Also, I know Rich systems are amazing for ship building, whilst Ideal planets are great for increasing population + distribution across colonies. Is it advisable to colonize everything in my current travel range?
as Galactic Civilization player I'm colonizing everything even dead poor systems (earlier if they are near trade goods, later if not) bacause I like to have solid body of my empire systems.
Anyway, it's a good advice to research Super Ark right from begining.
I'd also like to know good custom game settings for a beginner such as myself.
I'm quite new too, but I tell what I've done and playing sucesfully so far.
In my opinion, best for a new player is a huge universe 250x250 and more with number of stars normal or dense, try 8 AI races, Research depended on game size,
Let me explain. Huge universe means there will be many many turns for exploring and colonizing before you will establish contact with first aliens. There will be many more before any of met aliens will attack you (I think they will be busy colonizing hundreds of systems).
Building hude empire is easier, and easier is to survive- loosing 3 colonies isn't a big deal when you still have 40 of them ;)