i’ve only played stellaris, but i’ve played stellaris. running through my first devouring swarm playthrough at the moment and just murdered 3 empires in the first 50 years; it’s insanely powerful.
my favourite stellaris playthrough is this one:
i created the holy alarian union; an empire of democratic, xenophile, pacifist space elves. beautiful space people to bring together a beautiful galaxy.
early on, there was this chokepoint at one end of my empire that would neatly close off and make my territory more defendable. it had some ancient mining drones in it, which i couldn’t deal with, so i left it till i could, assuming no one would take it.
in the meantime, another empire - the catharian coalition - came in and cleared the drones with a 2k fleet. more sneakily than my role play intended, i immediately surveyed and claimed the system. the catharian’s did not like that. they - somewhat justifiably - declared war and laid claims on a large part of my empire in retaliation.
i instantly acquiesced to minimise losses.
ten years later - the enforced period of peace from a surrender - i smashed that empire in half with several 5-10k and technologically advanced fleets i’d rapidly built in the meantime. i handed the territory over to the enemy empire’s slaves (they were slavers) as a border between us.
it didn’t stop there.
by the end game, some 200-300 years later, my beautiful hippy space elves had formed a brutal galactic empire, headed by an immortal psychic god-empress.
we had smashed the endgame crisis singlehandedly as soon as it had appeared, wiped out the fallen empires and the great khan without breaking a sweat, destroyed or enslaved all opposing empires (and turned the majority of their populations into food), and made a deal with an eldritch entity that turned our sun into a black hole and my beautiful space elves into ugly, purple abominations.
we did, however, have galactic-wide social welfare, so swings and roundabouts, eh?
anyway, love the look of victoria 3 and ck3. just wish i had a system to play them on!