My first game of Crusade started, and I thought I was doing reasonably well despite not being sure what to focus on anymore with the new construction and build options (and losing my Iconian tech tree ). However, I quickly noticed that on an Immense galaxy with 16 players, I was stuck in last place. Finally with universal translator researched, I got a trade offer from the Terran Alliance and realized that I was not just falling behind, I was completely uncompetitive.
They had 14 planets, 41 ships, and 3 starbases, plus 24 techs I hadn't researched. Meanwhile, I only had 2 planets, 2 ships, and 3 starbases, plus a smattering of techs the Terrans had already researched. Tech trading was on, but at this point the Terrans were the only civ I had encountered yet (and tech brokering was off).
The only thing I had bought out yet was a shipyard, and honestly I didn't think I was doing badly. Moreover, I was under the impression that expansion was supposed to be a lot slower (and this was just on normal). Prior to crusade, the AI was usually hopelessly-far behind me technologically, so being outpaced by that much that fast was hard to really understand.