And none of this addresses the issue that a flat surface map is superior in information presentation/density to a globe. Basically, a 3D globe gets you a whole lot of eye-candy, no features that can't be much more simply implemented on a flat surface, and a whole bunch of deficiencies the flat map doesn't have.
I'm not against bling/eye-candy - heck, the whole "watch the ships circle the planet" view in GC2 when you zoomed down was pure eye-candy, and served no purpose at all other than looked real cool. It *is* a game, after all, and looking great is a big selling point.
But functionality/playability over everything else, period. Eye candy you add in AFTER everything else, and is MUST NOT hurt playability. I can't see a globe planet view making that criteria.
Again, the globe could be useful in terms of planetary invasion. Invading a spherical planet is totally different from invading a flat map-style one, since on the flat planet there are edges and on the globe (as in real life) there are not. The logistics associated with the game, invasion routes, etc. would be completely different on a round planet vis à vis a flat one. This is not pure eye candy, it could serve a purpose.
I would also point out that how just about everything military in GCII is a 'terrible injustice to the military, political, economic, and logistical challenges that accompany' just about anything military in GCII. Operating a fleet at the extreme edge of its range should be entirely different from operating the same fleet out of a convenient port, wars have incredibly little impact on approval (same goes for victories and defeats) and the economy (unless your war requires you to further expand your military or switch a significant number of planets over to active ship production to make good losses), technology that isn't marked 'weapon' or 'defense' matters very little in combat, no one cares if you gas a billion people or drop asteroids on major population centers during an invasion, and the espionage system is garbage. This doesn't justify completely redoing the system, as long as the system works well enough for the game.
Why shouldn't it justify changing the military system? Honestly, it would probably not take that much effort to create tactical maps (just use the same ship models, perhaps several ships for each fleet, and have them fight in a smaller tactical sum-map). GCII could become a much better game militarily if the true challenges of military use were explored. Stardock shouldn't make a game that functions "well enough"; it should work to make a better and better game. In addition to tactical maps, I would support efforts to place stellar systems within smaller system maps, to reflect the fact that planets orbiting one star are generally not halfway in between their host star and another, but much closer to the host star.
Also, regarding the soccer-ball problem, the issue could be easily resolved by using triangular tiles instead of hexagonal (this could apply to the main map as well although it wouldn't be exactly necessary. This eliminates nearly all of the inconsistencies and discrepancies associated with hexagonal tiles while still allowing for natural, organic terrain to be created. Although pentagons would still be formed by the triangles, they would not have an effect on the movement of units. This makes geodesic spheres a good model to use. Below is an example:
The issue regarding models could be resolved by taking the Civilization model of building construction, creating cities and then constructing buildings inside those cities (farms, mines, lumber mills, field labs, and other tile improvements could be constructed outside). Thus 3D models do not have to be detailed, if they exist at all, and the work of developers is reduced greatly. Since planets would be much larger, Planet Quality would not depend on how many tiles there are to use (although the Habitat Improvement line of techs should still make unusable tiles, which may have strategic resources, Precursor mines/libraries, etc., usable) but would have a certain value for the planet, representing the amount of waste that its ecosystem can process and assimilate while remaining in balance. Buildings and people would produce quantities of waste; while certain techs (Xeno Recycling?) and buildings could reduce the amount of waste, they would not be able to entirely eliminate it. To go beyond the limit of Planet Quality, one would either have to risk crop failures, industrial accidents, and the like on a planet, or would be forced to transport waste between planets (which would be ruinously expensive and would create space junk that harms your spacecraft).