So, I was just mopping the floor with the AIs on Challenging; both as Drath and Terrans; and it's time to move to Tough games. And, impressed by the Big Pink Blob of Death in previous outings, I decided to play Thalan.
It's not going well; my first try I was a bit stuck in a corner and the Terrans went wild and by the time I really got going they owned half the map, rather more because than in spite of my attempts to embroil them in conflicts. I'm on the second run and it's looking a lot similar; I ctrl-Ned to get a decent position, still on an edge but with a lot more Lebensraum, but the pink line is falling behind the Terrans and Krynn in every area, the Korath are threatening me from halfway across the map, and my nearest neighbor, the Korx, sucked up two decent planets in my area that I'd bypassed trying to establish a perimeter and won't give 'em back for less than my liver and kidneys. Will they turn on me like a rabid dachshund if I start churning out influence starbases -- not that I can afford 'em...
Is Tough that big a step? Are the Thalan very difficult to play? I'm finding them so; the balance of economy and production and population growth seems particularly awkward.
I'd appreciate some perspective from more-experienced players here. If I go down in this game I'll probably try Tough with Terrans or Drath.