I read everything...don't always understand some of them (game-play stuff and programs that I don't have) and I don't say anything if I don't have anything to add but I do read every post.
I think it looks excellent and very striking as well with the way you did the coastal shallows. The thumbnail looks so so, always does, but at full size I think it's great.
The cities on that map are modified brushes of the Photoshop default 1 pixel hard round. I set the scatter way up around 800 (and count around and when you make a click it puts down a bunch of dots. Couple of clicks and you have a bunch of dots then I add some layer styles (those are posted in the Jasmine Coast thread somewhere) and that's all. The forts are custom brushes that I made and those are in the Mapping Elements section.
Forests on this scale are generally left as dark green areas and not "foresty" textured. I've never experimented with doing forests, really, on this scale.