Ten Best Stellaris Beginner Tips
- Focus on minerals and energy at the beginning of a game. These are the basic resources you’ll need most.
- Strive for an Influence income of +2. You’ll need it to build outposts for expansion.
- Pay attention to your Scientist’s talents, match projects to his or her skills. Get that speed bonus.
- Assign an Admiral to your fleet ASAP so the Admiral can start gaining experience points.
- Improve fleets, not armies. Fleets are what win wars.
- When at war take out enemy starbases first, it reduces his capacity for building ships and gives you a forward base to repair your ships.
- Position your strongest starbases at chokepoints. Place a modest fleet nearby to provide assistance if needed.
- Choose the Expansion Traditions first.
- Use diplomacy to make friends so you can pick and choose your fights.
- Build up your Military to at least match any neighboring AI’s military strength. Don’t let yourself become an easy target.
Invest your resources, such as minerals, wisely. Don’t build structures that require pops to work them that you don’t have, the buildings will remain idle until the colony produces enough pops to work them. Especially in the early game it’s best to build mining stations instead of mineral related buildings since they don’t require pops.
Also, don’t build districts or buildings you don’t need. They use up energy as upkeep costs and won’t give any benefits or may contribute to a resource that you don’t need more of. On the other hand, if you have unemployed pops, then build what’s needed, usually districts for workers and buildings for specialists.
Focus on minerals and energy at the beginning of a game. These are the basic resources that get your fledgling empire growing.
When it becomes available use The Galactic Market to sell surplus goods so you can buy other resources to make up for a deficit, like selling minerals so you can buy energy credits. For a regular empire energy always seems to be at a premium so building up your mineral stockpile is a good idea. Although you will get a lower sell price versus a buy price the trade-off is almost always worth it if your empire’s growth is being hampered by an energy credit shortage.
As previously mentioned, energy is usually the biggest shortage for a rapidly expanding empire. Build as many generator districts as feasible and if you have the pops to support it. Of course, if you have a lot of room for mineral districts on a planet and very few energy, you should build those at that planet instead. Planetary districts are limited and you can sometimes be rewarded with bonuses if a planet specializes in something, like energy or minerals.
Keep factions and pops happy to avoid civil unrest and to prevent wasting building space on Precinct Houses.
At the start of a game and for most new colony words you’ll want to enact the “Encourage Growth” decision. This decision is at the planetary level and costs 1,000 food to enact, so make sure you have enough food stockpiled in your empire to cover it.
Another option for newly established colonies is to resettle pops there. Not only does this help a new colony world grow but it can also reduce overpopulation problems on older, more established worlds.
Try to keep your energy income at +15 and minerals at +25 per month. This will help you build up stockpiles so you can handle those unforeseen spikes in energy and mineral costs.
If your empire has leader mandates pay attention to them. Depending on what type of leader comes into power, they may demand things like building a set amount of mineral mining stations. They don’t have to be fulfilled but they will usually provide huge bonuses in Unity.
During the early game, at least for the first 50 years, also construct buildings that focus on civilian industries like consumer goods to help offset the steep upkeep costs of your pops.
Maintain at least a +2 in influence income. Influence is needed to build frontier outposts, which is how an empire expands. Most empires start out with a steady income of 3 per month. Building an outpost will require 1 energy credit per month for upkeep. Building an outpost in a system with at least 2 energy is a fair tradeoff since the net gain will be 1 but that’s not always possible. For example, establishing control at a chokepoint or system with a strategic resource may be more vital to your empire’s overall strategy than worrying about the loss of 1 energy credit per month.
A good use for outposts is to block opponents and to control habitable planets. They can also be used to establish control over strategic resources although you might not currently have the technology to exploit them.
Split up starting fleets read about merging them here on my website), which should be corvettes. Change their stance to evasive so they don’t engage in fights they can’t win. Send them out into the fringes of space to explore. Don’t waste crucial exploration opportunities at the start of the game by leaving them idle.
Expand and colonize as much as you can. Planets with 60% habitability can be colonized but an empire will suffer significant penalties to resource production and population growth. Pops will also use more amenities and cost more to maintain. If a world is a treasure trove of raw resources it might be worthwhile; otherwise, leave it alone, at least for now.
Be careful not to awaken any “Slumbering Giants,” which are the Fallen Empires. They might not be interested in expanding and conquering anymore, but they have overwhelming firepower in their highly advanced fleets, and they won’t hesitate using it on you if they feel the need to.
- If your empire likes to enslave or exterminate other races be careful of the Enigmatic Observers. They are Fanatic Xenophiles who will feel that they need to intervene so they can protect those unfortunates.
- Think Star Trek Neutral Zone when encountering Militant Isolationists. You’d better leave a band of uncolonized planets between them and you or suffer the consequences.
- Holy Guardians are Fanatic Spiritualists. Don’t mess with their pristine Holy Worlds or you might find yourself fighting one of the strongest empires in the game.
- Keepers of Knowledge are worried about you researching dangerous technologies. Proceed at your own risk.
Keep exploring, even when everything within your territory has been surveyed. Take advantage of open border treaties while you can, or simply conquer a of few of those planets your neighbor has that block your path to exploring more of the galaxy.
If you have the Ancient Relics DLC building a third Science Ship specializing in archaeological digs is a great idea. These dig sites take a long time to excavate but the opportunity to gain powerful artifacts early in the game makes the investment of time and resources worth it. Once all the archaeological sites in your territory have been finished the science ship can be switched over to exploration or assisting research at one of your planets.
Rapid expansion is important at game start. Colonize, get choke points and box in your neighbors as soon as you can.
Even if you don’t have colony ships available expand quickly with Outposts. If you have the influence Outposts can easily be built to lay claim to worlds, gateways, strategic resources or chokepoints.
Try not to colonize a planet if your energy reserves are declining. It takes energy credits to improve a planet. Resolve that energy credit deficit first.
Construction ships can only build an outpost to claim a system after it has been completely surveyed by a science ship.
Administrative Capacity is a soft cap, not a hard one.
Exceeding the admin cap will create penalties due to empire sprawl.
Having 10 to 12 planets by the year 2300 is a good goal to have. The best thing to do is maximize those planets for the most resources that are available. For instance, if a planet has a lot of generator districts available then specialize the planet in power production.
Don’t colonize every planet that’s available right away. Each colony you create causes your homeworld to take a hit in population growth due to immigration pull. Once a colony gets past it’s growth penalty by upgrading to a Planetary Administration building that pull no longer affects your homeworld.
Don’t ignore research, you’ll need those advanced techs to support your empire as you progress in the game. Pay attention to a scientist’s field of expertise when hiring. Matching the research to their field of expertise will provide a bonus in speed, usually 15%.
If you’re interested in researching a certain technology field recruit a scientist who specializes in it and assign him to the current research when it’s almost complete. This scientist will get more tech research offered in their specific field.
Adopting the Discovery Tradition tree gives more research points.
Ignore special projects at the beginning. It ties up your scientists and keeps them from taking advantage of the cheap research costs since your empire is still small. As an empire grows and sprawl sets in the cost of a special research projects versus normal research balances out.
You can employ as many leaders as you want if you can afford the 2 energy credits in upkeep costs. You can recruit extra scientists (if you can afford to pay the recruiting energy fee) and then match the area of research to the scientist with the biggest bonus in that area.
The best early game building research is the buildings that provide a 15% boost to resource output, like an energy grid or food processing facility. They have extremely low upkeep costs and provide a significant boost to resource output, especially helpful if the planet specializes in something like energy output.
Never ignore the chance to research a rare technology. You can identify it by its purple border, and it will provide benefits that have a much greater influence on your empire than a regular tech.
If you ignore a technology you’re interested in it might still be available the next time you’re ready to research something new but don’t count on it. Stellaris does not use the standard technology tree that most games use, instead it presents you with three randomly selected options. These options might not include the same technology choices that were available the last time.
Some technologies won’t be available for research until you unlock their associated Ascension Perk, like the Mind Over Matter Ascension perk that enables Telepathy research.
Assign an admiral to a fleet right away so they start gaining experience.
Work on improving your fleets, not your armies. It’s the fleets that win the wars.
Build your Navy up as much as possible without incurring penalties for two reasons. First, it deters other empires from invading you. The AI empires take fleet strength into account prior to launching an invasion. The tougher you look to them the less likely they are to invade. Secondly, if you are attacked (and eventually you will be) it takes time to build up a defensive fleet. You could suffer massive losses before you can mount an effective defense.
During the early game don’t focus on one area of weaponry only, like lasers. Diversify. Try to have a good mix of the latest weapons that provide good shield penetration (like torpedoes), good armor penetration (like energy weapons) and good missile or kinetic weapons. Once you encounter an enemy you can analyze the ships and design fleets meant to counter those ships. With a well-balanced fleet you can still fight the war until your specialized fleets arrive to take the enemy out.
In keeping with the point above, if your enemy inflicts heavy losses on you with few losses to himself analyze his ships and redesign existing ships with good countermeasures. You may have to retreat some fleets so they can be refitted at the nearest starbase while other fleets sacrifice themselves holding the line.
Don’t mix fleets, like corvettes with destroyers. It works out better by keeping them separate so their skills can be taken full advantage of. For instance, combining corvettes and destroyers reduces the corvette’s speed, so a rapid response to a threat becomes more problematic.
When fighting a war be sure to update a fleet’s home base since that’s where it retreats to during an emergency retreat. If the base is far away it will take much longer for your fleet to get there, be repaired, and then make its way back to the battle front. If a fleet is kicked out of another empire’s territory it will also automatically return to its home base.
A yellow fleet orbital icon means the fleet is in orbit. A green orbital icon means the fleet is docked at a starbase with crew quarters, reducing fleet upkeep cost by 25% while docked.
To queue up orders for a fleet or ship, like a science ship, hold down the shift key and right-click on the systems. Make sure explore is selected if you want the science ship to explore those systems. You can use control-shift right-click to make an order go to the front of the queue, like ordering a science ship to research a timed project before surveying systems.
If the task bar gets annoying by popping out when you don’t want it to lock it using the small padlock icon in the lower right corner. It won’t pop out until you make a selection.
Hot keys can be assigned to fleets. Hold down a number key plus the control key to assign that number to the fleet. For example, if you assign the number 1 key to a fleet it can be quickly chosen by pressing the 1 key or by clicking the number icon that gets created at the bottom of the screen. You can remove that assignment by right-clicking on the number icon.
The Outliner can be customized. There is a gear icon in the upper right corner. Click that and a list of options will appear, allowing you to choose what is displayed in the Outliner and in what order. You can also collapse the Outliner by clicking on the planet icon above it. The shortcut key for the Outliner is “O”.
Warscore is what you need to achieve in order to obtain victory. Warscore increases as you destroy enemy ships and capture planets and is a negative number. Getting it above zero is the key to victory.
As a normal empire you need a Casus Belli before you can declare war on an empire. For example, in order to humiliate an empire you need the Animosity Casus Belli.
Build up the military early. Keeping your military strength at least equal to enemy AIs prevents invasions. Even if you’re a pacifist you’ll have to fight from time-to-time. Usually small fleets, positioned in systems important to you, of about 150 in military strength is enough to get by with in the early game.
If you lose your shipyards during a war, you’ll most likely lose the war as well, plus your enemy will be able to use them to repair fleet damage. Shipyards are obviously the way you create fleets to continue the battle against an enemy. Load them up with state-of-the-art defense platforms. Even if they do finally succumb to an enemy onslaught they just might buy you the time you need to reinforce the next strategic point in your empire.
During a war, or even at other times, there may be systems you want your ships to avoid. For instance, while trying to reinforce your fleets the reinforcements might take the shortest route possible and get attacked by another hostile empire. Click on that system to bring up the system screen and look for the small ship icon at the bottom of the screen. Click it to turn on system restriction and your ships will avoid that system and seek an alternate route.
Reinforce chokepoints with starbases and fleets to help stem the flow of enemy forces into your territory. It is far easier to defend several choke points rather than trying to defend everything at once.
If you want to fight wars more efficiently you should adapt War Doctrines, which become available once you finish the Supremacy tradition tree. These doctrines give you the ability to decide how to fight a war by giving your fleets certain bonuses, like hit and run tactics.
As a war goes on war exhaustion increases. Losing ships, losing planets to invasion, losing territory, and simply the fact that you’re at war continuously adds to war exhaustion. Once it hits 100% an enemy can force peace on you, at the expense of you losing systems they have a claim on and occupied by them, and you gaining systems you’ve claimed and occupied. When you hit 100% war exhaustion, you only have 24 months before the other side can force you to make a status quo peace. Other than effectively losing the war, war exhaustion doesn’t have any other negative effects on an empire.
Take out enemy starbases first. Not only does this deprive an enemy empire of ship building capability, a captured starport can be used to repair your fleets.
Hunt down enemy fleets and capture as many systems as you can before your empire builds up too much war exhaustion. Leave the enemy planets alone until later.
Rapid Deployment is the best War Doctrine for offensive wars since you will obviously be doing a lot of attacking. As a rule Rapid Deployment is considered the best war doctrine by many experienced players since it gives a boost in weapons range.
You usually (but not always) need to claim systems before you can declare war and take them from another empire.
Build up the most powerful starbase you can at choke points plus position fleets in the same system. Try to determine which choke points are the most likely ones to be attacked. If you have absolutely no chance of winning, then hide your fleets instead. If you score a victory counterattack if possible.
Try to position ship building facilities close to the front lines so you can reinforce your forces quickly. Having the ability to send help faster than the enemy may allow you to overwhelm him through shear numbers, even if the enemy is superior technologically.
Game Start Up
You can make an empire spawn in a new game by clicking on the Spawn Empire button until a padlock appears in the lower right corner. This forces the game to spawn the empire in any new games that are started. This icon looks like a Phoenix with its wings spread and is only available for custom empires. If there’s a prebuilt empire that you like edit it and then save it. This will make the Spawn Empire icon available so you can force it to spawn in new games. Editing the empire can be as simple as renaming it.
For your first few games leave the tutorial on. It does a really good job explaining the game to you and will walk you through most of the basics as you build up your empire. This game has one of the better tutorials out there.
At the start of the game check game polices and ensure they match your overall plans for galactic dominance. These can also be changed during the game.
Issue the Map the Stars edict. This lasts 11 years and increases science ship survey speed by 25%, plus it increases the chance of discovering anomalies by 10%
Set the food policy to Nutritional Plentitude to increase population growth. Your empire will incur a 25% increase for pop food and mineral upkeep, but pop happiness will increase by 5% for Humanoids and Lithoids and pop growth will increase by 10%. Once enacted it cannot be changed for 10 years.
Out of all the traditions both the Expansion tradition and the Discovery tradition give the most benefits during the early game. Discovery jump starts research and allows systems to be surveyed faster. Expansion gives you an extra pop after a colony is established plus it decreases the influence costs of outpost, something that a new empire is notoriously short of at the start of a game. Expansion Traditions will give an empire it’s biggest boost when exploring and colonizing and is favored by most experienced players as the best opening tradition tree to unlock.
There is a diverse opinion on what the best second tradition tree is to unlock, and it really comes down to what an empire’s overall plan is. If you want an empire specializing in science then the Discovery tradition tree might be your best option, for a Pacifist it would probably be the Harmony Tradition. The second tradition tree unlocked helps set up the foundation for the long-range plan of achieving your empire’s goals.
Another thing most experienced players agree upon is that the Prosperity Tree is the third tradition that should be opened up. Having wealth makes it much easier to buy scarce resources and keeps pops happy.
Once you start a Tradition Tree finish it. Not only do you get the finisher effect once it’s completed it also unlocks an Ascension Perk slot.
The Domination Tree focuses on making the acquisition of subject empires, like vassals, easier. It reduces the war demand for empire subjugation by 25%. The finisher effect allows your empire and any subject empires to share technology cheaply.
Branch Offices will generally give you half the planets trade value in credits, no trade routes required.
Megacorps suffer 50% higher sprawl penalties so exceeding the admin cap is a much bigger problem for them.
You need the Utopia DLC if you want to play a hive mind empire.
If you disdain that sniveling diplomacy play with the Devouring Swarm Civic. No diplomacy options with this empire.
A hive mind’s population growth speed is 25% higher than a standard empire’s.
Hive minds do not have factions and present an easy empire to play when learning about the Stellaris economy.
Food output is critically important for a hive mind due to their high population growth. Adding the Agrarian trait gives a bonus of 15% to food producing jobs.
In keeping with the idea of playing to your empire’s strengths, it’s a good idea to increase pop growth whenever you can for a Hive Mind.
Watch your empire’s influence, remember that although steady it replenishes more slowly than other resources. During mid to late game, if you reach capacity there is nothing you can do to increase it.
Once you’ve hit the ceiling on Influence storage one way to not squander it is to issue edicts.
Another option for using Influence is to buy services from curators and artists.
You can also make planetary decisions that use influence, like declaring martial law or discouraging planetary growth. Go to our how to gain influence page for a complete list on how to increase the influence of an empire.
Know what your empire’s ethics do before choosing them at game start or changing them during the game. These determine what government policies can be implemented and which technologies will have the highest likelihood of being available for research.
You can’t change ethics more than once every 20 years. Look at the Ethics page to find out more about ethics.
Use it. It’s much easier to pick and choose who you fight rather than fight everyone because you just have an attitude.
Use the trade options to improve empire relations. Sometimes just giving something away is enough to improve relations.
Another way to improve relations is to guarantee someone’s independence. This can unlock lots of opportunities, like mutual defense pacts and immigration treaties.
For non-gestalt empires the trade value of systems and planets can be used for increasing your empire’s resources. Typically, a regular empire’s trade policy will be set to wealth creation, which gives one energy credit per trade value.
A trade policy can be changed to Consumer Benefits which reduces credit income from Trade Value to .5 but gives .25 in consumer goods, or it can be set to Marketplace of Ideas, which gives .5 in energy credits and .25 in Unity per one unit in Trade Value.
In order to accumulate trade value outside of a system a starbase is in the starbase must have a trade hub module installed. There also needs to be a trade route available so the Trade Value can be sent to the empire’s capital world. Initially trade is only collected in the system where the starbase is located.
To extend the starbase collection range add trade hubs. For each additional trade hub the collection range increases by a range of one hyperlane jump. Only 6 trade hubs can be added to a starbase.
You will lose trade value through piracy. The best defense against piracy away from starbases is to have a fleet patrolling a trade route. Corvettes are best suited for this.
Starbases can improve their protection of trade value in a system by installing hangar bays.
Use the trade routes map mode to see your empire’s trade routes.
To reroute a trade route, while in trade routes map mode, select the starbase you want to change the route for, then right-click on the starbase you want to reroute your trade to.
Vassals are an effective means to establish a buffer between you and an enemy empire.
Although independent they will remain loyal enough, at least for the immediate future, to come to your assistance in the event of a war.
Creating a vassal reduces administrative costs, which reduces empire sprawl.
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To create a vassal, you first need to create a sector and then create a vassal. They will have the name you give them and will be a different color and have a different emblem from your own empire but will remain loyal to you, for a while at least. If you have the Feudal Society Civic you can gain a powerful ally in the mid to late game since this civic allows the vassal to build starbases and expand.