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I can beat moo1 regularly on average and sometimes hard but only on large or huge maps where I have time to settle and tech enough force fields and missiles so the ai can't take all my cities. It seems they usually won't attack you until there's no space left so huge with even max rivals usually works out as you can get 6-8 colonies going before there's trouble.

But on smaller maps I have the hardest time. I think I use tech advantage as a crutch too much. I like to build infrastructure and a tall empire before going to war with developed colonies, stuff like +50 population and robotic controls 4 with max factories... mmmm.

So how to adjust to a harder difficulty and a more crowded map?

I think one of my major flaws is not building a large enough fleet. Is there a certain fleet strength rating that deters rivals from attacking you? And how is fleet strength calculated? Is it better to build as many cheap ships as possible or less of the more expensive/larger/more advanced ones?

Then the other issue I have is early warfare. If a rival does colonize a planet right next to me like a really good jungle 80 pop one or something how do you get through bases early? Early game slow ships with nuclear bombs suck. They get shredded by any bases. I don't like to attack until I have at least 3 movement, I forget which engines that is, maybe ion, but it's like 3-4 techs into propulsion. Maybe missiles are better cus you can launch at range into bases?

What about ship vs ship design? Lasers early? Battle computers? Hit and run with missiles? I know the late strats fine like getting repulsor beams plus energy focus so people can't hit you or kiting with max engines and torpedoes or getting black hole generators plus sub space teleporters for instant strikes. Late I have no issues with my ship configurations but early it's just hard to do damage. What do you recommend, like hard beams or fusion beams? In general I'm not sure how aggressive to be vs ai and whether to only go with tech advantage or just swarm them with ships, but when I choose the former they all just seem to die without doing much damage.

How much do you focus research early on? Ship range tech seems essential for expansion, at least 5 range but that's a big investment. Do you only do it when there's a planet in that range right away? Do you tech engines at all to save turns getting there? What about cheap but effective techs like +10 population or 9 bc cost factories? I mean +10 pop can be a 10-20% population increase for a few hundred bcs.

The other thing that throws a huge wrench into my plans is if I accidentally expand too fast and take second place I always seem to get ganged up against in the vote. Like if an AI has second the vote is usually split right down the middle, but as soon as I get to second they all vote for the other guy. Is there a way to keep AI happy other than just gifting them tech?

I know there's a lot of questions here but just in general wondering how to play better. It's an old game so there aren't a ton of guides around, not nearly as many as moo2 anyway.
Master of Orion is interesting in how the tech you can research is randomised so a lot of the joy in playing this game is, for me at least, to adjust to the given situation.

I always research at least one planetology tech early as higher tech levels in planetology improves your workers too aside from the effects of the tech itself. Also lowers the cost cost of building and upkeeping colony ships. Some improved fuel cells are very often needed early but sometimes you can reach a bunch of planets early with just the basic 3pc cells.

I am no master at this game (losing more than winning on the hardest difficulty level) but I use troops exstensivly.

The voting gets to me as well; most common way for me to lose. It seems to me that having 25-33.33% of the votes is dangerous and should be avoided so very quickly go from 24% to 34%+.

Different races are better in a small packed galaxy, the only kind of setup where I play Darloks for example.
Post edited December 04, 2017 by Themken
Timberwolf: The other thing that throws a huge wrench into my plans is if I accidentally expand too fast and take second place I always seem to get ganged up against in the vote. Like if an AI has second the vote is usually split right down the middle, but as soon as I get to second they all vote for the other guy. Is there a way to keep AI happy other than just gifting them tech?
Rather than keeping them happy, in my experience it's best to put them against each other. A faction at war is less likely to attack you or vote for the enemy AND it may also slow down their overall progress. Try to get everyone to break their alliances and attack each other, bribe them if you have to, it's usually worth it unless they're already extremely weak.
You should be especially mindful of weakening your strongest rival this way. Put everyone you can against them and check every few turns if they're still at war. If they aren't, consider if it's worth instigating more wars. If left unchecked some races can easily surpass you, and you can't afford that to happen.

In short, "divide et impera" is an extremely effective strategy in Master of Orion.
Put scout ship around as many of your own and unclaimed planets as you can. That will slow down the expansion of the other players.
I had once a game were colonizing ONE planet made the difference between winning and loosing.

It was a ultra-rich with 20 pop, (can't remember what precisely.....but not terran or similar, first I did not colonized it, my fleet got beaten (only a few ships) and that lost me the game.
I did save it (on purpose) this time I colonized this planet and this made me win the game.

Why? One one hand preventing the AI to use the planet against myself, and on the other hand giving me the production bonus a wee bit later.

So sometimes it is also just about preventing the AI from using something.

General tips on small maps are rather hard, it really depends on who is next to you......And which race you place. You will have to adopt your playing strategy to your faction.

What sometimes help to understand better, make saves (zip them) and see how different strategies do give you different outcome.

For voting, me thinks, that is actually the hardest to win on small maps........or just my inner emperor too strong :D
Read Sulla's MOO playthrough reports. It's some good spare time reading. He goes through detailed reports, laying out the strategies that beats Impossible level 2/3rds of the time on small to medium maps.

Basically, expand and develop your economy as fast as possible while avoiding all but the bare minimum to defend yourself. Only bother with ships in the very early game before the AI pulls ahead in tech and production (and they WILL on harder settings), or on gimped start AIs that are around your total power. Block colonizable planets from unarmed AI scouts and colony ships, first with your own scouts, then with some fighters. Otherwise you have to mostly rely on missiles until at least halfway through mid game. Constantly check for tech trades that can sang you invaluable techs while trading away crap techs. Capturing an enemy planet with an invasion is HUGE if it can snag you tech.

Best early techs: Construction, planetology, propulsion. You can ignore the rest for a while. You want waste elimination/reduction, longer range (or just enough for what you need), terraforming +10, construction tech 9.

Don't forget the race tiers. Not all are created equal. If you're having trouble, play with the stronger races first.

Psilons (undisputed best in the game)
Klackons (undisputed 2nd best)
Humans/Sakkra (top mid tier)
Meklar (slightly above average mid tier)
everyone else (mid tier)
Mssshrn/Darlocks (undisputed bottom of the barrel)