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Alexfrog's Choose Your Race Guide

Race Customization: How to choose your race

As we all begin to play and learn Master of Orion 3, most of us will likely experiment with race customization. Customizing your race is a great way to try and enhance your abilities, to improve the strength of your race by trading off weaker or less needed abilities for better ones.

Of course, we don't really know what is better or worse yet, though many people will have their preferences. Only experimentation will reveal what abilities are good to get, and which ones can be sacrificed. Also, player strategy will also play a role, as will other factors (like size of map, etc.)

At the moment (date of release) the only ones who could really give any sound race advice are the Beta Testers. I recommend Lore Weaver's strategy guide for some tips on race strategies and customization.

In Master of Orion 3, different abilities can vary in terms of cost, between the different empires. For example, for most empires, a level of Bioharvesting ability costs 20 points, but for the Sakkra it costs 10 points. Clearly, this leads to the following idea: "If you are Sakkra, you should pay to get Superior Bioharvesting, as then you are basically getting "Free points". Also, if you don't want to play a race with superior bioharvesting, you should NOT play the Sakkra, as if you did that you would be squandering some potential points. In that case, it probable better to take a different race and customize them to what you want.

The way that race customization works in Master of Orion 3 is that your abilities start at the level of the race you choose, which is considered to be "Zero" points. Lowering this gives you more points (negative race picks used), while raising abilities costs picks.

An easier way to think about it is to think in terms of total number of points you have to spend on your race. Merely reduce all your skills to the lowest possible level, and then the number of points you have to spend is that race's number of race points. Of course, there are a few things we need to include in that to make it accurate. First of all, some races cannot select certain traits as "poor". Thus, lowering all the way only puts you down to average. Thus, you should add to the number of race picks for that race a number of points equal to the standard cost of that ability. For example, Humans cannot select poor diplomacy. Thus, 20 points should be added the their total to represent that they are getting Average diplomacy for "Free". When you reduce all of the human's stats to the lowest levels you can, you will see that you have 310 picks to spend. However, since you also have Average Diplomacy, you are really at 330 picks.

In addition, you should take cost reductions into consideration. An ability whose cost is reduced by 10 points, for example, basically means that race has 10 more points to spend, but some of them are "forced" to be spent in that category, or else some of them are wasted. For example, Humans get Representative government, the increase to Good diplomacy, the increase to Superior Diplomacy, and the increase to Normal Creativity all for 10 points less than the standard. Thus, this is 40 free points to spend, provided that those abilities are taken. Thus, the Humans in fact have 370 points to spend in total. However, to utilize all of them, they must take Representative government, Superior Diplomacy, and at least Normal Creativity.

In addition, there are abilities which certain races cannot get. If you really want to have that ability, you shouldn't play that race. (Unless of course that race has other advantages that outweigh the cost of missing out on the pick you want) For example, the humans cannot take Superior Toughness. If you really wanted to have the maximum possible ground combat abilities, you wouldn't play humans.

Some races also have an increased cost for certain abilities. For example, the Klackons must pay an additional 10 points for each level of Research ability they select. This should be thought of as a highly discouraged pick. If you pay for it, you are wasting some of your picks. So if you wanted to play Klackons but take research abilities, it might be good to consider playing the Tachidi instead, as you can customize them to be like the Klackons, only with the improved research ability, without paying extra.

Each race also has built in bonuses. Some of these are based on species type, and others differ even among races of one species (like Humans and Psilons). In addition, each race has different starting diplomatic "prejudices" towards each other race type. These can be either positive or negative. For example, Saurian Races and Icthytosian races have severe diplomatic penalties towards each other when they meet. Ithkul have immense diplomatic penalties with any other race. Many other race combinations have more moderate positives or negatives.

Each race type also has a preferred environment in terms or Temperature and Pressure (which determines their "Terraforming Circles", the rings of White, Green, Yellow and Red which dictate how well they live on different planets). Also, races have a gravity preference.

If you are on a world which has a different gravity from what your race prefers, you suffer a penalty. If it is way off from your preferences, you suffer a severe penalty. There are 5 gravity levels, Negligible, Low, Moderate, High, and Extreme. Being 1 level away is a small penalty (I think its -25% efficiency), being 2 or more levels away is a large penalty (50% I think). The exception is that the Ethereans suffer only the lesser penalty for being 2 levels away, and must be 3 levels away to endure the greater penalty. This is because they like Extreme gravity worlds, and if they got the large penalty for moderate gravity worlds, then would have 1 gravity type that was a small penalty and 3 that were large for them, as opposed to 2 and 2 for the other races.

Since higher gravity worlds tend to be larger, and (I think), more frequently are rich in minerals, it is an advantage to like higher gravity worlds. This is one of the main advantages of the Ethereans, who like extreme gravity. The Harvesters also like High gravity, as do Geodics. However, the Insectoids and the Cybernetics like Low Gravity.

Here are the various "built in" racial abilities of each race, as well as their cheap picks, expensive picks, forbidden picks, free picks, and number of points to spend on race customization. For all purposes, the "number of points to spend" is the number of points you have by reducing all racial abilities to the lowest level available for that race. This includes giving poor minerals and similar biodiversity on the starting planet. The "adjusted number of points" is that number added to all the free picks and cost reductions that the race gets. This is a good number to use to compare different races against each other, as it accounts for how much you can actually buy. Of course, to make full use of this, you must purchase all cost reduced racial picks.

The standard costs for racial picks are:

  • Collectivist Government: 60
  • Representative Government: 30
  • Natural Engineers: 30
  • Fantastic Traders: 10
  • Tolerant: 20
  • Empathic: 10
  • Antaran Background: 10
  • Choosing Orion Senate Yes or No instead of Random: 10
  • Each level of increase in your "Homeworld's" Biodiversity or Mineral rating: 10
  • Each level of increase in Reflexes, Accuracy, or Toughness: 10
  • Each level of increase in all other abilities: 20


  • Gravity: Moderate, Pressure/Temperature: 61/38
  • All humanoids get an improvement to Research, Senate Effectiveness, and Casus Belli (it causes more unrest in other empires if they go to war with you).
  • They also get a significant bonus to their relations with other empires.


  • Total Points: 310
  • Free average diplomacy (worth 20)
  • Good and Superior Diplomacy costs reduced by 10 (worth 20)
  • Representative Government cost reduced by 10 (worth 10)
  • Normal Creativity cost reduced by 10 (worth 10)
  • Total Reductions: 60
  • Adjusted Total Points: 370
  • War Tolerance -1, Research Efficiency 105%, Senate Effectiveness 115%, Relations Bonus +25%, Casus Belli Bonus +6%, Ground Combat Initiative +30
  • Forbidden Picks: Superior Toughness, Poor Diplomacy, Antaran Background


  • Total Points: 460
  • Economics: Investors cost reduced by 10 (10)
  • Representative Government cost reduced by 10 (10)
  • Total Reductions: 20
  • Adjusted Total Points: 480
  • War Tolerance -1, Research Efficiency 105%, Senate Effectiveness 115%, Relations Bonus +25%, Casus Belli Bonus +6%, Ground Combat Initiative +30
  • Forbidden Picks: Superior Diplomacy, Original Creativity

The Evon seem to have WAY more points than the humans (+ 110), and no difference in built in abilities. This makes me feel that there MUST be some additional bonus the humans get that is not being covered in the game's Readme file, which lists the built in racial abilities. (Either that or I messed up, or the file is inaccurate.)


  • Total Points: 360
  • Representative Government cost reduced by 10 (10)
  • Adjusted Total Points: 370
  • War Tolerance -1, Research Efficiency 130%, Senate Effectiveness 115%, Relations Bonus +25%, Casus Belli Bonus +6%, Population Growth Penalty 10%, Ground Combat Initiative +30

Psilons have an additional 25% research boost over other Humanoids, but pay for it with a 10% Population Growth penalty. Versus the Evon, they are paying 110 points for +25% research and -10% Population Growth. Against the Humans, as listed, its just the Research for Population Growth.


  • Gravity: Low, Pressure/Temperature: 30/55

The "Uses minerals food to feed population" is a big one for the cybernetics. Much of the early strategy and development will focus around it. Both Cybernetics also get a massive increase in Manufacturing.


  • Total Points: 360
  • Free Average Manufacturing (20)
  • Natural Engineers cost reduced by 20 (20)
  • Tolerant Cost reduced by 10 (10)
  • Cost Reductions: 50
  • Adjusted Total Points: 410
  • Manufacturing Efficiency +40%, Ground combat Initiative +10, Ground Combat Accuracy +20, Uses Bioharvest Output 50% and Mining Output 50% to Feed Population
  • Forbidden Abilities: Poor Manufacturing, Superior Trade, Economics: Investors, Superior Diplomacy, Fantastic Traders, Empathic


  • Total Points: 410
  • Free Average Manufacturing (20)
  • Natural Engineers cost reduced by 20 (20)
  • Tolerant Cost reduced by 10 (10)
  • Economics: Investors cost reduced by 10 (10)
  • Citizenship Association cost reduced by 10 (10)
  • Cost Reductions: 70
  • Adjusted Total Points: 480
  • Manufacturing Efficiency +40%, Ground combat Initiative +10, Ground Combat Accuracy +20, Uses Bioharvest Output 50% and Mining Output 50% to Feed Population
  • Forbidden Abilities: Poor Manufacturing, Empathic

The Cynoids and Meklar can be customized to be very similar to each other, though the Meklar are more limited in their choice of abilities. The Meklar also have a bunch less points total, and no clear ability to make up for it. So unless some added bonus to being meklar is found, I simply recommend playing as Cynoid, you get more points. This is similar to the difference between Humans and Evon. Using all of the Cynoid's pickss forces the purchase of Economics: Investors (top level) and Citizenship: Association (2nd lowest level) Since Economics is a poor pick at present, with interest cut and HFOG easily reduced by flipping governments, so 10 points worth of the Cynoids reductions are worthless, however, they are still better than the Meklar, and are an excellent race.


  • Gravity: Moderate, Pressure/Temperature: 89/73


  • Total Points: 330
  • Bioharvesting picks costs reduced by 10 (30)
  • Cost Reductions: 30
  • Adjusted Total Picks: 360
  • Pollution Tolerance +25%, Population Growth Bonus +10%, Ground Combat Initiative +10, Ground Combat Attack Strength +20
  • Forbidden Picks: Superior Diplomacy, Empathic

The Saurians all have a population growth bonus, and an increase in pollution tolerance. These are both quite good abilities.


  • Total Points: 300
  • Free Average Bioharvesting (20)
  • Cost Reductions: 20
  • Adjusted Total Points: 320
  • Pollution Tolerance +25%, Population Growth Bonus +10%, Ground Combat Initiative +10, Ground Combat Attack Strength +20
  • Forbidden Abilities: Poor Bioharvesting

Raas seem to have 40 less points than the Sakkra, and no other change. This also makes me feel as if there are more differences between the races which are not being listed in the Readme. It was talked about on the boards that Raas havelarger "Terraforming Circles". If this is true, it would account for the points difference.


  • Total Points: 270
  • Free Average Reflexes (10)
  • Free Average Toughness (10)
  • Good and Superior Mining costs reduced by 10 (20)
  • Citizenship Loyalty costs reduced by 10 (10)
  • Cost Reductions: 50
  • Adjusted Total Points: 320
  • Pollution Tolerance +25%, Population Growth Bonus +15%, Ground Combat Initiative +10, Ground Combat Attack Strength +20
  • Forbidden Picks: Economics Investors, Poor reflexes, Poor Toughness

The Grendarl have a population growth bonus of 15% instead of the 10% of the other Saurians. They lose 40 picks for this, it would seem. (In comparison with the Sakkra)


  • Gravity: Moderate, Pressure/Temperature: 96/37

The stock Icthytosian races are good at Research and bad at Combat, but you can of course customize just about anything..


  • Total Points: 440
  • Ground Combat Initiative +20, Ground Combat Evade +30
  • Forbidden Picks: Superior Toughness


  • Total Points: 420
  • Citizenship picks costs are reduced by 10 (30)
  • Free Sharp Cunning (20)
  • Cost Reductions: 50
  • Adjusted Total Points: 470
  • Ground Combat Initiative +20, Ground Combat Evade +30
  • Forbidden Picks: Superior Toughness, Slow Cunning

It seems that the Nommo are slightly superior to the Trilarians in terms of points available, but only if you want to get Citizenship Liberty AND wanted Slow Cunning. Otherwise, the Trilarians are the better choice for customizing. However, it seems to me that Nommo have the edge. This makes me wonder if the Trilarians get some other bonus..


  • Gravity: Extreme, Pressure/Temperature: 106/55

Seeing that Green 1 Terraforming Circle run off the top of the screen, and knowing that that means you have a lot less planets that will be colonizable for you easily, is painful. However, you must remember that the ones you do like will usually be REALLY BIG. This preference for extreme gravity, extreme pressure worlds is the Ethereans most important ability.


  • Total Points: 380
  • Free Average Bioharvesting (20)
  • Cunning picks costs reduced by 10 (30)
  • Cost Reductions: 50
  • Adjusted Total Points: 430
  • Ground Combat Initiative +20, Ground Combat Attacks +1
  • Forbidden Picks: Poor Bioharvesting, Superior Mining, Superior Toughness


  • Total Points: 390
  • Free Average Bioharvesting (20)
  • Economics: Monetarists and Investors costs reduced by 10 (20)
  • Cost Reductions: 40
  • Adjusted Total Points: 430
  • Ground Combat Initiative +20, Ground Combat Attacks +1
  • Forbidden Picks: Poor Bioharvesting, Superior Mining, Superior Toughness

The two Etherean races are very similar in customization terms. Select the Imsaeis if you want to go with Cunning, and the Eoladi if you want Economics. Other than that they are the same, once you click on the "race customization" button. Of course, there is always the possibility of other hidden differences. Because of the weakness of the economics pick, I would recommend the Imsaeis.


  • Gravity: High, Pressure/Temperature: 50/78

Geodics eat minerals, which will be heavily influential in how you choose to develop and expand early on, and where you focus your research. They start with 4 Mining DEAs and no Bioharvesting. They also have a significant penalty to population growth.


  • Total Points: 310
  • Free Average Mining (20)
  • Free Natural Engineers (30)
  • Cost Reductions: 50
  • Adjusted Total Points: 360
  • Population Growth Penalty 25%, Mining Efficiency +40%, Ground Combat Armor +20, Ground Combat Hit Points +2, Uses Bioharvest Output 0% and Mining Output 100% to Feed Population
  • Cost increases: Original Creativity costs 30 (10 more), Tolerant costs 30 (10 more)
  • Forbidden Picks: Superior Bioharvesting, Poor Mining, Superior Reflexes


  • Gravity: Low, Pressure/Temperature: 45/46

Insectoids have massive population growth bonuses, which will give them a big edge, and can help them win in the senate. However, their preference for lower gravity worlds means they will have less maximum population available on their planets.


  • Total Points: 330
  • Free Citizenship Association (20)
  • Superior Bioharvesting cost reduced by 10 (10)
  • Good and Superior Environment costs reduced by 10 (20)
  • Collectivist Government cost reduced by 20 (20)
  • Cost Reductions: 70
  • Adjusted Total Points: 400
  • Population Growth Bonus 30%, Ground Combat Initiative +10
  • Cost Increases: All Research increases cost 30 (10 more), All Creativity increases cost 30 (10 more)
  • Forbidden Picks: Citizenship Liberty
While research bonuses aren't forbidden to the Klackons, they might as well be. If you want to have decent research skills, play as Tachidi.


  • Total Points: 300
  • Free Citizenship Association (20)
  • Superior Mining cost reduced by 10 (10)
  • Collectivist Government cost reduced by 20 (20)
  • Cost Reductions: 50
  • Adjusted Total Points: 350
  • Population Growth Bonus 35%, Ground Combat Initiative +10

While the Tachidi have less points than the Klackons, they get a higher Population Growth rate in return for it, and also the ability to pick research abilities without paying exorbitant prices.


  • Gravity: High, Pressure/Temperature: 47/27


  • Total Points: 460
  • Free Tolerant ability (20)
  • Free Antaran Background ability (10)
  • Collectivist Government cost reduced by 20 (20)
  • "Free" Orion Senate: No
  • Cost Reductions: 50 + Automatic Senate: No
  • Total Points: 510 + Automatic Senate: No
  • Oppressometer Tolerance +1, War Tolerance +1 (More likely to have war declared), Senate Effectiveness 60%, Ground combat
  • Initiative +10, ground Combat Rally Chance +2, Ground Combat Rout Chance +2 (Less Routs)
  • Cost Increases: Economics: Monetarists and Economics: Investors are each 30 (10 extra)
  • Forbidden Picks: Superior Diplomacy, Representative Government, Senate: Random, Senate: Yes

The Harvesters will always be despised by all others in the Galaxy, even other Harvesters. Thus, they gain a bunch of extra picks, but must fight a never ending war.

A couple Sample Custom Races, and thoughts on the strengths of the different racial abilities:

First of all, the Economics pick is extremely weak. This is due to interest rates being cut, and the fact that the Heavy Foot of Government is quite simple to reduce. Merely switch governments and you cut your HFOG in half. (Average the previous value with 1, thus halving the "extra amount"). Switching back will cut it in half again. The penalty for switching governments is a mere 10 points in unrest on the first turn, which reduces to 8, then 6, 4, 2, and after 5 turns its gone. This kindof averages out to having one less level of Citizenship for 5 turns.

Thus both advantages of economics are effectively gone, and it is a nearly worthless pick. Secondly, Environment is also quite weak, as the cost reduction for terraforming is a very minor bonus, and Tolerant is a much better way of reducing pollution, for cheap. Poor Environment and Tolerant has about as much pollution as Superior Envirnoment, but at a cost of 40 less points.

Furthermore, I consider Creativity to be an excellent pick, as each level of Creativity increases your chance that each tech is in your tree by 7. 5%. At Creativity: Imitative, you have a 66% chance per tech of getting that tech, but at Original, your chance rises to 88.5% Note that this may vary by race, but that the bonus for Creativity remains.

If you want to have your spies live longer, you definitely want to choose Cunning: Dangerous. The +10 luck bonus is priceless in allowing your spies to wreak havoc and steal technologies. It also increases the life of your defensive spies (since it makes them last longer before they retire). I feel that the top level of Cunning is far better than the second best, and that you should either go all the way and get Cunning: Dangerous, or else you should save the points and go with Cunning at the lowest level. The +10 luck from Cunning Dangerous is huge. I consider Superior Manufacturing to be an awesome pick, and I highly recommend it. Good or Superior Mining is also highly advisable. I also recommend getting a decent Bioharvesting skill, except for Silicoids nad Cybernetics.

Rich starting planet is a great ability, and one I consider essential for those who eat minerals (Cyernetics and Silicoids). Also, starting planet Biodiversity will NOT effect food produced on your home, as that is based on the fertility of the regions with farming DEAs. Your homeworld regions' fertility will not change if you modify the Biodiversity. However, lowering Biodiversity will reduce population growth on that world a little, reduce the value of selling rare food goods, and increase pollution a bit. Still, I find it a good source of 10 race pick, for many races.

Finally, see the guides on government types in order to choose one of those. Representative (Parlimentary) is best if your goal is to maximize production, though Collectivist has better overall stats, a higher oppressometer tolerance, and a big bonus to unrest reduction in military DEAs. Despotism and Monarchy are also great for Production, but Bioharvesting suffers a lot.

Here is a race that I find to be quite good. Cynoids or Meklar: Super production race. You get a 40% production bonus for being cybernetic, and this can lead to very fast expansion. I can get a colony ship produced every 3 turns with this race, starting on turn 5. I will list the number of points it takes to improve the stat from poor. Cynoids have 350 points plus 70 points worth of cost reductions, of which we only will use 60 (as the 10 from Economics are a waste, since Economics is worthless). Meklar have 360 points +50 in reductions. Thus we have 410 points to spend, starting with all stats at poor.

  • Bioharvesting Poor
  • Mining Superior (60)
  • Manufacturing Superior (60) (40 plus free average manufacturing)
  • Research Superior (60)
  • Trade Poor
  • Diplomacy Poor
  • Economics Barter
  • Environment Poor
  • Accuracy: Good (20)
  • Reflexes: Poor
  • Toughness: Poor
  • Citizenship Duty (40) (10 + 10 cost reduction for Cynoid)
  • Cunning: Dangerous (60)
  • Creativity: Original (60)
  • Rich starting planet (20)
  • Similar Biodiversity starting planet
  • Natural Engineers (30) (10 plus 20 from cost reduction)
  • Tolerant (20) (10 plus 10 from cost reduction)
  • Government Type: Representative (Parliment) (30)
  • Orion Senate: Yes (10)

I personally like Orion Senate: Yes, as it allows the senate win, and also allows blocking other's senate wins. Being out of the senate is more challenging. For multiplayer, I definitely recommend the senate. You can reduce ground combat skills to increase citizenship, or make other small changes to the race, based on your preferences. (Reduce citizenship to put Biodiveristy to Diverse instead of Similar, or whatever). This race can expand rapidly, and then build up a large fleet quite early, with which to eliminate any competitors (in multiplayer). it is quite powerful.

Another race I find to be quite good is a Tachidi race designed for fast expansion. Your goal here is to colonize like crazy, then hold your worlds or expand through combat, and win via the senate, due to your huge population growth bonus. You can emphasize basically the same race picks as before, and choose whichever of Representative or Collectivist you prefer for the bugs.

The purpose of this was to present all of the race customization data for Moo3 in a clear, easy to comprehend format, for purposes of comparing different races in order to choose who to use for your customization.

Moo3 race customization is more confusing and more difficult to calculate than it was in Moo2, because it's not all up on a chart where you check pluses and minuses. When choosing which race you want, I would recommend looking primarily at what special "built in" abilities you want, such as a Research bonus, a population growth bonus, etc, and also factor into consideration which races get discounts on what abilities. If there are certain abilities you do not value very highly, and don't want to play with, then I recommend not playing with a race that gets a discount to those abilities, as then you will be wasting points.

In conclusion, I hope this was helpful and informative, and will be an aid to creating custom races. Designing good custom races takes a lot of skill and experience. You must experiment with different abilities and combinations to see what works best. In time, we will be able to figure out the strongest customizations.

Thanks for reading!



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