You can turn off pirates once you get the patch. Its in game options. Pirates are pretty lame once you figure out where they are going to hit. The scary part about them the first time is that you don't know so you have to build around everywhere.
Standard build once you get 1.12 in usual game maps:
Buy crystal, update infrastructure, build capital ship factory, queue your cap ship. Usually progenirator for advent, marza for tec, and Evacuator for vasari. Build crystal extractor. Queue scouts. Usually 2-3. In small maps, this should allow you to explore the whole map. And once you see your cap ship come out, scuttle your factory. This is because the first cap is free, and subsequent cap ships are going to require a lot of resources and research.
Play advent first to get used to standard builds. Use your colonizer cap ship to speed up your expansion. Please note that any colonizing bonuses (like reduced costs) takes time to kick in (because the ship is sending down resources to the planets, which takes time).
If playing vasari, get one military lab and research assailant to increase your firepower. Assailants, like all long range ships (the third one in frigate factory) have the most firepower costwise. Your scouts can build extractors in neutral areas like magnetic clouds/gas giants where you can't colonize but you see asteroids that you can mine. Take them, you will need it. Vasari is very resource heavy. The egg is nice with colony.
Note: this is going to be the standard. Researching ships is way more important in warfare outside of repair bays.
With tec, its pretty much like Advent except your LRF is at 2nd military tier and your trade is at 2nd civillian tier. If you see immediate threats, go millitary, if you are safe in your immediate vicinity, go civillian and economy boom with trade posts.
Edit: Of course, always build your extractors quickly.
That should speed up your game quite a bit.