Edit: Please read the entire thread before posting (or at least some of it) and not just relate to this message, as things have changed and addressed several times in it since I first started it. Thanks!
I tried playing Galciv 2 with all the patches and expansions a few days ago, and I got bullied and wiped out by the AI in normal difficulty. I remember having the same issue with the first Galciv as well when I tried playing the updated version of it some time ago as well.
Brad, or anyone else which reads this: Stardock seems to always listen to the 'Hardcore' war-mongering fans which complain about how easy the game is, how passive the AI is, and how this is too strong, and that is not balanced. Elemental was actually just fine before the patch, but the process has started already - you took out the summoning spells, which could actually help me out survive and actually gave me an alternative to building an army.
I wanted a game in which I could actually defend and slowly expand while slowly leveling my sovereign, but unless I build an army and maintain it as soon as I'm able, that is no longer possible without the summoning spells. Before I'll know it, you will listen to the fans and the game will, again, become a war-fest filled with bullies that attack you from turn 0.
This happened so many times before, and it looks like it is going to happen this time again. If I wanted a pure wargame, I'd buy one. That is actually disappointing. As a long time fan and supporter since the times of the first GalCiv, I don't think I'll buy your next expansion or game you guys make any more, I think I've had enough virtual masochism to last me quite a while