Here are some suggestions I think would solve the core problem well (reposted from http://forums.elementalgame.com/429600/get;3208885):
I think the biggest problem with the AI's expanding strategy is that it highlights how little aggro the AI gets from building right next to monsters and lairs.
So what I suggest is:
1. For starters, for any city or outpost location that the AI puts down, make sure that it has made sure there is an area clear of monsters and lairs (except weak monsters) equal to the starting ZoC plus two more circles around the city or outpost. This will lessen the human's agastness (yea, I made that word up ) at the AI being able to settle normally right next to umberdroths and obsidian golems.
2. Consider having monsters that are medium or tougher threat (or any monsters protecting lairs) starting off stationary, but always targeting cities or outposts that disturbed them. In other words, no matter who the owner is, if a monster or lair is disturbed, there should always be monsters heading for (and attacking!) the city or outpost closest THAT DISTURBED THEM (probably defined by being next to them by any units or when a town's/outpost's ZoC goes over a monster or lair). Honestly, that should be feasible with Frogboy's AI coding capabilities. Even if it means that the monsters don't move until they are disturbed so the monster AI can determine which player disturbed them. Hey, you could even make the monsters hold a grudge - each monster or lair once disturbed only goes for the player that disturbed them until any such time the player is wiped out, when they would go back to stationary status. Plus, if the medium or higher threat monsters don't move until they are disturbed, it makes the game MUCH easier to balance than currently, when players have already agreed that there is just too much variability in viability of even good starts, based on how aggressive (or not) the monsters turn out to be.
3. Make Master Scouts protect against units only as Stardock said they were strongly considering, so anything owned by a player that isn't a unit DOESN'T get protected from attack (so cities can be attacked deliberately, and outposts and resources can be attacked randomly). Cities or outposts are not very stealthy, you know, from the fact that they can't move.
Plus there are a lot of good suggestions in this thread. The 3 turn minimum is a tough one. If Stardock want to keep this, they need to make sure that for starters, the negative gildar cost is fixed, and any rush buy cost is based on 1. production left to do, and 2. if a unit or building WOULD get completed in less than 3 turns then a flat fee of 50 gildar per turn remaining is added to the cost of rush buying any production that would normally complete in 1 or 2 turns. I think that is a simple fix that would work.