Last two games:
The earlier was on tiny galaxy, 1 fallen, 1 khan, difficulty I think commodore. Had the midgame crisis date set to 2275 and endgame to 2375. It was around 2300 when the Khan appeared and started his crusade. I was surrounding him completely. His every fleet were stronger than mine and sent 3 of them right away. Instant submission. The “normal” AI is just too stupid. When a Khan’s single fleet is stronger than everything together plus it’s strongest station, it still lets the Khan ravage it’s empire and reduce to a bunch of systems before submitting. And when the Khan was assassinated, I just took over everything slowly. Then I got to 2400 and no end game crisis anywhere, not even the fallen empire awakening. I know it’s just the earliest possible date, but 25 years late is a bit…
Latest game, small galaxy, 2 fallen, 1 khan, difficulty I think commodore. Midgame crisis set to 2275, endgame to 2350. Khan appears around 2300 again (late), but now it was some distance away so I had time to prepare. Destroyed the Khan led fleet. Then about 10 more fleets 1-2 at a time, then managed to catch the second Khan led fleet. Crisis over. He could capture only half of another empire and it was over. Fastforward to around 2375 and one of the fallen empires awakened. Some 10 years later a popup shows that the awakened fallen vassalized the non-awakened one. No war in heavens, no war declaration, nothing. I’m now somewhere between 2395 and 2400 and still nothing else.
Internal conflicts: The biggest conflict I can get into is having too many unemployed pops… Factions? Laughable. I never cared about the whims of the factions since Apocalypse, not even once. OK, not true, I tried to in the first game, then realized that it’s not worth it. Even on a freshly conquered planet where I’m actually eating up all the old pops, they are not generating enough instability to have an actual effect on me. The biggest so far was with the assimilator drones, where the freshly conquered pops need to be assimilated first and during that time they are regarded as unemployed.
After every expansion I feel the game is better than before. But looking at the current state I just can’t decide whether I got too good compared to the AI, or the game was so bad when it came out (and I very much enjoyed it at that time too).