Again many thanks for these- replays of matches between top players are just what the game needs and have been sorely lacking, it's good to have someone making the effort.
Both of these newer replays have StarP as Advent versus Tax Man as TEC. I'm not going to comment on the second one, except to say that Tax Man lost his Akkan to the pirate base and the replay minidumped for me 50 minutes into an hour long game. At that point Tax Man was behind financially and forced to attack StarP with inferior forces into StarP's culture.
The first game was far better. Tax Man had an inferior position with a roid and three volcanics nearby , though he did have the better of the neutrals. StarP had a volcanic, three roids and an easy desert. There were two flanks choked by plasma storms and a route through the pirate base.
Tax Man began with a two cap start, an Akkan and a Marza. For me, this was his only major mistake of the game. Sovas have become very popular for their early fighting qualities, though these aren't as useful in 1v1 because the fleets clash later. However in 1v1 an Akkan might be considered automatic. The problem with having a Marza as a second cap is that the Marza won't be able to get enough levels before the battle starts. If you decide that a Marza is essential to get anywhere near Advent then perhaps just a Marza...?
StarP has a single colony capital, this allows him to get trade earlier and build a large financial lead as Advent. He does take his backwards volcanic early rather than advance, this might be considered a mistake as it allowed Tax Man to gain extra planets uncontested. However perhaps StarP wanted to avoid early combat.
The early fighting is for Tax Man's five neutral extractors on the flank away from the capitals. StarP's Seekers are able to destroy a colony despite the Cobalt escort so that Tax Man only gets four extractors initially, and the StarP brings up his own colony, and there is a see-saw battle for the rest of the middle game.
Despite Tax Man's early handicap of the extra cap he makes a strong financial recovery and is able to colonise another roid and ice to build a long chain of trade. He has 4 levels of metal research, but doesn't seem to get a huge lead in metal from it even with three volcanics.. his metal lead is about 9 to 6.5, whether this justifies the research effort is up to you. He might not have enough crystal extractors for the 2 levels of crystal research to be valuable though. Of course this depends on the game being decided early, he would have more from it the longer the game went on. Of the other civics techs, I'm surprised that he didn't go for zoning at least.
The fighting on the other flank involves a triangle, consisting of a roid where Tax Man's first factories were, an ice that he colonised and the plasma storm choke. StarP seemed to misplay the early combat and though he was very cautious with his Illuminators against scouts, he lost two of his caps simply by fighting on the wrong edge of the plasma storm well. Tax Man made six carriers, though StarP kept Disciples in his fleet and the carriers were useless in the plasma storm.
Even with the loss of 2 of the Advent caps Tax Man never had the recommended 3-1 ratio of scouts to Illuminators, it was about one-one. Without his carriers he didn't have enough fleet to push past the plasma storm and never threated any of StarP's planets. Once StarP had built a dozen flak he attacked the roid, and from then on the Illuminators just won the game, though the initial contigent of Disciples also helped. Tax Man tried very hard to keep his capitals alive, shuttling them between the ice and roid well. StarP took out the factories at the roid but Tax Man made more at the ice, and then rebuilt those at the roid when StarP left the well without destroying the constructors. Tax Man even tec'd up to heavies, and had won the battle for the neutrals on the other flank as StarP transferred all his Illuminators to the decisive sector.
The final battle at the roid had Tax Man's capitals, heavies, Hoshikos, LRF and scouts, backed by about 6 repair bays, against Illuminators, flak and a colony cap. That's just about every counter TEC has for Illuminators except fighters, and they were simply beaten by the Illuminators, it was depressing. Tax Man quit when both his caps were destroyed and his LRF weren't quite able to destroy the Advent colony cap. Anyone who considers that Illuminators should just be debugged, and not nerfed as well, should watch this replay.
I've commented of Krath's TEC vs Advent replays that it is far easier for TEC if they can get heavies before Illuminators are out, these replays are a good demonstration. Tax Man played very well in this game, though I have doubts about his start. There was no use of the Defence techs by either side, nor was there any culture (though in the other game StarP did start to use culture just before the end). Most of the civics techs were ignored, however Tax Man went heavily for the resource bonuses. No refineries though. The Advent ships just outmatched TEC, especially with an early lead then equal finances for much of the game, despite TEC having to control more planets for their money. Advent still had much in reserve, with only a couple of Guardians produced, no Repulse, or really any advanced tactics, though StarP had reseached antimatter theft for his Disciples. Why use specialised structure killers, or heavies, or Seekers, or carriers with bombers, when Illuminators with flak can fulfill all their fleet roles instead?
Would there be more diversity in play if the games had been more evenly matched and longer? Not sure, but if the entire Entrenchment tree is regarded as overpriced by the best players, and as the Diplomacy tree isn't going to affect 1v1, I'm not sure that the game can be said to have been developed much over the last year. It was also notable that despite the recent LF buff they can't hold their numbers in fleet actions, they get destroyed too quickly and are eliminated from any extended combat.
So Krath and StarP are currently the 1v1 replay kings- how about Uber with TEC against StarP's Advent?