Yeah, some micro managing will have to be done... but it is well worth it and demonstrates the flexibility of this awesome game.
1) This was from Modest's post and is a great tip for scouting and fighting a war of attrition.
2) The pirate missions are a bit of gamble since the pirates may or may not succeed (you only pay them if they are successful), but are useful nonetheless. Also, it helps if you have somewhat good relations with a pirate faction. Another tip to note, the chances are usually better if the pirate faction has a considerable amount of firepower.
The available pirate missions can be viewed by clicking on the little pirate flag icon on the left hand side of the screen, between the race flag [potential colonies] and crossed shovel and pick [potential mining locations]. There is no limit, but you need the money to pay for them.
If the mission succeeds, there should be a notification that it was successful and that the money was deducted from your empire. If they fail, you get the notification that they failed and no money gets deducted.
One thing to note about pirate missions as well as spy missions, is that they are not immediate and take quite some time.
3) You don't need to have an empire like you to try and get trade sanctions imposed. Press F5 to open the diplomacy screen and click on the Teekan empire and see if there are any empires that are not on good terms with the Teekans.
Those are the ones you want to trade with. Once you open the trade screen, you will see a list of resources to trade from both sides and keep trying options until you get one that would be accepted. Remember, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".
Not 100% certain about reputation taking a direct hit from trade sanctions, but I think it may... but you can always kill off some pirates to get this back up.
4) Sand slugs have been a bit of a limited resources in the games I've played. They usually appear early in the games and then are gone by late game. I've mostly found them around asteroid belts and systems owned by other empires (desert type planets).
When I do find them, I usually patrol the area where they were found making sure that at least 1 lives from the hunt since they seem to spawn with at least 1 present.
I don't know if there is a best way to find them, but I'd create some exploration ships and send them to those kinds of locations to see.
5) Yes, scouting would be best to see what you're up against. Depending on the situation, I'd create a strike force to manually control the raids. One thing to do if the mining stations are heavily protected (station defenses as well as Teekan ships), I'd hover around the area and attack the freighters AFTER they get loaded from the mining stations. That way, they not only lose the ships, they also lose the resources they just mined.
Dirty pool... yes, it is. The key thinking here is that this strike force should be considered "expendable" since it will be raiding in enemy territory and , quite possibly, will meet a stronger force once it has raided enough to be deemed a nuisance. Fast destroyers with emphasis on speed and fuel (and enough firepower to destroy freighters and mining stations). These ships should not be constructed for ship to ship battles.
As for mining station defense, depending on your tech level and designs, most stations will have shields and/or some basic weaponry. Some empires may put some ships for defense if it is a critical resource. This is somewhat expensive and also pulls ships away from fleets and strike forces, but this strategy ensures that you have a gas mining station available as a possible refueling point for long way points.
6) Space ports definitely will aid in trade. Also make sure to pick up the "Space Commerce" line of tech in HighTech & Industrial. There are 2 wonders that will definitely boost this:
- Traders Bazaar from "Open Trade Network"
- Trade Guild from "Unlimited Commerce"
The "Docking Bay" branch and "Basic Storage and Payloads" branch in HighTech & Industrial are also useful in increasing freighter and spaceport capacity and throughput.
7) I believe it must be them to start. I've been in several wars as the Teekans (that I didn't start) and this is the easiest race victory condition to achieve.
8) I don't think I should give this away. Especially since it sounds like you haven't experienced this yet. This would be too much of a spoiler. But what I can tell you is that the Ancient Guardians must be present in the galaxy.