I really don't think my game is the only one pooling around the apron/guides/post, so I'd encourage others to check. This just seems to be the same adhesion issue we've been seeing for awhile now. Pulling back the artwork definitely helped, but it didn't actually address the root cause.
I did gently pull the post up (pic attached) and am planning to flatten the ripple before reinstalling. It's definitely clear that the move to a star post was a late stage change, as it also sits on top of the lane guide bracket (which I think even makes it worse cutting into the field since it's torqued down at an angle). I might actually just install the narrower post which appears to be originally intended even though I realize that opens up the outlane a bit. Guess I'll just have to play better!
As far as the apron goes, the solution I've been using for awhile is just putting a black 7/16 OD titan ring on each of the threaded posts and it does a great job of lifting the apron just enough to no longer contact the field. They fit perfectly in the recessed spots on the playfield. If anyone from Stern is reading, please just do this at the factory. It costs basically nothing and will stop the apron from damaging the playfield.
I'm still excited about the game, but between this and the diverter issue it's going to be a few days before I'm able to play it. I'm just really frustrated with Stern's continued lack of any apparent quality control here.