YMMV / Stellaris

  • Broken Base:
    • In early versions, a pair of opposing ethos were "collectivism" and "individualism". The question tore apart many a forum and even been given tongue-in-cheek reference in-game. The 1.5 "Banks" update renamed these ethics "authoritarianism" and "egalitarianism", respectively, which is less controversial, though arguments on the accuracy of the names still flare up from time to time.
    • The Plantoids DLC, which added a new species with 15 portraits, a new ship set, a city, and a namelist. Why is it a base breaker? It divided the forums into four groups. One was vocally angry with the $7.99 price tag, the feeling that several plantoids were reskins of existing portraits, and the studio manager responding to the criticisms by saying the DLC was cheap and should have been $19.99. The second group had no problem with the price, loved the content, and simply posted as such. The third said it was cool, but a bit too expensive for their tastes, and they'd either wait for the new patch to bring them back in or a sale. The fourth group defended the DLC as vehemently as the first attacked it. Many users in the first and fourth groups received warnings from forum moderators for their lack of civility.
    • In Paradox tradition, the major patches named after sci-fi authors have major effects on re-balancing the game, and each one causes this in varying ways.
    • Strictly limiting psionics to spiritualists, as a counterbalance to materialists' mastery of robotics and boosts in science. Many sympathetic to the Materialists argue that they would just treat those like any other natural phenomenon: they'd study it, use that knowledge to improve or replace their theories of how the universe works, and look for applications. The fact that they can't do just that and are sealed of from anything involving the Shroud is a point of contention. It's also rather questionable why the spiritualists are all fine with it, no matter the actual precepts of their religion.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome/Heartwarming:
    • A possible random event on an primitive planet is one of your infiltration agents going rogue. If you manage to finally track him down, you will receive a message from them, threatening you to leave their loved one alone. You can either ignore the planet from that point on, and let them live, or vaporize the entire city they are living in.
    • Playing as Pacifist and winning by Federation Victory. You make friends, forge the great Federation together and chart the known galaxy. Those sympathetic to your cause are welcomed. Those disagreeing but cordial are left alone to their own devices as Associates, while Diplomacy is used to slowly make them join the Federation proper. Those strongly disagreeing will think twice from picking a fight. Those who do pick a fight will get the full brunt of the Federation's might bearing down on their worlds. Even Awakened Fallen Empires would hesitate from picking a fight with such a force, and in the meantime you Uplift Species to your level before welcoming them into the Federation as another worthy addition, basically making the entire Galaxy more advanced and a better place for everyone.
      • Awakened Empires that join your Federation during a Crisis also tend to stick around, meaning you can even manage to bring the Benevolent Precursors back into the galactic community.
  • 8.8: IGN and PC Gamer got heat for their less-than-positive reviews compared to everyone else. The IGN review proved to be controversial enough to the point where Paradox themselves defended the site and reviewer.
  • Evil Is Cool: This, and Most Writers Are Human, combine to make the bloodthirsty and xenophobic Commonwealth of Man the most commonly played pre-made empire.
  • Game Breaker:
    • Being a Collectivist in early versions gave the player two great options for your population: Slavery and Purge. Slaves produce 20% more Minerals and Food (and can be further boosted by Share the Burden edict and appropriate Governor), truly absurd amount of bonus. Purge was used to solve all Ethical Divergence or rebellious populace issues with just one simple click. To account for this, 1.5 changed the mechanics of slavery and genocide: slavery became less stable, and the purge was restricted to xenophobes (outside of "just" chasing undesirables to other empires), and could only be set on a species-by-species basis without any way to target political enemies.
    • Robots start out weak, only offering meager bonus to Mineral production and massive penalties to other productions. Droids don't fare much better either, with a boost in Mineral production but still suffering penalties for doing anything else; at any rate, Slaves are better at Mineral production than either Robots or Droids. But then you get into Synths, and they get 20% production bonus to everything except food which they don't consume anyway, and as Robots they can be used to colonize literally any habitable planet due to their 200% habitability. Players had learned to replace their biological pops with synths long before the developers made it a canonical option in the synthetic ascension path.
    • Kinetic Weapons post-Kennedy. First of all, they gain even more bonus damage against Shields, and some minor Armor penetration. This makes them less useless late-game, but early game is all about Evasion and Shield for defense, which they counter, so you can expand quickly earl-game and secure large enough territory to start snowballing. Later on, they also open option for Flak Batteries, which are superior to the default Point Defense, even if they only fit on Medium hardpoints. Late-game, they get Mega and Giga Cannons as anti-Shield alternative to Particle and Tachyon Lances. And before that, they get Kinetic Artillery which are only Large weapons, meaning they can be fitted en masse to Alpha Strike the hell out of enemy fleets, stripping their Shields before your Lance and Plasma weapons can get to work. Long story short, Kinetic weapons now deal with Shields, long-range Alpha Strike, Point Defense, and it's very likely your fleet will be 70-85% Kinetic weapons with the remaining 15% as Lance and Plasma ships.
    • In a particularly deliberate and unusual example, Utopia gives us The End of Cycle. If you go down the psionic ascension path, are "lucky" enough to get their offer of a pact, and then are either dumb or gutsy enough to ignore the repeated warnings blared that you should not do this then for 50 years you'll be utterly unstoppable. Once those 50 years are over though, the End will collect, and it will take more than you may have expected...
    • Attaching Medium Plasma Cannons on your Cruisers quickly becomes this. They have decent damage, fire rate, and tracking. Along with that, they are neither too small to be insignificant in their damage nor too large to repeatedly miss corvettes. Their tracking can be stacked with tier 4 sensors, a sentient AI computer and the Fleet Academy in order to make it extremely powerful against everything, thanks to their armor penetration and no penalty to shields. The 1.5 update has added a 20% damage penalty to shields, but they still remain the strongest weapon.
    • Mineral snowballing. It quickly becomes the most influential gamebreaker in the game as you obtain more and more mineral resources. Your opponent's technological advantage and very good fleet composition do not matter if you can build a lot more ships than them and have 10 ships show up for each ship you lost. Throw in trading enclaves from Leviathan, who allow you to convert minerals to energy credits at a 2:1 ration, and mineral snowballing doubles as energy snowballing as you throw minerals as the Enclaves just because you're wasting them at the cap otherwise. It has been nerfed in the 1.5 update, but it is now actually required in order to construct megastructures.
    • Pacifist/Xenophobe empires can take two civics that will snowball their unity gain: Inwards Perfection gives a flat 30% boost (plus some happiness), and Agrarian Idyll causes all farm structures to produce 1 Unity. Combined with the Pacifist ethos's natural enhanced unity gain, these allow a tall-building isolationist empire to blast through the tradition trees of their choice and quickly seize a handful of ascension perks, including One Vision, which further boosts unity gain. They can then use the faction system and government reformation to swap their ethos and civics as needed, and become a very active, powerful player on the galactic stage.
    • Using an Authoritarian empire with Caste System (flexibly enslaving pops based on what they are working on), the traits Extremely Adaptive & Strong (giving you the ability to colonise anything that isn't a tomb world, and a bonus to mineral production), combined with the Master of Nature (remove tile blockers for free) and the Border Range ascendancy skills is game breaking with a player who expands aggressively. The empire blobs out hard, denying your neighbours orbital resources & planets very quickly, it gets huge bonus to production, and after you have secured your position in the galaxy, and turn inwards to completely colonise your borders it's unlikely any opposition AI who isn't an awoken fallen empire will be able to match your ability to build & maintain a large fleet.
    • As of around Patch 1.5, aka around May 2017 (and, likely, even before that), players discovered that technology is terribly cost-inefficient — ships get marginal increases in power for marginal increases in price that amount to it being more efficient to emphasize quantity over quality. This has led to the rise of naked Corvette spam — most searches on Corvettes now yield various complaints about spamming completely un-upgraded corvettes with either t1 kinetic or energy weapons, and how overpowered and crippling this is to a serious war game's progression. This extends to single player, too: the AI, nor anyone else, simply can't cope with players ramming doomstacks of un-upgraded corvettes at the first sucker who tries to venture beyond their system.
    • The rewards for the Horizon Signal event chain if you follow it to the very end. Probably a case of being intentionally overpowered, since you do have some minor trade-offs. Still, the Looping Institute building alone makes the chain absurdly powerful — build one on each planet you colonize and you quickly snowball with the incredible +8 Society Research, coupled with a happiness bonus and governing ethics attraction. Said happiness bonus overall negates the one side effect of another unique building, the Spiral-Fed Power Hub, which has +6 Energy, +20% Energy generation, and you just have to build it before any actual power hubs and suffer a small 5% happiness for the Pop that works it. The very final reward is Cursed with Awesome as you get a primary species subspecies on your home system that, although Repugnant, has Tomb World preference, meaning they have a basic 60% habitability anywhere else! AND your entire home system's barren worlds become Tomb Worlds — as an example, Sol jumps from just Earth being habitable to Venus, Mercury, Mars, and several moons including Luna.
  • Goddamn Bats: Space Amoeba sometimes wander between systems at random. This wouldn't be a problem if they weren't marked "hostile" and thus cause any civilian ship to scramble for cover, dropping whatever they were doing - thankfully, once you get a few more ships in your fleet you can put a permanent stop to them.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Sometimes leaders just... don't die. It's not that they're strictly immortal, they're explicitly listed as having a mortality chance under their age tooltip... It's just that, despite the fact that they're over 186 years old and should be absolutely, 100% dead, they are not and basically live forever, eternally unshackled from the timely limitations of others who shed their mortal coils. On the plus side, hey, you'll always have that level 5 scientist!
  • It's Easy, so It Sucks: Paradox veterans sometimes have this complaint. It's designed to be more accessible than other Paradox games, so the mechanics aren't quite as complex and opaque as usual.
    • The game suffers from very binary warfare outcomes, as the only viable strategy is putting your entire military into a single doomstack and attempting to annhilate the opposition empire's fleet (in their single doomstack). Unless an empire has a massively superior tech advantage, a war where one empire has even a 10% advantage in their doomstack's fleet power can be impossible to win. And if you do have a massively superior tech advantage... why don't you have a bigger fleet than them anyway?
    • Empire vs Emipre combat has a very harsh snowball effect. Unless both fleets are mutually annihlated, the winning fleet can waltz around destroying starports, and mining bases, and research bases, and invading your planets at their leisure. Most wars also result in the losing empire having a handful of planets removed from their empire and generally annexed by the winners, a losing empire will find it nigh-impossible to rebuiild before the 10 year truce is up, and they get invaded again, lose whatever fleet they did build up, and lose another handful of planets, rinse repeat every 10 years until they are fully annexed.
  • It's Hard, so it Sucks: ...but "more accessible than other Paradox games" is a very relative statement for complete newcomers to the genre.
    • It's also substantially more random than the historical Paradox games, and since a Stellaris campaign contains far fewer nations (major or minor), it's much easier to end up in a situation where you're at best in a stalemate with all your enemies, with no rich-but-weak targets or enormously powerful benefactors to tip the balance in your favor. Add the more complex nature of combat, and you have a game which is relatively easy to "get" on a surface level, but arguably much harder to learn the ins and outs of compared to something like Crusader Kings or Europa Universalis.
    • The wrong neighbours can make it hard to survive even the very early game. The snowball effect will work just as hard on a player as it does the AI, and if you are next to say, an advanced AI start Empire of fanatic purfiers you might not have any hope at all to build up a military before the larger empire wipes you out with little trouble.
  • Memetic Badass: Mercedes Romero, a Blorg scientist in the pre-release dev livestreams, is frequently treated on the forums as a Bold Explorer and an Adventurer Archaeologist; there's even been fan art made depicting her. When she died of old age in one of the streams, the devs re-named Earth "Mercedia" in her honor; one of the game's official soundtracks (added in patch 1.5/Utopia) is titled "In Memory of Mercedes Romero", making her an Ascended Meme as well.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • On the weekly stream, even though they were running the latest build of the game, some of the dialogue that comes up is incomplete, which the chat then proceeds to joke about. "01_EMBASSY_PROPOSE", referring to an embassy proposal screen that has no dialogue for it at all, took off as a huge joke in chat and on the Stellaris subreddit & official forums, and has lead to lots of jokes and self-references such as "01_PARTY_INVITE", "01_UNFRIEND_PROPOSE" and "01_MORE_GAMEPLAY", among many others.
    • K'Reel & Mercades Romeo generated characters achieved memetic status on the forum & streams.
      • Post-release streams about incoming patches & expansions have resulted in "HOT CODE" and "NOT FINAL NUMBERS" becoming new memes.
      • "Hotcode" has been used by the ParadoxExtra streamers since at least the Utopia playthrough whenever something is obviously messed up.
    • The "TLDR-37" asteroid is actually Welsh, but its full name would cover the entire screen.
    • Around the time Leviathans was announced, the devs ran a game "The Rad" on a galaxy full of community-created empires. One of these was called the "Ayylmao Foundation", based on the "ayy lmao" meme which quickly became a running joke, just like it does in other gaming communities, such as XCOM.
    • MUGANI? HAK HAK HAK!
    • On the Stellaris subreddit, whenever someone posts a screenshot where they show that they found a system with an abnormally huge amount of minerals, the commenters will encourage them to build mining stations there asap. note 
  • Memetic Psychopath: The Butterfly portrait available as part of the Cuties Portraits Pack is for some reason portrayed as evil incarnate and sometimes used by a number of players as the species for Fanatical Purifiers games. Even the developers seems to agree, as the Butterfly portrait was used when they showed off the Fanatical Purifiers themed room introduced in the 1.6 Adams patch.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Purging an alien species is considered this by that species' empire (thus it only works when you capture several, but not all planets from a rival empire and purge the populace). You can get up to -1000 relationship penalty with that Empire (compared to maximum -100 for purging an unrelated third party), and while there's a +2 per year rebound value, the time frame required to complete it is so long it's unlikely to reach that point.
  • Most Annoying Sound: HOSTILE FLEET DETECTED, HOSTILE FLEET DETECTED, HOSTILE FLEET DETECTED.Explanation 
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • "Research complete", which plays whenever you finish researching a technology.
    • "Invasion defeated", when you repel a ground invasion of one of your colonies. Especially if you're fighting the Scourge, who destroy all life on the planets they conquer.
  • Obvious Beta: The initial release fell prey to 'released too early' and 'not tested thoroughly enough' tropes, with three hotfixes coming within a couple weeks from launch day.
    • There was a real problem in the late-game with stuttering and general lag, as well as instances where selecting a fleet in the late game of any composition will max out a single CPU while the other cores or threads sit around nearly idle.
    • There have been records of bugs with armies being lost to the player should they invade a planet, take control, and then be booted out of the system as a result of another empire taking the planet within the borders. What is worse, those armies show up on the outliner wasting a huge amount of space.
    • One of the late game crisis could not be properly beaten, as a certain trigger relating to planet health didn't work. Another one constantly purged its own population.
    • Evasion being so overpowered that the best fleet composition by far was simple corvettes loaded with as many evasion boosters as possible.
    • HOSTILE FLEET DETECTED. See Most Annoying Sound above.
    • Colony events, the spice of the mid game, hardly ever fire. A fix was promised for the second major patch. And then pushed back to the third major patch. And then to the fourth, and that is not even a certainty.
    • Choosing Sol as your starting system didn't prevent the random galaxy generator from adding a second Sol to the map. This was fixed in a later patch.
    • A bug can cause only female portraits to be chosen for leaders instead of having it be a 50/50 chance either way.
    • Sector AI couldn't understand how to deal with robotic or enslaved pops.
    • Originally, if you created a custom species that started on the special "Earth" option (which is always a Continental planet) but didn't have Continental Preference as its planet preference, you couldn't ever research Continental Colonization and by extension Ocean Colonization, even if you got a compatible species to settle them with. This locks out two abundant planet types for your entire game. No longer an issue now that Colonization techs have been done away with and replaced with the Habitability mechanic.
    • It's possible for an AI Empire to invite you for war against... yourselfnote . Rejecting their terms does nothing, accepting their terms seemingly starts a war but actually does nothing, and most importantly, they will keep inviting you to the war declaration over and over. It gets annoying after a while, and makes you wonder if wiping them off the face of the galaxy would finally put a stop to it...
    • One endgame crisis exterminated itself by purging its entire population until patch 1.2.3 fixed it.
    • The only available Victory Conditions at release were Domination (colonize 40% of the available inhabitable planets) and Conquest (conquer every other Empires under your heels). This effectively shafted Pacifists, as they could not start wars of aggression and by midgame, most of the inhabitable worlds would already be colonized and the only way to expand is either trade for planets (highly unlikely if not outright impossible that they would accept your deal where you come out ahead) or to wage war. Pacifists could still declare war of liberation, but allies and vassals did not count toward Domination either. Heinlein fixed this by adding the Federation victory condition, which requires a Federation to own 60% of the available inhabitable planets — thanks to the changes to alliances in Heinlein this meant that allies did count towards it.
    • Portraits from pre-order bonuses could not be used by the randomly generated AI empires. A patch that came out alongside the Plantoids DLC pack was supposed to fix this, but it only worked for the plantoids. Creatures of the Void, Arachnoids, Chirpy, and the Platypus still don't show up.
    • The original version of the game slapped a hefty -1000 "Not Diplomatically Relevant" modifier on when attempting to form alliances with empires that were too far away, effectively making it impossible and severely hampering Federation-based gameplay. A later patch replaced this with a scaling "distance" penalty that was much easier to overcome.
    • Hive Minds have come under fire from certain quarters of the fandom, though not so much for being mechanically incomplete as for a lack of ethos-specific localization breaking the immersion factor. Several events that refer to an empire's citizens as discrete individuals still fire for Hive Minds with essentially no changes. Unlike other empires, Hive Minds have no "discrete individuals" apart from the guiding overall consciousness; even autonomous drones are still embedded in and directed by the overall consciousness.
  • Scrappy Mechanic:
    • Sectors. They were created for the sake of preventing the player from having to micromanage potentially dozens of planets at once, but the Sector AI is significantly prone to Artificial Stupidity that they're usually more trouble than they're worth. The devs have been slowly improving them in each update, but there are plenty of players on the forums who would love to see them removed entirely, preferring to control everything themselves.
    • The War In Heaven, which comprises of two Fallen Empires waking up and starting a huge galactic war involving everyone, sounds like a super cool idea, and it sometimes can be. When it happens early in game, it results in the fallen empires kicking the lower races into the dirt while usually avoiding each other. Even late game player empires can be little more than target practice. The rewards for winning one aren't great, and it would also cause any vassal races to switch to being vassals of the Fallen Empires.
    • The Wargoal system is often seen as annoying. Originally it was implemented so the average Empire won't fall overnight from a single Declaration of War. In practice, this means even taking out a small Empire would be a chore, as you could only take at most, 7 planets at a time.
  • That One Disadvantage: Pacifists can only declare Liberation Wars, and can only force the enemy to Cede territories that used to belong to them. They're still better off than Fanatic Pacifists, who are limited to Defensive Wars only, and cannot declare War at all. They're especially shafted during midgame, where it's all about declaring war to each other for land grabs. On the other hand, they get to keep a lot more allies due to their diplomatic Influence discount, and if one of these allies is a warmonger, they can be asked to join in despite their official stance on War Declarations.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • Missiles as a whole are considered badly underpowered, due to their slow travel time and the fact that any sort of point defense effectively shuts them down.
    • Strike craft suffer from the same travel time and crippling weakness to point defense as missiles, plus ships have a limited number of them which can only be replenished when the ships are out of combat for an extended period of time.
    • Post 1.4, Hyperspace can no longer start anywhere in a star system, and must start at the system's edge like the other FTL methods. This eliminated Hyperspace's greatest selling point, and unless you force a game to use only Hyperspace, there's nothing Hyperspace can offer to outweigh Warp's freedom of movement and Wormhole's range.
  • Ugly Cute: One particularly alien-looking fungoid template is not, in of itself, cute. But it has become associated with the quirky and pitiably lonely Blorg Commonality, made famous in the pre-release stream and eventually made into a pre-made civilization the player or AIs can pick.


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