Here is what I do for a fun game (at least in the beginning)
Play an immense map, Uncommon for ALL planet and resource choices. No pirates, very slow tech, slow game pace. Have at least 10 AI's and some minors. Most of the majors end up with 12 -20 planets after expansion (depending on start position of course)
One of the Custom AI"s you make be: patriotic, synthetic, focused on expansion, tech, military as it's first three; Diplomacy is dead last. Malevolent ideology. Traits shoud be Aggressive, Cruel, Expansionist, and Xenophobic.
Give them a 16 quality homeworld.
For points, please do the following:
-2 to Fertile, Popular, traders, farmers, Agile and Likeable. No one likes them, they don't need food or nookie, and don't move so fast.
You should now have 17 points to spend.
+2: Productive, Clever, Economical, Observant, Fast, Organized, Dense, Tough
Give them the Yor Tech tree.
I'm using some of TurielD's ships and of course, these guys are the Borg.
It never fails that my UFP and the Borg end up next to each other and they declare early war on me and it's a slug fest for many turns to see if I can get them under control and beaten back. Most of the time, around when I get the upper hand (and have concentrated my forces on that front), another AI(usually my version of Klingons) will declare war on me and I'm back to fighting a two front war, while trying to get enough tech to get a real advantage over them. When all that is finally taken care of, I realize that I'm only 3rd in the tech race and the Romulans are way out in front. Good thing the Krynn are between me and them.