I think some element of chance would make things more interesting in the game, particularly towards the end of the game.
I like the idea of chance, but before i’d give up the predictable and controlled outcome of battles, i’d rather that you could upgrade individual fleet weapon tech, so that you can tip the scales with a flagship in one area, but still be vulnerable in another area. perhaps weapons tech science unlocks higher attack rating overall AND makes upgrades available to purchase on a fleet…
but fleets are only upgradable on a star that has enough science industry on it, so that you can’t just upgrade a fleet in the middle of the enemy’s territory, unless you take over an established star.
This would make fleets more valuable, rather than just throwing 100’s of ships in dispensable fleets, you would see retreats, and battles would be more strategic, while still keeping predictable and controlled outcomes.