The free Stellaris Cepheus update and Overlord DLC both represent significant changes to the game. The Cepheus update makes changes for free to game mechanics while the Overlord DLC expands on those changes for a cost. These changes provide a lot more strategic options for Stellaris when it comes to Vassals and Subjugations.
Vassals and Subjugation, the Situation Log, the Deficit system and Automation have been considerably improved. The systems most improved are the processes for dealing with Vassals, New Situations for the Situation Log, a Deficit system rework and Planetary Automation.
Contracts are now available to let you deal more effectively with your subject empires. Subjects can either be integrated into your empire or prohibited from doing that. You can also influence how much tribute they pay you, whether they can expand or not and how much Diplomacy they can conduct on their own behalf.
There is an overview of your Vassal’s stats at the opening Agreements screen. You can see how loyal each vassal is and what the monthly change is in loyalty. When you select a vassal at this overview screen you can see if you have any holdings in their empire, how many resources the vassal is either contributing to you or receiving from you and what the present terms of the agreement are between your empire and theirs.
The Contacts screen now has a new tab at the bottom of it titled “Agreements,” which is how you deal with the subjects of your empire. One option on this screen is “Holdings.” This allows you to construct a building on each of your Vassal’s planets, either an Aid Agency, Emporium or an Overlord Garrison.
You can negotiate new terms with a Vassal using the “Terms Negotiation” button. You can negotiate whether the Vassal is permitted to be integrated into your empire, how much diplomatic freedom they have, whether they can expand their own empire or not and how freely they will be allowed to do that if they are.
Contribution levels are set at this screen too. The levels of basic resources, like energy and minerals, advanced resources like alloys and consumer goods, research and strategic resources can be increased or decreased.
The level both you and your Vassal are involved in conflicts can be negotiated as well. You can force a Vassal to support you in offensive or defensive wars, or both. The same is true for your involvement in conflicts your vassal becomes involved in. You can agree to help out with defensive or offensive wars, or both.
All of these settings affect loyalty, the more favorable the agreement is to your Vassal the more Loyalty you get, the less favorable to more Loyalty your lose.
Proposing Subjugation to another empire has been changed too. You can now propose a “Reasonable Agreement” to them in the hope that they will peacefully join your empire. This activates the “Propose Subjugation” screen which is essentially the same screen you use to deal with your vassals. Once a proposal is sent they will either accept it or decline it.
An Aid Agency increases monthly loyalty from your vassal by .5 per month and it provides 2 Aid Worker jobs. Aid Workers provide 10 amenities for your loyal subjects plus they provide 15 Unity a month for your empire.
The Emporium has no impact on monthly loyalty, and it gives 2 Overlord Trader jobs. These Traders trade energy credits for Amenities, they gain 20 amenities for every 18 Energy Credits traded, but the job upkeep for these Traders is 14 Energy Credits per month.
An Overlord Garrison reduces crime and increases loyalty. For every Overlord army on the planet crime is reduced by 10% (up to a maximum of 30%), monthly loyalty is increased by .5 per month, (up to a maximum of 1.5) but happiness is reduced by 5 percent up to a maximum of 15%.
Trade Negotiations With A Vassal
There are a few more options for trade with a Vassal versus other empires. For instance, you can offer to let them borrow one of your fleets for favors or get more Loyalty from them by trading something. If the Vassal likes the terms, they will accept it.
The Cepheus 3.4 update intensifies the effects of running short of something and is not limited to the basic resources like Minerals or Energy. Deficits in exotic elements like rare crystals also carry an impact on both your economy and military.
When a deficit occurs, you’ll get an alert or two at the top of the screen. One indicator is the Resources Icon at the top of the screen except this one will have red icons inside it. Hovering over it will bring up a tool tip informing you what the critical shortage is and what the effects are.
There is usually another alert telling you that an Imminent Situation is beginning and how far down the path you are to a crisis.
Planetary automation has been improved significantly. You can set the defaults for all planets, update all the planets in your empire at the same time, or individualize the settings for each planet.
There are several areas that can be automated:
- Designation – Not the same as Planetary Designation. The Planetary Designation provides bonuses to specific things like mineral or energy production. The Designation Setting forces a planet to construct buildings that match its designation.
- Rare Resources
- Pop Assembly
- Building Slots
- Blocker Clearing
- Posthumous Employment
- Psi Corps
Probably the most significant setting is the designation setting. If a planet is designated as a Generator World, then the buildings it mostly constructs will be Generator Districts and Energy related buildings, like the Energy Grid.
Sector automation has been improved as well although not as significantly as Planets. About the only changes I see in Sector automation is the addition of a Unity focus. Another “under the hood” change is that once a sector focus is set, any planets in that sector will automatically have their “auto designation” turned on to match the sector setting focus.
More stories and interactive events. One new story I’ve already encountered is “Wanderlust.” The Head of my Physics research Department has gone missing, plus their experimental prototype Science Ship has gone missing as well. This halted my Physics research until I either had enough Unity to recruit another Scientist to replace him or to find him.
The Situation Log was immediately updated after that to reflect my new mission, find the missing Scientist and Science ship as soon as possible. The Situation Log lists three possible locations the missing Scientist could be at. Even if you locate him that may not be the end of the Situation, its fun going through the event. I’m sure there are many new ones like it.
There are also Military AI improvements according to the Paradox Dev Diaries. AI empires will now try not to have a bunch of smaller fleets but will attempt to merge them into larger fleets whenever possible. In addition to that, right before an AI empire declares war on you, you’ll get a notification, provided you have enough Intel on that empire.
Overlord DLC Additions
The Overlord DLC adds to the already improved vassalization mechanics, new Enclaves, five new Origins and three new Mega Structures.
New Stellaris Overlord Origins
Progenitor Hive – This Hive has semi-independent leaders. Hive Minds with this origin can also release sectors as subjects. This Origin gives your empire a decrease of 50% in sublight speed for your ships, ship evasion, ship fire rate and accuracy.
Subterranean – The species in this empire has evolved to living under the surface of the planet. Your species starts with the Cave Dweller trait. Your empire constructs cities underground, resulting in a 10% increase in building costs and a 10% reduction in build speed. The benefit that offsets this is colonies suffer 75% less damage due to planetary bombardment. Mining districts are also not limited.
Slingshot to the Stars – You start with a ruined Quantum Catapult close to your home system and have the means to repair it and use it again. It also reduces the cost of new starbases by 75%.
Teachers of the Shroud – Your empire has been greatly influenced by a Shroudwalker coven. Your species gets the latent psionics trait, you can build a Shroud Beacon on a starbase and you are in contact with a Shroudwalker Enclave.
Imperial Fiefdom – As soon as you made your way out of your home system your civilization was subjugated by a vastly superior empire. You begin as the vassal to this empire and choose to become a Specialist empire either militarily, in research, or in basic resource production.
Overlord DLC Holdings
The maximum number of holdings you can have on a subject’s planets is increased from one to four, plus there is more of a variety of buildings to choose from, the number is increased from three to twelve, including three Specialist buildings.
Ministry of Science is reserved to vassals that are a Scholarium specialists, the Offworld Foundry is for Prospectorium Specialists and the Vigil Command is reserved for a Bulwark specialist.
Stellaris Overlord Vassal Specializations
Without the Overlord DLC the only specialization for a Vassal was to turn them into a Tributory. This means they pay a basic resource tax to their Overlord every month. The Ovlerord DLC enables Bulwark, Scholarium and Prospectorium Specialists and they all have higher tiers that can be achieved.
The Bulwark specializes in military skills at the expense of basic resource production. They get significant increases in the military portion of their empire, like a 50% increase in Defensive Platform Damage but at a cost in basic resources at tier 1. These Specialists incur a 20% penalty in monthly energy, mineral and food production at tier 1. As they advance in tiers both the benefits and penalties become more pronounced.
The Scholarium specializes in technological advancements at the expense of military power. At tier 1 they get a 20% increase in monthly research and get another research alternative but at the expense of a 30% penalty to naval capacity, military ship build cost and military ship upkeep.
The Prospectorium focuses on resource production at the expense of technological advancements. At tier 1 they acquire 10% bonuses to things like energy credit production and alloy production. They incur penalties of 30% to all branches of scientific research.
Stellaris Overlord Mega Structures
Quantum Catapult – This Mega Structure reduces the time a fleet is Missing in Action by 30%. It can send fleets almost instantly to otherwise unreachable destinations and apparently has no limited range although it does become increasingly inaccurate the further the target is away from the Catapult. One major drawback is that there may be no way home for a fleet since it essentially a one-way trip.
Hyper Relay – It takes more than one to be usable. When traveling along a hyperlane with Hyper Relays present the travel time is, once again, almost instantaneous.
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Orbital Ring – This is probably the most fascinating addition to me. This is a defensive ring around a planet that can increase living space and gives a significant boost to planetary defense. You can build modules and buildings similar to a starbase, plus it can be upgraded like a starbase.