Codex Gamicus

Master of Orion (Sometimes abbreviated to 'MoO' is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game released in 1993 by MicroProse. Often widely cited as the first Space "4X" (a term cited in 1996 by a video game reviewer) It has led to a large increase in the strategy game genre.


The game starts out with a varying amount of customization options, such as size of galaxy, difficulty level and other factors that affects gameplay.

During the game, a number of nations play out by turns, each with their own traits and technologies that they gain as you do. Your main goal within Master of Orion is to eliminate all other races and become leader of the galaxy, colonizing, attacking and spying on other races to eliminate them.

You can also win the game by making alliances with all of the other races, however on higher difficulties certain personality traits start appearing within players more commonly, making it harder to negotiate with them. These six traits are;

  • Ruthless, which makes the leader of said race attack without warning and easily break treaties,
  • Erratic, which as title suggests makes them unpredictable,
  • Aggressive, which makes race leaders attack on any opportunity,
  • Pacifistic, which is one of the more neutral traits- making them less likely to attack,
  • Honorable, which will not attack anyone with positive disposition, and
  • Xenophobic, which do "not trust anyone" leading them to lessen the effects of treaties and friendships.

The main focus of the game is settling on planets and certain star systems while combating and dealing with other races. Building populations, ships, and machinery on these planets as a must, as colonization is key. If a player spreads his race out too thinly between many planets he will be overtaken quickly by the opponents. It is best to build strong defenses slowly if anything.

One of these planets is Orion, which is the title planet of MoO. It provides grandiose technological benefits (including unique weapons and machinery) and a large ship that must be defeated to claim ownership of Orion. Few planets have this unique benefit, however they do vary in different ways.

  • Mineral Wealth influences the productivity of ship and factory upgrades. It does not benefit or hinder residents of the planet.
  • Habitability afflicts how fertile the planet is- Hostile planets will hinder growth rates 50% whereas Gaia planets will benefit them 100%.
  • Size affects max population of a planet. Terraforming can increase this.
  • Artifacts are features of a planet with an ancient or dying civilization. As such, they provide a technology bonus.

Technology plays a big factor in how advanced and prepared the civilizations are. There are six skill trees; Computers, Construction, Forcefields, Planetology, Propulsion and Weapons that can be researched side-by-side. Each one provides a benefit to the player and using a certain technology will reduce its cost for the next use.

Negotiation with other races is a large component of the game and vital for keeping your players alive on higher difficulties. You can offer multiple different things to each race, such as a gift or multiple different kinds of treaties and trade pacts to maintain reputation between each-other. On higher difficulties, these items become increasingly ineffective as the AI gets more aggressive and begins developing negative traits. You also may declare war on other nations, which will increase their focus upon you. The other race may also declare war depending on the situation.


The main plot of the game is about you trying to conquer the rest of the races in the galaxy- henceforth becoming the "Master of Orion". However, the game has no defined plot and no backstory.


Development of Master of Orion originally started as StarLords, which is now attributed as the alpha stages of MoO. Starlords is affectionately named Master of Orion 0 by its devoted fans. MoO0 has since been made available as a free-to-play Abandonware game, released in 1994, about 6-8 months after the release of MoO. It includes much of the same features however a decrease in graphical quality and depth is inherently present, being a dev version.

The official game was released on September 6, 1993.