It wasn't meant to be a cheeky question.
I'm just rather enjoying the game and I'm curious if the general sentiment amongst the veterans here is that it's not worth falling in love with.
I'd rather not waste my time.
So I'm only asking so I know personally whether to keep putting time into it.
There's a mix on this forum of those that play SP, MP and mods.
For SP play all the factions are for the most part fine with the advantage given to Human players. The reason why the AI can't compete with human players is because it doesn't have access to or doesn't use properly many of the OP technologies introduced with Rebellion.
Wail of the Sacrificed: Can't be used by the AI
Phase Jumping Starbases: Will never be used affectively by the AI compared to a human player
STTC: Can't be used by the AI
RB: Never seen an AI upgrade a starbase with this, 99.9% of the time goes to weapons, armor and strikecraft
Meteor Storm: ^
Other starbase upgrades: ^
There's actually quite a few techs that aren't available or used by the AI outside of those examples.
For the MP guys these strategies get used and used quickly as setting up 7 or 8 labs takes less time than setting up a trade port line. Basically if the tier-8 technology provides a tactical advantage that can swing early-mid game if you can set it up then it's worth going for. This category falls into Phase jumping starbases and Strip to the core. The Kostura used to fall into this category when it disabled ships too, so this isn't a foreign concept to the developers as they NERFED the Kostura for this very reason.
If you can get a TEC and Advent only game going it's actually quite fun, but if you get a skilled player with STTC then the game just drags into a cat & mouse scenario. Vasari always has the upper hand in this situation with Kostura and phase gates. And no starbase can stand up to 50 carriers, multiple skirantras, kortuls, etc while your jumping half way across the system to try and defend your empire hoping you can get there before they drop a phase node and jump away again.