Long before the time in which the game is set, two extremely powerful races, the Orions and the Antarans, fought a protracted war that devastated most of the galaxy. At the war's conclusion, the Orions, rather than exterminate the Antarans, imprisoned them in a pocket dimension before departing the galaxy, leaving behind a very powerful robotic warship, the Guardian, to protect their homeworld. Some time after the game starts, the Antarans, having broken out of their prison dimension, begin to send increasingly powerful fleets to destroy the players' colonies.
Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares (a.k.a. MOO2) is a turn-based 4x strategy game set in space. Despite the game's name, conquering the Orion star system does not automatically win the game, although the benefits acquired from doing so makes it quite easy. There are three ways to win the game - exterminate all opponents; get elected as the supreme leader of the galaxy; or lead a successful assault against the Antaran homeworld. To get elected as the supreme leader, you need two-thirds of the total votes, and each empire's votes are based on its population. So getting elected requires some combination of conquest and diplomacy. To carry the battle to the Antaran home universe you first need to obtain the technology of the Dimensional Portal and build it.
Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares was the first sequel to Master of Orion and was developed, like the original, by Simtex and designed by Steve Barcia and Ken Burd. The MOO2 project started in 1994 as 'Master of Orion Deluxe' and later carried the working title 'Master of Antares' for a while. In November 1996 Microprose published the Windows 95 and MS-DOS versions of the game (both on one cd-rom), while the Apple Macintosh version was published almost a year later by MacSoft. Master of Orion II won the Origins Award for "Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game of 1996".
The last official patch by Microprose for the PC from April 1997 updates both DOS Orion2 and Windows Orion95. If you have installed MOO2 from an original cd-rom, then you need to apply this patch before patching to 1.50.
Fan patch that fixes important game bugs and introduces new game features, like the galaxy size 'Cluster' and technology age 'Post-warp'. Only for the English DOS version. The English DOS version of Master of Orion II that is sold online is patch version 1.40.b23 from May 2006. An update to the patcher program from 2008 does not add new fixes to the game itself but does change the version number to 1.40.b24.
Lord Brazen's blog has a faq with more detailed information about his patch.
New fan patch for the English, German, French, Spanish and Italian DOS versions. Fixes most known crashes, stalls and network synchronization errors, as well as an abundance of lesser bugs. Introduces new features like the option to play against a random number of opponents, and interface enhancements reducing micromanagement like new keyboard shortcuts and customizable build queue lists. The patch supports modding via plain text configuration files so you can fully customize your game! The distribution comes with easy-to-use GUI launcher and several mods ranging from classic to the extra challenging ICE mod.
The big manual contains detailed descriptions of bug fixes, new game mechanics and modding options:
Selecting 'Classic' from Launcher essentially gives you 1.40 with corrected game texts and well over a 100 bugs and issues fixed.
The default choice in Launcher, 1.50 standard enhances classic with an improved ship initiative mechanic (YouTube video), interactive combat stats, updated AI ship designs, a few balance changes, and an AI that can research hyper-advanced techs.
This light mod adds to 1.50 standard: Rebalanced race picks, several additional balance changes and improved planetary defenses: Star base and missile base can fire torpedoes, missile base has 2x 8,7,9 instead of 2x 8,6,8 missiles at levels 0-2 miniaturization, fighter garrison can fire fighters every turn for 20 combat rounds, ground batteries get +50 space for one extra heavy beam, cheaper marine & armor barracks.
Very extensive mod, that changes many aspects of the game, aiming to create a more challenging game. Initially released on Feb 17, 2015, the mod has undergone many revisions since then and currently stands at version 15. ICE is included in the 1.50.8 distribution.
Redesigned stock races; stronger AI opposition; revalued race ability costs (45 picks: 24 base and 21 negatives instead of 10 base and 10 negatives); revamped tech tree; beefed up Guardian; more threatening Antarans and a grand finale when invading the Antaran home world!
ICE strategy and walkthroughs.
ICE-X is similar to ICE-M except that it has AI opponents with more raw power, further increasing the difficulty level. Choose your preferred version in the launcher!
In response to a request on Reddit, I have adapted the old Defensive Anti-Blitz Mod by Jukka Mikkonen to run on 1.50.8. I haven't changed it much, mostly enabled the new 1.50 combat mechanics and corrected a few issues with the original mod. Highlights: Missile Base has 800 (instead of 300) space units - An upgrade to ship hit points, and even larger for star bases - Strong ground installation with 10x the hit points - Severely upgraded space monsters & Guardian of Orion, damagewise - Antarans should prove to be a threat once again - A few automatic techs, such as Auto-Factory, Fighter Bays, Fighter Garrison, Reinforced Hull and Heavy Armor.
DAB.zip v4 (149 downloads; 88 kB.)
Designed for multiplayer games, VDC also brings a challenging singleplayer game. More information about this mod can be found on the Orion Nebula. Note that VDC does not run on the latest patch but on version 220.127.116.11.
18.104.22.168 patch (49 downloads; 4908 kB.)
You are an uncreative telepath, starting in a corner of a large galaxy. Can you win within 100 turns? To play, download the zip and extract. It contains 2 save games, one for version 1.31/1.40 and one for v1.50. Rename the appropriate version to SAVE10.GAM and copy it to your MOO2 folder. Then load save 10 from the universal menu and start!
SAVE10_OC1_Kraft.zip (246 downloads; 95 kB.)
You play an uncreative race, starting in an isolated region of space. Can you get out, and if you do what resistance will you meet? To play, download the file, rename it to SAVE10.GAM and copy it to your MOO2 folder. Then load save 10 from the universal menu and start!
SAVE10_OC2_Rocco.GAM (253 downloads; 204 kB.)
You start in a system with five good planets, but the galaxy only contains three stars! To play, download the zip and extract. It contains 2 save games, one for version 1.31/1.40 and one for v1.50. Rename the appropriate version to SAVE10.GAM and copy it to your MOO2 folder. Then load save 10 from the universal menu and start!
SAVE10_3_STARS.zip (251 downloads; 60 kB.)