I promised an update. here it is:
I have played Distant Worlds / w expansion for about a week now. I had trouble, initially installing it. The maxim troubleshooting site has a link to an ms tool that 'cleans' the NET software. I ran that and Distant Worlds runs fine.
As i mentioned, i am not a RTS fan. However, DW allows the user to selectively turn on/off automation. And the AI is good!
DW is very challenging. The learning curve is very high, but with that comes the opportunity to really get your hands on designing and directing the military, political and diplomatic aspects of your species.
How things work can be vague, or not documented, at times. For example, when using your construction ship (s) to repair a derelict/abandoned ship that may have new tech - ownership of the ship, upon its repair and powering up goes to the civ that has the closest, largest, military ships to the newly repaired ship. Who actually repairs it is secondary. Who has the military crews to take the ship matters more. Its all automatic, and doesn't seem to cause any diplomatic wrinkles.
There are two storylines that unfold as you play the game. One is basic, the other is with the expansion.
DW is full of so many trade offs and interesting decisions, so full of opportunities to try different things. Its the most fun, I have had with any game. yes, learning curve is steep... And i am still learning. But its the best ride I have had in a game.
To keep my promise to compare it with GalCiv2: I've played GalCiv2 off and on for three years. Its great when the random events strike, and very predictable when they don't. If space empires's (Shrapnel games) ship and base building could be grafted into GalCiv2 - that would be an awesome game experience.
Distant worlds: if you have the chops to learn a complicated game (you're here so you probably do), and the patience to find the right balance between automation and what you control yourself - then, yes, go for it. i'm glad i did.