I can really see both sides of this argument.
I really like the "Battlestar Gallactica" element of we just survived the last attack and the AI assumes we are finished. However from a gameplay/RL perspective it's not that helpful to thrust the average Steam player into Adama's things on your feet because they will fall short.
I really liked picking my Home Planet in AI Classic, but if I'm honest with myself I abused the set conditions/no fog-of-war /let's see what our Fabricator situation is aspect of the start screen, so I sort of like the idea of pushing the random element into the "pre-game".
Wouldn't it be fair to say to the 1st time player: "Ok you are in charge of The Ark. You are the survivor of the Wars. We need 'Metal' (or whatever), and the AI has taken all of it over. Our AI suggests we take this planet. Here's how you do it. What do you think Sir?'.
I don't want to Dog-Pile on hating the combat opening.....but it's not my favorite.
Anyways, I feel like my role is to give my visceral feedback on the hotdog factory floor....so there it is!
Because I feel I must: It's so wonderfully exciting to be seeing AI:War Deux!