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Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

Master of Orion was published a generation ago in the early days of PC gaming(3.5" floppy disks and all, though I have the GOG version) by Microprose in 1993, and developed by Simtex Software. It essentially founded a genre, and is generally known as the 'father of the 4Xs'. While I have no aim to throw shade at other games, I will say that I find myself bemused at the fact that others such as it's successor three years later, Master of Orion 2: Battle of Antares, are considered superior. I am of the opinion that the opposite is the case. MOO2 is a solid game, but I think it's considerably more flawed. I count myself among those who think the original is not only the best in the series, but in fact still one of the finest strategy games ever produced.

I was stunned to discover that I could not find any LPs of this true pioneering classic here, though there are a few for newer versions. I intend to rectify this situation. Master of Orion may look dated(and it does, and is), and I don't intend to gloss over those areas where it falls short. On the other hand, it boasts surprisingly robust replayability, flawed but ahead-of- it's-time AI that is still superior to many modern offerings, and quite well-balanced yet assymetrical gameplay. Many have borrowed from it, but as a total package I am not convinced it has been surpassed -- certainly not by many.

LP Style

This thread will showcase the above and much more, for better or worse. Mastery will be demonstrated(attempted is probably more accurate) by winning on the toughest difficulty with each MOO race, from overall best to most challenging. In this way we will also see the variety of situations the game presents, within familiar patterns. Community voting will be rare; at these settings there isn't much room for suboptimal play. Each game will be played out to it's end, and losses will occur; in fact, I expect to lose at least as many as I win. Only the very best MOO experts, which I do not count myself among, can win consistently and there are some possible galaxies which are truly impossible.

This will almost exclusively be an SSLP, with the occasional video for particularly noteworthy battles.

LP Pacing

For a variety of reasons, Master of Orion lends itself to 25-year segments. Games can last anywhere from less than a century to several centuries depending on various factors.

Community Participation

If someone really wants to see a particular race or something like that I may consider moving them a bit up or down the list. Taking a vote on actions at the difficulty I'll be playing would be an exercise in futility. But aside from that anything goes. I'm always looking for honest feedback of all varieties, as well as any other thoughts you may have on the goings-on. Lurk, comment, whatever suits your fancy. There's not much to spoil but have at it if you wish there as well.

What's this whole MOO thing about anyway?

Per the manual, have some lore:

As we'll see, the second sentence there is unmitigated horse manure. There is no shortage of room for new people or resources on our homeworld at the start of the game. The date is wrong also, since the story begins in 2300 ... which is the beginning of the 24th century, not the 23rd. So not a real great start to our backstory there, but the rest of it and the broad strokes are pretty good.


If you must, take a gander at the intro video bearing only topical resemblance to actual gameplay here:

The Races

All the galaxy is a stage, and these are the actors, in order of appearance from best to worst. There is no 'race customization' such as you would see in a modern 4X; they are what they are, and the weaknesses and strengths must be dealt with. This is one of those aspects that some would consider a flaw, but I'm inclined to disagree inasmuch as I've yet to discover a race customization feature that is both robust and and reasonably balanced. In any event, this is the order in which the races of MOO will be featured here:


These braniacs are far and away the best researchers in the galaxy, gaining their edge through superior technology which tends to become a more and more pronounced advantage as the game progresses. They don't have any natural rivalries and will tend to stay out of galactic conflicts until they have an overwhelming advantage. If they are allowed to reach that point, the galaxy almost always belongs to them -- everyone else just hasn't received the requisite paperwork yet.


Your basic hive-mind insects, the Klackons get double the normal production from population. This allows them to build up new colonies more quickly than any other race. They will tend to get off to a quick start which they can leverage throughout the game. Klackon opponents typically are difficult to get along with, and focus sensibly on developing their industrial base. Construction tech is their forte, but they are among the worst in propulsion, a key weakness.


Most players consider the humans to be better, but I've put them together here because I find them to be roughly equal in the hands of a strong player. As opponents, I'd say the Silicoids are even better.

Taking homo sapiens first, they are masters of trade and diplomacy. Often this will manifest itself in convincing other races to support their leadership, winning without bloodshed. Other races tend to trust them more than they really should. If they are present and not particularly weak, political maneuvering will be crucial. As their advantage lies in dealing with other races, it is a mid and late-game plus. Humans are also better than most at research; they are the best there is when it comes to force fields, and are strong in planetology and propulsion as well with no major weaknesses.

The Silicoids are the most unique race, space rocks essentially. Diplomatically they are pretty good, tending to side with the Klackons and Meklar. They can live on any rock, ignore pollution, but have terrible population growth and can't research some key ecological technologies. In fact the Silicoid overall are the worst-researching race in the galaxy; good in computing but subpar everywhere else. The ability to settle anywhere allows them free reign on some planets early in the game, allowing them often unrivaled early expansion. If they fail to press this edge though, they can wind up in a world of trouble.


Another case of two different races that are, at least in theory, roughly equal. The amphibious Sakkra breed at an incredibly high rate, and aim to expand quickly. They will generally attack whenever an opportunity presents itself. Diplomacy ... is not their strong suit, to put it mildly. They've got a blood feud with the Mrrshan and aren't real big fans of the Alkari, Klackon, or Meklar either. Their planetology research is the class of the galaxy, and they have no major weakenesses in tech. If they can avoid pissing off the universe, they are a foe to be reckoned with.

The Meklar are cybernetic life forms, adept at automation which allows them to squeeze considerably more industrial capacity out of their planets than any other race. Somewhat similarly to the Psilon tech advantage, this allows them to compensate to a degree for limited territory if need be. This manufacturing edge diminishes over time, but never completely disappears. The facility with automation also brings with it preeminence in matters of computing and espionage, but ecological matters largely escape them. The approach to foreign policy is often unpredictable to organic life; they find most in common with the Silicoids, and don't trust the nature-loving Sakkra.


Masters of flight, these bird-beings are the top military-focused race. They have plenty of natural enemies, including the Mrrshan, Klackons, and Sakkra, all of whom provoke a predatory response. The aerodynamic focus yields excellence in evasive maneuvers; their ships are notoriously hard to hit, particularly early on in the struggle. Propulsion is naturally their top field and they have no equals in that discipline; force field research is poor on the other hand.


This is another example where I differ from the conventional wisdom. Most, though not all, would rate these felines as the weakest overall race in the galaxy. Their main ability is the opposite of the Alkari; their weapons will miss less often and cause more damage due to superior skill in matters of gunnery, and their scientists are preeminent in weaponry advances as well. Balancing this are struggles in construction tech and major diplomatic issues. The Alkari and Sakkra relations are usually on the level of a blood feud, and they don't get on well with Klackons or Bulrathi either. Fewer powers like them compared to those that do, and the kitties don't do themselves any favors by proving reckless on the attack more often than not.


This is a race of bear-like creatures that are immensely strong. Don't be fooled by the relatively cutesy appearance; they are not to be trifled with in ground combat, either on the attack or defense, where they are formidable foes. They've got more than their share of aggression, sometimes attacking without a clear purpose. They have pretty neutral relations, with the Mrrshan their only notable distrust. Research is a little above-average with skill in weapons and construction, balanced by a weakness in computing. The biggest flaw is the lack of a major strength; the Bulrathi are generally behind the 8-ball economically or in fleet action against almost everyone. Too often their fearsome shock troops can only be employed in forestalling their eventual demise.


Never trust a shape-shifter. The shadowy Darlock are literally cloaked in mystery. Nobody likes them, and only humanity can be counted on to regularly make deals ... once which will benefit them the most, of course. In terms of technology they are good at computing, average everywhere else. Their lone ace in the hole is having a massive edge in all matters relating to the dark arts of spycraft. Lacking any military or economic pluses, they will usually start slowly and, marginalized by the galactic community, struggle to have a major impact on the larger stage. They are usually a disruptive force, skilled even at blaming their subversive actions on others, but it is rare indeed to have them as a major power.


Note: Episode XI and on are worth looking at just for the reader art alone. As an example:

Episode I: Psilons, Small Galaxy

Episode I: Psilons, 1st Attempt
Opening, Part II
Phase II: Expansion Part I(2323 - 2337)
2337 - 2350
Episode I, Part V (2350 - 2370)
Episode I, Part VI (2370-2375)
2375 - 2380 High Council: Beginning of the End, or Merely the End of our Beginning?
Episode 1: 2380 - 2400
Episode 1: 2400 - 2425
Episode 1: 2425 - 2450
Episode 1: 2450 - 2475
Episode 1: 2475 - 2487
Episode 1: 2487 - 2500

Episode II: Klackons, Medium

Episode II Preview
Episode II: Klackons, 1st Attempt, Opening
Episode II: 2322 - 2350
Episode II: 2350 - 2363
Episode II: 2363 - 2375

Episode III: Klackons, Large

Episode III: Opening
Episode III: 2323 - 2349
Episode III: 2350 - 2366
Episode III: 2366 - 2375
Episode III: 2375 - 2399
Episode III: 2400 - 2425
Episode III: 2425 - 2443
Episode III: 2443 - 2449
Episode III: 2450 - 2474
Episode III: 2475 - 2499
Episode III: 2500 - 2515
Episode III: 2515 - 2524
Episode III: 2525 - 2549
Episode III: 2550 - 2579

Episode IV: Silicoids, Huge

Silicoid Preview
Episode IV: Silicoid Start, 2300 - 2328
Episode IV: 2328 - 2349
Episode IV: 2350 - 2361ish
Episode IV: 2361 - 2374
Episode IV: 2375 - 2399
Episode IV: 2400 - 24??
Episode IV: 2408 - 2424
Episode IV: 2425 - 2449
Episode IV: 2450 - 2474
Episode IV: 2475 - 2499
Episode IV: 2500 - 2524
Episode IV: 2525 - 2549
Episode IV: Conclusion

Episode V: Silicoids, Medium

Episode V: Revenge of the Rocks(hopefully)
Episode V: 2322 - 2339
Episode V: 2339 - 2349
Episode V: 2350 - 2362
Episode V: 2362 - 2374
Episode V: 2375 - 2399
Epsiode V: 2400 - 2424

Episode VI: Humans, Large

Human Preview
Episode VI: Human Opening
Episode VI: 2329 - 2349
Episode VI: 2350 - 2374
Episode VI: 2375 - 2399
Episode VI: 2400 - 2424
Episode VI: 2425 - 2450
Episode VI: 2450 - 2475
Episode VI: 2475 - 2500
Episode VI: 2500 - 2525
Episode VI: 2525 - 2550
Episode VI: 2550 - 2575
Episode VI: 2575 - 2600
Episode VI: 2600 - 2625
Episode VI: 2625 - 2650
Episode VI: 2650 - 2675
Episode VI: 2675 - 2700

Episode VII: Meklar, Medium

Meklar Preview
Meklar Opening
Episode VII: 2325 - 2350
Episode VII: 2350 - 2375
Episode VII: 2375 - 2400
Episode VII: 2400 - 2425
Episode VII: 2425 - 2450
Episode VII: 2450 - 2475
Episode VII: 2475 - 2500
Episode VII: 2500 - 2525
Episode VII: 2525 - 2550
Episode VII: 2550 - 2575
Episode VII: 2575 - 2600

Episode VIII: Meklar, Large

Episode VIII: Opening
Episode VIII: 2325 - 2350
Episode VIII: 2350 - 2375
Episode VIII: 2375 - 2400
Episode VIII: 2400 - 2425
Episode VIII: 2425 - 2450
Episode VIII: 2450 - 2475

Episode IX: Sakkra, Medium

Sakkra Preview
Episode IX: Sakkra Opening
Episode IX: 2322 - 2350
Episode IX: 2350 - 2375
Episode IX: 2375 - 2400
Episode IX: 2400 - 2425
Episode IX: 2425 - 2450
Episode IX: 2450 - 2475

Episode X: Sakkra, Large

Episode X: Opening
Episode X: 2325 - 2350
Episode X: 2350 - 2375
Episode X: 2375 - 2400
Episode X: 2400 - 2425
Episode X: 2425 - 2450
Episode X: 2446 - 2475
Episode X: 2475 - 2500
Episode X: 2500 - 2525
Episode X: 2525 - 2550
Episode X: 2550 - 2575
Episode X: 2575 - 2600
Episode X: 2600 - 2625
Episode X: 2625 - 2650
Episode X: 2650 - 2675
Episode X: 2675 - 2700
Episode X: 2700 - 2725
Episode X: 2725 - 2750(I)
Episode X: 2725 - 2750(II)
Episode X: 2750 - 2775(I)
Episode X: 2750 - 2775(II)
Episode X: 2775 - 2800
Episode X: 2800 - 2825
Episode X: Multi-Part Conclusion. Sauron Presents: Maximum Evil Overkill
Episode X: Conclusion

Episode XI: Alkari, Medium

Alkari Preview
Alkari Opening
Episode XI: 2322 - 2350
Episode XI: 2350 - 2373

Episode XII: Alkari, Large

Episode XII: Opening Plus
Episode XII: 2350
Episode XII: 2375 -
Episode XII: 2400 -
Episode XII: 2425 -
Episode XII: 2450 -
Episode XII: 2475 -
Episode XII: 2500 -
Episode XII: 2525 -

Episode XIII: Mrrshan, Medium

Mrrshan Preview
Episode XIII: Opening
Episode XIII: 2317 -
Episode XIII: 2350 -
Episode XIII: 2375 -
Episode XIII: 2400 -
Episode XIII: 2425 -
Episode XIII: 2450 -
Episode XIII: 2475 -
Episode XIII: 2500 -
Episode XIII: 2525 -
Episode XIII: 2550 -
Episode XIII: 2575 -

Episode XIV: Bulrathi, Medium

Bulrathi Preview
Episode XIV: Opening
Episode XIV: 2325 -
Episode XIV: 2350 -

Episode XV: Bulrathi, Medium

Episode XV: Opening
Episode XV: 2325 -
Episode XV: 2350 -
Episode XV: 2375 -
Episode XV: 2400 -
Episode XV: 2425 -
Episode XV: 2450 -

Episode XVI: Bulrathi, Medium

Episode XVI: Opening
Episode XVI: 2325 -
Episode XVI: 2350 -
Episode XVI: 2375 -
Episode XVI: 2400 -
Episode XVI: 2425 -
Episode XVI: 2450 -
Episode XVI: 2475 -

Episode XVII: Darlok, Huge

Darlok Preview
Episode XVII: Opening
Episode XVII: 2324 -
Episode XVII: 2350 -
Episode XVII: 2375 -
Episode XVII: 2400 -
Episode XVII: 2425 -
Episode XVII: 2450 -
Episode XVII: 2475 -
Episode XVII: 2500 -

Strategic Sage fucked around with this message at 03:36 on Mar 9, 2019


Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...
Psilons, 1st Attempt

I'll go through various game screens and aspects to explain how everything works in this first game; in later games/episodes I'll be a lot quicker to get to the action, and individual updates will tend to be shorter.

Here we have the ubiquitous title screen. What you can't see here is that there is some basic animation; the engines spin and the purplish particles are continuously being sucked into the vortex in the background. 'Quit to DOS' tells you exactly how ancient this game is.

Upon beginning a new game, we are taken here, an options screen which is simplicity itself. One thing I appreciate here is that it defaults to the last settings you used; we'll see this in other places as well. So very many games made after this didn't do this.

** Galaxy Size: Small(24 stars), Medium(48 stars), Large(70 stars), or Huge(108 stars). Pacing is quite different between them, so to show them off I'll start out on Small and work my way up. Large is my preferred setting as a balance between pacing and getting to most of the technology in the course of a game, so once we've seen them all once the rest of the games will be played at that size. The manual says small is the hardest size; there's an argument to made for that but I don't happen to necessarily agree; I'd say rather that the the smaller sizes are more double-edged in my experience.

** Difficulty: Simple/Easy/Average/Hard/Impossible. The AI gets major production and technology handicaps on the lower difficulties and bonuses on the higher ones: 20% for Easy/Hard and 40% for Simple/Impossible IIRC. Their starting fleet size, aggressiveness, etc. are also impacted. Choosing Hard or Impossible also gives the player a 20% penalty in starting population, which has a bigger impact than you might think. I'll be playing exclusively on Impossible.

** Opponents: One through Five here. Five will always be our setting. The game is a lot less interesting with a low number of opponents. Even at the max, almost half of the races will be unrepresented in any given game.

So our initial foray here is set at Small/Impossible/Five.

Then we choose our race from the ten options, Psilons as mentioned. The small pixellated portraits here are rather unimpressive. After picking the Psilons, we choose the color of our banner/flag:

Not at all obvious, though it is mentioned in the manual, is the fact that this choice will also determine our ship models for the game. The Psilons are yellowish in appearance, so yellow it is. We'll see all of them at least once before this (mis)adventure is completed.

Finally, there's prompt to select a name for ourselves as Emperor, and our homeworld, or to leave them at the default. Homeworld always defaults to the same name for each race, and there are a few rotating emperor names. I leave them at the suggested names, and hereby will be referred to for all antiquity as Emperor Zygot of the planet Mentar.

And with that, our journey begins.


A properly played game of Master of Orion has a clearly definable opening stage. Normally I'd put all of it into one update, but with the amount of necessary exposition here I'm going to break it up. Our goals here are as follows:

** Scout as far as possible
** Establish a second planet/first colony.
** Build up our homeworld's industrial base ASAP.

The core concept of maximizing the growth curve will be quite familiar to any fan of 4X-style games. When it comes to this, the compounding effect of decisions means that the first ones are the most important; they will impact everything that comes after. Doing the first few turns 'correctly' provides for the maximum amount of resources being available later on, etc.

This is the first view to greet us, known as the Control Screen. The majority of it is just the galaxy view, and is quite self-explanatory; click on a planet or fleet for more information. That info is displayed on the panel on the right, with the menu button row on the bottom.

Star Colors: We can see a few different-colored stars right now, and there are more. The colors don't matter once a system has been explored, but before that they gives us a general indicator of what we are most likely to find there. They come in six varieties, as follows:

Yellow -- "offers the best chance of finding terran and sub-terran planets". By terran and sub-terran, this means simply standard, i.e. habitable at game start without specialized abilities or technology, planets.
Green -- "moderately bright and have a wide range of planet types"
Red -- "Old, dull stars that commonly have poor planets". Poor meaning mineral poor, which we will get to in a moment.
Blue -- "Relatively young stars with mineral rich lifeless planets".
White -- "Burn incredibly hot and generally have hostile planets"
Purple -- "Neutron stars are rare and offer the greatest chance of finding rich planets."

I'll explain in a bit what the heck all this rich/poor/lifeless/hostile/terran/standard etc. stuff really means, but first let's take a long at the details for our homeworld on the right-side panel.

From top to bottom, we can see that it is Terran with a 100-max population; that's the best class of planet there is, and your homeworld always starts out as 100 max. The possible range of planetary populations ranges from 10 to 120 initially, so it's very good but not perfect. Below that we have current population of 40(50 on Average difficulty or below), 0 bases(missile bases, to be discussed more at a later time), and then production says 38(51). The first number is actual production after all current costs are taken out; second number is total production. The five sliders below that control planetary spending, the 38 available to us, as we see fit. Production in MOO is equal to one-half of the current population plus the current number of factories. You always start with 30 factories, so 40 population divided by 2 = 20, +30 factories = 50 production.

The five spending categories are fairly self-explanatory.

Ship = Shipbuilding
Defense = Planetary Shields and Missile Bases; i.e. static planetary defenses
Industry = Building factories increases the industrial base
Ecology = Factories also produce waste; that's cleaned up here at an initial rate of 2 waste removed per BC. Any extra goes to terraforming if we have the tech(we don't right now), or to increasing population growth
Tech = Researching new technologies

Below that we can select what ship to build by clicking the image or the Ship button. RELOC is a rally-point concept; any ships built at one system can be re-routed automatically somewhere else. This is of course pointless at the moment with only one planet, since we have to send them somewhere that is under our control. TRANS allows sending up to half the population per year to another system, for bolstering other colonies or ground invasions.

Next we need to understand that star/planet type stuff, so we'll head to the Map menu button in the bottom row.

At the top of the right-side panel you can see three buttons, defaulting to 'Colonies'. These are basically map modes long before map modes became a thing. The Map Key below tells us who we are up against, which is important information although you never know how things are going to shake out. I'm not sad to see there are no Klackons, but the Silicoids and Humans aren't likely to be fun. Darlok, Sakkra, Alkari -- the draw could be worse and it could be better. Only one system has a flag; our homeworld, since we know nothing about the rest of the galaxy. We can guess at the location of the other empires though; they will always start at yellow stars. The one above and to the right of us right by the 'hand cursor' is too close I think; one advantage the player has is a 'safe zone' around their homeworld. If the upper-left is an AI they'll be screwed with no other nearby stars, probably one or two in the upper-right. That one in the lower left and the one right smack dab in the middle are almost certainly homeworld locations. But we can't really know for sure yet. One thing to keep in mind with a small galaxy is that along with being smaller, it's the least dense; stars are more closely packed together in the bigger ones.

The other two views bring up the stuff I was talking about relating to different star types. Each star system's potential is represented by a single planet, or none at all; there's no moons or multiple planets to be concerned with here. Behold the Environments display:

Now the Map Key displays the varying types of planets in the game. If you look closely, you'll see a corresponding green T by our homeworld of Mentar on the starmap. The two columns represent the two basic types, in terms of habitability: standard and hostile. As you go down each list(i.e, terran through minimal on the left, barren through none on the right), the maximum population of each planet type decreases. There is some randomness; a big jungle planet is better than a small terran, for example, but in general most terrans will be larger. Larger is always better in this case, and in most things in Master of Orion. The hostile planets are nthose more likely to appear in the blue, white, and purple stars we talked about earlier, and for our purposes at the moment there are two important facts about them. First, we can't colonize them with researching the appropriate technologies. Secondly, population growth is halved on those worlds once we can. This means that half of the planet types can only be settled by Silicoids to start things off, allowing them to develop worlds the rest of us can only gaze at. Hostile planets do tend to be smaller as well.

Finally, the Minerals view shows anything special about a planet's production. Again from the map key, Ultra Poor, Poor, Rich, and Ultra Rich have the effect of negative or positive multipliers on a planet's production. Note that these apply to industry, ships, and defense; ecology and technology are unaffected. In other words, you can't build crap without mineral resources, which these specials modify. The two types listed in green also require explanation. Artifacts planets are distinctive for a couple of reasons. They are planets where the mysterious 'Masters' have left remnants of their civilization, and study of those ruins doubles all tech output from these planets. Also, the first empire to scout an artifact planet receives a bonus tech advance from initial survey of these ruins. Orion is unique, as the manual intro I previously quoted indicates. The massive research quadrupling that occurs there is only one part of that unique status. Note that each planet can only have one 'mineral special'; that is, you'll never see a Poor Artifacts planet, or whatever.

The assessment of a planet and it's economic value then, comes from a combination of three factors: maximum population, environment, and the speciality or lack thereof.

Back at the main Control screen, it's time to take a look at our current fleet, such as it is.

On the left the fleet has been selected, and the right panel again shows us what's there. We'll get into more detail on ships and fleets and whatnot later, but for now we can easily see a pair of scouts and a single colony ship. These do pretty much what you'd expect them to do. Any ship can serve as a scout; what makes these special is they have reserve fuel tanks, which allow an extra 3 parsecs of range. Default game-start technology provides a 3-parsec range, so our scouts have double the range of our colony ship. They all also have retro engines, allowing basic warp travel; 1 parsec per year. We won't get anywhere in a hurry.

There's one final thing to understand before we decide what actions to take. The Planets button is our next place to visit.

Most of this is your basic ledger/spreadsheet with important info on all of our planets, but right now we're most concerned with some very important stuff at the bottom. Remember what I said about actual versus total production? This is where you find out what the 'missing' amount is going to. On the bottom we've got ships, bases, spying, security, trade income, etc. Now spying and security aren't a thing because we haven't met the other races yet of course, but that 23.5% in the ships category really sticks out like a sore thumb. We're spending almost a quarter of our production maintaining the fleet -- and it's all going to that monstrosity of a colony ship, which(we'll see where to find this information later) costs 591 BC to produce, or almost a dozen years of production. Yikes.

ProTip: Due to this maintenance cost for the colony ship, getting that first colony going ASAP is huge in terms of maximizing the growth curve. Getting rid of that much overhead at this point in the game is absolutely vital.

So, let's take a look at what's within range. It turns out that, as happens fairly often in small galaxies, the decision was made quite simple for us. There is only one, the green star directly above us, three parsecs away. The yellow one to the right of it is four parsecs, the green one to our left is five, and everything else is further out.

If that system isn't habitable, we're really in a bind -- but while it is possible to have no systems at all within colonizable range, though quite rare, when there is one they are hardcoded to be habitable AFAIK(at least one at any rate). I've never found a contrary example. One potentially tough choice is made self-evident and off the colony ship goes. The two scouts will head to the green and red stars beyond that one(above and above/left). Their goal is to push as far into the galaxy as possible.

ProTip: AI Races are much less likely to try and settle a system that they have to fight for. Stationing a mere scout in a system can dissuade them, at least for a time. If they really want/need it they are coming anyway, but 'picketing' by stationing scouts everywhere within their travel range can slow their advance, sometimes significantly. It's crucial to restrict them at the same time you are expanding your own holdings.

So we've got the glorious Psilon Fleet dispatched, which collectively has not a single weapon, shield, or electronics system beyond the basics onboard. They have what they need to complete their missions, and nothing else. Our final decision before we can actually advance to the next year: what do we invest in on Mentar?

Defense is out, as we have no need for it prior to first contact. Technology is always vital but right now we have what we need to expand which is the top priority. Ecology requires 16 of our available 38 production(that's 42% for those of you scoring at home) just to keep things clean; putting more could help increase population but that would be highly inefficient. With starting technology, it requires a 20 BC investment to grow another 1M population; factories cost half as much(10 BC) and provide double the benefit. Each million(pop represents 1 million workers) can operate two factories each, so there is a limit; but we currently only have 30 factories for 40M pop, so we are not even halfway to that limit. And of course population will grow on it's own, factories don't.

The choice comes down to two: factories or more scouts. There's no way to be absolutely certain which one will be better. The growth curve being all-important suggests building that industry with maximum haste, but that means delaying scouting some star systems -- systems our rivals could reach before we do as a result. Even among players capable of competing with the AI on Impossible there is not a clear consensus here, which is one of the things I love about this game; right from the start there is nuance and decision-making with no self-evident choice.

My approach is to basically split the difference here; invest in factories for a few turns, typically until the first colony is established, then with the slightly improved economic base and less overhead, I'll pump out the needed scouts, after which I'll return to factory investment. Our remaining 22 BC(not bitcoin, that's Billion Credits, our currency) will allow for 2.2 factories this year(the game does track to one decimal place).

There's not much else to say really. For Mentar!!

When you click 'Next Turn' to advance the game, the Galaxy Map will display briefly and you can see ship movement within sensor range. Right now we can see nothing but our own ships, as our sensor range is ... lacking. I think it starts at 3 parsecs from colonies, 1 from ships. Might not even be that good.

Here's how things look after our orders are resolved. We've advanced to turn 2, aka 2301, one year per turn in Master of Orion. Population has grown a couple to 42M, we've built factories and are up to 2.4/year, production up from 38(51) to 41(54). Also, the ships have moved off in their various directions. They all appear to be 'pointing' to the left; you can get an idea on where a fleet is heading this way as well, although it'll only indicate left/right. The between-turn method is the only way to know more(unless it's our ships, in which case just selecting it will tell you where and how long). Also worth noting is that we can't change our minds now on where to send them. Until technology allows it, we can only communicate with them at star systems. That means you want to be sure before you send ships somewhere, esp. if they are going to take a long time to get there.

Not much to do at this point but wait for them to arrive and keep building factories on Mentar.

A couple of years later, we have news of the not-great variety. Our target system above Mentar is named Tyr, and Minimal(35 max.) is pretty crappy. It's not terrible news; no enemies and we can colonize it, but at only a third the size of Mentar it sucks. There being no alternatives in range though it's not even a decision.

After selecting YES to the colonization prompt, we're treated to a landing video which can be skipped but plays every time you colonize a system. This is our sole opportunity to rename the system if we choose; I tend to stick with the default names.

There is some blurriness there compared to the ingame, as you'll notice if you compare to the screenshots. I think that's due to the DOSBOX video capture feature, which as far as I know is my only option. If anyone has any suggestions on improving it though let me know.

Let's take a look at Tyr now and see what we have to work with.

This display is accessible in two ways; clicking on the star itself a second time, or on the red box at the top of the right-side panel that has the name, class, population etc. I prefer the Planets screen since it has information on all of them at once for comparison, and doesn't take any more work to get to, but it was worth showing. You can't interact with anything on this screen, but it does have icons in the lower left for those who prefer a visual representation. The one right now is for population(1 per 10), and there are others for factories and bases if appropriate.

All new colonies start out with no factories at all, and a population of a whopping 2M. If you remember our production calculations earlier, that means 1BC is all we'll produce here; at that rate it would take a decade just to build a factory. We'll want to transfer in some population from Mentar to speed things up. Let's see how the homeworld is faring ...

Production is now set free here, at 61(61). That's because we are no longer paying for that colony ship. The two scouts continue on their way, but their maintenance is negligible. In the last three years seven factories have been built on the homeworld, but we can now build them much faster.

ProTip: Whenever you have a major change in your automatic spending(i.e., the amount that comes out of your production due to ship maintenance, etc.) it's always a good idea to revisit your planetary sliders. They will remain at the same ratio, but since the amount you have to spend will have changed, you'll still end up with different results and will probably want to make adjustments. Ecology is what I look at first since often you want the minimum amount to clean up all the waste and you'll either end up with not enough to do that, or too much which isn't efficient. In this case, we don't need this much going into ecology anymore; part of our production increase is just going to be wasted that way.

There, that's better. 20 of the 61 is now going into waste cleanup: our 37 factories are producting about 40 units of waste. But there's more to do here. I want to transfer some population to Tyr to boost that planet, without hamstringing Mentar too much. Transports move at one parsec slower than your best engine tech typically, although right now both are at one parsec since that's the minimum. It'll take everyone we send three years to reach Tyr, and in the meantime they won't produce anything. The maximum allowable transfer is half of the current population on the source planet, but we aren't going to send anywhere near that much.

ProTip: When making these kinds of decisions it's important to keep in mind how population growth works. It's basically a bell curve; planets grow fastest at half of their max population. Below a third or above two-thirds it slows down considerably, so keeping things in that 'middle third' is optimal where growth is concerned.

Mentar isn't anywhere close to the amount of factories it's population needs to operate yet, so losing a little population isn't going to hurt it. At 47 out of 100M max, it's not to the 'sweet spot' of halfway yet either though. To keep overall growth as high as possible, I'll send as many new colonists as Tyr needs, keeping Mentar at least at 50M. For now, we'll only send 1M per year until it reaches that halfway point; that way we'll aid the growth of Tyr a bit, but Mentar will still be growing.

After selecting TRANS and clicking on the destination system, we get a line showing the path to be followed, and an ETA. The path will be similarly shown for any RELOC operations, which we will certainly be using at some point.

That's everything we can do right now to boost Tyr, which will put it's miniscule production into factory-building as well.

This seemed as good a place as any to put in a break. Next time I'll conclude the opening with a lot more game-years being covered and somewhat less exposition.

Strategic Sage fucked around with this message at 23:03 on Apr 22, 2017

Aug 20, 2016

I always loved Master of Orion, though I was never very good at it. Fun to see someone being much more strategic and thoughtful than I was.

Nov 8, 2009


The original MOO was before I started playing video games. Interesting to see how the space 4X genre got started.

Nov 3, 2008

Not as strong as you'd expect.
The Youtube video link wants correcting. It's not taking me to the video you want me to see.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

Bloodly posted:

The Youtube video link wants correcting. It's not taking me to the video you want me to see.

Thanks for the heads up. Link corrected.

Added Space
Jul 13, 2012

Free Markets
Free People

Curse you Hayard-Gunnes!
Not cleaning up pollution lowers the maximum population of a planet. Since your home world starts at 40 out of 100 it can be worth it to shortchange cleanup for the first few turns to get more factories running.

Aug 26, 2011
This looks like it'll be interesting.

Glory to Mentar!

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...
Opening, Part II

WARNING: This update ended being rather longer than I expected. That'll probably happen for a couple more after this as well, and then they'll get smaller once all of the game-concepts explaining crap is out of the way.

This is the map screen again, to show a couple things. After clicking around on the various stars, we determine our next course of action in terms of scouting. It's time to get some more of them out there, but that won't do any good until we decide where. The only system within our 3-parsec colonization range is the green one above Tyr; the yellow one to the right is still 4 parsecs out. So we're really hoping right now that green one can be colonized. The range is calculated from the closest planet we own or are allied with, so we've extended our reach by settling Tyr; we can refuel there.

The badly-drawn lavender line masquerading as a circle here is my fault. I put that in to show our current sphere of influence. Everything inside it can be reached by our 6-parsec range scouts. A total of ten systems, over a third of the galaxy, and we'll want scouts out to these planets ASAP.

ProTip: This brings us to our first bug. Supposedly because of the way tech levels are calculated in Master of Orion, the starting ships are actually too expensive. Redesigning the exact same ship will give us an identical, but cheaper version.

This is the Fleet screen, accessed by another of the bottom menu buttons. Here we can see where our various ships are headed, and the list can get very long indeed later in the game. Also note the ship maintenance in the lower left, currently at 0. We can scrap any of our designs, which is necessary from time to time as we are limited to six active; to make a seventh you have to get rid of one of the current ones. For our purposes right now though, we'll select the Specs button on the bottom.

The Specs screen you'll be seeing a fair amount of in this LP. This is where we see all the details for all of our ships, at once. We'll revisit this later to explain what all of this stuff means, when it's time to build serious warships. Right now it's enough to know that it's here, and can tells us all of the combat characteristics, special systems, costs, and on the left by each ship's portrait, current # of ships in each class. Right now we want to scrap everything we aren't using; fighter, destroyer, and bomber, since even if we wanted those designs(we don't), because of the previously mentioned bug it's better to re-design them. I'd scrap the colony ship too, but I'm leaving it for comparison purposes at the moment. All we have right now in service are the two scouts; that's a total of 20 BC build cost, * 2% gives us 0.4 BC maintenance. So basically nothing, as mentioned.

Then I threw together a couple of basic designs, a new scout(which I named simply the 'recon' class as is my custom) and a new colony ship 'colonizer'. Designing these is trivial, and we'll look at the ship design screen in more detail later. The new designs were made with exactly the same specifications as our existing ones, leading to the Specs display looking like this:

The Recon is 8 BC compared to the Scout at 10; Colonizer costs 570 BC instead of 591. No reason to pay more than we absolutely have to. The ship models are different because you can't have more than one design using the same model at a time. I'll scrap the original colony ship design now, and we'll be able to use that one again any time we wish.

We need to build some Recons now, but we don't want more than we absolutely need. We'll want them at all planets eventually, but the less we can divert Mentar from factory-building, the better off our growth curve will be. We need at least four more to cover the six systems on the 'outer edge' of our sphere of influence, and one more to scout a couple planets close by. That's the minimum here, five Recons. That # will obviously vary from game to game. There is just enough production to do that in one year if we divert everything not needed for waste cleanup to the job.

Here the spending has been changed to do precisely that. Note how Eco and it's spending bar are now red. By clicking on the word Eco, Tech, or whatever category, you can 'lock' them in place, so that the amount will stay constant no matter what changes you make to the other ones. That makes it a lot easier to make the desired adjustments at times. Below that, we can see the Recon ship portrait and the 5 there indicates how many will be built this year. Changing from one ship class to another is done by the SHIPS button or by clicking the image. Being able to get more ships out on scout/picket duty for just one year's delay in factory-building is a much better trade than if we'd done so before; can't afford to wait any longer, because as mentioned, each turn we wait means more chances for our rivals to get there first.

As the next year arrives, we're greeted with the Fleet Production Report for the first time. This shows up anytime you build a ship, and is quite useful. If you've screwed up and built something you didn't want to, quite easy to do with a large empire, you'll probably notice it here and then have a chance to rectify the situation. In this case it's obviously just telling us that our five recons are finished.

Here we can see our lone colony transport on it's way to Tyr. The scouts are also nearing their destinations. The five new Recons are dispatched, and will take as much as nine years to arrive at the furthest star systems we can reach. Mentar also goes back to industrial spending, and sends another 1M people on to Tyr. The next few years we will be focused on building up our two systems and watching for the reports from our scouts. What they tell us will determine much.

The next year, 2305, the system of Willow is scouted and the report is not good. Toxic is second-hardest class of planet to settle. We won't have any chance of getting anything done here for quite some time. You can also see our recon ships fanning out from Mentar to their various destinations. Also, if you look near our uppermost scout, you'll see something else ...

That didn't take long! Things move quickly in small galaxies. An Alkari scout. I'd bet dollars to donuts based on the distance and timing that the yellow star midway up the right edge of the galaxy is Altair, the Alkari homeworld. That means we're going to be pretty hemmed in here out that way. It looks like both their scout and ours will arrive at the green star next year. This will serve as a good example of the importance of getting scout ships out early -- even a year later would have been too late. Also shows how close they have to be to us before we can spot them at starting tech. That green star is our only chance at another planet within our current range, so what happens next year in that encounter is absolutely vital.

Short video shows what happened next: explanation to follow.

Unless there is a treaty preventing it, whenever ships from two different races are at the same planet, an engagement of some kind will occur. Battles can occur only at planets; you won't run into ships halfway between or whatever. Every fleet battle begins with the players ships on the left edge, AI ships on the right. There's no planet visible here because nobody controls this system. If they did, the planet would be shown near their ships. Also note the red crossed-out circle as I moved the cursor around; that means I can't move to that location. The arrow/ship icon seen later appears when you move it close enough to be in range. Starting retro engines can only move one space per turn in combat, aka they are slow as dirt.

The buttons along the bottom of the screen will matter in real battles, but for a meeting of two scouts it's not real important to go into those.
As soon as we move, it's the Alkari's turn and they warp out. Enemy ships will always retreat if they have no weapons. This is an important advantage early in the game, because the winner gets to scout the planet here; the loser does not.

A tiny radiated planet. It's rich, and could be quite a good planet ... at least a century from now. But that's the absolute worst class of planet, the only one worse than toxic. With the Alkari scout retreating, we got there just in the nick of time. They weren't able to scout Arietis, and their scout has wasted valuable time. They can afford it more than us, and it's only a small victory but it's an important one nonethless.

However we now have a bigger problem. We have to improve our range before we can expand further. It is possible to build a colony ship with reserve fuel tanks like the scouts have ... but it's not worth it. It would require a bigger hull and would be prohibitively expensive. Being stuck with only two planets right now, one colony and not a very good one at that, is a poor start. The Psilon Empire appears to be up against it here. This is an instructive moment in game design theory IMO. Modern games ensure fairly equivalent starts, but MOO has a bigger box when it comes to that. The preeminence of multiplayer concerns is the main reason for the change, and from that perspective it's quite sensible: I like the old way shown here when you can have a pretty crappy start(and so can other races, they aren't even protected as much as the player is in galaxy generation) because of variability and degree of unpredictability it adds to the experience.

It's inefficient to try to do anything about that yet though; once we've got Mentar up to full capacity we can deal with that situation.

2308, two years later, and we get some good news: Imra is a terran planet able to support nearly as many Psilons as Mentar itself! We could fit every currently living Psilon on this planet. It's four parsecs away, so any range increase would bring it within our grasp. And look who is coming to check it out also; if you look closely, you'll see another Alkari fleet, another scout. The fact that they can make it this far means they have almost certainly colonized that blue planet a few parsecs directly above this. We'll have to disappoint them again; oh what a shame! Imra is definitely a very strong candidate for our next colony.

Meanwhile, Mentar has shipped it's last colonists off to Tyr. There are 7M there already and 5M more on the way: that'll get them to the desired one-third level, 12M or more by the time they all arrive. Mentar has 54M and that will climb steadily now; 55 factories is nearly double the initial level with 5+ being added annually.

The next year we chase the incoming Alkari scout away from Imra as expected.

ProTip: Notice that I've selected Arietis here. We have a scout in orbit, and another incoming. I'm going to send on the orbiting scout to the yellow system above and to the left, and since the new scout will replace it next year, we won't lose picket coverage at Arietis. In this case that yellow star is at enough of an angle from the vector of the incoming scout that we would have done just as well, no better and no worse, to have it simply head straight there initially. When stars are 'lined up' though you can often save a little time; and as we've seen already that time can be invaluable. I call this the Relay Technique. Just make sure the incoming scout is only one turn away when doing this.

2311, two years later. Let's say hello to another rival. Didn't see them coming. They just brought a scout, and they retreat as well. Also ...

Spica is a fairly good planet. Unless you are looking for it, you probably won't notice right away the bluish dome in the graphic there, indicating there's already a colony here.

Spica belongs to the Darloks, so that's where the came from. They are white in this game. It's worth noting at this point how first contact works: we will automatically establish relations once either side has the range to reach one of the other empire's planets. From this we can conclude that neither side has range tech as high as six parsecs right now(reserve fuel tanks are not factored in for this purpose).

We'll reroute our recon ship at this point, as it's considered bad form to just hang out with your ships in orbit of another empire's planets and it will antagonize them. Don't need that. Retreating to Tyr in case somebody tries to scout that seems the best option here.

We'll build one more recon at Mentar now as well. Spica is close enough that Darlok scouts could reach our homeworld, and we don't want them getting any such ideas. A 'defensive' scout ship over even our own occupied planets is a good idea, because if they do scout it, they might decide it's a ripe target and send troops here. We don't want them getting any such ideas.

It takes only a fraction of our production to accomplish this. Tyr only has a couple of factories right now and needs a lot more work before it can contribute, otherwhise we'd do the construction there.

Well this is a surprise. I expected to find an Alkari colony in Ukko ... but instead we have nothing. They must have advanced range tech already. Jerks.

It appears the Alkari have sent another scout to Arietis. Perhaps they think we've left? Looks like they are quite interested in the system. They'll probably eventually send armed ships to chase us away, but the more time and effort they waste in the meantime the better.

2313 has three encounters for us. Two of them involve chasing scouts away again, one Darlok and one Alkari. The third was different though ...

Our first run-in with warships. This is of course the Alkari homeworld of Altair, as I expected it would be. Should have used the Planet button on the bottom to show population and factories, but it didn't occur to me at the time. As our scout is not armed though, there's nothing for it here but to retreat.

This is the planet we chased a Darlok scout away from. Barren is the easiest type of hostile system to colonize, but still well beyond our capabilities, and Kronos is too distant anyway. Still, I don't mind chasing the Darloks away, though I don't know if they got there before we did or at the same time. Going to guess the former based on the location, but who knows. The ship that went to Altair will now retreat all the way to the red star in the extreme lower right of the map. That's the only system left in range that we haven't scouted. It's clear that Imra is not only our best bet; it's our only way to expand further.

Here we see our Recon ship heading back to Tyr. That's because the pathfinding attempts to find the closest system to go to whenever you retreat. As default behaviors go, that's not at all a bad thing. But until it actually leaves, which it can't do until a turn has passed, we can redirect anywhere within range ...

Better. So in 7 years, at the beginning of the next decade, we'll have the last piece of our scouting puzzle.

The next year is 2314, and we receive the news bulletin in the following super-short video:

Good old GNN, aka the Galactic News Network. One wonders where they get their info ... and why a droid/robot serves as the anchor. Didn't manage to activate the video recording in time to catch the intro beat, but you are always informed this way once an empire reaches a certain threshold in terms of planets. GNN will have other things to say from time to time as well. The threshold is based on the galaxy size: 1/8th, 1/4th, 3/8ths, and 1/2 of total stars colonized. I've seen the 3 planets in a small galaxy notification as quickly as 2305(!!), so it's actually a mild surprise that it took this long. And the Darloks potentially being a power is a real shocker. It seems fairly probable that the Silicoids had a poor starting situation. If so, that would be good news as they are the best bet to run away with a bunch of systems early. The too-soon, quite dubious projection right now is that the Humans or ... can't believe I'm saying this ... Darloks figure to be the best competition.

Planets screen, same year. Best one-stop shopping spot to see what's going on with our systems, and we've reached a new phase in the buildup. Tyr has passed the halfway point in population(19 out of 35 max) and has only a few factories. It won't miss a few colonists much, and we'll start shipping them back to Mentar until our homeworld maxes out. There's nothing for us to do at the moment other than wait for that last scout to arrive and get Mentar up to it's capacity as soon as we can. It's the same idea as before; keep Tyr at 50% and send any surplus in transports.

It's 2320, six years later. The gradual movement of Psilons back to Mentar continues from Tyr. There have been no sightings of any other ships, Alkari, Darlock, or otherwhise. It's quiet. Denubius is another unimpressive planet, though a little better than Tyr, but it's something. If we snag Imra, this system will fall within range. Scouting, for the moment, is now complete.

Another three years, now 2323. Here's how the map looks right now as we begin to shift from the opening into the next phase of the game. Hasn't changed; we're still cut off from the rest of the galaxy for the forseeable future by those hostile planets. We'll be isolated for longer than usual, especially for a small galaxy, due to this. That could be good ... or bad. Colonizing Imra and then Denubius in the lower right is an obvious next step.

The homeworld is only 5M away from maxing out, and has a couple more transports incoming from Tyr, which is done sending colonists back now. In less than a quarter-century, production has increased almost 5-fold from 51 to 238. Importantly, the industry slider now reads MAX, meaning that we've reached the maximum number of factories that can be operated by the current population. That defines the ending point of the opening; reaching full productivity on the homeworld.

To expand further we must turn our attention to advanced technology. That, along with a profile on our civilization, will be the first subjects of the next update, which will cover the years 2323-2350. It is also likely that the two other remaining support screens, Design(of starships) and Races(interactions with them once first contact is achieved) will be delved into as well. The journey of the Psilon people has begun, but many challenges remain.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

AddedSpace posted:

Not cleaning up pollution lowers the maximum population of a planet. Since your home world starts at 40 out of 100 it can be worth it to shortchange cleanup for the first few turns to get more factories running.

I must admit this would never have occurred to me. After playing around with a bit, I'm unsure how much it will benefit ... a little I think, though it also lowers population growth a hair as well so I'll have to experiment more. This will probably make an appearance in some form for the second game though; appreciate the contribution.

May 30, 2011

I have an invasion to go to.

Thotimx posted:

Psilons, 1st Attempt
The one above and to the right of us right by the 'hand cursor' is too close I think; one advantage the player has is a 'safe zone' around their homeworld.

Not always. I've had a start where the only colonizable planet in range was frikken Orion itself. That one stands out in my mind, though I know it is a massive exception.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...
That's a good point, and is well-taken. If I ever run into that scenario(I've seen it, but only in the games of the others thankfully) I'll just have to suck it up and take the beating that will almost certainly ensue. The 'safe zone' I was referring to doesn't guarantee no harm; but I do think it does ensure there will be no other AIs within roughly 7 parsecs of our homeworld, so that you won't immediately(but possibly shortly thereafter) see them at your initial in-range star systems.

Oct 11, 2012

They say that he who dies with the most Opil wins.

I am winning.
I'll be following this one. I played MoO1 myself back in the day, but decided against it for one of my own LPs, for a couple of reasons mostly related to how I handle narrative.

That said, seeing MoO1 get covered is definitely worth it for me. Out of curiousity, did you ever read either of my MoO2 LPs? Obviously you're looking at my nuMoO LP, and I'm glad to have you with me.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...
I've glanced at them a bit, enough to know that I'm more interested in the first one and would to read all of it eventually. It's fun to read things that are in a much different style from time to time.

Feb 12, 2014

Come, all you fair and tender maids
Who flourish in your pri-ime
Beware, take care, keep your garden fair
Let Gnoman steal your thy-y-me
Le-et Gnoman steal your thyme

While Master of Orion is far from the first space 4X game, it is one of the first really successful ones, and one I've always had a bit of a soft spot for.

Apr 8, 2009



(Dany shits in a field)
This is a very interesting thread. Will be following.

Nov 5, 2011

I'm afraid so.
This is a cool thread, will definitely be watching. I never got Super Pro at this game but I'm always glad to see a top-tier performance.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...
Thanks all! Onwards then ...

Phase II: Expansion Part I(2323-2337)

Yeah, so basically I'm a liar. No way I'm covering the whole 27 years in this update, what with two more in-depth screen/feature descriptions and lots of other stuff going on. I still think I'll eventually get to doing 25-year updates, but maybe not; there's a point at which I don't think it's helpful to have novellas rivaling the Encyclopedia Brittanica for length.

Originally I intended to start off this update by talking doing a more in-depth racial distinctives of the Psilons, and then move into talking about Tech research in Master of Orion. Then I remembered those are the same thing. Psilons straddle the baseline in all other matters. Diplomacy is neutral, as are spying, economics, and warfare. Technology is their lone distinctive.

At the end of our last discussion I mentioned that it was time to shift Mentar from building up industry, and tech is what to shift it TO in this situation. We'd prefer to just send out more colony ships, but we need more range first. So off we go to the Tech screen.

This will take a bit of a text wall. Technology is the most complicated system in Master of Orion, and also ultimately this most important. To start with, there are six fields as seen in the upper left; selecting one lists all the advances researched in each one, along with the current project. There are no current projects at game start however. On the right we can see our current level in each field, a couple basic facts about fundamental abilities related to them, and set our spending for each. This works just like planetary sliders; they can be locked, increased or decreased. The pool of RP(research points) at the lower right is at nothing right now but that will soon change. That's our currency here.

Back to those six fields of study: here's how the manual describes them.

Computers "deals with the development of specialized electronic devices and computer systems. Computer tech produces such devices as battle computers, ECM jammers, robotic controls, space scanners ... " Mostly this is stuff you put on ships, but sensor range from planets and some economic techs as well.

Construction "is a generalized form of engineering primarily dealing with advanced structures and materials. Construction tech can be used to develop advanced armors, reduce industrial waste emissions, and decrease the cost of building new factories." Basically stuff gets built cheaper and more efficiently, including ship components, along with more effective materials.

Force Fields "involve the practical application of advanced fields physics such as deflector shields, replusor beams, stasis fields, damage shields ... " Pretty self-explanatory.

Planetology "involves the analysis and development of alien worlds. Planetology can be used to develop technology that will eliminate waste more efficiently, expand the livable terrain of planets, and allow colonists to land on planets with hostile environments." Getting the most out of the physical matter of the star systems in our galaxy.

Propulsion "develop new and more powerful ship engines, extend ship ranges, and construct special power systems" Those power systems take various forms, but almost everything in this field is put on a ship, and even those that aren't are related to fleet movement. Navigating the galactic space-time continuum, you might say.

Weapons "deals exclusively with the development of advanced weapon systems." This includes the armaments of our ground troops, but will focus mostly on weapons for use in space.

Every race in the galaxy has certain affinities for these fields and certain weaknesses: every race except one. That's us, the Psilons. In each technological field there are four possible ratings:

** Excellent -- One race is the best at each category, and they require only 60% of the normal investment to research new advances in that field.

** Good -- Better than average with 80% investment required.

** Neutral -- The standard amount.

** Poor -- 125% of the normal investment is required.

Additionally, the better rating a race has in a particular field, the more choices they will have to choose from. A weak field limits the options, requiring a race to either go without or find other ways to acquire the knowledge.

Psilons are rated Good in all categories. This is part of their research advantage. They also are much more efficient, with a 50% bonus to all research efforts. Usually 1 BC invested in tech equals 1 RP: for us it equals 1.5. Combined, these give the Psilon a huge, huge 75% edge against an 'average' race.

There are several more rules or concepts that are important when it comes to technology in Master of Orion:

** Steady, long-term investment is favored over a 'crash' program. The mechanism for this is 'interest' awarded for research on a particular project. The amount is the lowest of two options: the amount invested this year or 15% of the total to date. Furthermore, you lose 10% of your investment in that project annually if funding is cut off completely.

** The current tech level, or TL, is calculated as 80% of the highest-level advance plus the total number of devices in that field. This makes the higher-level advances the most valuable while ensuring that all new studies, no matter how mundane, will have at least some minimal value. TL is not merely a score or an abstratction, because ...

** As the TL increases, previously discovered advances are made cheaper and miniatuarized. Generally the cost is reduced by 5% per TL, and size by 2.5%. Therefore you can cram a lot more on a ship as time goes on, for example, as basic components can be used far more efficiently.

** There is some variety baked into the completion date, eliminating total predictability. Once the 'cost' of a project has been satisfied, there will be a % chance of finishing each year, increasing as long as funding continues until discovery is made.

** Not nearly as well known, and not documented in the manual(though implied by the tech chart) is the fact that the 50 TLs of advancements are divided in 10 'tiers'. To have access to a tier's advances, you must research one in a previous tier. For example, in the first tier of Weapons there are the following advances:

L1 -- Lasers and Nukes. The basic weapons you start the game with already researched.
L2 -- Hand Lasers.
L4 -- Hyper-V Rockets.
L5 -- Gatling Laser.

When starting up Weapons research, we will have at least one of these available as a choice(one advance from each tier is guaranteed at a minimum) and possible as many as all three of them. Our Tier II choices will be unlocked as possibilities after finishing whatever we choose here. This provides an incentive for pushing up the tech tree for new, groundbreaking technologies ... but in doing so, you may find yourself bypassing items that won't unlock a new tier, but could more quickly provide a benefit now. It's another short-term vs. long-term concept.

This is one of those areas that turns me into a real fanboi, I admit without shame. There may be games that do something that I haven't seen, but I flat-out think this is the best overall research system I've ever seen in any game. Others have done parts of it but nobody carries it off as well on the whole. Really the only two criticisms I can even level here are that I think the cost/size reductions are overdone and should probably only be half of what they are as well as being limited, and that I'd like to see more variable race-specific tech(i.e., armors, weapons, planetary developments, etc. with some variability from game to game and not always the same each time). That's it though. The way it all fits together and plays out is one of those things I gain more and more appreciation for the more I play. It's really elegantly and brilliantly done IMO. Clearly it really mattered to the design team to get this right.

Now that all that blather is over with, what are we to do with this right now? We need to increase our ship range to colonize Imra; that means propulsion tech. We can't research just yet though; our scientists need to take the next year to come up with our initial research possiblities, which they will do if we invest a modest amount. Given that we have equal ability across the board, we'll do best here to hit the = key and equalize spending across all fields. We're only going to focus on propulsion, but we can't actually dump a bunch of effort into that until we have something to dump it into. Might as well see our choices in the other fields while we are at it.

This only requires a minimal investment, a couple of points in each field. 13 RP will give us at least 2 in each, and that's plenty. However, that still leaves us with more than enough left over to max out factories on Mentar, so we'll actually put just a bit into shipbuilding here on a new Colonizer. We're not going to actually build it yet, but getting the work started is the best use of that small fraction of remaining production. Grab every tiny edge you can get.

Accompanied by it's own little musical jingle, this screen comes up whenever you have a new research option. Usually that means you've completed a previous one, but here we are first starting out. Computers is up first, and we get a bigger, better Psilon portrait of a researcher here. We have to choose between 120 RP for ECM Jammer Mk. I, which will make it harder for enemy missiles to hit our ships if they are equipped, or a Deep Space Scanner. I had a picture for each, but I was a dufus and forgot to save the first one. These are more expensive and extend our scanning range to something slightly less inadequate than it currently is.

Few of these choices are gimmes. I really like the scanner tech as knowledge is power; having a little more warning of other empires' fleets moving about would be quite useful. The ECM Jammer would give us a quick cheapie and unlock Tier II faster. Even so I normally go with the scanner, but given how we are effectively cut off and isolated right now in our corner of the galaxy, albeit temporarily, I side with the ECM, the idea being we don't need the scanner just yet.

A Psilon researcher is rarely without options, but that's the case here. Reduced Industrial Waste 80% does pretty much exactly what it says. It'll take a bit of work to acquire but reducing our waste cleanup budget is a very worthy goal.

Once again no choice to be made, but that's because there's only one Force-Field tech in this tier so it'll always be the only option. Class II Deflectors are a mid-level cost tech and will give us improved defensive capabilities.

A wealth of riches here, and Planetology is a crucial field early. Terraforming +10M is very cheap and allows us to increase the potential of all planets right away, though we do have to make the investment on each planet once the knowledge is acquired. Since it's a flat-rate increase, smaller planets will benefit the most from this.

We can get started on hostile planet colonization early if we wish. There is that barren system in the middle of the galaxy ... but we aren't close to having enough range to reach it. It's doubtful we'll have a use for this anytime soon, and colonization techs are inclusive. By that I mean that researching, say, inferno colonization also allows you to land on any planet less hostile(barren, dead, etc). For that reason it's often best to skip barren and grab one higher up the ladder so to speak, unless you have nearby barren worlds, which we don't. We'll pass here.

A little pricey, but this is a HUGE early tech. Cleaning up 3 waste/BC is a 50% improvement on our current 2/BC. Put differently, it would allow a one-third cut in our ecology spending immediately.

It's a tough call here between terraforming and eco restoration. You could argue it either way, and I almost picked eco restoration here. The thing is, terraforming is so cheap, and the option of taking that, then having planets terraform while we push up to eco restoration or something else ... just knocking that out of the way quickly seems to be the way to go.

Propulsion. This is what we came here to see. The right choice here is very situational, and Imra is four parsecs away so there's no reason to overspend; we're going with the cheaper Hydrogen Fuel Cells.

Deuterium fuel cells will either wait, or be skipped entirely in place of something better.

Weapons is our last field to decide, and there are three more choices. Hand Lasers are the cheap option. We'll get more into how ground combat works later on whenever it comes up. These can be important in border disputes, but it doesn't appear we are going to have them anytime soon. There are times when it's important to get these, but we'll bypass them this time.

Hyper-V Rockets are a significant improvement over our starting nuclear missiles, and are worth serious consideration.

The rapid-firing Gatling Laser is a game-changer for a brief period of time until it becomes obsolete. That narrow window of opportunity means it is fairly often a poor investment.

Given our position in the galaxy, the Hyper-V Rockets are definitely going to be the most useful. And that's wraps up our initial research choices.

This notification happens whenever a planet reaches its limit on factories or population. But what's all this about the planetary reserve? Let's take a look, back on the Planets display.

On the lower right, it looks like I've just clicked on the TRANSFER button but I actually haven't; it's depressed like that already because it's inactive. That's because, as you can see directly above, there's no money in the reserve. I was right on the button and didn't have any extra invested in industry to go here. That pop-up message about the 'extra spent going into the reserve' appears whether there was actually any extra or not. Usually there is.

Anyway, the planetary reserve is another one of those features that I think is a superior alternative to the idea of 'buying' or 'rush job' production. In most strategy games, a sufficient amount of treasure will allow you to finish building something immediately. In Master of Orion, the most you can do is double the rate of production; one can think of this as threatening the workers or mandatory triple overtime or whatever, or perhaps imagine Vader's visit to the second Death Star("I hope so for your sake, commander. The Emperor is not as ... forgiving ... as I am.")

There are multiple ways to get money into the reserve. Overruns like this one are one way; investing in industry when a planet is maxed out on factories will do it as well(but at a 50% discount, only half the credits will actually go into the reserve); when you scrap a ship design, a quarter of their build cost goes into the reserve as well; and on the screen you can clearly see a slider which can be used(at the same 50% discount) to essentially 'tax' all of your planets by a certain amount. When there's something in the reserve, it can be transferred to any planet. I'll show that mechanic when it comes time to take advantage of it.

I think the MOO Planetary Reserve is an excellent feature; it's simple and balances the ability to bootstrap production where needed with a realistic limit on that ability.

Now that we have our tech choices, Mentar throws all of it's disposable production into research, while Tyr will continue building up.

Back on the technology screen to show a couple things. We've got 214 RP going, and every last drop of it into getting the fuel cells to increase our range and get to Imra. Notice the light-bulb on the right of the full propulsion slider: it's most of the way full. When that fills up all the way, we'll begin to have a chance at this breakthrough. While it is best most of the time as I mentioned to invest a little at a time, right now we just need that range extended and we need it absolutely ASAP. When you've got to have something and don't care about the inefficiency of investment, a crash program still works. You just don't want to make a habit of it.

This is a year later with nothing changed. The light-bulb is replaced by '16%'. There's a bug that causes this to display only half of the actual chance of discovery: we have a 32% chance of getting Hyrogen Fuel Cells if we maintain this level of investment. However that's actually not what we want to do -- because we'd then have to wait for the colony ship to be built. Instead we'll start that right now, and shift Tyr over to research. It'll take 4 years for Mentar to build the ship, and by then we'll be closer. The idea of all this is to have the ship ready and the research finished at the same time, for the purpose of getting under way to Imra as soon as possible. Tyr's industrial buildup will be paused in order to achieve this, but that's an acceptable sacrifice.

Another year, and it's 2325. GNN is back with production rankings. This gives us a sense of who is doing well. For the Psilons to have a poor second planet and be #3 here is surprisingly good. This tells me that the three races below us(Silicoid, Human, and Alkari) are probably stuck in situations where they haven't been able to expand yet. We'll hear periodically from the Galactic News Network on a few different subjects, at seemingly random intervals. I've seen them give the exact same report twice in three years with no new information. The robotic news director is perhaps not the most forward-thinking individual.

Meanwhile, with three years left to go on the colony ship, we're up to a 10% chance of finishing our research.

It's 2328 now, and you can see Mentar pulling a little back into research from shipbuilding. The reason for that is we'll still finish the Colonizer this year. Master of Orion does have 'overflow', meaning that if I invest more it'll carry over to the next ship and give partial production. I don't want to do that though, because we still haven't finished the fuel cells project yet. As it happens, with this spending and Tyr's continued minor efforts, we're at an even 50-50 shot at getting it this year. If it was much below that I'd probably pull even more out and wait another year before finishing the ship.

2329 comes and the ship is finished but we still don't have the range we need. The odds are not in the Psilon's favor. Pretty low chances of getting this far and not achieving the breakthrough, but the muse of invention can be fickle(and RNGs as well). At this point Mentar can put enough into job to guarantee completion, so Tyr goes back to building factories.

Here we are. Three decades into our journey and the Psilons have made their first research advancement. With some advances there will be an action to take with a prompt for that, but usually it's just a matter of being notified and then choosing the next project ...

We've got two new choices. You may recall than Deuterium Fuel Cells were at 800 RP. Now we have access to Tier II Propulsion possiblities, and the cost goes up considerably. These are always ordered by tech level, and the price goes up with that so it's lowest to highest every time.

The only real reason we'd have to go for Deuterium cells here would be if there was something we really wanted to get to 5 parsecs away. Otherwhise it's either the Irridium Fuel Cells here or the last choice to advance another tier. It's worth noting here that Irridium cells would likely put us in contact with the Darlok and Alkari, who we know possess planets exactly that far away ...

The Inertial Stabilizer is quite useful in combat, adding considerably to our ability to avoid fire. The choice here basically boils down to how happy we are with what will soon be our four planets in this corner of the galaxy. Is it more important for us to stretch our legs so to speak, or should we focus on being able to defend ourselves?

In a larger galaxy, range would almost certainly be more important. Here, the chances of being able to reach a planet nobody else has seized yet seem at this point unlikely ... but we can't be sure.

I'm not at all sure I'm doing the right thing, but I choose Irridium Fuel Cells and go for the range. Even if I can't do a darned thing about it, I like knowing what's out there. The choice to try and join the galactic community earlier rather than later is a very double-edged one, and we may well find out that the Psilons would have been better served to go for the maneuverability advantage. Time will tell.

It's easy to forget that the range of our scouts has also increased to seven now(four plus reserve fuel tanks). That brings only one more system within our reach, which I think is not habitable anyway: it's near the Alkari and they'd have colonized by now and be buzzing around us more I think. Regardless, we'd like another Recon ship to go head out there. Our Colonizer heads off to Imra, Mentar focuses on building another one, and Tyr will divert enough resources to get that scout going. We'll want to start up again in a more broad-based effort soon, but all research efforts are suspended for now.

Most of the time I won't show these kind of mundane logistical details, but they are important. There's another Relay situation going on here. Tyr is building a Recon, so I send the one in orbit on right away to Arietis, the green star above. When it's a year away, the ship there will depart and head out, you can see the red-star destination at the top of the screen. It probably won't matter in this case, but this will drop two years off the journey compared to waiting for the ship to finish at Tyr and then sending it directly.

These plans are executed and by 2334 we have added Imra to our empire, though with only a minimal 2M population.

Before moving on I just want to highlight this. The Darlok colony Spica, many turns after we left. It shows the last data we know of(Last Reported As ... ) since we don't have scanners that can give us any information that far away and no ships in orbit anymore. I love it when games get these kinds of details right. It's a small thing, but it's exactly as it should be.

It's time now for us to transition into a new phase of the game. It's been an unusual start in that we haven't had a lot of tough choices and have a band of hostile/uninhabitable systems separating us from the rest of the galaxy. Here's what's going on:

** We'll want to send more colonists to Imra to get it up and going faster. Eventually it will be nearly as productive as our homeworld of Mentar.

** Our initial expansion phase is almost complete, as a minimal investment will get another Colonizer finished next year, and then it will head out to Denubius, the desert system to the right of Imra. This will not expand our range at all as it's on the edge of the galaxy.

** The Recon ship headed upwards from Tyr is two years away from its destination.

It's pretty rare, and almost unheard-of on some of the bigger galaxy sizes, to have this kind of clearly defined transition point. Usually it's more of a gradual process of realizing it's time to invest in other areas besides grabbing up star systems, and things like research and military buildup at least for self-defense if not for border disputes or even outright war come into play. Being isolated makes things simpler, but we still must make priorities. This is the point in the game that I start to feel less confident in and am sometimes unsure of what to do -- or even royally screw up. Before this LP is over, you'll see that multiple times I'm sure.

There's no way to know how soon it might change, but we really don't have a need for a navy yet or building defenses. Nobody's even sniffing around the barren planet we have picketed, much less the radiated or toxic ones. This is very, very rare; I'd expect more activity by now, and that reinforced my impression that others may be off to a rough start. Under those circumstances it seems best to me to focus on getting Imra and Denubius up and running as quickly as possible, accelerating this end of that growth curve, and snag some tech especially some of the economically beneficial early ones.

First up, I transfer some population to Imra; 13M from Tyr and 15M from Mentar. That's a lot of people to have just hanging out in space for the four-year journey and not producing anything, but it'll be worth it in the long run. I'd send more from Tyr, but that would put them below the midpoint. Only a smidge is needed to finish the Colonizer at Mentar and the rest goes into research.

The question here is what to focus on? It's time to put at least a little into all the fields, but some things are more important than others. Reduced Industrial Waste 80% and Terraforming +10 are the two that will boost our growth and economy. That's Construction and Planetology.

As you can see there's just a hair into the other four fields. This is an extreme split, and we won't keep up anything like this long-term.

Next time we'll get to one of the game's biggest surprises, and designing ships, among other events.

Oct 11, 2012

They say that he who dies with the most Opil wins.

I am winning.
Well, transferring materials from the reserve isn't necessarily threats- it's going to be a lot quicker to get factories set up on a new world if you can ship freighter-loads of precision machinery, robotic control computers, and other things from your developed worlds to your frontier. Having worlds spending industry on the reserve functionally means setting up a major export sector for usage elsewhere.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...
Quite right you are; I wasn't being totally serious on that part, which isn't always obvious on a forum.

Oct 11, 2012

They say that he who dies with the most Opil wins.

I am winning.

Thotimx posted:

Quite right you are; I wasn't being totally serious on that part, which isn't always obvious on a forum.

Ah, fair enough. Sorry about that.

General Revil
Sep 30, 2014

"Congratulations! You're all smarter than some of the most brilliant minds on Tendao that worked on this revolutionary project."
I'm enjoying this LP so far. I've never played this classic before, but I decided to play along with the LP (on Simple because again, first time). It was pretty fun and Zen-like, and in my impatience, I beat the game. Time to play along again, but on a higher difficulty.

General Revil fucked around with this message at 06:51 on May 4, 2017

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...
Excellent! Thanks for joining.,

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

Next up, we ran into something that generally will freak out a new player the first time they see it:

For anyone who isn't familiar with it, that's the Guardian, who always guards Orion. Just how badass it is depends on the difficulty: I think I remember escaping from it on the lower ones before. Just to put those 10k hitpoints into perspective, the largest ships we can build right now would have 900 HP, or just under 1/11th of that. And that's with sacrificing a significant amount of cost and space for extra armor. Other aspects of the Guardian are pretty equally advanced as well. In the early stages of the game, that makes Orion a no-fly zone for any ship that isn't suicidal. It's far from invincible, but it might as well be a deity at this point.

In 2337, we snagged another tech advance, Terraforming +10M. The video here is a bit longer, but still well under a minute.

The purpose of this was to show off a couple of things: the 'research music' at the beginning, and then also the post-discovery dialog about changing planetary spending. Whenever prompted to increase to buy something new in this way, I always decline. The decision of when to invest, and we'll definitely want to terraform all planets, is best made on an individual rather than one-size-fits-all basis like this.

Then we hit Tier II of Planetology and are given some useful new options: Improved Terraforming +20, Controlled Dead Enivironment, and Death Spores. The first two we've already seen earlier versions of, while the last is a biological weapon that we will discuss when getting into warships. As shown though, this is a case where we are going to take another Tier-I option, because Eco Restoration will have a huge benefit to our economy by slashing our required waste-cleanup budget. That's more important here than pushing up the tech ladder.

Now we've got a new question to decide: where and how much to invest in terraforming?

ProTip: There's no point in investing in terraforming before the population of a planet hits the half-full mark. It won't benefit at all before that. I usually do it when the population is between half and two-thirds; after that growth will start slowing down. Hopefully by that point the industry can handle it in a reasonable time-frame.

Right now that means Mentar is the only planet that really is worth the investment.

Here's our homeworld before investing: the Eco line does say T-FORM but that's a very small amount, one click left and it reads WASTE. We don't want that. The granularity doesn't allow for perfect control; you can't put exactly X amount in a category. Planetary spending is split up into 25 sections of 4% each, tech spending into 50 sections of 2%. Also notice the population display is 100+, not just 100. the '+' indicates that it can be increased with currently available technology. The description noted that the price is 5 BC per million, so we need to invest 50 BC here.

A little math and a few adjustments later, and voila! We should have the process complete next year with this investment, and we're still doing plenty of research to keep things moving. I also sent another 5M population from Tyr to Imra. Imra itself doesn't need it, but once our colony ship reaches the red star Denubius in four turns I'm going to want to balance those three systems in a line left-to-right proportionally. In other words, I'll want to balance them out with a third or half or whatever I can get of their population max on each so that all can be growing well at about the same rate. I don't want to send any more citizens from Mentar; the homeworld's job is to do research and otherwhise support the colonies.

All of that went well, Mentar's max population is up to 110M, and it'll grow towards that: when it starts getting close we'll need to build more factories there. Our initial push of colonists to Imra is finished so the factory buildup can start there as well. The purpose of this shot though is to highlight the fact that we have some uninvited guests; the Darloks are coming back to Arietis. Four scouts won't do them any more good than one did. It seems likely they've run out of places to expand and are making another try here, but we'll just shoo them away once more.

It's 2340, and the Silicoids have shown up. On the galaxy map in-between turns, it looked like they moved further than usual ... meaning they have advanced engines. Because of that, they were out of range last year and we didn't even see them coming. If they brought more than scouts, this could be trouble.

As it turns out, it's just a lone scout and we turn it back.

This gives us some new information about the galaxy, and we can now have a pretty good idea where everyone is.

The Darloks pretty much have the lower left quadrant on lockdown. They had the best starting position with a sizable portion of the galaxy to themselves with no competition(no other yellow stars in that area). In the lower right, we had the second-best though, so we're not exactly roughing it ... and if you have to pick a race to start off behind, you can't do better than the Darlok.

The Alkaris(A) are totally screwed with just about as bad a starting position as is possible. Stuck between an uninhabitable system and the Guardian(G). The Silicoids(S) have to have come from the white star in the middle-center; there's just nowhere else they could have gotten to Arietis(yellow oval) from. That means they came from one of the yellow stars in the upper right. The two ?s, one of which doesn't even really look like one but that's just my hideous Paint skills, are in the upper corners. By process of elimination, that's where the Human and Sakkra, who aren't likely much happier than the Alkari, must be. The three green stars in the upper left will be fought over by probably the Darlok and Silicoid, as they look too far away for whoever is in that corner to reach soon.

The point of all this is that Arietis looks like it's becoming Ground Zero, the focal point for a border dispute. We're not at war with anybody, haven't even met anybody, but the appearance of the Silicoids there takes this to a new level because they can colonize it, ignoring hostile environments as they do. Sooner or later they or the Darlok or both WILL come back with escorts and chase our Recon ship away. The question is when, not if. With the Darloks it's no big deal, because they can't do anything with the system. A size-15 planet, even being rich, isn't that great -- but terraform it a bit and it could easily become a 35 or more, and that's just for starters; that means the equivalent of a size-70 in terms of shipbuilding, and getting better as the game goes on. It would also of course extend their range so they could go after even more targets.

All of this leaves me with a choice to make. The Silicoids are potentially making a bid here to make this a 3-way competition for supremacy, whereas right now it's pretty clear Darloks #1, Psilons #2. We've got a strong interest in stopping them from doing that. One might say 'what about Kronos', the star above and left of Arietis? That's a barren and the rocks could seize that to -- but we've got basically no chance of doing anything about that. Also, we haven't seen anyone challenging our scout there(yet), though they'll probably get to it eventually. Somebody's going to research barren environment soon if they haven't already. The one thing we might be able to do is send some armed ships to Arietis and at least delay the Silicoids taking it. To do that, we've got to head over to one of the two main screens we haven't looked at yet, Design.

As far as I know, Master of Orion was the first game to do this whole ship-designing thing. It was certainly the earliest one I've already seen it in. Instead of churning out pre-defined, pre-fabricated units, there is a great deal of strategy to be found in just what kind of ships to build. A quick note here, I didn't change anything once entering the screen. You can see it's started out with the configuration of a colony ship: that's because it's the last ship I designed. Another one of those places where the game saves your last settings in case you want to tweak something. Not everything in Master of Orion is user-friendly by a long shot, but we've all played games where they didn't make the effort to do things like this, resulting in extra work for the player to make stuff happen that should be automatic. I'm somebody who appreciates this kind of thing.

For now let's just look at the three buttons in the lower right. CANCEL exits without adding the design to our fleet, CLEAR erases everything and lets you start from scratch, and BUILD accepts the design as it is and adds it to your fleet. If you already have the maximum of six, you'll be prompted to scrap one of the existing ones to make room.

After clicking CLEAR and changing the ship size, the view changes to this. And here's where I have to go into Exposition Overdrive(TM). Ships and space combat aren't overly complex, but the amount of options is. From the player point of view this is the most complex part of the game simply due to the number of different possible configurations.

Let's get started on this monstrosity then. I think it'll work best to combine the explanations for the design and combat systems elements. There's three basic sections in terms of equiment from top to bottom: Basics, Weapons, and Specials. Starting at the upper-left box, there are three Basics systems there: Computer, Shield, and ECM. ECM is dark while the other ones are light because there is nothing you can add to that category. In this case that's because we don't have any ECM devices at all; other times it will be because we've already got the best one in the design, or because the design is out of space. That makes it easy to tell at a glance whether a particular aspect can improve things. The Basics systems are:

Computers -- improve a ship's attack level(i.e., weapon accuracy) and initiative. More on initiative later as it's not an obvious concept, and not directly displayed anywhere. Definitely gotta call that a UI fail. Default accuracy is 50%, and increasing accuracy by merely +1 makes that 60%, so it is quite important. The Mrrshan and Alkari combat bonuses are considerable when you factor this in.

Shield -- absorbs damage. These are not Star Trek shields; you can't knock them out. They work on a principle of simple subtraction, not a fixed absorption strength. The starting Class I shield absorbs 1 point of damage from all weapons on a per-attack basis. A Class IV shield absorbs 4 points, and so on.

ECM -- These add to missile defense, increasing the chance an incoming missile weapon will simply miss. You might ask why missile defense is already 3 here. That's because smaller ships are inherently harder to hit. Larger ships get -1 to their defense with each successive size.

Armor -- Determines the amount of hit points(HP), or damage a ship can survive before being destroyed. We only know of Titanium, but it's still an option to be selected here because double hulls are a thing. They allow for a 50% HP increase, but at a significant cost in terms of space.

Engine -- Determines warp speed(speed on the galactic map) and maxiumum combat speed. Maximum because you can build a fast-warp ship that is still a turtle in combat; combat speed can't be higher than warp speed but it can be lower.

Maneuverability -- Thrusters can be added here up to or equal to the warp speed, increasing combat speed and initiative. Better combat speed means better DEF, defense against beam weapons. I mentioned initiative early; that's a fancy way of saying 'who moves first' in fleet combat. There is a racial component with the Mrrshan and Alkari being the best, but aside from that it's a combination of your battle computer and maneuverability. Moving, and therefore firing, first gives you a chance to tilt the odds in your favor.

That's it for the Basics. As shown, you can't build a ship without basic armor and an engine. Everything else is optional. Next up are Weapons, of which there can be up to four different types per ship.

Selecting one of the weapons slots brings up this box, where we can select from the various options. We have five different possibilities now and will have many more later. However we can only pick the Laser. The relevant stats are all listed, though you can ignore the Power. There was a mechanic, apparently dropped late in development, that required more engines to power all of the devices on a ship. If you select the engines you'll also see a 'num of engines' listed, but you don't actually pay the cost or space for these since that aspect was removed. You want to look at SPACE, not SIZE here as well. All of the others matter though. Weapons are of three basic types.

Bombs -- Can only be used against planets. Each can be fired 10 times.

Missiles -- Can be used effectively against both planets and ships, but they are also limited by ammunition. Note the lack of a damage range; if a missile hits, it hits for the same amount of damage each time. Many come in two different types, as with the two different types of Nuclear Missiles shown here. Missiles are the weapon of choice for hit-and-run tactics; launching a big alpha strike and then retreating before the enemy has enough time to react.

Beam Weapons -- Basic beam weapons(there are other varieties to come) will always come in a standard and heavy version, aka the Laser and Heavy Laser. The Heavy variety does more damage and has a longer range -- but firing at a longer range comes at a cost of reduced accuracy. Accuracy impacts damage even if the weapon hits the target, but there are times when the longer range is worth the cost. Also, all beam weapons have their damage cut in half due to the atmosphere when attacking planets, so they are not optimal for that role. The main advantage of beam weapons is that they can be fired an infinite number of times; there is no ammunition to deal with.

On to Specials, of which three are allowed by class of ship.

They pretty much speak for themselves here, with descriptions for what they do. This is a good place to talk about scaling. Some parts of a ship scale, and others do not. Looking at the three options here, reserve fuel tanks will be larger and more expensive for a larger ship; battle scanners and standard colony bases will be the same size and cost wherever you try to put them. It's 95 space for a Battle Scanner no matter what at our current tech. This is true for other items on the ship as well; computers, armor, shields, etc. all are bigger and more costly for larger ships.

As far as ship size itself goes, that's in the lower left. I prefer to refer to the sizes as strike craft, destroyer, cruiser, and capital ships rather than small/medium/large/huge. However you think of them, the difference is that bigger ships take more damage and cost more, while being a little easier to hit. Along the bottom you can select different ship icons with up and down arrows, and then you get all the relevant information on the ship itself(name, cost, total space, and space available). The names are generated based on your race, so I will sometimes use the ones they give you as an immersion thing. You can change them though.

Ok, so that's ships and space combat. We'll discover a lot more toys to plug in here; the right designs and military stances is an ever-changing chess game between ourselves and our galactic rivals. Right now though, the question is this: is there a useful ship that we can build to try to ward off interlopers at Arietis, or should we not bother with that and continue working on research and our economy? I'd rather do the second one, but every hunk of rock is crucial in a small galaxy and given the apparent AI focus on Arietis(they do like their rich worlds, and for good reason, even though I don't think they've scouted it yet), I think it's worth making a play for it.

This is one of the things that I think is fascinating about Master of Orion. All of this big long-winded discussion and explanation is sort of a powder keg that was lit by a single Silicoid scout showing up and getting chased away. The double-edged decisions you can end up making are really interesting to me. How much we need to send there initially, and then the game-within-the-game of escalating that, when/if to pull back, etc. are things that take a lot of experience, and I haven't played very many Impossible games so I'm far from there yet. I do know that the Psilon Empire, such as it is, can't afford to invest in a bunch of cruiser or larger ships, and we also can't afford to divert funds for very long. We need something that can fight but can't afford to spend a lot of resources on it. So I'll try the most basic warship you could ever build:

A laser mounted on the smallest hull we have; that's a Starfighter. You just don't get any more simple than that. It's less than the price of two recons. The laser takes up 33 of 39 space: there isn't room for anything else. It'll hit half the time if we're lucky, and with a damage range of 1-4, anything that's shielded at all, even with the starting Class I variety, won't be damaged about a quarter of the time. Now the question of how many do we build versus the resources required, how much diversion from research, etc.

Mentar can crank out 9 of these per year, and Tyr is on research duty while it mostly just transports people over to Imra. I decide it's worth about three years worth of effort right now, relocating all of these ships to Tyr. That's more time to than I want to spend but also less ships than I'd like to have. It's a compromise, and if it's not enough -- and it might not be -- it'll end up being a complete waste of time. But I just want to try, having ended up on the business end of an early-game Silicoid Stampede(TM) and I'm not interested in repeating the experience if I can avoid it. One might ask what about the maintenance? If we end up with 9 each year, after 3 years that's 27 Starfighters at 14 BC each, 2% of that is 7-8 BC. That's 2-3% of current production, so we're not breaking the bank here. It'll take a bite, but not a very noticeable one. I spend quite a while thinking about this and I'm still nervous about it -- MOO on Impossible has a way of doing that to you. You know you can't afford to screw up or you are just going to get rolled. But it's the best call I can come up with.

Here we've set up a RELOC route to Tyr. This is another time-saving move. When a ship is finished, it will depart immediately ... BEFORE the next turn. It'd take a turn longer if I wait for them to be finished and then send them on. By the way, I'm not cutting off research completely -- Tyr is pouring in it's paltry 35-40 RP per year right now while it stays at half population and sends the rest on to Imra. There's enough factories there for that many people right now. It's not much, but it's not nothing and will keep us gaining some progress; more importantly, we won't get the 'atrophy' penalty and start losing any. I do adjust the tech sliders to be just a bit more even though, ensuring at least some goes into each project.

Our initial expansion phase is now officially complete. Time to work on spreading out the population more as well. It's still good to get that 12 BC maintenance off the books, even though it's not nearly as much of a headache as it was at first.

13M colonists are sent from Imra to Denubius. That'll put things at about a third for both of them, and that's good enough to stop the population shuffling. On to the building-up phase.

Then the Humans show up at Arietis. Where did they come from? Then it occurs to me ... they or the Silicoids must be allied with somebody. Probably the Alkaris. They met the Alkaris or Darloks(we'll get to this, but alliances are the top level of diplomatic relations, and can use each other's planets for refueling).

I really should have remembered that. We chase the Humans away, but that makes three species interested in the same planet.

After three years, we end up with 26 of them. Would have been more, but I had to pull some production on Mentar back to research with Tyr going back to factory-building. We'll see what happens. Time to knock out a couple more of these research projects.

The first construction result comes through: Reduced Industrial Waste 80%! Nice boon to the economy, but a key point here is this dialog option. I used to always say NO and then go adjust things myself. That's the wrong move here.

ProTip: The reason is that this change will actually take place before the spending for this year is processed. That means that if you don't reduce it you'll end up with extra ecology spending, going(inefficiently) towards population growth. YES will dump that extra ECO spending into research, the default place for surplus to go ... and of the two, that's a far better option.

A couple of Tier-II Construction options are up next, and both are useful.

The current factory price is 10 BC, so this is a 20% reduction. There is also a 9-BC option, but that's one of the advances we are 'missing' in this particular game. These help with the speed of building up industrial base on our worlds.

Armor upgrades are particularly nice, because as it reads here they help with both ground and space combat. I go with the armor, and if we don't get another factory cost-reducing option soon I have the option of coming back for that.

It's been a couple of years since Denubius was colonized, so here's how our planets look right now. Tyr is at the point where I'd like to start the terraforming process there, but right now the factory building is keeping pace evenly with population growth. I'm going to wait a bit longer until the factories get ahead. Imra's knocking out about 3 factories a year but has a long ways to go, while Denubius is just started of course. Mentar is still the source of the lion's share of the economy.

In other matters, construction research has mostly been shoehorned into planetology, to get that eco restoration out ASAP. The first group of Starfighters is almost to Arietis and no sign of more visitors. So far so good.

Only a year later, 2346, and Tyr reached the point where it had extra production not needed for factories: terraforming commenced there.

Took it's sweet time to come in, but it's finally here. Same question as before, and same answer.

No new choices here because Eco Restoration was from an earlier tier. This really boils down to Dead Environment or Terraforming +20. At this point I'm of the opinion that if we can get to range 6(our current propulsion project) before anyone else takes Kronos(unlikely), then we want to make a play for it. Another +10M pop everywhere is always useful, but why not go for another planet if we can get it? And who knows what might happen if we can take a system in the middle of everything. Really surprised we haven't seen anyone around there, and it'll take a while to get this research done, but why not try.

In terms of overall research, it's now time to settle in for the long haul. Usually I'll emphasize the fields a race is best at, because of the ability to gain an advantage there and because they'll have more stuff to research. With the Psilons being equally good at everything, I want to go fairly equal.

Fairly equal, not completely in this case. That's because until proven otherwhise, I consider the Darloks our top rival. Computers is emphasized a bit here since that helps combat their spying prowess; otherwhise I probably would have completely equalized things. We're about to finish our first project in that field, while having some work towards Weapons and Force Fields. With an average tech level of 3, we now suck slightly less than we did originally.

Terraforming is finished on Tyr. Given it's location I'll use any extra production not needed for factories, once there is some, to slowly boost up our starfighter flotilla at Arietis. I'd like to get it to 50 I think. The others are progressing and it's time to give them a boost.

On the homeworld, we're going to back off research except for a minimal maintenance amount and throw the bulk of production into industry, for the purpose of getting some surplus into the reserve. It is wasteful in a sense, but it's also the only way of further accelerating the growth of Imra and Denubius. That's better for us in the long-run and there's nothing in the research pipeline that can help us right away here. You can also see how much less Eco spending is required now that we've advanced our waste-related technology. That's a big boon to the economy.

With that, we've now made it halfway through the 24th century. Disbursements from the Planetary Reserve will lead off our next step of the journey. There are many other questions to answer. Will the Psilons win the race to Kronos? Will the Humans, Silicoid, or Darloks make a serious play for Arietis, and will our empire be able to repel them if they do? Will the Immortal Emperor Zygot lead the Psilons to glory and domination, or will he trip over his own shoelaces into a vat of Infinitely Epic Fail? All these and more questions will be answered when next our adventure resumes.

Strategic Sage fucked around with this message at 00:52 on Apr 30, 2017

Jun 25, 2011

Ways to circumvent the Compact #6: Find a dreaming god and affect his dreams so that they become reality. Hey, it's not like it's you who's affecting the world. Blame the other guy for irresponsibly falling asleep.
You have one wrong image there, in the ship design part where you are supposed to show the specials.

Nice job otherwise. I got this game without a manual as a 12-year-old or so and figured out much of what you are telling about research but I never got that different races research different things faster.

Also, a tech stealing Darlok run in a huge galaxy is whole lot of fun once you get it going. :ninja:

Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
I never played the original much, mostly MoO2. Still following this LP, though, good nostalgia vibes all around.

Apr 8, 2009



(Dany shits in a field)
I'm curious to see how our basic pew pew laser fighters will fare against alien vessels if they ever engage in combat out there.

General Revil
Sep 30, 2014

"Congratulations! You're all smarter than some of the most brilliant minds on Tendao that worked on this revolutionary project."

Thotimx posted:


Next up, we ran into something that generally will freak out a new player the first time they see it:

For anyone who isn't familiar with it, that's the Guardian, who always guards Orion.

It sure did. I was afraid one of the AI players already had a ship that strong when I first saw it. Then I realized it was named guardian, and put 2 and 2 together.

Sep 29, 2004

Fintilgin sweeps!
Probably played this for 100s of hours back in high school, but I've still learned a few things reading this. Good thread!

RBA Starblade
Apr 28, 2008

Going Home.

Games Idiot Court Jester

I've never seen MOO, this is pretty cool! I can already see where a lot of stuff from Civ and other 4x games comes from.

Jul 1, 2004
awesome glad to finally see an LP of the first game. I was one of the people who overlooked MOO1 back in the day but spent a ton of time playing MOO2. I only played MOO1 for the first time about 2 years ago and was very impressed, I can see why people consider it a classic superior to the sequel. The game is deceptively simple to learn but stuff like the randomized tech tree makes every playthrough feel unique. One of the things I like most about MOO1 compared to just about every other 4x game is how fast the endgame goes once you finally are in a superior position. After playing it for a while I realized so much time you spend in games like Civ 4 is just mopping up once the player is in a winning position.

Sulla wrote a great article that does a great job explaining what makes MOO1 so good and unique from anything else that came after it, including the sequel: Anyone who is a fan of MOO2 or 4x games in general who hasnt given MOO1 a chance yet is really missing out.

Oh and one more thing i would really like to see is an iOS/android port, I think the game interface would work great with touch controls.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

ValiantMan posted:

You have one wrong image there, in the ship design part where you are supposed to show the specials.

Good catch -- I've corrected that with a new image. Used the same one twice for some reason. As for the Darloks, I've only ever played one serious game with them, but they are definitely a different experience. They make tech-stealing worth it and then some.

dsf posted:

Sulla wrote a great article that does a great job explaining what makes MOO1 so good and unique from anything else that came after it, including the sequel:

I like Sulla's stuff. Guy knows what he's talking about and I agree with about 90% of that link.

Kanthulhu posted:

I'm curious to see how our basic pew pew laser fighters will fare against alien vessels if they ever engage in combat out there.

Unless we have superior numbers, probably not well :P. This remains to be seen though.

my dad
Oct 17, 2012

this shall be humorous
Anyone who likes this game should keep track of this Java based remake:

It's basically MoO+better graphics

Jul 12, 2010
Woot! Original MOO, a game I love - but am absolutely crap at.

One trick for calculating how much to put into terraforming a planet I don't think you mentioned: the Tech slider. Since Research Points are typically produced at 1 to 1 production points, you can temporarily set the Tech slider to the desired number (50, in this case), lock everything but the Tech and Eco sliders, and then dump the Tech slider's points into the Eco (refitting back to normal, if needed).

It does take a lot more clicks, but stops you from having to solve the equation

(T*25)/P = S

T is Terraforming Cost
P is the usable production
S is the number of Segments (or clicks, if you like) you'd need to fulfill the cost.

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...

KnT posted:

One trick for calculating how much to put into terraforming a planet I don't think you mentioned: the Tech slider. Since Research Points are typically produced at 1 to 1 production points, you can temporarily set the Tech slider to the desired number (50, in this case), lock everything but the Tech and Eco sliders, and then dump the Tech slider's points into the Eco (refitting back to normal, if needed).

Yep. 75, in this case -- it's really easy to forget about that and 'not put enough' in as Psilons.

Note: I erased some bad advice I had given here, which will cause you to overspend. If you read it, please erase it from your memory banks. I'm still getting rid of some bad habits :).

Strategic Sage fucked around with this message at 03:07 on Apr 30, 2017

Epsilon Moonshade
Nov 22, 2016

Not an excellent host.

I've never seen MoO, and I'm a casual fan of 4x games in general - I'm definitely following this thread with interest.

Thotimx posted:

As far as I know, Master of Orion was the first game to do this whole ship-designing thing. It was certainly the earliest one I've already seen it in.

I was going to argue this point with Stellar Conquest III, but not only was it done a year later, but seems to be a bit inspired by MoO now that I look at them side by side. :aaaaa:

Strategic Sage
Jan 22, 2017

And that's the way it is...
Episode I, Part V(2350-2370)

When last seen, the Psilon Empire had expanded to four planets and was potentially eyeing a 5th in Kronos on the off-chance nobody beat them to it, though much research needed to be done first. The rest of the galaxy it seems is looking at Arietis, so imperial Starfighters were constructed and sent there as a pre-emptive move to keep the system unoccupied by the bizarre space rocks known as Silicoids. On the home front, we were still secure, too far for any enemy ships to reach, and investments into the Planetary Reserve to bootstrap growth on the most recent colonial acquisitions were just beginning.

Here's the Reserve in action. After clicking on transfer and then the destination planet, this slider comes up to determine how much to send. Imra will get the bulk of it as Denubius is smaller and less developed; we can only double the production of a planet remember. With 80 BC from the first year of reserve investments, there's almost enough to do that; the two planets combine for 97 in annual production. The growth rate will accelerate greatly with this re-routing. And it better, given the sacrifice being made in research potential to make it possible.

Also in 2350, Tyr began building Starfighters at the rate of 3 per year. It shouldn't take long to boost the flotilla at Arietis. Zygot still isn't certain this is actually going to do any good, but the plan is still to boost their numbers there to 50 before going back into research.

Two years pass, and our first Weapons advance is finished. The most important part about this is not the ECM Jammer itself, but access to Tier-II possibilities ...

We can upgrade to the next level of ECM tech ... but we aren't going to. This choice makes itself. The Robotic Controls chain of techs increase the number of factories that can be operated. This will increase that limit from 2 to 3 per 1M population. That works out to a 40% production increase once they are all built(2.5 to 3.5 BC per 1M pop). Gee, let me think .... yeah we want that. It's good enough to probably refocus our research even more in favor of Computing for the time being. Note the refit cost mentioned though; we are still paying 10 BC per factory, which means that just to refit our existing factories on Mentar, without building any new ones, would cost considerably. It's ok for now, but it'll be more expensive the further we go in improving the robotics.

Right now we're going after the Duralloy Armor in Construction though, which may or may not have been a mistake. I felt it was a needed military upgrade despite our situation, and it may well have been ... but we're very unlikely to get one of the cheaper factory advances before we get the Robotic Controls. For now I'll keep research where it is. We're at a point now where in every single field, there's something going on that we need; even force fields and weapons, because we don't have a single upgrade there yet and we need better toys.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what success looks like. In just four short years, Imra has advanced to the point where it has more factories than population, and has completed terraforming. It would have done some of that on it's own, but this kind of investment in growing planets well more than doubles the rate of economic growth there. The exact math is complicated and I've never bothered. Further investment in Imra isn't really worth it now as the system is kicking out 10 factories a turn and can finish up on it's own. Mentar will now dump everything back into research, while Denubius will get a couple more years of assistance as it begins terraforming, the last planet to do so.

Class II Deflectors have come in, and we're on to Tier II of Force Fields. We can apply our basic knowledge to protection for ground troops ...

Or take the more expensive option, which will make our ships all but impervious to baseline laser weapons. The regular and gatling Lasers do a max. of 4 damage, so they'd have to effectively score a 'bullseye' to do even 1 point here. I'm picking this option. One reason I feel safe in doing that is the fact that we are already working on armor that will help our ground troops. It's important to keep in mind the balance and synergy between the different choices as you progress.

It's now 2358, and it's been a heck of a decade already. We're up to our pretty arbitrary goal of 50 Starfighters now, so let's check out the fleet.

Technology has its benefits. Look at the Colonizer price; already down more than 100 BC to 466 from the original tag of 570! That's a beautiful thing for the Imperial Treasury of Mentar, let me assure you.

The picture is good on the domestic side as well. Tyr is now able to contribute most of it's output to research, and Imra will be able to begin doing that in a few years also. Even Denubius is well on its way, almost halfway industrialized. At this point we can switch to a Psilons' dream; an almost completely research-focused economy. I never dreamed we'd stay isolated this long. There's a real opportunity here to get some better toys, and we're not going to miss it. Of course we could always come out the other side of it with a rude awakening, but that seems less and less likely with each passing year.

Hyper-V Rockets are here! If we need a missile ship, or more likely missile bases to defend our planets, we can now do better than shooting nuke rockets at the enemy. Now we have some cool new toys to look at. Anti-Missile Rockets are quite nice for the opposite role. Practically speaking, by the time they are deployed we'll be fortunate to get a 30% success rate, but that's still quite significant. At this point we haven't the first foggy notion what kind of ships our enemies will be building, but invading their planets will at some point involve taking out missile bases, and these are a key early tool in those battles.

The Neutron Pellet Gun is a new variant of beam weapon. Particle weapons are notable for their ability to halve the effects of shielding. A nice tool to have if we come up against enemies with good force-fields. Like say, the Humans.

Hyper-X Rockets are a perfectly solid missile improvement. They're faster and do a third more damage than the Hyper-Vs we just researched. Comparatively though, they are not as important as the more revolutionary advances in this tier.

Both the pellet gun and the anti-missile rockets are attractive options. I'll almost always take the rockets though, and I'm doing that here.

It's 2361, and research efforts grow by the year. We've made some progress in all of our current projects, and it's time to make an adjustment here. Propulsion is set to finish before Planetology, and that's not what I want. These two are extending range to six parsecs and Dead Colonization. We need the colonization tech first, so we can design and build a ship and get it headed toward Kronos. I'm starting to think that plan might actually happen given how unaccountably quiet things are. The optimal situation would be having it reach Arietis, three parsecs away, when we get the range boost. To do that, we need about a decade head-start, so planetology needs to get ahead here. I didn't take any funding from other departments, just shifted the balance between the two.

By 2365, it's still quiet. Haven't seen an enemy ship in almost two decades. That's just crazy. I've literally never seen a game like this on a small galaxy, though I don't usually play at this size so maybe it's not that rare. Tyr has maxed out and even Denubius is getting close and contributing to the tech push. So far as that growth curve is concerned, we're at the business end of it now, and another round of tech is approaching.

The very next year, and this is spectacular news. That's a big RP hit for this point in the game, more than 4x our annual output for all fields combined! Couldn't happen to a better race either. For whatever reason, this is really looking to be an Easy Mode game so far.

Another year, and we've got our first hostile environment breakthrough.

The list is growing as you can see; we've reached Tier III here. Enhanced Eco Restoration would slash our waste-cleanup spending by another 40%. Of course, everything here is a lot more expensive as well. We're researching quickly right now but even under optimal conditions it'll start slowing down. That's why it's rare to reach the top-level techs in a small galaxy.

More terraforming to get more out of our planets. Always a quality option.

Toxic colonization would leave only radiated worlds beyond our grasp. And there is that toxic world over by the Darloks, goes without saying we want to get that before they can.

Really can't go wrong here. Any of these would have a big, immediate positive impact on our empire. I can't turn down the improved efficiency with Enchanced Eco Restoration though, esp. when it's the quickest option to unlock yet another tier. Until we get the range upgraded, we'll switch around the research balance to favor propulsion over planetology. And of course we need a new ship design ...

Using a different ship icon just to show off different ones. And check out the price: this is the most expensive ship so far. The Dead Colony Base is more than twice as costly as the standard one at this point. Get what you pay for, as they say. Mentar has a new job now; get this thing to Kronos on the double. Even at this price, it's only a 3-year task.

Still not done though. When we get the new range tech, we're going to expand our travel abilities by two parsecs in all directions. If we do get Kronos, we'll be able to reach further in that direction -- combined that would bring a majority of the galaxy within reach of our Recon ships. We're going to need more, and it's time to get them in position now. Might even be a little late. This is a job for Tyr.

Our worst planet, and it can knock them out at a rate of a dozen per year! That's how far we've come. Honestly that's about the right amount. Maybe a bit high, but not much -- and we can afford a couple extra floating around if need be.

Well now. 2370, and it would seem it's time for research to take a back seat. There's the good old option to increase industry ratios by 25/50/75/etc. % but we refuse for reasons previously stated.

Significantly longer range, and determining enemy course and speed? Very nice.

On the other hand, that'd be really nice too. We haven't been able to upgrade our combat computers yet, proof that even Psilons get holes in the tech tree from time to time. Honestly we need both. I'm a sucker for better intelligence though, knowledge is power and all that. We're getting the Improved Space Scanner, but if we don't get a better Battle Computer soon we may well come back for this.

And there's our new product, headed for Kronos by way of Tyr. The new Recons are already outbound. So a priority shift here with all this going on:

** Get the Colonizer D to Kronos.
** Get the new range tech by the time it reaches Arietis so it isn't delayed.
** Shift most of our resources into industry, with just a basic skeleton investment staying in research, to upgrade all our factories with the new robotic controls and build new ones.

The last two there are in conflict a bit, but fortunately the new fuel cells could finish up at any time and we have five years yet on the clock for those, so we should do both. Timing working out great for us again.

Could have used any planet, but here's Tyr, showing that it's working on the REFIT process. Also, notice the max. pop; this year, somehow, I screwed up the spending the previous turn and Imra and Tyr both have a bunch of waste to clean up, and some people are going to die while I do it. Could well be my first notable screw-up of this game. I don't know how I did it, but it's totally avoidable if you are paying attention -- must have not had eco high enough previously. Don't do this, it's not good.

In terms of research, having my planets at this minimal level knocks us down to just over 100 RP total; it was at over 800 before. But we need the factory work in the long-term.

Putting a break in here as some stuff really hits the fan in the next update. No, I'm not going to say anything more about that since I'm a bastard who likes cliffhangers.

Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
Is it "safe" to spend this long not building any missile bases? I know I'd have beelined for them right away, but then again my instinct in 4X games is always to first have some sort of static defense against an initial rush/accident, then focus outwards.

Jun 5, 2008

Epsilon Moonshade posted:

I was going to argue this point with Stellar Conquest III, but not only was it done a year later, but seems to be a bit inspired by MoO now that I look at them side by side. :aaaaa:

Much of this style of game, including a slightly more limited form of the ship design, could be found in Play By Mail (not e-mail) or board games. Stellar Conquest (the board game) would be one example:

As for computer games which had similar mechanics, I know of at least one: Imperium Galactum, from SSI. Ships had separate stats for planetary bombardment, energy weapons, missile systems, evasion, armor, anti-missile and speed. Instead of having specific systems, though, you had design points, and no tech advancement meant that designs rarely got updates. Released in 1984.

While that game had no tactical combat, SSI's The Cosmic Balance (1982) had a fuller ship design and programmed turn tactical combat. Its sequel (The Cosmic Balance II) was the strategic shell meant to hook into the tactical fights of the first game, but I don't think it sold well.

I think it's fair to say that MoO represented a huge advance on these older games.


Mar 21, 2008

I love this game so much but am just so, so bad at it. It'll be nice to see what a win looks like.

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