Best Stellaris Empire Builds - Updated for Utopia! - Page 2 of 2 - The Loresworn Order


Best Stellaris Empire Builds – Updated for Utopia!

The following builds were envisioned around a roleplaying theme rather than statistical superiority. Thus, they seek to portray that theme accurately, even if the selections are not optimal.

Libertarian Utopia

Species Traits: Communal (+5% Happiness), Charismatic (+5% Other Species Happiness)

Ethos: Egalitarian (+15% Faction Influence Gain, -10% Consumer Goods Cost), Materialist (-10% Robot Maintenance Cost, +5% Research Speed), Xenophile (+25% Trust Growth, -25% Diplomatic Influence Cost)

Government: Democratic, Beacon of Liberty (+15% Monthly Unity), Free Haven (+50% Migration Attraction)

Explanation: The role of the government, so your species believes, should be to get the hell out of the way. Your society has developed to be happy, cordial, and free from almost all regulation, leading to significant advances in science. Other democratically-inclined species tend to see you as a model of unobtrusive governance, and aliens flock to your borders to enjoy its benefits. How long that lasts before every colony starts throwing a fit about something or other… is anyone’s guess.

Variants: If you don’t care about rights for aliens, you could drop Xenophile (which stops you from conducting unrestricted research on primitive races anyway – big government go home!) to bump up to Fanatic Egalitarian (+30% Faction Influence Gain, -20% Consumer Goods Cost), though this restricts you from being able to give your citizens Poor living conditions, which is technically the most small government option available. This also invalidates Free Haven, so you’ll have to grab Idealistic Foundation (+5% Citizen Pop Happiness) instead.

If you don’t care about rights for Synthetics, you can get rid of Materialist to upgrade to Fanatic Egalitarian or Fanatic Xenophile (+50% Trust Growth, -50% Diplomatic Influence Cost) to show you’re really serious about inclusiveness.

The Imperium of Man

Species Traits: Conformists (+25% Governing Ethics Attraction), Resilient (+100% Garrison Health, +50% Planetary Fortification Defensive Bonus), Repugnant (-5% Other Species Happiness)

Ethos: Authoritarian (-25% Resettlement Cost, -10% Slave Unrest), Xenophobe (+15% Rivalry Influence Gain, +15% Border Range), Spiritualist (-10 Unrest, +15% Governing Ethics Attraction)

Government: Imperial, Imperial Cult (-33% Edict Cost), Philosopher King (+2 Ruler Skill Levels)

Explanation: We’ve all been discussing this almost since Stellaris was announced. So this is our version. An interstellar dominion worthy of the 41st Millennium, led by a God-Emperor who suffers not the alien, the mutant, nor the heretic to live. The population is kept in line ideologically by ruthless inquisitors, and the Imperial Guard holds tenaciously to any world the xenos may strike in their folly. Those who stay true to the Emperor will thrive. Those who do not will be purged.

Variants: A more lore-accurate depiction of the Imperium would drop Authoritarian in favor of Militarist (+10% Army Damage, +10% Fire Rate), but unfortunately you need Spiritualist and Authoritarian to take the Imperial Cult civic. And what were we supposed to do, get rid of Xenophobe? If you don’t care about having that, specific civic (you can still call your leader God-Emperor or whatever), you can grab Militarist and take Warrior Culture (+20% Army Damage, -20% Army Upkeep), Distinguished Admiralty (+8% Fire Rate), or Nationalistic Zeal (+10% Border Range, +1 Maximum Rivalries) instead.

Space Elves

Species Traits: Venerable (+120 Years Leader Lifespan), Talented (+1 Leader Skill Levels), Solitary (-5% Happiness),  Slow Breeders (+10% Growth Time), Sedentary (-50% Migration Speed, +25% Resettlement Cost)

Ethos: Pacifist (+20% Monthly Unity, +2 Core Sector Systems), Xenophobe (+15% Rivalry Influence Gain, +15% Border Range), Authoritarian (-25% Resettlement Cost, -10% Slave Unrest)

Government: Imperial, Inwards Perfection (+30% Monthly Unity, +5% Citizen Pop Happiness), Philosopher King (+2 Ruler Skill Levels)

Explanation: For thousands of years, the long-lived elves have been ruled by a benevolent High King or Queen. They developed FTL travel relatively late for a sapient species due to their inherent conservatism. They dislike conflict, but also find it hard to relate to other races—and even each other. Due to their extended lifespans, they have evolved a relatively low birthrate to prevent overpopulation, and can remain productive and vital well into their later years.

Variants: The above assumes aristocratic, aloof High Elves. For wild Wood Elves, change out Authoritarian for Spiritualist (-10 Unrest, +15% Governing Ethics Attraction), and swap Philosopher King for Agrarian Idyll (Farms Produce 1 Unity) or Environmentalist (-20% Consumer Goods Cost).

For Dark Elves, change Pacifist to Militarist (+10% Army Damage, +10% Fire Rate) and exchange Inward Perfection for Cutthroat Politics (+1 Monthly Influence) or Warrior Culture (+20% Army Damage, -20% Army Upkeep).

Most of the negative Species Traits could fit a specific idea of elves, if you don’t like the ones we picked. Decadent (-10% Happiness without Slaves) could model high elves who feel themselves above common tasks necessary to the state, and would rather subject a lesser race to do it for them. Non-Adaptive (-10% Habitability) would suggest reclusive wood elves accustomed to their ancient homeworld – which gives the Wood Elves an extra trait point to get rid of Solitary or possibly add Quick Learners (+25% Leader Experience Gain).

You could also swap Talented for Charismatic (+5% Other Species Happiness), if you want to focus on their sexiness and imply that their excellence comes from centuries of experience, rather than natural aptitude. Elves are a complex folk.

Space Dwarves

Species Traits: Enduring (+30 Years Leader Lifespan), Industrious (+15% Minerals), Sedentary (-50% Migration Speed, +25% Resettlement Cost)

Ethos: Fanatic Materialist (-20% Robot Maintenance Cost, +10% Research Speed), Militarist (+10% Army Damage, +10% Fire Rate)

Government: Imperial, Mining Guilds (+10% Empire Mineral Production), Functional Architecture (-15% Building Cost)

Explanation: There are few things dwarves value higher than industry, trade, profit, and honorable warfare. The deep mines of their homeworld teem with mineral wealth, and the dwarves know exactly how best to exploit it. While they are highly reluctant to leave their underground cities, their cleverness with invention gives them distinct advantages on the galactic stage.

Variants: The above models a dwarven civilization ruled by a traditional High King. If you want a less hierarchical society where the guilds have more power, Oligarchy works just as well.

If you want to emphasize the dwarves’ skill as warriors over their industrial prowess, you could easily swap Functional Architecture for Warrior Culture (+20% Army Damage, -20% Army Upkeep).

Space Orcs

Species Traits: Strong (+20% Army Damage, +5% Minerals), Conformists (+25% Governing Ethics Attraction), Rapid Breeders (-10% Growth Time), Slow Learners (-25% Leader Experience Gain), Repugnant (-5% Other Species Happiness)

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

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

Explanation: The orcs care for little but war, marauding across the galaxy and picking fights with anyone who stumbles into their path. Aliens are little to them aside from a chance to prove themselves in battle. Generally, the strongest among them rises to power by killing or cowing all rivals, and remains in power until his death (often in a coup lead by a younger, more savage orc).

Variants: If you switch the importance of your ethics around to Fanatic Xenophobe (+30% Rivalry Influence Gain, +30% Border Range), Militarist (+10% Army Damage, +10% Fire Rate), you can drop Nationalistic Zeal in favor of Fanatic Purifiers (+33% Army Damage, +33% Fire Rate, Disables Diplomacy, Unlocks Armageddon Bombardment, Xeno Pops Automatically Purged) to represent a relentless horde with no goals other than destruction.

Replacing Xenophobe with Authoritarian (-25% Resettlement Cost, -10% Slave Unrest) will give you orcs with more of a sense that each, individual warrior is unimportant in comparison to the success and glory of the horde. These orcs will wantonly fling as much cannon fodder at the enemy as is needed to achieve victory, and not a slavering one of those on the front lines will complain about it. The increased slavery tolerance will also allow you to enslave the stunted goblinoids among your people for a boost early on – or even get rid of Nationalistic Zeal in favor of Syncretic Evolution (Start the game with 4 Pops being of another, subservient species) to provide you with some even bigger, even dumber ogres to exploit for the glory of the warchief.

The Swarm

Species Traits: Hive-Minded, Strong (+20% Army Damage, +5% Minerals), Rapid Breeders (-10% Growth Time), Adaptive (+10% Habitability), Repugnant (-5% Other Species Happiness), Solitary (-5% Happiness) – This is kind of cheating since hive minds aren’t affected by happiness and never live with other species except under very specific circumstances, so I expect the ability to give them those negative traits will be patched out in the future. For now, they’re basically free trait points. But feel free to take something like Fleeting (-10% Leader Lifespan) if you don’t like exploits.

Ethos: Hive-Minded (Rulers are Immortal, Not affected by Happiness, Pops will not join Factions, Pops cannot survive in non-Hive Mind empires, Non-Hive Mind Pops cannot survive in Hive Mind empires)

Government: Hive Mind, Subspace Ephase (+15% Naval Capacity), Strength of Legions (+25% Army Damage).


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This list will continue to be expanded over time.

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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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  • 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?

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • May 16, 2016 @ 1:06 am

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

  • 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?

    • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • 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.

  • Abiogenesis
    May 27, 2016 @ 1:13 am

    These are hilarious!

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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: ) 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.


  • Apr 14, 2017 @ 17:25 pm

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

  • Keith M
    Apr 26, 2017 @ 13:22 pm

    For The Swarm, the game does not allow you to select Solitary because they don’t have happiness. I went with Repugnant, Wasteful, Strong, Rapid Breeders, & Industrious. Then with Civics I picked Divided Attention and Subspace Ephapse, This allows my empire to colonize on two extra planets very quickly and have a bigger fleet at the start of the game, along with having tons of minerals to get those space stations built quicker. Also higher the habitability of a planet, the happier your people will be and since Hive-Mind cares little for happiness, I dropped the Adaptive trait.

    • Apr 26, 2017 @ 13:25 pm

      That wasn’t the case in the review build. I’m glad they changed it, actually.

    • Apr 26, 2017 @ 13:27 pm

      Oh, and the only reason we put Adaptive in there is that it allows you to colonize more planet types more quickly without terraforming.

  • iNSaNiTY
    May 14, 2017 @ 11:59 am

    Here’s one i use often with my friends on Vanilla Stellaris:

    The Crusaders Army

    Species Traits: Very Strong (+40% Army Damage, +10% Minerals) Resiliant (+100% Garrison Health, +50% Garrison Defensive Bonus) Enduring (+15 Year Lifespan) Sedentary (-50% Migration Speed, +25% Resettlemennt Cost) Nonadaptive (-10% Habitability)

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

    Government: Any, Warrior Culture (+20% Army Damage, -20% Army Upkeep) Fanatical Purifiers (+33% Fire Rate, +33% Army Damage, -100% Tradition Cost from Xeno Slaves)

    Explanation: The very purpose of this setup, is to punch anything that gets in this empire’s way right in the balls. This setup is basically Slavers Advanced as it allows for almost no tradition cost when you have alien slaves. It’s a good starter empire because it also makes you almost invincible at the start of the game since you get a +103% Army Damage bonus from the traits and civics combined. The downside being, you can’d engage in diplomacy and you’ll probably get more wars than you bargained for. Use at your own risk.

    Variations: You could swap out Fanatic Purifiers for Distinguished Admiralty if you want a bit more of an edge in Naval Combat and want to engage in diplomacy with the xeno filth, or you can swap Enduring for Talented if you want the Extra General Skill points. The whole design of this is to make you almost impenetrable by Ground Invasion whether you’re being bombarded or not, so you can’t really make variations on this as well as other setups.

  • May 27, 2017 @ 14:36 pm

    And what about Space Nazis — space empires like the Helghast (Killzone) or the Peacekeepers (Farscape)? can I create such thing using some variation of The Armada or Imperium of Man?

  • SenorLoanShark
    Jul 30, 2017 @ 12:35 pm

    I cant find the mechanical option for space nerds, is it part of a mod or is unlockable in some way?

  • Eugene
    Sep 24, 2017 @ 20:15 pm

    Hey, any chance you would update this great guide to 1.8?

    • Sep 24, 2017 @ 20:28 pm

      We’re planning on it! No ETA at the moment, though.

  • Anubiz
    Oct 15, 2017 @ 12:39 pm

    How do i get those “Freakin Robot” traits?

    • Oct 15, 2017 @ 12:41 pm

      You need the Utopia expansion.

      • Anubiz
        Oct 15, 2017 @ 13:44 pm

        I do, but those 2 traits are nowhere to find

        • Oct 15, 2017 @ 13:48 pm

          Ah, yeah, all robots used to be the same before Synthetic Dawn. That was just the default machine trait. Guide hasn’t been updated for Synthetic Dawn yet.

  • David Moussette
    Nov 9, 2017 @ 5:39 am

    Can you do some builds for the Synthetic Dawn DLC ?

  • Gojko
    Jan 27, 2018 @ 5:02 am

    What would be best mix between space nerds and space rednecks?

  • Tainurn
    Feb 8, 2018 @ 15:20 pm

    Doesn’t seem like this is being updated anymore, good stuff while it lasted though.

    • Feb 8, 2018 @ 15:33 pm

      We don’t update it every patch, but we are planning to update it again for 2.0/Apocalypse.

  • JearBear
    Mar 12, 2018 @ 20:30 pm

    Any timeline on the apocalypse update?

    • Mar 12, 2018 @ 21:10 pm

      Probably once 2.02 is finalized. We don’t want to redo it again because of a minor patch. 🙂


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