You understand correctly. I played xtrek
a few times in the early 90s, but never really got into it. (I was much more enthralled with the even more obscure Galactic Bloodshed
- in modern terms, a multiplayer 4X space game with simultaneous turns passing in real time. (e.g., every six hours, the previous turn is processed and a new turn starts))
In my case, both the xtrek and gb servers were being run by sysadmin friends at the local university, so at least we didn't have to deal with the metagame you mentioned.