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Traditions in Stellaris are essentially the customs and mannerisms your empire develops as it advances. Traditions are adopted in Stellaris to both increase an empire’s strengths and to its bolster weaknesses. Traditions are also used to customize an empire to your specific playstyle.
Expansion, Prosperity, Supremacy, Unyielding and Diplomacy are the 5 best Tradition Trees in Stellaris.
All Tradition Trees have a “Finisher” effect, which is what takes effect when all five Traditions in the Tradition Tree have been adopted. Each Tradition Tree gives you access to one Ascension Perk when finished.
Expansion Tradition Tree
Even though a lot of experienced players don’t favor this tradition too much anymore I still find myself adopting it first almost every time I play a new game of Stellaris. When you adopt this Tradition you get an opener effect of a 25% increase in colony development speed. It’s the left side of the tree that I see the most benefit in. This tradition tree emphasizes expansion of your territory and colony establishment.
The reason I take this Tradition Tree first is that as empires expand and space gets taken up it becomes less and less of a benefit. I won’t be building very many starbases after all the available territory is taken up, so a reduced cost means very little to me, even in the late stages of the early game. If I don’t take it first, I usually won’t take it at all. Besides, later in the game, Influence becomes a little more plentiful, so the benefit of saving a little is outweighed by the benefits you can gain from other Tradition trees later in the game.
I like to expand as rapidly as possible at the start of the game and the 10% reduction from the Reach for the Stars Tradition in Starbase Influence cost means I can make my limited amount of Influence stretch a little bit farther and perhaps grab an important chokepoint or system before another empire does.
The next Tradition I adopt in this Tradition tree is usually Galactic Ambition (Cogs in the Machine if you’re a Machine empire, Blot out the Stars if you’re a Hive Mind). Since I’m building all those starbases the 20% reduction in upkeep costs is nice.
The order of the next three varies for me from game-to-game. This Tradition tree has Colonization Fever (Automated Colonization Units for a Machine empire, One Mind for a Hive Mind) which gives an extra pop when starting a new colony, Courier Networks (Extensible Software for a Machine empire, Limited Autonomy for a Hive Mind) which reduces empire size by 25% from systems and colonies and A New Life (Hotjoin Protocols for a Machine empire, Spawning Frenzy for a Hive Mind) for a 10% increase in pop growth. Machine Empires get a 10% pop assembly speed increase instead.
The “Finisher” effect for this Tradition Tree is an additional district for all natural planets except for Void Dwellers. They get a reduction of 20% in Habitat build costs instead.
Prosperity Tradition Tree
I like to bolster my economy as soon I can so I can support my fleets and my eventual war efforts. Prosperity is typically the second or third Tradition Tree I’ll adopt, but it’s usually the second, depending on how many hostile neighbors I’ve encountered. This Tradition Tree provides game-long benefits and the earlier you adopt it the better your economy will be.
When you adopt this Tradition Tree you immediately gain a 20% increase in Mining Station Output. If this significant increase gives you a big surplus in Minerals, so much the better. You’ll have that much more to sell at the Market for Energy Credits so you can buy the resources you’re short on.
This Tradition Tree has two first level Traditions and three second level traditions. Administrative Operation (Superconductive Power Transmission for a Machine empire, Chitinous Architecture for a Hive Mind) reduces building and district upkeep by 10%. The other first level Tradition, Standard Construction Templates (Prefabricate Building for a Gestalt Consciousness) reduces building and district build cost by 10% and gives a 25% boost in planetary build speed.
At level 2 the first Tradition is The Pursuit of Profit (Creative Collectives for an Egalitarian empire, Peak Performance for a Machine empire, Neural Signal Boosters for a Hive Mind) which gives a 5% boost in Specialist or Drone output.
Interstellar Franchising (Efficiency Algorithms for a Machine empire, Efficiency Instincts for Hive Mind) is a tradition that gives 1 additional Clerk per City or Habitat Trade District and 3 Clerk jobs per Residential Arcology or City segment. A Gestalt Consciousness gets an increase of 5% in monthly Energy Credit income instead.
Public Works Division (Modular Superstructures for Void Dwellers, Optimized Nexus for Machine empire, Extended Hives for Hive Mind) provides an additional housing unit per City, Hive or Nexus district, 3 more housing per Residential Arcology and 5 more housing per city, hive or nexus segment. Void Dwellers get an extra building slot for Habitats instead.
The “Finisher” effect for this Tradition tree is 5% more resources produced by all jobs (great benefit!) and +5 stability on all colonies.
Supremacy Tradition Tree
The third Tradition Tree I adopt is Supremacy and it emphasizes fleet and army strength. I generally play aggressive and wide so this one suites my playstyle very well, and if I’ve encountered a lot of hostile empires then I’ll sometimes make it the second Tradition Tree I adopt instead of Prosperity. When you adopt it you get a 20% boost in naval capacity and army damage. I like the additional firepower this adds if I need it.
The first level 1 tradition is Master Shipwrights (Modular Hull Templates for a Machine empire, Organic Architecture for a Hive Mind) and you get a 10% reduction in ship build cost and a 25% increase in ship build speed. The next level 1 tradition is Fleet Logistics Corps (Automated Underway Replenishment for a Machine empire, Nutrient Arks for a Hive Mind). It reduces ship upkeep by 10% and naval capacity is increased by 20%.
Overwhelming Force increases ship fire rate by 10% and orbital bombardment damage by 20%.
There are two level 2 Traditions in this Tradition Tree. The first is War Games (Combat Variable Mitigation for a Machine empire, Three-Dimensional Awareness for a Hive Mind) that gives a 20% boost to the fleet command limit plus a +2 to the Admiral level cap. The other second level Tradition is The Great Game (Diplomatic Target Prioritization for a Machine empire, Hunter’s Eye for a Hive Mind). It increases the damage dealt out by your ships to enemy starbases by 20%.
This is an all-around great Tradition Tree that will keep giving bonuses throughout the game. I think my favorite thing is the double bump to Naval Capacity, 20% when adopted and then another 20% for the Fleet Logistics Corp Tradition.
The “Finisher” effect for this Tradition Tree is that it unlocks War Doctrine policies and it unlocks the Supremacist diplomatic stance.
Unyielding Tradition Tree
This Tradition Tree is only available if you have either the Apocalypse or Overlord DLC activated. If available, you should definitely take it as one of your first five if you like playing wide and aggressively. It strengthens your defenses and makes defending your empire easier without having to station as many fleets close to important systems as you normally would.
When you adopt this Tradition Tree you immediately get an additional starbase capacity of 2 and the upgrade speed for a starbase is increased by 50%. This Tradition Tree has two level 1 traditions, two level 2 traditions and one level 3 tradition.
The first level 1 tradition is Resistance is Frugal. This Tradition increases Army Health by 25% and produces an additional .5 Unity per Defense Army.
Defensive Zeal produces a 33% increase in starbase hull points, damage, defense platform damage and defense platform hull points.
In the second tier Never Surrender reduces damage incurred during Orbital Bombardments and War Exhaustion by 25%. It also makes Influence costs from other empires increase by 25%, making your territory much more expensive to claim.
Fortress Doctrine (Guardian Subroutines for a Machine empire, Vigilant Thought Processes for a Hive Mind) gives in increase of 2 in starbase capacity, a reduction of 50% when upgrading a starbase and an increase of 4 in difficulty when someone tries to sabotage one of your starbases.
The only level 3 Tradition is Bulwark of Harmony. It increases ship fire rate by 15% if your ships are within your borders and an increase of 33% in ship build speed if you’re in a defensive war.
The “Finisher” effects are especially good for this Tradition Tree. You get a 50% increase in the defense platform cap (making starbases something to be reckoned with by any hostile fleet when fully outfitted with defensive platforms), and a reduction of 20% in starbase upkeep. You can also create a Martial Alliance Federation when this Tradition Tree is fully adopted.
Diplomacy Tradition Tree
The main reasons I like this Tradition Tree are because first, it’s the only way you can gain the ability to form your own Federation and second, although it’s not a direct result from unlocking traditions in this tree, it also gives you the ability to control massive fleets when you’re the President of a Federation.
When you adopt this Tradition Tree it cost 50% less Influence for diplomatic actions and it unlocks the Diplomatic Grants edict.
The Federation Tradition is usually the first thing I unlock in this Tradition Tree and that’s because it gives you the ability to create Federations. It also provides you with an additional Envoy that you can use.
Diplomatic Networking ensures that you get 3 more Unity produced per Embassy you have.
Entente Coordination allows for defensive coordination between Federation members. This Tradition means that the amount you contribute to the Federation’s Naval Capacity counts for twice as much as it normally would.
Direct Diplomacy increases your Trust cap by 50% and increases Trust growth by 50%.
Eminent Diplomats (Improved Envoy Drones for Gestalt Consciousness) gives a +5 in Diplomatic Acceptance. Envoys who are working on improving relations with another empire gain a 1% chance per month of gaining a favor for your empire.
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The “Finisher” effect is a 10% gain in Diplomatic Weight (good if you’re in the Galactic Community) and it gives you another Envoy to work with.