Stellaris: Best New Game Settings for Beginners

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Before you start a game in Stellaris, you will find yourself in the “Game Details” menu.

There are a lot of options here that you can play around with.

(Click for full-size)
Stellaris game settings

Here’s a short summary of what each option does and what we recommend you set:

Setting What It Does Best for Beginners
Galaxy Size Determines how many stars are in your galaxy Tiny (200 Stars) to Small (400 Stars)
Galaxy Shape Determines the shape of your Galaxy Elliptical
AI Empires Determines how many AI empires would spawn 0 to 4 on small galaxies
Advanced AI Starts Spawns empires that have a huge head start over the player 0
Fallen Empires Spawns Fallen Empires, which are super-strong 0
Tech/ Tradition Cost Sets a modifier for Technology and Tradition costs Default (1x)
Habitable Worlds Changes how often you’ll find habitable planets Default (1x) or up to 1.5x
Primitive Civilizations How often you encounter Pre-space flight civilizations Default (1x)
Crisis Strength Determines how strong the end-game crisis could get 0.75x or lower
Crisis Type Determines the type of crisis you get at the endgame Random, or based on preference
Mid-Game Start Year Sets the time when mid-game events start happening Default (2,300) or higher
End-Game Start Year Sets the time when late game events start happening Default (2,400) or higher
Victory Year Year when the game ends and victory is determined via score, if no other victory conditions are met Default (2,500) or higher
Difficulty Determines whether the AI gets bonuses, or you do Ensign or Lower
Scaling Difficulty Determines whether the AI gets more bonuses as the game progresses Off
AI Aggressiveness Determines how negatively some empires will treat you and how likely they go to war Low
Empire Placement Determines player and AI empire starting points Default
Advanced Neighbors If you have Advanced AI, this determines whether they can spawn as your neighbor Default (Off)
Hyperlane Density Determines how many hyperlanes there are Default (1x)
Abandoned Gateways Determines how many Abandoned Gateways there will be Default (1x)
Wormhole Pairs Determines how many Wormhole Pairs there will be Default (1x)
Guaranteed Habitable Worlds Determines the number of planets with 100% habitability close to your starting point 2
Logistic Growth Ceiling Determines population growth bonuses Default
Growth Required Scaling Determines how many growth points are needed to gain new population Default
Marauder Empires Sets the number of Marauder empires that can spawn (Apocalypse DLC) 0
Caravaneers Determines if Caravaneer empires will spawn (MegaCorp DLC) Default
Xeno-Compatibility Determines if you can use the Xeno-Compatibility perk later on (MegaCorp DLC) Default
Ironman Mode Turns Ironman mode on or off Off

In-depth Settings Explanation

The United Nations of Earth, a good empire to pick for beginners / Stellaris
The United Nations of Earth, a good empire to pick for beginners

A quick glance at the options can be confusing and overwhelming.

Don’t get intimidated, though. Not all of these options matter, at least for beginners.

We’ll look into which options you can adjust to make your experience easier.

Later on, if you want more of a challenge from your games, you’ll know what to adjust.

Here are the game options you should look out for:


Galaxy Size

This option determines how many stars will spawn in your game. Fewer stars mean less space, but also fewer things for you to worry about.

Having a larger map could also affect your game’s performance later in the game.


Galaxy Shape

You can choose between Elliptical, Spiral with 2 or 4 arms, or Ring Galaxies. For beginners, we recommend you use Elliptical, to lower the chances of you being boxed in.

An Elliptical Galaxy Map / Stellaris
An Elliptical Galaxy Map

AI Empires

This dictates how many empires other than yourself would spawn on the map. The maximum number for this is determined by Galaxy Size.

We recommend beginners to keep this at no more than 4, so you don’t get overwhelmed. You can also set this to 0 if you don’t want to worry about competition.


Advanced AI Starts

Determines how many empires will spawn with a huge advantage over you.

These advantages could be anything from huge piles of resources to extra star systems already within their borders.

Think of Advanced Empires as empires who have multiple turns worth of a head start.

Naturally, we recommend you set this option to 0, or maybe 1 if you feel that you’re up to the challenge.


Fallen Empire

Determines how many Fallen Empires would spawn in your map.

Fallen Empires are basically empires that are at decline. They only have a few star systems in their borders and wouldn’t actually expand.

However, their fleets and their armies are super-strong. It would take an alliance of empires or an insanely huge armada to conquer them.

If you stay on their good side though, they might give you gifts from time to time.

For beginners, we recommend you set this to 0 while you’re still learning the ropes.


Mid-Game Start, End-Game Start & Victory Year

These options dictate when the mid-game and end-game would start. These years are when special events would start spawning at their earliest.

We recommend you keep these at default, but if you feel like you need more time to prepare for these events, then you can set them higher.

Victory Year determines when the game ends.



Dictates if the AI or the player will have starting bonuses that can give them an advantage.

Cadet is considered Easy Mode, where the AI gains no bonuses, but the player gets tons of economic bonuses.

Ensign is considered Normal Mode, where you don’t get bonuses at the start, whilst the AI only gets fleet bonuses, not economic bonuses.


AI Aggressiveness

If left at default, the AI can be very unforgiving. They won’t hesitate to wage a war on you the moment they sense weakness.

This option also dictates the AI’s opinion of your empire, like whether they view you negatively or positively.

If you ever feel overwhelmed, you can set this to low.


Ironman Mode

This option determines whether you keep Ironman Mode on or off.

If Ironman Mode is on, your game autosaves periodically and when you exit. It also overwrites your previous saves, so you’re forced to keep only 1 save file per playthrough.

This mode effectively prevents you from loading an earlier save if you made a mistake.

You also won’t have access to console commands in Ironman Mode.

Note: If you turn Ironman Mode off, you won’t be able to earn Achievements in your playthrough.

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Ron Agor

Kendoka, artist and gamer. If weekend warrior was a thing, he is it, literally and figuratively.