MikkoM, you show with your points about facing, why facing could also be strategic. If a player chooses to use an aggressive approach to gameplay, they could specifically design their ships with intentional facings to support their aggressive nature.
A likely scenario would be ships with almost all weapons place in the front, almost all armour placed in the front, almost all shields placed in the front, and almost all sensors placed in the front (within ultimate final ship design allowances). The engine will highest speed available within the allowance.
Strategic game tactic would be to hit and run planets and installations. Fast burn in, take the punishment on the front, drop your payload, or fire your weapons, then fast burn out of system, not staying for any prolonged battle. As long as these type ships don't get flanked, they will have always have superior firepower to bear on their opponent, unless facing a like built ship.
As MikkoM stated, these type ships would be highly susceptible to ambushes and flank attacks. Another viable strategic use for this type of attacking, would be where a player controls a bottleneck system, and can place all their defenses in this system, and is faced by multiple strong opponents forcing a harassing, hit and run tactic(you are unable to commit to a protracted battle, and depleting your fleet against one opponent, for fear of attack from another).
These ships could also be utilised as additional last ditch directional planetary defensive support.
For the very same reason you don't want every race fighting with the exact same weaponry, you don't want the same shields (and shield facings), and armour (and armour facings).
As for the overall implementation of the roadmap, I think we're fine at the moment, and are not over-doing things, yet; although I have two concerns. One is maintaining focus as we expand the game's development with a relatively small focus group that hasn't grown too much since the game's inception. The good part of small is that a consensus can generally be reached easier.
The second concern is the strategic roadmap that tzlaine noted. As Geoff said, creating one is easier said than done. However, I have always thought this should have been done before any mention of ship design, tactical, battles, or even planetary production and development. I think a lot of what can, and can't be done strategically (once decided) has a large bearing on the subsequent ship design, ship roles, planetary defensive roles, and tactical battle design (and etc.). I think there should be a more definitive strategic roadmap decided on, so everyone is looking at the same big picture, instead of everyone using their individual perceived big picture.
This shouldn't be that hard, given that we already have 3 previous MOOs to work off of. And the fact that most of this has been hash out here already. We need to define a firm basic "skeleton" to FO, then flesh it out later. The basics of 4X games are given: races, planets\systems, fleets, diplomacy,growth\production, etc.
Take for example races, when that subject arises, it is quickly dismissed as a subject of a future version, and not to be focused on yet. However, I think the basics of race should be known now, and the details fleshed out later when that version arrives. We should know now a) How many b) What types c) strengths of each d) weaknesses of each e) a general idea of racial gameplay balance f) racial planet preference g) type of ship\building preference (organic,mineral,etc.) . The name of a race or it's story background is not important now and is for later versions
As for ships\fleets A) maximum distance, including any racial modifiers b) movement, both galaxy and in system c) supplied? d)where\how built e) basic racial modifiers? f)number of types g) maximum total number of h)where\how repaired. Details like roles, weapons, shields, identifiers, etc. would be fleshed out after the strategic picture is in place.
Repeat the above for other strategic aspects of 4x gameplay.
I think it would be helpful if there was literally a map. A schematic or flowchart of strategic policy, above the use of the wiki.
Anyway, enough for now.