|Master of Orion III Beginner's Guide - Part Two
April 1, 2003 | Scott Winn
The rest of the battle: Fleets and FightingIn my travels around the Internet looking for good information I could pass along to you, I couldn't help but notice the confusion some players expressed with the whole idea of fleet building. After all, it wasn't even an option in Moo2. Players remarked that the extra step of putting ships into a fleet was a waste of time. Then there was mass confusion about what happened to ships when a fleet was disbanded. Lest such quandaries creep into the minds of my fellow Mac gamers, let me attempt to provide an explanation of fleets.
Why do we have to have fleets in the first place? We don't. You can create a fleet detachment in Moo3 allowing each ship to be a fleet of one. Some people may have had difficulty with this because detachment isn't the default option when selecting fleet size. Never fear, you can create groups smaller than a flotilla! In the beginning of the game, creating multiple detachments is a perfectly acceptable strategy. There is no reason why anyone should have a massive escort fleet for a colony ship. Even as you begin to take on the enemy, fleets are not a necessity. Four or five detachments of your best ships should be able to dominate your enemies for quite sometime. As long as you are ahead of the game in technology, you can afford to have a few unbeatable ships roaming around decimating your opponents at will.
So, let's say that every ship you ever made is in its own detachment. There is a big fight looming and you need to commit as many ships as you can to it. If you have used the combat screen, then you know that your fleets won't always go where you want them to as fast as you would like them to do so. Now, try to imagine twenty or thirty of those little pentagons bumping into each other as they attempt to close with the enemy. If you selected manual control in a fight like that, then heaven help you! Obviously, fleets are an easy way to control huge numbers of ships in combat. In the Attila the Hun playbook of tactics, overwhelmingly huge numbers are good. Being able to control them is even better.
What is another reason to build fleets? How about extra power! You will have greater power in numbers as we mentioned before, but by grouping your forces you will attack together and concentrate more fire on your targets. It will also allow you to do specialized ship building. Instead of wasting valuable space on your larger ships with small defensive guns, you can design their weapon systems for maximum range and power. Your escorts can take up the task of defending your fleet from fighters and missile strikes.
Fleets have obvious defensive advantages as well. Common sense says that if you surround your main battleships with point defense escorts, you will have an effective missile and fighter screen, but fleets can do more than that. You can include ships with varying attack ranges in your fleet to establish concentric defensive rings. First, enemies will come under long-range fire from your larger ships' beam and missile weapons. As they move closer, they will have to contend with additional short-range fire from your escorts. Finally, they will get hundreds of point defense attacks from your picket ships. Each step closer to your fleet increases the penalty for would be attackers.
As the game goes on, your first fleets will start looking more and more obsolete. If you need money you can disband them and scrap your ships, but I prefer to avoid that. After all, you went to all the trouble to build these ships in the first place. They still fly, so why junk them if you don't need to. Another option you have is to reassign them to different duty. Any ship, no matter how old, can blockade a system, explore the galaxy, guard low risk colonies, deal with enemy scouts and colony ships, and perform a number of other tasks. If you choose to disband a fleet remember that they go into limbo for five turns before returning to your active reserves. That's why I advise against disbanding fleets of your best ships; you may need them while they are unavailable.
Let's have another look at our collection of fleet hints:You don't always need to build fleets
Build detachments early on, work up to larger fleets
Fleets allow you to effectively control large numbers of ships
Create combat fleets out of specialized ships
Fleets provide extra power and defense for your ships
Find uses for older ships
Don't disband unless a large part of the fleet is obsolete
Hopefully, we have succeeded in demystifying Moo3's fleet operations for everybody. We are steadily nearing the end of our Moo3 hints. Be sure to check out the next page to see the best of what's left!