New player seeking advice

stellaris 8 - New player seeking advice

So I recently picked this game up on console and fell in love with it. I realized console was so far behind PC that I eventually picked it up and added a couple DLC's. The QoL alone made switching from console to PC worth it, let alone to extra content.

However I'm running into a problem where I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I spend a lot of time sitting on the fastest speed setting doing nothing but waiting for stuff to finish researching/exploring/constructing/etc. The first few years I find active enough. I'm scouting around with a couple science ships, expanding my main based with a few outposts and, depending on my luck, 1-3 colonies.

Sometimes I get unlucky and I can't expand because the other empires spawn literally a system away on both sides of me. Then there are other times where I can send out 6 science ships and not discover someone until they're halfway across the galaxy. I guess this part is more of a gripe than anything as I'm pretty sure this is just something I'm gonna have to learn how to deal with.

Once I've gotten a couple colonies and I'm slowly expanding my area to reach choke points, I really struggle with figuring out what to do next. Build a bigger fleet? Expand even more? Sit around and wait on my research? It seems like the next 75 years is me staring at the work I did in the first 25 while stuff slowly upgrades. This is part is unbelievably boring; I'm obviously doing something wrong or not taking something into consideration but I just can't figure out what that is. I have yet to really play this game past year 2300 because of how unengaging the gameplay is leading up to it. Which is a shame because from what I've seen the mid and end game events are quite active.

Read:  AI difficulty to be a bit more challenging - also: when does they start to "do" things actually? An resource question

I feel like there's more I should be doing and that I shouldn't be eating up so much time on the fastest speed waiting for upgrades. I want to expand but I have no idea how to keep my admin cap anywhere close to my sprawl. Even just taking a small area at the beginning and only have a few systems somehow still manages to go past the admin cap later into the game. If I don't expand then it feels like there is literally nothing to do but wait. I've heard "wide" and "tall" thrown around but I can't find a concrete separation between the two. I feel like I end up expanding because there's nothing else to do so I end up going "wide", yet I feel like I'm playing "tall" because I'm just waiting on research. How exactly can do you one without doing the other?

I'm sorry if a lot of this isn't very coherent. I really like this game and want to improve, but it's feeling very "feast or famine" when it comes to actually doing things. I will gladly elaborate or clarify anything I've said if you don't understand why or what I'm saying. I would love any advice you guys can give about fixing my play-style to be more engaging.

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