I have a bit more feedback.
I want to stress this issue > there is a very big lack of Culture points. I can play 500 turns on the largest map and have at most 5 or 6 culture points. We need a LOT more sources. These are fun to acquire and very helpful for our empire.
With the removal of Ideology points from Policy Choices, it is now almost impossible to get last or 2nd to last tier in any ideology. In fact mid to late game the ONLY way I have seen so far is via Colonization. Please put in more 'event' choices and more random empire choices. Give the choices both a way to get a certain Ideology but also to subtract from another one. Having it cost something (either in removing another Ideology build up, or some minor malus to the empire) makes it feel meaningful to forge down a certain path.
Do I want the 'Bloodthirsty' trait (+1 happiness per planet conquered)? Well I am going to anger a portion of my population or perhaps have some borderline Governors/Leaders flee.
I will add one last point.
Please bring back the ability for the player to retrofit her fleets and ships. I don't mind it costing an arm and a leg in both credits and resources if I order a refit of a fleet 3 or 5 sectors away but that far flung fleet is using tech from 10 years ago and now we have far better and Id like that far flung fleet to be upgraded.
The changes to the Pirates/Monsters/Sentinels is very good. They just need a slight boost in the ability to 'fleet up' and they can become a REAL danger to everyone around.
This build is fun and engaging and I find myself working thru the tech tree and being surprised again and again, Great Job!