War can be a complicated aspect of Stellaris, especially for new players. From understanding the Casus Belli (Reasons for War) system to how to keep the systems you’re fighting over, the game feels like it has a lot of “gotcha moments” that trip up newcomers.

One subtly confusing mechanics is the Claims system, which has led many people to miss out on systems they’ve poured a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to acquire.

Fact: Without a prior Claim, there is no conquest. It’s very frustrating and leads to self-loathing moments when you occupied all the systems you wanted in the first place after a long war, only to see them fall back to the enemy after war exhaustion forces you into accepting a truce.

Luckily, your hunger for any system (documented by putting a claim on them, see below) is enough to declare war on that guy behind your fence.

How to Start a Claims Casus Belli?

So: Before you start a war with any of your lovely neighbors, you need a) a reason to go to war (casus belli) and – if you want to conquer some systems – b) a claim on these first.

Fact: Claims are not the only casus belli, not the only reason to go to war.

For the uninitiated, Casus Belli is Latin for “reason for war.” In Stellaris, it’s an essential piece of the endless puzzle of war and combat. Without a Casus Belli, you can’t declare war on another empire.

So if you want to conquer a neighbor’s system, you need to start a Claim Casus Belli first. To do so, you’ll need to first claim the systems you want before declaring war.

How to set a Claim

You set a claim via the Stellaris interface.

  1. Zoom into the desired systems and click on the hexagonal icon (Empire Icon) next to each.
Setting a Claim: Zoom in on the System

2. Click on the Empire icon. The diplomacy screen will open:

3. Click on “Make Claim.” Now all Systems in the enemy’s empire shows a greenish frame and a “tick” sign. On the left, the Claims window opens, filtering for the actual empire.

4. Clicking on the tick changes the green to blueish with a plus sign. For each system you do this, you’ll stake a claim and find the system in the Claims window on the left.

one system is claimed from this empire

Now that you have claimed at least one system in the adversary’s empire, you can use the Claims Casus Belli to declare war on them. Go to the Contacts screen (left menu top) and choose the adversary’s empire or again click on the empire’s icon in the system and declare war:

Declare War

Now set your war goal (here: Conquer your claims):

“We declared war!”

Cashing in on your Claims

Once you’ve kicked off your Claims war against your target empire, what you need to do is focus on capturing the systems you claimed. This will depend on what type of system they are. For those who aren’t colonized, you merely need to defeat the outpost guarding them. Then, your empire’s icon will appear with four spikes around it, meaning you’ve taken the territory.

When working towards colonized systems, though, it’s a bit trickier. For starters, you need to defeat the orbital station. This will denote your empire’s icon but without the aforementioned spikes. Your next step is to deploy a ground army to fight and take control of the planet. Once you’ve done that, the spikes will appear around your icon, and that system will be yours.

Once you’ve got all your claimed systems under your control, your next goal is to increase your enemy’s Exhaustion just enough so that they’ll accept a Status Quo resolution. Destroying fleets, capturing systems, and invading planets all contribute to Exhaustion. Once you’ve got the enemy on the ropes, you can settle for a Status Quo peace offering, and your claimed system will become yours.

In a nutshell, you don’t need to complete all of your war objectives to get the systems you’ve claimed. You simply need to reach that Status Quo agreement, and the systems will be yours so long as you control them.

Did you know: If you occupy a system, the former “owner” automatically gets ten Claims on it?

Cost of Claims

Making Claims on other systems cost you your Influence points, and you need them to make your claims. The cost to your Influence wallet varies based on the distance that system has from one of your own that’s closest to it. For this reason, you’ll want to start claiming closer systems first.

Spending Influence for claims is a costly endeavor. You can reduce costs through specific Ethics, Civics, and research tech. What’s important to note is that claiming systems before the war has started is far cheaper than doing so while battles are raging.

So sometimes, you simply won’t be able to afford the claims.

Multiple Claims on a System

Since you are not the only belligerent empire in the Stellaris galaxy, it is only natural that several other empires eye your adversary’s systems. And so, you will often find you are not the first or even second to put a claim on a system.

So one claim might not be enough to keep the system after occupation if another empire laid another claim on the system and went to war next to you against the owning empire.

To decide who is keeping the occupied system, you can “bid higher” and raise your claims on a system (you find the “Claims” screen close to the bottom of the left side menu.)

Strongest Claimer
The strongest Claimer for Tarazed is the Karabnar Free State

To raise your claim/bid for Tarazed, you need 105 Influence for each raise in this example.

How Long Do Claims Last?

In simple terms, they last forever. Stellaris doesn’t have a system that automatically wipes your claims on systems after a time limit. You can lay claim to an enemy’s territory and then attack them some 200 years later, and the claim will still be active. However, there’s one caveat to keep in mind.

While you’re on the warpath, taking over outposts and planets, you’ll gain control of systems. Until that war is over, you’ll still have a chance of losing your spoils. When this happens, the fact that your enemy has regained something you took over will wipe your claim off. This can be particularly confusing after the dust settles on war and you suddenly find you’re short a system or two.

How to Remove Claims?

Removing claims in Stellaris is merely an exercise in correcting mistakes or adjusting your objectives. This means you can’t remove claims while at war with the target empire. However, you can remove them before you make your declaration.

Simply contact the empire in question and select “Make a claim”. This will open a window showing all the systems you have claims against. Use the minus button to reduce the number of claims on a system until it reaches zero. Then, use the button at the bottom to confirm your changes, and your claims will be gone.

Read more about Stellaris: Multiplayer

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