As a former chess player I like the idea of a chess clock - X turns per 1/2 hour of player's time. Someone above suggested that battles should be excluded, but I'd prefer a tight time-limit for battles, e.g. X turns per 2 minutes - it needs to be flexible enough to let players scan opponents and work out tactics in the first 1 or 2 turns.
Again as a former chess player I'd prefer to see the clocks. There's a little bit of spare screen space at the bottom left of the Colonies list, where most of the micromanagement is done. It might also be possible to gain some space on the right edge of the main screen by compacting the icons.
The big problem is what happens if someone exceeds a time limit. In combat I suggest the slow player should revert to "Auto" until the player is back in credit, by e.g. 10 seconds. In 2-player exceeding the main time limit should cause surrender. But in N-way I'm not sure what should happen, as surrender could unbalance the game for the remaining players - sometimes to the disadvantage of the player who gets the surrendered empire (the one time an AI surrendered to me, I discovered it was a financial black hole).
Of course all ths depends on whether Lord B can find ways of implementing these ideas.
If he can't, I'd prefer to see no timer mechanism in the game itself: hidden timers would be very unfair; a constant X seconds per turn is terrible when you discover a new tech, since you want to change colony build menus and / or people allocation, and sometimes ship designs. Perhaps a "social" mechanism would be better - have the game log each player's average time per turn (separately for normal and combat play) and post the results somewhere visible.
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