My last game, I was the Drengin in a large galaxy at the painful level. I had finally mastered the colony rush, and, to some extent, the Drengin tech tree. I expanded nicely, built up a decent military, went to war with two other races, and held my own. All of a sudden, I get the pirate mega event. They destroy my entire fleet and all of my star bases. I couldn't even build a ship since the pirates would destroy it instantly. Instead of panicking, I spent time researching some advanced engine techs and the psionic beam. In the meantime, While I was doing the research, I didn't build any ships. Once I had the techs in place, I designed a custom Battle Axe with speed and weapons. As I build them, I moved them away from the pirates into empty space and formed a couple of fleets. Then I started pushing back. I got my fleets to engage the pirates, and began building ships at a furious rate. I started making headway, and then...
The Jagged Knife appear, and I lose 20% of my empire. I was ready to quit the game, but after thinking about it for a while, I decided to take advantage of the event. I continued beating back the pirates, rebuilding my star bases, and building transports. I declared war on the Jagged Knife and began capturing my and other races planets. Before too long, I had a huge empire built up. The remaining two races were hostile toward me for the remainder of the game but unable to attack due to my huge and powerful military.
To close the game out, I teched my way to victory. On top of the two mega events, it was my first successful game on painful and with the Drengin.
The beauty of ToA, is the unique tech trees. It took me several tries as the Drengin to figure out how to beset use their tech tree. I've now switched to the Korath Klan since they're tech tree is both similar and different. It is different enough though to have to change the strategy.
I now look at mega events differently. They do change the complexity of the game, but they also offer opportunities if you are mentally prepared to take them.