Heh, well, I may as well post the draft I was working on (I was sleeping on it before posting, since I have a lot of entries)
Vasari – Pinpoint Bombardment
This high-level tech has large costs and exorbitant prerequisites to access, and somehow still manages to be one of the least useful technologies in the game. The effect of pinpoint bombardment is to increase the range of capital ships and siege frigates when bombarding planets. To someone not familiar with the game, that might seem potentially useful, but in practice it never is.
There are three major issues to consider here. The first and foremost is that in 95% of cases, you secure the planet first and then (and only then) start bombardment. A tactical range increase has no purpose in these cases. The second issue is that Vasari's most reliable siege option is the Vulkoras Desolator with its bombardment platforms. This is a special ability, and does not benefit from the upgrade to begin with. Yes, that's right, the best Vasari bombardment option does not benefit from this upgrade at all! The final issue is that even in the rare attempt to bombard a planet in combat, it is trivial for an enemy to send its mobile units after your longer-ranged attacks, and it's trivial for you to avoid a static weapon emplacement even without this upgrade. In other words, there's no benefit to be had anyways even in these rare cases.
To top it all off, this ability's lengthy list of prerequisites makes it more similar to a superweapon in terms of what stage of the game it comes out. And yet, it probably wouldn't even raise an eyebrow as a 1-lab-level technology in its current state.
What should be done about pinpoint bombardment? Given that a complete retooling or a move to a different location on the tech tree (which would be ideal) are probably not available for discussion, our choices are very limited. The most obvious approach would be to make this upgrade increase bombard damage as well as bombard range. This would bring it more into line with the TEC and Advent which get damage benefits from their upgrade lines (with far fewer prerequisites, it should be added).
Without adding additional effects to this upgrade, the only real option to make it useful is to supercharge its effects to the point at which a siege frigate could bombard from the near the edge of the gravity well (something like an 800% range increase). Considering this technology comes so late in the game that superweapons are likely already in play, this isn't as extreme as it sounds. Any defender should have the economy to put hangers on all their planets by this point in the game anyways, if they don't already have starbases on all their front lines.
Vasari – Gravity Mines
Gravity mines have three massive issues. The first and most obvious is the act of clearing them: you can literally run over gravity mines with your units and they won't take damage. If something isn't shooting them while they're doing this, a single unit can clear a gravity minefield in a matter of seconds, and it's trivial to send a “scapegoat” unit ahead of the fleet to clear them out first and spare most of your units. This makes general-purpose use of gravity mines impossible (not that conventional mines are much harder to clear, but at least you can stop that by killing the fragile scouts...)
The second issue is that avoiding mines is relatively easy, so it's very difficult to set up a good trap. The easiest way to set up mines in an in-combat situation is to shut down the enemy units temporarily with subverters, but if you have these then you don't need gravity mines anyways. So most of the good combinations that allow for easy mine usage make gravity mines redundant. The third and perhaps most pressing problem is quite simple: explosive mines are very effective at what they do, so much so that it's very hard for a niche alternative like gravity mines to compete. Most units will be killed if they run into several explosive mines, especially if they're already damaged and are fleeing a pursuing enemy. All these things considered together leaves gravity mines as a very weak and undesirable technology.
What should be done about gravity mines? This is a tough one, because gravity mines simply don't mesh well with the role of mines. My suggestion is simple: instead of shutting down phase engines, gravity mines should shut down all engines. The target comes to a complete stop, and cannot move for the duration. While that may seem like a death sentence, ploughing through an explosive minefield already is a death sentence, so gravity mines do need a similarly powerful (if not more powerful, due to appearing much later in the tech tree) effect to compete.
TEC – Highly Conductive Rails (Gauss Cannon Range)
This is not a bad technology at all. In fact, if you're using turrets, it's pretty well mandatory because it's so good. The problem is the way it's actually implement is a slap in the face to the TEC faction. TEC turrets are actually inferior to the other factions with reduced range, and you need to purchase this upgrade to bring them up to the same level. When this was first pointed out to me, it was a face-palm moment.
What should be done about HCR? Bring TEC turrets up to the same range as everyone else's. There's no reason they should have to pay to get standard range. If this upgrade is too strong afterwards, then lower its effect slightly, but what I should get is a benefit, not something that is an undo to a purely arbitrary gimp on one faction.
TEC / Vasari – Ship Shield Upgrades
You're choosing between shield or hull upgrades, and deciding which are better. Both of them add 5% to their base values. This is a big benefit for hull to begin with, since for TEC and Vasari hull points are a much bigger slice of the frigate's total health. However, a second consideration is that hull benefits from armour value, whereas shield does not. However, hull does benefit from shield mitigation. In other words, one hull point is worth more than one shield point to begin with. In fact, the only apparent benefit to shields at all is that they regenerate faster. The killing blow? Shield upgrades are more expensive to begin with.
With hull upgrades vastly outclassing shield upgrades, most people only touch shield upgrades if they happen to be Advent or if they've already completed hull research. It's heavily implied in the manual that shields are intended to be superior because of faster regeneration rate, but in reality fleets seldom operate far from repair bays, so this is not a very large consideration at all.
How should shield upgrades be fixed? I don't really know what to say here. It's very clear that in their current state these upgrades are pretty well useless until hull and armour upgrades are fully researched for TEC and Vasari, and yet to buff them would be to take away one of the apparent advantages of Advent (cheaper and earlier in the tech tree). The problem is that Advent units have highest shield values to begin with and loads of awesome synergies, so the same 5% bonus goes a lot further.
Simply put, even if TEC and Vasari upgrades were moved to the same cost-effectiveness level as the Advent ones, they'd still be considerably worse because their units benefit less from them to begin with. Short of buffing them beyond the Advent upgrades, which is clearly not in the cards, I just don't see what can be done. On the other hand, I'm loath to leave them in their current status as a “last-stop” technology that you only get once everything else is researched (a situation that rarely happens).
Vasari / TEC – Beam Damage Upgrades
Unlike Advent, the Vasari and TEC have very few units that use beams. The Vasari have only capital ships, and the TEC have the Argonev and the Kol. This is a remarkably small pool of units to be affected by weapons damage upgrades. With capital ships already a generally poor source of damage and the Argonev having many other more cost effective damage boosting technologies available to it, these upgrades just don't compete and are seldom researched.
How should beam damage upgrades be fixed? Because these upgrades affect so few units, it may be feasible to justify reducing their cost below what would be normally expected of 3rd and 4th level technologies. That would instantly make them quite palatable as cheaper upgrades that affect a smaller pool of units.
Vasari – Wave Damage Upgrades
The now infamous wave damage upgrades are already well and thoroughly convicted by the community of being underpowered, so I don't think I need to say that much towards this case. However, in the interest of due process, let me list the facts.
Wave upgrades are the highest-level (in terms of lab) damage technology in the game. Most other damage technology paths begin at the 1st or 2nd lab levels, and a few begin at the 3rd. The wave upgrades take the cake: beginning at the 4th lab level where most of the others actually max out or are at least two thirds complete. This is complicated by the fact that they only affect a single combat unit: the enforcer. In other words, the most expensive damage upgrade in the game perplexing affects the fewest types of units. It doesn't help that the Vasari Enforcer packs the least bang for its buck of all units in its class to begin with.
How should wave damage upgrades be fixed? This is a hard question to answer. One of the biggest problems is that even though they have the worst general unit damage upgrade, Vasari also have the best: phase missiles. It's very hard for a Vasari player to justify using heavies as their damage output when it means giving up on the absolutely glorious phase missile line. The question is, do we want something powerful enough to match phase missiles, or do we just want something that's decent enough?
One simple possibility is to lower the cost of this upgrade. It would remain high on the lab-level, but at least its cost could be comparable to other similar upgrades. Another simple possibility could be to increase the amount of damage it offers per upgrade level. Since the Enforcer already packs the least bang for its buck of any heavy to begin with, letting it max out a little bit ahead wouldn't be that big an issue (especially since Advent already have a fourth upgrade level on their heavy to compete).
A more extreme possibility would be to give the wave weapon a special effect like phase missiles have, and have this affect improve as you buy upgrades. This could be something like a life-steal effect (which would really help out the enforcer's unique style as a “cockroach” that never goes down) or an effect that lowers shield mitigation on attack (which would be a nice alternative to using a phase-missile based army to bypass shields). However, these are more extreme changes where a simpler one may suffice.
Not yet written:
TEC – Shield Generator
TEC – Civilian Ship Safety Act
TEC – Mines
Advent – Skilled Hanger Anima
Advent – Communal Labour
Vasari – Mobile Phase Detection / Jump Degredation
Everyone – Basic Crew Training