The Let's Play Archive

Master of Orion

by Thotimx

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Original Thread: Bovine Beginnings: Le'ts Play the Original MOO!



Master of Orion was published a generation ago in the early days of PC gaming(3.5" floppy disks and all, though I have the GOG version) by Microprose in 1993, and developed by Simtex Software. It essentially founded a genre, and is generally known as the 'father of the 4Xs'. While I have no aim to throw shade at other games, I will say that I find myself bemused at the fact that others such as it's successor three years later, Master of Orion 2: Battle of Antares, are considered superior. I am of the opinion that the opposite is the case. MOO2 is a solid game, but I think it's considerably more flawed. I count myself among those who think the original is not only the best in the series, but in fact still one of the finest strategy games ever produced.

I was stunned to discover that I could not find any LPs of this true pioneering classic here, though there are a few for newer versions. I intend to rectify this situation. Master of Orion may look dated(and it does, and is), and I don't intend to gloss over those areas where it falls short. On the other hand, it boasts surprisingly robust replayability, flawed but ahead-of- it's-time AI that is still superior to many modern offerings, and quite well-balanced yet assymetrical gameplay. Many have borrowed from it, but as a total package I am not convinced it has been surpassed -- certainly not by many.

LP Style

This thread will showcase the above and much more, for better or worse. Mastery will be demonstrated(attempted is probably more accurate) by winning on the toughest difficulty with each MOO race, from overall best to most challenging. In this way we will also see the variety of situations the game presents, within familiar patterns. Community voting will be rare; at these settings there isn't much room for suboptimal play. Each game will be played out to it's end, and losses will occur; in fact, I expect to lose at least as many as I win. Only the very best MOO experts, which I do not count myself among, can win consistently and there are some possible galaxies which are truly impossible.

This will almost exclusively be an SSLP, with the occasional video for particularly noteworthy battles.

LP Pacing

For a variety of reasons, Master of Orion lends itself to 25-year segments. Games can last anywhere from less than a century to several centuries depending on various factors.

Community Participation

If someone really wants to see a particular race or something like that I may consider moving them a bit up or down the list. Taking a vote on actions at the difficulty I'll be playing would be an exercise in futility. But aside from that anything goes. I'm always looking for honest feedback of all varieties, as well as any other thoughts you may have on the goings-on. Lurk, comment, whatever suits your fancy. There's not much to spoil but have at it if you wish there as well.

What's this whole MOO thing about anyway?

Per the manual, have some lore:

As we'll see, the second sentence there is unmitigated horse manure. There is no shortage of room for new people or resources on our homeworld at the start of the game. The date is wrong also, since the story begins in 2300 ... which is the beginning of the 24th century, not the 23rd. So not a real great start to our backstory there, but the rest of it and the broad strokes are pretty good.


If you must, take a gander at the intro video bearing only topical resemblance to actual gameplay here:

The Races

All the galaxy is a stage, and these are the actors, in order of appearance from best to worst. There is no 'race customization' such as you would see in a modern 4X; they are what they are, and the weaknesses and strengths must be dealt with. This is one of those aspects that some would consider a flaw, but I'm inclined to disagree inasmuch as I've yet to discover a race customization feature that is both robust and and reasonably balanced. In any event, this is the order in which the races of MOO will be featured here:


These braniacs are far and away the best researchers in the galaxy, gaining their edge through superior technology which tends to become a more and more pronounced advantage as the game progresses. They don't have any natural rivalries and will tend to stay out of galactic conflicts until they have an overwhelming advantage. If they are allowed to reach that point, the galaxy almost always belongs to them -- everyone else just hasn't received the requisite paperwork yet.


Your basic hive-mind insects, the Klackons get double the normal production from population. This allows them to build up new colonies more quickly than any other race. They will tend to get off to a quick start which they can leverage throughout the game. Klackon opponents typically are difficult to get along with, and focus sensibly on developing their industrial base. Construction tech is their forte, but they are among the worst in propulsion, a key weakness.


Most players consider the humans to be better, but I've put them together here because I find them to be roughly equal in the hands of a strong player. As opponents, I'd say the Silicoids are even better.

Taking homo sapiens first, they are masters of trade and diplomacy. Often this will manifest itself in convincing other races to support their leadership, winning without bloodshed. Other races tend to trust them more than they really should. If they are present and not particularly weak, political maneuvering will be crucial. As their advantage lies in dealing with other races, it is a mid and late-game plus. Humans are also better than most at research; they are the best there is when it comes to force fields, and are strong in planetology and propulsion as well with no major weaknesses.

The Silicoids are the most unique race, space rocks essentially. Diplomatically they are pretty good, tending to side with the Klackons and Meklar. They can live on any rock, ignore pollution, but have terrible population growth and can't research some key ecological technologies. In fact the Silicoid overall are the worst-researching race in the galaxy; good in computing but subpar everywhere else. The ability to settle anywhere allows them free reign on some planets early in the game, allowing them often unrivaled early expansion. If they fail to press this edge though, they can wind up in a world of trouble.


Another case of two different races that are, at least in theory, roughly equal. The amphibious Sakkra breed at an incredibly high rate, and aim to expand quickly. They will generally attack whenever an opportunity presents itself. Diplomacy ... is not their strong suit, to put it mildly. They've got a blood feud with the Mrrshan and aren't real big fans of the Alkari, Klackon, or Meklar either. Their planetology research is the class of the galaxy, and they have no major weakenesses in tech. If they can avoid pissing off the universe, they are a foe to be reckoned with.

The Meklar are cybernetic life forms, adept at automation which allows them to squeeze considerably more industrial capacity out of their planets than any other race. Somewhat similarly to the Psilon tech advantage, this allows them to compensate to a degree for limited territory if need be. This manufacturing edge diminishes over time, but never completely disappears. The facility with automation also brings with it preeminence in matters of computing and espionage, but ecological matters largely escape them. The approach to foreign policy is often unpredictable to organic life; they find most in common with the Silicoids, and don't trust the nature-loving Sakkra.


Masters of flight, these bird-beings are the top military-focused race. They have plenty of natural enemies, including the Mrrshan, Klackons, and Sakkra, all of whom provoke a predatory response. The aerodynamic focus yields excellence in evasive maneuvers; their ships are notoriously hard to hit, particularly early on in the struggle. Propulsion is naturally their top field and they have no equals in that discipline; force field research is poor on the other hand.


This is another example where I differ from the conventional wisdom. Most, though not all, would rate these felines as the weakest overall race in the galaxy. Their main ability is the opposite of the Alkari; their weapons will miss less often and cause more damage due to superior skill in matters of gunnery, and their scientists are preeminent in weaponry advances as well. Balancing this are struggles in construction tech and major diplomatic issues. The Alkari and Sakkra relations are usually on the level of a blood feud, and they don't get on well with Klackons or Bulrathi either. Fewer powers like them compared to those that do, and the kitties don't do themselves any favors by proving reckless on the attack more often than not.


This is a race of bear-like creatures that are immensely strong. Don't be fooled by the relatively cutesy appearance; they are not to be trifled with in ground combat, either on the attack or defense, where they are formidable foes. They've got more than their share of aggression, sometimes attacking without a clear purpose. They have pretty neutral relations, with the Mrrshan their only notable distrust. Research is a little above-average with skill in weapons and construction, balanced by a weakness in computing. The biggest flaw is the lack of a major strength; the Bulrathi are generally behind the 8-ball economically or in fleet action against almost everyone. Too often their fearsome shock troops can only be employed in forestalling their eventual demise.


Never trust a shape-shifter. The shadowy Darlock are literally cloaked in mystery. Nobody likes them, and only humanity can be counted on to regularly make deals ... once which will benefit them the most, of course. In terms of technology they are good at computing, average everywhere else. Their lone ace in the hole is having a massive edge in all matters relating to the dark arts of spycraft. Lacking any military or economic pluses, they will usually start slowly and, marginalized by the galactic community, struggle to have a major impact on the larger stage. They are usually a disruptive force, skilled even at blaming their subversive actions on others, but it is rare indeed to have them as a major power.

Table of Contents

Note: Episode XI and on are worth looking at just for the reader art alone. As an example:

Episode I: Psilons, Small Galaxy

Episode I: Psilons, 1st Attempt
Opening, Part II
Phase II: Expansion Part I(2323 - 2337)
2337 - 2350
Episode I, Part V (2350 - 2370)
Episode I, Part VI (2370-2375)
2375 - 2380 High Council: Beginning of the End, or Merely the End of our Beginning?
Episode 1: 2380 - 2400
Episode 1: 2400 - 2425
Episode 1: 2425 - 2450
Episode 1: 2450 - 2475
Episode 1: 2475 - 2487
Episode 1: 2487 - 2500

Episode II: Klackons, Medium

Episode II Preview
Episode II: Klackons, 1st Attempt, Opening
Episode II: 2322 - 2350
Episode II: 2350 - 2363
Episode II: 2363 - 2375

Episode III: Klackons, Large

Episode III: Opening
Episode III: 2323 - 2349
Episode III: 2350 - 2366
Episode III: 2366 - 2375
Episode III: 2375 - 2399
Episode III: 2400 - 2425
Episode III: 2425 - 2443
Episode III: 2443 - 2449
Episode III: 2450 - 2474
Episode III: 2475 - 2499
Episode III: 2500 - 2515
Episode III: 2515 - 2524
Episode III: 2525 - 2549
Episode III: 2550 - 2579

Episode IV: Silicoids, Huge

Silicoid Preview
Episode IV: Silicoid Start, 2300 - 2328
Episode IV: 2328 - 2349
Episode IV: 2350 - 2361ish
Episode IV: 2361 - 2374
Episode IV: 2375 - 2399
Episode IV: 2400 - 24??
Episode IV: 2408 - 2424
Episode IV: 2425 - 2449
Episode IV: 2450 - 2474
Episode IV: 2475 - 2499
Episode IV: 2500 - 2524
Episode IV: 2525 - 2549
Episode IV: Conclusion

Episode V: Silicoids, Medium

Episode V: Revenge of the Rocks(hopefully)
Episode V: 2322 - 2339
Episode V: 2339 - 2349
Episode V: 2350 - 2362
Episode V: 2362 - 2374
Episode V: 2375 - 2399
Epsiode V: 2400 - 2424

Episode VI: Humans, Large

Human Preview
Episode VI: Human Opening
Episode VI: 2329 - 2349
Episode VI: 2350 - 2374
Episode VI: 2375 - 2399
Episode VI: 2400 - 2424
Episode VI: 2425 - 2450
Episode VI: 2450 - 2475
Episode VI: 2475 - 2500
Episode VI: 2500 - 2525
Episode VI: 2525 - 2550
Episode VI: 2550 - 2575
Episode VI: 2575 - 2600
Episode VI: 2600 - 2625
Episode VI: 2625 - 2650
Episode VI: 2650 - 2675
Episode VI: 2675 - 2700

Episode VII: Meklar, Medium

Meklar Preview
Meklar Opening
Episode VII: 2325 - 2350
Episode VII: 2350 - 2375
Episode VII: 2375 - 2400
Episode VII: 2400 - 2425
Episode VII: 2425 - 2450
Episode VII: 2450 - 2475
Episode VII: 2475 - 2500
Episode VII: 2500 - 2525
Episode VII: 2525 - 2550
Episode VII: 2550 - 2575
Episode VII: 2575 - 2600

Episode VIII: Meklar, Large

Episode VIII: Opening
Episode VIII: 2325 - 2350
Episode VIII: 2350 - 2375
Episode VIII: 2375 - 2400
Episode VIII: 2400 - 2425
Episode VIII: 2425 - 2450
Episode VIII: 2450 - 2475

Episode IX: Sakkra, Medium

Sakkra Preview
Episode IX: Sakkra Opening
Episode IX: 2322 - 2350
Episode IX: 2350 - 2375
Episode IX: 2375 - 2400
Episode IX: 2400 - 2425
Episode IX: 2425 - 2450
Episode IX: 2450 - 2475

Episode X: Sakkra, Large

Episode X: Opening
Episode X: 2325 - 2350
Episode X: 2350 - 2375
Episode X: 2375 - 2400
Episode X: 2400 - 2425
Episode X: 2425 - 2450
Episode X: 2446 - 2475
Episode X: 2475 - 2500
Episode X: 2500 - 2525
Episode X: 2525 - 2550
Episode X: 2550 - 2575
Episode X: 2575 - 2600
Episode X: 2600 - 2625
Episode X: 2625 - 2650
Episode X: 2650 - 2675
Episode X: 2675 - 2700
Episode X: 2700 - 2725
Episode X: 2725 - 2750(I)
Episode X: 2725 - 2750(II)
Episode X: 2750 - 2775(I)
Episode X: 2750 - 2775(II)
Episode X: 2775 - 2800
Episode X: 2800 - 2825
Episode X: Multi-Part Conclusion. Sauron Presents: Maximum Evil Overkill
Episode X: Conclusion

Episode XI: Alkari, Medium

Alkari Preview
Alkari Opening
Episode XI: 2322 - 2350
Episode XI: 2350 - 2373

Episode XII: Alkari, Large

Episode XII: Opening Plus
Episode XII: 2350
Episode XII: 2375 -
Episode XII: 2400 -
Episode XII: 2425 -
Episode XII: 2450 -
Episode XII: 2475 -
Episode XII: 2500 -
Episode XII: 2525 -

Episode XIII: Mrrshan, Medium

Mrrshan Preview
Episode XIII: Opening
Episode XIII: 2317 -
Episode XIII: 2350 -
Episode XIII: 2375 -
Episode XIII: 2400 -
Episode XIII: 2425 -
Episode XIII: 2450 -
Episode XIII: 2475 -
Episode XIII: 2500 -
Episode XIII: 2525 -
Episode XIII: 2550 -
Episode XIII: 2575 -

Episode XIV: Bulrathi, Medium

Bulrathi Preview
Episode XIV: Opening
Episode XIV: 2325 -
Episode XIV: 2350 -

Episode XV: Bulrathi, Medium

Episode XV: Opening
Episode XV: 2325 -
Episode XV: 2350 -
Episode XV: 2375 -
Episode XV: 2400 -
Episode XV: 2425 -
Episode XV: 2450 -

Episode XVI: Bulrathi, Medium

Episode XVI: Opening
Episode XVI: 2325 -
Episode XVI: 2350 -
Episode XVI: 2375 -
Episode XVI: 2400 -
Episode XVI: 2425 -
Episode XVI: 2450 -
Episode XVI: 2475 -

Episode XVII: Darlok, Huge

Darlok Preview
Episode XVII: Opening
Episode XVII: 2324 -
Episode XVII: 2350 -
Episode XVII: 2375 -
Episode XVII: 2400 -
Episode XVII: 2425 -
Episode XVII: 2450 -
Episode XVII: 2475 -
Episode XVII: 2500 -
Archive Index