What determines a happy population can be a myriad of things such as individual wealth and individual freedoms, both of which can have positive and negative affects for going both up and down. in most countries having wealth grants freedom and if both simply grant happiness then why have so many famous artists and athletes of all sorts committed suicide or turned to drugs? This is not a conversation I will have here as either does not necessarily have to do with their own individual happiness and is therefore an ever more compicated issue. It is for this reason, imo, happiness should not play a large lasting role in this game. Where it is now is good, it would be fine to add operations for an invader and defender to affect it, but imo, we should not change its role.
We are all aware of a plot hole in any game, odd game rules and quirks wouldn’t make sense in real life. IRL, multiple “pieces” move at the same time but in chess and checkers, this is not so. In Vega, it takes 3 minutes to travel to the far side of your neighboring sector using cutters (the fastest ship class), but to disassemble, move, and reconstruct your base in the middle of a heavy war is not only safe, but only takes the blink of an eye even though it took you a year to build each structure. Game rules should be easy to follow and remember, therefore simple, but this does not mean that the game itself should be simple.
Beyond this, I feel that every structure should be augmentable and the details of that should be left largely up to the player with respect to the defender. Reload time, damage done, bombardment protection, security vs covert ops, security vs overt ops, as well as energy management, and the like can very easily be added and be the primary cause to mine B late into the game whereas now, B relatively useless after a player becomes well developed. Patterns can be research just like ship designs and then applied. The details of how to manage the individual upgrades is probably more important than what should be augmentable.
Augmentations will allow players to choose the rate their bases produce troops and the capacity to which they are stored or increased repair rates. They can alter radar stations to detect invisible fleets or increase sensor range (with an energy cost increase of course), or left standard without augmentations in pursuit of other benefits.
I can come up with different concepts and methods but I haven’t felt like people wanted this level of customisation.