It looks like we could get a quick game in before the patch--which may still not be out for another couple of weeks.
I read with interest Sirian's IGMoo statement that he was limiting himself to 9 ship TFs--I had come up with the idea of using ONLY what the auto-build gave me instead. Which led me to these other handicapping ideas:
1. When you customize the race, start with everything as NEGATIVE as possible--it WILL let you start the game with unspent points! This is something like -330 and gives you really horrible stats. (If QSI were like everyone else, they would switch the set-up around so that you chose the difficulty and map stats, etc. and THEN chose and customized your race. You would get to spend so many points to customize your race based on the difficulty, and the Aliens would get EXTRA points!)
2. Play a 'Holy War' game where you set it there from turn 1 and leave it. This really does cripple your research--and may explain why the really touchy Aliens never seem to get anywhere.
3. Take a cue from one of the upcoming code features and run the game through, say 20 turns, with auto-colonization off to give the Aliens time to expand a bit while the player is sitting at his home world.
4. Limit the player to only using a max ship type--say Crusier?--that he can outfit anyway he wants. To make it tougher, use only what auto-build gives you. To make it tougher still, limit it to a max number of ships in a TF.
I may have bit off more than I can chew when I started a game as the Silicoid with max negative stats and Holy War on--all my neigbors are at tech 10 whereas I'm at 5! (I think mostly I should not have chosen Silicoid for the test...)
In any event, I feel that the STANDARD tech rates should be used to give the Aliens at least a fighting chance. To summarize my position, I WAS using Colin's mod and I DO prefer a slow tech pace. However, in case you missed my report, I messed-up and used a weird combo tech rate in my IG1...but comparing it to what was supposed to be used, I think that the slower tech pace cripples the AI more than the Player...
With the standard tech rate the AI GETS the needed tech to run his empire a bit better, which means that it fields more missile, beam and fighter bases making it a bit harder to take over planets later in the game. Since the AI GETS to higher tech levels, the missiles and fighters on the bases ARE better. And even if it doesn't build its newest ships, at least it builds MORE of the ships it picks since its economy is better and can spit more of them out.
The biggest downside still is that its annoying to get the techs so quickly that you just ignore them to wiat and design new ships 20 turns down the road...