If you spend more energy attacking and defeating a nearby empire, rather than expand into territory you have within range, it is certainly possible to end up in a worse circumstance of empire size. I've done it before. Rather I can expand into that fertile soil and steamrole that neighbor a bit later. I'm not sure I really fall in line with you rush bunnies. Remember, I play strategic. It's just not that easy to kill someone early on. You can't just send your first cruiser packed with missiles and wipe someone out in strategic.
You are constantly jumping between the modes in your messages, what can i do. Clarify it in case you think its important. Problem here is that have no difference at all in this certain question. Forget about bltizing, as in that case there is no talk about such fancy late techs at all, even Icemod could be done with 0RP spend in a whole game on a huge impossible on Average tech, while Rocco fixed it alittle recently. We're about race development the way you stated you like.
Ofcourse you can do well without atmospherics, some poorer planets I don't even build them when I do get them! Pulson missiles are nice too, it just depends on my circumstances.
You can do well with basic nukes only, and? Or some another cheap version of fleet for strategic. Of course AI is so weak, what player can rip it apart, while playing sub-optimal, or even very suboptimal. But there is no point of discussion then. "Hey, i play this way, i know its wrong, but i play it!". There could be some point in discussing what its wrong, but poster already tell what he know it. So what left? "Wow, man, you're so cool, you know you playing it wrong, but you still play it that way, so courage!"?
My good man, Darza, you speak in such absolutes. "There IS no your way, only MY way". Pretty soon I'm going to side with Overlord about you but I would take it further. You won't just need help or a psychologist, but rather a panel of psychologists. Watching you, analyzing you in a padded room behind one way mirrors. Printing out your comments and publishing them in medical journals. You'll be quite famous.
Look, i just probably mistook you for a some new player, who is interested in game, and in learning it, as some of your early questions fitted the pattern. In case you're actually not interested in it, and prefer to act as some arrogant ignorant clown, bloated with own delusions of grandeur, like Overlord - feel free. Im not against to spend some of my free time, especially while on vacations to help to somebody, who wish that help, and eligible for, but of course i have many other much better stuff than chatting with a clowns, who are not interesting in game, but just want to brag about themselves. So yes, go ask Overlord or Cybersaber to teach you some, as they are far above the basic level, and knows some tricks, that could be helpful for you still, so you wouldnt waste your time entirely, but will use it with some surplus still.