I don't know how many of you played any of the Cossacks and American Conquest games. IMO they are brilliant, however there are some issues with C2. I will explain them later on but first it's time for a general explanation about the games.
ALL of the games are set in the gunpowder era. There are some melee units (mostly pikemen and cavalry) the Algerians C1, the Indian tribes AC as well as the Egyptians in C2 also had an archer unit. ALL other units had ranged gunpowder weapons. Now here's what the games did.
ALL the gunpowder units required ammo. In C1 and AC it means that every time they shot you lost a very small amount of coal (gunpowder) and iron (the bullet). I'm not sure about the archers, but I don't think they required ammo. This means you had to have peasants in the coal and iron mines (wich could hold up to 95 peasants) to provide gunpowder for your shooting units. 1 In addition every single unit (maybe not ships and artillery) also required food, so you had to have peasants working in the fields or some fishing boats going out fishing or even both (off course depending on the situation). I also believe that horses required extra food (a lot). In C2 the units only require coal to shoot, but they also required food to eat. In C2 there were no mines but villages instead, those villages gave you a steady income and didn't require food to be supplied to them (or at least I think) in addition the villages had their own very small militia and any infantry regiment in the village would get back to full size, for free. Villages in C2 had to be conquered whereas mines in C1 and AC could be build only on an deposit (none of the resources ever exhausted). Firing is actually very cheap with a cost of 2-10 res/shot/unit however with a normal infantry regiment of 120 soldiers a volley is still costly and you should always make sure you have enough to reload. This is somewhat strange in C2 Battle for Europe mode since you could capture villages during the battle, but they couldn't deliver the res anywhere (at least for the attacker).
In addition to this resource system each unit also required a slot free in your population. But you could easily expand your allowed population by building more houses/town centers/barracks. Artillery required their own slots and those could be raised by building more artillery depots (this was introduced in 1 of the expansions for C1 so in the original they only had the general pop number). I'm not sure if there actually ever was a hard pop cap or if you could just keep raising it, I for 1 never reached it, so it must have been very high.
Now on to what's brilliant about the games. The cost of each building depended on how many you have on the field. Buildings under construction are counted as well, buildings the enemy has aren't counted. Buildings from different nations count as different buildings. So if you're playing England and you have 6 arty depots and you captured a French arty depot after that, the price for the next English arty depot is still the price of the English 7th arty depot. In addition, the French arty depot only raises the amount of French cannons you can have, the amount of English cannons you can have is still the same (same goes for population). However if you captured an English arty depot the next arty depot will cost as much as the English 8th arty depot and the amount of English cannons you may have is also raised. You can also still capture things even if you don't have space for them and you will also be allowed to keep them. Now by these rules, buildings get more expensive when you have more of them. Ships and artillery also get more expensive if you have more of them, but infantry and peasants don't (not sure about cavalry). Mines are excluded from getting more expensive as well, and maybe some other resource buildings and walls too. Side from that, they probably used a formula for the price of stuff, but I'm not sure what it would have been.
The result of all these rules is that the stronger player has a very tough time expanding his army, because of the insane resource costs for their houses. You will still want to keep your mines close together so that you don't need many cannon towers, while the weak player has little of everything and as such everything is still quite cheap. No over turtling etc.
How would I do this in EAW, well I would let the price of the units vary, but the buildings can all have the same price as you can build very little on a planet anyway. I may decide to let some units go up in price rapidly and others more slowly. Say that the price of the next ISD is 125% (maybe even more) while the price of the next X-Wing squad is 110%. That also makes it much cheaper to replace a small fleet as compared to a large fleet. This mean that the 5th ISD will cost 2,44140625 times the normal price (and the formula for the price of an ISD will be [real price]=[start price]*1.25^[ISDs you have]
1 Varied and balanced fleets and ground troops, no more building the biggest baddest ships.
2 Small raids while still building up your forces. Really good for the Rebels (as well as making the Rebels feel like the Rebels). It may actually be well worth it to build a few (cheap to replace) Y-Wings only to do a quick strike against an (irreplaceable) ISD and hope some of them get out alive. For the Empire to do a raid, they still have to get a more expensive Acclamator in and risk losing it.
3 as explained by 2, the faction will feel more like they should feel.
4 The strong won't be getting stronger fast, but if you're fleet has just been wiped out, you quickly get a few ships back. You may even be able to get 2 high end ships for the price they would have to pay for a middle class or even a low end ship.
Oh and I voted foe in favour of what I just explained.