The Battle of Cardassia Prime
Last revised: 2000.07.27
Dominion Objective: Stave off defeat by stopping an allied Federation, Romulan, and Klingon invasion fleet.
A Federation, Romulan and Klingon allied fleet consisting of many hundreds of ships. The exact number of ships is impossible to determine, although we can see many dozens of ships in each screenshot.
A Cardassian fleet, probably consisting of several hundred ships (yes, I know, it's also listed under "friendly assets"). Again, its exact size is impossible to determine. We know about Cardassian production capacity (from the DS9 TM) and we can see dozens of ships in the screenshots, but that isn't enough information for an estimate.
The entire Dominion and Cardassian fleet, reinforced by a large Breen fleet. In total, we're looking at many hundreds of ships, although as usual, we can never see more than a few dozen onscreen at any given time. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to draw inferences based on dialogue and official figures regarding shipbuilding capacity etc.
A Jem'Hadar army on the planet's surface, probably numbering in the millions.
In a repeat of the third Battle of Bajor, the Jem Hadar/Breen/Cardassian fleet moved out to intercept the Federation fleet far from the system. They formed a "battle line" which the allied fleet ran into.
As before, the allied fleet was unable to simply circumvent this battle line so they attempted to blast their way through.
During the ensuing battle, the allied fleet began to falter but the Cardassians abruptly turned on their Dominion allies, thus turning the tide.
The Jem'Hadar and Breen ships retreated to Cardassia Prime and regrouped to make a last stand around the planet itself. On the surface, the Jem'Hadar began to butcher the Cardassian population as punishment for their betrayal. Strangely enough, they seemed to be doing this without the aid of the orbiting ships, which could have done the job much more quickly.
The allies decided to attack Cardassia Prime rather than allow the Jem'Hadar to rebuild their forces and challenge them once more (thus indicating that the scales of Star Trek wars are small enough that a single planet can represent a serious threat to no less than three separate superpowers).
When the allies arrived, they found numerous huge starships in orbit (one to two miles in length, which is huge by the standards of Star Trek ship building technology), apparently there to serve as defensive battle stations.
Odo beamed down, bringing the female Founder on the planet's surface a message of trust between solids and changelings, peace and goodwill to all men, blah blah blah. The female founder surrendered. Ross and Sisko expressed their sorrow over the deaths of a few hundred million Cardassians, thus reminding the barbarian Martok of their superior human morality, blah blah blah. Lots of slo-mo misty-eyed "thanks for the memories" scenes followed. Gag. Puke.
How could the Empire have succeeded where the Dominion failed? We might imagine the following tactics:
First, we must define their forces. The Dominion dedicated every ship they could get their hands on, so we would presumably use as large a fleet as the Empire can muster. This would include the Death Star, some command ships such as Eclipse and Executor-class Star Destroyers, and several thousand ISD's (not their entire fleet, but a sizable portion of it). Naturally, Cardassia Prime would be protected by a planetary shield generator, similar to the one in ROTJ.
As with the Battle of Chin'toka, the heavy allocation of allied forces would leave their home territory weakly defended. The best use of resources would be to take advantage of the speed disparity between warp drive and hyperdrive, sending all the Star Destroyers out to attack targets deep in Romulan, Klingon and Federation territory while the allied fleet attempts its futile attack.
When the allied fleet arrives (assuming they haven't turned around upon hearing that their homeworlds are being flattened), the easiest way to deal with them would be to simply keep the Death Star inside the planetary shield (or activate its own shield), and then pick off the attacking ships one by one, at its leisure. For an extra element of psychological warfare, they might periodically receive footage of civilian populations being massacred by its distant attack forces, and they could broadcast that footage to the allied attackers.
Flip side: how would the Empire have fared in place of the allied fleet?
First, we must define their forces. The allied forces allocated a large proportion of their total forces to the attack, so the Empire would presumably do the same. But it isn't really necessary. The allied objective was to end the war, but the easiest way to end the war is to simply obliterate Cardassia Prime.
Therefore, (and I know you can see this coming), the best way to handle the situation is to send the Death Star to Cardassia Prime, with instructions to fire its superlaser at the planet as soon as it drops into realspace.
The tactics of the defenders are essentially irrelevant. If they send their forces out to form a battle line, the Death Star will simply pass by them (or fly through them) on its way to the target. If they cluster their forces around Cardassia Prime, they will only be obliterated along with the planet itself.
Conclusion: The Empire's ruthlessness, firepower, speed and sheer numbers would completely transform this battle, regardless of which side it's on. It's an easy 2 for 2.