OK, feeback from latest game on challenging:
Yor dominated most of the game, they should have wiped me, but I climbed back and won. I was Alterian. They had 4x the power that anyone else had, but I was able to win. Here's why:
1) AI did not adapt to my ship designs, nor adapt at all. It was in love with missile boats with no shields. So I went all beams, and all point defense. I didnt have to worry about more rounded defenses until the AI got carriers. Yor finally started to have some beam ships, 100 turns later....
2) AI did not seem to use its tech wisely. For most of the game, until I went unto hyper-drive research mode, Yor and I had the same number of techs, but it seemed I had the tech edge everywhere.
3) Even DURING WAR, the AI at times would send in a lone ship very deep into my territory, even though it was encountering heavy losses throughout the galaxy by me. Sending in probes might be ok to test your enemy, but it needs to have MEMORY, to know its not a good idea next time. I was NOT AT ALL sneaking behind enemy lines, picking off ships headed to "safe" rally points. haha, on a few occassions, the AI in fact caught a few of my lone ships It almost like there was an AI Rally Point in the area, because these lanes were longstanding battle grounds for MANY turns. Its like the AI didnt realize that I secured dominance, and all of the other friendly fleets in the area were wiped clean. Maybe these were probed to look for my rally points....but I killed 10:1 in this scenario. Yes, the AI caught me with my pants down a few times, but not worth all of those lone ships. Safety in numbers when in enemy ZOI, and especially when in enemy ZOC.
4) When I finally started to push, I found several stacks of ships, NOT joined in fleets. A few, but many single ships which were even more easy to destroy. These were sitting right next to planets. I found this on a few different planets.
5) AI needs to learn that miniaturization and fleet logistics is OP. Players do it, so should the AI.
6) AI needs to learn when to take a defensive posture, rather than kill kill kill. This should be based on performance over the last X turns.
7) When the AI was really pushing hard, I turtled pretty fast. They were unable to invade the 2nd planet, as I rushed planetary defenses, military academy, buffing with adjaceny bonuses, rushing approval buildings, and trading for tech to defeat their WMD choice (BIO, it was VERY effective on the first planet they invaded). The did continue to push past my planet which they could not crack, however atleast 10% of their TOTAL EMPIRE WIDE SHIPS just stayed at that planet for ALL of their offensive, and only moved once I started to push into their territory elsewhere.
8) Know when to stop attacking. Again, based on losses, AI should realize their offensive isnt going well. I killed 1k ships, and lost 100, but that would have been much less if I wasnt lazy when I knew it was EVENTUALLY going to be a ROFLSTOMP.
9) Know when your Military Stength is useless, due to technology gaps. Quite honestly, if the AI threw EVERYTHING it had at me simultaneously, I think I would have still prevailed, but BARELY. Again, the AI felt it was "strong" and I was "weak" due to the number of ships. But when I have better tech, huge logistics, and miniaturization, an incredible ship design mismatch, it just doesnt matter. AI should have put more focus on tech, and less on ship building. My god, at one point I was outnumbered ship wise like 20:1. But they were shit ships, and shit fleets, compared to mine.
10) And honestly, I think I would have lost if this hadnt happened. I was princess lea, crying out for ObiWan. I had to bribe the other races to declare war on Yor, in my darkest hour. I needed the heat taken off of me. Now Yor had 3 enemies. But 2 enemies were a cakewalk, but a 3rd enemy kept on killing all of his ships, rarely killing any, but damaging them. Hmmmmm....AI should have realized to go after the TRUE weaker opponent at that time (the other 2 AIs) and hold ground, regroup, get better tech ships, ones to counter my ships, etc, and NOT attack me. Suspend the offensive as it were. Well, it didnt. It split its forces and attacked all 3 of us. The other 2 AIs surrendered to me. Yes, their planets helped, but Yor should have easily conquered/invaded most of those planets, I was too far away to try to help. But it didnt, and I reaped the benefits which doubled my own power.
Lots of improvement can be done in the AI, but I think if logic was added to address most of the scenarios mentioned above, it would be MUCH harder than it is now on any given difficulty level.