At the start of a game of Stellaris, you’re presented with numerous ways you can build your interstellar empire, complete with the ability to change your species’ origin, their appearance, and of course their overall governance structure — civics come with this territory.
Civics are one of the last parts of the selection process in Stellaris, but some of them can genuinely define the system your empire takes, expanding the roleplay opportunities to a lot of fun, niche ideas, like a spacefaring mega-church, helpful robots from beyond, or a swarm of devouring hive-minded insects.
There are lots of different avenues to take with your civics, so where to begin? Here are our top choices for civics that both benefit the player the most on a mechanical level, and also add a good deal of flavor to Stellaris.
8 Best Civics in Stellaris, Ranked in No Particular Order
One of the hardest choices to make in Stellaris is simply deciding what kind of game you even want to be playing. This guide should help you understand what different civics provide the most of a bonus mechanically, so you can spend more time roleplaying whatever kind of interstellar empire you want to create.
The Angler civic is only available to players who have the aquatics DLC, and even then only for species that are aquatic-based to begin with. These traits have great synergy and even a new ascension perk that can be unlocked with them — Hydrocentric. It allows the construction of agricultural districts in huge numbers since it reduces their cost on wet planets. It also significantly boosts the production of your civilian goods by allowing you to hire pearl divers via your agricultural zones.
This combination allows you to grow your population quickly without worrying too much about spending building slots on consumer goods production. The downside to Anglers is that it does require you to seek out wet atmospheres to gain its bonuses, but typically, by the time you run out of room, you’ll be technologically advanced enough to start terraforming more worlds into new fishing holes. Leaning to terraform should be first on your list of advancements!
2. Inward Perfection
This is one of the best civics if you feel like managing an empire in Stellaris without having to deal with any pesky diplomacy. Build yourself into a small, easily defended corner of the galaxy, set up some citadels, and don’t talk to anyone until the crisis shows up. Because of that kind of attitude, this civic is only available to pacifist xenophobes.
Inward Perfection disables a lot of different mechanics, like being able to wage war to take more territories. This means you’ll be limited to a relatively small area once you get boxed in by other spacefaring empires without much ability to take new land. You’ll also lose an envoy and gain a disadvantage to codebreaking. But the upside that counters all of this is that you gain a gigantic unity boost of 20%, 10% pop growth speed, 5% citizen happiness, and a small boost to your edict fund. These bonuses can allow you to rapidly gain some ascension perks, and stacking those bonuses together can help your turtle empire stay in its shell.
The best way to win as an Inward Perfection empire is to focus on the development of megastructure technologies and advanced habitats, allowing you to fill every nook and cranny of your territory with more hard-working pops. Make sure you build plenty of fleets even if you don’t need them right away, as you could end up fighting the crisis all by yourself.
3. Fanatic Purifiers
This civic can make for a very violent, war-filled campaign in a round of Stellaris. It disables diplomacy entirely, so if you want to be able to reason with other space nations, this choice isn’t for you.
This civic is only available to fanatic xenophobes, fitting for its genocidal implications. It provides a 33% bonus to ship fire rate, army damage, and navy capacity, along with making ships cost 15% less, meaning you can do a lot more with your military than your competition, balancing out your lack of allies. You can’t remove it after you start a game with it on your empire. If you want to dominate everyone around you, this is your best bet. As soon as fanatic purifiers take over a planet, they purge everyone else living on it.
If you have the nemesis DLC, this is a great civic to take if you plan on becoming the crisis, as you’re likely going to end up at war with the whole galaxy anyway. Pair this with the supremacy focus tree in the early game and you’ll be unstoppable.
4. Devouring Swarm / Lithovore
These two civics are both only available to a hive-mind society and provide very similar bonuses. The main difference being that Lithovore is only available to lithoid empires.
They provide a 25% ship hull bonus so your ships can take more damage than comparable models. You also get a small bonus to ship armor and hull regeneration, so your fleets can be more active more often without needing to come all the way back to their closest starbase to repair. On top of these bonuses, you also pay a lot less for ships and starbases, and your armies are stronger than usual by a whopping 40%.
Similar to the Fanatic Purifier civic, a Devouring Swarm or Lithovore can’t engage in diplomacy whatsoever, since everyone else knows you just want to eat them. Devouring Swarms will use pops on enemy planets as food, boosting your own growth. Whereas a Lithovore swarm is capable of eating the planets themselves after you invade them.
Consuming a planet takes some time, but rewards you with some bonus pops, or possibly gives you resources like alloys or raw minerals. The downside is that it reduces the planet in size, which brings down how many districts you can build, and also penalizes the habitability of the planet. After performing the “consume world” decision enough times, the planet will be destroyed.
5. Master Crafters
This one is undoubtedly one of the most powerful civics available in Stellaris and is a solid choice for the mid-game civic you get to pick up via technology.
With the Master Crafters civic, instead of artisans, you receive artificers, providing a myriad set of productive benefits compared to the basic artisans that would typically make consumer goods for your empire. You get a bonus for your engineering research, helping you produce bigger and better ships quicker than anyone else. You also get a trade value bonus from artificers, helping you afford to keep those ships flying.
The last big benefit from this civic is that you get extra building slots for every three industrial districts you build on a planet. This lets you maximize how many industrial districts you can build by not forcing you to build more city districts on your planets.
As one of the most powerful civics to start a game of Stellaris with, Technocracy allows you to rapidly advance in whatever technology you find most helpful. While you need to be some degree of materialist in order to use this, it provides numerous bonuses to your researchers.
Foremost, it gives an extra research option, letting you choose between more options and giving you a chance to avoid technologies that aren’t accomplishing your goals. With more options, it becomes easier to get ahold of rare technologies as well, which provide the biggest advancements in the game tech-wise.
It also provides you with double the usual bonus from assigning specialized science leaders. This encourages you to hire lots and lots of scientist leaders, so you can keep some on deck to tap into when their specialty appears.
On top of these bonuses, you replace some of the politicians that would usually work at your capital buildings with research director positions, providing a bonus to any researchers on your planet. You can use these and the mid-game research institutes to maximize your research.
Take the Technological Ascendancy ascension perk as soon as you’ve finished the discovery perk tree in order to maximize the benefits of your research. You’ll want to take both of those before you take anything else with this kind of science-heavy build.
7. Slaver Guilds
This particular civic is only available for authoritarian empires that are planning on enslaving mass amounts of pops across the galaxy.
When you start with Slaver Guilds, it means 35% of your initial populace will start as slaves. It combines well with the Syncretic Evolution origin, since you can make two different species with particular skills and designate one of them as the slave population.
You also gain a 10% overall buff to the resource output of your slaves. This means you’ll want to pick up the nihilistic acquisition ascension so you can kidnap pops from your enemies. This can rapidly fill your planets up with workers, helping you make even more ships to go out and kidnap even more pops. If you start running low on energy or too low on housing, you can just place your extra slaves on the market and potentially earn thousands in energy credits.
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We hope you found our guide on the best civics for Stellaris useful! Do you think another civic deserves to be on this list or do you have anything else you would like us to clarify? If so, leave a comment below, and join the High Ground if you want more news, articles, and guides on the latest gaming trends.