I bought GalCiv2 and both expansions over a year ago. However, I only recently began playing it seriously (after a game or two after purchase I stopped playing, not realizing what I had...). At this point I've paid little attention to the difficulty settings (though always normal or above one or two difficulties), and have messed around with a variety of different galaxy sizes and configurations. However, after doing a bit of research I've found myself playing the same way consistently, and looking to improve.
I now always play either Torians, Yor, or a Custom Race using their tech trees. The reason for this lies in the Collective and School being the most cost efficient means of production in terms of maintenance-to-output. I play All-X Strategy games where I never upgrade past these most basic, cost efficient buildings, thus never really truly "overheat" early game like I've seen described elsewhere, but due to the fact I don't upgrade these structures (I never even research the means to do so, allowing me to focus my time and beakers elsewhere, but giving me a less than optimum output later on) I know I'm not playing as well as I can. Now I know that later on it would be more efficient to upgrade these structures because the demand for increased output would exceed the importance of maintenance-to-output ratios. What I am wanting to improve upon in this regard is knowing what to upgrade to and when, and how to play with other tech trees without the fear of losing these cost efficient structures.
Other than that I've largely been able to discover for myself what I need to know through research. I played my first game using economic starbases yesterday, only to have the DL come and keep blowing the damn things up. I've just done researching when and how to build a military, but have yet to take what I've learned and implement it in to a game. I am good enough at handling diplomacy and trade to keep the rest of the world at peace with me, but I feel like I'm still inefficient in truly mastering it. I have never made use of trade routes except in one of my earliest games playing Korx (before I learned how Economics/Morale/Population Growth interacted), and though it gives me the unique advantage of losing nothing from leaving the UP (which I have done on occasion), I feel I could be playing more efficiently here as well...
I believe part of my problem concerning trade is, after reading some of the ideas within the "bag-of-tricks", I now feel like I shouldn't build Freighters until I have good Sensors, Armor, and Weapons... which I usually win the game before I feel like I have enough of any of the aforementioned bother doing so; like when it comes to upgrading buildings I don't know at what threshold I need to build them, and with what minimums would be sufficient.
Except to Culture Flip, I tend to focus very little on Influence. I realize this is a flaw, but it hasn't been a prominent enough factor in any of my games to encourage me to to look further in to it.
What I'm genuinely interested in being able to do, hopefully with the help and advice this topic brings (I can find tons of advice on how to handle the economy, but little on matters of when output is more important than cost efficiency, and the nuances of military, influence; etc.) is to be able to play a Good-aligned Iconian designed around all-X Labs and the ability to build indestructible (or close enough it makes no difference) ships...
Either way, I'm extremely eager to improve my game, and am looking forward to any advice I can give relating to any topic aforementioned, left out, or anything else I can do to get to where I want to be in GalCiv2.