I started reading the manual too. The general idea of the game is becoming more clear now. I think the idea behind making the faction capitals being secure is to prevent the "quick win" strategy of defeating a faction and grabbing their galaxies simply by hitting the capital... the idea is to fight over the galaxies one by one, playing out a longer game.
I'm seeing that while the mechanics are simple... getting you into the game quickly and then getting that "I gotta play one more turn" impulse... its the overall design and how things mesh together, including the limitations on things, that keep me interested. This is a very well designed game... something you actually have to think about what you are doing as you go along and not just concentrating on key smashing, essentially pointless micromanagement, blindly blasting everything you see or rushing for some "quick win" strategy. I don't have to concentrate on the mechanics, I get to concentrate on the actual game and can take countless paths through it. Sure, there's some repetition, but the tasks, goals and actions do have an effect. Seems like the developer put some real thought into this thing to make you fully play the entire game and its open ended enough to play through it many ways. I have to say I'm impressed.
And yes there are "cheats"... I found them. I can't see where I would ever use any. I think none of them look all too interesting and I think they pretty much just mess up the flow of the game.