Best Stellaris Empire Builds - Updated for Utopia! - The Loresworn Order

Mar
26

Best Stellaris Empire Builds – Updated for Utopia!

With the release of Stellaris: Utopia and the Banks patch, the components used to create a stellar empire have changed drastically. Thus, we’ve updated this guide to fit the new systems. Below, you’ll find a list of the most powerful, synergistic, potentially broken empire builds you can borrow or adapt to create your own version of Utopia.

This guide was last Updated 6 April, 2017 and is up to date for Patch 1.5.0 “Banks” and the Utopia expansion.

The Armada

Species Traits: Thrifty (+15% Energy Credits) The previous version of this guide focused on mineral production for The Armada, but having played more Stellaris, we find that running out of energy to maintain your large fleets becomes a burden much more often than not having enough minerals to build them.

Ethos: Fanatic Militarist (+20% Army damage, +20% Fire Rate), Egalitarian (+15% Faction Influence Gain, -10% Consumer Goods Cost)

Government: Oligarchic or Democratic, Citizen Service (+15% Naval Capacity),  Distinguished Admiralty (+8% Fire Rate)

Explanation: Soon after entering the space age, your people’s navy became the de facto government. All “dirtsiders” are seen as somewhat lesser, and exist only to expand and serve the Armada. To gain a posting aboard one of the mighty warships is a high honor, as you swear in to become part of one of the most feared forces on the galactic stage. Local, planetbound assemblies are subservient to the Grand Admiral and his advisers. The old capital has fallen into disuse, as the most important ground facilities have become sites of space elevators, shipyards, and drydocks. The true heart of the government is aboard the Grand Admiral’s flagship.

The Sexy Slave Drivers (Now Featuring Their Big, Dumb, Ugly Friends)

Species Traits (Primary): Communal (+5% Happiness), Charismatic (+5% Other Species Happiness), Intelligent (+10% Science Output), Decadent (-10% Happiness without Slaves), Weak (-20% Army Damage, -5% Minerals)

Species Traits (Big, Dumb, Ugly Friends): Proles (+10% Minerals, +5% Food, +15% Governing Ethics Attraction, -25% Science Output), Strong (+20% Army Damage, +5% Minerals)

Ethos: Fanatic Authoritarian (-50% Resettlement Cost, -20% Slave Unrest), Spiritualist (-10 Unrest, +15% Governing Ethics Attraction)

Government: Any non-Democratic, Syncretic Evolution (Start the game with 4 Pops being of another, subservient species – See Big, Dumb, Ugly Friends), Slaver Guilds (+10% Slave Food Output, +10% Slave Mineral Output)

Explanation: By the greater good and the will of the Space Gods, your mission is to subjugate every sentient under the will of your divinely-appointed ruler – starting with those large, brutish morons you spent your very early history vying for control of the planet with. They never managed to get on your level intellectually, so now they have the privilege of being your servants! And oh, what servants they are, producing huge amounts of food and minerals while your people are left to more intellectual pursuits. The Charismatic trait increases the happiness of other species living in your empire—even if they’re slaves!—which should keep them from getting too uppity. Your physical weakness and decadence should never come as a hindrance, since you will always have a supply of able labor from the get-go.

The Face Punchers

Species Traits: Very Strong (+40% Army Damage, +10% Minerals), Repugnant (-5% Other Species Happiness)

Ethos: Fanatic Militarist (+20% Army Damage, +20% Fire Rate), Xenophobe (+15% Rivalry Influence Gain, +15% Border Range)

Government: Any authority type, Warrior Culture (+20% Army Damage, -20% Army Upkeep), Nationalistic Zeal (+10% Border Range, +1 Maximum Rivalries)

Explanation: Your species ran out of bubble gum centuries ago. You didn’t come to space to make friends. You’re grumpy, ugly, and ready to crack some skulls. This build gives you an absurd +60% Army Damage, allowing you to take planets with small landing forces of surly, hulking, anti-social brutes. You draw your borders liberally, giving you plenty of chances to bump into new people to punch (and gaining Influence in the process). On top of everything else, your people can mine large ore deposits without pesky, heavy machinery and pay less for all military units.

The Space Nerds (Now with FREAKIN’ ROBOTS!)

Species Traits (Primary): Intelligent (+10% Science Output), Natural Engineers (+15% Engineering Output), Weak (-20% Army Damage, -5% Minerals)

Species Traits (FREAKIN’ ROBOTS): Mechanical (+200% Habitability, Immortal), Robot (-80% Science Output, -40% Energy Credits, +10% Minerals, -10,000% Consumer Goods Cost, Not Affected by Happiness, Costs Energy Credits for Upkeep)

Ethos: Fanatic Materialist (-20% Robot Maintenance Cost, +10% Research Speed), Egalitarian (+15% Faction Influence Gain, –10% Consumer Goods Cost)

Government: Oligarchic or Democratic, Mechanist (Start the game with 4 Pops being robots, and the technology to build more) Technocracy (+1 Research Alternatives)

Explanation: BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! BILL! …
In space, science truly does rule. And your people are very, very good at it, with a flat +20% research speed in all categories and the choice of four base technology draws per category instead of 3. It doesn’t matter that your race is physically frail, because you start the game with ROBOTS who are good at fighting and can handle most mining and farming chores. The additional +15% Engineering bonus will allow you to quickly develop even smarter robots, and you barely have to pay them anything! How could that possibly go wrong?

Variants: You can easily swap out Natural Engineers for Natural Physicists or Natural Sociologists if you want to focus more heavily on a different area of research. Solitary (-5% Happiness) might be a good replacement for Weak if you’d rather stress that your Space Nerds are anti-social, rather than physically unimposing.

The Skilltastic Meritocracy

Species Traits: Talented (+1 Leader Skill Levels), Quick Learners (+25% Leader Experience Gain)

Ethos: Fanatic Xenophile (+50% Trust Growth, -50% Diplomatic Influence Cost), Materialist (-10% Robot Maintenance Cost, +5% Research Speed)

Government: Oligarchic, Meritocracy (+1 Leader skill levels, +1 Leader pool size), Aristocratic Elite (-50% Governor Recruitment Cost, +4 Empire Leader Capacity)

Explanation: This is the overall most broken build we could come up with. All of your leaders start at 3 stars across the board and gain xp faster. Your 3 star scientists should be able to research most anomalies instantly and will boost all areas of research significantly, even with no training. Your planetary governors will also be better, and your leaders, while serving for short terms, are guaranteed to always be highly competent from the day they take office. Early wars will be easy (or at least easier) because you will have more ship modules unlocked and it’s unlikely your enemies will have a lot of 3 star admirals and generals lying around, while you will have an infinite supply. And you’ll have a lot more leaders to work with, ensuring every planet has a governor and giving you the ability to run three or four science ships at once. Xenophilia means you will always be able to elect the right being for the job, even if they’re not of your primary race (even synthetics, eventually, thanks to Materialist).

Variants: Swap out Talented for Enduring (+15 Years Leader Lifespan), change your authority to Imperial, and pick up Philosopher King  (+2 Ruler Skill Levels) in place of Meritocracy as it is no longer valid with the new government form. Your leaders will start with one fewer skill level, but they still get the xp boost and remain in power for life (which, with Enduring and faster genetic tech research, should be quite a long time), allowing them to become more skilled in the long run while starting off slower. Each of your top-level rulers will also start at 3 stars, which benefits the entire empire. There are no 0/0/0 heirs in space!

The Wolves of the Wall Street Nebula

Species Traits: Thrifty (+15% Energy Credits), Industrious (+15% Minerals), Repugnant (-5% Other Species Happiness), Solitary (-5% Happiness)

Ethos: Fanatic Materialist (-20% Robot Maintenance Cost, +10% Research Speed), Egalitarian (+15% Faction Influence Gain, –10% Consumer Goods Cost)

Government: Oligarchic, Corporate Dominion (+10% Empire Energy Generation), Mining Guilds (+10% Empire Mineral Production)

Explanation: Your people are entirely driven by profit, with hyperlaning CEOs making up the de facto government. And they’re very, very good at what they do. Their cut-throat, anarcho-capitalist ways can come across as ruthless to other species, and a good majority of the population live their lives in utilitarian cubicles making subsistence wages, which is likely to cause dissent across such an individualistic, competition-driven empire. One thing is for sure, though: Your war chest will never be empty.

Variants: If you’re less about free trade and more about mercantilism, swap out Fanatic Materialist for Fanatic Xenophobe (+30% Rivalry Influence Gain, +30% Border Range) to ensure that more of the galaxy’s riches fall within your domain. You won’t be making a lot of friends or trade deals, but that extra influence from rivalries will let you run Production Targets and Capacity Overload edicts on your most productive worlds for even more sweet, sweet profit. You may even want to drop Mining Guilds for Nationalistic Zeal (+10% Border Range, +1 Maximum Rivalries) for the ultimate protectionist corp-state.

The Troll(ololol) Horde

Species Traits: Rapid Breeders (-10% Growth Time), Nomadic (+50% Migration Time, -25% Resettlement Cost), Adaptive (+10% Habitability), Repugnant (-5% Other Species Happiness), Deviants (-15% Governing Ethics Attraction)

Ethos: Fanatic Xenophile (+50% Trust Growth, -50% Diplomatic Influence Cost), Spiritualist (-10 Unrest, +15% Governing Ethics Attraction)

Government: Oligarchic, Exalted Priesthood (+25% Governing Ethics Attraction), Police State (-20 Unrest)

Explanation: This is the best race we could come up with to mess with other people in multiplayer. That is the only excuse for the Trolls’ existence. They breed like crazy, can live almost anywhere, love to move to new planets, and are an absolute pain to deal with considering they’re upsetting to other races and likely to change their minds and form factions with various demands. In your own empire, they are rarely a problem as the Priesthood and their Holy Enforcers keep them in line. But when they migrate to your Egalitarian Xenophile friend’s empire, one of two things is going to happen: The trolls will wreck their political stability, or you will prove that they are a racist by forcing them to reform their government and pass policies that allow them to expel these terribly annoying aliens. Either way, you win.

Leave Us Alone (aka Space Rednecks)

Species Traits: Resilient (+100% Garrison Health, +50% Planetary Fortification Defensive Bonus), Very Strong (+40% Army Damage, +10% Minerals), Sedentary (-50% Migration Speed, +25% Resettlement Cost), Repugnant (-5% Other Species Happiness)

Ethos: Fanatic Xenophobe (+30% Rivalry Influence Gain, +30% Border Range), Militarist (+10% Army Damage, +10% Fire Rate)

Government: Any authority, Nationalistic Zeal (+10% Border Range, +1 Maximum Rivalries), Warrior Culture (+20% Army Damage, -20% Army Upkeep)

Explanation: No Soliciting. Beware of Space Dog. Trespassers Will Be Shot. Your people were never asked to be part of some weirdo, alien “Galactic Community”, and you certainly don’t care to be asked again. You’re more than willing to defend your solitude with force, and any invasion of your homeworlds will meet with a railgun behind every blade of space foliage. Seriously, you guys are dangerous in ground combat on your own turf, with a net bonus to army damage of +70%! And that’s not even factoring in fortificaiton, health boosts, and the fact that you can maintain more defensive armies for cheaper.

Variants: We don’t take kindly to “variants” around these parts, ya hear?

Okay, actually, there are some cool possibilities unlocked with the Banks patch. For instance, you could swap out Warrior Culture for Fanatic Purifiers (+33% Army Damage, +33% Fire Rate, Disables Diplomacy, Unlocks Armageddon Bombardment, Xeno Pops Automatically Purged). That’s +83% Army Damage for anyone who’s keeping track. The only issue here is, if you want to be left alone, announcing your intention to wipe all other races in the galaxy might not be the best way to do that. You’ll probably be forced to fight more often than as a non-Purifier due to the huge opinion penalty you get with literally every other empire.

If you want to go the exact opposite direction, switch Militarist for Pacifist (+20% Monthly Unity, +2 Core Sector Systems) and pick up Inwards Perfection (+30% Monthly Unity, +5% Citizen Pop Happiness) and Agrarian Idyll (Farms Produce 1 Unity). You’ll earn a crazy amount of Unity and unlock traditions in no time, while still being pretty scary to any invading force.

The Happiest Empire in the Galaxy (NOT A Cult!)

Species Traits: Conformists (+25% Governing Ethics Attraction), Communal (+5% Happiness), Sedentary (-50% Migration Speed, +25% Resettlement Cost)

Ethos: Fanatic Spiritualist (-20 Unrest, +30% Governing Ethics Attraction), Authoritarian (-25% Resettlement Cost, -10% Slave Unrest)

Government: Oligarchic, Exalted Priesthood (+25% Governing Ethics Attraction), Police State (-20 Unrest)

Explanation: Long ago, a great teacher lead your people to pure nirvana. You know nothing of sorrow now. Why would anyone ever revolt when everything is so great? And the priests tell us not to, because that would be a Sin. And they’re so great! What? No, this is not a cult, silly. Of course, maintaining such bliss is no easy task, so cheerfulness has been made mandatory by the state. (Did I mention this is not a cult?) Everyone gets a say. It’s just that nobody disagrees. Right? Right. That’s what I thought. Oh, also, we like to stay put around here. I mean, who would ever want to leave the happiest empire in the galaxy anyway? What do you mean we’re not letting you leave? That’s preposterous. You can check out any time you like…

By the way, we are not a cult in case you didn’t catch that part.

Variants: Swap Authoritarian for Egalitarian (+15% Faction Influence Gain, 10% Consumer Goods Cost), dropping Police State in favor of Idealistic Foundation (+5% Citizen Pop Happiness) for a Not Cult where people are even happier, but the cheerfulness enforcement is a bit less overfunded.

The House of Cards

Species Traits: Conformists (+25% Governing Ethics Attraction), Communal (+5% Happiness), Repugnant (-5% Other Species Happiness)

Ethos: Fanatic Egalitarian (+30% Faction Influence Gain, -20% Consumer Goods Cost), Xenophobe (+15% Rivalry Influence Gain, +15% Border Range)

Government: Democratic (Sorta),  Shadow Council (-50% Election Influence Cost), Cutthroat Politics (+1 Monthly Influence)

Explanation: This build is all about manipulating the new faction system, having more Influence than you know what to do with, and proving that even in a superficially “Democratic” society, it’s the backroom backstabbers who really pull the strings. Your society is a hyper-competitive shadow game where influential schemers do battle for the halls of power using intrigue, assassination, and blackmail. Being on the frontline in a war against murderous xenos is less dangerous than being a person of influence in the capital. At least social norms that tend toward conformity ensure that the types of factions that form won’t be entirely at odds… most of the time.

Variants: Swap out Shadow Council for Parliamentary System (+50% Faction Influence Gain) for a version where the government is at least somewhat honest and those rumors about the Illuminati are mostly false. It’s still fairly easy to influence elections. You’ll just have to do it by manipulating factions to gain even more influence in a relatively legitimate fashion, rather than poisoning someone’s drink with a lethal amount of Zro.

The Ascensionites

Species Traits: Conformists (+25% Governing Ethics Attraction)

Ethos: Fanatic Pacifist (+40% Monthly Unity, +4 Core Sector Systems), Xenophobe (+15% Rivalry Influence Gain, +15% Border Range)

Government: Any authority, Inwards Perfection (+30% Monthly Unity, +5% Citizen Pop Happiness), Agrarian Idyll (Farms Produce 1 Unity)

Explanation: Unity is the new resource in Utopia that lets you unlock Traditions and eventually Ascension Perks, and this build is all about getting them as fast as possible. Your people care not for the affairs of xenos or the galaxy at large, seeking only to unify and elevate their own society. The conquerors and imperialists will all fade in time, just as the grand federations and trade leagues. But a truly transcendent and inwardly perfected race will endure eternally.

Variants: If you’re going for synthetic or psionic ascension, you’ll have to downgrade to regular Pacifist to get either Materialist (-10% Robot Maintenance Cost, +5% Research Speed) for Synthetic ascension or Spiritualist (-10 Unrest, +15% Governing Ethics Attraction) for Psionic ascension. Dropping Xenophobe invalidates Inwards Perfection, which you don’t want to do. It’s probably worth picking up the science bonus associated with your target perks, too (Natural Engineers for Synthetic Ascension and Megastructures, Natural Sociologists for Psionic or Biological Ascension), paying it off with a trait like Sedentary or Repugnant. You can easily unlock enough Ascension Perk slots with this build to become psionic or mechanical within the first 50 – 100 years of the game, but be far behind the tech required to take the perk.

Next Page: Some fun, but less optimal builds – >

We’ll be updating and expanding this list as time goes on. Share your best builds with us in the comments!

 

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About T.J. Hafer

T.J. (@AsaTJ on Twitter) is a co-founder of The Order and co-developer of the Beyond setting, story, and characters. He is probably best known for his work at IGN and PC Gamer, including the Crusader Kings Chronicles, and rewriting EU4 patch notes to address their *real* meaning on Reddit.

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18 comments

  • Wentril
    May 15, 2016 @ 10:49 am

    Hi, could you explain me, why the colectivist ethos isn´t good choice for “THE FACE PUNCHERS” please?

    Reply
    • May 15, 2016 @ 14:25 pm

      Because Collectivists can’t have a republican government, and Military Republic is definitely the best pick for that build.

      Reply
  • May 15, 2016 @ 23:42 pm

    The space nerds build with all the output is not research speed. It is tile output only. So you have 20% TILE output on your planets and then another 15% tile output if you choose one of the 3 fields of science. The Government you chose is the only thing that raised your actual research speed.

    Reply
    • May 16, 2016 @ 1:06 am

      Thanks! We’ll keep that in mind when we update the guide.

      Reply
  • Andrej553
    May 19, 2016 @ 1:56 am

    Can you explain me “The most Serene”s goal?
    What do i get if my pop migrate into the enemies worlds?

    Reply
    • May 19, 2016 @ 5:32 am

      You’re supposed to get a CB to “save” your pops living on other worlds, but I don’t actually know if it made it into the game for release. I haven’t checked. Mostly, though, it’s just for the satisfaction of infesting the galaxy.

      Reply
  • tanny
    May 20, 2016 @ 7:49 am

    insane challenge race
    you pick all four penalty traits and play with insane AI, all with handicap and play until you win
    after that you post your empire as the best player in history

    Reply
  • tanny
    May 20, 2016 @ 8:09 am

    also the Jedi race
    Ethos: fanatic spiritualist for our psionic xenophile because a small benefit
    Traits: natural sociologist because our psionic is society
    adaptive because you want to support your overwhelming happiness
    weak your psi warriors are for demoralization they are for defense not for attack
    Government:Theocratic Republic more core sector and less divergence is what we need
    so that we get as much happiness as possible
    strategy: after you got uplift you can also remove weak for your army so you can get things like clone army
    attacking what you need

    Reply
  • Adam
    May 24, 2016 @ 13:18 pm

    During a multiplayer game with one of my friends, they played an improved version of the “most serene, unstoppable swarm”. Using Pacifist and Xenophobe, and using rapid breeder, migrant and solitary. His species quickly swarmed the galaxy and instead of filling the planets with happy, willing to work populations. He filled planets, my planets, with depressed mushrooms. As soon as one arrived to one of my planet it’s productivity took a hit, and being a xenophile I had no way of stopping their spread. With them all now joining independence factions, I don’t think I can hold onto my empire for long.

    Reply
  • SoskaCream
    May 24, 2016 @ 16:44 pm

    I found the Most Serene very interesting, but I don’t understand: what to do once you have emigrated pops into “friends” planets? How to overtake planets without using the “depressed mushrooms tactic” of Adam’s friend?

    Reply
    • David Moussette
      Jan 7, 2017 @ 9:00 am

      Well if your politic for war is set on “Liberation War” Then the fact that the enemy planet is mostly composed of YOUR citizens give you an option to declare war.

      Reply
  • Abiogenesis
    May 27, 2016 @ 1:13 am

    These are hilarious!

    Reply
  • tanny
    Jun 20, 2016 @ 23:50 pm

    I used your space nerd using fanatic materialist and xenophile(to help on early game diplomatic survival since patch1.1) using despotic hegemony intelligent and nonadaptive with physicist(you only need 80 habitability filtering and frontier clinic brought me up to 80 but for my homeworld I spent influence on propaganda broadcast to bring happiness up to 90% they’re all happy always encourage free thought as happiness and specialization is enough to compensate divergence and make research grant on tech like administrative AI (research speed boost made it enough to compensate losses) I survived even I found the doomsday pollen on my second planet and now made the way up to sentient AI really quick and the third tier torpedo that will finish roughly the same time I can’t join alliance but I have a really large plain of planet ready for my species after an uplift finish well if I can’t join alliance to win together then I’ll need to punch my way out for victory
    I can do synthetics soon but will serve them a citizen right to stop AI rebellion cause I think I shouldn’t take too much effect from AI rebellion but have elite armies stockpiled if needed too I hope the crisis for this game should be unbidden I won’t build too many bots until rebellion free option can be made

    Reply
  • tanny
    Jun 22, 2016 @ 21:38 pm

    hey I have new build that can be used
    trait natural physicist fanatic militarist materialist 1 point and 3 left for anything
    government indirect democracy you’ll need to use your scientists correctly always set your physicist to computer and engineer to material early this is why I choose indirect democracy and more level means better it may help a bit more than science directorate but you may use it too
    it’s an empire that rush robots slave robots planet everywhere waiting for rebellion and weaken their opponent especially those keeper of knowledge they may try to humiliate you and you should say you’re right to worry and it’s time for you to die

    Reply
  • David Moussette
    Jan 3, 2017 @ 10:21 am

    For the Leave us alone build, I have see that the direct democracy give no more +4 core planet but +5% Happiness and 15% Leader Experience Gain

    Reply
  • Feb 6, 2017 @ 13:23 pm

    Hehehehehehe! I loved your builds! say, is there any build for Gentle Giants? let me explain: I saw the Nomouko (one of the new alien species in the mod Alien Suns: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=689601294 ) and I imediately start to see them as ugly, scarely imposing but good-hearted big guys — guys that love puppies and flowers, but that WILL NOT stay quiet if these same puppies and flowers are threatened by Space Rednecks or Face Punchers! the Gentle Giants are well aware of how big, strong and imposing they are and they will do what is needed to protect all cuteness and beauty that our violent galaxy has to offer.

    OH, MY GOD! IT’S A HUMAN BABY!! CUTENESS OVERLOAD!

    Reply
  • Apr 14, 2017 @ 17:25 pm

    what kind of build do you propose for someone who aim for federation victory

    Reply

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