My first playtest of the new beta was on Double Cross, a standard 4 player map included with the game. I was TEC, my three opponents were one from each faction. Unlocked normal game with diplomatic victory and pirates on.
I wasn't impressed by my start as the terran near the sun was maxed and apart from that I had an ice and empty neutrals. Advent on one side, Vasari the other, TEC over the sun.
I implemented a basic plan of researching two levels of relations and sent six envoys to TEC with the charitable tech to pay for the extra supply. The pirates I put onto the Vasari. Advent then attacked me. The attack was somewhat poor, I had two turrets and a repair to defend, Advent had a battleship a carrier cruiser a couple of frigates and a siege. However I cheekily built a starbase right next to them during their attack and a few cobalts helped to finish them off.
So this completes a Vasari mission, they offer a trade alliance, game over because of the new relations buff due to trade relations. I just laughed at the screen, this was exactly what I expected from the patch notes. Risible.
The AI cannot get to the stage of truces with each other. Its almost as if the entire supposedly complex half-baked relations scheme was centred on getting the player to make pacts with their AI allies and not on the general relations system at all. It just makes the game crap. I suppose I havent tried it on the cruel or vicious settings yet with the super-cheated research, but if you have to have it on those settings to get any kind of game its rubbish game design.
I've made post after post on this problem and how to improve the situation and the game. Single player FFA, supposedly the object of the second expansion, is just completely unplayable, you would achieve more by playing some MMORPG and mindlessly farming or mining or whatever is involved. There's no gameplay. I pity the players with their custom super-large maps who imagine that the game offers any kind of strategic depth because they're fooling themselves.
It took a year to produce this? Are the other Stardock strategy games this bad? I know, its awesome we've got them to break the game further, please master hit me again.