You know, I always thought the Dread Lords are a joke when they appear in normal games.
So, in this previous game, I just left them alone when they appeared right on the border of my civilization.
Big mistake. Instead of being harmless like they used to be, they built the ships I feared all of the time in the campaigns and proceeded to annihilated my ships and conquered my empire.
Eventually, I reloaded the game and proceeded to bum rush their planet before they can do any harm.
In your games, are the Dread Lords a serious threat?