A crisis is an event that threatens the entire galaxy and all life within it. There are two types of crises: those caused by outside entities that make an appearance after the end-game start year, and those caused by player and AI empires (except Fallen Empires).
Each time a crisis conquers a planet it causes diplomatic Threat with all empires, making them more likely to cooperate against the crisis. Fallen Empires will send their fleets against a Crisis if it approaches their borders and may even awaken to help fight it.
Endgame crises[edit source]
Endgame crises have a chance to trigger every 5 years once 50 years have passed since the end-game year. If there won't be or can't be any War in Heaven, any regular empire has Jump Drives or Psi Jump Drives technologies or the Extradimensional Experimentation resolution is passed they can happen as soon as the end-game year is reached. Only one endgame crisis can take place.
Each crisis has its own base weight, with the Prethoryn Scourge having a base weight of 10, the Extradimensional Invaders 8, the Contingency 10, and no crisis 120. For all crises the weight will increase the following way:
- 2x after 35 endgame years
- 2x after 50 endgame years
- 3x after 70 endgame years
- 3x after 85 endgame years
- 4x after 100 endgame years
- 2x if there won't be or can't be any War in Heaven
If the Crisis Type game setting has been set to a specific crisis then that crisis alone can appear, with a 20% chance to spawn every 5 years. The chance is increased by the aforementioned modifiers.
Endgame crises have a situation log entry that keeps count of the casualties on both sides and shows how close the crisis is to being defeated. During an endgame crisis an audio cue that will play in the background and grow more pronounced the more systems are controlled by the crisis.
Prethoryn Scourge[edit source]
The Prethoryn Scourge Crisis begins with a notice about subspace echoes beyond the galaxy that are approaching. Immediately a situation log notice called "The Coming Storm" is added.
On a MTTH (Mean Time To Happen) of 50 years, they will be close enough to get the general direction of the swarm. A system at the edge of the galaxy will be marked as the center of the Invasion. The system cannot be within or near a Fallen or Awakened Empire. It will not be an owned system either unless every rim system is claimed. The closest 5 systems are marked for the vanguard fleets. 120 months after that, a transmission will be received from the swarm.
30 months later the Vanguard will arrive with 12 fleets. 200–600 days after the vanguard the main invasion fleet will arrive at the center system. In each vanguard system 3 Star Brood and 3 Transport Fleets will spawn. At this point the Prethoryn Scourge appears in the contact log but cannot be communicated with. If an empire's primary species has the Hive Minded or Psionic traits it will be able to communicate with the crisis but diplomacy is still impossible. If the Galactic Community was formed, a Galactic Priority to fight the Prethoryn Scourge becomes available.
The Prethoryn Scourge uses the following mechanics:
- The Prethoryn species itself is immortal so their gestalt pattern admirals will never die of old age.
- The Swarm gets fleets at regular intervals on any system with a spaceport.
- (monthly) If they have no planet and army they get a fleet of 20 armies
- (yearly) If their count of Infestors is under 4, they get a fleet of 5 Infestors
- (yearly) If their count of Infestors is under 4 but they still have at least 10 ships total, they get a fleet of 3 constructors
- Each fleet will take systems in a way similar to Total Wars.
- Prethoryn constructors will build starbases to expand their territory into unclaimed systems. Their starbases are as strong as citadels and modified by the Crisis Difficulty setting.
- The Prethoryn Scourge use infestors as colony ships. They will land on uncolonized habitable planets and when the colony development process is complete the planet is turned into an infested world. As with regular colony development any orbital bombardment will instantly interrupt the process.
- Prethoryn transports will invade inhabited planets using ground armies in order to occupy it and purge the Pops. During this phase the planet can be recaptured with ground armies. Once all Pops have been purged the planets will be turned into an infested world.
- Infested Planets cannot be invaded. In order to get rid of the infestation, infested planets must be bombarded until Devastation reaches 100, at which point they will turn into a barren planet that can be terraformed.
- If the Scourge overruns a ring world segment it will destroy it. Ring world segments destroyed by the swarm cannot be rebuilt. Overrun habitats are destroyed entirely and are likewise impossible to rebuild.
Audio Cue: As the Prethoryn Scourge infests more of the galaxy soft chewing sounds will start to be heard in the background.
Prethoryn Fleets[edit source]
Vanguard fleets consist of 30 Swarmlings led by an admiral with the Void Swimmer Trait. Star Brood fleets consist of 1 Queen, 8 Brood Mothers, 10 Warriors, and 35 Swarmlings led by an admiral that has a 25% chance to have the unique Hive Affinity Trait. Every 2 years if the Prethoryn Scourge has below 2000 ships and at least 1 infested planet it will get 2 Star Brood fleets, with a third fleet at 20% galactic border coverage, a fourth fleet at 40% border coverage. They may also get Constructors and Infestors with this reinforcement.
Prethoryn Ships have natural armor despite not using armor components. The stats of their weapons are determined by the Crisis Strength setting. Scourge Missiles and Swarm Strikers can be reverse-engineered.
Prethoryn Scourge uses unique Prethoryn Army to invade planets. Each transport fleet consist of 20 Armies and do not have a general. Prethoryn Army has 400 health, inflicts 3-6 damage and 6-12 morale damage per day. They deal 100% collateral damage.
Sentinel Order[edit source]
If the Prethoryn Scourge covers at least 20% of the galaxy, the Sentinel Order will spawn. If a Fallen or Awakened Empire is present it will spawn next to its borders, otherwise it will spawn next to the borders of a random empire. A new black hole system will be spawned for them and they have Fallen Empire level tech although their fleets will lack strength from repeatable technologies. Every few years the Sentinels will create a fleet as long as they have below 200 ships. Sentinel fleets use the ship appearance of all species archetypes except DLC ones and use top-tier components. Their initial fleet also includes a Fallen Empire titan. Sentinel admirals have the Sentinel Training trait, giving them +20% damage against the Prethoryn Scourge.
If the Prethoryn Scourge covers at least 50% of the galaxy the Sentinels will make a breakthrough in swarm anatomy, giving every empire +20% damage against the Prethoryn Scourge.
Every few years, as long as the Sentinels have more than 30 ships they will offer a one time donation of ships to an empire that destroyed at least 7 Prethoryn fleets and did not attack the Sentinels. Those fleets do not use Naval Capacity and cannot be upgraded. Each fleets consist of the following:
|1 battlecruiser||1 battleship||1 cruiser||4 escorts||4 destroyers||8 corvettes|
The sentinels do not expand. A few weeks after the Prethoryn Scourge has been defeated their Grand Master will disband the Sentinels.
Captured Queens[edit source]
There are two queens who can be captured. The first is the Prethoryn Brood-Queen Relic, which can be obtained by one of the empires in the galaxy after winning a random space battle against Prethoryn fleets. The second is an incapacitated queen that can appear in a random system inside the Prethoryn Space, if the Prethoryn Scourge is not defeated within a number of decades. A special project will become available there to every empire to tame the queen and the first empire that completes it will gain the domesticated queen as a fleet led by an unchangeable level 8 Fleet Consciousness admiral. Roughly every two months the queen has a 33% chance to add a Warrior to the fleet and a 66% chance to add a Swarmling to the fleet, until the fleet has 30 ships. In addition roughly 100 years later, if the queen is still alive and the main species is Psionic, the queen will reveal that the galaxy the Prethoryn species came from has been extinguished or eclipsed by something and the empire will gain 1000-5000 monthly Physics research.
Feral Prethoryn[edit source]
For 15 years after the Prethoryn Scourge has been defeated, every year there is a 10% chance that on a system with a previously infested planet a Feral Prethoryn starbase and 3 Feral Prethoryn fleets will appear. They will not expand but may roam the surrounding systems and fight other Feral Prethoryn swarms. Roaming fleets are made up of 56 Swarmlings.
Successfully repelling the Prethoryn Swarm[edit source]
Prethoryn swarm entities are heavily armored, attack enemies with missiles and strike craft, along with some acid bursts. Swarmlings possess corvette-level evasion.
Since all their weapons either ignore or cause major damage to shields, and work equally well against armor and hull, combat fleets should protect themselves with point defense, armor, and plating. Use energy weapons that deal bonus damage against both armor and hull to attack. Arc emitter Works well too. If you build Arc emitter battleships, cloud lighting is a good support weapon for them.
Empires which lack the means to directly counter the Prethoryn Swarm's fleets should immediately focus on containing its expansion instead. Keeping multiple small fleets of corvettes or destroyers to hunt down their civilian ships and stopping infestations is a viable strategy to limit the spread of the Prethoryn.
If an important planet falls to a Prethoryn invasion, it will take much longer for them to infest it compared to uninhabited planets, as purging takes much longer than infestation.
Prethoryn "Star Brood" fleets are composed of at least one Queen, escorted by Warrior and Brood Mother battleship equivalents, with Spawnling corvettes making up the bulk of the fleet combat strength. A fleet equipped with long-range weapons can expect to destroy a number of Spawnlings before the Prethoryn units are able to return fire, at which point emergency FTL can be used to avoid casualties altogether. By repairing and repeating, this guerrilla tactic can wear down Prethoryn fleets until they are small enough to defeat in a full confrontation.
Salvage should not be forgotten as it unlocks their bio-weaponry, which is most useful against themselves. The starbases are equally good sources of technology as the fleets while being much easier targets.
Infested planets are immediately turned into barren planets once they take enough planet damage. Since the Swarm only can infest habitable worlds, it is possible to starve the Swarm by cornering them and launching surgical strikes toward their planets to render them uninhabitable, thus widening the berth between them and any infestable territory. The Prethoryn will pull any fleets from surrounding systems to defend their planets, so fleets targeting Prethoryn planets must be prepared to face multiple swarm fleets if those have not been dealt with already. AI Empires in particular will use such hit-and-run tactics against infested planets.
Another feasible strategy is to get a Colossus into the area where the Crisis will spawn and breaking all of the planets to starve them, putting your best fleets near the edge of the invasion zone is also helpful, stationing them at the ending for any wormholes leading out of the invasion zone is a must.
Extradimensional Invaders[edit source]
The Extradimensional Invaders Crisis begins with a note about a massive power surge somewhere in the galaxy. Immediately somewhere in the galaxy a Dimensional Portal, a portal starbase and the main Unbidden fleet will emerge. If the system lies within the borders of an empire the starbase is instantly destroyed. If the Galactic Community was formed a Galactic Priority to fight the Extradimensional Invaders becomes available. 15 days later a second fleet will emerge. Another 15 days later a third fleet will emerge, contact with the Unbidden will open and the location of the Dimensional Portal will be added to the Situation Log. Fleets will take systems from empires in a way similar to total wars, while constructors will build starbases in unclaimed systems.
The Dimensional Portal cannot be destroyed until all extradimensional starbases are destroyed. The portal will remain guarded by the main Extradimensional fleet. If the portal system is attacked, then the invaders will recall all of their ships to aid in its defense. If the starbase in the portal system is destroyed, all fleets will remain to guard the system until it is rebuilt, halting their expansion. The empire that destroys the last Dimensional Portal will gain the Extradimensional Warlock Relic as well as a temporary opinion bonus from everyone.
If an Extradimensional fleet reaches an undefended planet it will drain life from orbit. When the planet reaches 100 devastation it is turned into a barren world with the Terraforming Candidate modifier. Ring world segments that are destroyed by them cannot be rebuilt. Overrun habitats are destroyed entirely and cannot be rebuilt.
The Extradimensional Invaders get additional fleets on 55th, 90th, 180th, 265th, 340th, 425th and 550th days after the portal spawns. Afterwards, unless they have more than 2000 ships, they will receive smaller reinforcement fleets through the portal at regular intervals, with the interval being lower if they have more starbases:
- 0 Starbases: 1500 days, ±200
- 1 Starbases: 1300 days, ±200
- 2 Starbases: 1100 days, 200
- 3 Starbases: 900 days, ±200
- 4 Starbases: 600 days, ±200
- 5 Starbases: 400 days, ±200
- 6 Starbases: 400 days, ±200
- 7 Starbases: 300 days, ±100
- 8 Starbases: 250 days, ±50
- 9 Starbases: 200 days, ±50
- 10+ Starbases: 150 days, ±50
It should be noted that unlike the other crises, which provide warning several years in advance, the Extradimensional Invaders will arrive instantly and with no indication where the portal will open.
Audio Cue: As the Extradimensional Invaders consume more of the galaxy a faint wind will start to be heard in the background.
Extradimensional Ships[edit source]
Unbidden, Aberrant and Vehement ships use different names but are identical save for color. All components can be reverse-engineered, including their unique weapons.
Initial fleets consist of 8 battleships, 12 cruisers and 20 escorts led by an admiral which may get the Dimensional Stutter or Ethereal traits.
Reinforcement fleets consist of 5 battleships, 8 cruisers and 15 escorts led by an Admiral which may get the Dimensional Stutter or Ethereal traits.
Portal fleets consist of 20 battleships, 30 cruisers and 45 escorts led by an admiral with the Ethereal trait.
The Aberrant and the Vehement[edit source]
When the Unbidden border covers at least 15% of the galaxy a second extradimensional portal will open, bringing up another faction called the Aberrant. A few years later a third portal bringing a third faction called the Vehement will open. While all three factions will be hostile towards life, they are also hostile towards each other.
The new factions have a far shorter delay for the Initial Fleet spawns (1, 5, 15, 30, 45, 60, 150, 350) in order to bring them on even ground with the Unbidden.
Successfully repelling the Extradimensional Invaders[edit source]
Unbidden ships are heavily shielded and have no armor, but kinetic weapons that deals additional damage to shield isn't the ideal weapon against them. Use Arc emitter battleships with cloud lightings. As for defensive modules, use shields for their energy weapons.
The player has multiple strategic choices when faced with these Extradimensional Invaders:
- A quick rush after the portal opening might be possible. However, one needs to be able to quickly dispatch the portal guards and initial fleets as they spawn, which requires very powerful fleets.
- Unlike other crises, their initial invasion fleets are much stronger than reinforcements. If the player can effectively clear their initial fleets, reinforcements shouldn't be a problem since they're much weaker than initial ones.
- Salvage should not be forgotten as it unlocks their unique weapons. The starbases are equally good sources of technology as the fleets while being much easier targets. However, the Matter Disintegrator weapons are anti-armour and hull, and the extradimensionals use no armor on their ships, so replacing your weaponry with these is generally a bad idea to fight the invaders.
- If extradimensional invaders claimed lots of systems before normal empires can strike back, player should focus on destroying their starbases and construction ships, since starbases will reduce reinforcement interval.
The arrival of the other extradimensionals are a mixed blessing. On one hand, they might appear in the rear of a large empire or alliance, threatening important worlds and thus the defense against the existing Factions. On the other, all extradimensional factions will begin to fight each other, potentially causing major damage to one another. Once engaged in combat there, the enemy fleets will have difficulty defending any of their starbases and even the portal itself making this a crucial opening to strike at such critical targets.
The Contingency[edit source]
The Contingency Crisis begins with a signal dubbed the Ghost Signal bouncing across every empire. Every year each empire will be affected by an event, in the following order:
- Every biological empire that uses synthetic pops will lose one synthetic pop and every machine empire will lose a machine pop in one of two special events.
- Every biological empire that uses synthetic pops will lose another synthetic pop mysteriously.
- Every empire will get a notification about galaxy-wide synthetic disappearances.
- Every empire will get a notification about the Ghost Signal growing stronger and how it affects machines and synthetic pops differently.
A year after the final event the Contingency will activate. Every 50 days one of 4 random uninhabitable planets located in systems with Strategic Resources will transform into Sterilization Hub AI world and spawn a defense station, 3 attack fleets, and 3 construction ships and an army fleet. The planets are determined at galaxy generation so reloading a save will not alter the result. If the Galactic Community was formed a Galactic Priority to fight the Contingency becomes available. The hubs can not be invaded and must instead be bombed until they reach 50 Devastation, at which point they turn into broken planets with a deposit of Energy, Minerals and Living Metal and may unlock the technology to harvest it. Colossus owners can also use a World Cracker, Global Pacifier or Divine Enforcer on sterilization hubs but the worlds will not gain a deposit that way.
When a planet is captured by the Contingency it immediately starts the process by purging all pops - biological, synthetic and machine alike. If the planet is recaptured the purges will stop and the planet returns to the original owner. If the purge is completed the planet changes control over to the Contingency. 3 Mechanical pops called Custodian Bots are spawned but the planets will not reinforce the Contingency. Unlike Sterilization Hubs, purged planets can be captured in ground combat. Unlike other crises the Contingency does not ruin ring world segments or habitats.
After all Sterilization Hubs are destroyed a new system will appear at the ends of the galaxy. The system contains a 5th and final AI world, Nexus Zero-One, guarded by 1 Final Core and 4 AI Core Stations. When Nexus Zero-One is destroyed, the Contingency deactivates, all its ships self-destruct, infiltration events and special projects end and the Ghost Signal is removed. The empire that destroys Nexus Zero-One will gain the Isolated Contingency Core Relic (only for human players, not sure this is intended). The planet does not create any deposit when destroyed.
Audio Cue: As the Contingency sterilizes more of the galaxy a mainframe will start to be heard in the background.
The Ghost Signal[edit source]
After the Contingency activates, the Ghost Signal will start to affect every synthetic pop and even ships with the Sapient Combat Computer. It is measured in 5 levels and starts at 5. The Ghost Signal will lose strength each time a Sterilization Hub is destroyed, lessening its effects.
|Available only with the Utopia DLC or the Synthetic Dawn DLC enabled.|
Synthetically Ascended species are also immune to the Ghost Signal, however any mechanical pops built by these empires that aren't considered part of their main species of synths will be affected.
Machine Intelligence Empires are affected differently as the Contingency attempts to breach their core and take over the central AI. And as such the bulk of processing resources is redirected to the Firewall to prevent that, significantly reducing the efficiency of their drone workers. While a lower penalty per pop, given the demographic nature of these Empires it might be a much bigger penalty. As they are much more heavily affected, Machine Intelligence Empires will get the special project "Blocking the Ghost Signal". The cost is 600 + 100 * Pop count Engineering. Finishing it will remove its effects.
Synthetic Infiltration[edit source]
While the war rages among the stars, organic, machine and syntheticallly-ascended empires might have issues at home as well.
The first infiltration attempt will invariably fail. The second infiltration will happen 120 days afterwards and will make every organic and synthetic empire targetable for infiltration events. It will also grant the Synth Detection project within a year. Completing this project grants the Voight-Kampff achievement and a large amount of unity. Until completed every year each organic and synthetic empire has a 30% chance to get the Terror Gatekeeper event, which will trigger a damaging infiltration event. Aside from Synth Bombing each event can only happen once. The weights are the following:
- 40% Synth Bombing: On a random planet three worked buildings are ruined and the pops working them killed. The empire will then get −10% Unity for 6 years.
- 10% Spaceport Scuttled: A random starbase is destroyed.
- 10% Fear and Suspicion: A random planet gets −20 Stability for 20 years.
- 10% Ruler Assassination Attempt: 70% chance the ruler escapes and gain some Influence, 30% chance the ruler is killed.
- 10% Scientist Exposed as Synth: A scientist leader is killed.
- 10% Admiral Exposed as Synth: An admiral leader is killed.
|Available only with the Utopia DLC enabled.|
Hive Mind and Psionic empires cannot be infiltrated. Instead, the first infiltration event will describe how their population cannot be infiltrated and how the Contingency will not try further infiltration on them. Infiltrated empires that take the Transcendence ascension perk will also become immune to infiltration. Machine Intelligence empires also cannot be infiltrated, and will instead receive the "Blocking the Ghost Signal" project.
Warning Signs[edit source]
|Available only with the Synthetic Dawn DLC enabled.|
Instead of infiltrations, Machine Intelligences are attacked more directly by the Ghost Signal. They will get a security breach event that will make every machine empire targetable. Until the "Blocking the Ghost Signal" project is completed or the Ghost Signal strength drops below 4 each year every machine empire has a 30% chance to get the Terror Gatekeeper event, which will trigger a damaging subversion event. Aside from Unit Stack Error each event can only happen once. Chances are equal for each event.
- Spaceport Scuttled: A random starbase is destroyed.
- Science Unit Terminated: A scientist leader is terminated.
- Military Unit Terminated: An admiral leader is terminated.
- Power Grid Malfunction: Three Power Plants or Power Hubs and the pops working them are destroyed.
- Contingency Intrusion Averted: Contingency sabotage fails, no effect.
- Unit Stack Error: Errors are detected in a unit stack, which may be caused by the Ghost Signal. You are given the option to either terminate the units (no pop is actually terminated) or wait. If you choose the latter after 120 it will turn out to be either:
- 65% A false alarm. Nothing happens.
- 35% A true alarm. A random planet gets +10% Devastation and loses 4 Pops.
The Cybrex[edit source]
Originally one of the Precursor empires, the Cybrex will resurface to help fight the Contingency if it sterilizes over 20% of the Galaxy. At the edge of the galaxy the Cybrex Beta ringworld system will spawn. All Empires will be contacted immediately. The Cybrex will construct a new fleet every few years as long as they have below 300 ships. The Cybrex function analogous to the Sentinels of the Swarm Crisis, except they will only donate ships after 100 destroyed fleets and will take them back a month after the crisis ends.
Cybrex ships are identical to the Contingency's save for the color. Each fleet is led by an admiral with the Cybrex Databases trait, giving it +10% Evasion and Fire Rate and +20% Damage to the Contingency.
The Cybrex do not expand. A few weeks after the Contingency was defeated they will depart from the galaxy, leaving Cybrex Beta free for the taking.
Ancient Caretakers[edit source]
|Available only with the Synthetic Dawn DLC enabled.|
A few days after the first sterilization hub is revealed if the Ancient Caretakers are present in the galaxy they will awaken and the Contingency will attempt to corrupt their civic. The Ancient Caretakers have a 66% chance of gaining the Final Defense Directives civic (Guardians of the Galaxy awakening) and a 33% chance of gaining the Corrupted Defense Directives civic and start attacking every other empire (Berserkers). Whether they will awaken as Custodians or Berserkers is rolled at the start of the game so reloading a previous save will not alter the result.
5 years later other Fallen Empire may awaken as a Guardians of the Galaxy as usual, allowing up to 3 Guardian empires against the Crisis.
Once the Contingency is defeated if the Ancient Caretakers awakened as Guardians they will shut down, leaving their ringworlds free for the taking.
Contingency Ships[edit source]
|Sterilizer||Euthanizer||AI Core||Master Core||Starbase|
Roaming fleets consist of 10 euthanizers and 20 sterilizers led by an Admiral with random skill.
Hub fleets consist of 25 euthanizers and 50 sterilizers led by an Admiral with random skill.
Special Weapons: The Contingency uses stock weapons, with only one exception - Seeker Drones:
- 10 Units per Hangar
- 100 HP, 50 Armor, 50 Shield, 80% Evasion per Unit
- 19-21 Damage with 100% accuracy and no tracking, 20 Range, 8 CD, 100% Shield Penetration, 66% Armor Penetration
Contingency uses Android Assault Army to invade worlds. Each transport fleet consist of 20 Android Assault Army and do not have a general.
Successfully repelling the Contingency[edit source]
Contingency warforms use lots of shield and armor to protect their relatively fragile hull, so penetrating weapons (Arc Emitter, Disruptor etc.) work best against them. Defensively, attackers should stack as many shields as they can to counter their pure energy weaponry.
The initial Fleet spawned with the hub systems is considerable and planets in the Hub Systems will often have fallen before the first fleet has mobilised. Colonies in the Hub Systems are generally a writeoff until the roaming fleets have been dealt with.
Even if identified beforehand, hubs normally cannot be prevented from awakening. If the planet is destroyed through the World Cracker Colossus, the shattered world will simply reform into the sterilization hub. Military starbases on the star will be abandoned if there are no colonies there, rendering any resources spent moot. If fleets are parked in the system, the Contingency will spawn an armada of much greater power than standard. The only known method of preempting them is to build at least a ringworld frame in the system, although this also eliminates all other planets.
The first order is generally to destroy any roaming fleets (if they attack one's planets). The Contingency fleets already spawned are generally not likely to rush to the aid of a planet or hub. They are more likely to attack another target than defend.
Destroying the hubs is the ultimate goal. Their hub fleets will always stay with the Hub, making it a hard target together with the AI Core and the starbase. While destroying one of the hubs does reduce the reinforcement intervals, the reduction in spawn cycles running in parallel should be a net advantage.
Galactic Nemesis[edit source]
|Available only with the Nemesis DLC enabled.|
With the Become the Crisis ascension perk regular empires can become a crisis as well. Empires that pick the ascension perk will be able to acquire menace and complete expensive crisis special projects to gain various perks. It should be noted that only upon reaching the fifth crisis level is the empire treated as any other crisis: full war with every other empire (the declare crisis resolution). This means that through levels 1-4, the "crisis" empire acts as normal, save for not being able to become the Custodian. Level 5 and only level 5 crisis is the "point of no return", gated by the Special Project to level up, so to speak. This gives the ascension perk far more value for empires who don't want to take the final step, with its various bonuses. The crisis tab is located under the traditions tab.
Menace is gained by completing crisis objectives. The amount granted by each objective depends on the number of empires present at the start of the game. Current menace can be found in the crisis tab.