How to build a strong economy in Stellaris

Stellaris is a grand strategy game created by Paradox studios. It puts you into the shoes of a newly emerging galactic empire to conquer the galaxy…

As Stellaris is a strategy game, it means that having a stable economy is incredibly important to help you propel yourself toward your galaxy conquering ambitions.

In this short guide, I will outline the most effective way to create a strong and stable economy to ensure you can crush all of your enemies.

Starting with the basics, you have five primary resources that your Economy revolves around.

These resources are:

  • Minerals – The most accessible resource to access, these pieces of space rock are used for creating/repairing structures.
  • Energy credits act as your currency in the game, being used to buy things off the market and keep your buildings and fleets powered.
  • Food – feeds your pop(ulation), unless you’re a machine, of course.
  • Consumer Goods – These luxury items keep your population happy and entertained. Some Consumer Goods are used in more advanced production methods…
  • Alloys are the resource you use to construct, repair, and upgrade your fleets, maintaining your naval supremacy over the galaxy.

All these resources are essential to your success as an empire, so you need to understand how to get and utilize them.

How do you check your income from these resources?

Well, that’s pretty simple. Next to each resource icon, you will find a plus (+) sign and a number, showing how many of those resources you are getting every in-game month.

This number can go negative and begin to take away from your stockpile monthly, meaning that you can run out of resources very quickly if you are not paying attention.

Stellaris Resources

Stellaris Economy: +94 minerals per month

Minerals

Firstly, minerals are the most straightforward resource to access. You can gain them by constructing mining stations around planets and asteroids or creating mining districts across your colonized planets.

You do this by finding a planet with the mineral symbol nearby, as shown in the screenshot below. If a world has a white number with any of the resource signs, you can build a mining station there (starting at 100 minerals each) and begin to claim that resource every month, increasing your monthly income by the numbered amount.

Energy

Energy credits are the currency of the galaxy. They allow you to maintain ships, buildings, and armies or buy resources off the galactic market.

The easiest way to obtain this resource is through mining. Much like minerals, you will see the energy credit symbol below a planet with available and mineable credits.

Hint: You can always sell excess resources via the market tab.

Finally, you can obtain energy credits through building generator districts on your planets or other similar buildings that increase the productivity of generator districts.

Food

Food is used to feed your population; Food can be obtained through structures and the market. You can build farming districts on your planets or construct a hydroponics bay on your starbases.

However, if your species has the ‘xenophobic’ ethic, they can transform people of other species into food, producing extra food a month at the cost of the foreign pops’ lives.

Consumer Goods

Consumer goods are the luxury resource that allows people to enjoy their lives on your planets. They are created through consumer goods factories or industrial districts that you construct on your planets.

They like any resource that can also be purchased or sold on the galactic market.

Alloys

Alloys are one of the most critical resources in the game as they allow you to construct new bases or fleets to assist you in conquering the galaxy.

They can be mined from planets but are much less common to find naturally than minerals and energy credits. The primary way they are created is through industrial districts or alloy foundries on your planets.

Alongside these primary resources, you can also access rarer resources. These rare resources consist of

  • exotic gases
  • volatile motes
  • rare crystal
  • living metal
  • zro
  • dark matter
  • nanites.

These are used to upgrade your fleets or construct mid-late game structures called megastructures, which give your empire a massive edge over the empires that stand in your way.

Risk of Bankruptcy

Running out of these resources is not the end of your empire. When you begin running a monthly deficit of a resource, it will empty that resource from your stockpile monthly until the stock reaches zero.

This should give you enough time to rectify the issue within your empire and cover this shortcoming in your Economy.

However, if your stockpile of a resource hits 0, then it will trigger a shortage event. Shortage situations will progress if the shortage is not fixed. Yet, if they are resolved, the penalties given will only slowly recede.

But, if a shortage reaches 100%, the empire will default, earning major debuffs, having all buildings downgraded, disbanding all armies, and halving its current fleet of ships.

We’ve covered what the resources are and what happens if you run out of them. How do you effectively gain these resources?

Stellaris Colonies and Resources

Well, the ideal platform is to teach you about colonies.

The colonies you establish on planets across your galactic empire are vital to ensuring the long-term fitness of your Economy, as this is where the bulk of your resources will be produced from and manufactured.

It is where you recruit armies to conquer your enemies’ planets and where most of your people live.

You can access your planetary interface through your outliner on the right-hand side of your screen or by selecting the house and planet symbol next to the name of your colonies.

Selecting either of these will bring up the following interface:

Now there is a lot of information on this interface so let’s break it down.

In the bottom right, you have your building tab. In this area, you can see what buildings have already been built on this planet and order the construction of new buildings in empty slots (blue squares with a + sign).

Every building is unique and assists your empire in its way. Either through producing happiness (amenities), stability, or resources.

You can find the district tab above this, where you can see how many districts have been built, how many more can be built, and how many spaces you have left for the construction of districts. There are five different district types, each with its use. From left to right, you have:

  • housing district
  • industrial district
  • generator district
  • mining district
  • farming district.

Housing districts are where your population is at home, and you need housing to keep stability and happiness high amongst your planets.

Industrial districts are where your alloys and consumer goods are produced, making them the second most crucial district behind housing in terms of usefulness.

Lastly, you have generator, mining, and farming districts, producing energy credits, minerals, and food, respectively.

Every building has an energy credit upkeep requirement, so bear this in mind when expanding your planets rapidly.

In the middle bottom of this interface, you have your planetary production, summarising what your planet is using and procuring each month.

If you want a planet to be self-sufficient, you should fix the deficits in the deficit section of this area.

Finally on this interface, you have your planetary summary. This shows (from left to right) your crime rate, empty houses, amenities, job opportunities, and unemployed pops.

Trading Resources

Trading in Stellaris is a usually overlooked and underrated mechanic for players just starting. They tend to build a massive stockpile of every resource to have a reserve to dip into if needed.

However, if you have a significant income from any resource, you should sell it on the market and use the energy credits you earn from this transaction to purchase resources that you need more, like alloys and rare crystals.

To keep the process as streamlined as possible, you can set up monthly trading, getting the AI to automatically sell or buy resources on your behalf at the start of every month.

As you can cancel or edit the amount sold/bought every month, you do not have to worry about your Economy being wholly destroyed if you start running a deficit.

If you have, let’s say, 300 minerals a month being automatically sold and then 50 alloys purchased with the accumulated energy credits, and you start running a deficit on minerals, you can lower the amount you sell monthly from 300 to 250 or even lower if you need it!

Trading Policy

Another key feature of the trading in Stellaris is your trading policy.

This policy can change the entire course of your Economy and can be edited in the policy tab. Each policy has its uses, some giving you more energy credits or consumer goods.

The number of resources gained from these policies is dependent on how much trade value you accumulate every month. With one trade value (pictured on the right) equivalent to one energy credit on the standard “wealth creation” policy, this value will change depending on your selected policy, however.

Resources & Economy Strategy

Each of these resources is vital in ensuring that your empire survives in the long term. If you lack any of these your expansion will be limited, and your empire weakened.

So, to ensure you maintain a healthy economy you should pay close attention to how your empire is developing. Sometimes this means that you will have to effectively micromanage each part of your Economy instead of leaving it to the AI.

For starters, you need to ensure that you are not gaining too many resources while you are at your stockpile limit.

If you’re gaining too many monthly resources or reach your resource capacity, you should sell them for some extra energy credits that you can buy extra resources with.

These energy credits are best spent on rarer or vital resources like alloys, rare crystals, etc. These resources are more important to your empire and a lot harder and more expensive to produce, they are also harder to find naturally meaning there are fewer opportunities to mine them.

Population Control

Once you have your resource situation under control, you should ensure that your planets are not overpopulated, as this leads to a decline in productivity on your planets meaning your Economy is less effective.

Resettling Pops

To deal with overpopulation you can resettle your pops, shipping them to other planets that have job openings or stagnant population growth.

Stopping population growth will decrease happiness and stability on the planet, so for the rest of this guide, we will talk about how to resettle pops effectively.

You can move any spare pops into ringworlds, habitats, or less crowded worlds that need workers to fill jobs.

You do this by entering the planet interface and selecting the resettle button on the top right.

This opens a menu to cycle through your planets and pops on them, showing what jobs the pops possess or what job roles the planets need filling. From here you can send your pops all over your empire, ensuring that all job roles are filled and that you have a steady stream of resources coming in from them.

Whilst resettling costs you energy credits, you can simply sell overabundant resources to pay for this. No worries, in the short term you will not create havoc and benefit greatly from it in the long run.

Specializing your Planets

If you can specialize your worlds in order to maximize your production across your empire you should.

The best way to specialize these planets is to have one planet that specializes in science, one for admin capacity, and one for consumer goods (which you can sell for a large profit on the galactic market.)

You should balance the production on the rest of your planets to ensure that your empire’s needs are being met.

Things to avoid for your Economy

There are a few things you should avoid when building a strong economy in Stellaris.

The main thing that you should avoid is the clerk job role.

Clerks take up valuable job spaces for little benefit.

You are far better off creating buildings that carry entertainer jobs.

Entertainers are objectively better than Clerks in every economic way.

Even if you are using clerks for the extra trade value, you may as well use merchants as they are far more capable and take up less space for the same if not better benefits.

Another thing that you should avoid is governors with negative traits because the negative penalties you receive are almost never worth the positives that you get from this specific leader.

If a governor develops a negative trait, you’re better off firing and replacing him with someone without negative traits.

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