Since you appriciate the finer arts in life (Mario kart) you must have some observational skills so I will continue the discussion a bit more.
We define a typical scenario. Sadly this is a long text but if your interested it shows in math how scientists earns more and gets more output faster and has advantage in the trade screen by having no raw good pressure or cash pressure by having to buy raw goods. For the scenario we accept that no player is going to have the extra tile for settling last. Scenario 1 is 3 steel opening. With a 1 iron 2 glass 2nd expansion and for the claim we get an engineer if the game is still in balance. (We could provide more opening but let us just use this first to see if in this scenario who is ahead) For the variance variables for the purpose of the typical scenarioes we assign the typical values of 50 for steel 70 for glass 20 for iron and 25 for aluminium and 20 for silicon. Since in the 3 steel or 2 steel 1 iron we buy aluminum we assume it is at an average cost of 35 for 55 aluminium thus 1925 cost. For the glasteel factory we will stop the experiment once we have one glassteel factory thus we only need 40 steel. For tiles there are a total of 5 tiles, 1 aluminium and 4 iron. There is a silicon outside the HQ. There is one 3 square iron the rest are 1 square iron. The shape is such that both the robotic and scientists can settle on top of all iron if they wish while still having adjacency bonus for all steel factories.
#1 3 steel mills.
Robotic: Settles on top of all 4 iron for 160 iron. 3 steel mills are built for 3 steel output at a cost of 3 iron. 60 iron is lost to build the steel mills.
Tick 1-33: Two options: Use the iron for production or sell it early. Selling 100 iron early would cause price pressure so assume an average of 10 so 1000 credit. Option 2 is to use the iron for free steel production for 33,33 ticks (100/3) this creates 100 steel after 33 ticks. From the start we have 25 steel and we need 80 for upgrade so anything after the first 55 gained can be sold for cash for aluminium. We buy the aluminium as soon as we can It would happen at game tick 5 (sold all our steel including storage for 25+5*3=40 * 50 = 2000 money) we buy 55 aluminum and have 80 in the bank now. We then save up for 80 steel or 27 more ticks. By tick 32 we are now ready to expand. We have 1 tick left of free iron from steel production. Expanded by tick 33.
Scientist: Settle on top of 1 iron and gets 20 iron free. Builds 3 steel mills. Have to pay for the 40 iron that they do not have thus 40*20=800 money spent on this. (Sold initial 25 steel for 1250 money leaving 450 money in the bank. We could have sold something else but let us just assume for simplicity we sold steel as) we then need to generate 1475 more money to buy 55 aluminium and we need to generate 80 steel on top of this. It takes 10 ticks to generate the money. ( (1475/50) / 3) and 27 ticks to generate the steel needed. At tick 37 we expand.
So far so good robotics in the lead.
1 st expanison:
It is tick 33 and we have 1 free iron left. We can claim 3 tiles. There are still 57 ticks left until black market opens for us. We thus try to expand so we need cash for this. Optimal now would be to get 1 iron as we fear the iron price will rise if we keep buying it from the market or that the scientific player is smart and drives up the price of iron and that is very bad news for us. We thus secure an optimal 3 globe iron for 2 iron output. We are in luck it is just 5 ticks worth of transport away from our colony and would only cost us a mere 1 fuel to transport per shipment! we need to buy 20 iron and pray it does not increase in price (it would in a real game something the scientist player would want and something the robotic player would hate) this would have costs us 20x20=400 money or 3 ticks. We sadly have no iron during this period and during construction of the mine) so for the next 20 ticks we have to pay for iron for steel production. By some miracal the iron price is not increasing still. Thus every tick instead of generating 150 we generate 90 (150-60) by tick 38 we have the iron mine. By tick 53 we will have it up and running. 20 iron takes 10 ticks so by tick 63 it will start to ship. By tick 68 it will arive. Thus we have 30 more ticks now of paying iron for our steel or 90 profits instead of 130. (still have to pay one iron as our mine is 2 not 3) We do not care abou eletronic as we want the price high and it only runs our debt not our cash. We want profits and thus we turn to glass. We do not need it ourself but others need it and we need cash. We thus save for 40 steel. We have to sell the first 10 steel to create cash since we are buying iron. (500 money for 60 cost per tick or 9 ticks) we create a total of 27 during the next 9 ticks and gain a total of 17. It is now tick 47. We sell another 10 steel for 9 more turns of free steel production after buying the iron we need. We gain another 17. (34 total) Its now tick 56. We play optimal and time for the shipment so we know we need only iron until tick 63 or 7 more ticks or 21 more iron for a cost of 420 or 3 more ticks. (or you could say you sold it already then gained it back the effect would be the same either way that you would end up with 34 steel left at tick 59) By tick 59 we are ready to generate again more per tick as we have paid every iron we need and iron is coming in waves we only need to get 1 iron since we get 2 per tick and need 3. We thus now for simplicty sake say we are generating a profit of 130 per tick. or only a loss of 20 per tick if we do not buy iron ourself. (we would have had to keep selling steel but let us just add or deduct to money for simplicity as the effect is the same. It shows how robotic is forced to sell at times while the scientific can choose when he sells steel for least pressure.) we need 6 more steel so we run 2 more ticks and are at -40 money. It is tick 61 and we got our first glass steel up starting to construct. (profit 130 + glassteel in future gaining us 35-20=15-5 (the oxoygen @ 20) added for a total of 140) Lets stop there and compare with scientific.
Lets assume we are not smart and just by iron and compleatly screw the robotic player as that would be unfair to so decicivly crush our opponent already. (just buying around 100 iron would easily drive up the price of iron to 30-40 and cause the robotic player to loose money on his steel mills unless he went iron and even then unless he hard countered with 2 iron he would still loose 30-40 and if he hard counters you simply do not do it and cause the iron to go down in price instead since he is creating a surpluss) It is tick 37 and we can get 3 more claims. We need to get 40 steel. (We have 25 carbon in inventory so its free first glass factory) We now save for 40 steel. 40/3 = 14 ticks later we got the steel. Its is now tick 51 and we build the glassteel factory. We are generating 3 steel and as soon as the glassteel is done building in 20 ticks 0,5 glassteel per turn. Every 40 ticks we need to pay 1 fuel to ship 20 glass. We are generating a cashflow of 150 from the 3 steel and will be generating 180 soon from the glassteel added (it ads 35-5 from oxygen @ 20 cost).
By tick 51 scientific is already superior to robotic at tick 61. It also has one more free tile than the roboitc (2 free vs 1 for robotic) or 16,4% faster and snowballing since it is getting the glass faster. It has no expenses that requrie cash only debt expenses. (power and colony) It generates 150 per tick and has a new output ready while having set up the glass 10 ticks earlier than the robotic player. Robotic on the other hand needs more power (fuel for robotic for the mines) and also has less debt expense from colony. (albeith not helping in winning the game as debt at this point in the game is nothing.) while loosing -20 from iron every turn and gaining 150 from steel every turn for a theoretical 130 per turn or 13,33% less income per turn than the science guy. We can change the scenario and you can suggest other options for the robotic but do the math and you will see science will always run ahead. In a real life scenario most likly the steel would have dropped in price and the iron would have gained causing the scientific player to expand slightly slower but crippeling the robotic player as any increase in iron and loss of steel price would cripple his income far more than the science player. Example iron cost 25 (25% increase) and steel is 25% less price at 37,5 now the scientific earns 112,5 per tick vs 112,5- 25 =87 per tick or 22,7% less. It would have been crucial for both to switch over to another resource like glass to diversify and here also science has the advantage as it would get it much quicker out.
By expansion 1 scientific is running ahead in the lead. It will get out all its glass factories out faster and at no raw goods cost most likely and perhaps 1 raw goods if unlucky +0,75 oxygen. At the same time we know that the robotic does not need glass for its expansion but this is only a one off and at the same time the scientific will have gotten his factory up faster and producing more profit by every tick. Thus sciencie at this point is easily in the lead. (example if the glass costs 2800 money the gain of science is now 700+ 130 per turn or 16 more ticks to catch up the one off effect something easily done as it will take far more than 16 ticks to get up everything and expand.) Not to mention the fact the scientist can have 3 glass factories (just example anything would work) vs only 2 for the robotic who needs an iron mine as well.
We could ofcourse have built anything else at better profits but ofcourse the same fact would remain. Scentist would have gotten it sooner and with more profits.
Also at any point if power was big I as a science player would have build this instead of glass. If water was getting high (usually only by expansion 3-4 even if my opponents try on purpose to do this) I would ofcourse get a water and reap in the profit. Problem is I am already ahead. I hope this example shows some typical scenario where scientis easily is ahead and this will just compound and get bigger and bigger as the game ticks on.
In my mind if scientist is played perfectly the only chance they have to loose is if they are swarmed with black market stuff from many players or if the game scenario is one where there is huge negative pressure on raw goods thus negating the huge snowball effect of the free raw goods that amplifies as raw goods increase in cost. Making food or water (aka raw goods needed for scientists) go up is not a counter as scientist would also profit from high prices of these goods simply by making it himself and at this point in the game already is well ahead.