To sort of respond to your post as whole, I think the more I play the game the more it seems obvious to me that the game isn’t really balanced at all and a lot of rules and game pieces weren’t play tested as much as they probably should have been.
There are several things such as even the 40 points fleet limit that leave me wondering what the original idea was for how they thought the game would be played. Did they want fleets with only 2 ships? Did they think people wouldn’t use crew as much? Did they mean for players to be able to stack loads of Unique Treasures and only have a few actual treasure coins?
Because of these things I don’t really see the game as being competitive and only really play for fun as despite its flaws I do still think the game is enjoyable at a base level. I mostly play with my brothers who would definitely find things like UPS not fun to play with or against and as such I’ll avoid building fleets with ships or crew that might be considered questionable or too strong.
I think when it comes to disputes with fleets and rules the problem is that the only ruleset we have is the original rules of the game, which in my honest opinion aren’t really up to par and could use a large overhaul. In this sense I agree that there should be some sort of different “game modes” to the original game, but then who decides what these are and would people want to go out of their way to learn and follow them?
For example, I personally avoid ships or crew that give extra actions as I think they make certain ships capable of doing too many things before your opponent has a chance to respond. Most of these abilities are also on a die roll, which can lead to lucky streaks that can almost auto-win a game. For a lot of people extra actions are a key part to the game though so probably wouldn’t agree with me if I said I wanted them gone.
Another problem is that the community for the game isn’t very big so it’s not actually too easy to find people to play the game with. This means that for people that want to get involved in playing the game, but don’t have as much experience/knowledge or as big of a collection they can turn up and just get stomped by people playing higher level strategies as the gap between casual and competitive in this game is massive.
I think for me, if people want to play ultra competitive and use all the high end strategies these people need to create a space for themselves to play at this level (maybe an online league on VASSAL or TTS) and learn to give some leeway to players that just want to enjoy the game with fellow players at a meet-up.
In my opinion, I think that the game wasn’t really ever designed to be played super competitively and as more sets were added unintended combinations, stacking effects and abilities crept in unmonitored that lead to certain things being at a power level way higher than was expected, which is why I personally avoid some of these things.
I’ve thought about making a rules set basically from the ground up and also making fleet lists for each of the factions that would be somewhat similar to the army codices that you see in Warhammer 40k, but I don’t really play the game enough to justify spending the time to do this. I do think that something of this sort will probably be necessary if people want a fair and competitive version of the game though.
I’m not too sure what to say on resolving unfinished games as I’ve never had this problem personally, but I only ever play games with 2 or 3 players and usually max out at 60 point fleets.