You're absolutely right; very often less is more. That's definitely one of the strengths of CW1. But believe me, Virgil is very aware of that. The basics of the game remain the same and in fact anybody would be able to create a CW1 map without using any of the new features. It would just look nicer.
That said I'm sure you'll love fighting the Digitalis. It offers map makers an additional option to make a map interesting right from the start without using insane emitters. The game is being tested thoroughly to ensure new units are not overpowered. I find myself beating maps the old fashioned way most of the time, just with some aid of the new units.
Besides that the programmable units will offer map makers the option to become even more creative. Some may go overboard with that, but it's a learning curve, so their next map will be better. I know I have made some maps too hard for the average player....
If you are still looking for nice CW1 maps, I can recommend you some great map makers. Try a few maps made by:
- Sauffaus (he created my all time favorite: Alien Alter Ruin. Graphics are great as well.)
- Fisherck (many very good maps that are interesting and never become a slog, especially the harder ones)
- Kapoios (creator of the best puzzle map ever: The Temple of Moloch.)
- MadMag (definitely the best looking maps around.)
- Sqaz (nice historical and geographical maps. Also inventor of the Multitask map.)
- Bort (just a few, but all of them very much worth playing. I'm sure you'll curse him too!)
- ItsFunToLose (one of the very good early map makers.)
- F0R (if you like natural looking terrain maps.)
- Vexsin (did a very nice hard series.)
There probably are many more, because I stopped playing after playing more than 1000 of them (hundreds before scores even could be submitted; that feature was added later).
Enjoy and keep struggling, that's what makes it so much fun. Cursing is fine too, as long as you hit the restart button.