Before I get to your post, just let me say "HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That happens to me all of the time." The first time it happens, yeah, it suck, but eventually you learn to just deal with it. Okay, now to answering your questions.
Alright, mines. Mines mines mines. What the poop is with the mines?
They were made to have to be dealt with. When the mines are first purchased, they're really not all that bad, it's just when the mine improvement research is done, they turn into a fierce defense.
I decided to attack a system. Before I did, I saved the game. I jumped my fleet in, and watched as they subsequently instantly exploded. All my frigates were gone, most of my cruisers were on the brink of death, and my capital ships were crippled, losing their mostly upgraded shields and half of their tier-12 health and tier-8 armor. All to a handful of dirt-cheap instantly-built low-tech mines.
Good thing you saved, imagine how pissed off you'd be if you hadn't? I'm guilty of that little maneuver. Anyway, sounds like you ran into some of the upgraded variety. Nasty aren't they?
So, I reload, and go in the back way. While attacking the planet, my overzealous fleet AI wanders too close to the mines and blows itself up. I manage to wrangle control and escape with a few losses, then set them to not move. I build 10 scout frigates, figuring that this used to be more then enough to clear out a minefield. I bring them in, make sure the auto-minesweep is set up, and let them go. They go up to the first mine, the detection ability runs... and... nothing. The mine wasn't detected.
Yeah, I've been thinking about looking into that actually. It's been annoying the hell out of me for a while now, but since no one else complained about it, I just never bothered figuring I was the only one who was taking issue with it.
I manually move some of the scouts closer, well within range of the minesweeper ability. Still nothing. I get about halfway to the mine, and it *finally* detects it. My fighters destroy it. I move to the next mine, but just a tiny bit too close. Scout ship blows up and dies. The rest of the scouts use their auto-ability and run over to scout the mines.... again, even though the mines are within range, they aren't detected.
I feel ya.
So really, I'm hoping that the fact that mines are completely undetectable now is a bug, but what is with mines in the first place? They're cheap, easy to build, extremely low on the tech tree, and capable of utterly annihilating all but the most highly upgraded capital ships. There is absolutely no way to actually counter mines, meaning if the jump-in zone is mined up, the only way to actually get into it is to build a huge horde of scout frigates, throw them into the minefield, and watch them explode. That's it. Clearly not a lot of thought went into this one.
Well, yes, it's a bug, the mines are in range and they're supposed to be detected, but they aren't, so... The ability is set up to give the scout a range of 7500, whereas the buff is set up as something that get's upgraded with the first level range being 5125, the second 7500, and the third 10000. As far as I can tell, there's nothing in the research items that upgrades this buff. Soooooo... Based on the original files from Entrenchment the ability range was 5000 and the buff range (the thing that actually does the work) is at 5125 and set up as a single level thing. So the buff had a larger range then the ability. I guess give me an hour or so (depending on how fast I can get my enemies to build mines) to change the buff so it matches the ability +125 like the original settings and see how it goes. If it performs as I hope, I'll post a fix for everyone.
Mines were annoying in the past, but they weren't terribly powerful. This was countered by the fact that they have always been a huge pain in the ass to disarm. You used to be able to let one or two scout ships run around and they'd detect and destroy mines on their own. Now you can't, you have to micromanage them. And if you screw up, they instantly explode and die, no question.
Well, actually, in my experience, a fully upgraded TEC scout can actually take a blast and limp away with over 600HP left. Maybe I'm not hitting the fully upgraded versions of the mines, but several hours into the game, I'd hope the factions that I'm fighting have researched these things...
Seriously now, what the hell.
I'm looking at the files as I type this and fixing them, and will be testing as soon as I post this and I'll get back to you.