Races: Creuss, Yssaril, Hacan, Naalu (seriously, the galaxy of sneaky bastards).
Players: One new player (Yssaril) and three that have played approximately 2-5 games.
Rule Options: Original SC w/ Imperial II; all expansions' systems, races, racial techs, action cards; Distant Suns (no ring differentiation); Leaders; Facilities; Preliminary Objectives; Wormhole Nexus; mechanized units; Flagships; and whatever that option is called where all public objectives are public from the outset and a turn marker simply clocks down to Imperium Rex.
Result: Hacan 9, Creuss 8, Naalu 8, Yssaril DNF (lesson to learn: Don't play TI3 if there's a chance you can get called home by your significant other for staying out past your bedtime ...).
Recap: This was actually supposed to be a somewhat shorter TI3 game because the Imperium Rex card was the first Stage II Public Objective. It was also a very resource-heavy galaxy. We even had two of the SotT red-bordered systems with planets in them (in the nebula and gravity rift). Nevertheless, all of us who stayed through the end of the game finished both our preliminary and secret objectives.
Like I think most Creuss players, I ended up taking the Wormhole Nexus early. I had the preliminary objective requiring three yellow tech advances, so I ended up focusing on them and not getting Gravity Drive until later, even though I had a gravity rift (with a planet inside) adjacent to the Creuss Gate. I was aided by a domain counter giving me a tech, and the player gave me Transfabrication, so that with Enviro Compensator and Space Dock got me there.
As it turns out, the Yssaril player had a preliminary objective that required him to control a system adjacent to another player's home system, and even though he was to my right in the 4-player setup, he ended up going through a wormhole to a system next to the home system of the player on my left (Naalu), which was a distraction for both of them and allowed both me and the Hacan to expand further than we might otherwise have been able to (into the Naalu and Yssaril quadrants, so to speak).
Early in the game, a law was passed restricting all players to a maximum number of trade goods equal to their number of planets. That slowed the Hacan down (though note that they eventually won).
When the Yssaril player had to leave, we agreed to just leave all his ships and planets as they were but otherwise just return to 3-player rules.
The six public objectives were (1) Control 5 tech advances; (2) Research 5 technology advances; (3) control a planet with each of the 3 technology specialties (the yellow specialty planet from SotT was on the board but we looked and apparently that doesn't count); (4) Control Mecatol Rex for the entire turn; (5) take over a planet containing at least 1 ground force. (We didn't find a clarification on this but we played as though domain counters did not count for this.)
All 3 players who finished the game completed all of them except for the one involving controlling MR for the whole turn, as well as finishing our preliminary and secret objectives (i.e., 8 for each of us). The battle for the last one meant four battles over MR in the final two turns, despite what had been a surprisingly peaceful game to that point (or perhaps not, considering that we were the galaxy of sneaky bastards).
The Naalu player had control of it at the end of the second-to-last turn and took Diplomacy. He concentrated almost all of his command counters in fleet supply and used his first action to amass a huge fleet there. That might have been a mistake; he might have been better off using Diplomacy immediately. As it happened, I was second because I had Politics (no one took Initiative on the last turn). I should have chosen differently, in retrospect; I had the opportunity (I was speaker) to take Imperial II and didn't do so. The woman playing Hacan did. I launched my whole fleet at MR, including the Creuss flagship, which summoned the armada that I'd assembled in Creuss all the way to MR for the battle. His fleet was still bigger, however, and I lost. I got rid of all of his fighters and damaged some of his ships with sustain-damage abilities, however. The Hacan player, who had the benefit of going later, finished the job and took MR, and then used Imperial II before anyone else could take it back from her and scored her 9th and final VP, or we'd have all finished tied at 8.
Fun Facts: The Lazax Survivors domain counter turned up in the Wormhole Nexus world, Mallice. We all thought that was very setting-appropriate.
Just about every red-tech-specialty world had a red/hostile domain counter: either a hostage situation, an automated defense cannon, or local hostiles (ground forces). Also kind of setting-appropriate.
Two domain counters turned out to create new wormholes, and yet even with those and all the other wormholes on the board to start, they were all on the outer ring or the Wormhole Nexus.