Reading the forums, I see a lot of discussion about Advent being overpowered and various schemes for balancing the fleet powers. These posts, however, seem to only offer solutions for adjusting ship powers. I'm curious if anybody has tried to come up with a scheme for balancing the races by capitalizing on each race's advantages.
For this post, I will use a term called resource-time. The measurement has dimension in seconds and is meant to reflect the fact that the races do not have the same economy. Spending 8000 credit equivalents to replace lost ships costs an empire with 500 credit equivalents per second 16 seconds, while it costs 20 seconds to replace those lost ships for an empire with 400 credit equivelents/s. Holding all else equal, the economy is TEC > Vasari> Advent, but this order may very well change because of placement and battle outcomes.
I'll use the TEC vs. Advent as an example (because I'm not sure what the Vasari's advantage is). TEC's racial specialty is economy, while Advent's racial specialty is fleet power. Currently, the economy offers little advantage in the game (except as the middle super eco feeder to allies). While the TEC can replace ships more easily, what happens in a TEC vs. Advent battle seems to be one of the following:
1. A decisive battle takes place over the planet with little reinforcements. Both empires replace their casualties after the battle is over. What happens while the TEC can afford to replace ships at the same rate as the Advent is that the TEC:Advent resource-time expenditure on replacing lost ships will continuously increases because the TEC is losing planets, which the Advent gains, while the TEC:Advent fleet power remains the same. Once the TEC can no longer replace ships at the same rate, it's over.
2. Players continuously build and send in reinforcements, but because the TEC is losing ships much faster, and reinforcements arrive in a trinkle, the Advent eventually overpowers TEC and takes the planet. While the first planet will cost the Advent more time and resources to take, it feeds the Advent capital ships more for each battle, and the TEC will likely not have a fleet large enough to hold subsequet planets.
However, this doesn't mean it's impossible to balance TEC vs. Advent by using the TEC's economy. A battle between 20,000 resource time units worth of Advent ships and 28,000 resource-time units worth of TEC ships is going to be much more favorable to the TEC than a battle between 20,000 resource-time units worth of Advent ships and 20,000 resource-time+2000 resource-time/45s worth of TEC ships for 180s. We can attempt to shift the balance toward TEC by allowing the TEC to field more ships to being with. This can be done currently by having the TEC go higher on the fleet size, but since fleet size research reduces income, it also lowers the TEC's economic advantage and reduces the ability of the TEC to take advantage of its economy.
One obvious solution would be to give the TEC a higher fleet capacity. For example, give the TEC +2% fleet capacity for each of the first 8 military labs it owns and +1% fleet capacity for each military lab thereafter. Does this make TEC vs. Advent balanced, probably not, as I have not tested it, but it changes the modifications to the TEC and Advent ships necessary in order to make the races balanced. Of course, this is why I ask what the far more experienced players here have devised on this subject.
tl:dr version: TEC may be balanced against Advent by allowing the TEC to field more ships per fleet research to take advantage of the TEC economy, rather than or in addition to changing the balance between the two fleets resource-for-resource or supply-for-supply. An analogous solution may be found for Vasari vs. TEC and Vasari vs. Advent.