When you say strategic, the first thing i hear is "move units over a map to pew-pew other units." so likely you'll end up in another genre if you don't want that.
How about every planet in your empire has it's own characteristics, that you have to balance out?
- the species living on it can give bonus to internal security and reaction-speed to your orders
also the loyalty-changes are bigger/faster for some species.
- the type of planet enables mining of certain materials
- the atmosphere will determine which species can potentially live there
- the governor will gives speed to development of new....umm, let 's say factories for now
planets have certain needs to keep functioning properly(usually this is called happiness or morale, but it should be something more then just the sum of satisfied needs vs. unsatisfied needs; for example a present army would give more internal security, better chance on stopping a revolt if it happens, but not pre-emptively stopping a revolt,
they will also decrease morale on the planet if there are not enough brothels available, and off course they'll have some (other) kind of upkeep-cost)
and they need resources for that that need to be transported and consumed.
Now let's say there are space-pirates that you have to deal with, but they're too strong to just wipe out.
A player needs to get resources past them without being intercepted(cloaked freighter, pay the pirates off, take a different route, just let a planet perform less for a while?)
and sometimes the pirates will bond together making a big fleet and attempt to pillage a planet.
(I recommend against a success/fail approach and just assume that pirates will always deal some damage to the sociological structures of a planet,
but how much would depend on defenses and such)
Notice how there are still fighting units moving around(pirates) but the player controls the counters(resources, governors, certain laws) to them.
As a side-note, in MOO2, i often had my fleet protecting whichever star-system was still under development, since the other star-systems were usually capable of defending themselves, it was actually not very strategic that way imo, but for the game you want such a strategy might be what you want with your fleet
(aka they're just at one place defending/building there so you can expand in the long-term, while the actual fighting/interacting/strategy happens in the rest of the empire)