I was wrong about an impossible difficulty taking the pressure off. I survived on difficulty 10 for a little over two hours, and towards the end I started thinking to myself "hey, what if I make it."
seriously, I entertained the notion that I, as a complete novice could
somehow (presumably through a combination of dumb luck and natural
strategic acumen) defy the odds and survive indefinitely in the most
difficult part of an already notoriously difficult game. I mean, I'm not delusional. I knew that it wasn't likely. But I successfully conquered a star system. I survived several waves of reprisals. I thought I'd be dead within minutes and miraculously I wasn't.
So I decided to play slowly and methodically. To not take any risks and carefully consider each attack. To only move when I was at my unit cap. And it seemed to be working. Until I made a newb mistake and was almost instantly overwhelmed.
It turns out that even losing the game takes more time than I'd thought. So my plan to move down the difficulty levels is probably untenable. I can only assume that as I go down the list the time to die will take progressively longer. Every time I start a new game, there's the possibility that it will be my last.
This is complicated by the fact that, thanks to a tip from Bremen, I learned that there are a bunch of scenarios and optional units that I could enable. So I started an easy game with all the options enabled. I've had a couple of interesting encounters, but it hasn't been the overloaded conga-line of complications that I was expecting.
I think I'll start a Difficulty 9 game and see how long it takes to kill me and then if it takes too long, I will go back to my kitchen-sink game. My agenda now is to learn as much about the game as possible before No Man's Sky comes out.