Renaux's Battle Guide

-Version 1.7

-Version Date: 06/16/03

-Applies to code Patch v. 1.2;  Data Patch 1, 2; and un-patched version.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Pro’s/Con’s
  3. Battle Mechanics
  4. Recon Ships
  5. Attack Ships
  6. PD Ships
  7. Naming Ships
  8. Task Force Creation
  9. The Fine Points of Battle
  10. Defense of This Tactic
  11. Visual Detection
  12. Late Game Strategy
  13. Additional Resources
  14. Revision History


Well everybody has opinions on how to play Master of Orion 3, and I’m no different.  So, I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring of guides as well.  I have tried quite a few different tactics, but one seems to be far more potent than the rest.  I go with strictly specialized missile boats, and I will outline in this guide what to do, and why it works so well.  To begin here’s a list of pro’s and con’s as well as how to defend against this tactic.



1.      Very effective.

2.      Extremely difficult to defend against.

3.      Very easy to control in battle.

4.      Extremely low attrition rate.

5.      Very quick battles (usually).

6.      Relatively quick to design.

7.      Good protection of troop ships


1.      Usually not the best planetary defensive tactic.

2.      Must be controlled, vs. allowing a cede command.

3.      Considerable waste of firepower.

Battle Mechanics

Here is preliminary view of the space battle mechanics that will apply to the following information.  Hit points are the amount of damage an object can sustain before being destroyed.  For missiles, the hit points are equal to the amount of space they take up (not counting the +1 space usage from racks).  Shields and armor will increase the amount of damage an object can take, refer to visage’s guide at the bottom for more information.  Missiles from long-range/PD attack ships will fire, and hover around your task force if no target is located.  Once a target is locked, they will attack.  Long-range attack class ships will fire at maximum range if you watch a battle.  Placements of battle groups is a function of the combined range of the longest firing weapon of each battle group.  If no direct fire weapons are on any ships or planets, the next variable that the game looks for are sensors, and will place you according to you sensor range.  Multifire is the number of shots fired during each recharge period, auto fire will increase the multifire bonus.  Autofire modification was fixed in the patch.  Missiles have 95% accuracy.  Quote from visage: “The rate of fire displayed in the ship design screen is not the actual rate of fire, but the multiplicative modifier to the warhead's rate of fire, which are all 45 seconds by default. The number of racks you have is the number of missiles you fire in a volley; the number of missiles per rack is the total number of volleys you can fire. The space a missile rack takes up is proportional to 1 plus the number of missiles in it.”  When defending your planet, selecting ‘intercept’ will allow you to see the enemy battle group at whatever range they are placed at and still allow for planetary defenses to be used in battle as long as the invading party selects the “Assault Planet” option.

Recon Ships

The first kind of ship I build is Reconnaissance class of ship.  The following is listed in order of importance.  I put my most advanced sensors, best armor, and best shields.  These extra protective features as well as the faster drive are because these can be very effective spotters ships.  I outfit this ship w/ system drives at full potential.  If the planetary defenses are already destroyed, and there are enemy task forces unseen, these reconnaissance ships can move on the battle map relatively quickly, and root out any enemy forces.  In addition, I suggest putting on at least one fighter.  The fighter can be effective for scouting.  Also, I suggest putting on only a single instance of the furthest range direct fire weapon you can, for initial task force placement.  Lastly, I will fill any left over space with either cloaking/ECM or ECCM, depending on how disposable you want them to be.  If you have many recon ships, and you’d rather save them, use cloaking and ECM.  If you’d rather they were disposable, and possibly draw fire away from your offensive task forces when they can, use ECCM.

Attack Ships

The second is Long Range Attack classified missile boats.  I will put on my best PD chasse w/ 2 volleys per rack.  I choose the long range attack class because it will fire at any enemy force automatically, allowing you time to readjust the map, and send further orders.  I use PD missile chassis because they can overwhelm point defenses quite well.  Though PD missiles cost more per damage than rocket chassis, there damage to space ratio is about equal, the benefits of having more missiles outweighs this price quite bit, and is more feasible and cost effective than building more ships.  In addition, a single PD missile can usually take care of a single fighter of the same tech level.  I use two racks because in general it appears to be a good cost/benefit ratio for inefficiency (aka blowing up a detachment w/ 5000 pts. Of damage).  Also, in early to mid game, will set my system drive to “1,” in order to load up extra missiles.  I do this because these ships are not designed for long battles, so after they fire their two volleys, if the opposing forces are not completely obliterated, you can retreat, saving your TF, and coming back for more after a few turns.  In this way, even a lost battle will be a victory counted towards your war.  Cloaking or ECM/ECCM is not suggested for these ships, due to the short duration of battles.  In late game, I suggest designing a second version of this type of ship, but w/ full system drive speed.  These are good for making long-rang task forces, w/ reconnaissance capabilities.  These task forces should replace recon task forces.

Some say that PD direct fire weapons could handle PD missiles very effectively; this is false.  All weapons that have a multi-fire bonus (auto fire mod, lightning field) will use their multiple shots on a single target.  If that target is destroyed on the first hit, than the entire multi-fire bonus is wasted.  So you can count on any direct fire weapon to take out only one missile per salvo.  Currently the best PD weapon mount is the light mount.  PD has a very low multi fire bonus, and cost’s more than light mount.  There are other advantages, but the bottom line is that light mount is superior to PD to date.

PD Ships

Designing a PD ship is not straightforward.  Ever since the release of Master of Orion 3, the community thought that PD missiles and interceptors (the PD version of fighters) did not act as PD weapons should.  Most thought that these only acted as offensive weapons.  But if a ship is properly designed, any weapon will react as a PD weapon should in battle, and only target incoming threats to the battle group.  Also, the following design will give you the offensive capabilities too.  You have to manually give a TF an order to attack an enemy TF, in order to force the PD ships to fire on non PD targets.  Long-range attack ships in long range TF’s will react normally regardless of assigned PD ships.

For PD missiles, you design an IF ship.  This classification will make the ship target only incoming threats to the battle group, and this is done completely independent of the TF it happens to be assigned to.  For IF PD ships, I suggest 1 volley of nuclear missile.  This ship should be designed with a system engine speed of “1”.  They need not any sensors.  Their defensive and cloaking additions should be comparable to the attack ships you employ.

For PD Fighters, you design a carrier ship.  I have not tested this design, but the same concept probably applies to this type of ship, as it does to the IF PD ship outlined in the previous paragraph.

For PD DF ships, you design a PD ship.  This is self explanatory.  You should put on PD DF weapons according to your specific strategy.  Same applies to the rest of the design of a DF PD ship.

 Naming Ships

I typically name my ships w/ the following structure.  The first part is the type of ship (IF, PD, Car, LR, SR, etc.), the second part is the level of weapons tech relative to my other ships (1.0, 1.1, 2.3, etc.), and the last part is the star drive speed denoted by ascending letters (A, B, C, etc.)  So an example would be something like LR 1.5 D.  I’ve found this very useful in keeping track of aging ships, and grouping ships of the same star drive speed together.  This nomenclature is great for keeping track of your designs, and the numbers stand out better in the sitreps than just names.

Task Force Creation

For offense I exclusively us long range attack task forces.  I put one recon ship in each of these, and fill the rest with long-range IF and PD IF ships.  In early game, I send a compliment of recon task forces consisting of one recon ship each.  The number of recon task forces depends on the number of long range task forces, I go for a one to one ratio, and cap off around 5.  Because of the high protection that comes from missile boats in the initial seconds of battle, you can send in your troop ships right along side w/ your main fleet.  Though in mid to late game, I suggest havving the troops ships trail your main battle group.  They may displace some of your attack task forces in battle, due to the 10 task force limit in combat.

The Fine Points of Battle

Early game I suggest avoiding sending out single missile boats, they work much better in tandem or more.  I would suggest that your missile boats be spread thin into 5 task forces when you have enough ships, even if there is only one per task force.  This will help ensure less waste in firepower when dealing w/ fighters/carriers.  5 task forces will suffice for most of mid-game as well, then later you will easily be able to make more task forces.  Though in MP it can be rather overwhelming to have so many task forces and keeping track of when they show up.  So in mid-game consolidating your ships into two or three task forces per battle group will not hurt you much.

I cannot emphasize enough on how important the retreat button is to this tactic.  Plan on using it a lot.  This missile boat tactic is by definition a harass maneuver.  That is to say that you can dish out a lot of punishment while being totally outnumbered.  This tactic is most apparent in it’s ability when confronting superior numbers, nothing is more satisfying that going up against an enemy battle group that is twice as powerful as your, and taking out half of their group before hitting the retreat button, knowing that in just a few turns you’ll be back to finish the job.

Defense of This Tactic

The best way to defend against this tactic is to use this, or a variation of this tactic.  The next effective defense would be strictly a PD fleet, though this would suffer a greater attrition in the long rung, since the missile boat fleet would retreat after unloading.  A PD fleet would be able to enter into and conquer some worlds of an empire that utilizes a specialized missile boat approach, but the attrition would be high enough that the missile boats would be able to retake the lost worlds as well as begin conquering the invading empire, at a relatively quick pace.  The best counter tactic would be to have more task forces of fewer ships.  This will maximize the efficiency of your missiles, though you will increase your attrition rate due to the fact that bigger task forces can proportionally absorb more damage before ships start exploding.

Visual Detection

Unfortunately ECM/ECCM/Cloaking effects are not completely clear Da_Blade has done some extensive testing, and is convinced that ECM counts as cloaking, and ECCM count as sensors.  Visage has done some extensive testing as well, and is convinced that the noise in his result completely obscures any real evidence.  At present, there is a confirmed bug in the visual detection mechanics of the game.  It doesn’t mater much either way with this tactic.  In my opinion, the only place any cloaking should be used is on the scouts anyways, and they are expendable

 Late Game Strategy

By mid/late game, you may also wish to increase the number of volleys per rack.  I do not suggest ever going over 4 missiles per rack, or else you run the risk of giving opposition enough time to move in close enough to use direct fire weapons.  Also, keep in mind that there is currently a bug that only lets you shoot the number of volleys per task force, of your fewest shot ship, if you use different chassis size missiles..  An example would be, if you had an armada filled with ships with 5 volleys worth of missiles of different size chassis, but also include a ship that only has one volley of missile, your task force will only be able to shoot one volley.  If you keep all of your missiles the same size, you shouldn’t run into this problem.

Additional Resources

Visage has an amazing amount of great information in his Space Battle Mechanics guide.

Da_Blade's posts on visual detection are in this thread

Alastair's Armaments Guide is a good contrast to this guide.  Check it out if you prefer something different.

Chadmium has created good guide on the economic and production aspects of war.

Revision History

1.7 Replaced the “Ship Types” section with “Recon Ships”, “Attack Ships”, and “PD Ships”; completely revised defensive strategy.  Removed a large section from the late game strategy.

1.6 Added a late game strategy section.

1.5 Reordered the recon ship section, added hyperlinks to the top of the page through the section titles, and fixed some internal links.

1.4 Added information on battle placement, added more resource links, changed formatting, removed the battle placement section, added the battle mechanics placement, and added a revision history section.


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