Okay what I mean by well balanced.
A well balanced company with a large enough reach makes or contracts out it's needs so It's not stuck paying a premium for goods it needs to run. So in this game you need power, water, food, oxygen, and assuming your base is not all linked fuel. So as a company I would want to look at cost/benefit to producing my own versus buying elsewhere. So a balanced company would produce 3 of the 5 to be able to support it's basic needs. (most of the time).
Now I've played several games and I see the same tactic over and over again and can't beat it any way. That's as follows Build base/build steal than branch out. Why would anyone do anything else? For one they are inexpensive to build and usually iron is cheap to begin with.
So ultimately what I mean by well balanced is just that. You may not agree with it but, that's the way I see it.
Other strategies should be developed other than rush.
You posted from galactic civ 3, so I assuem your familiar with 4x's and thus are familiar with how economies work. You get bigger means you make more money which means you get bigger. It's a core part of economies in general, and you cannot have an economy-based game without also having this feature. Why should there be a benefit in remaining small?
There isn't a huge benefit to being small, however, there should be other strategies to win, such as one may rush to win, however, if one does this and builds smart where they don't have to rely on the market for needs they may grow slower but, hold steady longer and potentially out pace the person who took the quick money and now has to slow way down because costs got too high. Right now that doesn't really happen, you grow quick you have enough tiles you can keep yourself growing at a huge rate. If you make a well rounded company that doesn't rely on the market you may be more solid but, they have out paced you so bad they just buy you out.
Again you may think that isn't a viable option, however, if I don't depend on anything and market crashes guess who's still here. In the game market doesn't crash or if it does it's too late to matter as you have off world trading options that your immune.
You also mention Gal Civ III, there are many strategies that can do you good there, all depending on the type of games you play Rush gets you only so far in that game.
All in all ultimately I'm suggesting options to attempt to avoid the sudden death. For those NFL fans it would be like the Packers from last weekend, holding your own, only to give it up with 1 quick blow and you feel left on the sideline watching the game end.
I would like to see a better way to try to protect yourself from the quick 1 shot blow (Player A just build offworld trading, sold 100k worth of goods just as I got to it boom they bought me out.) I understand it's not designed to be a long drawn out game, however, on the other hand there should be a way to hold on and have a chance for a come back such as a hail mary option.
All in all my points were attempts at suggestions on potentially how to do this and, I welcome thoughts/ideas for or against it. In PvP 1v1 right now it seems like which ever player pulls away at the beginning isn't being caught and, I have yet to find a strategy to offset the steel rush because you need it to upgrade.