It's a really interesting game which did not succeed half as well as it deserves. The best thing about it is that in theory you can build spaceships the size of a solar system. It could look better, but the scale is amazing, economy is complex, there is that council system where you can use influence resource to support your political claims, and the tech tree is at least functional. The only gripe I have is that once you surrender to another faction, it's irreversible and you remain a slave faction for the rest of the game. There is a good variety in the way you can play since there are like 5 ways a faction could navigate through the galaxy?, each requiring a different approach, there are modifiers which enable you different ship modules, which completely change the way you will be designing your fleet, etc. etc. I wouldn't call it a gem, but it's probably worth the price if you are into xxxx.
Also, i had no idea about the expansion. Gotta look into that.
Looked into it and it adds starship experience to the game. And a coop defence mode. It just strikes the right notes, this game.