First of all, well done getting to semis.
Just a few thoughts on what you said.
I'll agree that this mod places the emphasis on tactics and away from shipbuilding. And it does take skill to win.
I guess if the object of the mod was to make it a strategic/tactical game the creators accomplished this. But if I wanted to play a strategy game I'd play Risk.
One object that Gowron had was to make the game more balanced (that's not to say it's completely balanced). By and large he seems to have achieved this objective and for tourament play that is a very desirable thing from my perspective.
Probably a secondary object to make ship battles both bigger and longer, by reduced damage and quick shipbuilding. Again this has been achieved.
However, strategic options have changed drastically from Vanilla. i.e. Raiding used to be a valid option if you needed money to support a large fleet and was particularly good for cloaked empires with experienced raiding ships.
Now, it might have been too easy to get money this way in Vanilla, but now it's not worth building ships with raiding in mind, as the amount gained in a raid, even with legendary ships sat over AI's home system so that you're raiding maybe 6 big systems simultaneously, is so low that it doesn't cover the ship support cost for those ships.
So, if you can't get money to support your fleet from raiding, what about getting the population up?
Problem here is that colonizing is so slow that it may not even be worth building colony ships, but look to subjugate instead. Again, not easy as planetary assault has generally become more difficult in this mod and you have to be very careful how you do it.
OK, what about scrapping ships to get money? No way, you only get 15% of ship build cost back, so it is no longer a valid tactic to have maybe 3 or 4 systems building and just scrapping ships on one of those systems to keep you in the black on a big minus credits per turn situation.
This seems to leave diplomacy as the route to get money, either through trading, or through making demands of the AI. Sometimes this seems much easier in this mod, but I don't get consistant results.
I can see that Gowron wants us to think about our strategy and decision making and we haven't gone all the way to your "RISK" analogy, but I can completely see where you're coming from.
I like this mod (mainly for the balance), but not without reservation. I believe that a halfway house on raiding, scrapping, colonizing and even planetary assault would be desirable.
Also, is it really neccessary to be surrounded at T5 with 5 large developed systems, all with 3 class M planets? I'm sure that a bit of variety in this area would be easy to achieve, but still allow balance, just to make the game more interesting. After all, you know exactly what you're going to get in BoP and having some surprise in starting systems would be nice.
Gowron, please don't take these comments as negatives, they're just personal observations/preferences and I believe that this is so far the best mod for tournament play in any case.