To the Original Poster,
Hhhhm, think of it this way:
SoasE: $30.00 = CHEAP NEW GAME! AND IT ACTUALLY KICKS ASS! WOOT!
SoaSE + Entrenchment: $40.00 = STILL A SEMI CHEAP GAME! NOW EVEN BETTER! HELLZ YEAH!
SoaSE + Entrenchment + Exp 2: $50.00 = A regularly priced (for a brand new) PC game with even MORE content! SICK!
SoaSE + Entrechment + Exp 2 + Exp 3 = $60.00 = Hey, it finally costs about as much as a brand new console game, or new big-name (think Doom, Unreal, etc) PC game, and it has alot more content than most games ship with (not to mention ever have without several years of user-mods). FREAKIN' BEAUTIFUL!
Or... you can mix and match. Don't like starbases (because you prefer offensive maneovering or some such), but absolutely adore diplomacy? Just buy Expansion number two when it pops out and ignore number one. And if you're worried about not being able to play online? I do believe it was mentioned somewhere that the multiplayer will only activate the expansion packs when said expansion pack is shared by all players (on a per expansion pack basis).
Simple fact is... SoaSE was sold very cheaply... at the price of most EXPANSION packs when it launched, yet it was a fully playable well made game that could have easily warranted another $15.00 in price. Other games have launched with less and sold for more - frequently! By the time you have spent $60.00 (the average new console game price), you will have received a base game, with a lot of extended/expanded content, that would probably run you a good $100 - $140 if they had milked the game for profits as much as most games do.
Don't believe me? Let's do some math!
$100 (standard milkage):
$40 for base game +$20(3 expansions) = $40+$60 =$100!
$140 (maximum milkage):
$50 for base game +$30(3 expansions) = $50+$90 =$140!
Instead we have:
$30 + $10(3 expansions) = $30+$30 =$60!
Still feelin' ripped off? And, yes, SoaSE was relatively cheap to make, and yes... they sold a boatload of copies digitally (*fondly pets his SoaSE box*)... but if you think about it... that doesn't really warrant a lower price. They could have charged alot more for their hard work - and it would have been perfectly warranted. Instead, they sold their fine product at a lower price, and have bent over backwards to make said product accessible, and have dilligently been tweaking the game to provide enhanced performance, better gameplay, and all sorts of stuff for free (they don't have to do that, you know)- oh, and that's NOT including the expansion packs they have been working on.
Grrr, man... just frickin' GRRRRR! I'm tired of seeing IC/SD's SoaSE line get ripped on, when quite frankly it's one of the best things that's happened to PC gaming (and PC Strategy Gaming!) in quite a while. Now if you don't frickin' like it...GTFO.