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I haven't manually added any patches. (Not that I remember, anyway I've had the game for quote a while and am just looking at it now for the first time.) Cluster is available as a galaxy size, so I assume some unofficial patch is included with the GOG distribution. How can I tell for sure? How can I update to a later patch if I want to, without messing up anything GOG is providing to make the game runnable on a modern system?
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DvdAvins: I haven't manually added any patches. (Not that I remember, anyway I've had the game for quote a while and am just looking at it now for the first time.) Cluster is available as a galaxy size, so I assume some unofficial patch is included with the GOG distribution. How can I tell for sure? How can I update to a later patch if I want to, without messing up anything GOG is providing to make the game runnable on a modern system?
I presume you are talking about the second game as you mentioned clusters. GOG sells the game with the old (2006) fan patch included but I really recommend you install the new one as well: https://www.gog.com/forum/master_of_orion_series/master_of_orion_2_unofficial_150_patch It works really well. These fan patches only work in the DOS version but that is what you should be playing anyway and what GOG's installer installs.

I really think everyone should try the first game as well unless they are only playing for the multi-player, which the first game lacks.

I presume you are talking about the second game as you mentioned clusters. GOG sells the game with the old (2006) fan patch included but I really recommend you install the new one as well: https://www.gog.com/forum/master_of_orion_series/master_of_orion_2_unofficial_150_patch It works really well. These fan patches only work in the DOS version but that is what you should be playing anyway and what GOG's installer installs.

I really think everyone should try the first game as well unless they are only playing for the multi-player, which the first game lacks.
Thanks. Yes, I put MOO2 in the title. I used to play MOO1. Several times I would splay for a week or so and then get fed up with the bugs and design oversights that they decided to call features (like transports en route causing war to resume) and went back to playing Civ or SMAC. I figure 20 years on, it's past time for me to give MOO2 a try.
Just for reference, the game's version is displayed in the main menu. Can't help with patches as I've never had use any, but it looks like Themken has got you covered.

Hope you'll have more fun with MoO2 than you had with its prequel. They're both great games, although personally I prefer the first one.
With the fan patches I think the games are equally fun. Still hoping for an improved fan patch for the first MoO, one that reverts the modification of the Silicoids.