With the ZYWs, I end on April 8th of year zero, but I've found that extending by 1-4 turns will raise my score just a bit more, if I'm still researching and not below -500bc. I'm not sure how you lasted almost a full year without going into debt. I dont use focus at all, but maybe other people do. it will definitely slow down your research though. Here is generally how my games go:
turn 1 - lease buy lab on a bonus tile, research Xeno Research
turn 2 - leas buy 2nd lab, research Advanded Computing & 1st Minitiarization tech
turn 3 - lease buy Tech Capital, research Impulse Drive
turn 4 - upgrade lab, research Space Militiraization
turn 5 - upgrade 2nd lab, research Spore
turn 6 - start buying economic structures, finish Spore
turn 7 until end of game - more economic structures, buy first spore ship, and start whacking the enemy, research diplomatic techs and sell tech to minor civs to stay out of the red economically, get Interstellar Republic, Star Democracy, Xeno Entertainment, etc, to up morale, taxes, and therefore economy score.
I usually have my space miner next to the enemy homeworld by the time I research Spore, so I can upgrade it right there and kill it immediately. Let me know if you have any questions about more specifics. Other people will probably chime in too.
I followed your starting pattern (1-5)almost exactly. I had read Wyndstar's AAR on the MVL round 6 thread. However, I am still playing DL and couldn't use the faster spore technique. I would have had it won before April, if the AI hadn't colonized more than 5 planets. My problem was that I had leased 5 transports and attacked with them and once they were all expended I hit the economic collapse and I still had more planets to kill. At that point I had shot my wad on transports and was already negative with around -380 cash per turn. Once I went past -500 all production and reaserch stopped to go pure cash, as it does, but my leases were around 273 per turn and it was impossible to get positive cash flow even in that situation. I though I was toast and would lose the game, but after playing with the sliders and focus I found that if you keep the production slider at 100% and 100% research (I was going all lab), but focused your planets on military it would still give you some production (without focus it was straight zeros on all planets). This allowed me to produce enough transports to finish the AI off, but was so slow I couldn't get it done within the year. The AI almost recovered, since I was getting zero research, slow producing transports with no attack ships, and pulling down about -380 income/turn for 3/4 of a year. I think I ended up with about -12000 cash at the end.
My score pretty much sucked, I got 0 points in military since I never built a combat ship, and I'm surprised I got 183 in Econ since it was in the toilet so long. I think it said my average income was -378 and my most profitable month was for 0.
For alignment, just set it to the evilest possible before you start the game.
I didn't know about this. Can I do this in DL? I was thinking it went with the racial default if I never had an ethics event.