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MOO1 is a great game. It is, however, standing on the shoulders of another, more obscure game, Pax Imperia. Pax Imperia was an awesome game for its time but, unfortunately, was fairly buggy and released on the Apple. Despite its bugginess, the sheer size and easy-to-learn complexity of the game almost mirrors that of MOO1. It'd be nice if GOG could get Pax Imperia (a non-bugged version, mind) or its successor Pax2 but I doubt that'll ever happen. The Pax Imperia AI seemed to be much more difficult than either of the MOO games but, then again, it has been a VERY long time since I've played either.
Well if we're going to open that can of worms as to "who was first", Master of Orion 1 is also predated by the very similar Spaceward Ho! (My favorite of these three), Armada 2525 (Second favorite but get the deluxe edition) and Reach for the Stars(fun, but getting a bit clunky in it's age), a 1983 Commodore 64 game which is probably the first game that could be considered "4X".

Don't have to to stop there though, it may all originate from a board game called "Stellar Conquest" which was surely inspired by Risk.....

The MoOs are still my favorite 4X games though, and I think that is in a large part due to their personality and charm.
Post edited November 20, 2011 by xenobrain
moo1 is my favorite space strategy game ever but i'd buy spaceward ho in a heartbeat if it were on here. loved that game! gimme the cowboy hat :)
Oh man, Armada 2525 flashbacks. I remember that game being fun until carriers showed up, then it got kind of boring.

There's an Armada 2526 sequel that just came out. Anyone know if it's any good?