Here are some major advantages I've discovered playing against the Cruel AI as TEC.
1. Early game Hoshikos and Repair Platforms. Due to the low damage output of smaller fleets early game, very few casualties are suffered with these around. They can stack their HOT with each other, and later on, with starbases as well. And they can do this all while attacking, unlike overseers.
2. Early game Trade Facilities and Refineries. Having access to these as early as possible seems essential for me to reduce the difference in the huge economic edge the Cruel AI gets. Vasari just takes too long to get theirs up, especially the Refineries, where its required you research their crystal/metal extraction first, which not only takes a long time but many precious resources as well.
3. Star Bases self-destruct. They're like roach hotels for the AI. They just love to suicide their fleets on them. Vasari's SB takes far too many resources to be able to defend itself and its gravity well. In contrast, a TEC SB just needs to have Last Resort, which is adequate enough to wipe out an entire fleet for a very low cost.
In general though, I find it very difficult to play as the Vasari against the Cruel AI because of how much difference there is in our economies. The TEC civic techs just seem necessary to me in order to closer match the enemies economy. Anyone agree/disagree? If so, why, and what advantages should I be using when playing as the Vasari versus the cruel AI?