I have been quite enjoying MAN 2 thus far. A lot of this is new to me as I really never got into Domination online, and I find the extra work and features outstanding.
First impressions - What I like
In particular, I very much enjoy the cinematic changes to the game, the movements of the camera during replays, and the destruction cams on important units. They add life to an already enjoyable game.
2nd, I like the online play mode. It is exactly as I imagined it could be, that of making relatively fast games possible. You're watching your opponent and determining your next moves before you start your own, so it is near non-stop action.
3rd, the options for setting up games, with the quick play list to join an active online game. Wonderful. The secret allies and turn revenue options really allow you to customize the game to follow the pattern you wish, and with the added options of units Nick was talking about, its definately growing in customizability.
4th, the PL advantage has been handled quite nicely I believe. I'll have to play more games to be certain, but it definately feels like FNU can be more aggressive, without driving PL to be overly defensive (since they still get first move and a front-end income advantage).
The Need For An Unlimited In-Game Time Limit
While I understand the point of having shorter time limits for fast games, I still insist that an "unlimited" in-game time limit is needed...
I definately agree here. I do see the need for in-game time limits for games you intend both people to be online for, but if you have an epic battle on a large planet, I don't see how the turn limit helps. People aren't going to stick around and watch the whole time for the most part, so its the overall turn time limit that will be the limiting factor there IMO. Its nice to have the great options given to speed the game up and make you think on your feet somewhat, but deliberate gameplay at your leisure is a definate plus as well.
Watching Potential Disclosures
What about players currently being able to "spy" on incomplete decisions during the disclosure phase?
I'm kinda torn here... on the one hand I see it like Placid, that your SA placement is one of the most vital and only random part of the game, so should be handled with great care. But then again, I also see the benefit of being able to see the disclosure phase as it progresses as that is the last part of the turn, and it will smoothly lead you into the next turn as is, as you can already consider the placement of the enemy units as it occurs.
Perhaps the biggest part of this is making sure people don't make a mistake that costs them the game when they try MAN 2 for the first time after their used to one of the other MA series. A big old warning message box that appears if the opponent is online and watching would be good.
What about an option to turn the transport loading/unloading animations off? This has been suggested before by several folks. I think a dev even kindly told us how to alter the code in the game to make it possible, which I might consider doing if no option is forthcoming (especially I ever got involved in a short in-game time limit game! The animations just lag too far behind.) But it would be really nice to have this as a standard option.
You are aware that the animation speeds have no affect on what you can do right? You don't need to wait for the load animation for a transport to be completed before moving it for example. Its kinda cool to see multiple units moving and firing at once, and definately adds to the fluid nature of a game that has its roots in a board game style TBS.
The problems I can see are few and far between. The MA series has always been a shining beacon, but only for a select hardcore strategy audience up til now. I think MAN2 can bring it more into the spotlight for a wider variety of players not used to the cumbersome pace of old school strategy.
Here are a couple suggestions however, seeing as this Is a beta and the MA team is seeking comments:
1) Get that chess clock in! I know its been discussed to death, but having the incrementing timer will definately clear up a lot of the inflexibility inherant in the day-based turn times. My definition of a chess clock system as described in other threads: How much time overall you get for the entire game (0 minutes to lets say 28 days) plus how much you get per turn (0 minutes to 7 days). Allows for a 8 week tournament or a 1 day per turn game, or everything else in between, with the added benefit of rewarding a player for playing quickly (their remaining time gets bigger the quicker they play).
2) In game timer - what about making it only apply if the opponent is online and watching the game? Isn't that what this timer is for, to make sure that you're not dilly dallying too much while your opponent is in there watching the game?
Welp, I'm out of time now... I'll play more and give more feedback as I go along.