I know with mods like Distant Stars and Maelstrom the pirates send out capital ships which (in DS) can be quite devastating.
For newer players the pirates can still be quite deadly, especially if they haven't figured out which planet they'll probably end up attacking and don't starbase + repair bay it.
I am not gonna make a full review, I'll just say that, as a veteran 4x player (turn based usually) and I am so far very pleased by this game, and I will likely put a lot more hours into it.
Awesome, I just assumed a lot of 4X pros would get kind of turned off by the RTS combat, but glad you like it.
I almost always, ALWAYS over bid for pirate bounty, during end game i am spending 8K+ to avoid a pirate raid; I feel this is particularly innefective as I should be able to take them over but I haven't managed to repel even one single pirate raid ?!
Here's a tip, all else being equal the AI will but bounty on players it doesn't like if teams aren't present. This means if gets some of the diplomatic relations techs (and you should if you're in an open diplomacy FFA), and put bounty on the player who likes you the most and isn't an ally, you can usually start a bidding war between that player and the player he likes the least.
I even tried with my ankylon LVL10 titan with maxed defense skills and almost maxed military techs : the AI fleet can barely scratch the painting of his hull but the pirate fleet TROUNCE it fiercely in a few minutes !! (okay, I tried with the titan alone vs pirates but I understood reading many posts that by late game, pirates raid should be like butterflies against titans )
This does sound a bit odd. Pirates were sort of buffed recently as they get more upgrades over time, so in very long games maybe that's possible. Most of the player base does not play with them though, so it might have gone unnoticed.
3. I unlocked the late game stalemate by building a novalith cannon + planet bomber Marza dreadnought : coming along with my titan, the dreadnought could bomb planets very easily while the AI fleet was busy with the titan.
If you play with capital victory on, using the TEC loyalists to try and rush to Novaliths can be effective, especially on the AI. You can only build 4 but it takes two shots close together to destroy any planet but a fully upgraded homeworld (well besides the occupied planet), while an upgraded homeworld will take 3. Human players will build a starbase with the axillary government upgrade to prevent this, but many times the AI doesn't do this or is just too slow at building one. If not on capital victory, the huge economic penalties the Novalith inflicts ensures you will eventually win a war of attrition,
Marzas are definitely one of the TEC's best 3 capitalships, the Akkan and Sova should probably be your first two in some order, but after the second ones Marza's remain a strong choice for the rest of the game. Its a nice offensive touch to compliment the Loyalist titan, and its ultimate ability, missile barrage, can destroy most frigates if it is not interrupted.
I would be interested to have the feedback of more experienced players
Its kind of hard to give the feedback you probably really need without more details of how you actually play, but I'd say early game expansion is the single thing you should try to do better each time you play. It's much easier to take a neutral planet than an enemy one, even if you prefer the more defensive TEC Loyalists you cannot ignore the economic potential of those easy picking planets early on. Not only are planets easy to make profitable, but each one gives you more logistic slots for more research labs and trade ports later on, thus determining your maximum economic and research potential.