I posted this to a private thread. I thought it might be useful here:
Balancing with absolutes:
We start with an absolute that never changes. Pick a unit in the middle that is working correctly. ie. 'Assault Frigate'. Determine every aspect of this unit (armor, cost, time, weapons, effectiveness, ineffectiveness, speed, maneuverability... and assign a numeric value to every aspect. Since every aspect has a set value you know exactly how to tweak other units without over complicating the process. You now have a single balanced unit to use for an absolute reference.
We can start simply by using the dimensions of each unit as a base line value ie: LxW. Everything is built on this reference. As you scale the ship up or down for other units such as cruisers or fighters you also scale similar values (mass, armor). Each gun, turret, weapon is worth something and that worth translates into cost. Each different race weapon has its own different signature and each signature is identical to all other like weapons. In other words, every similar weapon, regardless of the unit it's on, has the same values. Many units will not be weapon tweakable without tweaking all other like weapons on other ships. Since these weapons are set in their values other changes will need to be done to balance units and the more values we lock into place like this, the easier it gets.
Some units will have values that cannot be duplicated on other units ie: EMP or cloak. These values also need their worth calculated. Once the system is established balancing is completely focused and purposeful.
Now we have absolute values we can build upon. Never change a single units numeric values without compensating other numeric values. The more absolutes we lock in (turrets, size, etc) the less there is to do.
This example is similar to the tuning sheet used for Star Trek Continuum.