I've bought the game a few weeks ago, then slowly bought all the DLCs (my wallet still cries about it) and I'm having a blast.
So far I've had 5 bigger save-games. First I played a bit UNE, then a Commonwealth of Man playthrough got me right before a start of a crisis. I already won at that point but the micromanagement was killing me, so afterwards I made a few new matches with new races until I landed on my current game, which is the first I've finished and got the victory screen with.
I went with the biggest 4-arm galaxy with lowest habitable planet and hyperlane density and biggest number of AI empires, FPs, marauders, etc.
My kingdom, called The Bryll Sovereingty was an inward pacifist living in agrarian Idyll on a life-seeded planet. Difficulty was Ensign with Starnet AI mod and 3x Crisis strength (more on that later).
My idea was to built an isolationist utopia which just keeps to itself, where the people are happy and where micromanagement is kept to a minimum.
I was lucky with the spawn, edge of the Galaxy, 2 choke-points. Early game consisted of me techrushing and trying hard to avoid wars. My southern neighbour was a democratic zealot, at one point I reformed my government from Enlightened Monarchy to Democracy to appease him then reformed a few decades later back when I had the fleetpower.
After managing to acquire enough tech to start making powerful fleets the early Cold-War period was done.
What followed is around a century of peace and economical prosperity. I was happy managing my ecnomy, picking ascencion perks one after the other, developing my planets, etc. I was going for Psy Ascencion, but I picked Evolution Mastery and I didn't know that blocks it, so in the end I went with bio-ascension.
The era of prosperity and non-intervention ended when my people managed to re-open the L-gates (two of which were located within my borders) and managed to slay the Drakes that get out and expand into the L-Cluster.
That was the moment I've noticed a kingdom that was in the process of snowballing, called the Foundation of Kershi. Everybody else has smaller fleets than I, worse economy (due to the constant wars) and pathetic science. This guy had 3 times my pop count, superior fleets and only slightly worse tech.
So I've changed my tactic, after century of isolation, I've started to become aggressive.
There were 4 official declaration of war with Kershi, but out of these only 2 had actually combat. Most of the wars were fought around the L-cluster in his neighbourhood.
After a few decades of fighting I got the upper hand. Didn't manage to liberate or conquer his planets but I got even better economically and technologically and crushed his fleets without heavy losses.
I got lazy and content, was'nt microing hard, afterall I was leading the boards after the fallen empires (the spiritualist one awoke but didn't do anything and liked me so it was all good)
I also did a little bit of campaign where I travelled around my neightbours and started wars of Liberation to cause a power-vaccum so nobody will try to attack me near my borders.
As a retaliation another big empire near another L-gate declared war on me, I could use the Conquest CB and grabbed a bit of territory. This was pretty much the only expansion after the early game apart from the L-Cluster for my kingdom. Beign a pacifist without a Colossus gave me no CB for conquest and to be honest I was content with this. As long as I was ahead of everybody why should I worry?
Then around year 2470 the Contingency Crisis happened. At this time I had around 80k worth of fleetpower, a 60k and a 20 fleets. Kershi had 4 25k fleets the rest of the empires had below 10k. Fallen Empires had 100k, the Awakened spiritualist had 400k but was content and was not moving out of it's borders. The only thing I was worried was reaching year 2500 and not having the most points even though I was the strongest apart from the FEs.
When the 4 AI planets spawned I was really surprised. The Contingency had 4 460k fleets and a crapton of 190k fleets which started to decimate everybody. One of his planets was nearby the Ancient Caretakers who got crushed by the time they awoke.
The moment I saw these fleetpowers I knew I screwed up. I immeditely checked if I had a savegame before the crisis so I can edit it perhaps, move the crisis strength slider down because this is just ridiculous. Sadly I didn't have one, I would've lost a lot years of progress if I reloaded.
I even started a new game with a new empire and gave up on this.
Then I got back to this save just to see the whole galaxy getting consumed by this rogue AI. I just liked my empire too much after investing so much time into it.
Thankfully I was really lucky with my Empire's location. While I did occupy 4 L-Gates, 2 being close to my homeplanet, the Contingency didn't attack me directly, only used Terminal Egress to travel around near the AI planets and started purging there.
Of course none of the regular AI empires stood a chance. Kershi was lucky as well, it was also located far away.
Just for the sake of it, I thought I will try and survive the next 30 years to reach 2500 and get the end-game window ( I didn't know you can't win while a crisis is going).
So I pulled back my fleets to my side of the L-gates and tried to hide while the rest of the galaxy fought this menace. I've started spamming Alloy Foundries and started spamming new fleets. I had an operational Sentry Array which was a huge boon.
Another big leap was me building my very first Dyson-Sphere. As ridiculous these are in concept as useful they were. At the very last months of building the first stage my empire had literally less than 100 of every resources because I had to sell everything to pay my inflated energy bills thanks to the fleet I was building.
I noticed how every Contingency fleet had the same makeup with the same weapons. So for the first time since I was playing this game I started to use the Ship builder, made a shielding-heavy battleships with lightning attacks that bypassed both armor and shield to hit the weaker hulls and later on made some torpedo-focused corvettes as well (after I read about this in here)
A turning point came when I had enough fleet to battle one of the 190k fleets (which were regularly spamming btw) without too much trouble.
I had the idea of planting a Gateway in my shipyard system and in Terminal Egress, parked my fleet on my side of the gateway and just poked in when I saw a single contingency fleet there. This way I fought the crisis on my terms and could avoid bloodshed.
This kind of tactic was really successfull because I started to clear these smaller fleets.
Later on I could build multiple megastructures like a Ring-World , a stategic center and a mega shipyard and get bigger and bigger fleets with better and better economy thanks to the Ring-World and the dyson sphere.
The Contingency shredded 3 awakened/fallen empires while I was doing this, but after a century I got strong enough to have a big enough defensive fleet constantly parked at Terminal Egress and multiple other ones going against the AI planets.
When the Contingency spawned I was 100% sure this game is an automatic failure due to me pushing the Crisis slider way high, but now I look back fondly at my succes in defeating these guys.
At the end I had around 700k of total fleet power and could create 100k worth of fleets every month with near infinite resources. And I still haven't expanded outside my borders much, I was just focusing on the Crisis.
It is a shame that the other Empires were too weak and the AI was too stupid, I did pretty much everything on my own. I joined the Senate but it was more hassle than anything. I even got elected into the leader role there, but still couldn't pass a single bill regarding the Contingency, it was frustrating to see the Galaxy debating about Space Amobas and trying to denounce me for not being peaceful to them while a literal Apocalpyse was unfolding as a rouge AI was cleaning populated planets and I was the only one actively battling them.
Once the crisis ended at year 2550 I got the victory window, I got 80k points and Kershi got 45k.
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