Master of Orion: Trading places

(This is part of my journey playing through Master of Orion.  You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lanes page.)

techIt’s fun watching this particular series resonate with players; Master of Orion and many of the 4X games have special places in gamers’ hearts, and Ocho has a great explanation why: We create our own stories.  I agree.  I love being told stories and experiencing them in MMOs, but I also love making them.  It doesn’t have to be a one-or-the-other proposition.

Back to the game… I’m marshaling my forces for a strike on the nearby Alkari planet of Spica, but even so I’m keeping close tabs on the map in case I see the enemy trying to strike out  first.  Nine of my Teppo-class bombers are ready and I send them to the front line.  I’m also starting to think that it’s about time to spin down the KTR production and switch everyone over to a new ship with a more modern arsenal.  My research monkeys (silicon monkeys, rimshot) keep coming up with new tech quite fast, and I hope I’m pulling ahead in the research race at this point.

The new Hoppy-class battleships are filled to the brim with the latest and greatest: top-notch shielding, armor, countermeasures, and engines.  Defensively they’re great, but offensively they’re a little lacking.  I do have some of the new missiles in them and a few other weapons, but they’re more made for slugging than fast strikes.  I convert all my production over to making them.

The Alkari seem to be doing the opposite, favoring mass production of fighters — 1600 of them, plus assorted other ships, are heading back toward Ysharros.  Well, this will be interesting.  It almost doesn’t matter how advanced my ships are; 1600 of anything is going to steamroll them.  And I am NOT prepared to lose my fleet.

So I decide to stop trying to defend Ysharros and juke right around the enemy forces to send my own fleet to Spica:

jukeBest case scenario is that we trade planets, but I’m hoping that the Alkari will get their nose really bloodied and freak out over their planet.  I know, that’s a lot to put on the AI.

In the end, we both obliterate each other’s colonies, although I lose a heck of a lot of KTRs in the process and the enemy doesn’t lose a single ship.  Mutual assured destruction, my friends.  The Darlocks freak and say that I don’t have honor because I’m using biological weapons.  So… using nukes was fine?  And it was hunky dory when the Alkari were raining death spores down on Werit and Ocho?  But this crosses the line?

I console myself with the fact that I have planets I can afford to lose while the Alkari do not.  Plus, I start production on small agile Battlechick fighters and crank out a few hundred of them on the first turn.

I feel like everything is spinning out of my control.  I know it’s boring to say this, but the most fun I have with 4X games is when I’m roflstomping over the enemy with ease, not when I’m scrabbling just to stay afloat against an enemy that I have a 2-1 planetary advantage over.  It’s taking a lot of my will to play through this game and not start over.

To make matters worse, a GNN report tells me that I’m #3 in fleet strength — the Alkari are #1 and the Sakkra (!) are #2.  I think the Sakkra are there because they haven’t fought at all and the computer just keeps cranking out new ships.

Hey, what about pouring some lemon juice in that wound?  Here ya go!

ochoThat’s right: The Alkari have not only managed to recolonize Spica but also Ysharros and Ocho as well.

Fine.   Forget getting a technological edge.  I go around to all of my planets and tell them to start making ships full-on, non-stop.  It’s a last-ditch effort to win; if I can’t gain a production advantage, I’m going to be sunk soon.

Meet the Snafzg, the ship my hopes and dreams rest upon now:

snafzgMedium ship, so I can pump them out fast.  Good speed, good defense, and two powerful weapons.  Let’s do this.  Every planet goes to 100% ship production and 43 Snafzgs come out on turn one.

It looks as though Psychochild is destined to be, once again, the site of a major battleground.  My fleet forms while the massive enemy fleet that destroyed Ysharros swoops in.  My fleet is too small.  There’s no way I can…

treatyGuh?  What the?  At the moment of your impending victory, you just decide to call it a day?

Well, I’m not going to look a space-gift horse in the mouth.  I will take a stay of execution.

To be honest, I’m starting to feel frustrated with this particular game (not MOO specifically, just this game of it).  I shouldn’t have been so hasty to get into war in the first place, and now that I have, I’m in some sort of weird Vietnam where I can’t figure out the right way to proceed.  Losing two planets in the past couple of sessions didn’t help, and knowing that two of the enemy forces can overpower me easily is aggravating.  Really, if it wasn’t for this series, I would quit and restart.

But I’ll see it through.  At least a couple more sessions.

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9 thoughts on “Master of Orion: Trading places

  1. Oh I sense the frustration and I hate to think your readers are forcing you on! You have my permission to pack it in.

    Saying that was a real doozy – really getting into your story!

  2. “I know it’s boring to say this, but the most fun I have with 4X games is when I’m roflstomping over the enemy with ease, not when I’m scrabbling just to stay afloat against an enemy that I have a 2-1 planetary advantage over.”

    +1. My own unfulfilled desire for 4X games is an AI that takes the long view and whose ultimate desire is *not* complete annihilation of every other race. If you are looking to build a story (Ocho is absolutely right about that), its hard to do when ever computer opponent is looking to fling poo at you every turn.

  3. Heh. MOO 1, where the name of the game is stacks of 32000 fighters. I remember it well . . . . . Well ok, not well, but I do recall that cranking out large stacks of glass-cannon fighters each turn was a heckuva lot better than taking several turns to crank out a single large ship that your stack of fighters could easily dispatch on a 1st strike.

    MOO2 went to great lengths to make it so a few superior ships was better than a gajillion stacked fighters, but in MOO1…… big ships don’t serve much purpose.

  4. Fight to the bitter end! :D That’s what I liked to do… till your very last ground troop bites the dust (more often than not from orbital bombardment)

    Quick question since I came into the story series late, who is in control of Orion?

  5. I remember very well this sort of thing happening quite often. You’d be at war with one of the mor powerful AI opponents, they’d quickly take a few planets of mine (at least one of which was pretty important) and then sue for peace. Although, like you, it often made me ragequit/restart, unlike you I was always convinced that they would do it because I was about to “turn the tide”, and peace was the only way the AI had of keeping me from taking everything back within a handful of
    turns. Looking back, it’s likely I was wildly optimistic of my chances at least half the time. Whether MOO or Civ or anything else I’ve played like them, I don’t think anything makes my blood boil quite as much as the ol’ snatch & grab, then beg for peace LOL. Especially in Civ, because if you had a republic or democracy the people ALWAYS made you accept ANY offers of peace.

  6. Nobody has Orion — it’s near to my home world, but the guardian is too strong for any current fleets.

  7. I recall playing this, stacks of fighters were the way to go until later in the game, then a large, nasty high tech weapon “Black Hole Generator” turned up, eliminating stacks of little ships very, very quickly. I recall manoeuvering around the battle screen was very important, I would often outrun missiles, but I usually went for fast engines and upgraded combat speed.
    Your reports are great, keep them coming (even if you do restart!). I think I’ll have to dig out my old MOO files and have a quick game.

  8. @Giles — been forever since I played MOO1, but that’s the way I recall it too. You could build 100′s or even 1000′s of fighter per turn, each with your best available weapon loaded, but would take several turns to build larger ships that might have 4-5 weapons each. Fighters were simply the most efficient way to get the maximum number of weapons on the field.

  9. Nice to see someone enjoying a game of good old-fashioned MOO. :)

    FYI, if you are having problems defensively, in the early-to-mid game, getting good missiles and planetary shields will solve most problems, especially if you can back them up with ships mounting specials that prevent bombers from flattening the bases, such as repulsor beams or warp dissipators. For your own planet glassing stacks I tend to like to use very fast-moving bombers, usually on a small hull and focused purely on evasiveness and bombing power (don’t neglect the battle computer, though it doesn’t have to be top of the line.) Ideally they should be fast enough to zip from planet to planet, focusing on worlds where the enemy has a weak fleet presence — wreck their economy, and their fleet will be irrelevant. Your own fleet should focus on defending captured worlds until they can get a reasonable complement of bases behind a strong planetary shield.

    As a final note there are still people who play MOO regularly out there, for instance at the Realms Beyond forums (known mostly for Civ these days) there is a forum dedicated to MOO gaming. Personally, for my own 4X space opera gaming I tend to prefer Sword of the Stars these days, but MOO still brings back fond memories. :)

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