|Master of Orion III Beginner's Guide - Part One
March 31, 2003 | Scott Winn
Get and keep power: Technology and keeping it safeNow it's time to look at the turn-by-turn business of procuring and safeguarding your technology.
There are two primary rules for handling technology in Moo3: 1) get it and 2) keep everyone else from getting it. You get it through exploration, aggression, diplomacy (in several forms), and lots of research. You keep others from getting it by blocking their diplomatic channels, undermining their research programs, and of course squishing them before they've built up decent defenses.
Exploration is the least reliable way to get technology. You may run across systems where you discover something once in a while, but don't count on it ever being the right technology at the right time. Aggression has similar problems. You may get technology by invading colonies, but it's hard work with unfortunately random results. The biggest problem with diplomacy is you usually have to exchange some technology to get what you want -- bad idea (see rule 2). Yes, there are spies, but they seem to be more efficient at crippling other players' research than stealing new technological wonders for you. Remember, any technology you can steal or bargain for is technology that your opponent has already exchanged with several other players. Stealing and exchanging technology will never get you ahead. It will only help you keep up.
You need advanced technology that no one else has to dominate the game and that leaves us with do-it-yourself research. It's not quick or glamorous, but it is dependable. That is the reason I strongly recommended boosting your race's research capability in an earlier hint. Give your research program an extra boost by pouring in a little money every so often in the Finances screen and by focusing on the types of research that matter most to you in the Technology screen. If you are trying to win by diplomacy, increase the percentages of Biology and Social Sciences. If you are out to conquer, then crank up Energy, Math, and Physical Sciences. Keep playing with those percentages to get the technologies you want faster.
Now that you are winning the research race, how do you keep your competitors from helping themselves to your hard earned technology? They almost certainly have spies poking around your empire at any given moment. Remember the research spies who don't always steal the goods? Well, it turns out that they are excellent at protecting them. Create several technology spies and leave them at home. Increase the Oppressometer in your Empire screen, particularly if other types of spies are running rampant in your systems. You will find a few counter spies will go a long way toward keeping your technology out of the wrong hands.
Having firmly established our technology rules, we can move onto discussing the reasons you will eventually choose to break them. You don't always get the technologies you want. It isn't fair, but that's the way it goes. That means through no fault of your own, you will be tempted to trade. When that happens try to give away the kind of technologies that really boost your enemy's farming or some other harmless pursuit. Never give anyone anything "good" to shoot at you. Trading outdated energy weapons that barely scratch your shields for some colony improvement technology is fine. Once or twice I have given some poor player fantastically fatal missile technology just before my archrival was about to attack him. I thought it might be nice to give his planetary missile batteries a bit more punch. What usually happens next is he makes peace with my enemy by. . . giving him MY missile technology. Now those missiles are waiting to greet me every time I attack one of his planets. Ouch! Talk about a self-inflicted injury!
When you finally exchange a piece of precious technology, be sure to make a deal with anyone who will talk to you. That may sound counter-intuitive, but it actually makes a lot of sense. What is the point of giving a decent piece of technology to only one player? They will turn around and trade it to three other people and get three different technologies for it. So, if you are going to trade, see what kind of deal you can make with everybody. If someone is going to benefit from the great technology swap it might as well be you.
Ok, so what is the best way to find out what technology your opponents have? There are two ways really. The first and most obvious is to go to the Technology screen and select another race from the "View By" menu. This will show you the technology matrix from their perspective. It is very useful for noting what technologies they are about to get. The second is to use the Foreign Office screen and initiate some diplomacy. Set your offer to Gift, Exchange, or Demand, and then click the triangle to get the Planets out of the way. What you will see is a short list of what you have that they don't (Gift), what they have that you don't (Demand), or both (Exchange). Just make sure you hit the Cancel button unless you intend to make an offer.
So, our short list of technology hints looks like this: Get technology however you can, but don't neglect research
Boost and focus your research in the Finance and Technology screens
If you are ahead, protect your technology from spies by using counter spies
Don't exchange it and when you do, exchange it with everyone
Keep tabs on everyone else's progress
How do you translate this technobabble into winning Moo3? Join us next tomorrow when we will delve into the art of Shipbuilding!
Scott Winn is a former Apple Quality Assurance Engineer and professional developer, sysadmin, and all around Mac guy. He has been fortunate enough to work with MacSoft on testing several game titles.