You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
Ahhh....my misspent youth...
I agree with Paul's assessment.
Fleets in general are going to be smaller and your games are going to be more subject to random die roll quirks because there are fewer ships to absorb a situation where one player rolls a "1" four times in a row. Because you won't be able to afford a lot of scouts, your fleets are going to hit more than their fair share of surprises when they encounter each other.
It will definitely make it easier to play the battles out with Talon, which is your goal. If you want to just make the fleets smaller without altering the dynamics of the game as much, then just add 20% to the cost of each ship.
I find this discussion refreshing because far too many fans of the game complain that maintenance costs are too high. They want lots more ships on the map so they can smash ever larger fleets against each other. The problem with that approach is that it removes a lot of the subtleties of not having enough ships to do everything you want, which is a far more interesting challenge.
Thank you for mentioning that. That is something that people do not always realize when they first play the game. A simple example is scouting. When fleet becomes really large, scouting often becomes a bit of a no brainer - toss a scout into your opponent's ships and find out what they are. When the fleets are smaller, the decision of whether to do that is much more interesting and agonizing.
The maintenance costs are also one of a number of things that is meant to punish the turtle player. Ships that are built are meant to be used. The one who builds a big fleet to turtle is basically strangling his own economy.