BC (also shown as tax +1) bonus is quite powerful (cost 7 points) because it's multiplicative with other sources of income such as government, morale and buildings. It's as if each population unit counts as two for the purpose of taxation. Fantastic traders (in some places referred as expert traders, yeah, game can't make up it's mind) have all sorts of situational bonuses: +25% BC from trade treaties, double income from surplus food and double profit from building trade goods. Trade treaty bonus looks decent but absolute numbers are not to so big and normal taxation bonus will always overshadow it. Extra cash from surplus food is also symbolic bonus because early on you want to have as smallest surplus as possible and later on you won't be producing so much food to see comparable difference to regular taxation. More cash from trade goods on the other hand can have big impact because a good planet can dish out a lot of industry points. The perk costs 4 points but in the eyes of many players it's not worth half the cost unless one is about exploiting credit cheat. Lucky is another ineffective trait, for 3 points only good events can happen to the player and Antarans rarely attack his colonies. Well, events happen every 50 turns to a random player so in four player on average this perk does nothing for 200 turns. Or on the positive side it does one thing during the whole game. Not being pestered by Antarans early on is helpful but they too appear very infrequently. Low G is negative trait, it costs -5 points and the race suffers -25% penalty to farming, industry and research on normal G planet and -10 in ground combat. There is no economy penalty on low G planets and the homeworld has low gravity. Dictatorship is default government type, see Alkari playthrough for more details.
Since last few games on normal turned out to be quite easy, this time I've started a game on hard. My starting position was decent, large desert and small ultra rich barren. Not spectacular, weak early game potential but quite good for the long run. While homeworld was providing food, large desert became research center and small ultra rich an emergency shipyard and main housing (extra population growth) center. Neighboring stars were so so, couple of irradiated average planets and a medium tundra in Weg system. I've landed my initial colony ship on tundra and immediately (turn 7) got in contact with Sakkra. At first I thought it's going to be an opportunity to use my trade bonus but it turned out Sakkrans were repulsive. If that didn't spell early war clearly enough, positions of their colonies did. In four player maps homeworlds are usually near corners but their was in a middle of the map. Cephee, their first expansion was in my direction and it was quite logical they will use it as staging point for attacking Weg. I've scouted remaining stars I had in range, encountered space crystal at Mensa system which guarded large ultra rich gaia with natives and parked other scout at neutral Yen system. That proved to be a good decision because on turn 22 I've spotted Sakkra troop transporter going to Cephee and it gave me time to prepare defense at Weg. My defenses were humble, two frigates, former scouts refitted with two unrefined nuclear missiles each. On turn 30 Sakkra moved to Weg but didn't attack. They blockaded the system for a few turns, until I've built 3rd frigate.
Settling Yen got me in range with Silicoids, another repulsive race. At first I didn't know how powerful they were so I've left Sakkra alone (they where down to their home system) and hoped they will be a distraction while I build up my army. I managed to steal positronic computer from Sakkras and advance physics on my own so I started to refit missile ships with lasers, a lot of lasers. Plus usual special equipment for beam ships, battle scanner and battle pods. Thing is everybody had class I shields which are not strong enough to make lasers ineffective and miniaturized armor piercing lasers are very strong weapon. While I was arming up Tanus, a colony leader, offered me his services and when I hired him I got pleasantly surprised by getting imperium, an advanced govnerment technology from him. My first field test of laser destroyers was against Sakkra who tried to invade me with quite sizable fleet (4 or so battleships with 3 more smaller ones). Lasers ripped their titanium hull to shreds. Then I figured I have enough military power to deal with space crystal and on turn 212 I colonized juicy large ultra rich gaia in Mensa system. I pumped all my money and excess population (mainly from small ultra rich in my home system) to that colony and turned it into a heavy duty shipyard. At this point I've filled command point capacity with destroyers and the time came for bigger ships so I started to build battleships. Where destroyers where packing 9 lasers, battleships could go up to 40. While I was preparing for eventual Silicoid invasion I've also backfilled systems around my homeworld and on turn 240 I was a candidate for galactic council. Silicoids were too numerous to be out voted by Meklars and me at that but that event gave me hope of eventually winning the game with diplomaticy rather then being forced to conflict.
Silicoids on the other hand had no other options then to expand through conquest. On turn 255 they defeated Sakkra and were at war with Meklars and few turns later they tried their luck on me. My laser destroyers and few battleships were strong enough to handle their titans but not powerful enough repel Antarans who decided to raid Yen (again but with me controlling it this time). Their fleet was quite big at this point, 3 frigates, 2 destroyers and a cruiser. I managed to destroy their frigates and retreat battleships on time, thanks to heavy armor but unfortunately the colony got bombarded to oblivion. On the flip side I had second colony in the system so I've managed to remain in control of the system and rebuild the lost colony. After Antaran incident I've proceeded to conquer Silicoids and grow my population to increase voting power. I would have won at turn 290 election if Meklars did vote for me. I traded few more technologies with them to improve standing, tried to make an alliance with them but as usual they were not keen on signing. 50 turns later I assimilated more of Silicoid empire, switched weaponry to phaser beams, defeated Orion guardian and got Meklars to vote for me.
It was a bit slow game if you go by technology progression rate but considering the cause of it was early and constant war, it was an interesting game. The fact that most of the fights were fought with imperfect technologies (plain, non-MIRV missiles), sort of subversion of expectation brought extra fun factor. So did Gnolam traits influence the game and my play style? Low G certainly did slow my economy down. Monetary bonuses didn't look very influential early on while I was playing but in retrospect I was buying a lot more buildings than I could with other races, I was even able to afford buying ships and I didn't have to wait long to afford most expensive leaders. Also there was no mid-game deficit period where building maintenance cost would grow over tax income and by time as I was half way through technology tree I had enough income to go substantially over command point capacity. Gnolams are deceptively strong. I doubt lucky trait probably saved from negative events because Silicoids got a lot of good events but it kept Antarans away from me for the most part.
One side note, see how top right part of galaxy map is uninhabited? It's not because nobody has bothered to send a colony ship there, it's because there was no habitable planets. There was 2 toxic ones in Python system and the rest where either empty systems or filled with gas giants.