And posts recording claiming to have some teachable aspects
The gods of gaming software have allowed the following recording (http://www50.zippyshare.com/v/31577325/file.html) of a self-study in a constricted frontliner game to be made and played successfully (I tested playback twice), so I'm posting it here because I think it illustrates some interesting points; roughly in the order of their occurrence:
1) In an otherwise balanced setting, the disadvantage of starting with the randomly spawned cluster of factories to the rear translates into one less extractor for considerable period of time (at least one constructor-spawn-under-siege cooldown of 5 minutes.) This outcome matched the theoretical calculation of having to cross almost one more grav well from the production center to the enemy taking a time almost equal to the build time of an extractor.
2) The fallacy of early defense. The blue player (which due to the disadvantage from point 1) meets the enemy in his own territory, but this is unfortified, and such an engagement is actually to the attacker's advantage. The two cap ships take practically equal damage but the Orange one is also glassing Blue's roid, while the Blue cap ship ain't doing that [so not putting to simultaneous use all its weapons]. The correct response here would have been for the Blue cap ship to counter-strike Orange's roid. The loss of the roid for the Blue player became effectively irreversible as taking a roid under enemy presence is just as hard if not harder as holding one early on, while Orange could fortify his at the expense of slightly less fleet for a while, despite the half-harted raiding attempts from Blue.
2.5) A repair platform capable of 30 hp per second will save a cap ship from a pursuing fleet of 10-15 frigates, even if the cap is down to 300-500 hp. The combination of armor and high shield mitigation makes that level of repair of on a cap outperform an early game fleet's dps.
3) Finally, the fairly significant resource difference (mostly stemming from point 2, but also a bit from 1) translates into the Orange being able to field more illums, which cost more resources, and these eventually sweep Blue's fleet away claiming what was initially blue's roid for Orange's dominion. (I didn't play the subsequent mop up phase.) Note that the difference in credit incomes was marginal because a roid contributes little in taxes. Had I used the DLC feature of social specialization, I could have probably transformed Orange's resource advantage in a faster credits advantage too, but I didn't want to go that way.
And if you're confused as to how this recording was made, the Orange player [despite its name] was also played by the same human [myself] as the Blue player, using the dev exe to switch the active player as needed (which is to say pretty often). No other dev commands were used. The recording doesn't start from the very beginning because I had a save game to [re]start from (an earlier attempted recording crapped out on playback.) I've also built more or less the same fleet for both sides [both were Advent Loyalists] as long as that was possible due to resource constraints. If you want the [rather trivial map] to use it yourselves it's posted at http://pastebin.com/CTixrG7C.
Questions & comments welcome.