Played through to the space stage. So far I enjoy it. The individual phases are pretty shallow as reported but still fun to play. The space stage is a lot more complex than the others though. Gotta take a break for now.
Interestingly enough, the very first space-faring alien empire I encountered was...myself. Yes, my very first alien encounter was with my own race. I don't know if it was an incredible coincidence or not but I thought it was pretty funny.