Well it's not quite over yet, but nevertheless the humans rule! The AI sucks the big one! Down, down, down... AI's going down! Down, down, down... AI's going down!
Have no idea what kind of hectic insanity playing on a normal size map is like but I played my first game on a 10 planet system lol. I think it was a great way to learn the basic stuff actually, how to slingshot my fleets over impossible systems in transports, how to bait the AI into a turret deathtrap by temporarily withdrawing all the ships, how to check the damage stats for everything so I don't end up sending waves of missile frigates against a fortress...missiles, bombers what difference could it possibly make right?
Slowly, slowly, the ships stopped all looking like swarms of angry bees and I could guess which ones were going to give me the most indigestion (although it didn't take long to find out that Mark IV ships could not be taken down with an equal number of Mark I ships with maybe a coupla Light Starships for backup).
Anyway, I'm finally into the fifteen hour of my first game (think I've played this map for about a month now!), and other than the final AI home world, the other 9 planets are mine, all mine! I'm still saving and reloading every now and then because the AI will bring in the wrong kinds of ships through the exo-galaxy wormhole and mess up my back porch, but half the guard posts on that last AI home planet have already been destroyed and once I get my first Mark 2 fortress built, it'll be all over. Then I'm playing a normal size map lol. Although, I am tempted to try it again on a 10 planet map just to see how quickly I could do it and how different the AI is between each game.