Jumping back into this for a second; the demo is confirming most of your input. Thanks for this discussion.
I think I'll skip this title for now, but I will keep an eye out for developments. A parting shot: I definately miss something in battles too. Although, in contrast to Athlone Wolf who wants more tactical input, I'd actually want less direct control, but a more sensible group control.
Has any of you played an Airborne Assault title by Panther Games; an operational level wargame, real time with an actual command structure. Your troops are placed into an hierarchy and you can give orders at any level in that hierarchy. Say, you've got an infantry division to capture an area. You can order the entire division to attack, leaving the AI commander to dispatch individual orders to his subordinates, or you can micromanage a bit more, ordering one regiment to flank, two regiments to frontal attack and the last as a reserve, or go even lower into the battalion level. Or, order one regiment to hold a choking point for reinforcements and order the division commander to attack, who will have to adjust his assault plan to incorporate one regiment less. It may sound boring (where is the control?) but works brilliantly: it allows the player to worry about the key issues (what's important on this map) and leaves the AI-commanders to find a good way to implement the plans.
I'd like the fleets to be able to coordinate their assaults without my intervention. If I set up a strong defensive line of Gauss platforms and have a fleet there, I'd like the fleet commander to "coordinate" the defense with the planetary defenses. I don't want to worry about moving individual ships to exactly the right place. Again, let me worry about bringing the right amount of the right type of troops to the right place, let the fleet worry about the attack plan.
Sort of clear what I mean? BTW, try the Airborne Assault titles to see what I mean. Conquest of the Aegean is the latest title (Battle for the Bulge is "almost done" but has been in that state for a bit I think). Once you've sampled the command interface, you can't go back to RTS-style commanding; you'll be screaming at the utter stupidity of your individual units...