I'd say that individually for size that freespace ships are more powerfull, problem is the Empire has the sheer weight of numbers. Also, I postulate that hyperspace is slower than subspace, but, of course, you don't need a node for hyperspace.
Also, yes, Shivans win. If you survive, it's because they let you.
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Hm, the force, yeah, that may be a factor, though getting enough jedi to make a difference may be tough.