I am just trying my first game with extreme difficulty and the latest of this mod. Normal home system and expensive research.
Allowing the AI to run the first 20 years of pre-warp may not have been the best idea ever.
Oh, and the pirate spaceport I busted hurt quite a bit more than previously observed. At least it cured my cashflow problems while going down.
Glad to hear that Bingeling! Suggestions to continuously improve the Mod are always welcome.
I think I just gave up on this game, it hurt too much, and was too much like work. Some thoughts that are from a single game that never expanded from the starting system, but I added two colonies there that never got far enough to be profitable. And I am quite rusty in playing the game in general, in addition to not being a "power gamer".
I started with normal home system and got the Gizurean by random. I tried to run with AI taxes, research, design. And characters, I hate characters. Expensive research. 30 years or a bit more to get the gerax drive, and that was with manually retrofitting the spaceport to energy labs only while doing the last 50% gerax research.
I may have been hurt by my start at the edge of a cluster. The rest of the cluster was grabbed by my neighbor who had way of the ancients by the time I got my gerax drive. By the location I lost a half circle of controlled systems, but of course, the other half was tightly packed. Starting "central cluster" with no neighbor interfering would be rather golden.
The AI spamming ships in pre-warp made sure I ran out of fuel. The early resupply ships helps a lot, but I had issue with the AI being very greedy for ship size and medical tech. I manually had to research the first transportation system to help my resupply ships. My home system gas giant being a caslon/hydrogen source did not help, of course, but refueling any decent size fleet on those ships was too much of a chore. I think they had about 3400 caslon after the first transportation upgrade, not a lot when carrying 20-40 ships in a fleet.
The good thing about medical tech focus was that I actually got the wonder. That surprised me, as I felt very far behind, which may have been because my local rival colonized very fast and had the ancients government. I saw his exploration ship probably 10 years before I left the system. I saw another empire (Ketarov) grab the trade wonder while I was building the medical one.
The AI researched basic fighter tech, but does not appear to use it. Maybe it is needed for something later, but no big deal as it is cheap.
The AI was all construction size, and insisted on getting 800 or whatever even though we have a 650-ish size capital ship size. It totally seemed to ignore researching the core energy techs, the reactor, hyperdrive, engine stuff is very cheap compared to higher tier techs. I would think that with 500 size available, it can be a good time to research the upgrade of the basic techs (for instance upgraded gerax).
The Gizzie ships felt weak, but I have never been much of a fan of those long range lasers. It is not like it prevents them from getting hurt by keeping out of range.
I liked the mining base design. They seem more tanky, and local defenders will have time to make a (first tech gerax) hyperdrive jump to the attackers and save the base if they are present. Maybe the quite fast gizzie ships helps in getting there in time.
The last thing I did was trying to take out the LSP of pirates bribed to attack me. I think I had about 45 cruisers where 6 were a distraction force (landing away from the spaceport and "first"). My guys barely scratched the shield, gravity weapons can be nasty :)
I tried to grab a local independent, and failed twice. I am not sure what went on, but they appeared to have no troops, I attacked with 10 or so, and appeared be considered as raiding. It could be some game issues with invading as a raid is happening. The pirates hurt too much to really pick the best moment to drop troops...
It was weird to wield more than 70 cruisers, have one colony system, and feel weak when it comes to military force
It also felt weird to watch my cruiser lose a 1 on 1 with a pirate escort.
One reason why the AI sucked so badly in pre-warp is of course that it was on the wrong side of extreme difficulty. It was on bubble drive with 4 construction ships, 5-10 troop transports and 20 (or more?) exploration ships. Or something like that. I doubt you can fix this in the mod, as there is no logic of "before and after gerax". And with enough money and gerax, it is a good setup, apart from building troop transports with no invasion target present.
It is always fun to watch the AI build troop transports according to late game percentages with no known colony apart from the capital, and no warp drive.
The game really needs a split in "before/after gerax" when it comes to construction percentages. 20+ exploration ships trying to bubble and explore nearby systems (where they can reach a lot, but run out of fuel) with a single fuel source that they can't defend because they use all the maintenance on exploration ships and troop transports.