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One thing I like to do is make a Huge/Easy/5 galaxy, then once I've maxed out my research trees, give all my tech to everyone else, and have a huge five-way war.
the problem with that plan is people are likely to long dead by that point, you might get a good 3 person fight

some fun games I have played
8 people tiny universe imposable difficulty (tends to be quick one way or another)

uncreative and feudal

also had a game with picking 10 points of disadvantages no advantages and going from there
One of my favourites is playing hard/impossible with huge galaxies, but using only the starting systems. You are allowed to colonise existing planets and construct planets, but you cannot colonise a new system.

I do this for 2 fold:
1) I'm so tired of manageing colonies over and over, i always select the same stuff genearlly in the same order. The game goes into a crawl much later becasue of this. Maybe I should play with letting the AI build automatically, but it tends to build horribly.

2) It permits a faster game, which I prefer.