Humans, Average, Medium, 4 Opponents
First game ever with Master of Orion, but I've wanted to try this out for ages ever since reading some of the excellent reports of others online. I thought that I had a pretty good idea of how to play from what others at Realms Beyond had posted, but only one way to find out for sure, right? I went with the default Human race, default galaxy size, and took out one opponent to make things a little less crowded. Here's what happened.
I began in the northwest corner of the galaxy, and had two stars in range for the colony ship to choose between. One was yellow and coreward, the other white and out on the edge of the map. Well that was an easy choice! Or so I thought. The yellow star had a habitable world, but only size 40 (desert), while the white star was also size 40 (minimal), but Ultra Rich! Oops, I guess I made a mistake there, but sometimes the probabilites play out in strange ways.
First time I've tried to do a MOO opening, I think I didn't screw up too badly. I probably sent a few too many colonists to the second planet, seeing as how it was only size 40, but I don't recall reading any tutorials on how to deal with such a small second planet. In any case, Sol maxed out in about 2323, which I think is about the usual. The immediate neighborhood was disgustingly fertile: 9 of the first 11 planets I explored were habitable! No poor planets, and two ultra riches in there too - amazing. Even better, I could reach six different planets without needing extended range, so I cranked a bunch of colony ships before needing to turn on research at all. Still no opponents in sight either, so I could run the MOO version of a farmer's gambit.
I was lacking Range 4 in the tree, but fortunately that wasn't needed and I could skip ahead to Range 5. I had both Terraforming +10 and Improved Industrial 9 in the tree, so I focused on those areas along with Propulsion and got off to a fast start. Now the bad news: the terrain was outstanding, but my tech tree had several critical gaps in it. No Reduced Industrial Waste, no Improved Eco Restoration, no waste cleanup techs period! I was burning cash in enormous quantities long into the game before I could find a solution. To complicate matters further, my weapons selection was abysmal. Only initial choice was Hand Lasers, followed by a choice between Anti-Missiles and Fusion Bomb. FINALLY after that I was able to get my hands on a new missile (Merculites) but I still never even so much as saw a gun. 100 turns into the game, I'm still trying to make due with lasers and nukes - scary stuff. Good thing this was only Average.
Fortunately, the terrain continued to be insanely favorable. Here my scouts continue to fan out after learning Range 5, still having met no one else. 50 turns into the game and still no contact yet! There were a bunch of yellow stars in both the east and south though, so I was sure to run into someone soon. I've got so many habitable worlds to settle, I'm scrambling at this point to seed them all with at least a couple of shipments of population. I used the Ecology slider to grow population quite a lot in some cases, just because there were no worlds available to send unemployed population. I'm not sure if that's good strategy or not, maybe someone can let me know?
The cursor above is pointing to my ultra rich planet, which I used (naturally) for nonstop shipbuilding. At this point, that meant colony ships, but once I met some neighbors, I built some Laser frigates (large size) to send up to the front lines for protection. I also built a lot of medium-sized missile boats, Nukers, just because I had nothing better to use. Still no choices on what to research other than Fusion Bomb at that point, and it was taking forever to get the tech! Good thing I was still in farmer mode.
Finally, some contact:
I met the Bulrathi in the south in 2358, Erratic Ecologists. I signed them to the maximum trade agreement possible, but given their personality, I made sure to start providing protection for my worlds. The bears claimed two worlds that I wanted and blew up some of my Scout2s, but otherwise we managed to coexist peacefully. It helped a lot that there was a significant area of dead space between our core worlds, and only our fledgling colonies were touching one another. Proteus, the world you see above, I made the point of my defense and stood up about a dozen bases in short order. Everything south and east of that was exposed and defended by my (weak) mobile forces, but the bears couldn't touch anything past that, and they knew it.
So I ran into the bears in the south, but my scouts ranging to the east continued to find no opposition to their voyages. After a certain point as the frontier rolled eastwards, I realized that there was NO ONE in the northeast corner, and I had free run on half the galaxy! Heh. MOO was easing me into things for my first game, how very kind. Here's where things stood in 2375:
By this point in time, I had already passed the second GNN population warning, when I reached my 12th planet. The desert planet in the middle of the map (the one the cursor is pointing to) is an isolated world at this point where I did nothing but build factories and bases for ages on end. Still better than the bears having it though. The Bulrathi grabbed that jungle planet to the northeast (Mu Delphi), but I will get the steppe planet to the east of it, and the other two unexplored planets further east (the ones my scouts are heading to in the picture). Those three would become part of a new front line facing south, taking advantage of the gulf of dead space there in the east between north and south. Because the other races (all starting in the southeast corner) lack the range to pass that barrier, I will clean up the entire northeast corner. What a coup!
Now notice the Inferno (I) planets on the map above in the south. I didn't have the tech to settle on them yet, but all three of them were Rich or Ultra Rich - wow! The Bulrathi didn't have Inferno tech in their tree, or at least didn't have it researched yet, so if I could grab them (and the arid planet in the western corner), I'd have secure bases in the heart of Bulrathi space should they ever decide to get frisky. But that's getting ahead of things.
For all my planets, I was still stuck with absolutely no waste cleanup improvement, argh. I put almost half my spending into Planetology so that I could unlock this:
Enhanced Eco Restoration, yay! At once stroke, my cleanup costs were cut practically in half. Just to give you an idea of how important this was, my total income from planets went from roughly 750 to 1443! Now I was ready to roll.
Finally met the other races in 2387 after settling in the east: Meklar and Silicoids, both crammed into the southeast as I expected. Neither of them liked me very much (no doubt due to my huge size), and both declared war within a dozen or so turns. Of course, they both lacked the range to reach any of my colonies, so I was less than worried. When the council converged for the first time (in 2398, so we had another vote the next year, ha!), I had about 40% of the vote. Here's what the map looked like 100 turns into the game:
Can you guess who's going to win?
The cursor above is pointing to the Sakkra homeworld, in the only possible place it can be. Obviously at this point victory is merely a matter of time, growing some of these colonies up to maturity, but I figured I might as well have fun while I was at it. I had no desire to attack the Bulrathi, my one faithful ally (yes, an Erratic leader - go figure), so I decided to take it to the Meklar and Silicoids. Hey, they declared war on me, why not? Once Merculite technology came in and my border worlds had been outfitted with Planetary Shields (I did have a nice selection of Force Field techs, which of course you would expect for Humans), I designed two new ships. Since I lacked any kind of gun, I built a large missile boat loaded with Merculites, and a medium bomber carrying 2 Fusion Bombs, both warp 3 speed. I also had good luck with Propulsion techs, I should say. However, my Computers tech was pretty awful to balance that out; first three techs (no choices each time): Space Scanner, ECM2, Deep Space Scanner. No Battle Computers, no Improved Robotic Controls, argh!
So I start building my ships and relocating them to Galos, which I used as a staging area. Here's what the battlefield looked like:
Meklon and Cryslon are both right next to each other, and Sssla is just to the south. What a strange map!
I figured I would go for the Silicoids first, both because they had more planets (typical Meklar had only 2 planets) and because they still had no planetary shields. Even better, the Silicoids had not upgraded their missiles at all and were still using nukes! I didn't really know how many ships I needed to be successful, so I erred on the side of caution. Cryslon had 11 bases, but it didn't hold up too well against my bombers:
I went in with 37 bombers and lost a total of three, while my missle boats blew up the Silicoid fleet. It looks like I wasn't doing that badly after all!
Due to range concerns, I needed to take over one of the AI planets intact and flip it around into a secure base, from which I could take out the rest of the worlds at my leisure. Cryslon made the best target, so I did things "the hard way" and pulled off a three-planet invasion of the Silicoid capital. We had even numbers, but I had Ion Rifles and they did not.
As Sirian once said, yes it is good to research those gropo techs.
From that point, all that remained was waiting for the next council vote to be held. I had researched Terraforming +40 and all my planets were huge compared to their AI counterparts. With many dozens of bombers flying circles around the warp 1 AI fleets, I could burn down pretty much any of their planets at will. Rather than drag this out, I'll just present a few more snapshots:
Here's the map from 2449:
The Sakkra are taking over an empty planet where I wiped out a Silicoid colony. Umm, good luck with that. I would bomb the final Meklar planet out of existence between turns, so they never got to participate in the final vote. The other races didn't seem too happy about that, but there wasn't much they could do about it. I should also mention that the dice told the Bulrathi to declare war in 2448, but it was a little too late for the bears at that point. All of my exposed frontline worlds had 20 or more bases, so I wasn't exactly sweating things out.
My fleet. Not very impressive, but it got the job done on this easy map. I think I did a pretty good job with the bombers, less certain on the missle boats. I had just gotten a new battle computer (5), shield (5), armor (zortrium), and gun (fusion beam, I think?) but didn't have enough time to deploy a gunship model.
And I win, yay! I had 75% of the votes, so by RB nomenclature that would be a Conquest win. It certainly wouldn't have taken much effort to turn that into an Extermination win (aside from tedium). I'm glad that MOO is so good at recognizing when a game is won and ending promptly.
That went... better than expected, to say the least. Still, I felt I should probably play at least one more game on Average, since this was about as good a map draw as possible. We'll see what happens on the next effort.