There's been a fair bit of discussion on the frustration of mine-clearing, and the possibility of a minesweeper ship. There's also been a fair bit of discussion on starbases, and how easy they are to bypass. I figured I'd chip in my two cents.
Firstly, minesweepers and mines. Mines are supposed to be something that is painfully omnipresent and difficult to get rid of, for a start. That said:
1. Vasari minelayers are ridiculous. If you get a few antimatter research upgrades, they can literally spam mines as fast as the cooldown allows, and we've all seen the insane webs of mines coating entire gravity wells (I've even used a few). It lags the game and is too much of an improvement on the other sides' mines.
2. However, mines are supposed to be fire-and-forget weapons that an enemy can deal with easily in principle, but will slow him down. It's like sharpened stakes in ancient forts: no soldier would be stepping on one, but they would have to move carefully.
A minesweeper ship is a pretty good idea. Two other ideas are:
1. Make Vasari mines do damage to friendly ships as well as enemies (in fact, I'd do this with every side). That way mines can render an entire gravity well useless to all parties until cleared, making them a lot more troublesome and mitigating their general utility.
2. Make all sides have to pay for mines. Possibly, make them even more exorbitant than the current TEC prices. That way there will never be an insane amount. To implement this, just charge the minelayer (be it Vasari ship or Advent sqaudron) money when the ability is used, and have it lay a small web like the TEC minelaying style.
Now, Starbases: there is no need for Starbases to be able to phase inhibit; there is a need for all sides to have starbases that can move. I would suggest a "Shift Orbit" ability that all starbases have, allowing them to quickly (say, the speed of a capital ship) move around the gravity well for 120 seconds or something. The Vasari one could move without this still, of course, but being able to reposition a starbase or at least follow the enemy and inflict more damage as it goes would make it worthwhile. It depends a lot on whether you play with Fast Ship Speeds or Normal Ship Speeds as well.
In any case, I don't know if everybody else does this, but I tend to use Starbases more as intense assault weapons than defensive bulwarks. I mean, you roll into an enemy system with a handful of ships to cover a constructor while it gets into position in front of his turrets, and build. Certainly early on, you can build up a fresh layer of hull plating and some weapons in time to pretty much destroy his structures; later in the game, this remains the best way to support a fleet attacking his more heavily defended worlds.
At the end of the day, Sins was pretty balanced, and there's no need at all to turn it into some kind of trench-warfare-in-space game. Starbases (with, obviously, some tweaking) are a very good addition to a game that was damn solid to begin with.
1. Have Starbases-Block-Jump-Gates as an option, when you set locked teams/fleet sizes/various speeds etc. That way, you can have "trench warfare mode" or "regular game with starbases mode."
2. PLEASE NERF THE VASARI STARBASE'S RIDICULOUSLY OVERPOWERED ECONOMY ABILITIES. Sorry, did I use caps there? I find myself putting starbases in every damn system I can, just so they can punch out some colony pods and trade ports, turning my economy into a roaring powerhouse. Again, I know, I know, they're vulnerable to raiding, but frankly, the effort required to raid a starbase and the slowing down of the enemy fleet involved is usually enough for you to a) get back what you spent on it and get your fleet into position to cause the raider some grief.