ShadowWorrior, you've convinced me as i didn't read the rest of your initial long post to concentrate on the "Civilian" principles;
- Diversity on maps can open up HUGE gameplay features, boost context beyond the "conventional" and enhance strategy in many ways. There are pages worth of similar stuff (The map elements that is) right here in EF's thread but a few more in the "Please slam my game" too.
- Mines (defensive) would fit well within the 15x15 per parsec theory i previously suggested simply for edge control, but also for territorial key locations. Military SB aside, it's the next best thing to protect the proverbial Neutral Zone. But lemme explain why in specific terms;
1- A parsec is 3.26LYs and it takes 206,265 AUs (Earth to Sun) to fill up that space. GC2 stars gobble up a whole Parsec, relatively speaking. Their system is then, by a loooong shot, much bigger than ours in reality.
2- Even if i were to put 15 tile squares across, they would still be worth 13,751 AUs each!
3- Now, forget the above & think in abstract terms.
4- What we need somehow is diversified systems which can contain more than five planets & 3 asteroids fields while leaving plenty of room for ships to travel through. Thus, 15x15. On a secondary but independantly zoomable "main screen map" that you can switch from & too and that provides the whole usual spectrum of activities -- Combat, StarBase, range, trade routes, etc.
** To better visualize the above principles here's an extremely well done custom map "features filled" system by SirNastyofTang for you consult;
** and even further below in that thread, threat yourselves with the miracle bunch of many more planets as an illusion!
5- Fifteen AUs (of the bigger kind, real distance wise) to Parsec to Sector to Quadrant. Is a solution.
6- Only then, Bring on the mines.