View Full Version : MOO1 tactical combat

Jun 23, 2007, 04:25 PM
The one part of Master of Orion that doesn’t work is the ship-to-ship combat. It’s a turn-based move-your-mice-roll-your-dice sort of affair that gives the illusion of tactical choice. In reality, there is almost no situation in which the moves you make in tactical combat make any difference whatsoever. In other words, the whole tactical combat screen is nothing more than a humiliating sham that wastes your time. There is an “auto resolve” button where you can have the computer make the moves for both sides. I suggest you press that button the first time you get to the combat screen, and forget that any other option even exists. You’ll like the game more for doing this.


Here or there (

Plot a Lot
Jun 23, 2007, 05:45 PM
Not entirely true. For example one tactic I use, especially in the early game, but anytime I have a speed advantage and weapon range weapon. Two things happen in this situation: 1. Can out run missles (until enemy ship is out of missles, i.e. don't have to plow through the missles to attack. 2. For beamer attack ships ( that are slower) I park my ship three ships ahead of the attacker. Then when it is it's turn it moves on. It is out of range if only has one square range, and is in range if I have a two square weapon. So, can just continue backing up, in complete safety, while slowly reducing the enemies stack. Because of the speed advantage enemy ships can never touch you sometimes. As advised in on of the strategy sections, you must be faster. This works.

In general, manuevering that avoids the strengths of the enemy ships can be helpful, too. The AI tends to just plow in and this magnifies loses. Where as, disscret manuevering can reduce loses. (This leaves production free for new ships rather than replacements.)

And there is always the tactical manuever of foucusing on eliminating a particular stack first, because it has an attack advantage, i.e. all my stacks ganging up on one stack, or vise versa, picking on a weak stack to make space for retreats or other attacks. I don't remember ever seeing the AI do this.

So there are some things that can be done manually that the AI is not programmed to consider.

Jun 23, 2007, 05:49 PM
Completely untrue.

Not that these are exciting battles, but you can win against ships that have one range and high initiative with repulsor beams for example without ever taking a hit. The computer will likely charge you in and be destroyed on auto.

the list of specials that require human input to use effectively is too long to list.

Jun 23, 2007, 07:10 PM
Yes, I recalled the repulsor thingie, too. The guy claimed the same about MOO2 combat which is imo also completely absurd.

Jun 24, 2007, 07:35 AM
I also disagree with the original statement. It's quite untrue; there are many situations where a modicum of tactics can change a battle from suicide (if done on auto) to perfectly winnable, even with no casualties. Many of these rely on specials. Others rely on exploiting the AI. Occasionally it relies on the human player having a better grasp of which stacks are most dangerous and should be targeted first; though the AI generally does a fair job at this it's not always correct.

Jun 24, 2007, 01:42 PM
To be frank, the original statement is only true when the player acts stupid.

But as soon as you start to use tactical combat to actually play tactically, you realize pretty fast that there are lots of possibilities. The obvious specialties have already been mentioned (repulsor beams are a prime example) - other good examples are run-away tactics, tactical sacrifices of ships, or luring the enemy away from its colony while sneaking a bomber behind them.

A valid criticism about MoO would be that the AI isn't capable of understanding these manoeuvers. But claiming that it makes almost no difference whether or not you move your ships yourself in tactical combat makes me wonder how much the author of this quote has actually played the game.

Jun 25, 2007, 03:46 PM
Completely untrue. We've been playing around with the notion of automating all battles for the Orion Succession Games, simply because controlling your own ships on the tactical screen is too good!

Jul 07, 2007, 02:41 AM
A lot depends on the composition of opposing fleets. On one extreme, if you have a fleet consisting of hundreds or thousands of fighters, then you are pretty much stuck with brute force tactics. On the other extreme, if you have a fleet consisting of several stacks of different ships with different weapon types and ranges, special devices, and speeds, then you have more complex choice of tactics.

Jul 07, 2007, 03:17 AM
Agreed:goodjob: :goodjob: :goodjob:

malicious bloke
Jul 12, 2007, 05:22 AM
I was playing against the humans this morning and all their ships had repulsor beams. I got bored so i redesigned all my ships without short range weapons and instead loaded them up with all the more powerful missiles (and top quality engines to keep them out of the way). I sat to one side and bombarded them into submission. I held a system with just 35 ships compared to more than a thousand lol

Jul 12, 2007, 09:31 PM
Missile ships are pretty cool against huge stacks of enemy hordes. (Gauss Autocannon and Pulse Phasors + Neutronium Field Projector are also excellent anti-stack weapons, but they do not become available until at higher tech level.) Since missile ships are normally not intended for close-quarter dogfighting, you do not need to invest in a lot of other things. But you need to be able to come up with missile ships that are relatively cheap, as missiles are at their best in a massive volley. (How about 1000+ medium hulls carrying scatter packs? Watch out!! :D) At higher tech level, torp ships are nice, but torps can fire only every other turn, which can be a drag at times.

In games that I have played involving myself investing in lots of missile ships, I did not start building them in large numbers until I discovered Scatter Pack V or better. I generally do not find Hyper-V and Hyper-X worthwhile.

Jul 13, 2007, 05:38 PM
Blackhole Generator is very hard on stacks as well.

Jul 13, 2007, 09:05 PM
Blackhole Generator is very hard on stacks as well.
I think Black Hole Generator is most effective against a huge stack of ships with relatively lower tech shields, as BHG gets penalized depending on the tech level of target's shields.

Probably best to accompany one's own BHG-equipped ships with other ships designed to hurt a huge stack of enemy ships with different equipments. That way, one can overwhelm the bad guys by the virtue of having a lot more tactical flexibility.

Oct 09, 2009, 06:55 PM
The one part of Master of Orion that doesn’t work is the ship-to-ship combat. It’s a turn-based move-your-mice-roll-your-dice sort of affair that gives the illusion of tactical choice. In reality, there is almost no situation in which the moves you make in tactical combat make any difference whatsoever. In other words, the whole tactical combat screen is nothing more than a humiliating sham that wastes your time. There is an “auto resolve” button where you can have the computer make the moves for both sides. I suggest you press that button the first time you get to the combat screen, and forget that any other option even exists. You’ll like the game more for doing this

Not correct at all. When you press auto, you need to understand if you are going to win or lose BEFORE you press it, because if you are wrong you are going to take heavy losses.

Sure, go ahead and charge in against those newly upgraded missile bases. Yeah, ignore those ships with repulsor beam defense. Yeah, just try and crack those 1000+ ships with superior shields, inertial stabilizer, etc.

Just because it will auto resolve the battle for you, doesn't mean it will kill the stack you want dead first...first.... (like stopping those bio-terminators) or close the gap to the planet while doing as much damage as possible... or not get completely shredded by superior technology. When you use auto, you need to think about your numbers verses theirs, and what you know of their technology. Thats the strategy dude.

Oct 09, 2009, 09:23 PM
I would say tactical is a mixed bag. You can gain an advantage in some battles. Others it makes no real difference. The main advantage is when you cannot beat them either way and wish to take out a ship or two and run.

The key thing about tactical is you cannot design you ships, if you do not select that option.

Dec 21, 2009, 02:46 AM
for all what is worth tactical combat is the place ı like most .

anyway have one missile and heavy lazers and one can merrily chop away practically anything early in the game unless you end up with the opponent who also likes 2 range weapons ( never met more than two in one game ) . ı have tried auto and it always ends up in duels where ı don't have the chance , concentrating anything on research , planets etc and not on ship numbers .

Mar 08, 2010, 11:22 AM
Almost the whole ship design fun of MOO1 gets spoiled if you use the auto function in tactical combat. Thinking about what your ships will do in tactical combat when designing them is one of the most interesting parts of the game.

Just take the case where the AI attacks a planet of yours with a massive bomber fleet while you are still lacking better shielding for your missile bases. You bring in a fleet of your own to support the missile bases and save your planet. First you check out what they have (missile bases always have battle scanner - so even if your ships don't you can see what's on the enemy ships). After that you make your decisions about which ships are the most dangerous to your planet.

For instance if there is one AI huge design with autorepair and carrying a massive amount of bombs that one needs seeing to while you still have your full firepower. Once you lost a lot of your missile bases you might not be able to run down that huge autorepair ship anymore. So there are a lot of decisions to take.

Also if some of your ships have missiles this can sometimes induce the enemy to draw back a big stack to avoid those missiles from your ships. Even if the missiles from your ships don't do much damage this can buy you time to tackle them bozos with the missiles from the planet. Sometimes I put a missile on a beam-ship just for that purpose. This is especially valuable when I do not have repulsor beams.

Using older designs as a bait to attract their missiles is also a good tactic - thus sparing the newer designs that really hurt them.

And there's another thing: A human player may sometimes decide not to use the
full movement points of his ships to let the enemy advance first. If their ships have different in-battle-speeds you can concentrate on their fastest ships first with several of your own stacks while they only have one stack firing at you initially.

If some of the enemy ships use cloaking devices you will try to fire on the none-cloaked ships first until the others uncloak and then concentrate on them while they are uncloaked.

When one of your strongest stacks has been frozen with Warp Dissipators it might still be able to fight if the enemy ships are at close range. Quite often they will first try to attack the non-frozen ships but if you manoeuver them cleverly you can lure them into the range of the frozen stack and they get roasted despite your strong stack being frozen.

Sometimes it is possible to use asteroids in the middle of the battle field to your benefit. If the enemy ships are slow you can keep running around the asteroids until the battle terminates (after 50 turns). This will not work in systems that have not been colonized yet when the enemy has a colony ship though. If you try to prevent colonization of a system that way and the battle terminates the AI still gets the option to colonize the system - even if their colony ship retreated during battle. Even if you have a colony ship of your own there the AI will get the colony if the battle terminated after 50 turns.

Minor Annoyance
Mar 08, 2010, 03:21 PM
Whoever wrote that clearly didn't play the game very well.

Aug 06, 2010, 02:24 PM
I see alot of people have commented on your quote and given good avdice for anyone new, but, I went to that link, and is doesn't have that quote there.
I don't know if it was taken down, or was somewhere else, and you post it here to get others to goto that link.

I will post that link in full in the next post.

Aug 06, 2010, 02:25 PM
4X: Master Of Orion
On February 21, 2007, in Games, by peterb ....This is the third in a series of articles about 4X games. Read the introduction here and the previous article here.

Perhaps the most well-known of the early era 4X games was Master of Orion. Master of Orion was developed by Simtex, who engendered a cult following with their overrated game Master of Magic. Orion was published by Microprose in 1993. This meant that it had real marketing muscle—Microprose was one of the giants in its day.
I’m going to talk (briefly) about all three games in the series, which might be a bit unfair, since for the most part the three games have nothing to do with one another. Life is tough sometimes. Let’s start with the first one.

Master of Orion is a very playable game. It can fairly be described as Spaceward Ho With Stuff. But the Stuff it adds is not trivial stuff, and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand.

MoO strategic map

The basic mechanics of exploration, shipbuilding, and colonization are similar. Instead of Spaceward Ho’s straightforward “fuel unit” limitation on range, Master of Orion lets you explore any system within so many parsecs of any colonized world, which frees you up from having to micromanage your travel. This is good, because I hates micromanagement. I hates it, I hates it, I hates it forever.

The game brings a lot of color to the genre. Each team in the game is a different species, and each species has certain advantages or disadvantages. For example, the dog-like Bulrathi are more effective at ground combat, while the Psilons are superior at researching new technologies, and the bunny-lizard Sakkra hump a lot breed faster.

As in Ho!, the qualities of a world are unknown to you until you visit, but you can glean a little information from the color of the star. There are no guarantees, but certain star colors are more likely to have habitable or interesting worlds. That adds a nice bit of flavor to the exploration. In addition to suitability for colonization, worlds may provide you with a technology, economic, or other bonus.

You can spend your money in many ways. You can develop the industry on the worlds you have colonized, or their defense, or invest in technology, or build ships, or spend money on espionage. Technology and ship production are both done on a per-planet basis, which makes juggling the money a bit of a chore, comparatively. I tried collecting all of my money into a big pile and jumping into it naked, but it scared my advisors and, to be honest, it sort of chafed.

Researching technology

Technology research is both interesting and ponderous; the research tree branches in several places, and no given species can research all available technologies. Making certain decisions early on can foreclose other options later. When you do succeed in discovering a new technology, you get a very satisfying little splash screen where a species-appropriate scientist looks smug and explains the implications of the new find. Technologies have a somewhat rock-paper-scissors relationship to each other, so it’s entirely possible to spend many centuries chasing a certain technological thread only to find you’ve tied yourself up in knots and spent tons of resources on something useless. That’s not so fun when it happens.

Master of Orion has a much richer diplomatic game than many others. You can trade worlds, money, or technology with other species, once you’ve established diplomatic relations with them. You can bribe other races, which is a satisfyingly effective way to stave off an impending attack. You can also begin spying on them, spending part of your GDP on espionage. Once you have spies in place, you can use them to steal technology, perform sabotage, or engage in counter-espionage activities. A well-placed spy can tip the balance of a close game.

There are a few differences that make Master of Orion a bit easier, strategically. In many 4X games, you need to conquer an enemy world before you can colonize it. In MoO, if you conquer a world with ground troops, the “excess” ground troops become the planet’s native population after the victory. Thus, after the early part of the game you’ll almost never build a colony ship: bomb them from orbit, send in a huge troop transport, and you have a fully-functioning and profitable colony. Worlds can fall like dominoes in this part of the game. Especially if you’re playing as the Bulrathi.

The one part of Master of Orion that doesn’t work is the ship-to-ship combat. It’s a turn-based move-your-mice-roll-your-dice sort of affair that gives the illusion of tactical choice. In reality, there is almost no situation in which the moves you make in tactical combat make any difference whatsoever. In other words, the whole tactical combat screen is nothing more than a humiliating sham that wastes your time. There is an “auto resolve” button where you can have the computer make the moves for both sides. I suggest you press that button the first time you get to the combat screen, and forget that any other option even exists. You’ll like the game more for doing this.

So zooming back up to a high level, I view Master of Orion as a game that lifts most of the good ideas from Spaceward Ho!, and then adds a ton and a half of mise-en-scène to them. The game is an unqualified success, and is probably more attractive to those who seek this sort of game for the setting more than the game itself. If the play is a little less crisp than its immediate predecessor, we can forgive it because it has so much style.

Insert sophomoric caption here.
Hoping to capitalize on the name, Simtex released Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares in 1996. A much weaker game, MoO2 was, from my perspective, an attempt to graft the MoO mise-en-scène onto their earlier game, Master of Magic. The city-building parts of that earlier effort were shoehorned into MoO2, and it works about as well as putting a sausage inside a piece of strawberry shortcake: you might want to eat both of them, but, for the love of God, not at the same time.

The reason this doesn’t work, I think, is that there’s a fundamental difference in scope, conceptually, between running a feudal serfdom and a galactic empire. At some point, after the eighth time you’ve told some new planet to build some farms or, y’know, goddamned houses for their citizens, it stops being fun and starts being irritating. “Why am I doing this?” you wonder. “Why am I doing this for these idiots? They don’t deserve my leadership. I should just let them starve to death. Schmucks.” In fairness, there is a “governor” option, but as in most cases, it doesn’t work for me: once the game asks me to make the decision, it has asked me to care. And I can never get those neurons back.

In 2003, Infogrames published Master of Orion 3, a game so stunningly bad that it’s not even worth playing for free. I won’t go into detail here because it’s too depressing to write about. I just wanted to confirm, publically, that it really is about as bad as you heard it was. It’s actually worse. The word “unplayable” doesn’t even come close to describing it: it’s the worst game I’ve played that didn’t actually cause my computer to explode.

The original Master of Orion is clearly the best of the three: it’s fun to learn, pretty to look at, and if you don’t get bogged down in the pointless tactical combat, quick moving. It can even still be bought new at Amazon. It runs very well in DOSBox on both Windows and Macintosh.

Is what is at that link now.

Aug 06, 2010, 06:57 PM
I had a similar feeling about Moo3, but I can name at least one space game that was worse, Outpost.

I would add that once I applied Strawberry and some other fixes, Moo3 has some enjoyment. It is not a good game, but I have had many I removed the first day.

Aug 06, 2010, 07:09 PM
I couldn't get over the lines (warp lanes).
Space is vast and empty, and it doesn't have lines all over the place.

They would have to eliminate those period.
And bring the travel times to the planets formally off those lanes to a number close to what they should be considering their distance, before I could even think of re-installing that game.
So, many disapointments in that game.

Maelstrom was another game I unistalled. It had a 3-d map, but, not the fun of MOO2.

Aug 06, 2010, 10:39 PM
Ascendancy has star lanes way back in 1994 and was fun for the day. It still has one of the cooler sounds for blasting ships.

Aug 07, 2010, 12:37 AM
Ascendancy has star lanes way back in 1994 and was fun for the day. It still has one of the cooler sounds for blasting ships.

I think one of the Star Control's had them too.
but, it took like 1 turn to travel between them, and never off of them.
With MOO3 it takes a few turns on them, and some 20-80 turns off of them.
It made scouting planets extremely time consuming.
Games were not won in a weekend.

Aug 07, 2010, 06:20 AM
Yes, if you turned off the 5x win and went for conquest, it was a long game. Those 80 turns runs were not meant to be done as they just went to a star, no planets. As long as you stayed in the lanes, you had an arrive time of a small number of turn to the next system.

The runs for Xs was a different matter.

Aug 07, 2010, 03:16 PM
For sound effects, I always like the Heavy Blast Cannon and Megabolt Cannon from MOO1.

In MOO2, you could tell by turn 200, or earlier, who was going to win the game.
In MOO3, I quit at turn 360, because, it looked like it would be turn 2000 before the game was over.
And the lack of information of helpful information was so bad.
How much does Empathy help? It doesn't say.

It wasn't targeted at a high school level for mass audiance appeal.
I remember reading words like caeses belias and thinking what the heck is that? or the several ship building structures with complicated names.
You couldn't just build a sb and start building the larger hulls, it took a new building for each of the new hull types. insane. MOO1 had 4, MOO2 had 6, MOO3 had 17 different hull types. just overly complicated. 8-10 would have been fine, with possibly another building upgrade like a Heavy Battlestation, or Super Star Fortress, something along those lines.

sorry, for the off-topic rant. I was so disappointed with that game. $50 for the game + $20 for the guide, down the drain.

The only way an excellent MOO4 will really be built, is if Atari pays Steve Barcia to work his magic and restore the good name of Master of Orion.

Aug 07, 2010, 03:58 PM
I pretty much played Moo1 with no sound for the first 15 years. In Moo2 I like the Plasma Cannons, but I stopped using them after they nerfed them.

Aug 07, 2010, 04:40 PM
:) As you might have guessed, felow Central Floridian, in MOO2, I liked the plasmacannons.
Even when, they increased the size (they really were too powerful then) I still put them on ships.

Aug 07, 2010, 06:59 PM
I had lunch at Bob Evans on Lake Mary road today coming back from the Sanford mall. I prefer to use phasers and then switch to disrupter to deal with any shield issues on planets.

I had to go to the dos version on Win7 and use DosBox. Moo2 was fine in XP, but not Win7.

Aug 09, 2010, 05:25 PM
I don't guess I ever played it before the nerfing, but I still like plasma cannons. Even modded phasors don't seem to tear up shields the same way PCs do. I'll often put a PC or two in the first slots on a ship, then stuff the rest of the space with Hv/AF phasors.

Aug 09, 2010, 07:21 PM
You just do not get as many cannons as you use to, that is why I switched. Phasors are a 2000 and cannons are 3500. I take the plasma rifle to help with the invasions as I take the Ground Combat penalty.

I then go to disrupters as they can cut into all planets. As it is 4500 tech, I am about due for an upgrade.

Aug 10, 2010, 05:42 PM
That would probably make more sence.
I have just used my missle ships more, up until I can construct new ships with plasma cannons.
Then, upgrade some of the missle ships too.

Aug 13, 2010, 09:25 PM
I have not played in a while, but I had a special fondness for enveloping plasma, especially the heavies. My main problem with them was they tended to over do things and zap ships which I just wanted to peal off the shields on so I could capture them. On the Antarian expedition at the end of the game, they could be a little weak, with those Antaran reflector shields an all, so I would upgrade to steller converters. But against the other alien races, plasma was the stuff, especially if I was greatly outnumbered and in a panic.