We had a tourney on here and the first game I played, I got rolled. I kept at the AI until I understood the strategy and then never lost a game after that. It wasn’t enough to win the tourney at that point, but I did better than I expected.
The long and short of the basic strategy, if I recall, is to run on cash and not on raw materials.
IE, let’s say your upgrade needs 300 Dirt Bars and 200 Blue Bars. You might be tempted to build the infrastructure and mine those bars. Maybe, in some circumstances, that’s the right strategy. For me most of the time I ran strictly on a cash economy only - ie, autoselling all my production. Also you can make decent money early on if you keep a positive energy balance and sell the difference, since for whatever reason both the AI and players tend to like running negative energy balance.
In other words, I built whatever commodity was most profitable, and cared very little for whatever my faction specific commodity demanded.
Late game is a bit different, with Research and ect.
I think the real tipping of the scales toward cash and not raw materials is that if you build a raw material economy early and then run out of cash for whatever reason you’re literally dead in the water because you won’t have the cash to change your economy. OTOH, if you’re cash flush and buying what you need, it’s not particularly hard to just throw cash at the problem and redirect your economy to the next profitable thing. It doesn’t help that many - not all - of the early raw materials are pretty dead end as far as late game economic value goes.