I'm not a huge fan of the proposed rule that you cannot add more than (currently) 9 ships to a tech card. It's inelegant (still letting you add 9 to a tech with a "2" or a "3" on it), and it potentially needs to be revisited each time new tech cards are printed. If they ever make a tech card with an "X" on it that has no theoretical upper limit on its utility, then the 9 would go out the window (thus implying an unnecessary "design constraint"). The whole thing feels like a patch. (EDIT: It's already obsolete because of Amoeba/Gluon Mines.)
If they're going to patch anything, I hope they patch the Masochist instead (patch one power, not an entire mechanic).
But I hope there is a more elegant solution. Here's one possibility: on page 15, the rulebook says "Ships researching a tech card are considered to be in that player’s home system." Here's a possibility for tweaking the Technology rules covering what happens when you complete a tech card (the bolded sentence is the proposed addition):
- The player returns the researching ships to any of his or her colonies. If the player has no colonies, he or she may place the ships on any one unoccupied planet in his or her home system, thus re-establishing a home colony there, or send them to the warp if there are no unoccupied home planets.
Under this proposal, when the Masochist's opponents see him researching tech they would want to be careful to leave at least one of his planets empty. Another (possibly simpler?) way to do it could be this:
- The player returns the researching ships to any of his or her colonies. If the player has no colonies, he or she may place the ships on any one planet in his or her home system, thus re-establishing a home colony there (if possible, the player must choose a home planet that no other players occupy).
Anyway, the idea is that conceptually your researching ships were already in your home system; they aren't "returning" from the warp or from a far-away battle. It's still a patch, but (I would argue) it's a less clunky patch than the unstable "rule of 9".
Furthermore, when compared to the proposed rule of 9 this would make techs even harder for Masochist to abuse and get closer to what was (presumably) the intended use of the power.