Kobayashi scenario to be a useless test. Knowing it is unbeatable reduces the chances of the 'lesson' it's supposed to teach from being effective. Had I been put in that test already knowing it was unwinnable I would not have experienced the stress or emotions of a no-win situation but rather an irritation that I had to waste my time on such a test at all.

And Kirks response was simply cheating and anyone realistically or not that could re-program the test to win and actually feel good about it is likely to be a light thinker and useless officer, but of course, he was Kirk so they had to go a different route. 

To sum up, I would be irritated by the test in its entirety, and would never consider cheating as Kirk did nor would I want to serve with an officer who did, no matter their record afterward. 

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  • 1 month later...

It has kind of been my head canon for a while that maybe the Kobayashi Maru senario had been altered after Kirk's time. That maybe it has taken on a more personalized scenario for each individual. You might not necessarily know when you will be tested with this "no-win" scenario. In fact, I kind of thought that the psychological test that Wesley Crusher experienced in the TNG episode "Coming of Age" (Season 1, Ep. 18) at his entrance exam was a variation of the Kobayashi Maru.

It's correct to think that once people know the test isn't winnable it becomes less effective. That's why it is constantly undergoing change. This is evidenced in the 2009 movie by the fact that Spock was involved in programming the Kobayashi Maru scenario. I never believed that it didn't exist before Spock worked on it, only that he was involved in a team who updated it and modified it. It likely goes through many iterations over time. That would be the only way to keep it fresh and useful.

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Doctor Spears recently learned why even medical officers must undertake the famous test. He was faced by a practical no win scenario on his own operating table and it resulted in him losing a patient. The kind of personal characteristics that are assessed in a training setting by tests like the Maru can give an excellent window into the character of any officer. 

That said the idea of the test being more disguised in the current era makes sense, and also fits how my back story is written. I imagined medical officers would be tested with something catastrophic where none of their skills or resources would help them save the people they needed to. In Ed’s case it had been a simulated colony that was suffering from an unidentified disease. It would have been manageable, but part of the scenario had included the ship arriving a week later than planned due to warp drive malfunctions. End result: a terminal colony where only a handful could be saved, and a lot of shaken medical cadets. 

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The test is really seeing if you can deal with the impossible and the allegedly inevitable. One day, I'll have to back sim how Hannibal did on his test...he managed a draw...

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  • 2 weeks later...

That's actually amazing and Hard to achieve Hannibal


Wallace managed to save 40% of the crew and take down a Ship. Not bad right?

But the point is he retreated to protect his own crew, as a good captain would.


Edited by Wallace Williams
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The biggest threat presented in the Kobayashi Maru isn't the destruction of either ship or crew; it's the political fallout that would inevitably spark (another) war with the Klingons. Don't give the Empire what it wants.

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