I've just played my first game, which was quite enjoyable. I'm a bit concerned with the patron ideology ability, that makes your fleets unattackable if they number less than four ship. If I understand correctly, this makes planets in the system unassaultable as well, since you can't assault a planet if there is an opposing fleet in the system. This effectively allows a patron player to block multiple systems from enemy attacks. The only way around this I can see is the use of offensive diplomacy, but this wont work on uninhabited planets making them impervious to hostile actions. Am I missing something? How do you effectly counter a patron player?
You should check the mini glossary at the end of the manual.
It states, that the term "opposing fleet" is applicable to fleets with minimum 4 ships.
If I understand this correctly, that means that only fleets with 4+ ships block assault and stop movement through systems in which they are stationed.