Well, a well-made Spokes maps would probably be better - although I haven't tried it. One can start on any end-planet and traverse the entire galaxy in 9 steps or less. Check this seed that I found within three clicks: 681022171
An interesting starting position would be Nanoswarms in the top-left hand corner. A low-AIP strategy would be to take the necessary spokes centers and K-raid the rest... In sequence, Bombard, shield-bearer, Mirror, blade-spawner and raider for ~110 AIP. You'll be able to stack ~10 FFs on the spoke-worlds to prevent any-ship bleeding. The raider-world is the key: It's worth 36,000 knowledge (itself + 11 adjoining AI worlds) and is exactly 4 jumps away from the AI-homeworlds.
You'll have room for only 1 or 2 spire-cities (mainly at the blade-spawner), but that's really all you ever need if you wanted to sink some AIP into taking/neutering the 9 worlds this side.
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Hmmm... I might be persuaded into playing a 10/10 on that one...