How so? Controlling chokepoints in maps, making yourself with water dominance, choosing the correct units, choosing a type of organization for certain troops... how is it less strategic?
This just tells me you haven't played it ehough. Variations of the normal maps are gigantic. However, even in the normal maps, the size of the map depends on the number of players.
Well, they are. They may mean little over the minutes, but along an entire game, they do make a difference and pay for themselves rather quickly. Considering this is a game about the colonies, it also has a historical motive.
You know the "Maximum" difficulty setting is a thing, right? Though I do agree that the campaigns may suck (except the Asian Dynasties ones).
Try it while being Netherlands, with banks and factories. This is obviously imbalanced, lol.