I agree. In the early versions (1.1, 1.3) I could play the Yor successfully, starting slow but building up to be the galaxy's robot menace. But the AI back then was pretty poor at the the colony rush, so there was lots of time to build up and expand.
Now, the AI is much better at the colony rush and the Yor just can't keep up. The starting pop of 10 is about all you have to colonize with, and every new colony ship you send out just depletes your production so that getting even your first Assembly project completed takes longer and longer. If you send out colonizers with just a minimum population, your colonies can't do anything at all until you send more pop from your homeworld later. Your homeworld gets so badly depleted of population that it can't do much either except try to get assembly projects done to replenish. Meanwhile, your opponents have much better developed colonies, better developed homeworlds, far more research, and are outpacing you building fleets because they have so many more workers. It just made me sad, so I'd given up on the Yor.
Even when AI Yor were present my games, they were always so far behind, they were easily wiped out before they could ever get going. "Poor little robots" I'd think when I encountered one of their scouts, and then didn't bother worrying about them because someone or myself would just sweep them up if they ever got in the way.
I like the sound of your suggestions, so yesterday I started a new game, modding them in. (I just copied the two xmls to the mods folder and changed two settings you mentioned).
For reference, here are my Galaxy options:
Tech brokering is OFF.
At the end of the colony rush, I find myself with about 8 planets (can't recall the exact number) + homeworld. All have self-sufficient populations (yay!) and my homeworld has a quite strong manufacturing ability (and the only shipyard). I have 4 or 5 tiny military ships salvaged from pirates. I'm last in technology among the major factions since I've been focusing everything on manufacturing to build assembly projects. I've traded most of what I can for weapons and defense so I can start building small military ships. I don't have the medium ship-building tech, but I don't think anyone else does either.
No war yet, but my neighbors are threatening and I've seen some anti-matter missile ships that I know I can't beat flying around my perimeter. At least I feel like I can now be competitive. So I'll see how it goes.
Thanks very much for your suggestion! Like you, I think Stardock needs to change something to help our robot friends.