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2.3 Guide to Traits, Ethics, and Civics [ALL DLC] – Stellaris

This guide will extensively go over all ethics, traits, and civics to muse over when creating a new empire. Based on the accounts of friends and various YouTubers.

Currently updated for Wolfe 2.3 and all expansions and DLC.


Stellaris Crisis

Welcome to the Guide to Traits, Ethics, and Civics. This guide will go over the effects and aftereffects of every ethic, trait, and civic choice when creating your empire in Stellaris.

Each Ethic, Civic, and Trait will be rated with a grading system, from S to F, located next to the listing’s name:

(S) Overpowered/Extremely Useful
(A)Very Powerful
(B) Powerful
(C) Average/Uninteresting
(D) Underwhelming
(E) Situational
(F) Not Worth It
(X) Objectively Horrible

I will be going over the specific pros and cons of each entry, and how they would fare through your Stellaris experience.

Note: I am NOT telling you how you should play the game. I am only simply sharing my personal conclusion coming from what information I have gathered.

Without further adieu, let’s get started.

Species Traits (1)

Stellaris Crisis

Traits are applied per pop. For example, if a pop has a trait that causes it to only produce 50% energy credits, only that pop will be affected. A neighboring pop without the trait will not be changed, but it will still be smart to think about, since one generally doesn’t have a pop with different traits until a few dozen years into the game.

The trait system allows a total of 5 traits, which have an associated cost. The cost must equal 0 or greater in order for the species to be valid. You start with 2 points.

Agrarian (2 Point Cost) (A)
+15% Food from Jobs
Food takes a more dynamic role in 2.2, as it’s easily able to be traded for other resources. That, along with the new pop system that allows quite a few more pops per planet letting the growth boost decision stretch out a bit, and suddenly Agrarian becomes a lot better. Could still become less useful late in the game, but it’s not as big of an issue as it was.

Ingenious (2 Point Cost) (A)
+15% Energy Credits from Jobs
Energy Credits are needed to keep everything running, so naturally one would think that a trait allowing for more would be common sense. However, as long as you are smart with expansion, and the construction of generators, Energy Credits should never be a problem, and the only time you should really be struggling for energy is in the early game before first contact with other empires, or if you have a massive navy that you usually keep docked. Like Agrarian, however, it does potentially free up district slots.

Thrifty (2 Point Cost) (B+)
+25% Trade Value from Jobs
Trade Value isn’t primarily acquired from jobs; your planetary resource production should generally be more geared toward anything but raw TV. However, this trait could be valuable with a megacorporation, as their entire playstyle revolves around how much trade value you can amass.

Industrious (2 Point Cost) (A+)
+15% Minerals from Jobs
In 2.2, Minerals are a lot more abundant a bit out the gate. The more minerals you have, however, the more alloys you can get, and the faster you can do pretty much everything. Minerals and Alloys in 2.2 share what just Minerals could accomplish before, but since you need one to produce the other, more never hurts.

Intelligent (2 Point Cost) (A+)
+10% Physics Research from Jobs
+10% Society Research from Jobs
+10% Engineering Research from Jobs
Higher research will allow you to stay on the bleeding edge of technology in the galaxy. It will also help to soften the blow of heightened research costs from expansion and pop growth. It combines the effects of the next three traits, for 2/3 of the point cost.

Natural Engineers (1 Point Cost) (A)
+15% Engineering Research from Jobs
Engineering contains many important technologies, including but not limited to spaceports and robotics. Getting the higher ends of these technologies earlier could be the difference between winning and losing a war, or being the first person in the galaxy to fire off a megastructure, since near the end of the Engineering research line are the megastructures themselves.

Natural Physicists (1 Point Cost) (C)
+15% Physics Research from Jobs
While the extra research doesn’t hurt, especially if you plan to go down the energy weapon line, the Physics path does not have as many vital technologies. Sure, you can get higher levels of FTL travel, but it doesn’t really become important until Jump Drives come into play. For someone who wants to min/max a species, I would just go for Intelligent instead.

Natural Sociologists (1 Point Cost) (B)
+15% Society Research from Jobs
The Society research path contains extremely helpful technologies, such as upgrades to Unity producing buildings, technologies that improve habitability and therefore productivity on alien worlds, and for spiritualist empires, the Psionic technologies, required for their specific ascension path. Society also includes most ‘unique’ buildings. It also wouldn’t hurt to have the extra research, as many Situations in the game require society research, such as the discovery of new species/empires.

Extremely Adaptive (4 Point Cost) (A?)
+20% Habitability on All Biomes
The huge boost to habitability will give you many choices when expanding your empire, along slashing pop upkeep requirements across the board. It can allow you to easily build a very large empire very early on in the game, especially as a hive mind, where upkeep is even less of a factor. However, at a hefty cost of 4 trait points, it isn’t really worth it when going for anything specific, when there are traits that exist that compliment all other playstyles more.

Adaptive (2 Point Cost) (S)
+10% Habitability on All Biomes
With the burden that low habitability places upon pop growth, having better habitability will naturally mean that your pops will grow faster. While Extremely Adaptive will eat all your trait points, Adaptive is a good compromise to get that better growth along with the other benefits that having happy pops brings.

Nonadaptive (-2 Point Cost) (D)
-10% Habitability on All Biomes
This can be worth it for extra points. The loss of habitability means that you will need to worry more about your pop upkeep, but Nonadaptive can be viable, especially if you only colonize your home planet and terraform, or uplift / incorporate other species. Could be free points towards better research or minerals.

Rapid Breeders (2 Point Cost) (C)
-10% Pop Growth Time
It was okay, but for 2 points, it really isn’t worth it. Just spend some extra food on the growth decision; that’s what it’s there for anyways.

Slow Breeders (-2 Point Cost) (C)
+10% Pop Growth Time
Not too bad, especially for 2 points. It might become a little bit of an issue as you begin to colonize, though.

Talented (1 Point Cost) (A)
+1 Leader Level Cap
This trait raises the skill ceiling for all leaders of this species. Combined with faster EXP gain, or heightened lifespan, the bonuses can add up. Combined with other traits/ethos that raise level cap, productivity can be massively booned.

Quick Learners (1 Point Cost) (B)
+25% Leader EXP gain
The higher a leaders level is, the more they increase production, research, and other perks. Combined with traits/ethos that increase level cap, faster EXP can be very powerful, especially for species that don’t have long lifespans.

Slow Learners (-1 Point Cost) (E)
-25% Leader EXP gain
Higher leader levels increase production, research, and other perks. Falling behind in this regard can mean falling behind in many other regards. It can work as a free trait point if you absolutely need something else, but it isn’t the best idea considering the potential punishments.

Species Traits (2)

Stellaris Crisis

Traditional (1 Point Cost) (B?)
+10% Unity from Jobs
More unity means you can get through the trees faster, but as the game progresses and unity costs begin to skyrocket, one may begin to question the true usefulness of this trait…

Quarrelsome (-1 Point Cost) (D)
-10% Unity from Jobs
Has the potential to hurt in the early game, but later when you already have all the traditions you need, what’s the harm?

Very Strong (3 Point Cost) (D)
+40% Army Damage
+5% Worker Output
The extra damage is negligible with sheer force of numbers, but can mean the difference when time is on the line. The base worker output is small, but can add up to quite a bit late in the game. The heavy point cost keeps this from being recommended.

Strong (1 Point Cost) (C)
+20% Army Damage
+2% Worker Output
This one just screams ‘eh.’ You’ll feel like its helping, but its effects are so minimal, you’ll forget that you chose it a few years into a game.

Weak (-1 Point Cost) (C)
-20% Army Damage
-2% Worker Output
The worker production loss is barely noticable, but the loss in army damage would be very detrimental in a multiplayer game, especially if the enemy knew and acted upon it. After the early game, and you have better armies, it isn’t that bad. In a singleplayer game, you can get by mostly, because the AI doesn’t tend to act mostly on traits.

Nomadic (1 Point Cost) (C)
+15% Pop Growth from Immigration
-25% Resettlement Cost
Unless you plan to act heavily on resettling, it’s a waste of a point. Pop migration is large to begin with, and with the various food-related bonuses you can get, it gets a big no from me.
Keep in mind, you cannot use this trait as a Hive Mind.

Sedentary (-1 Point Cost) (B)
-15% Pop Growth from Immigration
+25% Resettlement Cost
It’s a free trait point. Only a few times per game will the immigration bonus make any difference, and resettlement is not used often enough to matter. Is free migration or resettlement not allowed? Even more reason to pick this.
Keep in mind, you cannot use this trait as a Hive Mind.

Communal (1 Point Cost) (C)
-10% Pop Housing Usage
Less need for City Districts means you have a greater potential for resource production. It’s minimal, but not too bad.

Solitary (-1 Point Cost) (C)
+10% Pop Housing Usage
With enough pops, it can be a big issue. The extra City Districts needed might put a wrench in your resource production, but the extra clerk jobs made available aren’t too bad.
Keep in mind, you cannot use this trait as a Hive Mind.

Charismatic (1 Point Cost) (D??)
+20% Amenities from Jobs
(Hidden) Pop biased toward taking amenity-producing jobs
Amenities are nice, but they aren’t that difficult to produce and come by. Perhaps someone who has trouble with pop happiness could use this, but otherwise it isn’t really worth the point.

Repugnant (-1 Point Cost) (E)
-20% Amenities from Jobs
(Hidden) Pop biased against taking amenity-producing jobs
It’s just more resources that will need to be devoted into Amenities. While they are abundant by default, removing a fifth of them has the potential to completely stint the growth of an empire.

Conformists (2 Point Cost) (F)
+30% Governing Ethics Attraction
If it were only one point, I would consider it. However, considering that species will not tend to deviate if they are happy, it isn’t even worth it if you have an authoritarian empire. There are much better traits.
Keep in mind, you cannot use this trait as a Hive Mind.

Deviants (-1 Point Cost) (C)
-15% Governign Ethics Attraction
Pops can create factions that allign with their factions, that have goals that usually go hand-in-hand with an empire with that ethic. However, if a faction is ignored, it will become unhappy. This will make pops unhappy, which will lower production. This isn’t too bad, but it’s bad enough to be worth not considering.
Keep in mind, you cannot use this trait as a Hive Mind.

Venerable (4 Point Cost) (C)
+80 Year Leader Lifespan
More years alive means that leaders will be able to reap the benefits of max level longer. Plus, less energy spent on hiring more leaders, with the exception of unfortunate death due to combat or anomaly failure. If you can afford leader level cap increases, it can be extremely powerful. However, the needed maluses might not make it worth it depending on your playstyle.

Enduring (1 Point Cost) (B)
+20 Year Leader Lifespan
Fifteen years isn’t much, but it allows for more time to get to and maintain maximum leader level. It synergizes well with a lot of other perks.

Fleeting (-1 Point Cost) (C)
-10 Year Leader Lifespan
I haven’t heard a lot or seen a lot of this trait, but from what I have seen, it just means that you’ll have to pay more energy, which means you’re kind of restricted when it comes to upkeep and other pursuits such as blocker clearing, and you’ll reap less benefits of maximum level leaders.

Decadent (-1 Point Cost) (C)
-10% Worker Happiness
-10% Slave Happiness
Low happiness is always bad, and this just makes a bad issue even worse. While it can be managed with enough enforcers, those are jobs that are taken away from production workers. Honestly, depends on the scenario.

Resilient (1 Point Cost) (D)
+50% Defense Army Damage
Can allow that sweet extra time you need to intercept an invading force. Just don’t let the bombardiers linger too long, or your armies (and pops) will be killed regardless.

Conservationist (1 Point Cost) (A?)
-10% Pop Consumer Goods Cost
More resources are always nice, but it mostly depends on how vast you plan to grow you empire. Along with this, it will allow for you to use better forms of welfare for species, with less of a hit to your various incomes.

Wasteful (-1 Point Cost) (C)
+10% Pop Consumer Goods Cost
It’s a hit to production. For empires that may already have decent happiness, it might be worth it in order to take the welfare down a notch, and take advantage of the extra trait point. Otherwise, it isn’t very exciting.

Machine Species Traits

Stellaris Habitat

These traits are only usable by Machine species, choosable in the Appearance tab of the empire creator. Otherwise, these can be utilized by any empire with the ability to modify robots.

Power Drills (2 Point Cost) (A)
+15% Minerals from Jobs
Machine Empires already get a larger amount of minerals from Mining Bases as it is. Whether or not you want to really push minerals is up to you.

Efficient Processors (3 Point Cost) (S)
+5% Resources from Jobs
5%, while small in the early game, can be a big chunk of resources in the late game. It adds up.

Logic Engines (2 Point Cost) (A)
+10% Society Research from Jobs
+10% Physics Research from Jobs
+10% Engineering Research from Jobs
Your basic “Intelligent” perk. Always welcome.

Superconductive (2 Point Cost) (S)
+15% Energy Credits from Jobs
Energy means everything to a Machine Intelligence, and having a lot of it just means there are more things that you won’t have to worry about.

Double Jointed (1 Point Cost) (X)
-10% Pop Housing Usage
Not worth it. Robot housing is low as hell as it is.

Bulky (-1 Point Cost) (A)
+10% Pop Housing Usage
Literally not even noticeable in the long run. Free point.

Enhanced Memory (2 Point Cost) (S)
+2 Leader Level Cap
The best trait for robots. With the immortal nature of machine pops, there is literally no reason not to take this for the potential bonuses.

Emotion Emulators (1 Point Cost) (C)
+25% Amenities from Jobs
(Hidden) Pop biased toward taking amenity-producing jobs
It’s okay. Amenities aren’t a big thing for hives, but they have their uses.

Uncanny (-1 Point Cost) (C)
-20% Amenities from Jobs
(Hidden) Pop biased against taking amenity-producing jobs
If you aren’t one of the special robot empires, you can stand to take this.

Durable (1 Point Cost) (B)
-10% Robot Upkeep
More Energy and Amenities. Not too shabby.

High Maintenance (-1 Point Cost) (D)
+10% Robot Upkeep
One of the big perks of a Machine empire is the reduced needs. Not that great, but maybe if you really need those credits.

Learning Algorithms (1 Point Cost) (B+)
+25% Leader EXP Gain
Combined with Enhanced Memory, can be powerful. However, the immortal leaders means there may be wasted potential.

Repurposed Hardware (-1 Point Cost) (C)
-25% Leader EXP Gain
Like above, there is so much time for leaders to get experience that it doesn’t matter in the long run.

Mass Produced (1 Point Cost) (A)
+20% Robot Assembly Speed
Robots are pretty slow to build in 2.2, so maybe not a bad pick if you’re trying to develop quickly, especially in the early days of a colony where you’re fighting to get your population up to standard.

Custom Made (-1 Point Cost) (F)
-20% Robot Assembly Speed
Robot pop growth is already a bit constricted compared to organic, so cutting it down may prove to be one’s downfall.

Recycled (2 Point Cost) (B)
-20% Robot Build Cost
Early game, very powerful. Late game, doesn’t really matter, as you’ll have enough minerals either way.

Luxurious (-2 Point Cost) (A+)
+20% Robot Build Cost
Painful in the early game, but worth it later for the 2 trait points.

Ascendance Species Traits

Stellaris Habitat

These traits are only available for empires on the Biological Ascension path. These are only available through genetic modification late in the game, once you have finished the ascension path.
(Verdict Note: These are all obviously overpowered in the right circumstances. That’s the point; they’re endgame.)

Robust (4 Point Cost) (S)
+30% Habitability in All Biomes
+50 Leader Lifespan
+5% Pop Resource Production
If you have perks that increase leader level cap, then this is a must-have. Along with the potential boons to productivity, it can make a powerful leader level build even greater.

Erudite (4 Point Cost) (S)
+20% Research from Jobs
+1 Leader Level Cap
Enhances leaders with additional traits
Amazing research speed, and a coveted leader level cap point. All for 4 points. To be honest, this should be the first one you go for when you achieve Biological Ascension.

Fertile (4 Point Cost) (E)
+30% Growth Speed
+10% Unity from Jobs
+5% Happiness
+5% Other Species Owner Happiness
The happiness buff is not worth it. This late in the game, your empire would have likely assumed the form that it will mostly stay in for the rest of the game, so the growth time penalty won’t help much. However, the Unity is nice. It might be useful for slaves…

Nerve Stapled (3 Point Cost) (???)
+10% Minerals from Jobs
+10% Food from Jobs
-50% Unity from Jobs
-50% Energy Credits from Jobs
-75% Research from Jobs
Species not affected by happiness, cannot join Factions
This trait is only useful for slaves. Applying it to anything else is pretty much suicide.

Delicious (2 Point Cost) (???)
+50% Pop Processing Output
This trait is only useful for livestock pops. Applying it to anything else is a waste of trait points.

Government Ethics

Stellaris Ship Design

These will be your governing ethics. What you chose will define your empire for the majority of the game, unless you chose to change it through faction embracing. They define your playstyle, and how AI empires will react to you. While none of them are truly better than any of the others, it is helpful to at least know what they do.

Each ethic (aside from Hive Mind) has a Fanatic version as well. The effects of the fanatic version will be in bold.


  • +10% / +20% Fire Rate
  • -10% / -20% Claim Influence Cost
  • Can use the No Retreat war doctrine

The Militarist branch is designed for species who know that they will go to war, and want to go to war. A militarist will be waging and fighting many a war, or at the very least throwing their power around to make sure nobody wants to screw with them.
Reduced Claim Influence costs means that you can do more with less wars. It will be a lot easier to subjugate the galaxy.


  • +5% / +10% Stability
  • +10 / +20 Administrative Cap
  • Cannot engage in Indescriminate orbital bombardment
  • Cannot use Unrestricted Wars policy
  • Must use Defensive Wars Only policy

Pacifists aren’t necessarily enforcers of peace; they are more focused on internal development. A pacifist empire will still need to maintain a fleet in order to deter hostile empires, but they will not be able to project this force in any meaningful way.
Fortunately, the large bonuses means they will be able to maintain themselves easier without outside influence.


  • -20% / -40% Starbase Influence Cost
  • +10% / +20% Pop Growth Speed
  • Can Purge and Displace aliens
  • Can Enslave aliens
  • Decreased opinion for other species
  • Cannot give aliens full citizenship
  • Cannot give aliens full military service
  • Cannot use Refugees Welcome species policy

Xenophobia goes well with Militarism in the fact that it has to do a lot with the control of other species, and most of its effects have to do with negative relations, which a war tends to bring with it.
With the advent of Cherryh, Xenophobia synergizes a lot more with militarism, allowing quick and easy subjugation.


  • +10% / +20% Trade Value
  • -25% / -50% Diplomatic Influence Upkeep
  • Increased Opinion for other species
  • Cannot use No Refugees species policy
  • Cannot Enslave entire species
  • Cannot Displace Aliens

Someone pursuing the Federation Victory will want to be a Xenophile. Forming federations will be leauges easier with the Xenophile ethic, as will making friends and staying cordial in general. Empires will not declare war as often against a xenophile empire, but in multiplayer, it may be taken as a sign of weakness. (An empire trying to avoid war may not be as powerful.)
Good for Megacorporations. The bonus trade value will help quite a bit.


  • +25% / +50% Faction Influence Gain
  • +5% / +10% Specialist Output
  • Cannot use Autocratic government forms
  • Must have Democratic government form
  • Allows for Utopian living standards
  • Cannot have Impovershed living standards for Full Citizens

Egalitarianism goes well with Xenophilia. Aliens would already be equal citizens, so going the extra mile and getting some bonus production would be helpful. Also a good ethic for federation builders and the Federation Victory.
The happiness of your empire is something that should be taken into consideration majorly when playing as an Egalitarian, due to the influence you get from factions.
As a side note, the Egalitatian ethic will help to pacify Democratic Crusaders, an AI type that is hostile to all non-democratic empires.


  • +0.5 / +1 Monthly Influence
  • +5% / +10% Worker Production
  • Allows Caste System citizenship type
  • Can enslave aliens
  • Cannot use Democratic government form
  • Must have Autocratic government form

Authoritarians are destined for maximum efficiency, by utilizing pops as objects. By moving pops around without much cost, and more macaroons from workers, an Authoritarian empire is able to craft their empire to their design.
Authoritarianism goes well with Xenophobia, allowing total control over all species.


  • -10% / –20% Robot Maintenance Cost
  • +5% / +10% Research Speed
  • Can use Academic Privledge living standard
  • Cannot use AI Outlawed policy
  • Cannot use Robotic Workers Outlawed policy

Materialist empires, while enjoying a very much welcome research bonus, focus on utilizing robots to maximize efficiency. Robots have better Mineral and Food production than normal pops, and eventually, Synthetics have better production in all fields except Unity.


  • +10% / +20% Monthly Unity
  • -5% / -10% Edict Cost
  • Can build Temple building
  • Can create Hallowed Worlds
  • Cannot use Full AI Rights policy

Spiritualist empires tend to be very close knit, with few outliers. Unity focused builds would want to go spiritualist, as the massive boons in Unity provided by the ethic itself plus the Temple, means you will skyrocket up the various tradition trees.

Gestalt Consciousness

  • +1 Monthly Influence
  • -20% War Exhaustion
  • (Disables Tutorial)
  • Must use Hive Mind or Machine Consciousness authority
  • Ruler is Immortal
  • Pops are not affected by happiness and don’t join factions
  • Cannot mix pops with non-Gestalt empires
  • Cannot follow Psionic or Synthetic Ascension paths

Gestalt Consciousness empires do not have to worry about factions or happiness, erasing dissent within ranks. It provides entirely new playstyles, with new interactions with other empires.
A normal empire can become a hivemind by following the Biological Ascension path.
Hive Minds can only follow the Biological Ascension path, while Machine Consciousness empires cannot follow any path.

Civics (1)

Civics are tied to a government’s ethics and authority. They further flesh out how an empire works, and some provide unique starting conditions or boons. Some specific government types can only be acquired through the use of ethics, such as the ‘Rational Consensus.’

Ethics can be changed mid-game by the Reform Government button.

Only two ethics can be chosen initially, but a technology can allow the use of a third mid-game.

Byzantine Bureaucracy (A)
Cannot have other Administrative-altering civics
-10% Pop Amenities Usage
-10% Pop Housing Usage
Can construct Bureaucratic Complex buildings for Administrator Jobs
Aside from the usage bonuses, which are great in their own right, Administrator jobs are valuable as they provide a myriad of bonuses. Honestly depends on the game you want to run.

Merchant Guilds (A)
Cannot have other Administrative-altering civics
Capital Buildings provide Merchant Jobs, which produce 2 Unity in addition to normal production
Not too bad at all. More Unity is always welcome, and the Merchant jobs just mean you’re going to be swimming in more resources than you’re going to know what to do with. Be careful when managing your jobs, however.

Corvée System (F)
Cannot be Egalitarian
Cannot have Free Haven
+15% Immigration Growth
-25% Resettlement Cost
Resettlement is not a major factor in empire building, unless slaves are being heavily used. That plus a meh addition of immigration growth makes this a waste of a Civic in most scenarios.

Meritocracy (S)
Requires Democratic or Oligarchic Authority
+1 Leader Level Cap
+10% Specialist Output
One of the few leader level cap increases. Can work well synergized with other leader modifiers, and specialist output is just a cherry on top.

Police State (A)
Not Fanatic Egalitarian
+5 Stability
Enforcers produce 1 Unity
The added bonus to stability means that your pops, unless already living in an idealistic 100% stability society, will have better production. That combined with extra Unity makes this one not bad after a second look at it.

Environmentalist (C)
-10% Consumer Goods Cost
Extra resources can always be useful.

Cutthroat Politics (B)
-20% Edict Cost
The cost isn’t huge with how long Edict’s last; by the time you’re up, if you’ve played your cards right, you’d have double what you started with. However, the cost reduction also applies to Unity Ambitions. If you get that late into a game and want to switch to CTP to make good use of it, then by all means.

Shadow Council (X)
Requires Democratic, Oligarchic, or Dictatorial Authority
-75% Election Influence Cost
Elections are so few and far between that it doesn’t really matter.

Mining Guilds (A)
+1 Minerals from Miners
Lots and lots of construction.

Parliamentary System (A)
Requires Democratic Authority
+25% Faction Influence
As long as you keep your factions happy, it can be very good. Edicts and expansion, oh my.

Efficient Bureaucracy (A)
+20 Administrative Cap
Allows you to spread your borders more without incurring intense penalties. Good for wide play.

Functional Architecture (B)
-10% Build Cost and Upkeep for Buildings and Districts
This also cuts the rare material upkeep needed for Buildings. This could make it useful, but it depends on whether or not you’re going to be relying on them.

Feudal Society (C)
Requires Imperial Authority
-50% Subject Power relation malus
Subjects can expand into unclaimed space
Feudal playstyles mean that a lot more can be left up to the AI, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on who you are. This civic very much makes the Feudal playstyle easier.

Imperial Cult (C)
Requires Authoritarian, Spiritualist
Requires Imperial Authority
+25% Edict Duration
+10% Governing Ethics Attraction
Cutthroat Politics is better. Just get that. Unless you’re rolling slaves, the Governing Ethics Attraction really isn’t that important.

Beacon of Liberty (A)
Requires Egalitarian
Requires Democratic Authority
Cannot be Xenophobe
+15% Unity
The more unity you have, the quicker you can reach Ascendance.

Exalted Priesthood (A)
Requires Spiritualist
Requires Oligarchic Authority
Cannot have other Administrative-altering civics
Capital Buildings replace some Administrator Jobs with High Priests
Priests produce 1 additional Unity
Like Merchant Guilds, except for those goody-two-shoes priests. Lots of Unity. You like Unity, don’t you? Yeah you do.

Philosopher King (B)
Requires Dictatorial or Imperial Authority
+2 Ruler Level Cap
As a Dictatorial or Imperial society, your ruler is going to be one of the longest standing leaders you have. More cap means more production across the board.

Citizen Service (A)
Requires Militarist
Cannot be Fanatic Xenophile
Requires Democratic or Oligarchic Authority
Soldiers produce 2 Unity
+15% Naval Capacity
Having the largest fleet means your power can be unmatched. Combined with the unity, makes a strong militarist setup even stronger.

Technocracy (C)
Requires Fanatic Materialist
Cannot have other Administrative-altering civics
Capital Buildings replace some Administrator jobs with Science Directors
Researchers produce 1 Unity
Big research bonuses make this civic very good. That, plus the unity bonus. Arguably the best administrative swap civic, but restricts your potential ethics.

Civics (2)

Idealistic Foundation (A)
Requires Egalitarian
+5% Citizen Happiness
Just a little boost to productivity. It can go a long way.

Slaver Guilds (B)
Requires Authoritarian
+10% Slave Output
40% Enslavement
Slaves already have a boost in production. Even more would always be welcome. However, the perk comes with a downside that 40% of your pops will be enslaved. Do you want that? Only useful if you plan on using slaves, which as an Authoritarian, you likely are.

Warrior Culture (B)
Requires Militarist
+20% Army Damage
Entertainer Jobs become Duelist Jobs that turn Alloys into Unity, Amenities and Naval Cap
While Alloys can be a precious resource as it is, if you’re rolling militarist you’re probably going to be stacking alloy production anyway. Not bad after the change.

Distinguished Admirality (S)
Requires Militarist
+10% Fire Rate
+1 Admiral Level Cap
+10 Fleet Command Limit
Quite good. The 10% fire rate on top of the existing Militarist bonus can create a dangerous snowball.

Free Haven (B)
Requires Xenophile
+15% Pop Growth from Immigration
+50% Immigration Pull
Unless another empire has a vastly superior species, it isn’t much. More pops though.

Agrarian Idyll (D???)
Requires Pacifist
Cannot be Authoritarian
Cannot have Post Apocalyptic Civic
Cannot have Syncretic Evolution Civic
Generator, Mining, and Agriculture Districts provide +1 Housing
City Districts provide -1 Housing
Farmers produce 2 Amenities
Synergizes well with Inward Perfection. More Amenities is nice, but the Pacifist requirement really shunts how useful this can be.

Nationalistic Zeal (C)
Requires Militarist
-10% Claim Influence Cost
-10% War Exhaustion Gain
The War Exhaustion is nice, but the claim influence cost isn’t really going to be a big deal unless you intend to mass-declare war.

Aristocratic Elite (A)
Requires Oligarchic or Imperial Authority
Cannot be Egalitarian
Cannot have other Administrative-altering civics
+1 Governor Level Cap
Capital Buildings replace some Administrator jobs with Nobles
Can construct buildings that add Noble jobs
More stability means more resource production, which is something Nobles give you in spades (especially as you advance through the game.) Up there with Technocracy as an amazing administrative swap.

Shared Burdens (A)
Requires Fanatic Egalitarian
Cannot be Xenophobe
Cannot have Technocracy
Allows special Living Standard that evens out Consumer Goods among Strata
Disables use of most other Living Standards
+5 Stability
This civic requires that you balance out your jobs more, but if you do, then it can be very useful. A big downside is that it turns you into a space communist. Haha.

Hive Mind Civics

Stellaris Guide

A Hive Mind has their own set of civics. Why craft a government if you’re the only one in it?

Subspace Ephapse (S)
+15% Naval Capacity
More ships means more ability to project force.

Natural Neural Network (C)
+1 Research Alternatives
Science is king in this galaxy. However, heavily RNG based.

Ascetic (A)
-15% Pop Amenities Usage
The extra little amenities boost that we all love.

One Mind (S)
+15% Unity
Ascendance… well, biologically anyways.

Divided Attention (A)
+20 Administrative Cap
More efficiency? Yes please.

Strength of Legions (X)
+20% Army Damage
-20% Army Upkeep
Army upkeep is so small, it never bothered me, and the damage is negligible if you build enough armies.

Subsumed Will (D)
-20% Edict Cost
It’s just okay.

Pooled Knowledge (D)
+1 Leader Level Cap
+1 Leader Pool Size
Underwhelming, even with the Leader Level Cap increase. There are better civics for Hive Minds.

Machine Intelligence Civics

Stellaris Horizon Signal

Machine Intelligences get their own Civics, similarly to Hive Minds.

Constructobot (E)
Reduces Build Cost and Upkeep for all Buildings and Districts by 10%
Eh. One time costs and a little bit of upkeep. Less important late game.

Delegated Fuctions (D)
-25% Leader Upkeep
+1 Leader Pool Size
It’s okay, but there are civics that cover broader appeal that are better.

Factory Overclocking (S)
+1 Leader Level Cap
+10% Leader EXP Gain
Doubly whammy! Both of them at once! Not too shabby.

Introspective (B)
+20% Engineering Research Speed
Engineering is definitely valuable for Machine Intelligences, but there are better civics.

OTA Updates (X)
-20% Edict Cost
Not worth it, especially in a machine empire where you don’t get any real synergies.

Rapid Replicator (S)
+20% Robot Build Speed
Robots build slowly already, so more isn’t something to sniff at.

Rockbreakers (A)
+1 Minerals from Miners
Woo! More building, more robots, etc. Minerals are always valuable.

Static Research Analysis (D)
+1 Research Alternatives
Reliant on RNG, but allows you to get to the good techs faster.

Unitary Cohesion (A)
+15% Unity
While there are no ascension paths for Machine Intelligences, the other perks are still very powerful, especially the two perks especially made for Machines.

Warbots (X)
+20% Army Damage
-20% Army Upkeep
Bluh. You get improved robot armies very early in the game.

Zero Waste Protocols (D)
-10% Robot Upkeep
Resources, but the further you get into a machine intelligence run, the lower your upkeep costs tend to affect you anyways.

Megacorporation Civics

In the MegaCorp expansion, a new authority type was introduced: Corporate. It comes with its own set of corporate civics.

Brand Loyalty (A)
+15% Unity
Not bad. The extra unity will allow you to climb the trees easier.

Franchising (A?)
The effects of Subsidiary Subject Power on relations is reduced by 33%
Impact of Branch Offices on Empire Size reduced by 25%
Good if you plan on running a very aggressive corporation, but otherwise not too great.

Free Traders (S)
+10% Trade Value
+10% Branch Office Value
Makes doing what a Megacorporation does even easier than it was before.

Media Conglomerate (X)
-5% War Exhaustion Gain
+5% Citizen Pop Happiness
Bonuses are negligible. War exhaustion especially useless if you know what you’re doing.

Private Prospectors (C)
Unlocks Private Colony Ship
+20 Administrative Cap
Good for the bonus Admin Cap, and the Colony ship is nice, but it becomes average in the later game.

Ruthless Competition (A)
+1 Leader Level Cap
+10% Leader Experience Gain
Your always-loved leader bonus perk. Not bad.

Trading Posts (C)
+4 Starbase Capacity
Your empires tend to grow at a similar pace to your starbase capacity. Can be skipped safely.

Gospel of the Masses (A)
Requires Spiritualist
Spiritualist Pops give additional Trade Value on all Planets and Branch Offices
Can build Temple of Prosperit Corporate Building
+50% Spiritualist Attraction
Of course it’s a Spirituality ethic. Good for gaining allies via subtle conversion of the masses.

Indentured Assets (A)
Requires Authoritarian
+10% Slave Output
40% Enslaved Pop Ratio
I mean, if you’re running slaves, then obviously.

Naval Contractors (B)
Requires Militarist
+15% Naval Capacity
It’s okay. It’s hard enough to reach base Naval Cap as it is.

Private Military Companies (X)
Requires Militarist
+20% Army Damage
-20% Army Upkeep
*raspberry noise*

Special Civics

Stellaris Mods

These civics provide substantial changes to gameplay, either through restriction, or by unlocking different ways of approaching advancement or conquest.

Base Empire Civics

Cannot have Mechanist Civic
Cannot have Agrarian Idyll Civic
Cannot have Syncretic Evolution Civic
Cannot have Life-Seeded Civic
Starting world is a Tomb World with decreased resources
Species starts with Survivor trait, giving +70% Tomb World habitability and +10 Leader Lifespan
Interesting for roleplay, plus allows a lot more freedom when it comes to colonization. However, your starting planet can make the early game a bit difficult with a lack of exceptional resources. Colonizing another world quickly is recommended for resources.

Life Seeded
Cannot have Mechanist Civic
Cannot have Syncretic Evolution Civic
Cannot have Post-Apocalyptic Civic
Starting world is a size 25 Gaia World with rare features
Species starts with Gaia Preference, making “imperfect” biomes undesirable
It’s almost as if this civic was crafted for people running the “One-Planet Challenge.” Indeed, it is amazing for people pursuing a more tall playthrough, as the starting benefits allow for massive boons to the one planet you’ll have for a long time.

Barbaric Despoilers
Has “Despoilation” casus belli on all neighboring empires
Requires some degree of Militarism
Requires either Authoritarian or Xenophobe
Cannot be Xenophile
Cannot be Fanatic Purifiers
Cannot form Migration Treaties
Cannot join Federations
Unlocks Raiding bombardment stance
Decreased opinion for most other empires
Build-A-Horde! Have you ever wanted to tear up those filthy xenoes without having to worry about the -1000 modifier from being a purifier? Look no further! Very fun provided you know how to play it, although beware runaway Threat generation, as unlike purifiers, you don’t have the big combat boons.

Inward Perfection
(Civic cannot be removed after game begins)
Requires Pacifist, Xenophobe
Cannot have Rivals
Cannot form Defensive Pacts
Cannot form Migration Treaties
Cannot Guarantee Independence
Cannot join Federations
Can only have Tributary subjects
Cannot Infiltrate primitives
+20% Unity
+20% Pop Growth Speed
+5% Citizen Pop Happiness
Inward Perfection has always been a dicey civic in my eyes. The Pacifism combined with the inability to join federations means you’re restricted in the victory department, but the buffs to pops and Unity are very powerful. Should you find a way to make this work, you can easily become unstoppable. Be wary though, because with 2.2, it can no longer be removed after the start of the game using conventional means.

Syncretic Evolution
(Civic cannot be removed after game begins)
Cannot have Mechanist Civic
Cannot have Fanatic Purifier Civic
Cannot have Agrarian Idyll Civic
12 starting pops will be a strong, docile slave species
If your founding species is weak, having Syncretic Evolution can be very useful. They have a better ability to generate minerals, and can make better armies, if allowed to. Great for slavers.

Must be Materialist
Cannot have Syncretic Evolution Civic
Starts with Robotic Workers technology
8 starting pops will be robots
(Hidden: Increases Materialist ethics attraction)
Allows a small technology boost at the very beginning of the game. Robots are one of the first techs you can research, but the slight boost at the very beginning can help in the long term.

Fanatic Purifiers
(!) No Diplomacy (!)
Total War Casus Belli enabled (Purification, Containment)
Must be Fanatic Xenophobe and Militarist OR Spiritualist
Cannot have Syncretic Evolution Civic
Xeno pops will always be purged, no effect on tradition cost
Unity gain from purging Xenos
May use Armageddon bombardment stance
Can use “no retreat” war doctrine
+33% Fire Rate
+33% Army Damage
-25% Ship Cost
+33% Naval Capacity
(Hidden: Increases Xenophobe ethics attraction)
If you don’t care about the other empires in the game, and just want to dominate, this civic is for you. It’s a very extreme one, and is a very blatant red flag for other empires about your intentions. It causes a -1000 relatons modifier with all other empires.

Hive Mind Civics

Devouring Swarm
(!) No Diplomacy (!)
Total War Casus Belli enabled (Hunger, Containment)
Can only use Cede Planet war demand
Xeno pops will always be eaten, no effect on tradition cost
Society Research from eaing Xeno pops
+25% Ship Hull points
+0.5% Daily Hull and Armor Regeneration
-50% Starbase Cost
+40% Army Damage
-25% Ship Cost
+33% Naval Capacity
+20% Research Speed (Biology)
-100% Tradition Cost from Xeno Slaves
The Hive Mind version of Fanatic Purifiers. This is heavily based toward modifying your pops to be able to bend the galaxy to your will, through Biological Ascension. It can be fun, like you’re your own little Prethoryn Swarm.

Machine Intelligence Civics

Determined Exterminator
(!) No Diplomacy with Organics (!)
Total War Casus Belli enabled (Purification, Containment)
Will always Purge organics
Gains Unity from purging organics
May use Armageddon bombardment stance
Capital starts as Tomb World
+25% Weapons Damage
-15% Ship Cost
+33% Naval Capacity
-30% Starbase Influence Cost
Machine Intelligence version of Fanatic Purifiers. Can be very powerful, especially since you can still be diplomatic with Machine intelligences. Be aware, though, that those who already hated Machines will double down on you, especially since your bonuses aren’t as powerful as normal FPs.

Driven Assimilator
Total War Casus Belli enabled (Assimilation, Containment)
10 starting pops are cyborg
Can assimilate organic pops
Assimilating organics grants Unity and Society Research
Always purges organics not being assimilated
Not that powerful. Organic empires tend to hate you, although you have no combat bonuses like Determined Exterminators. However, the assimilation bonuses can be powerful, provided you can actually get some pops to assimilate.

Rouge Servitor
5 starting pops are Bio-Trophy organics with Mandatory Pampering living standard.
The more organic pops you have, the more stability your empire has (and as a result, the more resource production you have), up to a certain cap.
Can construct special Sanctuary buildings that allow organic pops to generate unity
Cannot construct regular Unity buildings
Very powerful, provided you play it right. The resource production is massive, allowing for easy consumption of smaller organic empires. However, you are in the same predicament as Assimilators, being hated by many organic empires.

Megacorporation Civics

Criminal Heritage
Cannot form Commercial Pacts
Cannot join Federations
Can build Branch Offices on the planet of any regular empire not at war or in a truce with
Crime on Branch Office planets increases value
Can build Crime-increasine Corporate Buildings
An interesting civic, allows a Megacorporation to be more flexible with how they expand their influence. Care must be taken, as these types of corporations are not at all welcome.


Stellaris Dev Diary

These empires are example combinations of traits, ethics, and civics.

Helcam Clans

  • Traits: Strong, Enduring, Slow Learners
  • Authority: Democratic
  • Ethics: Militarist, Fanatic Egalitarian
  • Civics: Warrior Culture, Citizen Service

A group of warrior clans that value honor above all else. Foreign empires see them with respect, but meeting them on the battlefield would be a challenge like none other.
An empire like this represents a well-rounded approach to militarism, without condemning themselves to it like Fanatical Purifiers.

Will of Mal

  • Traits: Intelligent, Communal, Weak
  • Authority: Imperial
  • Ethics: Fanatic Pacifist, Xenophobe
  • Civics: Inwards Perfection, Agarian Idyll

A reclusive empire that simply wants to be left alone. They cannot be separated, and would prefer being left alone. Don’t underestimate them, though.
An empire like this will thrive on its own if left alone for long enough. Allowing an empire like this to spread as they please could spell doom for the rest of the galaxy, as they can very quickly gather traditions and complete their Ascension path.

Blorg Mind

  • Traits: Venerable, Repugnant
  • Authority: Hive Mind
  • Ethics: Gestalt Consciousness
  • Civics: One Mind, Aesetic

The Blorg were, from the beginning, one mind. This mind, over time, grew bored of playing with its pawns on the surface of Blorg, and reached for the stars in order to find more things to party with.
A Hive Mind can play however it wants, not restricted by ethics or the wants of its citizens. It is, however, limited in the fact that it cannot meaningfully interact with xeno pops, and its ascension path is limited to Biological.

Ix’thamal Mechanists

  • Traits: Intelligent
  • Authority: Democratic
  • Ethics: Fanatic Materialist, Militarist
  • Civics: Mechanist, Technocracy

A dream of the Ix’thamal was always to sit back and relax as their will expanded their influence for them. Eventually, this ‘will’ manifested itself into automatons, which easily dominated their homeplanet.
An empire like this has the potential to be a force to be reckoned with, right from the start. Mechanist gives them an early tech and production advantage, but gets nullified as the game goes on.

Purification Directive

  • Traits: Learning Algorithms, Mass Produced, Uncanny
  • Authority: Machine Intelligence
  • Ethics: Gestalt Consciousness
  • Civics: Determined Exterminators, Rapid Replicators

Older than recorded history, the Purification Directive recently awoke on its homeworld. Driven by nothing but its lust for a perfect universe, it sets out to purge that which would cause its destruction.
Exterminators. An empire like this will want to conquer as many empires as it can for the lack of competition and the unity bonus. Can be rendered irrelevant if not allowed to spread.

Original Link – Continuation of discussion

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