Getting Off to a Good Start
Each game starts you off with the same assets. Your homeworld will be Terran class, size 100. You begin with 30 factories. Your population begins at 50 million, unless playing higher difficulties, where you begin with 40 million. You begin with two scouts and one colony ship.
Here is the map as shown at the start of the tutorial game.
To begin gameplay, we need to gather information about nearby stars. Our initial range is three parsecs. That is how far from our home planet that our colony ship may travel. Our scouts carry extended fuel tanks, granting them an additional three parsecs of range, so that they may travel up to six parsecs from our homeworld. It is important to understand that our scouts have longer range than our colony ship, so that you do not mistakenly believe we can colonize worlds that are, in fact, currently out of range.
So the first thing to do is to identify stars within colonizable range. Click each star near our homeworld. You might begin with the one that seems to be the closest and work outward.
The nearest star is red class, two parsecs away. Our initial ships have Warp 1 engines, meaning they travel one parsec per year. It would take two years (turns) to travel to this star.
Checking another star shows its range as three parsecs.
In this particular game, there are no other stars within three parsecs. Remaining stars are four or more parsecs away. Therefore, we had better hope that at least one of the two stars within colonizable range has a habitable world. Fortunately, red stars have a good percentage of habitable worlds, so we are likely to be in decent shape. As the information display notes, however, red stars have increased likelihood of mineral poor planets. (That would not be good, although it is better than no planet at all).
Yellow stars offer the best chance for habitable worlds, followed by green and red. White, blue and purple stars are more likely to have planets with hostile environments. There are some subtleties to the star colors, but these apply only prior to exploring the star, when guesswork may be necessary to choosing scouting priorities. Once we know about its habitable planet, if any, the star color no longer matters.
Since we have two scouts and only two stars to explore, there's no need to prioritize in this instance, anyway. We can send one scout to each candidate. Select our fleet by clicking on it in the map window.
When you select the fleet, all ships in that group will be displayed. Our ships begin together, but we must separate them. Use the buttons below the ship types to increase or decrease the number of ships. The ships that are selected will follow your orders, while deselected ships will remain behind (and can be issued different orders).
We want to send one scout, so the other scout and the colony ship must be deselected. When we have only one scout left active, click on the destination star and orders will be issued. A line will connect to our destination, with the animation showing the direction of movement. You must click the Accept button in the lower right corner to confirm these orders.
Repeat this process for the second scout. Click on the fleet in orbit of Sol. Ships in orbit are parked to the upper right of a star. Ships with orders will be moved to the upper left of the star. Orders may be changed at any time prior to departure, but may no longer be changed after the turn is ended. Ships en route cannot be issued new orders (unless we develop Hyperspace Communications, a high level Computer tech not available until late into a game, if at all).
After you deselect the colony ship by reducing its number to zero, our second scout should be directed to the other star. That is, don't send both scouts to the same star!
Confused yet? If not, I'm glad. But if you are having trouble following along, I recommend that you download the tutorial saved games and play through the exercise. A picture is worth a thousand words. Most of this will be easier to learn and remember if you play along, but it's your choice.
Next we want to take a look at the planet screen. If Sol is not already selected, click on it in the map window to select it. Then click Sol again to zoom to the planet screen.
There are no controls on this screen. This is only a display. You are shown the star color and the planet. Back when this game was released, these qualified as "cool features" and were considered "good graphics". You are shown icons representing population, factories, waste, and defense bases. In this picture, there is no waste, there are no bases. You are also shown the level of planetary shields (none, in this case) and any orbiting ships. (Our colony ship is still in orbit).
The most useful information on this screen is the number of factories and the amount of waste. This information is available on the Planet List, from the Planet button on the toolbar at the bottom of the screen, but getting to that takes a little more effort. If you come here to this screen, you can check the factory count and the waste level (if any), then click again and be taken back to the galactic map, where this colony will still be selected, and where you can change the spending sliders. Thus, quick check on the planet screen then back to the main page to issue orders concerning factory construction spending. We'll be doing some of that before long, but not just yet.
The best thing to do at first is to build more factories. This will increase how much money we have to spend on future turns. Each population point can control two factories at our current tech level. Thus, with Sol allowing for a maximum of 100 population, up to 200 factories may be built. We start with 30 and can build only a couple at a time. How long to continue building factories before diverting spending to shipbuilding and research is a strategic decision. I will employ a certain strategy in this tutorial, but I do not mean to imply that is the only possible strategy. What to focus on when and to what degree is the heart of the gameplay. By the time you complete this tutorial, you'll know enough to make sound decisions, but there will still be plenty left for you to learn and explore.
Since we have issued orders to our ships and decided not to change spending priorities, we've completed the first turn. Click the Next Turn button in the lower right corner to move the game forward to the next turn.
Master of Orion turns are played in phases.
The first phase of each turn is the Orders phase, where you issue orders to your people. Types of orders include planetary spending, fleet deployment, ship design, research priorities, and diplomacy. Only diplomacy takes effect immediately. The rest of your orders are carried out in the other phases of the turn.
Second comes the Movement phase, in which fleets who have been issued orders are moved. All movement takes place simultaneously. After you click next turn, you will be shown the galactic map. Every fleet that shows up on your scanners, including all of your own ships, will be represented on the galactic map. You will see all of the fleet icons move simultaneously. (It is important that the game speed not be running so high that you can't see anything in the movement phase. You don't want the ship icons to move so quickly you don't have a chance to see them). It is important that you pay attention during the movement phase, as you may have the chance to see things you can't otherwise learn about. Sometimes information you can glean about the movement of alien ships can affect your strategic decision making.
Third is the Action phase. Ships arriving at their destination points will interact with what awaits them. Action will be handed one star at a time, sequentially, with all action at a star resolved before checking the next star. Colony ships arriving at a star will have a chance to settle and create a new colony. Ships reaching an unexplored star will scout the system. The first ship to scout an Artifacts planet will find a new technology in the ruins, but will also erase the evidence, so that later arrivals will find nothing. If another race has ships in orbit, or has ships arriving on the same turn your ships arrive, combat will commence, unless the two races have signed a non-aggression pact. If you arrive at the colony of another race and they have ships or missile bases, combat will commence, unless a full military alliance has been signed. (Non-aggression does not apply to incursions against a colony). Combat will end in a win for one side, most of the time. Combat ends when one side has been destroyed, or if one side retreats all its surviving ships. Planets cannot retreat, obviously, but losing the fight in space does not automatically lose the colony. More on this later. On rare occasions, combat may actually end in a draw. There is a limit to how many rounds of combat can be played on one turn. The limit is ridiculously high, but if you can outrun an opponent you can't outfight, you may be able to last until the time limit and reach a draw.
Finally comes the Production phase, where your planetary spending is carried out. This includes all forms of production.
After you have clicked Next Turn for the first time, the two scouts will move during the movement phase. Neither will arrive yet, though, so the second turn begins. Since you want to continue building factories, there's nothing to do. Click Next turn again and end the second turn. The movement phase will show your scouts moving, and during the action phase, a scout will arrive at the Rha system.
This is good news. The system has a habitable planet, Steppe class, maximum supportable population of 60 million.
Now we have a strategic choice to make. We can send our colony ship to this world now. Or we can wait a turn for the other scout to report in. If the other scout reports a hostile planet, no habitable planet, or a planet of lower quality than this one, we lose a turn by waiting around to learn that. However, if we send the colony ship to Rha now, and the other scout reports a better planet than this one, we lose a turn having to wait for the colony ship to arrive at Rha before we can send it on to the other star. Either way, there is something at risk, and it's a pure gamble. Small stakes, thankfully, but still a gamble. You will face many such decisions at the start of your Master of Orion games. The effects may be small, but even small differences this early can have a wide impact in the long run. A turn lost or gained now could ripple all the way forward through the game, and imagine what you could do with an extra turn later in the game!
There is no clear best choice with most of these gambles. You can either try to play the statistics, so that you win out most of the time, or you can play by instinct. Whatever you decide, the result will matter, even if only in a small way, so try to learn what you can about the options you have to choose from.
I will wait for the second scout to report back. So to follow along with that plan, click Next Turn again. During the action phase, Misha system will be explored.
Wow, a size 100 planet! That's almost as good as it can get. (Base planet sizes range from 10 to 120, although each habitability class has its own sub-range). In this instance, waiting was the right thing.
Clearly we want to send our colony ship to the more hospitable planet. When it comes to population, bigger is always better. Since we don't have to separate the ships from a fleet, we can issue orders quickly. Click on the colony ship, then click on Misha, then Accept the orders. Send the scout at Rha to the green star, and send the scout at Misha to the nearby red star.
We have now completed the initial moves in the game's opening. Click below to advance to the next page.
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