In watching only the first 2 seasons of Clone Wars, blockades and planet defenses are always depicted as essentially planar formations in one tiny portion of a planet's space. Regardless of whether the Separatists or the Republic are protecting/blockading the planet, the warships always come upon each other in simple linear configurations and always with the "tops" aligned in the same direction. There is some variation but in the vast 3D realm of space, it is almost as if there is no tactical difference from one battle to the next. Individual fighters manoeuvre in 3D, but only in the limited space around the warships.

As for enjoyment of the show, adding my own imagination into the story makes it tolerable. Otherwise, it is rather annoying and frustrating that there is hardly any creativity with the realities of 3D space. Star Wars creators would take a lesson from reading Ender's Game, specifically the portions when Ender teaches the other cadets about relative direction in space.

Do the physics and realities of 3D battle improve in latter episodes? Do they ever depict a full-planet defence with more interesting configurations?

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    As far as I remember, it's more or less the same... Actually, this is a common trope in sci-fi, eg also consider Star Trek where battles also always happen on the same plane.
    – Hans Olo
    Jun 3, 2017 at 22:01
  • @Loki But in Star Trek, there are usually far fewer ships. Almost always it shows them oriented in the same direction ("top up"), but the majority of battles are between two ships which really are all on one line. Three ships (e.g. two Birds of Prey approach Enterprise) must necessarily be in the same plane. Rarely are there more than 3 ships (just my memory as reference), especially in battles and usually not around a planet. I think the physics and "realistic" arrangements are generally better in Star Trek.
    – C Perkins
    Jun 27, 2017 at 20:27
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    Deep Space 9 had huge battles with hundreds of ships, and all of them on the same plane...
    – Hans Olo
    Jun 27, 2017 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


No Star Wars: Clone Wars does not have 3-D battles, and continuously uses 2-D space trope.

In regards to the second part of your question, one of the more interesting and longer battles is the blockade of Christophsis but it also takes place mostly in a single plane of space.

It's unfortunate but this is a common thing, and Clone Wars itself was particularly guilty of the trope of 2-D space In case the link dies here's the short:

As far as most writers are concerned, space is flat, like a great big tabletop. A few may allow that space may have a third dimension as large as five or ten miles high, but not much more than that.

If you want better 3D battles you will have to read some of the books and have a good imagination - X-wing and the thrawn trilogy have some interestingly written engagements, though they too are limited in their 2-d space navy thinking. (shoutout to the most interesting tactic in the star wars universe, the Thrawn Pincer)

In-universe we can assume that the hyperspace entry points are generally limited to a certain plane around stars at about the same Y-axis point. Since they know what direction the enemy will be coming from, they can arrange their forces in such a way that a total blockade is unnecessary. Overly clever strategies like jumping past the planet and back to the unprotected side may leave your forces trapped. In fact, everything in Star Wars points to those precise micro-jumps being impractical.

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