In Stellaris there are many different ways to play as a pacifist, you can be an inward perfectionist, not troubling yourself with the squabbles of those outside of your borders and instead creating a utopia for your people, you can play as a militaristic pacifist, waging wars of ideology and liberation to make the galaxy a better place.
Or you can be in it for the profit as a MegaCorp, establishing a capitalist monopoly over the galaxy.
We’re going to start with the most fun way to play pacifism in my opinion. This is through the megacorporation government type, which puts you into the shoes of an intergalactic business.
When playing as a MegaCorp you need to expand your empire through trade and diplomacy rather than through force as from the start you are hit with a +25% to empire size, meaning you gain the negative effects of overextension much faster than normal empires.
Creating your empire
To effectively play as a MegaCorp pacifist you’re going to want to take the xenophile, pacifist, and spiritualist ethics, these allow you to cultivate relationships with your neighbors whilst also giving you valuable spiritualist pops which can greatly benefit your empire when paired with the gospel of the masses civic.
In my opinion, the best civics to start a MegaCorp pacifist game is the ‘Free traders’ and ‘gospel of the masses’ civics. The free traders civic gives you an extra 10% trade value and branch office value, meaning you can make a lot more profit from your trade networks and branch offices. Gospel of the masses also provides a trade value bonus to all Spiritualist pops, but crucially allows you to build the temple of prosperity within your branch offices, increasing spiritualist attraction to that planet and giving you even more profit.
Starting with the void dwellers’ origin allows you easy access to trade value from the very start of the game, being able to construct powerful trade districts on your habitats. This means that you start the game with a significant bonus to your economy, allowing you to purchase alloys or minerals to expand faster in the early game and get your economy up and running much faster than a normal empire.
Starting your game
Once you have created your empire and are in your game, your first port of call is building extra science ships, aim to have around 4 science ships in total, this way you can explore your neighboring systems much faster and then expand there. Once you have queued your first science ship for construction, you should go to your trade panel and begin monthly trades for minerals and alloys.
This allows you to make your economy stronger, build more ships and expand faster. Once your economy is set up and is strong enough to support itself, you should cancel your mineral trading, and instead, divert the energy credits you were using to buy minerals to buy alloys.
After this build an extra construction ship, this will help you in what might be the most important part of your game start, expanding to choke points. What you want to do is expand rapidly to nearby systems that can be used as choke points.
A choke point is a system that has multiple systems feeding into it and only one exit toward your empire, this allows you to strengthen this point within your empire to prevent enemies from running rampant through your empire when you are at war.
If you have to ignore systems that are close to you to be able to expand into choke points, then you should. If you can make effective use of choke points then you can section off an area of the galaxy that only you can expand into, allowing you to strengthen your empire whilst not having to race against other empires to get systems within this area.
Whilst you’re expanding you will meet other empires, you should not rival any of your neighboring empires, instead, you should improve relations with them and create commercial pacts with those you can get closest to.
This allows you to construct branch offices on their planets, giving you large bonuses to trade value and allowing you to construct special corporate buildings, giving you extra bonuses. If you come across any other MegaCorp empires, you should rival them and their allies.
This is worth doing because you will not be able to construct branch offices on planets that already have one, making other MegaCorps and their allies useless to you, because of this you may as well take the extra influence gained to aid your expansion and allow you to construct more branch offices throughout the galaxy.
Once you have befriended an empire you should trade for an active sensor link, establishing communications with nay empires that they have discovered that you haven’t. After this, get a commercial pact and establish branch offices where possible. Your first two corporate buildings should be the temple of prosperity and commercial forums. These both give you extra value, allowing you to gain more profit from trading.
Your third and fourth choice of corporation building is entirely up to you, depending on how you want to play/expand.
How to expand
Expanding as a MegaCorp is difficult due to your extra empire size penalty, when you expand you have to be careful not to go too far over your capacity, doing so gives you a large penalty to tech and tradition costs, meaning you cannot develop in those areas as quickly.
To avoid this, you should use the subject system, which allows you to have multiple subjects at no empire cost penalty. You can use the subjects for their common resources, advanced resources, strategic resources, or tech. By using this system, you can keep a constant flow of resources flowing into your economy, whilst not overextending your empire. You can also construct branch offices on your subjects’ planets, increasing your own worth even more.
Another effective way of expanding is by creating a federation, this allows you to easily create commercial pacts with your fellow members and build branch offices, increasing your profit exponentially as you can gain access to many planets to build on. You should make this federation a trade league as it gives you much more trade value and improves members’ trade values which can improve the value of your branch offices that are built within their space.
How to establish branch offices
To establish a branch office on a planet, you need to select the planet on the galactic map (either by clicking the name or planet symbol) you then need to select the holdings tab (along the bottom). It is here you can establish a branch office, costing a number of energy credits and influence.
Traditions and Ascension perks
To be an effective MegaCorp, I strongly recommend you take the discovery tradition path, followed by the mercantile path. These allow you to expand to choke points faster in the early game and massively increase your trade value, allowing you to profit more from your trade network.
The mercantile tradition path also allows you to access the consumer benefits and marketplace of ideas, these trading policies allow you to increase the amount of consumer goods or unity you create with your trading network. These trading policies decrease your income of energy credits (which shouldn’t be a problem by the time you unlock this) and instead increase your gain in unity/consumer goods depending on which policy you choose.
What to do next
If you have followed this guide then your empire should be in an amazing spot, with a strong economy and allies. From here you should increase your fleet and prepare to fight your MegaCorp rival and their allies, this allows you to increase your own power within the galaxy and project your wealth further. You should continue building branch offices and the associated corporate buildings. Continue strengthening your economy and empire, investing in all the necessary megastructures you need to. Finally, you should also continue getting subjects and increasing the size/power of your federation ready to fight the crisis.