I just finished my first victory. I've played a number of games since I started at the LotS release, and learned a lot of lessons of the form 'Try again, and don't do X next time'. Part of that is probably that I stubbornly insisted on pursuing a FS-based scorched earth strategy, obviously without the experience to pull it off.
For the record, the game was 7/7 random easier (sledge hammer/fortress baron), 80/simple, complex ships, FS/Hard Spirecraft/CLs/Hard Golems/Dyson/Resistance Fighters/Traders. All minor factions at default scale. No auto-AIP since I figured the CLs let me get that effect, with a chance to control it later (but see below). I played on the latest release, 5.035.
The campaign clocked in at 73 hours game time... which includes running at +10 overnight twice, just to see if my chokepoint would survive. The second night I lost 5 shields (out of... all of them.)
I ran into a number of small problems though, and I'm not sure if they are known or not. I searched Mantis and didn't find reference to any of these, so I thought I'd ask the more experienced people if they are working as intended or if I should report them (or if I just suck at search terms...):
Exo-galactic strike forces + Hunter/Killers:
Having both hard minor faction strike forces hit simultaneously was rough at the beginning. I had to seriously save scum once around the 6 hour mark when the first Armored Golem came through. (And I literally mean through...) At one point (don't remember exactly, maybe 13-14 hours in?), the strike forces started including a Hunter/Killer Mk2. Those are nasty, and very nearly popped my bubble of every-shield-I-could-build before my ball of every-ship-and-turret-I-could-build killed it. The thing I think might be a bug is... they stopped coming. I never saw higher than a Mk2 (until the FS finale hit the AI homeworlds and like 9 spawned and got roflstomped). And after maybe 5 strike forces that contained a single Mk2, even those stopped coming, seemingly replaced with more spirecraft or golems. This was significantly easier, and the exo-forces posed no further threat to my chokepoint even without my fleet present, without any significant upgrades (until much later). Shouldn't Hunter/Killers continue to spawn, and get stronger, through out the game? Did the RNG just love me?
Spire Civilian Leaders:
This might just be me mis-interpreting their description... but I assumed I would have to capture these for them to lower the AIP. This is not the case. Simply destroying the AI command station causes them to switch from raising to lowering the AIP (although it does not immediately reset their hour timer, like capturing them does). After some deep strikes, my AIP was going down slightly but periodically through the rest of the game, and there was nothing the AI could do about it since they still 'owned' the CLs.
Spire Final Fleet Modules:
Small thing, but I owned the modules on the big ships in the spire exo-fleet. This didn't have any particular effect... except that I could scrap them. I disarmed one battle group for the hell of it. (Well, as disarmed as they get while still having their built in weapon, but I did entirely de-shield them.)
Spire Final Fleet targeting:
Not sure if this was a bug or just due to the lag I was experiencing once the exo-fleet came, but while they destroyed one AI home command station, in the other home system they destroyed everything else then just went on patrol between wormholes, I had to bring my own fleet in to kill the station.
Group-Move with Teleporting units = fail
OK, as I double checked these I did find this on Mantis, and voted for it.
Sorry for the massive first post. This is a truly amazing game. I'll probably be looking to try coop now, and most of my friends are caught up in the new Civ5 expansion, so I expect I'll post on the coop forum later