I've noticed that in 1.096, you can once again map the Z-Axis control to a button and move your ships around in 3D... Huzzah!!!!!
I don't know if this is intended, or a mistake, but damn... I missed the hell out of the Z-Axis. I'm glad it's back, it makes things way more fun/interesting! I came to notice it because the AI (on Hard) phased into my system... and proceded to fly past my forces swiftly by going above them, and then dropping down near my planet... something I've never seen the AI do before (and something I hope is the beautiful start to the AI using more 3D maneuovers!).
Bug, tactic, whatever... I was happy to see it. Three seconds later I looked in the Options pane and found (much to my joy) that I could once again map the Z-Axis. I thenceforth proceded to execute many envelopement manouevers, entrapping my enemies within globes of destruction... and then crushing them ruthlessly. Whee!
Until today I've never seen the AI actually use the Z axis (with any coordination, atleast - it's always just been a random move because it was chasing something of mine that was using the Z-Axis), so... nice. Was that something you guys added in this patch? I was kicking myself in the rear for not having any snare abilities researched when they zipped over my head, grrr. Although, luckily, I did manage to snare their Radiance Battleship with a Gravity Warhead before it could get past my fleet. Unfortunately it did manage to escape later on during the battle... (damn AM drains), but still, it could have been much worse if I hadn't managed to snag it at all!
Was Z-Axis mappable/useable in 1.095? I never checked during that part... I really hope this isn't just an oversight or a bug... The ability to use the Z-Axis in the game really makes SoaSE so much more than it already is! Maneuovering actually becomes useful. And it makes the snare/speed boost abilities that much more potent, and it adds another layer of skill to the game. It makes the game so much less... static. I really hope it's something that sticks around.
I was bummed out when it was removed in an earlier build.
PS: Space-Whale planet dance is priceless.
PSS: Vasari ftw, that is all.