Master of Orion II Strategy Guide

by Cybersaber

Most players who start to play MOO II online have a lot of experience playing against the computer, but very little experience playing against other human players. There is a steep learning curve when playing against human players, and many of the lessons that good players have learned offline have to be thrown away when playing against humans. This guide is designed to help players quickly get over this obstacle and start to enjoy their online games.

The strategies, tactics and techniques explained in this guide apply to the types of games usually played online against human opponents. Most online games are set up for medium or large universes, at the Pre-Warp or Average Technology setting, utilizing Tactical Combat, no computer managed empires (AIs), and no Antarans. Some parts of this guide are irrelevant for strategic combat games, and only loosely relevant for small universes or Advanced Tech games. Some parts of this guide do not apply when playing the DemoDict Mod.

Race Picks
One of the real joys of this game is the wide latitude to experiment with a huge variety of race combinations. While this is a great deal of fun, the Darwinian struggle of years of combat has proven that there are certain requirements for a competitive race. These include:

Population Capacity Modifier. Population is the ultimate arbiter of victory in MOO. A race without the ability to generate a large population will almost always lose the population competition, and shortly thereafter the game. It is essential that your race picks include at least one of the following pop capacity modifiers: Aquatic, Subterranean, Tolerant. Each of these picks increases the number of colonists that a planet can hold. Lithovore is also a viable pick: it does not increase the number of colonists a planet can hold, but by eliminating farmers, it does give you more usable population.

Government. Unification is the preferred form of government, and essential for any production oriented race. Democracy is also a viable pick, though generally a much tougher race to play. With a very few exceptions, Dictatorship and Feudal governments are suicide unless a player intends to jump an opponent very early on and gets lucky enough to find a convenient Worm Hole right to them. In theory, there is a fair balance between Production Races (Unified) and Tech Races (Democratic). In practice, Production Races rule. This is because Production Races can routinely out-colonize and out-populate Tech Races, which means they can ultimately even out-tech a Tech Race. It is also worth noting that a Production Race will settle a lot more planets, which means it can usually produce most of its research through its buildings, not its population, while a Tech Race, with many fewer settled planets, has to rely on its smaller population for most of its research, which hinders expansion and fleet construction.

Creative. Many new players start online with a strong affinity for Creative races. They quickly learn that a Creative race sacrifices so many other picks to be Creative that it cannot compete with Production Races, and usually not even with Tech Races. Creative can be a viable pick in the hands of a veteran player, but it is universally regarded as suicide for a novice online player. Avoid this pick until you have mastered winning with a Production Race.

Negative Picks. It is routine to select between 9 and 10 points of negative race picks in order to be able to choose between 19 and 20 points of Positive Picks. Since most online games do not include AI empires, Repulsive is the standard negative pick. It counts for -6 picks, but results only in a poorer selection of leaders, which makes this easily the best pick for the money. The remaining 3-4 negative picks are either -10 Espionage (DON'T pick this if you are democratic) or the combination of -10 Ground and -20 Ship Defense. DO NOT pick -20 Ship Offense. This is both a severe handicap to your beam weapons and, under the algorithm for Ship Initiative, will usually lead to your ships moving and firing second, which is a horrible handicap.

As a guide to new players, let me suggest a few good races to start with:

Production Race #1: Unified, Aquatic, Large Home, Rich Home, Production +2, Repulsive, -10 Ground, -20 Ship Defense. Comments: This is a very powerful race, but it is a little dependent upon good luck in finding wet planets, without which its population capacity will suffer. Its biggest advantage over Production Race #2 is its ability to pick Clones and rapidly grow its population.

Production Race #2: Unified, Tolerant, Large Home, Production +1, Repulsive, -10 Ground, -20 Ship Defense. Comments: This is a very stable race, and quite resistant to bad starts and poor quality planets. It is key with this race to get Soil Enrichment right after Research labs and Auto Factories. If this race finds a rich or UR planet for its first colony ship, it will do extremely well.

Balanced Race #1: Unified, Aquatic, Large Home, Rich Home, Production +1, Science +1, Repulsive, -10 Ground, -20 Ship Defense. Comments: This race can build well and tech well. It is an excellent race for launching an early attack on an opponent.

Tech Race #1: Democratic, Lithovore, Artifacts Home, Repulsive, -10 Ground, -20 Ship Defense. Comments: This race generates more early research than any other. Its Achilles Heel is the lack of any population capacity modifier. Taking an early monster is essential in order to secure a deep planet to store a lot of population. This race also does quite well if it can get Terraforming or Androids in the mid-game.

Tech Race #2: Dictatorship, Lithovore, Subterranean, Artifacts Home, Large Home, Repulsive, -10 Ground, -20 Ship Defense. This race techs very well and can also build up a large population. It is, however, quite weak at early production and expansion. It should research Cloning Centers right after Auto Factories to maximize population growth.

Tech Race #3: Democratic, Aquatic, +1 BC, Repulsive, -10 Ground, -20 Ship Defense. This is a fascinating race. The combination of Democracy (50% BC bonus) and +1 BCs per colonist generates enough BCs to be able to buy most of this race's production items when they are only half built (the most efficient time for purchase). You really want to focus on population growth to maximize this benefit, since the +1 BCs are generated per colonist.

The Opening Sequence, Average Technology Universes
Here are some general rules for your opening moves in an Average Technology universe.

All Races. Set your research option to research labs. Redesign your two frigates to eliminate the laser weapon, keeping only the Extended Fuel Cells (this maximizes the chance that your scouts will survive an encounter with a monster), and refit your scouts as the first two items in your production queue. Then add to the production queue your first colony base, a freighter (to ship food to the newly created colony), and then as many remaining colony bases as you can build. Finally add in a colony ship to store any unused production at the end of the queue. You may also want to consider scrapping your marine bases (unless you are Dictatorship), to cut your BC maintenance by 1 BC a turn and to get an extra 30BCs from the scrap. These extra BCs can then be used to buy your first colony base before it is finished.

Production Races. Move all population not needed to keep your food production balance positive into production, leaving none on research. Keep all available population on your home planet on production until the last colony base is built, then move all but one worker on the home planet into science to start researching Research Labs. Use the Housing Technique (see below) to maximize population generation on your newly built colonies, moving the newly created colonist back to the home planet to help building the next colony base.

Tech Races. Keep only one or two colonists on production, and move all remaining colonists not needed for farming into research. Keep them on research until you have gotten Research Labs (build or buy as soon as you get it), and then move on to Reinforced Hull and Auto Factories. Once the Auto Factory is built, then move all population into production and keep them there until you have built your last colony base in the home system.

Once all colony bases in the home system have been built and Labs and Auto Factories researched and installed, it is time to start building outposts and colony ships to start expanding your empire.

Technology Paths
The specific technology path to follow varies by player preference, race picks and player strategy (early attack versus long development, for instance). Nevertheless, there is a basic technology path that applies to most situations and races.

For an Average Tech Game, the optimum path is usually as follows, in order:

1. Research Labs
2. Reinforced Hull
3. Auto Factories
4. Biospheres
5. Soil or Clones (take Soil if your race produces 3 or less food points per farmer, otherwise take Clones)
6. Neural Scanners
7. Super Computers
8. Battle Pods
9. Spaceports
10. Robo Miners

Past this point, it is usually best to get all remaining tech worth 250 Research Points (RPs) or less, before continuing on to Zortium Armor.

The Opening Sequence, Pre-Warp Technology Universes
The opening sequence for Pre-Warp Technology games is broadly similar to Average Technology games with a few extra technologies to research. Again, Production Races should research Freighters and then build all of their home system Colony Bases before beginning any further research (unless you are Lithovore, you will need freighters to feed those new colonies). Tech Races should research to Auto Factories and only then start to build their Colony Bases. Tech Races are at a severe disadvantage relative to Production Races in Pre-warp games, since the lack of a starting Colony Ship puts a real premium on production capabilities.

For a Pre-Warp game, the optimum Technology path is usually:

1. Freighters (skip this if you are not a Production Race)
2. Electronic Computer
3. Research Labs
4. Reinforced Hull
5. Auto Factories
6. Freighters (if you did not research them in Step 1)
7. Extended Fuel Tanks
8. Biospheres
9. Soil or Clones (take Soil if your race produces 3 or less food points per farmer, otherwise take Clones)
10. Neural Scanners
11. Super Computers
12. Battle Pods
13. Spaceports
14. Robo Miners

Past this point, it is usually best to get all remaining tech worth 250 Research Points (RPs) or less, before continuing on to Zortium Armor.

Technology Research Tradeoffs
There are several interest research tradeoffs that are worth commenting on. The first concerns the Chemistry path. New players are often tempted to select Tritanium Armor, Pollution Control, Irridium and then Zortium. This is a sharply suboptimal path for two reasons. The first is that it leaves you without a decent missile, a handicap at best, and potentially fatal if you run into a Creative player (Radiation Shields are immune to most beam weapons and completely immune to nuclear missiles). Moreover, Merculite missiles are extremely nasty weapons when you can Mirv them at the Zortium level. The second reason is that Atmospheric Renewers eliminate TWICE as much pollution as Pollution Controllers. Accordingly, the tech path that I recommend up the Chemistry Track is Dueterium Fuel Cells (for range), Merculite missiles, Atmospheric Renewers and then Zortium. The risk is that you have no decent armor for your ships for a LONG time. You are not safe until you have reached Zortium. But if you can get there, your empire and your ships will all be much deadlier than an opponent's who has chosen any other combination (the one MAJOR exception is a Tolerant race, whose optimum path is Tritanium Armor for early advantage, Merculite missiles, Irridium Cells and then Zortium).

Another interesting tradeoff is between Class III shields and Warp Dissipators. Generally, Warp Dissipators are the better choice, because they ensure the complete destruction of an enemy fleet if you can win the battle. Warps are particularly nasty when used in combination with EMG missiles, because even a single EMG missile hit can eliminate a battleship and warps prevent the target for retreating from the strike. Class III is an excellent choice if you are facing a Creative race (it negates his deadly Ion Cannons), but should otherwise be chosen only if you are the underdog and need the extra edge to defend.

Many new players choose Hydrofarms over Biospheres. This is a bad tradeoff. The extra two farmers afforded by biospheres should be good for at least 4 extra food points above what they themselves eat, which is the equivalent of two Hydrofarms. Moreover, these colonists earn a BC each turn, whereas each Hydrofarm eats 2BCs each turn.

Perhaps the toughest choice in the game is between Auto Labs and Cybertronic Computers. There is no right answer here. However, as a general rule, the player who picks Auto Labs will pull away from his opponent rapidly in technology, while the player who picks Cybertronics will enjoy a huge but rapidly declining combat advantage. Production Races can make enough ships to launch a nasty fleet during the window of advantage for Cybertronics. Tech Races generally cannot, but they may also be generating sufficient RPs to be able to compete in technology without Autolabs. So take Cybertronic if you can launch a large fleet shortly after getting it, or if you can compete in tech even if your opponent gets Auto Labs and you do not. Otherwise, take Auto Labs.

Housing Technique
If population is the key to victory in MOO, then the Housing Technique is the key to rapid population growth. The technique is to put just a single colonist on a planet to building Housing, with no other colonists present. This maximizes the production of population. When a second colonist is created, immediately ship it off planet to keep the housing planet at maximum production. The idea is to use your smaller planets as population factories, and ship the population they generate to your larger planets where it will do the actual work of your empire. If you can keep roughly 1/3 of your planets on housing like this, you can easily double the rate at which your population expands. The only exception to this technique is the case where you pick Population +50% or +100% as race picks. In this case, while the housing technique still works, the optimum population growth rate for planets not on housing occurs when they are 50% full, so your pop will grow almost as fast with no planets on housing if you can keep expanding your settlements fast enough to maintain the average planet at 50% population.

Empire Expansion
Obviously you want to expand your empire as much as possible. Less obviously, you need to stop at some point and concentrate on defending what you have, or better yet, taking what the other guy has from him. When do you reach that point? The answer depends on the races involved, the strategies employed, and the size of the universe you are playing in.

In a medium universe, it is generally a good idea to stop after constructing just one or two colony ships, and it is not hard to win without building any at all. In a large universe, building at least two or three is a good idea. Building more that five or six, however, begins to ask for trouble, and building ten or more is begging someone to come along and start taking them from you. In a medium universe, you should expect at least one enemy Battleship to attack you by turn 90 (turn 80 given a convenient wormhole). This means that you need to have your own Battleship, or suitable defenses, in place by that turn.

In a large universe, given the extra distance, you should expect at least one enemy Battleship to attack you by turn 110 (turn 80 given a convenient wormhole). You can often be hit by three or more battleships by turn 120. You can take risks, but if you do not have a fleet in being by these turns, you have probably over expanded.

It is generally a good idea to build every building you can on every planet you have. There are exceptions. Biospheres cost a BC every turn, so don't build them until a planet is almost full. Spaceports cost 1 BC a turn, so they make no economic sense on planets of less than 4 pop. Don't build a Pollution Control center or Atmospheric Renewer on a planet that is 100% dedicated to farming. If you get clones, do build them on every planet: they will add a flat 1/10 of a colonist per turn, no matter what kind of planet you put them on.

Naturally, you want as much research as you can get, consistent with being able to build what you have researched. Players naturally think of their scientists as the engine of research. This is not necessarily correct. Actually, it is quite possible for a Production Race to construct a winning empire with virtually no colonists on science after the discovery of Auto Factories. This is because buildings (Research Labs, Super Computers, Auto Labs and Galactic Cybernets) can also be the engines of science. A Production Race can generate all of its research by settling a large number of planets and making sure every one has all available science buildings in place. From this perspective, EVERY planet is a good planet, because even the humblest tiny ultra poor low gravity planet can host the same number of science buildings as a huge ultra rich gaia.

There are a few subtleties to production, most of which revolve around pollution. The first is that within any one planet, it is better to have just a few workers on production over a long period of time that to whipsaw between everyone and no one on production. The first worker on production generates very little pollution, the last generates a ton, and so is not nearly as productive. Accordingly, keep 2-3 colonists on each planet on production at all times, and when there is nothing in particular that you are itching to build, use a colony ship, starbase, or battleship as the first build item solely as a store of production. When you are able to construct a new building, insert it in the build queue ahead of the item storing your production, and it will likely be built immediately. In this manner, your overall population will be most productive.

A second key point is that small planets generate more pollution per worker than large ones. So use your large planets for production, and your smaller ones for housing, farming or science.

A final point is how to use BCs to buy construction items. If you run the math on time versus money, your BCs buy the most production when you purchase an item that is 50% built. So try to time your key purchases for this point in the item's build cycle.

Androids deserve a special note because they are often not well understood. Androids are Tolerant and are unaffected by gravity penalties. Because they are tolerant, a player may find that after a full planet has built its first Android, suddenly its population capacity has increased dramatically. The increase is the extra planetary capacity available only to the tolerant Androids, and can be filled only with Androids. Any attempt to ship in normal colonists will see them die on arrival. On some types of planets, with Aquatic and Subterranean races, the largest pop capacity is achieved only when BOTH normal colonists AND Androids are present. Because Androids can farm, produce, or tech on a HG or LG world without any gravity penalties, it is a good idea to ship out all of your normal colonists and fill your HG and LG planets solely with Androids. Because Android workers are Tolerant, they suffer no production penalties for pollution. However, if normal colonists are present, then the pollution penalty kicks in proportionately to the mix of tolerant and non-tolerant population. Androids benefit from Government effects but do NOT benefit from specific race enhancements such as Production +1 or Research +1. Androids require no food but they do consume a point of production each turn. Androids do not produce BCs like normal colonists, so don't build a spaceport on a planet that is mainly populated by Androids.

Military Technology
One of the most commonly asked questions from new players concerns what weaponry to put in ships early on, versus the mid-game or the end game. We will answer this question specifically, but first there is a general observation to be made. Almost without exception, a fully modified "primitive" weapon is more destructive and more efficient than your most recently researched "advanced" weapon. For instance, if you have just gotten to Neutron Blasters, it is FAR better to arm your ships with fully modified (Enveloping, Continuous) Fusion Beams than with unmodified Neutron Blasters. This also holds true for all missiles.

Not recommended, but the earliest "emergency" weaponry that packs a punch is Fighter Bays (you need to get Battle Pods as well to put a single Interceptor Squadron in a Frigate, a Destroyer can carry two squadrons, three with Battle Pods). If you need to get some combat power up very early in the game, Fighters are your best bet. Note that a Fighter Squadron's firepower is increased by 50% if you get Fusion beams instead of the default Laser beams. Fighters are not recommended because to get them you have to pass up Reinforced Hull, which is usually suicide later in the game.

The best military tech to reach early in the game is Laser beams. To get ANY beam weapon to have a reasonable chance of hitting a target, you need to have Battle Scanners aboard. Conveniently, at the Battle Scanner level, your Laser beams get all available modifications (Armor Piercing, Auto Fire, Continuous, No Range Dissipation). So your earliest military ships should be equipped with Battle Scanners and as many fully modified lasers as you can cram in (tho you will need room for other items, which we will cover under ship design).

The next easiest set of military techs to reach is Nuclear missiles at the Pollution Control or Merculite level, which is the level that allows your nuclear missiles to be fully modified (MIRVed, Fast, Heavy Armor). Again, always use all of the mods.

The next achievable military configuration can come from either of two tracks. You can go for Fusion Beams and then Neutron Blasters (or Neutron Scanners), which allows you to employ fully modified Fusion beams. Or you can get Mass Drivers and then work up to the Warp Dissipator/Class III level, which allows you to employ fully modified Mass Drivers. The Fusion beam track produces more powerful weapons (Enveloping increases damage fourfold for Fusion beams versus Auto Fire which increase damage threefold for Mass Drivers) and also more accurate weapons (the Continuous Mod for Fusion Beams adds +25 to you chance to hit, while the Auto Fire Mod for Mass Drivers subtracts -20 from your chance to hit, which is a huge relative difference. On the other hand, the damage from Mass Drivers does not diminish with range, and the Warp Dissipator/Class III techs are much more useful than either Neutron Blasters or Neutron Scanners. Generally, a race with Creative, Warlord, or Plus Ship Offense should go for Mass Drivers because they will not be so affected by the Auto Fire accuracy penalty. All others should go for Fusion Beams.

The next major increment in firepower comes at the Zortium level, when you can fully modify your Merculite missiles (MIRVed, Fast, Heavy Armor). Mirved Merculite missiles become even more deadly when you reach EMG and can put this mod into the missiles. A single Mirved Merculite EMG missile can reliably detonate a Battleship equipped with Zortium armor and Reinforced Hull if it can get through all defenses and actually strike the target.

Note: I cannot emphasize too much how critical it is to always pick Merculite Missiles. Many players go for Pollution Control instead, but failing to get Merculites leaves you without any powerful missile. Pulsons are an inferior choice because to MIRV Pulsons, you have to go all the way up to the Neutronium Armor level, and a MIRVed Merculite missile does 56 points of damage versus just 20 points for an un-Mirved Pulson missile.

The final major military tech level that is sometimes reachable before an online game is concluded is Gauss Cannon, which are truly awesome weapons when they can be fully modified at the Class VII level. Alternates include Anti-Matter Torpedoes or Phasors. Anti-Matter Torpedoes are particularly useful if your opponent has chosen Cybertronic Computers or is Creative and is therefore capable of shooting down any missile salvos you are likely to launch.

Ship Design
There are a few basics for ship design. The first is that you should always equip every ship with Battle Pods (50% space increase) and every ship larger than a frigate with Augmented Engines (faster in combat but more importantly you get better Ship Initiative, better Attack rating and better Defense rating), and Reinforced Hull (or Heavy Armor if you are Creative). The second basic is that you should ALWAYS equip any ship that is going to carry beam weaponry with Battle Scanners (+50 Attack rating, adds directly to your chance to hit with beam weapons).

The third basic is that you should always avoid mixing beams and missiles on the same ship. There are exceptional times where enemy tactics and ship designs may override this rule, but generally it strongly applies. The logic for this rule stems from the fact that beam ships always need Battle Scanners aboard if they are going to hit anything (+50 Attack rating). Battle Scanners take up a lot of space aboard any ship, and it is most efficient to use that limited space remaining entirely for beam weapons. Putting your missiles aboard purely missile-armed ships allows you to dispense with Battle Scanners and pack in the maximum number of missiles.

I recommend that when you design a ship you use all of the available weapons slots rather than lumping all similar weapons on one line. This affords you more combat options to split your fire. For example, say you have a beam armed ship and you are close to immobilizing an enemy ship you hope to board and capture. If you have all of your beam weapons lumped together on one line, you lose the flexibility to stop shooting after immobilization has been achieved, and may end up firing so much that you blow up your intended target.

The order in which you place weapons on a ship matters. The order in which you place weapons is also the order in which 1) beam weapons fire and 2) missiles and torpedoes strike the target. This distinction can be crucial. Take missiles, for example. Point Defense beam weaponry must do the same amount of damage to shoot down a normal missile as a mirved one. But MIRVed missiles take up a lot more space aboard the firing ship. So it makes sense to place missiles modified with Heavily Armor and Fast, but NOT MIRVed, in the top few rows of your missile ship and place the fully modified (MIRVed) missiles in the lower rows. That way the enemy's shots at your missiles will chew through the less valuable missiles first, preserving the missiles with the most punch. This approach also suggests that you place any EMG equipped missiles in the very bottom rows, so that they will be the last to get shot down, and the most likely to strike the target.

The same logic can be applied to beams. Say your opponent has Class III shields that you will need to punch through to damage his ships. You might place Neutron Blasters, which cannot be made Armor Piercing, in the top rows of your beam ship to blow down his shields and then Armor Piercing Auto-Fire Mass Drivers in the lower rows to inflict the actual damage to his vessels.

Concerning beam weaponry, I recommend a mix of all three weights (Heavy, Normal and Point Defense) on your Battleships. I like to have at least one Heavy beam weapon on each Battleship to prevent the enemy from standing out of range and doing damage while forcing me to charge into his missiles to get into beam range. I will then use two thirds of the remaining space for normal beam weapons and one-third for Point Defense beam weapons. I do not usually create Battleships with different mixes of Heavy, Regular and PD weapons (with one exception), but rather make them all one general design. This way if a particular ship is destroyed, the remainder of my beam firepower is not significantly unbalanced. The exception to this rule is ships equipped with Structural Analyzer (generally only a tech that a Creative will get). For such ships, the overhead of the Structural Analyzer equipment is so high that I tend to put only Heavy beams aboard and use these ships only for offense, meaning that other beam ships will have to protect them from enemy missile fire.

Finally, concerning beam weaponry, I recommend that you always make your beams 360 degree enabled. This is wasteful of space, and may seem inefficient, but the benefit is that your beam ships can encounter an enemy fleet armed with missiles and will not have to stay locked facing forward to fire. Instead they will be able to turn and run from enemy missile salvoes while shooting at those same salvoes for three to four combat rounds. Once the salvoes have been destroyed, then the beam ships can turn around and go after the enemy's ships. A ship with beams facing only forwards will only get one or two shots at the incoming missiles before they strike, which makes it much more likely that it will suffer catastrophic damage.

For missiles, the speed of combat really demands that you pick the ammo load option for just two missile salvoes. Anything higher means that you are shooting so few missiles each turn that the enemy's PD beam weaponry is likely to kill all of your salvoes before they strike. You really need to overwhelm him with mass to win with missiles.

Ship Construction
The first rule of ship of ship construction is to always ensure that every military ship larger than a frigate or scout is built at a planet that has Space Academies. You can start a ship at a planet without Space Academies and then switch Space Academies to the head of the Production Queue before the ship is actually completed, but the ship must be completed AFTER a Space Academy is present. This will give the ship a Regular Morale Rating instead of a Green Morale Rating. Each improvement in Morale Rating adds +15 to a ships Attack and Defense Rating.

I also recommend trying to build a fleet composed mainly of Battleships, rather than smaller craft, simply because this is the most efficient use of the limited Command Points most races will generate. The exception is Warlord races, which have more leeway to build a fleet made of smaller craft.

Online combat is a very different environment than offline combat, principally because humans are much smarter opponents and move and fight their ships very differently than the computer. They will not simple charge or retreat the way AI empires will, rather they will employ a much broader range of tactics.

Always make sure that you have the following Combat Options turned on: Grid Squares and Missile Warning. This way you can always control your ship moves to avoid things like giving the enemy the ability to move a missile ship into point blank missile range of one of your key ships, or moving your own ship into an enemy EMG missile salvo before you get a chance to fire all of your beam weapons first.

The first thing a player needs to consider, when the combat screen opens, is what his strategy needs to be: retreat, accept defeat but stand and fight to inflict maximum damage on his opponent, or fight to win. So, of course, your first action should be to scan the enemy fleet for capabilities and Leaders. If you decide to stay and fight, then you need to identify which enemy ship(s) are the greatest threat to you. You should then bring the maximum firepower you can bear on the highest threat ship. A common mistake that new players make is to spread their fire among a number of ships. This leaves the entire enemy fleet firing back for a much longer time than necessary. Always try to eliminate the biggest threat and start reducing the enemy's ability to fire back as soon as possible.

The biggest threat may not always be as obvious as you might think. For instance, assume that your missile ships and your enemy's missile ships are the ships most capable of doing damage to each other. You still might want to target the enemy's Point Defense beam ships first to allow your remaining missile salvos to get through unharmed. All other things being equal, you also want to target enemy ships that carry Leaders, since this will hurt your opponent more and cause the loss of their combat bonuses in each combat round after their death.

One of the trickiest questions is whether to charge your ships forward or turn and run for the mapedge. If the enemy possesses significant missile weaponry, it often makes sense to retreat towards the mapedge to get a few extra shots at either the incoming missiles or the missile ships themselves. If the enemy possesses EMG missiles, then it is usually a very bad idea to charge. On the other hand, if you have a lot of beam firepower, you have combat initiative, the enemy has thrown his first missile salvoe at you, and you have the luxury of moving second in the combat round, sometimes it makes good sense to charge forward. The idea is that you charge forward until your ships are just about to get hit by the incoming missiles, and then halt and shoot at them at point blank range. At the start of the second combat round you take the initiative to move first, take a second shot at the missile salvoes, and then move through the remaining missiles to get behind the enemy missile ships. You can then run away from the second salvo, firing backwards at it to attrite it. This maneuver can be quite a surprise to your opponent and very effective.

If you possess a mainly missile armed fleet and the enemy does not have EMG missiles, one very nasty tactic is to fire all of your first missile salvo during your first combat round and then charge your missile ships forward. The second combat round you do the reverse, you charge forward first (at least right up to the point before his missiles are going to hit you) and then fire your second salvo. This technique will usually place BOTH of your missile salvoes hitting the enemy ships in the same combat round, making it very hard for his beam weaponry to stop the strike.

Monster Killing
Monsters are best killed by frigate fleets, since these are easiest to built and ship losses are easily replaceable (losing your first battleship to a monster will almost certainly cause you to lose the game). The best ship for killing monsters, by far, is a frigate equipped with Battle Pods and armed with two Fast, MIRVed nuclear missiles. It is also possible to get the same effect with frigates equipped with Battle Pods and a Fighter, but researching Fighters means skipping Reinforced Hulls, which is normally suicide later in the game. With some monsters it is best to charge forward and hit the beast with missiles at point blank range (this means you must be in grid square right next to the monster). With other monsters this is a bad idea. It is best to run towards the mapedge, firing your missiles backwards at the beast. This little matrix gives you a conservative idea of the fleet strengths needed for different monsters and whether to charge or run:

Monster Frigates Tactic
Eel 10 Charge
Dragon 10 Charge
Hydra 10 Run
Crystal 8 Run
Amoeba 5 Run

These monsters can sometimes be taken out with 1-2 fewer frigates, but you risk missing them entirely. The above numbers will safely guarantee the kill.

If you use Fighters, remember that they will not work well against Dragons (6 Point Defense Phasors will knock out a lot of your fighters before they even fire once). If you choose to attack a monster with your first battleship, you will generally not have the armor to survive more than one or two shots from the monster, so charge to point blank range against ALL monsters and take along two armed frigates as well. Usually the monster will target the frigates first allowing your Battleship to survive.

Kali Rules of Play
There are very few rules of play on Kali, but there are some that are tried and true. Here they are, along with an explanation of why we use them.

Ship Waiting
Definition: In a battle, the Attacker is strictly defined as the player who initiated the combat, regardless of whether he is defending the system or attacking it. The Defender is defined as the player who did not initiate the combat. Note that it is possible for the player owning the system to attack first, and in this first battle he will be defined as the Attacker. If he loses the battle and retreats, his opponent may then have the option of attacking him in the same turn. In this second battle the opponent then becomes the Attacking player.

Rule: Each Combat round during a battle the Attacking player may use the Ship Wait option ONCE. After a ship has been waited once, on its next chance to move it MUST do whatever movement and fire the Attacking player wishes and then the Attacker MUST hit the Done button for that ship. The Defender may wait his ships as many times during a single combat round as he wishes to. This means that the Defender always has the option to move and fire his ships last each combat round.

Reason: Before we invented this rule, each player would wait all of his ships each chance he got to move hoping to get the advantage of firing last (this is not always desirable, but usually is). This meant that the first combat round never even started, and the game would break up with the players fighting over who should have moved and fired first. To eliminate this argument, we invented this rule. If the Attacker does not think he can win a battle if he has to move and fire first, he simply should not initiate it. This also means that pointless battles are not fought and time is not wasted for other players.

Refighting Battles
Rule: If the game crashed in the middle of a combat, both players will refight the battle EXACTLY as they originally did before the crash. While this may be beyond players' memory capacity for a long and large battle, please try to keep faith with this rule.

Sometimes the game will change the order in which players get to initiate combat. If the original Defender now gets the option to attack first, and picks it, then there is no requirement to refight the battle exactly as before. However, if he elects not to attack, then when the original Attacker's chance to start the battle comes up, he MUST take it and both players must refight the battle exactly as before, up to the crash.

Reason: NOTHING will anger your opponent more than watching you lose ships and then refight the battle after the crash differently to take advantage of now knowing what didn't work the first time. This rule avoids a lot of nastiness between players and the destruction of otherwise good playing relationships in the community.

Technology Trading
Rule: Technology Trading between human players is specifically banned for Kali games. This rule may be ignored only if a majority of players vote to ignore it before the game is started. If AI empires are included in the game, players need to agree up front if Technology Trading is allowed with AIs only. Note that Treaties, including Research Treaties, are always allowed

Reason: Technology Trading is fun but the chat and barter consumes a LOT of time and slows down play considerably. We ban it to speed play. Technology Trading with AI empires does not involve a lot of chat, so that is sometimes permitted, though play with AI empires is rare. A further objection to Technology Trading is that it has also been known to allow friends to conspire to help each other while trading with no one else, which is not fair in games where the assumption is every man for himself.

No Orion
Rule: You may scout the Orion system but you may NOT deliberately attack and take the system.

Reason: Orion is often not placed centrally on the map, giving a big advantage to the player who happens to be closest. So for fairness, we ignore it. In online play, your targets are your human opponents, not the Antarans.

Rule: It is extremely easy to gain an advantage in the game by deliberately crashing it during play and hotseating the game offline to review the enemy's position before returning online. It is even easier to hotseat a save. This is strictly forbidden.

Reason: This is considered cheating. You can win this way, but there is no honor in it.

Game Bugs
Most game bugs have been fixed by the wonderful patches designed by Lord Brazen. The following bugs remain (note that some of these only happen in online play):

Retreat From The Mapedge: There is a game bug that will cause the game to immediately crash if you retreat a ship that is touching the edge of the combat map, meaning the results of the whole battle are lost. Always turn on the Combat Option for Grid Squares and NEVER retreat a ship from combat if it occupies a grid square at the edge of the map.

Annihilation: Another bug occurs when you choose to Annihilate a captured enemy population. Once the population goes to zero that planet can remain yours while also being invulnerable to enemy invasion (your opponent drops his marines but the game does not allow him to recapture the planet). This condition usually ends after a random number of turns, but in the meantime it gives the owning player an invulnerable outpost he cannot lose to enemy action. The community does not have a permanent rule to cover this, but I suggest that you agree with your opponents up front as to whether Annihilation is allowed or not.

Androids: Under certain conditions you can build or import more Androids on a planet than the game gives as the maximum pop capacity for that planet. The community has agreed not to abuse this bug, so if a planet reads 17/17 colonists do not add an 18th Android.

Monsters: If two players hit the exact same type of monster on the same turn, both while have combats but one of the two monsters will remain intact even if the player killed it. There is nothing to be done about this, but the player with the surviving monster will be given the option to fight again the next turn if he keeps his fleet at the monster's system.

Learning Techniques
There are a number of very useful learning techniques that you can employ on your own to rapidly pick up useful knowledge.

I strongly recommend that when you first start playing online you hotseat each game after it is finished and study your enemy's technology choices, the allocation of colonists on each planet, his probable expansion pattern, and especially study his ship designs. There is a great deal to be learned from a veteran player's ship designs.

A second excellent learning technique is to play with the Omniscient race pick for your first few games. This is generally not a great race pick for most games, and you probably don't want to do this once you start feeling confident about your skills. But the ability to watch veteran players turn by turn as they develop their empires can teach you a great deal and will give you much more perspective on good (and bad) play than this one writer can. You will then start to win earlier than you might have otherwise.

A third technique, often overlooked, is to ask your opponent after the game is over to critique your play and offer tips. Almost all players in the Kali community will gladly share with you what they think you were doing wrong and what you might try instead. Kali is a mature community and very few of us take any pleasure in beating new players. Our fun starts AFTER you have first beaten us, and we can then enjoy the challenge of playing you. So help us help you by asking as many questions as you want. In my experience, it is the players willing to ask for critiques who start winning earliest.

Having Fun
Even highly experienced offline players can get very frustrated when they first come online by the fact that they keep losing games they feel they should have won. This is only because online play against humans is very different from play against the computer. After observing literally over a thousand new players come online for the first time, I suggest that you should expect to lose your first 10-20 games online. This is perfectly normal and does not mean you are not a good MOO player. If you can stick with the frustration through those first 10-20 games, and if you are willing to adapt to the different conditions of online play, you should enjoy many hours of great fun.

About The Author
Cybersaber has been playing MOO II online since early 1997, first on TEN and then on Kali. He was also the elected President of the TEN MOO II League and then the Kali MOO II League. The experience contained in this document reflects not only his own knowledge, but also the collective experience of the TEN and Kali MOO II gaming communities. There are many player guides for MOO II available on the web. Most of them are useless for play against humans. The author hopes that this guide will help those players who wish to play human opponents online.


Anonymous said...

Great guide, it was pleasure to read it. I have never played MOO2 online yet, but it is one of my favourite offline strategy games, I played it thousand times over and over again. Maybe I will join your community, but first, I have to find some MoO2 copy, because the one I had is lost. But I have no idea where to get it, can you help me please?

siron said...

Amazon or ebay should be the best sources.

(If there are missing some files because of a broken CD, you can also ask on our kali chatserver 138 for further help.)

Anonymous said...

This is really one of the best guides I have ever readfor a computer game. Keep up with your great work!

Anonymous said...

Excellent guide - picks the most important issues and explains them clearly.

Do you plan to publish a more advanced guide? Possible topics:
* Adapting initial building and research sequence to what you find in your home system. E.g. if your home system has other decent planets (other than homeworld) colonise the best immediately for housing; if 2 and your race is Tolerant, colonise both; if more than 2 decent planets or you're not Tolerant, probably research Auto Factories as soon as possible (before Research Lab).
* Adapting initial building and research sequence to galaxy size and number of opponents. E.g. if early combat is likely (small or medium; medium with more than 1 opponent; large with more than 3 opponents), researching level 2 spaceship techs is a priority; otherwise you can risk colonising up to 2 systems if your scout finds some good planets nearby.
* Playing as Creative.
* Playing against Creative. I suggest shields are a priority since you will be facing Structural Analyzers in the mid-game; and possibly Antimatter Torps, as Creatives are likely to have Inertial Stabilizers and good PD.

siron said...

I don't know if Cyber plans any further advanced guide.

Some short notes:
*Some Techraces a la demo lith arti can research Afacts before Rlabs. Otherwise it is rarely done.
*Small is almost never played...it is all about Blitzraces there. Uni Transd Tele large, rich hw for example is considered strong there. Cybers guide mainly applies for large galaxies.
*I doubt that Cyber will ever write a guide against his beloved creative. It is a good task for a new player to figure it out on your own. Since Creative is a fair handicap it shouldn't be spoiled.

Anonymous said...

i did not like that guide it has several flaws

1: when do you plan to get a computer above electic
2: fudal is a good pick for some races and vey good later on because it lowers the cost of ships
3: if you have not got a population bonus hydroponic farm is good e.g. if you have lots of small worlds then hydroponic farm is good because it would let you have small worlds of practaly nout it would be like a outpost with a autolab

part from that it was good

siron said...

i did not like that guide it has several flaws

I strongly disagree with your opinion that your mentioned points are flaws. Let me briefly respond to your points, when you are still sure about them, you should probably join our community and prove us wrong.

1: when do you plan to get a computer above electic

The guide mentions that the choice between autolabs and cybertronic is difficult. Positronic isn't recommended (you can gamble in a 4way though) and the guide explains how to hit with electronic computer.

2: fudal is a good pick for some races and vey good later on because it lowers the cost of ships

Feudal is not considered strong in our setup. It is sometimes sufficient to kill inexperienced players, and the first neighbor in a 4way will have trouble. But veteran players know what is going on then. And they will be able to defend and they will outtech feudal easily.

3: if you have not got a population bonus hydroponic farm is good

Hydros are weak for any race that is able compete in our setup. You can also find more details in this thread.

Anonymous said...

Well... this strategy guide is certainly nice although it doesnt give all the information necessary to beat an online veteran. Of course those "Veterans" as they call themselves want to win against the newbes for a number of times and have fun doing so, winning sure is nice. For that purpose they also designed some of those "rules" and bans on abilities and "bugexploits" (for example the thing with the androids is no bug, because androids are tolerant) while other rules sure have their purpose to stay fair here. But in general i should say its sad that these "Veterans" put in place this culture of "we are better because we play online moo2 so much longer" - first it will prevent online players from joining the community in cases and second its just dishonorable and opportunist.

siron said...

Whoever you are, I assume you have recently tried an online game because of this conclusion:

Well... this strategy guide is certainly nice although it doesnt give all the information necessary to beat an online veteran.

I agree that by just reading this guide you won't have enough knowledge to beat an experienced player in the first games (when he plays seriously without any handicap). I consider this guide as a starter (see also the learning techniques chapter). There is further content on this and other sites (saves, videos) which analyzes some aspects in more detail. BTW, what information do you miss here?

I am always thankful when I get feedback about content I (or others) should add here. But keep in mind that by reading all this theoretical information alone it seems illusionary to have success. You also need practice (and defeats).

Of course those "Veterans" as they call themselves want to win against the newbes for a number of times and have fun doing so, winning sure is nice.

Personally, I try to avoid the expression "veteran" as the exact connotation is unclear to me in this context. Are these players who play since the begin or is it just related to their strength? There are surely quite new players who just play one or two years who are surely stronger than other players with 10 years experience.

There are several reasons why you might miss some essential infomation here. For example, writing it up in readable English costs time (especially for most Europeans here). Feedback is low; it is difficult for me to convince other players to contribute here. I heard more than once that they were slightly disappointed by the feedback.

But frankly, your conclusion that these "veterans" enjoy beating up "newbies" sounds absurd to me.

For that purpose they also designed some of those "rules" and bans on abilities and "bugexploits" (for example the thing with the androids is no bug, because androids are tolerant) while other rules sure have their purpose to stay fair here.

You misunderstood the slightly unclear androids comment in the Game Bugs chapter of this guide. The community is aware of their tolerant feature (that is even stated in the Androids chapter) and there is no problem to use this extra space, but for subterranean races exist a bug which can generate FURTHER extra space for androids not related to the tolerant feature. Cybersaber refers to this bug in the Game Bugs chapter.

I agree with you that the excessive use of bans (even for new players) for several racepicks is unfair. Personally, I remember that we allowed new players to play the uber prod races. So we had close games even with very new players. I have rarely played recently. I don't know why this seems uncommon now. But you have a point here.

But in general i should say its sad that these "Veterans" put in place this culture of "we are better because we play online moo2 so much longer" - first it will prevent online players from joining the community in cases and second its just dishonorable and opportunist.

Dunno on what observation your impression is based. I am always glad to answer questions of new players (see also the community forum where further issues are discussed). But before I chat about game details with new players I (and many others) always strongly recommend to read several guides. Is this kind of reflex the point that disturbed you? It simply saves a lot of time when new players are informed about the popular settings etc. before you repeat it 1000 times. There is no "we are better"-culture involved when you just try to inform new online players about the current equilibrium strategies in the community. I hope you reconsider your judgment.

StepNRazor said...

"Veterans" as they call themselves want to win against the newbes for a number of times and have fun doing so, winning sure is nice.

First off the bat we don't call new players newbes.
Secondly I stress new players to read guides and play other new players.
Thirdly this is more like playing chess winning vs a new player is not that much fun. But it is nessisarry to help them become better players.

There are a few other reasons why it is not fun to play with new players. Sometimes they are one or more of the following; immature, whiners, complainers, or refuse to listen to good advice, and then cry after a game is over weak ><
But then there are some great players that emerge. that even as new players are fun to play games with, they ask good questions and put advice into
practice and begin winning games.

As I said this game is sorta like chess and different races have different opening moves or a state in which you want to be in by turn 60-70 so try out some races, this guide is decent starting place experiment in solo 2 player games on reach goal X by turn Y, try different approaches.

Many new players have a hard time understanding some bans but by banning some of the more stronger race picks this actually opens up a more diverse set of races you might face as opposed to a small set of high production races.

"Veterans" put in place this culture of "we are better because we play online moo2 so much longer" - first it will prevent online players from joining the community
Most of don't say much other than moo, our request for a game looking for other moo responses. we sometime chat about post games and some that have known each other awhile sometimes talk about whats up with them.
Generally when I see new players I ask them if they have their game all setup and if they have read any guides.
If they ask question I'll give an answer but I'm not going to deep into the explanation until they have played a while then these things sorta questions answer themselves.
Really that the key is get some experience playing games, and make up your mind on some things you have experienced.

Anonymous said...

This was nice reading. You must have alot of spare time doing this. :)
I have never played online but I played it offline alot and still do. Im actually playing it right now. Its fun to try diffrent strategys in this well balanced game. I probably should keep play it offline, because I cant even beat the computer at hardest setting 1v1. Sakkra and Klackon are the hardest races to fight against in my opinion and they both got good population growth so your right, that is a key for winning. My first favorite race was the Psilon race. They automaticly got a very strong planetary defense and thats nice.
Im actually playing it right now and I got some question about the spy feature. Ive always just guessed that part of the game.
Its not much information about it from ingame and it would help alot if I knew how many agents/spies that are sufficent to attack/defend with.
How effective can sabotaging be?
Does the frequensy of sabotage increase with more spies?
Alot of agents with low spy bonuses vs a few attacking spies with high bonus, who wins?
Any informaion about this would be helpfull. Thanks!

Regards // Tommten

siron said...

Sabotage can be very effective in combination with a tele blitz.

A spy bonus difference of 20 seems to represent a threshold where spying becomes effective.

Anonymous said...

Nice guide. Although most topicks are just common sense, some (like 360 degree beam weapons) are non-trivial. I also expected some comments on weapon choice and combat tacticks. For example how the first ship (that wich comes on turn 110) must be armed (missiles or beam weapons or maybe fighters?). Or what is the tactics of missile fleet vs. missile fleet fight?

Anonymous said...

I´m not an experienced player and have never played online, though maybe i will soon. Why gauss cannon is better than for example a Hvy Continuous Shield piercing phasar? The latter is just like particle beam on steroids and is great to kick those pesty Psilon (Creative) Ships buts.

siron said...

@ Anon1

See also the save archive for further details. Fighters are generally not considered.

@ Anon2

Shield Piercing will generally be countered by hard shields.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Cyber for this guide. I like it very much and it not only reminds me of things I already know, but also of things that need to be pointed out to "new" players, because they seem to be trivial once you know them, but they are not quit obvious.

I hope the community and this page, will stay alive for a much longer time, and encounter new 4x games togehter. If a great one comes, why shouldn't we share?

Qalen (Quengler)

Anonymous said...

Bad enough, although I managed to find something usefull.
1) the use of missiles: obsolete, if enemy has good armor, PD weapons and any jammer. Obsolete against monsters like eel.
2) forgotten to tell one needs to equip ship with torpedoes. yes, they fire every 2nd turn, but they have unlimited ammo.
3) neutron blaster, ion cannon treated unfairly: one can kill marines, thus makin it easier to capture ship.
4) at the early stage it is better to avoid military race: you can't afford normal ship and your laser are good for barbeque only.
5) augmented engines are of no good. I always sent a big fleet and it should be technologically superior. If it is, engine doesn't matter.
6) being Sakkra-like is very good, you get fast growth and later - low cost ships. I see no future for democracvy in MOO. Dictatorship or feudalism, that is the question.
My own strategy (i always plays Sakkra race).
dauntless guide system
reinforced hull
fusion rifle
automated factories
tachyon communications
battle pods
neuro blaster
neuro scanner
gyrodestabilizer-class III shields
graviton beam.
This allows me to have technologically superior fleet: neuroblaster destroys enemy fields while graviton does damage and shields protects me. I used to go for ion cannon, but now I replaced it with shield capacitor: better for station defense.
The author is wrong about weapons:
1) 360 degree is a waste. Place 3 mauler devices at F instead of 1 360 degree. And guess what: 4 will do more damage!
2) PD weapons not necessery: if enemy is bigger, it will eat you and if you are bigger, you will eat enemy anyway.
3)I always stack all weapons in one stack. It is better, it is easier. Lining works if you have doomstar with stellar converters: you may want to place 1 convetrer, then some beam weapons and only then another converter
4) missile ships is a waste of time. I had 2 battleships, armed with 4+3 plasma torpedoes. Guess what - they failed to destroy planetary defense :(
5) battle scanner is a waste of time too. You may want to use structural analyser or achiles targeting unit.

At all - not bad review, but it reflects only limited point of view. And in some places it is absolutely wrong.

Anonymous said...

Playing against Creatie *is* possible, my brother was attacked by Sakkra fleet while playing against PC. There were more than 20 ships, from little to battleships or even titans. He had Mentar with battlestation (maybe), missile base. He won only because Sakkras did not condentrate fire on one target.
Sakkras will win against Psilon if given equal conditions: when Psilons will colonize their 3rd planet, sakkras will make it to 5 or 6.
The main point is espionage and then - mighty fleet to destroy some very creative colonies. Even kamikaze tactic can be employed: move several bomb-packed ships (if have any) and bombard planet.
As for me- whne I play Sakkra, I fear to meet 2 races: Psilon and SIlicoids. Voth tend to build titans early, even when I play against PC, both mobilizes strong fleets + SIlicoids expand greatly.

Now, to my remark about shields and missiles. Yes, hard shields may counter normal missiles, but the question is if one does need them. They are pretty worthless for a ship: if you are in nebula, you must count on first strike tactic: first turn to destroy first orbital station, second turn - to destroy planetary defense. Of all extras, only several are really needed:
1) battle pods
2) {extended fuel tanks} - untill Thorium fuel cells
3) battle scanner
4) structural analyzer
5) Achiles targeting unit.
Everything else is not neeeded. Even Orion technologies like Quantum detonator or Damper feeld are jost toys. I used Damper on one doomstar and it did nothing: returned neutro blaster to enemy battlestation weekening field by 5. A toy. I'd better use 1 laser cannon...

siron said...

@ Anon of the last 2 posts here.

You are welcome to prove your strategies on our MP channel at quakenet: #moo2

Check out the side bar to join there.

Anonymous said...

I have been playing MOO2 sporadically for 9 years now, so I know something about the game :). Anyway your approach of it is very convincing and interesting. My only question is the following : Why does every seem to occult Fully upgraded Plasma cannons ? They're the most efficient beams I know.
Do we suppose the online games don't get sofar as to get Hyper-X, Plasma Cannon, High energy focus etc..?

Anonymous said...

Hi! Great strategy guide. I am Silviu from Evolution Vault. We are an indie developer, currently working on a new RTS project. I would like to have you in the team as a designer if you are interested. Let me know. My e-mail is executor [at] evolutionvault.com

Anonymous said...

I Played Moo2 for several thousand times and i read many "so called" Strategy Guides for Master of Orion2 before. Most of them were more or less wrong, incomplete or just useless/stupid crap. But this Guide is perfect! It is the best Strategy Guide for Master of Orion2 i ever read. Almost every Point ist 100% correct, all moo2 Gamers should read it.
Very well Done!

Anonymous said...

Good read, perhaps I'll give my moo2 online virginity away in the coming weeks :]

Anonymous said...

Has anybody located a full MOO2 tech tree somewhere? I've been looking and found one which is halfway complete and then halfway through hits a broken weblink. It would be very helpful to have a clue like in C&C Generals to be able to see the lower nodes on the tree to decide which path to research and expand first. Yes yes it removes the realism of not knowing the future BUT as for gameplay some people have it memorized already and I'm new so it's more of a gameplay balancing.


siron said...

MOO2 Techtree

Anonymous said...

Excellent link. Thanks Siron that was exactly what I was looking for. Here is the best I found elsewhere but it is much more verbose and therefore a bit difficult to extract the answer to the simple question of which tech to choose next despite being more comprehensive and informative.
StrateguWiki MOO2 TechtreeIts split into eight pages so you have to go to the bottom and click Power, Chemistry, etc. to view the next tech category on that one.

Lothion said...

Intense guide, pretty interesting comments about gameplay. The main barriers to engaging in multiplayer games aren't really brought up - the time factor, etc - but MoO2 isn't designed to be a fast-paced game so what's the point I suppose. The difficulty is committing to such a long time period, when multiplayer games of the greatest increasing popularity tend to be MMOGs. But reading other people's thoughts on MOO is fun in itself - and its a well expressed guide too, which makes it better.
The other thing that has somewhat put me off about playing online is that the DOS version is dominant, which I can understand as its meant to be more stable etc etc. Its (I imagine) slower than native Windows MOO2, and I'm a little cautious about DOSbox itself, though I've used it before.
But, like so many other New Players, perhaps I'll one day soon be ready to set aside my dignity for a few hours and play a game online.

NintendoManX said...

Hello, I would like to leave you my thanks and compliments for this wonderfully made guide. I have been playing the Master of Orion series since it was first released, and part 2 is one of my favorite games of all time.

The strategies posted in this guide made for some very nice reading. I have never played a game against another human opponent, only the computer. Even so, your techniques have introduced me to a new style of playing. When I was playing, I would have ALWAYS used creative. To me it was an essential pick because I thought the lack of the other technologies in a tree would hinder you in the long run. It was a great suprise to find then, that I could play so differently and still do well. That is probably the number one thing I like about your guide. It was like, breathing new life into my thoughts.

Like some of the other people, I too would like to see something about ship design and weapon usage in combat. What equipment is... "Essential" as it were. What equipment can last a long time on a ship whereas what items are refit fodder? What are some good time tested defensive or offensive techniques? Missiles vs. Torpedos? Now vs. Beams? Capturing: Tech Scavenger or Trash Digger?

Spying, Ground Combat, Outposts, how to make them work for you and against your enemy?

Regardless, I like this guide a lot. I refer to it often when trying to play a game differently. I want to say thanks for taking the time to write this guide and sharing it with us.

Anonymous said...

I haven't gone as far into the subtle strategies and details as some have. My basic strategy has been to create lots of tiny ships with lots of basic mass drivers as an early defense while building up planet defenses to fend off attackers. Once the planets are able to repel invading forces I divert my energies into physics with the goal of achieving Phasors and if we cannot win with Phasors further on to reaching Disruptor cannons. Since anti-missile tech grows during the game these advancements tend to offer small gains in overall power but a Disruptor cannon will usually quickly overwhelm even the strongest defenses once it is implemented on a fleet.

NintendoManX said...

The subtle strategies are always intriguing though. Using the advice of these guides I finally won my first game on impossible [Small Universe, Prewarp, 8 players, Avg Age, No antares or orion]. I'm unsure how to achieve victory with smaller ships. I tend to stick to battleships until titans become availible. For weaponry I ignore missiles. Never found much use for them and they always get shot down. In fact if you follow the online guide he skips missile base for automated factories. Again making them seem that much less important. I like fully modified lasers for an early weapon. [That armor piercing at 150RP Level cannot be ignored]. I go for lasers, ignore fusion, neutron, mostly ignore graviton, then phasor. Phasors seem to be the ultimate weapon. Just one level after you get them you get shield piercing, which is incredible. If you lag till the end of the tech trees, you can combine the fully modded non heavy phasor with high energy focus, structual analyzer, and achilles targeting unit. Phasor bypasses shields and armor to do massive damage to structure and drive. Ever killed a doom star with one non heavy, fully modded phasor? That alone makes the other weapons seem trivial by comparison. Even particle beam doesnt have the mods this one does.

I noticed a graviton beam + mass driver combo works good as well for tearing up structure.

I'd love to hear other early combos from you guys. Waiting for phasors is nice but Winning with lasers/mass drivers is SEXY.

NintendoManX again said...

Kill one, by I mean one shot, one laser, instant death. Still have the rest of the shots.

The one phasor alone does like 720 damage to the computer ships on Impossible. I know they arent as creative as players but that damage from ONE only is insane.

Anonymous said...


I don't know how to get a hold of anyone at lord brazen or here, but, when I downloaded his 1.31 patch, there was a trojan in it. When I got it here from another link you have it was fine.

I figured someone should tell him.

Anonymous said...

I always keep something running to protect against that sort of stuff lately I find them at ninite.com perhaps the best free site for quick ez installs of no spyware no browser helpers no spamware no viruses utilities
cheers! rayford

Matt said...

Hard to believe that such a strategy guide would still be consulted 15 years after the game was released, but, lo and behold, it is.

I was unaware of how great a game MOO2 was. I loved Stars! and, to a lesser degree, ascendancy, but MOO2 really is head and shoulders above.

The game, however, is not very easy to understand at first glance and has multiple layers of complexity.

This guide does a very good job at peeling some of the layers away. Thanks for a great read. I'm looking forward to playing some MOO2 ASAP!

Anonymous said...

This guide was unbelievable - I have previously won MOO 2 on impossible numerous times, but I have never played multiplayer, and I hadn't ever really looked into the math to see where I could improve and in fact had assumed that while I wasn't perfect, I had previously been pretty good - and now I know how badly I had underestimated what I was missing. Just played it, using this guide instead of my normal strategy and I had virtually won by turn 100 due to the ridiculously huge tech advantage I had already achieved. By the time any computer dared declare war on me, I already had destroyers with Time Warp, H-X Capacity, and multiple autofire disrupters (not to discuss my large ships). They were attacking me with neutron blasters and fusion beams.

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Anonymous said...

3/24/2012 I want to play multiplayer! What is a good estimate for game lengths? How much time should I set aside to plat a match? This guide has upped my level of play VS the computer to where I usually win and sometimes pretty quickly. MIRVing Nuclear Missles is a fearsome weapon early on

HooverDamned said...

Thank you, Siron and Cybersaber for being the bedrock of this community. It's amazing that this awesome game can still be enjoyed today. You guys along with LordBrazen and the rest of the #moo2 community have been instrumental in keeping this game alive for almost two decades. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Amazed to see a MOO2 guide that omits talk of the Gyro Destabilizer.
This is a super weapon - the purple beam of death.
Dont mix it with other beams use them exculsively!!!

Always penetrates sheilds!
Always penetrates armour or Hvy armour!
Never misses - no advanced computer required - save money have no ship computer!
Is 360 degree by default - makes sheild rotation tactics easy
Spins enemy ships to awkward directions
Makes enemy crumble instead of 'pop' therefore safe to use at point blank range (very useful!)
Does more damage to bigger ships

Its big - but gets smaller with sheild tech - worth it for all those uber powers.
Doesnt work on planets - always put bombs on these ships (maybe torps/MIRV for missle bases)
A bit short on range - need anti-matter engine or augmented engines if you want first turn strike.

Reinforced hull is the only defence (automated repair only helps if your ship survives a round of attack)
Against all other weapons Reinforced hull is utterly useless, most people wouldnt add it to ships unless facing

destabilizers. (Armour takes damage before weapons and engines, hull takes damage at "the same time" as engines and

weapons - therefore RH wont protect your engine from 'popping' !!)
RH is only a defence from destabilizers - so best mension these uber weapons when advising ppl to use RH eh?

Fighter bays are the early game dominator - always use mass drivers with them.
Cruiser with 4 FB = 4 bays X 4 fighters X 4 shots X 3 damage = 192 damage over 4 turns.
Enough to kill a titanium battleship easily. Great early defence ships, FB's are cheap to build.
Much better option then RH when fighting only AI. No computer needed, so cheaper to build.
Self-upgrading weapon with new beams and armour tech.

Also assault shuttles work great. Hard to shoot down. Fly right thru sheilds, then take over ships and make them

your own. Instant win vs the fanciest beam weapon ships. No computer needed, self upgrading with new armour techs.
You can then break them down to extract tech or use them as your planet assault ships.
Heavy gravity is therefore a great race pick; 2 hit points; then 3 hit points with powered armour.
Lightning feild is the only decent defence - point defence wont cut it.

Shuttles and destabilzers are the two uber weapons of the game! Sooooo hard to defend against, luv em both.

For smaller galaxys you can also use a +50 ship defence race, then you can swarm destroyers early with great


1 Destabilizer
Few PT defence guns
Few bombs

ECM jammer
Battle pods
Extended fuel tanks

Long range - 9 parsec's with dueterium, outpost ships can keep up with this, deploy outposts to extend your range.
13 range with irridium. Great for out-ninjaing the enemy.
Hard to hit with lowbie missles and beams.
Cheap to build means quick to replace - dont need a star base to build them.
Only vulnerable to fighters. Out swarm your enemies with these early.
Make sure you send a few token anti-planet missle/bomb ships to splat missle bases etc.
Dominate before opponents are prepared. Replace your destroyers quicker then he can replace his battleships.

Do people really play in galaxy's smaller then Huge tho?? I dont!! - D.A.R.

Anonymous said...

Race pick wise -
I consider creative vs non-creative two different types of game. Its more a 'game setting' then a race option.
Non-creative games offer more strategy I feel. The choice between auto factory, missle base and hvy armour is sooo

painful its all class.. I always pick factorys nowadays..

I like;

Unified, subterran, Warlord, rich, large; -repulsive, -10 espionage (destabilizer battleships)

Unified, warlord, rich, Hvy Grav, large; -replusive -10 espionage (assault shuttles)

Unified, +50 ship defence, rich, warlord; -repulsive -10 espionage (ECM destroyer Swarms)

Warlord - more command points as you conquer planets to defend - essential vs impossible AI I think.
Rich homeworld - plus 66% production.. faster game start, best 2 points you'll spend.
Hvy Grav - makes shuttles and ground assaults unstoppable, 1 battleship can assimilate 3-5+ enemy ships.
+50 Ship defence - makes ships very hard to hit, esp small ones, combined with inertial stabilizer is great!
subterran + unified = X3 production. (Double workers plus 50% bonus; 10 x 2 + 50% = 30)

Personally I dont rate missles OR beam weapons and fancy computers.
Ion pulse cannons can be ok, unless you have an eel in your way.
Anti-matter torps are ok for hit'n'run or 'fire-while-cloaked' tech.
BTW fire while cloaked high tech ships are worth a mension...!!
Combine a phasing cloak and a time warp facilitator with weapons that fire every second turn and bingo - uber fire

while cloaked ships! Open fire - click done for every ship on your extra 'free' turn - your ships all recloak -

enemy has a turn where they cant target you - open fire again! - repeat till they die or 10 times then retreat.
Your ships wont be scratched unless he uses kamikaze ships on you!
Almost unstoppable tactic, but dont expect a hard core game to last long enuff to max physics and sheilds!!
Great fun to use when you can tho... serious eldar race stuff.. your enemy will brown their trousers! - D.A.R.

Anonymous said...

Making a strategy guide for MOO II is liking claiming the absolute recipe for pasta, not going to happen outside of your head.

Everything in the game is useful, every single little thing. Played hundreds of multiplayer games outside of KALI, without any of these stupid rules. Besides, KALI is DEAD!

Steve Barcia sends you and game balance to oblivion.

Anonymous said...

To previous anon - wow, so you somehow managed to play hundreds of multiplayer games, and was able to not learn anything about game? Its really impressive, even most people who played less number of games than you,understand the game much better than you, and also understand what words you had posted just show your ignorance in moo2. Besides multiplayer games is alive in DosBox, irc channel - irc.quakenet.org #moo2

See you there.

Anonymous said...

There is now Starbase Orion app on ipads, which is ok.. it has async multiplayer which rocks, but the tech tree has lost its angry way of forcing you to choose between a few things you want all of... O2 had the best tech tree ever but no one copies it oddly.. Starbase Orions race custom options also avoid the more blatantly powerful options like subterran and unified etc... but its still much better then most attempts to make a new O2..

Anonymous said...

Everybody that knows a little about Steve Barcia and his game design knows that he has always sent game balance to hell, its not important for him. That doesnt mean that there are useless things in the game, its just a question of relativity, time and space. You play according to situations and following a master plan with variables along the way based on actions and corresponding forces from other entities, in this case players. Its basic physics applied to life. In one scenario you might need one tech, in another, another. There isnt a single "balanced" tech in the game, everything is free form and dependent on relativity. You can speak of certain strategies, certain attack or construction politics and alike but its all relative. Even more, if you dont have a tech, you can steal it, bargain for it, conquer it, bribe it, or simply menace for it with military might and receive it as gift for short lived peace between two empires. Of course, if you negate this option of the game with stupid rules... You want to play Orion without being a cry baby that cant cope with politics, go play starcraft. Thats why its a good strategy game.

Anonymous said...

Did you really think that an argument as such could trespass my defense? Its as thousands of people saying that the world is flat, out of pure ignorance. Do you really think I need more than words to measure myself with you? Jajaja! Naive and beloved fool. See you here my dear. 8)

FukkenSaved said...

Buying stuff at half price isn't necessarily most efficient. You have to compare the opportunity cost against the purchase price, as well as other uses for the BCs. If you have a lot of spare BCs then it can make a lot of sense to pay full 4x price, especially for Automated Factories and Robo Miner Plants.

Drake42 said...

Thank you very much for this guide. I think it is very clear and straightforward, while still not too long. I have never played against other players. I'm just sad that my offline experience is not so usefull in pvp :) I remeber i used to play a lot without being creative, but i always got frustrated when i don't have a tech which i wanted to use in a certain situation. For quite some time i've always played as creative, and a few years ago finally managed to beat impossible a few times as creative. Now it might seem lame to the hardcore gamers, but i was really happy when i first did so. I usually play MOO2 for a month or two then put it aside for a year or so. I might try against computer first as production race, to see where i would get, also i have never used the repulsive trait. I always thought it is a serious handicap, but i think i haven't thought it through properly. This guide helps a big time i think, if i ever decide to compete online. Thank you

Humbe said...

Great guide.. I'm actually writing my own (mostly for personal use and summarize stuff I figure out about the game, but from playing AI perspective) and found yours following a search for some information. I might post a link to mine later if I finish it though probably not that relevant for you online players.

I especially liked the details on the ship design and combat. I was not aware that if you shot multiple missile groups at once, anyone shooting at the missiles would have to shoot down the ones equipped on top of your ship first. I figured that was a versus AI exploit and that you had to fire mirv first and then move a square forward and shoot the decoys to get them further down the path hoping for AI to shoot at closest ones first.

Comparing my vs AI tactics to your guide it seems the major difference is that I'm prioritizing late game a bit more (not picking only early game bonuses for racial traits for instance)

Sounds fun to play online, but doubt I'll get there. Sounds hard to schedule enough time for everyone to play at the same time. I typically play an hour here or there.

Unknown said...

what to say... I read the guide, and they're are, almost the same strategies a friend and I figured out almost 20 years ago when we play this game (mostly offline against AI, and sometimes via serial cable).
Excelent work, congratulations!!!

@40ktoday said...

March 7th, 2016 and this is still my favorite MOO2 guide.

Was there never much interest in small galaxies? I often play Small, Impossible, 8 VS the AI and that situation is quite rough! Races with diplomatic bonuses gain tremendously as long as they aren't shoulder to shoulder with too many repulsives.

Anonymous said...

I have been playing this game almost daily since it came out in '96 and before that, the original version when it came out in '93. I never tire of it. I haven't played it on line mainly because of the regimen of getting together for long periods of time. I play it when I feel the urge. However, I do beat it regularly in the Huge,Impossible mode. I nearly always play as the regular Human race without changes. I find the suggestions here to be enlightening although I don't agree with everything, but I intend to try some things out. For instance, I consider the most lethal weapon to be the Stellar Converter although I don't research it, but go for the star gate.

One thing that I find interesting is the complete lack of discussion on how to take out the defender of Orion, and how quickly it can be done. I have tried a lot of different ways but am not still sure I have found the best way. I would be interested in anyone's ideas on size of ship, fittings, weaponry and numbers of ships

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"One thing that I find interesting is the complete lack of discussion on how to take out the defender of Orion, and how quickly it can be done. I have tried a lot of different ways but am not still sure I have found the best way. I would be interested in anyone's ideas on size of ship, fittings, weaponry and numbers of ships".

The KALI online players played with Orion off-limits rule, because not everyone is on equal grounding when it comes to map placement of Orion and one-self, so they don't strategize for it. For example; if you have to beat an equally tough opponent in order to reach Orion, most likely by the time you do so, someone else has killed The Guardian already (outposts are nice against the AI, but they would be blown up vs humans).

You can kill The Guardian as soon as you get EMG missile especial (the tech before Autolabs) AND merc missile with full mods (you need to research up to Zotronium armor). If you don't focus on him you can kill The Guardian by turn 150 or sooner (Tech Level Setting: Average). Maybe if you ignore techs and forgo empire expansion to focus on The Guardian you could kill it closer to turn 125 or so.

Around 6 Battleships full of merc missiles should do the trick with 50% of them being FST ARM (placed in first 4 weapon rows), 25% of them MV FST ARM (weapon rows 5 & 6) and last 25% (weapon rows 7 & 8) with EMG MV FST ARM. It doesn't hurt to bring a couple smaller ships to attract The Guardian's initial attacks. Send 2 waves of missiles (one each turn) and don't move ships so The Guardian doesn't rotate. The surviving missiles will all hit the frontal shield, once shields are down and EMG missiles do enough damage to the engines, it explodes.

Anonymous said...

"Bad enough, although I managed to find something usefull.
1) the use of missiles: obsolete, if enemy has good armor, PD weapons and any jammer. Obsolete against monsters like eel.
2) forgotten to tell one needs to equip ship with torpedoes. yes, they fire every 2nd turn, but they have unlimited ammo.
3) neutron blaster, ion cannon treated unfairly: one can kill marines, thus makin it easier to capture ship.
4) at the early stage it is better to avoid military race: you can't afford normal ship and your laser are good for barbeque only.
5) augmented engines are of no good. I always sent a big fleet and it should be technologically superior. If it is, engine doesn't matter.
6) being Sakkra-like is very good, you get fast growth and later - low cost ships. I see no future for democracvy in MOO. Dictatorship or feudalism, that is the question."

You don't seem to get the difference between playing offline solo games vs the AI and online games vs humans. I will try to explain below using your own pointed arguments above.

1) The Guardian can be killed with a swarm of merc missiles (enough MIRV EMG ECCM missiles as required). Its Xentronium Armor, Class V shield, Molecutronic computer, Multi-Wave ECM Jammer, Automated Repair Unit, Hard Shields and Lightning Field do nothing once the shields are down and MV EMG merc missiles get thru, because EMG missiles ignore everything and hit the engines. If the engines blow up, the ship is gone and nothing else matters. A MIRV EMG ECCM missile carries 4 warheads, the ECCM in the missile cuts avoidance in half which means than even in the best scenario at least 2 warheads will hit the engine (of each missile that makes it thru),

A handful (or less) of destroyers can kill an Eel. You need to fire the MIRV nuclear missiles at point blank, and if you fire them from the sides or back, they hit instantly.

2) I don't need unlimited torpedoes that fire only once every 2 turns and take a lot more space, I need a swarm of enough missiles (and I can fire every missile I equip 2 times in the lapse of 2 successive turns) that can't all be shot down, especially if I can get closer. So what if I can't fire more missiles? I move my empty missile ship next to your highest threat ship and self-destroy it to wipe your shields right before my EMG missiles blow up your engines. Yes, I will need a good engine drive, but then again I am playing vs humans not AI.

3) True.

4) Simply put, one just can't avoid a military race sometimes. Humans players don't just sit around doing nothing because one happens to have a bigger fleet like the AI does. One can only hold the systems one can guard. You just can't gather 90% of your fleet to obliterate the neighboring human player on the right, because if you leave colonies unguarded chances are the human on your left might attack you as soon as he gets the combat message involving you and your other neighbor.

5) Augmented Engines gives 2 benefits: it gives you +5 more initiative (which may cause that even though I was attacked, I still fire first) and +25 Beam Defense. If you add Inertial Stabilizer the ship Beam Defense is 150+ and the attacker's beams will do considerable less damage. Space considerations need to be taken, but it is not a bad combo.

6) Feudal are good for blitz races, with a telepathic trait or similar, to attack early (and in small galaxies). In the long run (or in a large galaxy), the player on the other corner of the map that doesn't have the 50% less science penalty (nor morale penalties) will be untouchable before you are on reach. Democracy and science bonus can be viable, one can buy the production instead. If left unmolested the tech gap can allow for expansion just the same (spaying is a problem thou).

Anonymous said...

"The author is wrong about weapons:
1) 360 degree is a waste. Place 3 mauler devices at F instead of 1 360 degree. And guess what: 4 will do more damage!
2) PD weapons not necessery: if enemy is bigger, it will eat you and if you are bigger, you will eat enemy anyway.
3)I always stack all weapons in one stack. It is better, it is easier. Lining works if you have doomstar with stellar converters: you may want to place 1 convetrer, then some beam weapons and only then another converter
4) missile ships is a waste of time. I had 2 battleships, armed with 4+3 plasma torpedoes. Guess what - they failed to destroy planetary defense :(
5) battle scanner is a waste of time too. You may want to use structural analyser or achiles targeting unit."

Sounds like you only play vs AI. Online vs human games is different. Debating your points listed above in order of appearance:

1) If you only have Front Beams, they can spin you, or tractor beam you and move behind you, and you will not be able to fire.

2) If you have no PD weapons in your ships, a human would make sure to send Assault Shuttles or missiles, specially if you can't shoot 360 degrees. Again, movement is important, you can't just fight in AI mode vs humans. Mostly, you have PDs to counter strategies

3) You may need to immobilize the target rather than destroy it, so you can board it and gain tech you don't have when scrapping at a shipyard. It is the only way to shoot 2 units of so-and-so weapon instead of all the units needed to destroy the ship. Playing vs humans is not as easy as vs AI.

4) Torpedoes damage to planetary defenses is halved, if the player had a barrier shield on that planet your torpedoes will do close to zero damage (EMG missiles can't damage planets, only ships). Even HV phasors are blocked by barrier shield, the best way to handle barrier shields is to just get close and bomb the planet.

5) Structural analyzer is hard to get, you have to be creative or steal it (if available), due to the other choices in that tech level. Is it nice? Sure, but it is bulky, takes a lot of space. There are always trade-offs. An online game will never make it to the point where everything is miniaturized, very seldom do they last longer than the missile warfare phase.

Cybersaber said...

Thank you to the many players who have left comments over the years. It is now more 25 years since this game was released, and it still remains one of the great strategy games of all time.

There is still a small, but active community of online players playing the game. If you want to find us, come to https://webchat.quakenet.org/?channels=#vdc and also on Discord at https://discord.gg/63b3Ce.

Regards - Cybersaber

Cybersaber said...

The link to Discord that I posted above will expire shortly. Here is a link that will never expire: https://discord.gg/megyRWM