Stellaris Articles RSS Feed | Stellaris RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Stellaris: Nemesis Expansion Lights Up the Sky on April 15 Mon, 15 Mar 2021 13:29:23 -0400 Ashley Shankle

It can take hundreds of hours to get tired of Stellaris even in its base form, but Paradox Interactive have kept the game interesting over all these years with regular expansions and DLC releases. Over the weekend, the publisher announced the fifth expansion coming to the critically acclaimed grand strategy, titled Stellaris: Nemesis.

Adding a whole new tactical level to the game, Stellaris: Nemesis will bring with it the ability to foster and become a new galaxy-threatening menace or to lead the charge in defending against it.

Nemesis will allow players to campaign for the role of Galactic Custodian, which has the power to give orders and directly combat the crisis at late-game, traditionally an AI empire hellbent on dominating all in its path and eradicating the galaxy as it's known.

Players won't have to necessarily take this path of righteousness, however. Instead, they can take on objectives to hurry along the crisis and eventually become the head of the menace themselves.

Along with both these new over-arching features comes a new espionage system, not unlike that seen in other grand strategy and even 4X titles. There's even a brand new set of ships to feel like an absolute destroyer of worlds when taken into battle.

Nemesis is scheduled for release on April 15, and fans can be sure it will add a whole new depth to the endgame tribulations generally struggled with in Stellaris.

This wasn't the only announcement for fans Stellaris over the weekend, either.

Console players will be receiving the Lithoid Species Pack DLC on April 25, alongside the free 2.6 update to the game that rewords its economic systems.

Additionally, the board game based on the video game, Stellaris Infinite Legacy, reached its funding goal in an astounding 15 minutes! It's a long ways off, but you can pre-order by pledging toward its Kickstarter.

Stellaris Best Perks Guide Through All Tiers Fri, 20 Mar 2020 13:54:37 -0400 Sergey_3847

Once you've finished an entire Tradition tree or unlocked the Ascension Theory technology in Stellaris, you can start using perks of four different tiers. Naturally some perks are better than others.

In the early game players gain access to Tier 0 perks, then Tier 1 that requires one previously owned perk, Tier 2 that requires two previously owned perks, and so on.

The tier list below will set you on the path to the best parks in Stellaris according to your strategic builds.

Best Tier 0 Perks

Interstellar Dominion
  • −20% Claim Influence Cost
  • −20% Starbase Influence Cost

This could easily be your best early perk, if you're planning to go wide. Since you need a lot of Influence early on, this is exactly the type of perks that saves your Influence costs.

From then on you can expand as further as you wish in your conquest gameplan. Interstellar Dominion will truly help you build a real empire in space.

Of course, if wide expansion is not your plan, then skip this one, and opt for other perks that fit your gameplan better.

Technological Ascendancy
  • +10% Research Speed
  • Rare technologies are now 50% more common

Research speed that this perk provides may not be much, but in the early game it will give you a huge boost. You will find better ways to increase your research speed, but that comes much later.

For now, you can use this in your technological build to a great effect. If you can pair it with Enigmatic Engineering (Tier 1) perk, you can start a real tech dominance in space.

Imperial Prerogative
  • +20% Administrative Cap

If you don't have any plan yet, then this would be the best general strategy Tier 0 perk. The admin cap automatically increases your research speed, although not by as much as Technological Ascendancy.

But this perk has other advantages unless you're headed right in for technological dominion. It not only reduces your Tradition costs, but also Leader and upkeep costs, which is very useful in the early stages of the game.

Either of these perks will do a great job early on, so pick one up and see where it takes you.

Best Tier 1 Perks

Mastery of Nature
  • −33% Clear Blocker Cost
  • Mastery of Nature decision

Previously this was a Tier 0 perk, but it was moved to Tier 1 due to its slow effect in the early game. However, the more you progress through the game, the bigger of an impact it has.

One of its advantages is that it saves your energy, but its main point is to increase the number of max districts on your planets. Since these can get very expensive very quickly, Mastery of Nature will reduce the cost of their administration.

Grasp the Void
  • +5 Starbase Capacity

Starbases start playing an especially important role in the mid-game, when the number of them will get increasingly larger.

The increase in the capacity nets you overall better trade value, which plays an especially big role for upgraded starbases. Then, with the help of it you get trading posts, anchorages, bastions, and a shipyard to work with as well.

Best Tier 2 Perks

Arcology Project
  • Ecumenopolis perk

Once you've built up a pretty significant number of planets, you want to make them work for you at this point in the game.

Arcology Project enables Ecumenopolises on your planets that save your Alloy, which you can use on your starfleet instead.

It also creates jobs and hibatable districts, which is is of utmost importance when you try to really make your planets worthwhile.

Master Builders
  • +50% Megastructures build speed
  • +1 Megastructures build capacity

If you're doing well without Arcology, then you have the capacity to build megastructures already.

This comes in handy with Galactic Wonders perk that allows you to build mega structures, while Master Builders will build them much faster and also will be able to repair them.

Best Tier 3 Perks

Colossus Project
  • Colossus ship type

This late game perk allows you to build a Colossus type ship that can destroy entire planets.

Of course, it requires Apocalypse DLC and Titan technology research. If you really want one, then it's definitely worth the price and the time.

Galactic Wonders
  • Ring World research
  • Dyson Sphere research
  • Matter Decompressor research

This perk focuses on three mega structures, the best of which is the Dyson Sphere. This one sphere can generate enough power to sustain half of your empire.

If you're in the late game and want to start building mega structures, you simply ought to have Galactic Wonders and Master Builders perks.


These were the best perks in Stellaris. For more Stellaris guides, check out the list below:

Stellaris MegaCorp DLC: A User's Guide to the New Features in 2.2 Mon, 17 Dec 2018 15:26:24 -0500 Fox Doucette

Stellaris recently underwent some huge mechanical changes, and even if you haven't bought the new MegaCorp DLC, they are going to completely alter the way you play vanilla.

Whether you're just coming back to Stellaris after a long hiatus, you're a new player, or you've just purchased MegaCorp and want to be prepared for what's to come, there's a ton of stuff to go over.

From new civics and new planetary development types to new forms of diplomacy and non-military conquest, getting to the real meat of this DLC takes getting to the late-game. Just loading it up and starting a new game won't do it justice.

If you're going to invest that kind of time, you'd better be prepared to make the most of that new stuff when it becomes relevant in the game, right? Luckily, we've got you covered. Here's your guide to everything that's new in the latest release of Paradox's space oddity.

Free Patch Features

First and foremost, Unity Ambitions are no longer locked behind the Utopia DLC. They're free for all.

If you own Utopia, that's not going to be a big deal; it's the same mechanic you know and love. But for those of you who are new to the system, the gist is this: you can generate Unity through certain jobs for your pops, and those points can either be spent on diplomatic matters or a series of perks that improve certain elements of your faction.

Next, Democratic civilizations get all kinds of new Mandates and other perks that further offset the disadvantages of resource expenditure, as well as its leader-ousting effects. Again, that stuff's all beautifully explained by the game's extremely thorough tooltips.

But the real meat of the free patch? It's the new Planetary System.

Gone are the days of tile-based jobs. Now, tiles have Districts, which are further divided into:

  • City Districts (housing and clerk jobs)
  • Generator Districts (energy credits)
  • Mining Districts (minerals)
  • Agricultural Districts (food)

This also makes it much more important to choose wisely when considering planets and colonies. The size of the planets, which previously determined how many tiles the planets would contain, now determines the maximum number of available districts.

You have a guns-or-butter choice here. You could convert every available district to city tiles, usable for housing or amenities to keep your pops happy, for example. The only limit on how many city districts you can have is the size of the planet itself. Just remember that every city district you build is one less district you can use to mine resources.

The other three districts all have caps, represented by little squares in the planet view. Not all planets are equally resource-rich, so you'll want to plan strategically around that.

Meanwhile, there are buildings that can be built, as they were before, that affect overall planetary production.

Instead of these tiles being worked directly like they used to, you now get one building per 5 pops, and your maximum population is governed by food production and the number of city districts you build to provide housing.

It leads to a lot more specialization, especially since there are more resources; producing alloys from minerals, trade value for use with the game's new economic systems, and Unity for those Ascension perks described earlier is a matter of building the right advanced buildings.

And on top of all of the above, it's now easier for “tall” empires to make up for the lack of territorial expanse, which was previously necessary for mining rare resources by producing those rare materials planetside.

Speaking of Trade Value, not only is there the trade value that your planets produce, but there's also now Trade Value produced the same way other resources have been in remote star systems.

To exploit that resource, however, takes a lot more work. You'll have to build and upgrade Starbases to get at that trade potential, and you'll then have to establish trade routes back to your capital.

And the further away from the capital the resources are, the more you'll have to devote your fleets to protecting those trade routes, because otherwise you'll fall victim to piracy (don't worry, the game will tell you, to the last energy credit, how much you're losing to piracy and how much fleet cap you'll have to put out to stop all of it.)

When that happens, everything that the pirates get is lost to your empire.

Piracy suppression isn't just a matter of spaceship deployment; starbases can be packed to the gills with gun batteries that have not just an anti-piracy suppression value but also come in handy when more organized enemies show up. Fight defensively with a well-upgraded starbase present and it will be suicide for the enemy to try and crack that strongpoint.

This adds a strategic dimension, especially if you're playing with Hyperlane FTL rules; you now have easily defensible border chokepoints.

There's a new policy, known simply as "Trade Policy", now available under the usual empire policies tab that will determine what that trade value is used for. You can use it for "Wealth Creation" (a 1:1 conversion of trade value to energy credits), "Consumer Benefits" (0.5 EC and 0.25 consumer goods per unit of TV) or "Marketplace of Ideas" (0.5 EC, 0.15 points of Unity per unit of TV.) As always, the tooltip is there to remind you what you're getting.

Taken together, not only is this a whole new way to play the base-game, but for those who can make the best use of the available new resources, it's a massively profitable one, something that, if you've got Utopia, will come in real handy when it's time to build those late-game Megastructures.

MegaCorp Features

Branches and Subsidiaries

Let's start with the DLC's namesake, the Megacorporations that are a whole new empire type in the game.

Unlike Machine Empires and Hive Minds, Megacorps allow you to use any combination of basegame societal ethics. And choosing between Materialist and Spiritualist now gives you two completely different ways to play the DLC; each comes with its own pros and cons on top of the previous dichotomy between science and happiness.

This is all made available by the new Corporate form of authority, which is a special form of government similar to the machine and hive forms from the other two DLC for the game.

When you take that, you get a whole new set of civics to choose from, and your planetary ruling class now produces trade value in addition to their other effects.

The biggest advantage that Megacorps offer is a higher administrative cap. “Tall” empires can now develop those highly populated planets to their fullest.

The trade-off is that the penalty for going over the cap is now huge. This is not a playstyle for “wide” empires. But don't fret; there's still a way to expand. This time, it's by building Branch Offices on friendly planets with whom you're able to conclude a Commercial Pact.

Once you've got the pact, the branch office provides energy credits both to you and to the target faction. And when the branch office gets powerful enough, you can turn it into a full Subsidiary, which is vassalage by another name.

The difference is that the “vassal” still retains its sovereignty; it can grow and expand and wage wars and otherwise behave as an independent nation. The hitch is that you get a one-way Defensive Pact; they have to support you in your wars. And they have to pay 25% of their energy credits as “tribute”.

All told, it's very profitable and mutually beneficial.

Criminal Syndicates

But maybe you don't want a mutually beneficial relationship. Maybe you want to be the Space Mafia, exploiting your victim rather than playing nice.

For you, there's the Criminal Heritage civic.

When you take that trait, you get a permanent, irrevocable change to your diplomatic relations with other factions. Nobody will enter into a Commercial Pact with you.

On the other hand, though, you don't have to ask permission to build a Branch Office. You can put one down wherever you like, whether the owning faction of the planet likes it or not. These branch offices grow stronger the higher the crime rate is on the target planet. As the Space Mafia, you have a vested interest in keeping things unstable and lawless.

But when some other faction tries the same thing on you, this gives you your counter-strike. Put simply, the more resources you spend on law enforcement, the more you strangle the enemy's income, turning their would-be takeover of your space into a lot of jailed aliens. No crime, no profit. So if you see a Criminal Heritage empire anywhere near your borders, make plans to stay on top of that crime rate.

Gospel of the Masses

With “Gospel of the Masses”, you get a MegaChurch instead of a MegaCorp. The bulk of your income now comes from tithing, and while you can still trade, your Branch Offices now become Temples of Prosperity, spreading religion.

A lot of it is “same game, different name” and it plays fundamentally the same.

Keep in mind, you can combine Gospel of the Masses and Criminal Heritage, so they're not mutually exclusive!

Coruscant Simulator

Next, there's the Ecumenopolis, which is a “city planet”. Think Coruscant from Star Wars.

Before we get into the details of how to use them, here's how to build one:

Step 1: Unlock the Arcology Ascension Perk. This is a big reason why they unhooked Ascension Perks and the Unity system from Utopia; MegaCorp wouldn't work without it.

Step 2: Replace every resource district on the planet with City Districts.

Step 3: Go to the planet's Decisions menu. Once the first two requirements are met, you'll get a Decision to construct the Arcology Project.

Once this is done, you get the Residential Arcology, Foundry Arcology, Industrial Arcology, and Leisure Arcology, which make use of all those pops to produce even more resources than you'd get on a regular resource-rich planet.

On top of this, you get new Megastructures to even further enhance your late-game experience.

The Matter Decompressor is basically like a Dyson Sphere but extracts a ton of minerals rather than harnessing a star to make energy.

Mega Art Installations produce Unity and Amenities, which means lower crime rate, faster gaining of the rest of the Ascension Perks, and less planetary buildings devoted to keeping the peace, so instead you can generate economic value with their slots.

Strategic Command Centers let your corporation have sharper teeth; building one raises your fleet cap dramatically, adds to the number of starbases you can build, beefs up the defensive weaponry you can use to protect your trade routes and territory in general, and improves the sublight speed of your warships.

Finally, Interstellar Assemblies massively increase immigration pull and turn all but the meanest AI factions into friends with huge diplomatic relation bonuses.

Miscellaneous New Stuff

There are two other additions to MegaCorp: the Caravaneers and the Slave Market.

The Caravaneers are random wanderers who come floating through your empire, and they offer deals on goods you can't find anywhere else. They also bring with them a slot machine game. They deal in "Caravan Coinz", which are a special currency that you buy with your hard-earned energy credits. They're used for that slot machine game where you try and win more "Coinz", which you can use to buy loot boxes.

And finally, there's the Slave Market.

This does exactly what you expect it to. Anti-slavery empires can buy slaves' freedom (and deny other empires the chance to own the resources the slaves provide.) Pro-slavery empires can buy what essentially amount to pops that are either better or worse laborers than your native pops, but you don't have to wait for natural growth, just plug the slave into the job slot.

Of course, which of those you do depends entirely on what kind of empire you are.

All told, there is a massive amount of content to be enjoyed here, and now you have the complete overview. Happy trading!

Stellaris: MegaCorp DLC Review: Free Enterprising Ferengi Mon, 10 Dec 2018 10:34:08 -0500 Fox Doucette

Paradox Interactive has taken an interesting tack with their DLC packages for Stellaris, specifically when compared to their earthbound grand strategy titles.

For one thing, there haven't been quite as many of them; while there are 15 expansions for 2012's Crusader Kings 2, 12 for 2013's Europa Universalis 4, and four for 2016's Hearts of Iron 4 (including the announced “Man the Guns”), Stellaris has only gotten three major expansions, as MegaCorp joins Utopia and Apocalypse in the spaceport.

As for MegaCorp, a DLC that expands trade and profit opportunities for a spacefaring race? Yeah, it's Stellaris: Ferengi Edition.

For the capitalist-minded empire, MegaCorp has a new empire type, the Corporate Authority. This replaces the old Corporate Dominion, which has always been viable for societies built strongly on the Materialist side of the Spiritual vs. Materialist slider. Those without the DLC still use the older Dominion.

There's a new civic in play for the corporate factions called "Criminal Heritage". Think Orion Syndicate from Star Trek. Taking the trait identifies your civilization as basically "the Mafia developed a warp drive", and your government is more like a crime family than a republic. It's a way to play an "evil" faction while still making use of the DLC's new features.

Criminal Heritage cannot be removed once selected, but it removes the more civilized requirements for expanding your commercial footprint. Instead of asking nicely for mutually beneficial trade agreements, you expand your empire like the mafia, not like a consortium of space traders.

The Megacorporation empire type has a higher administrative cap, so in theory, it would be ideal for wide players, but instead, harsh penalties are put in for anyone foolish enough to try that style.

Instead, there's a new Branch Office mechanic and Commercial Pact diplomatic option.

In other words, instead of an Emperor bringing warships, you instead have the Grand Nagus using his lobes to create lucrative business opportunities, all while the Megacorp's homeworld reaps the benefits from pursuing a strategy traditionally known as “going tall”, where a smaller core empire uses non-expansive ways to push for victory conditions.

Of course, what's a Paradox grand strategy game without a massive array of vassals? That's where Subsidiaries come in, and they involve the target empire paying 25% of their energy credit production in tribute and joining the master's wars.

There are also new options available so even the spiritual rather than material societies can get in on the fun, and they come in the form of “Gospel of the Masses”, a civic that is basically what would happen if Joel Osteen got his hands on a warp drive.

Long story short, instead of the consumerism coming through material avarice like a Ferengi, it instead comes through a sort of Prosperity Gospel on steroids, where religion is used to encourage consumerism and tithing in order to fund operations.

And at last, there's the Slave Market, because why go to the trouble of conquering and subjugating sovereign people for use as labor or livestock when you can just buy the product of someone else's soldiers dying to do it for you?

It's the same mechanic, but if you're freedom loving, you could even buy slaves for the sole purpose of immediately setting them free.

And if all of the above sounds a little bit like putting a fresh coat of paint on completely bog-standard mechanics from the basegame, you begin to see the problem with putting a $20 ask on Ferengi cosplay.

There just isn't enough here, even in the endgame, that has the gee-whiz factor that Utopia or Apocalypse does.

MegaCorp is just... the same, except for one huge difference that's worth talking about. 

In the 2.2 “LeGuin” patch that released alongside the DLC, the way planets are built and developed has completely changed.

The tile system? It's gone. No more. Forget everything you knew.

Instead, a planet's size is now more important as it determines how many of the new “districts” can be built on the planet. This is straight out of Civilization 6, to the point where you want to see Paradox's crib notes on the subject.

Districts are divided into City, Generator, Mining, and Agriculture, and they govern population size, energy credits, minerals, and food production respectively.

Instead of working tiles directly, your pops now have jobs that are created not only by the districts themselves but by the buildings that you can build with every 5-pop increase in overall population.

This allows for a much more adaptive form of planet-building, which is also massively more flexible and leads to a lot more interesting decisions. For example, you can selectively develop a planet to produce a specific resource.

Also in the free patch is the addition of the Unity system, previously locked behind the Utopia DLC. Unity becomes far more important not just to the Ascension Perk system (which is otherwise unchanged and still plays exactly the way it does when Paradox lifted it from Civilization 5) but to the empire's overall ability to govern itself.

And finally, the free patch brings Trade Value, a new resource that's gathered by upgraded space stations and produced on planets. This can be used via different policies to generate different types of resources. Most players, however, will find that trade value provides first and foremost the energy credits required to power mining stations and acquire resources on the Galactic Market.

Now, all of the above sounds like a meaty, worth-20-bucks expansion, right?

Well... not exactly. For one thing, all of the really big improvements to gameplay are available right there with the free patch.

There are two big takeaways here.

One, the new Planetary system with its jobs and its revamped ways to manage your pops, is right there in the free patch; you don't need to spend 20 bucks to get it.

And two, thanks to Unity/Ascension perks being brought out from behind the paywall that previously required you to own Utopia, that's another big thing you get for free that you don't even have to pay 20 bucks for (but you should still buy Utopia because it's a wonderful endgame DLC for "tall" playstyles.)

The actual Megacorp stuff? It is strictly depends-on-your-playstyle and might be too niche for all but the most determined role player.

In a game like Stellaris, which has been out for over two years now, there are a lot of well-developed and tremendously fun strategies to play around with, and even though Megacorp empires and the features in Utopia go together like hands and gloves, the same is simply not true of Apocalypse.

And since so much of what MegaCorp has to offer on the paid side of the equation doesn't really bear fruit until the late-game, you'll play it for hours on end and never feel like you're playing anything but the same old Stellaris you know and love.


  • The new Corporate Authority and its associated ways to expand your empire can be great fun for a less militaristic player
  • Synergizes amazingly well with the Utopia DLC
  • The free patch alongside the DLC is a great reason to start playing Stellaris again if you've put it down for a while


  • There's not $20 worth of paid content here; most of it, you'll never even see unless you invest a ton of time into it
  • All the best new features are in the free patch; you don't have to buy the DLC to enjoy most of the changes
  • New features are useless for militarist/conqueror playstyles.

This is a great time to get back into the game. It's going to feel fresh in a way that games this well-established rarely do so far out from release.

But there is simply not enough meat on the bones of this expansion to merit paying 20 bucks for it. The game's mechanical changes in the DLC are way too niche to be practical, and that's going to severely limit the value you get out of it past the first couple of experiments and full playthrough.

Everything here is well-made and lovingly crafted like it always is. The objection is that it's just not broad enough for lasting appeal.

Stellaris Guide: How to Make and Use Vassals in Your Empire Fri, 06 Oct 2017 11:06:43 -0400 Kieran Desmond

Stellaris is a sci-fi grand strategy game from genre veterans, Paradox. Set in the vastness of space, you are tasked with raising an Empire to rule the galaxy. But you won't be able to do it alone -- to accomplish your ultimate goal you're going need some allies, whether they like it or not.

While there are few different types of allies available in Stellaris, but this guide will focus on Vassals. Whether you want to conquer a species' homeworld and force them into servitude or liberate a species from the tyranny of another empire, there's a method for every play style when it comes to creating Vassals. 

What Are Vassals and What Are They Used For in Stellaris?

Vassals are one of the types of Subject Empires that can serve you, and they're the Subjects that you can exert the most control over. The subservient Vassals can be used to bolster your military ranks, as they will automatically join your wars -- this applies regardless of whether you're attacking or defending, which can be very helpful when a larger Empire attempts to overwhelm you or you need few extra ships to take out an annoying fleet.

Vassals also cannot colonize new worlds outside of their border range, and have no autonomy in relation to foreign policy or diplomatic relations. Depending on your relationship with them, Vassals will either be loyal or disloyal to your Empire. Be wary of disloyal Vassals, as they may join an opposing Empire or attack you when on opportune moment arises (such as during catastrophic event or an invasion).

How To Make Vassals in Stellaris

There are a few ways of acquiring Vassals, which are listed below. If I missed anything, make sure to call me out in the comments!

Method 1: War

Open up the "Empires" tab, select the Empire you want to Vassalize, and click on the "Communicate" button. Select "Declare War" on the right side of the menu, which will bring up the "War Demands" screen. 

Here you can choose from a list of demands, each requiring a certain Warscore Cost to achieve. You can get more Warscore by raiding planets and destroying fleets belonging to this Empire. Drag the Vassalize option over from the available demands on the left to the selected demands on the right, and then hit Confirm.

Once you've caused enough damage to this Empire, they will eventually contact you with details of surrender, in which case you can accept and they will become your Vassals. 

Method 2: Demanding Vassalization

To do this method, whoever you're trying to make your Vassal must be at peace.

Open up the "Empires" tab, select the Empire you want to Vassalize, and click on the "Communicate" button. Next to the "Demand Vassalization" button will either be a green tick or a red cross. If it's a tick, you're good to go -- hit the button and they'll agree to be your Vassal.

If it's a cross, however, hover over it to see the details of why they won't accept. If there's a lot of factors in the red, then you'll have to work on those specific areas until they're green and the target is more aligned with your Empire. The most important factors are ethics, the strength of your Empire, and their opinion of you.

Having similar ethics provides boosts all around, but cannot be influenced or manipulated. Some ethical alignments, such as fanatical xenophobes, will completely prevent any form of peaceful Vassalization.

Having a strong Empire can be achieved by having a large fleet and extensive territory. The stronger your Empire, the more likely other Empires are to accept peaceful Vassalization.

Method 3: Make a Sector a Vassal

Select a planet within a Sector you control and navigate to the "Governor" screen.

There should be a "Create Vassal" button in the bottom left corner. This button may be bugged however, as many players have reported it to be missing.

Method 4: Liberation

When at war, instead of simply conquering planets, you can choose to liberate them. The liberated population will create a new empire with ethics similar to that of your own government, and they will have a high opinion of you because you liberated them. 

After doing this, use the "Demand Vassalization" option we discussed in method 2 of this guide. You may want to pause the game after liberating a species, as they may choose to ally with someone else before you get a chance to induct them into your ranks.


That's it for this Stellaris guide on how to make and use Vassals! If there's anything more you want to know, let me know in the comments below and I'll get back to you! For more on this galactic domination sim, check out our other Stellaris guides for tips and tricks that are out of this world.

Stellaris Guide: What is the Control Center and What Does it Do? Tue, 03 Oct 2017 17:35:34 -0400 Kengaskhan

Stellaris’ Synthetic Dawn expansion adds brand new machine civilizations to the game, all of which feature distinct playstyles when compared to the empires already present.

While a lot of that has to do with their unique civics, Synthetic Dawn also introduces some machine-only buildings that are actually lost if a non-machine empire conquers the planet. One of those buildings is the Control Center.

The Control Center has a base cost of 250 Minerals and a base Building Time of 360. The Control Center is not available to Assimilator or Servitor empires, and your empire must have unlocked both Organic Intermediaries and Processing Hub from the Synchronicity tradition tree in order to construct it.

The Control Center produces 2 Energy Credits, which may not seem like a lot given its steep cost. But it also produces 4 Unity, and most importantly, it provides a planet-wide production output boost of 5% for your Robotic pops.

Control Center vs Power Plant IV

You’re probably going to want to take full advantage of the Control Center's multiplicative production boost, which means you'll want to build it on every planet -- since multiplicative bonuses are usually awesome. But first, you need to make sure that your Control Center breaks even with a Power Plant IV (which produces 5 energy) in terms of energy output.

Because Control Centers only produce 2 energy, the 5% production bonus is going to need to generate at least 3 energy to make up for the deficit.

Using some simple math, we can figure out that 5% of 60 is exactly 3, meaning the rest of the planet’s tiles need to produce a total of at least 60 energy for the Control Center to break even.

With each Power Plant IV producing 5 energy, you need 12 tiles on the planet, plus another for your Control Center. Any more tiles than that, and your Control Center will be more productive than a Power Plant IV (which isn’t even accounting for the Control Center's Unity production or the planet's natural resources).


The Control Center has the potential to be a powerhouse for your machine empire -- just be sure you know where you're building it! That's all the advice we have for now, but you can check out the rest of our Stellaris guides for more tips and tricks to help you in your galactic adventures. 

Stellaris Guide: Bio-Trophies and How To Use Them Tue, 03 Oct 2017 15:47:16 -0400 Kengaskhan

Stellaris’ Synthetic Dawn expansion introduces machines species and empires to the game -- and you’ll find that these AI civilizations will play very differently compared to their organic counterparts. In fact, one of the more notable features is the way in which your synthetics interact with organic populations.

The three default machine empires are the Exterminators, the Assimilators, and the Rogue Servitors. While it should be pretty easy to guess how the first two empires deal with organics (Exterminators may only exterminate organics pops and Assimilators may only assimilate organics pops), the Rogue Servitors are a bit more novel in their approach to synthetic-organic relations.

The Rogue Servitor prime directive makes them the ultimate servants, deriving both satisfaction and purpose from the comfort of their masters -- their “Bio-Trophies”.

What Are Bio-Trophies in Stellaris?

Rogue Servitors venerate organics, and they begin the game with two Bio-Trophy populations representing the entirety of their organic creator race.

It’s not just their creators either -- any organic pops within your Rogue Servitor empire can be assigned the unique Bio-Trophy citizenship status and have the “Mandatory Pampering” living standard forced upon them (whether they like it or not).

Each Bio-Trophy produces Influence and Servitor Morale, but at a very steep cost -- Mandatory Pampering is a very expensive standard of living, and each Bio-Trophy will put a pretty heavy strain on your stockpiles, consuming 3.00 Consumer Goods per month.

How does Servitor Morale Work?

Your Rogue Servitors get Servitor Morale for every 10% of your empire’s population with Bio-Trophy citizenship -- which translates to a 10% production boost and 0.5 Influence per month. So, if your population is composed of 80% synthetics and 20% Bio-Trophies, you’ll get a 20% production boost and 1 Influence per month.

There are, however, two things to note about Servitor Morale:

  • Servitor Morale’s bonuses caps at a Bio-Trophy population of 40%. So, having a population composition of 50% synthetics and 50% Bio-Trophies will still only result in a 40% production boost and 2 Influence per month.

  • Servitor Morale does not run parallel to your Bio-Trophy population. Instead, there are Bio-Trophy population thresholds at every 10%. So, a Bio-Trophy population of 39% wouldn’t give you a 39% production boost, it’d give you 30%.


If you're looking to create a robotic empire without annihilating, assimilating, or subjugating (okay, maybe you could argue this one) every organic you come across,  you should try giving the Rogue Servitors a shot and see why they care so much about their Bio-Trophies!

That's all for this guide, but be sure to check out the rest of our Stellaris guides if you need more help with this epic space game!

Stellaris Guide: Contingency Bug Blocking Ghost Signal Tue, 26 Sep 2017 10:30:21 -0400 Sergey_3847

The second story pack for Stellaris, Synthetic Dawn, introduces various robotic races within an intergalactic AI empire. Each droid race has its own unique personalities, dialogue sets and interactions with entities -- such as the Contingency and Fallen Machine Empires.

During the Contingency crisis, you will be given a special project to block the Ghost Signal, but there is a bug associated with this action when you're playing synth species, such as exterminator bots. The game crashes right after you begin blocking the ghost signal research. It may also happen when you complete the ghost signal block. 

Either way, this Stellaris bug is entirely technical, so it is safe to assume that a fix will be released soon by the developers. For now, you can use the method described below as a temporary solution.

How to Fix the Contingency Bug in Stellaris

The problem occurs right after the Ghost Signal window pops up on your screen (when you try to hover your mouse cursor over the popup notification) -- and as a result, the game crashes.

So in order to evade this fatal interaction, you need to disable the event notifications in the game settings. Here's how you do it:

  1. In the main menu, go to "Settings"
  2. Choose the "Gameplay" option
  3. Disable the "Event Popup/Auto-pause" option

You won't see the popups anymore in Synthetic Dawn, but this will allow you to mitigate the game crash after the Ghost Signal is blocked. When you're done with the project, you can re-enable the event popups and continue to play the game as normal.

Alternative Method to Fixing the Contingency Bug in Stellaris

Some players have successfully evaded this game-crashing bug by controlling the game with only their keyboard -- leaving the mouse untouched. When the ghost signal window pops up, just press the "Enter" button on your keyboard, and you should be able to keep playing Stellaris.

In any case, don't forget to save and load the game before starting the event, so you can try different methods without wasting your time. And hopefully, that official patch will come sooner rather than later.


Did you find any other way of mitigating the Contingency bug in Stellaris? Let us know in the comments section below.

In the meantime, if you're looking for more Stellaris guides at GameSkinny, then you can find them right here:

Steam Summer Sale 2017: 5 Best Strategy Games Under $20 Thu, 29 Jun 2017 15:23:22 -0400 Valoryan


Civilization V

Standard Price: $29.99
Sale Price: $7.49

The Civilization series is known for being the quintessential turn-based strategy game. With the release of Civilization 6 earlier this year, predecessor Civilization 5 is a cheap buy. My friends and I have dumped hours into this game. It's really easy to pick up and play for hours on end. 


Get Civilization V on Steam




That wraps up our list! What are your favorite strategy games on Steam? Any others that you think should be included in the Summer Sale this year? Let me know down in the comments!



Standard Price: $39.99
Sale Price: $19.99

Stellaris is a grand strategy game and slow RTS with a system similar to Civilization 5. It takes place in space, and you send your fleets to conquer enemy galaxies and planets. You must also develop planets within the galaxies through settlements and space-based improvements. It has a slight learning curve, but it is definitely worth your time. 


Get Stellaris on Steam


XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2

Standard Price: $29.99 and $59.99
Sale Price: $7.49 and $19.79

Speaking of story-based strategy games, the XCOM series is a turn-based RTS where you navigate your units through a campaign. Both the original XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2 are incredible. Earth has been taken over by an alien species and it us up to you to save it.


These games are known as some of the most unforgiving strategy games around -- but if you're looking for a challenge or just a relaxing turn by turn game, this is the series for you.


Get XCOM: Enemy Unknown on Steam


Get XCOM 2 on Steam


Medieval II: Total War

Standard Price: $19.99
Sale Price: $4.99

Medieval II: Total War is another classic. It is arguably the best Total War game due to its modding capabilities and quirky bugs. This is a game you can play hundreds of times and never have the same experience.


If you're really into modding, this is a must-buy title. It also contains a really nice campaign for those who prefer story-based strategy games.


Get Medieval II: Total War on Steam


Age of Empires HD

Standard Price: $19.99
Sale Price: $4.99

Age of Empires II HD is a classic RTS game brought to modern times. The HD edition has upgraded graphics and comes with a multiplayer mode attached to a really good, loyal community.


If you have never played AoE, you truly are missing out and should pick it up. If you have, it's time you get back into it. The DLCs add more civilizations, new maps, and new campaigns. The HD version also features a better AI and mod support. At 75% off during the sale, it's a necessary buy.


Get Age of Empires II HD on Steam


With the Steam Summer Sale in full swing, it can be hard to know which games you want to buy because they are good and which you want to buy because they're on sale. And when you're looking at a genre as over-saturated as the strategy genre, the distinction can become even more unclear.


There's a wide variety of strategy games on the market, from turn-based to real-time, historical to futuristic. Strategy games can go as far as the mind can imagine -- and there are some crazy games out there. That's why a lot of games in the genre are either amazing or absolutely horrible.


To help you avoid the horrible ones, here is a guide to the top five strategy games you should own by the end of this year's Steam Summer Sale.

Using Unspent Civic Points in Stellaris Mon, 22 May 2017 15:04:54 -0400 Nick Lee

In Stellaris, civic points are used to change the scope of your government, and you only have three possible slots to fill with these points. While there's a diverse list of civics to choose from, every individual empire will have its own benefits and requirements for spending civic points. Your government name and civic bonuses will change dependening on the balance of authority, ethics, and how you choose to spend your civics.

In order to change or add civics, it will cost 250 influence points -- and from there the combinations to better your empire are near endless. An important note for this is that certain civics come unlocked with DLCs, so be sure to spend your influence wisely if you're going to use those unspent points.

How to Spend Civic Points in Stellaris

Players who want to adjust their civic points will have to go the government tap and click on the "reform" button. Don't worry about just clicking this button, as it won't alter anything just yet. At the start of your game, your empire will only have two civics. If you're later down the line, you'll unlock a third civic slot by researching the "Galactic Administration" technology.

Unlocking this slot allows players three civic point bonuses, but you'll need to keep a balance between the civics you choose and the requirements that come with it. This makes it so you'll not only need to know how to spend unused civic points, but also when to use them.

When to Spend Your Civic Points in Stellaris

Each civic point comes with a requirement that, if ignored, will cause a civic point to become dormant. For example, if you have the "Exhalted Priesthood" civic, you'll have to be an oligarchic authority with a spiritualist ethic.

This fine balance between your three point slots makes for knowing how to swap your civics very useful. Utilizing civic points offers bonuses, but as you grow and maybe change your style either ethically or authoritatively, so too will your civics need to change. 

Why Your Civics Are Even Important

As previously mentioned, civic points are very important in Stellaris for their ability to give bonuses to players. These bonuses range from the ability to attract more immigrants to attack speeds. An important distinction to make is that players who have the Utopia and Hive Mind DLCs will be able to access more civics than before, each with more unique bonuses.

Both DLCs bring along civics of a very distinct empire, which lack bonuses attributed elsewhere in favor of more on-brand ones. For instance, a more militarist government would benefit from the "Fanatic Purifiers" civic only available through the Utopia DLC. This specific civic offers a bonus of an additional 33% attack speed and army damage -- which just goes to show that the right civic with the right government can be amazing for your gameplay.


Using civic points in Stellaris is simple, and it really comes down to knowing your empire and keeping track of how your actions and other choices can give you great in-game bonuses.

Good luck building your empire! And for more Stellaris tips as you conquer the galaxy, check out our other guides:

15 Best Stellaris Mods to Maximize Your Gameplay Fri, 19 May 2017 16:10:39 -0400 Sergey_3847


Planetary Computer


Download mod


This is not exactly the Death Star, but it is a sentient planet that is controlled by an AI. It is highly advisable to get yourself one of those, as it adds tons of bonuses to your empire:

  • Growth Time +100%
  • \n
  • Building Cost -25%
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  • Food -100%
  • \n
  • Minerals -100%
  • \n
  • Energy Credits +200%
  • \n
  • Physics Output +250%
  • \n
  • Society Output +250%
  • \n
  • Engineering Output +250%
  • \n
  • Monthly Influence +1
  • \n

Planetary Computer will take care of the galaxy’s biggest computational problems -- provided that you take care of it just as well.




Would you like to see more Stellaris mod lists at GameSkinny? Leave your feedback in the comments below.


Stellar Warpaints


Download mod


Ever thought about repainting your old rusty starship? Check out the Warpaints mod, which offers 21 different paintjobs for all types of ships -- except the other modded ships and the ones used by the AI.


As the developer of the mod said, this was done in order to prevent excessive RAM consumption, which could destabilize not only this mod, but also any other ones you might have installed previously.


Elves of Stellaris


Download mod


If you enjoy mixing sci-fi and fantasy, then welcome to Elves of Stellaris -- a huge fan-made mod that incorporates all of the attributes of Elven civilization, such as outfits, hairstyles, ships, worlds, traits, etc.


But don’t get too excited. Not all Elves are equally civilized and sometimes the mod spawns a random primitive world. However, if you like to have crazy fun, then go ahead and meet those savages.


Legend of Galactic Heroes


Download mod


If you’ve been watching one of the most popular Japanese space operas -- Legend of Galactic Heroes -- then you should know that ships in the anime were incredibly large and powerful. This mod brings all those ships to Stellaris!


Now, you can engage in massive laser battles that involve hundreds and thousands of ships at the same time, just like the ones in the original anime.


Systems Alliance Ships


Download mod


The Mass Effect ships have been available in Stellaris since the very launch of the game, but then they had to be taken down due to copyright infringement. But now they're returning in full force in this new Systems Alliance mod.


It replaces all the vanilla ships in the game with the ME ships, except the HQ Station, Power Station, Mining Base, Sensor Station, and Drydock from NSC.


The Asari Civilization


Download mod


The Asari race from Mass Effect universe finally finds its place in Stellaris. This unusual alien species is highly intelligent and inventive. The mod fully reflects their abilities to build new technologies, such as Biotics, Field Manipulation, and Psionics.


You also will have to take care of the Asari population through the process of Gynogenetics, and manage their lifespan with the help of Ageless ability.


Sins of the Prophets


Download mod


The Halo fans will know this one, as this is the port of the original Halo mod with the same name but for Stellaris. The mod has been developed in co-operation with the Halo modders that permitted the use of all of their assets in Stellaris.


The only thing that’s missing from this pack is the Flood, which is a shame. Hopefully, when the copyright situation around Stellaris stabilizes, it will be included after all.


Doomsday Weapons & Ships


Download mod


Have you ever wanted to possess a weapon so powerful that it could destroy an entire planet? Here’s a mod that offers not one but eleven doomsday weapons. Some of them are so potent that they could pulverize entire star systems.


And, if you need to deal with an enemy star fleet, then there is nothing better that having a doomsday ship on your side -- such as Ragnarok, which is also available in this ISBS mod.


Beautiful Universe v2.0


Download mod


This mod overhauls all the backgrounds and visually enhances the game. The textures used in this mod come from NASA and EVE Online archives. It doesn’t change any game mechanics, so it’s a purely graphical mod.


However, using it will make your gameplay more pleasurable, as the outer space of Stellaris will look incredibly real and detailed.


Star Trek: New Horizons


Download mod


What if you’d rather play in a Star Trek universe? No problem! Here’s another total conversion mod, but this time it’s based on the Star Trek franchise. The events of the mod carefully replicate the most popular moments from the original TV series and feature films.


On top of that, the developers of the mod included a few completely original ship classes, types of technologies, and environments.


Star Wars: A Galaxy Divided


Download mod


Now, here’s a total conversion mod that actually makes everything in the game look like it came straight from the Star Wars universe. If you are well acquainted with the SW lore, then you will find many familiar names of the galaxies and planets.


These systems are not empty but are inhabited by the corresponding races and lifeforms. This is something you won’t find in any other game… well, except for the original SW games.


Star Wars Rebel Ships


Download mod


Easily one of the most exciting mods for Stellaris is the Star Wars expansion that adds over 50 Rebel Alliance ships -- including Fighters, Cruisers, Carriers, Dreadnoughts, and many others.


If you ever wanted to roleplay as a Star Wars rebel in the Stellaris universe, now you have the chance. Remember, it may not perfectly reflect the setting of the Star Wars, but you can get a glimpse of what’s it like to be a true space rebel.


LEX - Leviathan Events Xtended


Download mod


This is a content expansion that includes several late game events which should give players seeking challenge some satisfaction. LEX includes the following additions:

  • Throne Watchers: An abandoned ringworld, guarded by the creations of its former owners.
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  • The Gravekeeper: A derelict spacestation in the midst of an ancient battlefield.
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  • The Garden: A beautiful shielded garden world surrounded by relics of a bygone age.
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  • The Threshold: A system shrouded in fog, where the boundaries between realities blur.
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  • Crossing the Rubicon: Endgame Crisis.
  • \n

Planetary Diversity


Download mod


If you care more about new planets than new ships, then check out the Planetary Diversity mod. It adds 17 new planet types to the game, each with their own unique alien biomes, climates, and lifeforms.


You can get involved in the terraforming and genetic engineering processes of the planets, with the exception of methane and ammonia-based planets. But the author of the mod has already stated that he is working on the solution to that as well.


New Ship Classes & More v5.0


Download mod


This mod’s title refers to the new ships only, but it actually includes so much more -- like stations, races, technologies, planets. And all this is supported by a new AI. The overall number of features is striking, and there is a whole website dedicated to explaining how everything works in the NSC mod.


One thing that you should definitely consider in this mod is to build yourself an Empire Flagship. It takes three in-game years to build, but the rewards and bonuses you will get are simply mind-blowing.


The vanilla version of Stellaris, the 4X grand strategy from Paradox Interactive, is a massive space simulator on its own. But there is so much room in it for other cool things that it is impossible to play the game without checking out all the great mods that are available on Steam for free.


You can download a few of them and take this game to completely new heights. Everything from new races and improved AI to balanced combat and simple warpaints will make you want to spend another hundred hours on the outskirts of the galaxy far, far away.


You got it right! There are Star Wars-themed mods included in this list, as well as a few other theme-packs from popular media franchises. So hop on this train of 15 best Stellaris mods!

All The Details on the Stellaris 1.6.1 Update Fri, 19 May 2017 09:48:33 -0400 GeorgieBoysAXE

The conflict doesn’t stop in Paradox Development Studio’s Stellaris, regardless of how rough the execution has been in the clunky sci-fi strategy title. And the recent 1.6 Update only managed to make matters worse.

A list of these problems ranged from enemy factions not engaging players with first-contact to the game abruptly crashing when rebels would take over a planet and defect to a different empire. In short, the whole thing was just a hot mess. Thankfully, the developers are fully aware of these issues and have already addressed the nonsense with a steadfast hotfix patch, which repairs the unforeseen problems that the update caused.

Players will be able to apply the update by clicking the game’s system menu and selecting Properties; then they'll head over to the "Betas" option, where they'll then be able to fully opt-in for the Adams Update hotfix.

Here’s a full list of the fixes that were made available by the Stellaris 1.6.1 update.

Stellaris 1.6.1 Update Fixes

  • Fixed AI never declaring war
  • Fixed egalitarian faction unhappiness wrongly being generated by having robot "slave" Pops
  • Fixed issue with AI empires switching ethics far too frequently
  • Fixed a bug allowing you to terraform planets you don't own in contested space
  • Fixed wrongly stacking "was enslaved" happiness modifiers
  • Fixed graphical error with Ringworld skies
  • Fixed issue with War in Heaven where total occupation would not equal 100% warscore, leading to neverending war
  • Added back a couple of old diplomacy rooms and fixed black background on older ones
  • Fixed not being able to construct spaceports around Ringworld sections
  • Fixed wrong tooltip text on Armageddon bombardment stance
  • Hive Minds can now properly use Full bombardment stance
  • Fixed egalitarian faction issues appearing before you have any contact with alien empires and thus no ability to fulfil them
  • Devouring Swarms now properly get -1000 opinion penalty due to being, well, Devouring Swarms
  • Fixed a rare crash when planetary Pops are destroyed
  • Fixed crash when rebels take over a planet and defect to another empire
  • Fixed missing isolationist faction issue name
  • Fixed numerous missing loc strings in languages other than English and Russian
  • Can now properly rename civilian ships again
  • Fixed missing animation for Armageddon bombardment
  • Fixed event that was endlessly firing in the background, causing a performance hit
  • Fixed an issue where Xenophobe fallen empire opinion penalty for frontier outposts was calculated strangely, leading to incorrect war declarations
  • Fixed primitive enlightenment failing in the early game
  • Fixed AI nonsensically replacing buildings in a wasteful way, disregarding tile resources

Remember, this update will only kick in if you authorize it through the aforementioned steps above, and it’s a smart move considering that the automatic update backfired horribly despite its good intentions. Paradox has expressed their sincerest apologies for the situation, and to their credit, have been incredibly attentive to monitoring the performance of the update since its release. Here’s to hoping that the patch follows through as planned.

Stellaris Guide: How to Beat the Unbidden Fri, 19 May 2017 09:49:02 -0400 tofuslayer

If you have Jump Drive technology in Stellaris, there's a good chance you'll run into the Unbidden at some point. A lot of people have had trouble defeating these invaders because of their sheer power. Once they drop their anchors, it can feel almost impossible to overcome them.

But luckily for you, we're here to help you defeat them. This guide will assist you in creating a plan of attack for your wars against these extra-dimensional creatures.

How to Defeat the Unbidden in Stellaris

Destroy the Portal as soon as possible

This is a given. If you can catch them soon enough, you can destroy the Portal before too many Unbidden invade your system. In a perfect world, you'll be able to hit the portal immediately, but don't expect to be so lucky.

Image from YouTube

If you can't destroy the Portal, gear up quick

The Unbidden use the highest tear generators and shield, but have no armor. Their weapon is the Matter Disintegrator, which deals 50% armor penetration and 50% percent shield penetration. To combat this, you'll need to beef up your fleets as much as possible.

Ideally you'll want to have around 150k or more in your fleet, and your main ships here will probably be Battleships and possibly a few Corvettes (but not too many). If you don't have Torpedoes, you'll also want some Destroyers in your fleet as well.

Another thing to consider is that the Unbidden are medium-range attackers, so if you can stay out of their way until you can attack, you'll be able to preserve your fleets.

Image from PCGamesN

Decide how you want to take on the Unbidden

There are a few different battle plans that have proven reliable against the Unbidden. The main idea is to try to break up the Unbidden fleets and take on each stack one at a time. We'll go over a few basic strategies to help you figure out what works for you.

Option 1:

  • Use a few Corvettes to get the Unbidden's attention and break up the fleets and draw them towards the edges of the System.
  • As you're doing that, send in your Battleships to destroy the Anchors until there are none left.
  • Once the Anchors are clear, go in for the Portal.

Option 2:

  • Skip the Corvettes and load up your Cruisers, Destroyers, and Battleships with heavy-hitting, artillery-like torpedoes.
  • Consider using Kinetic weapons like the Giga Cannon or Tachyon Lance as well.
  • Try to locate any smaller, isolated stacks and tackle those first.
  • Chip away until you've destroyed all the anchors and can reach the Portal.

Image from Reddit

A few more things to consider

No matter what your approach to defeating the Unbidden, here are a few other things you'll want to think about and test out as you encounter them.

  • Try out different builds for your fleets, play with the ratios of each type of ship in your stacks.
  • The Unbidden will spawn in different locations every time, so you might want to have different strategies depending on where the Portal opens.
  • A war with the Unbidden can take a really long time. But if you start to get overwhelmed, try and retreat and re-strategize for the next time.


Good luck in your battles and in all your encounters against the Unbidden! What fleet builds do you use against them? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to check out our other Stellaris guides: 

Try These 5 Mods to Take Your Stellaris Game Out of This World Sun, 16 Apr 2017 13:00:01 -0400 Paige McGovern

On April 6, Paradox Interactive's latest Stellaris expansion, Utopia, was launched. This expansion brought a whole host of new changes, including additions such as:

  • Megastructures - Dyson Spheres and ringworlds were introduced. 
  • Habitat Stations A new way to grow the population. 
  • Ascension Perks - Greater empire customization is now available.

So, now that it's been over a week since Utopia hit, what mods should you be looking out for?

Here's our list of five popular mods that have the community talking.

Guillli’s Habitat Specializations

  • Posted: April 13
  • Updated: April 15
  • DLC Required: Utopia
  • Compatible With: All other mods
  • Overall Review: 4 stars (42 ratings)
  • Link to Mod
What It Offers 

This mod offers an event that shows up upon completion of a habitat station. With this new event, you can specialize your habitat in five unique ways: as an outpost, food, mineral, science and combat specialization. This feature grants the habitat certain bonuses. Specializations can be changed or removed if necessary.


After the first specialization is set, changing the habitat's specialization costs 1500 minerals and 250 unity. For 90 days, there will also be a happiness malus of 10%. Because of this, players should carefully choose what they want their habitat's specialization to be. 

Diverse Rooms

  • Posted: April 9
  • Updated: April 13
  • DLC Required: None
  • Compatible With: All other mods
  • Overall Review: 5 stars (436 ratings)
  • Link to Mod
What It Offers

This mod offers a huge amount of variety to room backgrounds when one is setting up their empire. The mod's creator, Last Leviathan, has stared a Steam discussion where users can request what rooms they want to see in the game. 


Users are reporting that a bug where every empire displays the same background as the first custom empire. There is no fix yet. 

Plentiful Transitions 

  • Posted: April 11
  • Updated: April 15
  • DLC Required: Utopia
  • Compatible With: Mods that do not alter the "topbar_traditions_view.gui" file
  • Overall Review: 5 stars (224 ratings)
  • Link to Mod
What It Offers

This mod offers five new tradition trees, each offering new traditions themselves. As an example, cybernetics focuses on robots, machinery, and energy, while Biogenesis focuses on gene-therapy, food, and growth.


Players with really low game resolutions -- such as 1360 -- need to be scaling their UI to 0.9 or less. If they cannot or refuse to, they should not use this mod.

Utopia Expanded

  • Posted: April 9
  • Updated: April 13
  • DLC Required: Utopia
  • Compatible With: Mods that do not alter "00_ring_world.txt" "01_dyson_sphere.txt" "02_spy_orb.txt" "03_think_tank.txt" and "topbar_traditions_view.gui" files
  • Overall Review: 5 stars (164 ratings)
  • Link to Mod
What It Offers

This mod offers a new depth to ringworlds, making repair to damaged segments, more ringworld habitats, and the construction of advanced buildings all possible. This mods frees up previous restrictions with the game or other mods. Extra Ascension perk slots are also included. 


This mod can't be used with Megastructures Placement, which is another popular Utopia mod. 

Animated Hollow Portraits

  • Posted: April 10
  • Updated: April 12
  • DLC Required: None
  • Compatible With: All other mods
  • Overall Review: 5 stars (2443 ratings)
  • Link to Mod
What It Offers

This mod offers a "fully animated space dimensional horrors portrait set", a custom city set, custom room, beginning solar system, ships, and custom empire. Who doesn't love more portraits?


Game files must be tweaked manually upon mod updates if a user is also using NSC and ISB Stellaris mods. 


What are your thoughts on these mods, and the new Stellaris expansion? Are there are other mods you think are worth trying? Post them in the comments! 

The 10 Best Strategy Games on Steam That Aren't Civilization Fri, 28 Oct 2016 12:03:31 -0400 Stefano Bonacchi


Star Ruler Series


I like to call this series "Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann simulator" -- because it is, to my knowledge, the only space-themed 4X where you can build a ship as big as the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, which is 1 million light years in length.


If you want to kick reason to the curb and do the impossible, this is the game to do it in. It has an incredibly detailed ship-building system. And it's also completely moddable, coming with the source code in text file form. This makes for a pretty big modding community, and that is always nice.


The first game itself isn't particularly hard, although it requires micromanaging at times, second one requires less micromanaging but has a more "realistic" max ship size (the size of a star).Overall it's a pretty solid series for any strategy fan to pick up.


Do you agree with these choices? Do you feel there are other, more deserving strategy titles that we forgot to mention? Do you want to share your gameplay experiences with these games? Post a comment below and let us know!


Crusader Kings 2


You may have noticed by now that I am a bit of a Paradox fanboy. It's hard not to be when you love grand strategy games, and they happen to make some of the best around.


That said, I can summarize Crusader Kings 2 with a sentence:


"If god didn't want us to conquer the holy land, why did he populate it with infidels?"


As the title says, you will play a Crusader King, (or duke, or count, maybe emperor if you're lucky) in the base game. You must try to carve a dominion for your dynasty within the holy lands -- or anywhere else, really, but the Middle East is pretty rich. You will play as your ruler character until he dies, then continue your game as his heir. This goes on until your dynasty is either toppled and unladed, or fades into obscurity and goes extinct.


The base game itself is good, but the DLCs make it a hundred times better -- allowing you to experience a plethora of fun events and easter eggs, and also giving you a chance to become a filthy pagan, an incestuous zoroastrian, or a Muslim Jew or Buddhist. These expansions even flesh out character interactions, bring the start date backwards in time, and add more realistic illnesses.


The only sore point here is the price. Both the game and most of the DLCs are overpriced at the moment and (in my opinion) should only be bought with a 50% or more discount on Steam. But whenever you do decide to buy, this title will grant thousands of hours of fun.


Get Crusader Kings II on Steam. Deus Vult!




Compared to the other Paradox Games previously mentioned, Stellaris is unique in that it is a 4X rather than a grand strategy title. Regardless, it's a pretty fun game that's still as hard as any other Paradox title.


Stellaris also allows you to design your own ships and negotiate with alien lifeforms, who can be basically anything -- even cute kittens that want to purge your wretched form in nuclear fire.


What's not to love there?


Get Stellaris on Steam and start genociding your own adorable alien races.


Battlefleet Gothic: Armada


This game is a decent space-themed RTS set in the Warhammer 40k universe.  The game is not as complicated as say, Victoria II, but its combat mechanics do require at least a few hours to fully grasp.


All in all, Battlefleet Gothic is fun and its combat is pretty engaging -- especially for fans of the setting. (Although it does need more orks, because GREEN IZ BEST!)


 Get Battlefleet Gothic: Armada on Steam.


Agarest Zero


I recommend Zero over the first game in the Agarest series -- mostly because it has less boring random battles, it is harder but more rewarding, and has a digest mode with the full storyline of the first game. So it is better all around.

The gimmick in these games is that you play successive generations of characters which you yourself can create by choosing a spouse. Different spouses will lead to different children who will be good at different things. In Zero specifically, you also create your main character at the start and can customize his every detail, making for a nice number of options.


All in all the Agarest series is nice, if a bit clichèd, set of strategy RPGs. And the Steam versions patched some bugs and put in a few nice touches that make end-game grinding much more bearable.


Get Agarest Zero on Steam.


Victoria 2


A friend of mine calls this game the "Marx was right simulator", and he has a point. The game models 19th century capitalism and imperialism really well, and also models the ethnic makeup of any province in the world and accompanying nationalism accurately. Basically, it is almost a politics simulator.


Why does my friend call it what he does?

Because by late game, most markets will be flooded and there will be continuous crises of overproduction -- giving rise to a lot of communist agitation and frequent communist revolutions. But that's part of the game's fun too!


I've yet to play a strategy game as deep and complex as this one. Though as is true with other Paradox titles, combat is left up to chance. But that's more than made up for by the fact that you can conquer the world as sapient polar bears. How cool is that?).


Get Victoria II on Steam.


Europa Universalis Series


This series has produced a lot of gems, but it has some sore spots too. These games are increbly historically accurate and pack some series depth into their gameplay. The series' main focus is on running a nation and dealing with diplomacy. But it's a bit weak in the combact aspect. Battles are for the most part simulated based on your and your opponents' troop numbers, quality, and location, with no human input.


EU:Rome in particular needs to be mentioned for being a very good strategy game. It focuses on the time between the first Punic War and Augustus' rule as Emperor.


Sadly the fourth game in the series, Europa Universalis IV, is both the best and the most overpriced. There are some pricey expansions for it, too -- so it's probably better to wait for a sale and buy this title then if you're so inclined.


Valkyria Chronicles


This game is unique because it has a gameplay that can only be summed up as "RTS meets RPG meets TPS meets turn-based tactics".

You control, train, and equip a unit of soldiers fighting to liberate their small nation of Gallia from the invading forces of a much superior foe. Battles are played in turns that get determined by spending CP (short for command points, of which you get a limited amount per turn). You can control a soldier and move it on the field, but they will get fired on if spotted by an enemy, and can in turn fire on those enemies as well. 

This makes for an intriguing mix that -- alongside a pretty nice plot -- makes for a very good and fun game. On top of it all, the Steam port is the best version of the game. So you should grab it. 


Get Valkyria Chronicles on Steam.


Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War Series


The series itself has some good and bad points -- its good being very good and its bad being mediocre at best. All Warhammer 40k games are real times strategy, though there's a big difference between Dawn of War 1 (plus its expansions) and Dawn of War 2.

The first game is in many ways reminiscent of a 4X game. You had to conquer points of interest on the map to gain more resources, so you could then build more troops and overwhelm your enemy's base -- all the while preventing your opponent from doing the same to you. Meanwhile, the second in the series is much more focused on small unit tactics and the ability to create troops or buildings is almost completely gone. 

Almost any game in the series is good. But you can probably skip over Soulstorm (the standalone expansion of Dawn of War 1), which is the worst of the series due to bad voice acting and rushed programming that made it buggy. 


Disgaea PC


The Disgaea series is pretty well established among lovers of strategy-RPGs. It has quirky humor, it's full of pop-culture references, and it's incredibly over-the-top -- having your characters statistics easily reach the millions and turning the late game into a "rocket tag".


The game is very fun and deserves mention despite being very old. The PC version is a satisfactory porting, making it a nice choice.


Get Disgaea on Steam.


If you're a strategy game fan, chances are you're playing Civilization 6. Even if you aren't, you know that it's been everywhere since its launch. Strategy gamers everywhere can't seem to get enough of it.


Civilization as a series is one of the staples of the strategy genre, but there happen to be many other good strategy games available  on Steam right now (and cheaper too). So whether you aren't planning to play Civilization VI at all, or you just haven't gotten the chance to pick it up yet, there are other games out there for you.


Let's take a look at some of the best strategy games that aren't Civ.

Pebble in the Sky -- Asimov update blasts into Stellaris Tue, 28 Jun 2016 04:17:41 -0400 Jenifyr Kaiser

Stellaris is a game that has garnered no small amount of attention since it's release back in May. Now Paradox Interactive is bringing Stellaris fans the 1.2 patch, A.K.A. the "Asimov" update -- it is a bit more than a patch, but not quite a DLC . It brings a host of new changes to in-game systems as well as enhancing the combat visuals.

The latest update changes the way diplomacy works quite a bit. Borders will now remain open until some failure of international diplomacy causes them to be closed. Embassies have also been replaced. Now, long-term relations with other factions are built by being a trustworthy neighbor -- better be ready if they come to the door asking for a cup of sugar.

In addition to the diplomatic changes, players will now see more data on the maps, nomadic fleets, new warfare goals, and more varied populations among factions. The combat has been made clearer and graphically more pleasing to the eye as well.

Stellaris is a 4X, grand strategy game that takes a whole new approach to the genre. It places exploration above warfare and diplomacy as its primary focus. With virtually endless discoveries to make and quest chains to complete, it truly does boldly go... well you know the rest. Check out the game on the official website and keep exploring!

Review: Stellaris Sun, 19 Jun 2016 16:27:55 -0400 James Leeder

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there wasn’t a clash between the dark side and the light side. Oh no, what existed was the fledgling Tibrim race struggling to form a new galactic imperium in a vast universe.The Tibrim are a feline-like nomadic people, travelling from planet to planet in order to acquire resources. They worship the suns and stars as their deities due to their life bringing and life taking abilities. Though they still practice slavery in order to sustain themselves, they are capable warriors and brilliant engineers so are far from a primitive people.

The noble Tibrim race at a glance

Stellaris is the latest offering from Paradox Interactive (publishers of Cities: Skylines). It is part of the grand strategy genre that Paradox is well known for. Having played previous titles in this genre (Europa Universalis IV, Victoria II and Crusader Kings II) it is safe to say that Stellaris is the most new player friendly making it very accessible if you have never played a grand strategy game before. While the game does offer some preset species to start with, the true charm is the ability to make your own species. Pretty much everything is open to customization, from your leader’s traits to the simple matter of how your ships travel through the universe. There are three ways to travel, the easiest is Warp Travel which allows you to jump from system to system freely but is the slowest. Hyperspace is faster but you can only travel using hyper lanes. The last option is wormholes, which is the fastest but obviously requires wormhole gates for your ships to move around.

I had the Tibirm race starting in the Tibrim system with a home planet of Tiberium (not exactly a healthy name if you know your strategy games). The first thing I had to do was to stabilize the economy of Energy Credits and Minerals by placing structures on the planets surface and having populations to run them. I also built mining stations in Tibrim and neighboring systems. To be able to harvest resources and colonize planets you must use your science ships to survey systems. It was on one of these survey missions that Captain J’zargo of the science ship Moonsugar discovered the first alien contacts of my game. J’zargo managed to flee the confrontation with the so called Beta Aliens, though that made me realize the need to create the Open Circle Fleet. This grand fleet would protect the emerging Tibrim Empire from all threats internal and external.

Just one of the many space armadas I have witnessed. Fleets can be huge if empires are not kept in check.

As mentioned earlier, everything in Stellaris is open to customization including the ships. Everything from armor, power Generators, shields, engines and more can be upgraded through tech research in the fields of Society, Physics, and Engineering. The Tibrim started off with mass drivers (other options include lasers and nuclear missiles) so to begin with the Khajiit Class and Elsweyr Class corvettes were a little underwhelming at range though were able to combat the Beta Aliens under the leadership of Admiral Maiq. This opened up the possibility of colonizing a planet in the now secure Lando system  (and no I didn’t name that one.) Swiftly a colonization ship was built (after a long time waiting for research) and the settlement of Sanctuary was founded on one of the desert planets, though I discovered that my colonists weren’t alone on that planet. A primitive bird like species was also living next to my colonists. Now the Tibrim are a Xenophobic people and enjoy the luxury of having slaves, so of course I let the colonists enslave them! Things were calm for the next few years as the Tibrim researched new technologies, improving the economy, upgraded the fleet to include Emancipator Class destroyers as well as exploring the galaxy and meeting other lesser nations. Then disaster! An asteroid was sighted hurtling toward Sanctuary, I had a limited time period to prevent it from impacting the planet. The Open Circle Fleet poured all power into their warp drives to reach the colony. They barraged the asteroid but it still slammed into Sanctuary. The settlement survived but had no power or food production at all. It seems all is lost, but maybe just maybe I can recover it.

Looks like I have plenty of neighbours

That is where I stand in my current game, though I’ve been warned to be on the lookout for end-game events such as a robot uprising (Yes Skynet can happen people) or an extra galactic invasion. I’ve also yet to discover a Fallen Empire, which I’m eager to do because they sometimes own ring worlds. I’m not going to sugar coat things and say this game is perfect. The early game is full of action as you establish your empire, gather resources and try to prevent those mushroom people from coming to murder you. The Mid to Late game can be rather slow with long periods of little action as you try to take other empires without making enemies who could crush you. You’ll end up researching everything and having a good economy while wondering what on earth to do next. I’m sure future updates and free content will fix this as is common with other Paradox titles.

The game is also designed to support mods so I’m waiting for a full Star Wars conversion. For now a Warhammer 40K mod is in the works and I’m hearing rumors of a Mass Effect mod. Paradox has been highly supportive of modders in their past games so I can see this game having a long lifespan. They have also stated that there will be plenty of DLC in the future which I thoroughly look forward to seeing. Now if no one has any objections, I have a settlement to rebuild and a galaxy conquer. For Kharjo!

Rating 9/10

Available at: Steam

Price: £ 29.99, $39.99


  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Processor: AMD Athlon II X4 640 @ 3.0 Ghz / or Intel Core 2 Quad 9400 @ 2.66 Ghz
  • Graphics: AMD HD 5770 / or Nvidia GTX 460, with 1024MB VRAM.
  • OS: Windows 7 x86 or newer
  • Internet: Broadband Internet connection 
  • Hard Drive: 4GB free Hard disc space


    • Memory: 4GB RAM 
    • Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 850 @ 3.3 Ghz or Intel i3 2100 @ 3.1 Ghz
    • Graphics: AMD HD 6850 / or Nvidia GTX 560TI, with 1024MB VRAM
    • OS: Windows 7 x64 or newer
    • Internet: Broadband Internet connection 
    • Hard Drive: 4GB free Hard disc space
Paradox Interactive Asks Steam Spy to Remove Games' Stats from Site Thu, 02 Jun 2016 12:56:34 -0400 Pierre Fouquet

Paradox Interactive, the Sweden based publisher of Stellaris and Cities: Skylines, has asked Steam Spy to remove all of their games from the site. Steam Spy is a popular Steam sales tracking site. The reasons behind this are not yet officially known.

Why would this be?

Paradox Interactive have very recently become public company under initial public offering (IPO). This means that they are not yet publically traded, but are looking for capital to expand. Removing any slightly inaccurate sales data, which Steam Spy is known to provide, could be a move to ensure that this data is not seen by possible investors.

Incorrect data could cause Paradox to either become under, or overvalued, which intern could be catastrophic to revenue. The shares could either be worth nothing with no apparent possibility of growth. Or shares could be worth too much, but again due to the lack of previous data, growth may not look possible. In both cases this would mean that shares would not be purchased, which is only bad for business.

After Paradox go fully publicly listed, they may request for their game sales to go back onto Steam Spy.

On a more cynical look

Paradox have had pressure put on them by investors to remove sales data, so that they are able to better control a sales narrative -- promoting sales data which would be slightly skewed due to how that information was captured.

Snapshot of the Steam Spy front page.

While Steam Spy is using a publicly accessible API to gather the sales data, the compliance with the request is a good will gesture to show that Steam Spy is not a threat to developers. The reasons behind why Paradox Interactive has requested to remove the sales data from Steam Spy is unclear as of yet, but should a public statement be made GameSkinny will update you as soon as we know.

Stellaris Clarke Patch Coming Soon! Fri, 27 May 2016 05:45:30 -0400 Allyson La Jeunesse

Recently, Paradox Interactive released their newest strategy game, Stellaris, to the good folks of Steam. And while it's an extremely enjoyable ride, even the developer feels like the mid-game is lacking.

So they've been working on their first major patch to the game. Say hello to the Clarke update!

While the patch will include many different things, a major target of the Clarke update is the UI, which will now include extra info when things like rivalries and End of Combat windows are displayed. You'll also be able to tell the size of a habitable planet from the galaxy map by hovering over it! Something that will save all of us a lot of time.

Another focus of the patch is to improve the AI, such as fixing the odd responses to galaxy-wide threats sweeping across the map. They'll also handle their populations much more intelligently. We can only hope that will extend to the sector governors as well. You will even be able to adjust how aggressive the AI is using a new option in the Game Details menu.

The last major feature is the ability to write a biography for whatever sort of weird alien empire you come up with. Did your frog people crawl up from the deep oceans of your planet, or perhaps your floating fungoid race descended from the skies to gather building materials after they developed sentience? What do they call their different leaders? It's all up to you now!

If you've already jumped into the game, you can check out our Stellaris guides, including a sector guide, an influence guide, and a list of command codes!

Stellaris Sector Guide Mon, 23 May 2016 12:05:31 -0400 Robert Guthrie

The sector system is one of the more controversial elements of the new Paradox game, but it's in there for a good reason -- micromanaging dozens of planets is fiddly, unnecessary, and limits the game to only the hardest core players. Being able to dump new colonies into a sector and let your governors take care of it is a good system, but the AI still needs work, so in the meantime, here's what you need to know to make the most out of your sectors:

Don't forget to feed your sectors

The number one mistake that players make when creating new sectors or managing their existing ones is forgetting to "feed" them or seed them with resources. By the time you are managing large numbers of planets you should have a substantial mineral surplus -- so give some to your sector governors! Making sure that they have an ample mineral supply to build buildings with and make upgrades from will ensure that your sector governors make good decisions and continue to improve your colonies. It's not as important to put energy credits in, but make sure they have some -- without them your sectors can't clear blockers, which will slow development. 

Sectors can also act as a "bank" for extra resources, so feel free to max out their contribution. You can always put more resources in, but you can't take stores out.

Fine-tune your settings

You don't have a lot of options when it comes to micromanaging your sectors (this is by design), but knowing when to allow redevelopment and when to respect tile resources is important. If you don't need anything specific out of your sectors, leave them at default -- on the other hand, if you're trying to really maximize their output, you might want to consider allowing redevelopment and not respecting tile resources. Depending on the planet, forcing your sector governors to respect what's on the tile could end up forcing a food glut or an inefficient colony, and redeveloping will allow them to make adjustments on the fly.

You DON'T want to allow redevelopment if you happen to have a planet with unique resources, like the alien toy factory or the unique buildings found on ringworlds -- unfortunately it's often better to just manage these planets yourself if possible, because the sector AI doesn't always follow the rules.

Resource management

One of the trickier elements of managing your sectors is making sure that they have the resources that they need. Strategic resources are shared across your empire, but your sector only has access to the ones inside its borders -- if you have a colony that relies on Beltharian Stone, you need to make sure there's some in a nearby system (this can be a real bear, so consider keeping your Beltharian Power Plants on core planets to avoid any complications). 

It can also be tempting to leave systems with valuable resources out of your sectors, but consider letting them have some mining stations that provide energy and minerals -- it will prevent shortfalls and make things easier for the sector AI. 

Slaves and robots and sectors, oh my!

Two things that the sector AI doesn't manage terribly well are robots and slaves, unfortunately. Depending on how lucky you are and how complicated the planet is, you may find your slaves working science and your robots working energy, causing great inefficiency. Fortunately, there are a couple things you can do to minimize the negative impacts of faulty AI.

The main strategy you can follow is to wait to hand off your planets to the sector AI until you've built the right buildings and assigned your slaves and robots where they need to go. Make sure that "Allow Redevelopment" isn't checked, and you should be able to avoid having the wrong workers assigned to the wrong tiles.

Another good strategy is to compartmentalize your sectors -- if you rely heavily on slaves, just focus your sectors on mineral production and leave energy and science to either your core sector or sectors worked by your core population. In the long run this will require less micromanagement and will probably work better.

Follow these tips and you should have your sectors running smoothly in no time! Have a tip of your own? Just want to add your two cents? Let us know in the comments!