From what (little) I have learned about mods--they just affect events (random, colonization, and UP), ships and the tech tree. I am not convinced that modding will address our issues. The developers have addressed some of the issues in 1.2 (e.g., alignment techs require you to have the alignment to trade for the tech). I have not played any 1.2 games, so I do not know if all the balance issues are addressed.
I would rather run the games on the standard version--like the epics, with some scenarios in specific cases. That should open the field up to the widest audience.
As far as the expansion--I have pre-ordered it--but will run at least the first series of games on 1.2. I anticipate moving to the expansion--mainly because that is the version of the game that will get Stardock's attention (similar to PTW/Conquests for Civ3). Stardock has stated that 1.2 will be the last version of the base game that will contain any significant changes.
Give me a week or so--and I will have a draft list out for review. If you have thoughts that you'd like to send to me ahead of time, send me an email.