I've been enjoying the game, but it seems like there are a few balance issues making certain strategies just plain better then others:
1) Weapons are not balanced well against each other. For example, Tier 7 Torpedoes compared to Missiles, the Torpedoes vastly out damage the missiles.
- Missiles do not lose damage over distance, so they maintain 6.6 damage per second
- Torpedoes lose 4 damage per 100 distance, so at optimal range they have 25 damage per second and at maximum range they do 5 damage per second (I'm not sure exactly how you calculate damage loss, so I did some rounding here)
- The actual break even point for torpedoes to match the dps of missiles is at 920 distance of the maximum 990
- At best ranges, Torpedoes will do 3.7 times more damage then missiles
- If you include the fact that torpedoes use less space when fitting, they can actually produce 5.18 times more damage then missiles (probably wont reach number this since you'll need to give up some space to energy systems)
Other important differences:
- Torpedoes use 64 Energy every 2 seconds vs 18 Energy every 4 seconds for Missiles
- Torpedoes require 1440 more research points to progress past tier 4
- Torpedoes are size 10 compared to Missile size 14
- Missiles do half damage against armor
In essence missiles are just a vastly inferior version of Torpedoes. They can be used in certain situations, but since they are so niche as currently designed you would never give them research points to make them competitive in this role. Lasers vs Phasers also have this issue to a lesser extent, but the raw damage output of Lasers put them in a class above Phasers.
I would suggest working out each weapon type and comparing: damage per second (best, average, worst), damage per second per size, range, energy per second. From here it should be pretty easy to figure out which weapons are outliers and bring them into line. Data like this will also be useful if you want to increase weapon research complexity or allow modifying weapons.
2) As above, should calculate damage estimates on the ship in damage per second. Fighter bays should count for damage (I'd probably assume best fighter).
3) Its frustrating to refuel and load troops when in large fleets (seems about 30+ it gets bad). I've often seen the actions just fail.
4) More Fleet AI options. I have two major improvements I'd like:
a) Fleets will not engage pirates in my space. Its very common for pirates to settle into empty systems in my empire, any of the automated fleets I have are strong enough to eject these pirates, but they'd rather just chill out in their own system. Specifically, I'd like to be able to have strike forces / fleets be able to seek out pirates in/near my space.
b) When I'm at war, 95% of my automated fleets hang out in perfectly safe home systems. I'd like to be able to have options for where the fleets will be automatically located. For example:
- keep 0-100% of fleets near alien borders (2 grids)
- keep 0-100% of fleets near hostile alien borders (2 grids)
Having a setting like this could force the fleet AI to move your fleets into newly captured territory rather then sitting on the fence or requiring manual intervention to make sure a fleet gets posted there.
The above fleet stuff might make more sense to do with a larger overhaul of fleet logic and allow more fine grained roles. Eg, define percentage of fleet types, size of these fleets, composition of these fleets, by the role of fleets (defend, attack, pirates, intercept, etc).
5) Last one, I swear. Ship cost/maintenance is unbalanced. You get much more bang for your buck at larger ships and larger ships are inherently better in this game due to AOE effects. I'm sure it varies from game to game, but the auto-ship designer created destroyer class ships that were 6 times more efficient in maintenance cost to attack then an escort class ship. In raw defense, they were only 60% (1.6 times) more efficient per maintenance. This trend continues upward to Capital class ships.
To put this concretely, let me provide an example from one of my games. The cost inmaintenance on a capital ship was roughly equivalent to 6 escorts. These escorts will have a combined attack of 180 and a combined raw damage soaking in shield/armor of 1740. My capital ship had 835 attack and 3440 shield/armor. This capital ship would wipe the floor with these escorts with equal maintenance cost.