When I say "shut down" I don't literally mean the pirates wipe out a civ. I mean, on high difficulty, the game is so unforgiving that if you lose a colony ship and a scout in the first 5-10 turns of the game, it is such an enormous disadvantage that your entire game is now in jeopardy.
It's like a high level game of chess and one player loses their queen before any other pieces are gone. Good luck with that, you've got a 1% chance of coming back from that. Why bother playing?
Again, I'll bring up Civ. In Civ, everyone must deal with barbarians, thus there is no balance issue. In Galactic Civ, only one or two out of eight players will have to deal with pirates. I'll be totally honest with you, I just restart the game when a pirate blows up my colony ship. Should I "learn from my mistake" and escort colony ships? Uh...no, because in 80% of my games I can send them out alone and there are no pirates.
This is stupid. In Civ, if you send out an un-escorted settler, it's almost certainly going to get snatched by a barbarian, so everyone must escort their settlers. Again, this is balanced. Everyone sends warriors or archers out with settlers. You do it, everyone in MP does it, the AI does it. In Galactic Civ, however, it makes no sense to build early fighters. So you just send out colony ships and hope this is not one of the 20% of games where you will just be forced to restart due to a pirate sniper. Really, really stupid. This does not add to flavour or replay value. All you do is restart. I know I'm not the only one. Really stupid.
And you must realize it's even more stupid than it first appears, because even though it only happens to you 20% of the time, it happens to SOMEONE 100% of the time. In every game, someone will get a colony ship/constructor blown up by pirate snipers, and they are put at a tremendous disadvantage. Again, really stupid.
I have no problem with pirate events. I would have no problem with pirate snipers all over the map. I just have a problem with pirate snipers only effecting 1/4 of the players.