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“Optimal” Approach to Horizon Signal in 2.2 – Stellaris

Stellaris Horizon Signal

I’m trying to make a build that revolves around the Horizon Signal (worm in waiting) event for getting the survivor trait and I’m wondering if someone who has full knowledge of this event and Stellaris, in general, could help me out with some questions:

PS: I’ve only got 100 hrs under my belt, so if some of my questions are really stupid and/or basic I apologise for my ignorance.

  1. From what I’ve understood, you are only given the Intelligent trait from The Messenger if you are of Militarist ethos, but will also flip all your pops to pacifist. Is this correct? I would really like to use the event to flip TO militarist, but then I will only be given Resilient, no?
  2. But I’ve also seen some people mention that Erudite and Intelligent are no longer stackable with the worm either, so if this is true it is best to avoid the messenger completely?
  3. I want to gene mod as well, but do I then need to make sure I finish gene modding before triggering the event to avoid many negative trait points?
  4. I recently did a run (2.2.3) where I got the horizon signal very early only after a couple of years and tried rushing it. However, Omega Theory was not very interested in showing up as a research option after finishing the two prerequesites. Is there some way to increase the chance of it popping up, to avoid having to wait until very late game?
  5. I’ve checked the bee-lining thread and it seems like it is generally quite hard to do now. Does anyone have some tips for getting gene-modding stuff as soon as possible?

My initial idea is to run a xenophobe/authoritarian/x empire with Mining guilds/x as initial civics. I’d probably want to go militarist at some point for distinguished admiralty and purging all xenos. I’ve considered just starting with post-apocalyptic, but it feels like a waste to do it as I could get it through the event instead. The same applies to inward perfection as I’d hate to have “wasted” a slot on an unactive civic later on. Regardless, I’ll pick up Aristocratic Elite as 3rd, so I’m left with the following candidates (unless someone has a better suggestion):

  • If I need militarist for full enjoyment of Horizon Signal I’ll just do that + Syncretic Evolution
  • Materialist + technocracy seems like a good combo for early research before switching it out for aristocratic elite + distinguished as 3rd.
  • Pacifist + Agrarian Idyll for early game economics, but I’m uncertain if I can switch it out after going militarist and still do arcologies?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


  1. I would need to double check, but I think the Messenger can still give you Intelligent if you are not militarist, provided you allow it to infect your entire race. In that event, it will switch your entire population’s ethics to Militarist, however.
  2. I haven’t tested this particular one, but I know the new conflicting traits rules mean that the messenger will overwrite Uplifted (from the Enigmatic cache), and embracing the worm will overwrite Natural Engineer/Sociologist and Charismatic. If you’re going bio-ascension, I’d skip the messenger (just tell your scientist to burn the notes and leave it after researching the project). If you really need the ethics shift, do the messenger chain before gene-modding your species so you can replace Intelligent with Erudite.
  3. Yes, you still want to have your gene-modding done before triggering the trait changes you want to keep from the event, if only to avoid being stopped by the trait pick limit. Embracing the worm adds Natural Physicist (-1) but also Repugnant (+2), so the actual trait points are less likely to be an issue than going over the limit (assuming that you aren’t also trying to sneak Intelligent from the messenger in there). That said, especially if I’m playing bio-ascension, with the new conflicting trait rules I go Horizon less for the “free” traits and more for the habitability and extra planets. Personally, I’d rather not have Repugnant than have Natural Physicist tagged on as an extra trait.
  4. Omega Theory is a Tier 3 tech, and unlike its prerequisites doesn’t have an event to make it guaranteed. Not much you can do aside from making sure you’ve researched enough T2 techs to unlock it, but you could try making your lead Physics researcher a Maniacal/Spark of Genius/Curator with no specific specialty so that the weights of other techs aren’t boosted. If you can survive putting off Blue Lasers (and that one anomaly doesn’t give it to you for free), that will at least cut out some of the competition.
  5. Bee-lining is harder in 2.2 because there are more techs without prerequisites cluttering the trees. If you delay researching Artifical Moral Codes and Colonial Centralization, that will limit the T3 techs that compete with Gene Tailoring for attention. Having a Biologist as your lead Society researcher will also boost its chances of showing up, as will Xenophile empire ethics, assuming that doesn’t clash with your plans.

As for your proposed empires, Syncretic is great and I’ve had good experiences with Technocracy. I think you can switch out Agrarian Idyll and get Arcology Project later, although you won’t be able to research Anti-gravity Engineering until you drop the civic, but I would be leery of that plan simply because if you don’t plan things carefully, your empire is really going to feel the sudden lack of housing and amenities, and that’s a recipe for low Stability. Distinguished Admiralty strikes me as something you’d want early rather than late, as all of its bonuses are significant at the beginning of the game but eventually dwarfed by tech and tradition. As an outlier choice, consider Merchant Guilds. The final stage of the Horizon Signal fills your home system with habitable worlds, which are great for generating trade value as there’s no need to worry about piracy.


  1. The wiki separates the militarist (unleashed -> Intelligent) and non-militarist (leashed -> Resilient) events though, so it probably works like that. My uncertainty stems from reading older threads where some people claims otherwise, but it might just be due to general confusion on the mechanics.
  2. Ok, that makes sense. I’ve found out that it does overwrite, so ignoring the messenger is probably the best solution as odds are that I will get a militarist faction at some point by just playing normally, I assume.
  3. Very good point, I too am aiming for the survivor trait predominantly, and seeing as Intelligent probably doesn’t stack I might as well embrace as soon as possible and clean it up with modding later. I guess that the survivor (0 cost) still counts for the total trait limit, though?
  4. I’ll try that.
  5. Great suggestions, I’ll be more careful with what filler techs I research while waiting.

First of all, thank you very much for the comprehensive reply, you addressed most of the stuff I was wondering about! Seeing as I’ll skip messenger due to the redundancy of Intelligent, I’ll avoid pacifist as well since I won’t have that easy shift. Regarding DA, isn’t +10% Fire rate a big deal? I play very turtly and don’t intend to war until mid-game at the earliest, and the thought was just to have lethal end-game fleets when dealing with the various crisis. If getting a strong late-game fleet is simple without it, I will just omit it.

Syncretic is very nice, but again I feel like I could get good slaves by just using primitives/slave market a bit later on and therefore seems like it will become an “inactive” civic at some point. Unless SE slaves are just better than regular slaves throughout the game? I assume I can gene-mod normal slaves through bio-ascension anyway?

Merchant guilds sounds like a great idea though, so how about starting phobe/auth/mat with Mining Guilds/Technocracy with the aim of gaining a slave race fast, merchant guilds as 3rd, and going for a Techno->Aristocratic switch when my planets grow large and I’m in need of extra stability? Techno would help with early game research for faster gene-mod and omega-theory, and some extra unity to help out with reaching bio-ascension which I could use to “fix” an enslaved primitive race.

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