You and me both, dude.
And FWIW, we can solve all the global warming problems merely by launching a solar shade. The hardest part is ramming it through the council (fucking Santiago is a total denier!). Once you have the votes, implementation is trivial.
a lot of AC was so campy it was a bit disturbing - i.e. religious people in the far flung future, seriously?
Oh no! There's something disturbing in the dystopian future!
SMAC is a game. Sometimes you want to grab your opponents by the lapel and shout in their face, "You idiot, quit being difficult and let's just cooperate," but if they actually did that, it would be a boring game. Fortunately, people don't all get along. They're divided by economic ideals, ecological ideals, civic ideals, etc. Why not religion? Religion is a great divider. I don't want to know what kind of people Miriam or Dierdre would be like if they weren't bat-shit insane; I like them how they are.
For my money, I personally think that the best "Civ" game ever made was, by leaps and bounds, Alpha Centauri.
Who ever played civilization craving more tactical combat?
I think there's another way to look at it. Some people like tactical games too; not an either-or kind of thing. But when you play a tactical game (my favored example is Kohan, simply because I'm mainly only familiar with games that have been ported to Linux), you often sort of want a strategic/empire_building element added to that. Maybe Civ5 could be in both markets.
Try SMAC/SMACX, which have been ported to Linux. You can play in a super-simple mode, with terraformers fully automated and "governors" deciding what your bases build. The AI makes poor decisions in this regard, but no stupider than your opponents' AIs. I keep meaning to try out a game where I play this way as a handicap, but micromanagement is irresistible.
Programmers used to batch environments may find it hard to live without giant listings; we would find it hard to use them. -- D.M. Ritchie