Gathering Storm + RvI + BoW + takeovers on
Now that this awful base game season is almost over, can we start voting for next season (anything but base, please).
Why I don't like base? 99% of the games seems like produce - consume. Military strategy is mostly bad, and develop strategy is not as strong without your favorite Galactic Developers (which should be banned, ridiculous card). You are basically searching for one of these (mining conglomerate, consumer markets, diversified economy). That's it. You are also punished for bad card openers (no search!), and good luck catching up. I'm not saying there aren't runaway games in the expansions, but the games generally have a good mix of avenues to win, and I have had my fair share of coming back from seemingly insurmountable odds (I am looking at you Uplift Gene Breeders and the other windfall uplift that escapes my mind at the moment).
I never understood takeovers random, it doesn't have anything to do with skill IMO. Basically, you are rendering a set of cards useless and punishing the player who draws them, while also removing flexibility from the game. I also understood a lot of people don't understand takeovers well, to which I say I can write a post explaining it, and respond frequently to any questions there may be.