I haven't really been monitoring the forums closely. So the AI has no fog of war, but just has a hack requirement to scout planets before sending transports to them?
That's disappointing. I'd read that the GalCiv AI was pretty challenging even without an economic bonus. But if it's got no fog-of-war, that's a lot less impressive.
Yes, something along that line. The AI is simply playing out a set pattern of logical rules, and by offering different scenarios one can muster the patterns pretty well. Once you've been sensibilized to these things, you will notice them in every game.
In the past people complained hard about the no-AI-FOG, so SD announced in a patch that the AI needs to scout out new worlds before sending Colony Ships there. But, that doesn't really mean he suddenly has to face the FOG too, but he simply was programmed to build some Scouts in the initial part of the game. But of course, that just to easy a solution, and things can go horribly wrong:
1. In a big map the AI's scouts will usually be destroyed - and he will send whatever ships he has directly to their target w/o scouting. I once played a gigantic all-abundant where the AI was defeated after 24 turns, and had no ships whatsoever cause I simply bought them all of. So, basically he knew his homesystem, and maybe the systems nearby. Then I coerxed most of them into oblivion, but re-routed the last one to a single planets in the opposite corner of the map. However, he had one constructor I couldnt trade for - which pretty much came out of range in this sector due to the homeworld change. Next turn the constructor was headign towards an Influence-crystal 3 sectors away from his new home etc pp.
2. AI scoutships have a "strange" pattern of scouting. Most often I will find one following the other in a trail. What for?
3. Start a battle of the gods scenario where his scouts will have very fast engines. They will fly into a system, then move back-and-forth there at the same spot until the movepoints are drained, and next turn fly directly into the next system? Why not simply heading there at once? Quite easy, the AI didn't got implemented to "re-think" what to do once his goal (fly to one system) is reached, because usually, in a normal game Scouts will be on speed +2-+4.
4. Trade Sensors to the AI very early - the AI will then built Survey Vessels instead - who won't scout planets anymore, but go for anomalies. Once built, he will also not sell his SurveyShips - however, you can easily trade for all his ScoutShips - which is a strange behaviour if one keeps in mind he needs these ships in order to determine if he should built Colonizers and send them en-route.