Yes I agree starting on tech 1 and membering a tech 7 race is very good for the lucky player but very unbalancing over all. I agree that making something more costly is a simple solution to the issue and doesn't really solve the problem. On the other hand starting on a tech 5 game and only being able to member tech 1 or 2 level minors would be a pain.
I believe it is possible to alter the evolution of the minors tech. I myself have cap them all at T5 (i.e. level
in my mod
I agree you could (espesially the Klingons or Borg) assault a planet with just a shuttle craft, but, in BotF planetary assault is there to either destroy buildings, kill population, liberate captured territory or conquor new territory.
IMHO the suppression of a world should (at least early on) require a few cruisers not just destroyers and scouts (who can join in the attack with the cruisers if they wish.)
Further it was not my intention to suggest that ALL
destroyers and scout should not have the ability to make planetary assaults on their own, my initial point of view was that light (early T1/2) craft should require the support of heavier starships i.e. cruisers and strike ships. to make an assault.
As a seperate thought this could be a way of making the Command Ships have a real meaning if and only if all planetary assaulting craft are require to work in combination with a Command ship? i.e. command ship are the only ships with weapons tech greater than zero.