Over the weekend, I started my first game on Normal, with the Mandalorians set to 'Intelligent' and high CPU usage, and the Altarian Resistance set to bright.
It didn't take long for the Mandalorians to become the de facto military power. It was obvious (later) that all of thier research had been dumped into weapons tech. After the initial colony rush, it didn't take long for the Mandalorians to declare war on my civ, as I was the runt of the bunch. I'd say within 10 turns they had declared war on ALL the other civs as well.
And the war wasn't going well: even with 6 other civs plus some minors in a war with them, thier advanced weapons were steam rolling nearly anything. I had switcheed my research alternating between defensive and offensive techs, and building what ships I could. A single Mandalorian medium was able to take out small fleets of 3 mediums of other civs. The Altarians were faring best against them, but they used entire fleets of small ships to take out a single Mandalorian ship and still took heavy losses even then.
Things looked quite bleak for the other civs in the galaxy. My weapons and defense tech was catching up to the Mandalorians, but no civ had parity with them yet.
Then, the Galactic Plague mega-event struck. I quickly researched the cure and was back on track with my weapons research. I wasn't feeling in a giving mood, and didn't help the other civs out with the cure. This gave me a major advantage, as the other civs were in decline, mine was starting to come out of the plague, and I was able to get a bit of an advantage in weapons tech and started to bring the fight to the Mandalorians. Finally, all the civs started making headway against thier military machine, and the Population graph clearly showed that the Mandalorians had not researched the plague cure.
Then, the super Cultural Influence event happened to the Terran Alliance.
Then, the Draginol mega event happened to the Mandalorians.
By this time, the Altarians and my civ had reclaimed many worlds from the Mandalorians. The Terran Alliance was in sorry shape technologically, the best tech they had was Lasers IV and some kind of defelctor tech. The other civs were closer to Anti Matter Torp weapons as a compairson.
However, while the Mandalorians had been brought under control--my ships had since achieved pairty and then superiority with the use of Anti-Matter Torp II and Aeron Missile Defense--suddenly the biggest threat had become the super cultural Terran Alliance. Slowly they subverted one planet after another, and frankly seemed unstoppable--culturally at least. Often worlds had to be taken in complete systems from them or they world would just revolt back to the Terrans. When thier borders started to come too close to some of my best planets, I didn't waste any time going to war with them. It took time to get my fleets back from Mandalorian space, but once in Terran Alliance territory, the going was easy. Single small hulls could take out entire fleets of Terran Alliance ships, but the planet conquoring didn't go as well because of the cultural influence.
I'm not finished with the game yet, but all I can say after what has been going on with it is...wow. This has probably been the coolest game I've yet played in DA.