I fired one up the other day on Incredible difficulty using this: https://forums.galciv4.com/512126/page/1/#3850956 (Sycloness' guide) for the first 25 or so turns. I have put scanners on starbases and I agree that's helping to spread influence quite a bit.
I used the largest galaxy size and I'm glad I turned off Prestige victory as I was too far from the Mimots to have slowed them down much before I think they'd have won by that method. Since I've met less than half the other civs, someone else could even be doing better. I started off in a corner of the galaxy. I'm still behind on points but I think victory is inevitable as my manufacturing and research are way better. The Earth is by far my largest manufacturing and research planet--it helps to have numerous colonies feeding it.
The only problem is I may not finish this game, as it is starting to get clunky and turn processing takes a while. I even have 32GB RAM. The second largest galaxy size setting works fine on my rig, though, so I'll probably stick to that in the future.