Follow TV Tropes


Game Breaker / Stellaris

Go To

A list of powerful strategy, tips and tactics to ensure your dominance of the galaxy in Stellaris. Too powerful, in fact.

The page is separated by previous strategies and older versions that are completely outdated with relatively-current ones. Keep in mind that players can rollback old versions of Stellaris.

    open/close all folders 

    Historic (Old Versions) 
  • 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 early-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. Post 2.0, players are given a choice of Kinetic Weapons, basic Missiles, and Energy Weapons from the very beginning (instead of picking one of the three at the start), and the game has been balanced so that players want a mix of Kinetic and Energy Weapons (Kinetic Weapons now do less damage versus armor, and vice versa with Energy Weapons and Shields, so ideally ships use long-range Kinetics to strip Shields before using Energy Weapons). Even the Point Defenses have been equalized (they're basically sidegrades of each other) and require specific Point Defense hardpoints, and there's now an Energy alternative to Kinetic Artillery.
  • 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.
    • Cherryh significantly increased the shield damage penalty, but made up for it with massive damage bonuses to armor and hull. Fleets of cruisers with four plasma cannons and two gauss cannons each (for anti-shield duty) can annihilate pretty much anything in short order.
  • 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 ratio, 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. It has also been further nerfed in the 2.2 update, since there's two more resources to keep track of that require minerals (consumer goods and alloys) but can also be bought with energy.
  • In 1.6, Pacifist/Xenophobe empires could take two civics that snowballed their unity gain: Inward 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 allowed 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 could 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. Sadly, 1.8 broke this by changing Pacifist bonuses, and making Inward Perfection a "special government" civic with reduced diplomacy options. On the other hand, Inward Perfection was made just as strong as the other special government civics in return (and the only one you can remove at will), meaning this tactic is still somewhat viable with some tweaks.
  • 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 Mastery of Nature Ascension Perk (remove tile blockers at a discount and get a one-time chance to add tiles to a planet), is game breaking with a player who expands aggressively. Once you've cleared out and expanded all worlds in your borders, it's unlikely any opposition AI who isn't an Awakened Empire will be able to match your ability to build & maintain a large fleet.
  • Read the Zerg Rush article on the main page yet? Objectively, Zerg rushing is pretty powerful. Historically (from Patch 1.5, ~May 2017, to Patch 1.8), it was outright broken:
    • Naked Corvette spam dominated the competitive meta-game. Players discovered technology was terribly cost-inefficient (linear-scaling cost but marginal improvements meant that a doubly-expensive Corvette was weaker than two cheap Corvettes), and as a result the pre-1.5 strategy of overpowered Corvette spam evolved to un-upgraded Corvette spam. Most discussions about ships during this era inevitably led to a joke about just building Corvettes — missiles were outright junk at the time, and neither the AI nor other players could cope with players ramming Corvette doomstacks at the first sucker who tries to colonize another system, which would be unprotected by the anti-Zerg rush Spaceports. Patch 1.8 changes this somewhat by making the base corvette more expensive and tech upgrades cheaper, leaving cruisers armed with plasma weapons as the optimal fleet configuration late in the game.
    • Similarly, the tech scaling versus sheer quantity problem extended to ground armies, which had to be manually built if you wanted anti-rush defenses. Defensive armies are about twice as strong as typical Assault armies, but while a planet's defenders had limited slots for units (maxing at 25), attackers could drop doomstacks of hundreds of units (typically, Clone Armies) that could all attack at once. Defenders of any strength or fortification would get overwhelmed, allowing players to completely bypass fortification/bombardment/army strength rules and rendering planetary shields a Tier-Induced Scrappy technology. The fix was to restrict the number of units that could attack or defend at one time (turning a slaughter into a Thermopylae situation), and meanwhile abolishing manual defensive armies — planets now automatically spawn their own defensive armies to stop rushes, add defender's advantage for free without manually-bought troops, and Hold the Line until reinforcements arrive. The relative strength of defensive armies meant that one-on-one, it's nearly impossible to wear down planets of equal troop strength unless players follow bombardment rules and kill off defenders.
  • The many various rewards for the Horizon Signal event chain. Probably a case of being Purposefully Overpowered — this used to be one of the rarest events in the game (0.5% chance of activating upon entering a Black Hole system) and there are some minor trade-offs. In the 2.2 update, the buildings were completely removed (removing much of the power of the event), but the final reward remains, and now Spiritualists don't attain massive self-loathing at inhabiting their own home Tomb Worlds.
    • The event-exclusive research options and the buildings they unlock. The Loop Institute building gives +8 Society Research per planet (keeping in mind the event chain can trigger very early for a lucky player), as a well as a government attraction and happiness bonus. The Spiral-Feed Power Hub is a sidegrade (or outright upgrade) to conventional Energy Grids — sure, they have -5% Happiness (conveniently net-offset by the Loop Institute) and they don't give unity like Energy Grids do with Prosperity, but they end up with +5% more Energy Credits and +2 Energy Credits over the Energy Grid's final upgrade.
    • Midway through the event chain, you have the gameplay option to convert your entire primary species to a different portrait and roll on new traits. A lucky player? Their entire species gets slapped with the Intelligent Trait for free. This is worth 2 trait points, even if the species is already capped on trait points otherwise.
    • 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! Your home system's larger barren planets also become Tomb Worlds, effectively creating habitable planets out of nothing — as an example, Sol jumps from just Earth being habitable to Venus, Mercury, and Mars (though the latter could be terraformed anyway by default). This used to be even more extreme when smaller barren "planets" also qualified; older versions of the game would also have converted Luna, Titan, and a few other barren moons.
  • The Focused Arc Emitter can be this in sufficient numbers. Unlike the Tachyon Lance or Giga Cannon, they suffer from huge damage randomization. But see, they are 100% accurate, and thus cannot be 'tanked' by Corvettes and their Evasion. They also ignore Armor and Shield and deal 100% pure hull damage, which is worth its weight in gold against Fallen Empires who tend to have a huge amount of Shields to tank your shots. And their randomized damage can be mitigated by bringing a sufficient number of them. Plus, the Cherryh update ties a ship's combat effectiveness to its hull strength, so direct hull damage will quickly render a ship useless and force it to withdraw or die.
    • For your smaller ships, you can research Disruptors, which can be placed in S and M slots, and harvest Cloud Lightning from Void Clouds, which shares the Arc Emitter's perfect accuracy and fits on L slots. Both weapons share the random damage issue, but given you can put disruptors on corvettes, this quickly ceases to be a problem, as the subsequent barrage of direct hull damage renders any ship thus attacked useless or dead in short order. And Cloud Lightning is the perfect primary weapon to put on an artillery destroyer, as the need to be in close range for the ship's smaller guns negates Cloud Lightning's only other major drawback. And while their shorter range and longer reload interval might make them slightly less appealing than the plasma/gauss build mentioned above, sticking disruptors on a battle group of cruisers can melt through an enemy fleet just as effectively.
  • Rogue Servitors used to be extremely powerful on introduction (even moreso than regular Machine Empires, who are already considered well above-average in power), as they combined the best parts of playing a Machine Empire (100% habitability and all the power of playing a collective consciousness) with several advantages of playing organics (fewer diplomacy restrictions, and keeping bio-trophies as a certain percentage of your total population granted a factionwide morale bonus, boosting your overall production), allowing you to resettle all your bio-trophies on small, trophy-only planets that massively boosted all the drones working on the planets the bio-trophies could not settle. The changes to planets with the Le Guin patch massively nerfed the Servitors, as bio-trophies now require their own buildings to do their job (meaning you have to build them on any world you conquer and import drones there from else in the empire to get anything done) and now only boost advanced drones on the planet they're located on, meaning Servitors can have a few somewhat productive research/alloy-producing worlds but are otherwise just a Machine Empire with less useful organic slaves, who also need to produce Food and Consumer Products.

    Current Patch and On-Going 
  • Slavery has stubbornly resisted attempts to balance it. From 1.8 onwards, Slaves produce massive amount of unrest, but that is easily fixed with a Slave Processing Plant and a sufficient amount of Defense Armies, which are cheap as dirt in the first place. In return, you get a Mineral production bonus that can go as high 45%note  before adding in the general bonuses; to contrast, non-slavers can only get up to +20% from free pops' happiness, and they'll rarely achieve even that. A fairly advanced empire with a mineral-focused build can raise this to up to 90%note , enough bonus to boost your Mining Facilities' productivity to Fallen Empire level, if not more, as FE Mineral production buildings cannot be operated by Slaves. And Slaves are forced under Impoverished Conditions, thus reducing Consumer Goods cost. And you get to recruit the Slave Armies, the perfect disposable fodder for throwing in cheap waves at your enemy, as a cherry on top. This trait could further be combined with the "Syncretic Evolution" trait, which lets you start off with an obedient Slave Race, boosting mineral production by another 10% while reducing unrest even further. Starting in version 2.2, Slavery is more restricted — players must pick the Slaver Guilds Civic to use it at all, and Authoritarians aren't automatically inclined towards slavery. Additionally, the Slaver Guilds and Syncretic Evolution civics became mutually exclusive, prevent players from stacking their additive bonuses.
    • With the addition of Indentured Servitude as a type of slavery, it's broken again. All those slavery production bonuses? Go to Indentured Servitude and you get those bonuses to specialist jobs, like research and alloy production. It's considered the best type of slavery to use for this reason.
  • Combo of Nihilistic Acquisition ascension perk and one-planet playstyle. Although it leans into Difficult, but Awesome area and is quite cruel in nature, if played right it can be extremely broken. Two options are used in particular:
    • The first one is based on building a superior fleet early on, stealing pops from your enemies non-stop by being constantly in war with someone and using them as a disposable supply for the forced labor. It allows to get even more broken economy than general slavery and for lesser cost.
    • The second one is based on the Utopian Abundance living standard. Most of your people just do nothing and generate unity and science by doing nothing. Yes, they have nothing to eat, sometimes nowhere to live and no consumer goods to get, but who cares. And you just add more and more of them by stealing pops from other planets. Yes, you have to base you mineral and energy production on the space stations only and have to use a lot of military force to keep the order. But it is a low price to pay as you have a perfect defense on your capital, can spend a lot of building slots to the alloys production and have a total unity and research domination.
  • Until 2.2, robots start out weak, only offering meager bonus to Mineral production and massive penalties to other productions. Droids didn't fare much better either, with a boost in Mineral production but still suffering penalties for doing anything else; at any rate, Slaves were better at Mineral production than either Robots or Droids. But then you get into Synths, and they got 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.
  • In a particularly deliberate and unusual example, Utopia gives us The End of the 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...
  • Fortress Worlds, a planet filled with nothing but Fortresses and a Planetary Shield Generator. Placed on a chokepoint, the planet will be a massive roadblock to anyone invading your territory, as the FTL Inhibition prevents them from going anywhere, and they have to capture the planet first. Yeah, good luck doing that with the 4,000 Garrison strength (for context, an army of 1000 is considered large) and the 75% reduced effect of Bombardment. It will take literally years for the invading force to get past the roadblock, giving you ample time to launch a counterattack. That is, unless the attacker throws up their hands and unleashes a colossus...
    • Habitats make this strategy even more broken since unlike the randomly placed habitable planets, habitats can be built in any system with at least one uninhabitable world. Very few systems spawn without any planets, so if you want to properly fortify a chokepoint system, upgrade its outpost to a citadel and build one Fortress Station habitat to make any invader scream in frustration after years of fruitless sieges. And if you're feeling sadistic, build several such habitats. Even a Colossus will take a long time getting past those due to its lengthy charge times.
  • The metagame has shifted considerably in the 2.0 update. The most powerful early-game weapon? Torpedoes. They can be acquired relatively early, and they deal massive damage that bypasses shields and deals double damage to armor. Against other ships in early-game, most of which have either a low amount of point defenses, or rely on shields and armor, a volley of torpedoes can deal massive damage before the battle even starts, coupled with the new disengagement mechanic (ships may leave combat at a certain health percentage) and ships dealing less damage the more damaged they are, they can single-handedly steamroll empires until better point defenses are acquired. Worse still, you can put them on corvettes the moment you get them, which means you can field them in sufficient numbers to overwhelm even initial uses of point defense, and the Missile Boat hull option includes an S slot, perfect for adding a shield-shredding Autocannon to compliment the torpedo when the ship enters knife-fight range, which then starts shredding the hull once the torpedo has eaten through all the armor.
    • The 2.0 disengagement mechanic and the new war exhaustion mechanics mean that Torpedo Corvettes have become something of a Glass Cannon as losses result in war exhaustion. The surprise winner of these new mechanics? Battleships. Disengagements don't incur exhaustion, battleships still have their same-old mammothian defensive stats, and the Awesome, but Impractical note on the main page can still be rendered moot by having a fleet full of Battleships. Thus, the only two ship types arguably worth making at all are Corvettes for speed, and Battleships for sheer cost-efficiency.
  • Mastery of Nature and Enigmatic Technology have become the most useful ascension perks in the game. Mastery of Nature allows you to increase the tile count of a planet based on how small it is, making it useful for colonizing planets, while Enigmatic Technology gives you a sensor range boost and forbids other empires from reverse-engineering your technology, meaning that any unique technology you discover, including jump drives, space monster debris, or leviathan-only components, will be only yours without any risk of other empires gaining your edge. Mastery of Nature remains strong in the 2.2 update since it adds two more Districts instead of a few tiles, regardless of planet size, but its cost is much higher. Enigmatic Technology was nerfed by patch 3.0 by changing the sensor range (very useful) to an encryption bonus (prevents being spied on, which the AI rarely does) and making it a perk heavily weighted towards multiplayer.
  • Technocracy gives +1 Unity per researcher. Unlike priests under Exalted Priesthood, there's no limit to the number of researchers allowed on a given planet, which allows Materialists to build unity as fast as Spiritualists (who specialize in the subject). This was nerfed slightly as it's now only available to Fanatic Materialists but is still considered one of the best civics available.
  • The greater relics of the Ancient Relics DLC offer both permanent passive bonuses and active effects of great power, and many of them can be unlocked with nothing but some luck (to get their respective dig site event) and some time while a science ship works its way through the event chains. The active effects can only be gained one at a time with a ten-year cooldown in between, but these effects include things like +50% robot assembly speed, an instant 50 minor artifacts to convert into all sorts of gameplay bonuses, a special Orbital Bombardment stance that targets organic pops with virus bombs that can depopulate an endgame capital world in just a few months, and the ability to turn any colonized planet into a Gaia world instantly. That last one in particular makes habitability practically a non-issue - send your colony ship to any size-25 planet, wait for the colonists to disembark, enact a planetary decision and bam, perfect planet. There's also an artifact that reduces the cooldown for interacting with the Shroud by 50% - an immensely powerful advantage for any Psionic empire.
  • The 2.3 patch reworked megastructures significantly. These things were already game-breaking in their previous incarnation, and although they must now be researched after they're unlocked via ascension perk, their output has been massively increased. A Dyson Sphere now generates up to 4,000 units of energy while a Matter Decompressor provides up to 2,000 units of minerals, which is more than enough to flood even the largest empire with more resources than they could ever consume.
  • Machine Empires in 2.2 to current are beyond absurd.
    • First off, Machine Empires totally ignore habitability, which is now a significant stumbling block for all other empires. A low habitability world is a significant drain on its worker's productivity, which Machine Empires do not have to pay attention to.
    • Beyond being able to colonize anywhere, the way machine populations spread is different compared to biological pop units. Machine pops have to be built (requiring special jobs that use minerals to proceed) but go significantly faster than biological pops at pretty much every stage of the game. Combining the two allows for Machine Empires to snowball very rapidly.
    • Driven Assimilators also gain the growth speed of their cyborg drones, which can drive their growth rates to even more absurd levels. This was nerfed in 2.3 by making Assimilators have less free population building jobs and giving Cyborgs a hefty negative to pop growth, but they still grow very fast, even for machine empires, who already grow extremely fast.
    • Both Assimilators and Exterminators also have the Total War Casus Belli, which allows them to ignore the claim system outright and go to war with anyone at any time. This includes automatic and instantaneous transfer of any systems they take over, at the cost of instantly losing any systems they lose control over.
    • And of course, two of the three "special" Machine Empires instantly start doing something to biological populations they control. Assimilators immediately begin turning them into Cyborg Drones that have no free will — meaning that an Assimilator at war will have unheard of pop "growth," and Exterminators immediately begin breaking the populations down to energy, supercharging their economy.
    • Non-Servitor Machine empires have a simplified economy since they don't have to worry about Food, Trade, or Consumer Goods. While this leads to a less-efficient use of materials compared to an organic empire it more than makes up for it with a machine empire's very efficient use of districts, building tiles, and population, allowing them to produce much more than those material inefficiencies cost them.
  • Private Colony Ships, across numerous patches, are considered overpowered in the critical early game. The ability to pay for a colony ship with energy instead of the usual cost (whether it be minerals, food, or alloy depending on patch) has been first unrestricted (with the minor tradeoff of diverging ethics on these private citizens), then restricted to a Tradition unlock, and as of the latest patches restricted to a civic. The early game flexibility in spending another resource, especially one that can be hoarded or instantly earned from a random event, to colonize quickly is an enormous boon to jumpstarting the economy. Currently, the Private Prospectors civic for Megacorps lets them pay for colony ships solely in energy, which megacorps excel at generating. They also get a sizeable increase to their admin capacity, which is much more useful for a megacorp than for other empires since megacorps have increased penalties for exceeding their admin cap. This means megacorps can push out more colony ships to more planets much faster than anybody else in the game while diverting their more valuable resources to developing their empire, and since this civic isn't locked in they can simply swap it out for something more useful once they're done with it.
  • The Galactic Slave Market is amazingly strong for factions that can make use of it because it allows the indirect conversion of excess resources into more pops. While this might not be feasible early in the game, once the mid-game hits and you're likely overproducing something or other you can immediately turn around and use that excess to expand your empire. This can turn into a rapid snowball where buying pops means you produce more resources which you can sell to buy even more pops, overwhelming their species' individual inefficiencies through sheer weight of numbers. While this costs twice as much, and is thus half as efficient, for species that outlaw slavery, there are usually a good number of robots for sale too.
    • The new changes to pop growth in 3.0 made the Slave Market much more powerful. 3.0 changed population mechanics to add in sharper curbs on pop growth as population increases and made manual resettlement more difficult, causing every empire to have fewer pops, but compensated by making each pop more productive. This means that every pop is now more valuable than ever and any means to acquire more pops outside of ordinary pop growth is incredibly powerful. Interestingly, the AI seems to know this too and it can be hard to buy slaves since AI empires might buy them all.
  • The Origins are intentionally designed not to be balanced, and some of them are blatantly better than others.
    • Hegemon can be absolutely mental as long as you play it Not the Intended Use. You start as the president of a Hegemon federation with two other members who are Xenophiles. That's two fully-powered AI allies who will follow you into wars and allow you to utterly crush your neighbours... then once you've got all their planets, kick one of the members out and conquer them, and then gobble up the other one too. Doing this you have cleared out an entire quadrant and control a sprawling empire of 240 pops at a time when most other Empires would be lucky to have 50. Easy way to become a galactic superpower very quickly, and getting two traditions for free is the icing on the cake.
    • Scion is similarly ridiculous, though less reliable. You start as the vassal of a Fallen Empire who grant you various boons and gifts at the trivial cost of some diplomatic options. It makes it basically impossible to lose early game wars, especially if your masters gift you a 7k power fleet within the first ten years of play (most other Empires will not see a 1k power fleet for a few decades).
    • Shattered Ring and Void Dwellers are also extremely strong choices. The former starts you on a segment of a Ringworld, with two other segments you can repair with the right technology, and an irrepairable segment next to a cracked planet that gives you +20 Minerals; perfect conditions for a tall, science-based Empire (granted, those kinds aren't the beasts they used to be). Void Dwellers gives you three Habitats orbiting a shattered planet, with a small bonus to food production on them and the technology to make more; more suited to an industrial/population-centred Empire, and you can get alien pops to colonise the worlds you don't need (and later genemod your native species so they can live on planets anyway).
  • Synthetic Ascension continues to float in and out of game-breaking status. Taking it lets you turn your biological pops into robots, which confers most of the benefits of a machine race (immortal leaders, ignoring habitability, no need for Food, high pop growth) with most of the benefits of a biological race (government ethics, faction Influence gain, better civics, Happiness production bonuses, less crime/deviancy) all while also giving a large bonus to production of almost everything and giving special traits to synthetic leaders that increase those bonuses even more, making your synthetically-ascended race better at being machines than machine races. This also doesn't affect any other races in your empire unless you specifically say so, meaning you get the benefits of fast organic and fast mechanical pop growth, giving you ludicrous growth rates. It's generally accepted that any race that can take this should take it, with roleplay and a few specific gimmick builds being the only reasons not to.
    • In patch 3.0 "dick" as population growth was reworked, while still not "bad" per se. the current meta leans towards raw population growth factor (biological ascension and evolutionary mastery allow for the fertile trait giving a whole 40% boost). The fact that cloning vats have been reworked to allow parallel pop growth on planets and the shift in industrial focus being districts instead of population have finally knocked it down a few pegs.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: