This guide was rendered obsolete by the Libra 3.3 update since things like Administrative Capacity, Empire Sprawl and Empire Cohesion have all been effectively combined into Empire Size. Empire Size is derived from the number of districts you have, the number of systems in your empire, how many colonies you have and how many pops you have.
It also has modifiers. Things like Construction Templates reduce it by 10% and a Courier Network reduces it by 25% for both systems and colonies.
Stellaris is a great game that only gets more complex, interesting and fun as time goes on. Most seasoned game veterans say empire sprawl and administrative capacity are safe to ignore, while some say only worry about it during the early game, while others tend to want to control it throughout the game due to its various penalties. Regardless of what camp you fall into this guide will help you manage it efficiently and get the most out of your empire’s production. It never hurts to optimize your empire when the costs of going over your administrative capacity outweigh the benefits. You just never know when a few added resources might turn the tide of battle in your favor. Check out our 101 tips page for more ideas about how to play the game.
Administrative Capacity summarizes how much expertise an empire has on hand to handle the bureaucratic tasks of running an empire. If an empire’s sprawl is more than its administrative capacity, then for every point sprawl exceeds capacity, the following penalties apply.
- +0.3% Tech cost
- +0.5% Tradition adoption cost (Unity)
- +1% Campaign (Subset of Edicts) cost
- +1% Leader Upkeep cost
- +1% Leader Cost
Empire Sprawl represents the amount of burden an empire has upon its administrative capacity and imposes the penalties listed above when it exceeds the administrative capacity of an empire. Empire sprawl is increased by:
- 2 for each owned system and planet
- 1 for each district
- 1.5 for each owned Branch Office (Megacorps)
All the important attributes of an empire’s sprawl can be accessed through the menu icon and tool tip that appears when you hover the mouse cursor over the icon at the top of the screen.
The penalties for empire sprawl are additive. For example, if administrative capacity is 30 and empire sprawl is 81 then it’s been exceeded it by 51. If I want to know the technology cost, for example, then multiply the 0.3% penalty by 51, resulting in a 15.3% penalty to technology.
The tooltip that appears gives you a detailed breakdown of what’s helping reduce empire sprawl and what’s making it worse. In the screenshot above an empire sprawl of 81 is due to 19 points from districts (19 times a penalty of 1), 25 systems for a total of 50 (25 times the penalty of 2), and 8 (4 colonies times the penalty of 2), for a total of 77.
Empire cohesion factors into this, so in order to determine the total empire sprawl 77 needs to be multiplied by the 105% cohesion penalty (due to 97% empire cohesion) for a total empire sprawl of 81.
Fortunately, the game does all the math for you, the tooltip gives you the overall breakdown after all the math is done.
Empire Cohesion tells a player how unified an empire’s territory is. If the empire cohesion is less than 100% an empire’s sprawl will be multiplied by a “cohesion multiplier” and the result will place a greater administrative strain on the empire. An empire starts out with a base cohesion of 5 and cohesion is raised or lowered by the following:
- +1 for each owned system
- +3 for each upgraded Starbase
- -1 for each hyperlane connection outside the empire’s borders
- -3 for each unowned system that only connects to the player’s empire
In the example above the empire’s cohesion is 97%, resulting in a cohesion multiplier of 105% (1.05).
Stellaris How to Increase Administrative Capacity
The base administrative capacity for every empire is 30 and can be increased the following ways.
Game Start Up
You can get a boost in administrative capacity at the very start of the game by choosing the right empire and ethics. A Moral Democracy, Irenic Bureaucracy, Irenic Dictatorship, or Irenic Monarchy gives you the civics of Pacifist (10 more administrative capacity) and Fanatic Pacifist (20 administrative capacity), resulting in a total of 30 more administrative capacity, for a total of 60 instead of the usual base 30 at game start up. You can also edit your new empire and choose those ethics after meeting certain requirements, primarily by giving up ethics that contradict a Pacifist mentality.
Corporate Authority (MegaCorp DLC) is not surprisingly limited to corporate type empires. It provides numerous benefits in addition to adding 20 administrative capacity, such as allowing your empire to build branch offices at other worlds, but it does carry a 50% penalty for empire sprawl.
Read more about starting a game and what the best settings are at our Best Starting Settings page.
Build an Administrative Office. It creates 2 Bureaucratic jobs and when fully staffed reduces empire sprawl by 2. This building takes 2 energy credits per month to maintain. Maybe a Habitat full of these would significantly impact empire sprawl?
The Divided Attention civic is only available if you have a hive mind empire which the Utopia DLC enables. This civic allows the hive mind to “divide its attention for maximum efficiency.” It gives a hivemind empire 20 more administrative capacity. This civic can also be chosen during the game at the expense of giving up another ethic.
An empire can use the Efficient Bureaucracy Civic as long as it not a Gestalt Consciousness or Corporate Empire. It raises the administrative cap by 20. It can be chosen during the game for a cost of 250 influence points.
The Private Prospector’s civic is available to corporate empires (MergaCorp DLC) only. It provides an increase of 10 administrative cap.
Colonial Bureaucracy provides +20 in administrative capacity. Before getting the opportunity to research it Adaptive Bureaucracy technology must be available, plus an empire needs to own at least two planets.
Galactic Bureaucracy will also provide +20 administrative capacity. The prerequisite for that is having the Colonial Bureaucracy technology available.
Administrative Efficiency is available after researching Galactic Bureaucracy and can be researched multiple times. It gives an additional 15 in administrative capacity.
Courier Networks is “a network of small courier vessels” that increases administrative capacity by 20. It’s in the Expansion category of Traditions. You must first enable “Reach for the Stars.”
For hiveminds the tradition is Limited Autonomy, Amoebic Systems tradition must be active first.
For machine empires the tradition name is Extensible Software. Same as the traditions for “standard” and hivemind empires, a prerequisite must be met first. Signal Relay Stations must be active.
The Imperial Prerogative Ascension Perk will increase Administrative Capacity by 30. Ascension Perks are unlocked by completing a Tradition group.
The Oracle empire modifier increases administrative capacity by 20 and is permanent. It is triggered by an Archaeology Site Evacuation (event).
- In the early game expand your empire while increasing administrative capacity as much as you can. It’s okay to go over the cap slightly since taking new systems can offset the incurred penalties.
- It’s never a good idea to remain well under the administrative capacity of your empire. It’s always a good idea to remain at the limit or just barely exceed the limit during the early game.
- For systems with scarce resources disbanding the outpost will reduce sprawl by two.
- One tactic to try is to keep track of the penalties and offset what’s hurting you the most. For example, if your science is being hampered too much, try dedicating a planet or two to scientific research.