Rimstalker wrote:... and I already had deleted the nastier part of my post before I hit 'Submit'.
In any case, a more objective analysis of the AQ games: IMHO, this scenario comes down to who can take down bases.
Ships are generally a bit smaller, so more often than not, you will lose ships to bases when trying to push in. I had based my whole gameplan for AQ5 on this, and thus (especially thanks to Starbase+ and my falcons) every base on my border 200 lys inwards was maxed out, and I went for the throat of anyone who could also take down bases, and especially after Gavan who was a very likely candidate to proliferate his SSDs.
Lizards were out as base-takers thanks to Starbase+
Fascists were attacked quite badly by Lurkers and once I had Gil's 'signature' on a border agreement, I felt very safe on that front. I also felt that he was unhappy about a kind of 4-way alliance of Dominion, Fed, Priv (?) and Tholians.
That left only Gavan, and I hope that also explains why I even went for the bad ship trades in combat. Not sure if he noticed as well, but I specifically went after the bases in front of the queue to keep new tech10 ships of his from popping out, while he mostly ignored the important ID bases I had towards the border.
For the record, the super-alliance in AQ5 was Lizard, Priv, Romulan, Klingon. That alliance was born when I (Fed) was on the verge of crushing the Priv, and the Lizard and Romulan jumped to the rescue of the Priv after securing their backsides with an alliance with the Klingon.
In AQ 5, I was originally allied only with the Xtal. As the game progressed and more alliances became exposed, I became allied with the Cardassian and later the Dominion. Neither the Cardassian or Dominion alliance ever fully developed -- distance made cooperation difficult.
Also for the record, in AQ1 I had no allies at all and went solo as the Klingon and waged a very succuessful war against an alliance composed of the Bird, Cardassian, Maquis, and Privateer. (That was fun!)