Ascension Perks are one of many things you can unlock to gain bonuses for your empire and some of them can be game changers. Some are a lot more beneficial if taken early in the game while other just add a lot of fun and new gaming aspects. When it comes to choosing the best, I not only consider what benefits it gives me but also how much fun it adds to the game. While it sometimes might not be the best choice militarily or economically at the time, it might be the best one to just add more fun to the game.
The best 6 Stellaris Ascension Perks are Interstellar Dominion, Technological Ascendancy, Mind Over Matter, Become the Crisis, Defender of the Galaxy and Galactic Wonders. In the Early game either Interstellar Dominion should be chosen due to the reduced cost in Influence for Starbases, or Technological Ascendency to gain a technological advantage over your opponents.
Of course, to unlock an Ascension Perk you first need to finish a Tradition Tree. You can see what I think the five best Traditions are at this page on my website.
I will almost always take one of two Ascension Perks at the beginning of a game and that’s partly due to my playstyle. I like to militarily dominate and grab as much territory as I can at the very beginning of a game. Although most players rate Interstellar Domination as a mediocre Ascension Perk, it’s usually the first perk I’ll take in any typical game. While it’s true you’ll have plenty of Influence as the game goes on that’s not the case in the early game when expansion is important, and if you like to expand as rapidly as I do you, you’ll find that Influence is the single, most limiting factor. Things like alloy shortages can be solved by buying them at the Market.
To adopt Interstellar Dominion all you need to do is complete a Tradition tree. This Ascension Perk reduces the Influence cost of starbases by 20% and reduces Claim Influence cost by 20%. You probably won’t see any benefits from the reduced Claims cost until you’re ready to take enemy systems but the reduction in Starbase Influence cost is realized immediately. What this 20% reduction is Starbase Influence cost essentially means is that you should be able to expand 20% faster than your neighbors, which puts a greater distance between your valuable core worlds and an enemy empire’s borders. It also lets you grab valuable resources and choke points at a much faster rate.
The other Ascension Perk I’ll take first about 50% of the time is Technological Ascendancy. In Stellaris one of the keys to supremacy is being technologically superior and this Ascension Perk gets you to that point faster. Not only does it increase research speed by 10% but more importantly, at least to me, is that rare technologies appear 1.5 times the normal rate, which is a 50% increase. These rare technologies will sometimes give you a significant bonus over other empires, like the rare but dangerous technology of Sapient Combat Simulations. The description reads “Running sapient AIs through high-intensity combat simulations yields valuable insight into potential optimizations for risk-evaluation techniques.” Sounds like your fleets will perform better in combat, at least until the sapient AIs see you as the threat.
Mind over Matter
After unlocking your first Ascension Perk more become available. I typically ignore those “first tier perks” except for one, and that’s Mind over Matter. Whether you take this as your second or your sixth Ascension perk will depend on both how your research progresses and your playstyle. To make it available you need to have unlocked Psionic Theory, which is in the Society branch of research, so the timing of the research options will be a factor.
When this Ascension Perk is chosen “the latent psionic abilities of our species…” will be awakened. It opens more telepathy research options and gives you access to the Psi Corp building, which gives more stability to a planet when built. It’s always nice to have an idea of what your opponent is going to do during combat, a big advantage.
Become the Crisis
When it comes to adding sheer fun to the game the Become the Crisis Ascension perk is the best in my opinion. If you’ve ever wanted to satisfy that super-hero complex and take on the entire galaxy at once, and very possibly win, then this is the Perk for you!
You don’t become the Crisis right away, nor do you ever need to if you just want some perks, like more powerful ships, but it does unlocks the path to becoming exactly that. When unlocked you gain access to Menace Points and the Crisis tab, which becomes part of Society Management.
Once you finish all the special projects you become the Crisis and you’re kicked out of the Galactic Community immediately and everyone in the Galactic Community declares war on you automatically. If the Galactic Market headquarters is located on one of your planets the headquarters will swiftly be stripped from your possession.
You do get a higher fleet capacity and more powerful ships to enable you to fight everyone at once. As the Klingons say, “It will be glorious!”
Defender of the Galaxy
If blowing up the galaxy isn’t your style, then maybe defending it from the end-game crisis is. This is another Ascension Perk that adds a lot of fun to the game.
This Perk will allow your forces to deal 50% more damage to an End-Game faction, plus everyone likes you a lot more because you’re going to protect them. Not much help if you’re trying to conquer the galaxy by force, but it will help take it over by more subtle means, like becoming the Custodian.
To round out my list of the best (and favorites) is the Galactic Wonders Ascension Perk. One of the things that makes this such a great Ascension Perk is that it’s available early in the game, unlike some of the others like Become the Crisis.
Mega Engineering technology is a requirement but once this Ascension Perk is unlocked it makes the technology available for research to construct megastructures like Ring Worlds, Dyson Spheres and Matter Decompressors.
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Dyson Spheres are awesome, with one of these your empire will never need to worry about Energy again.